Does your husband dread going home?

There’s a magical time of day when my world of diapers, tantrums and playdates collides with my husband’s day of meetings with adults who don’t throw food on the floor because it was not in the blue bowl when they specifically asked for the BLUE BOWL!

This 10 minutes when the worlds meet must be handled with care. The tone of this world-meets-world window sets the tone for the rest of the night. Just 10 minutes decides if we will have a night of fun or frustration.

For example, a poor start to the night is when my husband comes in the door and immediately launches into his incredible successes at work without asking about my day or even noticing that I have clearly not showered and the toddler is still in pajamas. Or, a bad welcome home for my husband is when his foot barely crosses the threshold on the door and I shove that toddler in his face and rattle off the 10 things I need done right now.

I don’t think any husband or wife means to have these less-than-ideal meetings at the end of a long day, but they happen – more often than I would like.

A friend of mine recently wrote about her solution to making transition from workday to night at home a little smoother. First, she recommends spending the first 15 minutes on “the goods” of the day rather than the frustrations.

I love this. So often I can’t wait for my husband to get home so I can vent about all of the dumb stuff other people did that day. And while that feels oh so good sometimes, it would be much more uplifting to discuss our high points and victories (of course while also reading the room to see if someone else’s day has clearly been a disaster).

Next, my friend has a list of seven things that should not start the conversation at the end of the day. Poop tops the list. I admit: I have fallen victim to the my-baby’s-poop-is-so-fascinating-that-everyone-on-earth-wants-to-know-its-color-and-consistency trap. But really, a lengthy description of your child’s bowl movements (no matter how interesting they are) is no way to greet a spouse at the end of the day. (Read more of her list here).

Her list got me thinking about what I should or shouldn’t talk about with my husband when he walks through the door. And what I realized is that the happiest collisions of our worlds are when we don’t do much talking at all during those first 10 minutes.

For example, one day my daughters and I loaded up a bunch of water guns and left him one by the front door with a sign reading “Arm yourself.” After our water war throughout the house, the rest of the night was full of laughter and fun.

Those are the memories I cherish. I want both of us to look forward all day to those 10 minutes when our worlds melt back together.

How do you set the night off on the right foot with your spouse? Any conversation topics that are off-limits for the first 10 minutes?

10 comments

  1. Heather

    I am so in love with the “Arm Yourself” idea. What a wonderful way to start the family portion of the day!

  2. Danny Chipman

    We usually don’t have too much of a problem reintegrating, but there are times I dread my husband’s coming home. Especially if he’s had a long day or has a long night of church callings, homework, evening classes, etc., ahead. Our parenting styles are so different because of the ways we were raised, and he’s under so much stress these days that he loses his temper with the kids far more often and far more quickly than I would like. Sometimes I wish he would just stay at work!

  3. citygrrl

    Doesn’t this all boil down to basic consideration? It is challenging to be around young children all day, and the incoming parent should try to pitch in as soon as he/she is able, after getting a chance to exhale for a second. And the person just arriving should not be hit with a barrage of complaints, criticisms, etc. Although I don’t have children, I am the late arrival at the end of the day, and if I can just set down my briefcase, lunch bag, gym bag, and all the rest of the junk I haul in from my day, I can address my husband’s concerns. And I don’t think this is just an evening by evening concern. Over and over, I hear women say how much they dread having their husband at home all day (as in retirement, not unemployment, which brings many other problems). I think the problem in re-connecting at the end of day spills over into the entire marriage, and some day, when the kids have left home and your spouse is always around, you’ll have to deal with the connection thing all day long. A few minutes of carping won’t translate into long-term companionship. The other day I saw a card that said, “I’d rather do nothing with you than something with anyone else.” That sentiment is what I wish for all couples.

