Partner bashing (in my case, husband bashing, though it’s not limited to heterosexual couples by any means) is one of my biggest pet peeves. I notice it happens a lot in mom groups; women get together and complain loudly about their husbands. It happens whether completely intentional or not.
It is usually initiated by one mom who needs to vent or express frustration about something that her husband is or is not doing. Inevitably, another woman chimes in with “Well, MY husband…” and the conversation spirals out of control. Eventually, everyone is one-upping each other about how shitty their partners are.
I recognize the importance of venting. It is important for moms and parents to connect with one another, especially about the responsibility and pressures of raising children. Sometimes I even agree with these other moms:
Yes, I probably have changed more diapers than my husband;
Yes, I do find it annoying when my husband gives our daughter chocolate ice cream before bed; and
Yes, I carry most of the mental load in our household.
But very rarely do I hear moms talk publicly about how awesome their husbands are. Why is that?
Caveat: I’m more referring to menial and trivial husband bashing; there are also clear cries for help. If you feel unsafe, unsupported, harmed, or abused in your relationship, please please please seek help in any way you can. Mom groups can be great places to get the support you need.
I am a modern, feminist woman, and I strongly believe in co-parenting. But I chose my husband out of all the other potential mates on this planet, and I actually like him. A lot. I am choosing to raise a child with him. He’s a great companion. He’s a great dad to our daughter. I respect him.
The more I hear husband bashing, the more I try to recognize all the hard work that my husband is doing. I have to remind myself that he was not cultured or conditioned to do this work. It does him an incredible disservice to complain about his shortcomings when he’s not around. I know he would never complain about me to his buddies.
My husband and I talk at length about how we bring different things to the proverbial parenting table. I’m the breastfeeder, but he is our solid-food sous chef. He is usually the first responder for owies. He is the spider squisher. He is the car-seat installer, stroller pusher, and furniture assembler. He does the second-graveyard shift in the night, and still wakes up happy to be the breakfast bringer. He is also the tickler and the steward of joy.
I’m not trying to gloat about having the perfect husband. Lord knows we have our own challenges with dividing up parenting and household responsibilities. We also have different ideas about what it means to raise a happy/healthy child. I’m trying to end the cycle of useless complaining and preaching to the choir.
I almost always find that it’s better to talk to my husband than about him. I know that am always trying to be a “Good Mother.” I can imagine there is also a “Good Father myth,” with ideals that must be hard to live up to. This is a gendered feminist problem that I can’t imagine will resolve itself by complaining.
Here are my mantras for when I hear husband/partner bashing:
1. My husband is a good father
2. I am not married to anyone else’s husband
3. My husband contributes a lot to our household
4. Parenting is challenging. We all need recognition for our hard work
5. There are things I do that also frustrate my husband
6. Maybe this is a topic I should address personally with my husband
Do you find yourself venting about your partner? Do you think it’s a necessary evil that relieves stress or a sign of something that needs addressing in the relationship?