  4. Nicole

    I think our hardest transition issue is dinner. When he gets home we are all hungry and are ready to be sitting down to eat, but he needs his time to unwind, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. I have found it’s best for me to find meals that have some leeway with how soon it needs to be eaten. If it can stay warm for a while it’s best. Also, I try to have snack time about an 1 1/2 before he gets home. That way no one is starving as soon as Dad walks in the door. We have had more than a few times I am yelling at everyone to get to the table for dinner as soon as Dad walks in and he feels the need to ask my permission to go to the bathroom before dinner. That is our toughest things.

  5. countryboee

    Not that your comment isn’t well stated, but from the first sentence it suggests a lack of personal experience. Your counsel is sound. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out despite one’s best efforts.
    Just wait!
    You’ll see :)

  6. NoodleKaboodle

    As the husband I can say I can’t stand coming home and immediately have the kid and a bunch of projects assigned to me. I work 60+ hours a week so my wife can stay home with the kid. At the end of my shift I just want 20 minutes to drink a beer and be alone, then i’m on board to do whatever she needs. But sometimes I feel like women don’t appreciate that a full time job is just as difficult as staying home with the kid.

    • Momof7

      You’re right that we don’t always think working a full time job is as difficult as staying home with the children. I love being a stay at home mom and I’m thankful my husband works full time to provide that for us. I say us because we both feel having our children’s mother home is an advantage to all involved. However, some days are just plain rough especially when there is a sick child involved. Stay at home parents don’t always get their 10 minute breaks or lunch hour. Sometimes when we’ve done almost nothing but sit on the couch holding a sick baby, we are ready to pass the duty on to someone else. We also want that 20 minutes to be alone and unwind before we have to get dinner on the table, help with homework etc.

      Most days, I think my job is easier than my husbands and I’m very happy to let my husband come home and relax all night if he wants to. Every once in a while, I just need someone else to be in charge and make decisions for/about the kids. Fortunately for me, I have a husband who loves being with his kids and does not consider himself ‘babysitting’ when I have to go somewhere (which is not very often).

  7. Mumzy

    As the worker in the house, I instituted a 10-15 minute break time as I came in after work at night to decompress from work world to family. The children & my spouse would say hello (no complaining aloud) & then I would head to my room, shut the door and stay there for 10-15 minutes. This was an excellent transition from my workday, instead of being bombarded by demands from the kids & spouse that just overwhelmed me. It also set the tone for the evening dinner time. Yes, I did help out with dinner, homework & childcare after this transition. I just needed a break. This really prevented fighting too. I’m glad I listened to whoever it was who gave me this advice! In the issue of fairness, my spouse who is home during the day gets break time too. Amazing how much more peaceful our home is.

  8. Tired

    My wife had her mind set on being a stay at home mom, and I had no problem with that. 2 years later with 2 kids, she now resents me, and makes me feel guilty any chance she gets for “getting” to go to work. I too work over 60 hours a week, and hate walking into the house only to have her immediately get up off the couch with the baby in her out stretched arms heading towards me. I love my children, but when I hear how hard her days is over and over again all night, its a little hard to take her seriously, due to the fact that everytime i walkin the house, or the room where she is feeding the baby she is on facebook ignoring the kids or on the phone. Give me a break, feel lik I’m heading towards a disaster. If it wasnt for my children, I would have ended this long ago. I come home, I cook, clean, help with laundry, do the dishes after dinner. Im sick of listening to the compaints from the moment i walk in the door, until i go to bed. Its gotten to the point where i try to talk to her as little as possible, then I just roll over and go to sleep. Even today I left for work 3 hours early, just to get out of the house and away from her resentful attitude towards me.

  9. Darby

    I resent that so many disregard that taking care of a child is also work! Darn hard work at that! Hence why nannies and faycare professionals get paid for their jobs. When people say “I just worked a 60 hour work week!” And totally have no regard for the fact a stay at home mother has a 24 hour hard job to raise children a keep the home together.

    This attitude quickly would land me in divorce, might as well do it yourself than to have your own hard work belittled.

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