Brockenbrough's prescription for more communication is certainly good advice—stewing in anger isn't healthy. Yet women might also consider trying to take a different perspective: Namely, we women should recognize that we aren't always right and that some of the pressure we put on ourselves, and our spouses, isn't always necessary.
That's not always easy to remember. As a mother of three (with number four expected in just a few months), I sympathize with the list of complaints above. When kids are little, there simply can seem to be too much to do, so neither parent feels they get enough sleep or “me” time. Dinner has to be made; clothes, cleaned; and dishes and homework, done. Yet parents—particularly women—can sometimes create unreachable expectations. Yes, chores have to be done—and undoubtedly clean clothes are better than dirty ones, and organized toys better than clutter—but women could probably cut themselves and their families a little slack, and recognize that it's not the end of the world if a bed occasionally goes unmade and if standards slip, especially while children are young.
George Mason University's Bryan Caplan provides welcome research to stretched-thin parents. He details the findings of studies of twins in his book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think, and concludes that too many modern parents underestimate the role that nature plays in determining a child's life and put too much pressure on themselves when parenting. Parents' impact fades over time. That means the stress we put on ourselves to enroll our kids in enriching extra-curriculars or even to feature fresh vegetables each night will probably matter very little in the long-run.
Caplan's take-away is that parents should relax and enjoy the experience of parenting. Caplan argues this lower-stress parenting may help build a better long-term relationship with children, which parents' behavior does impact permanently. I'd imagine that this lower-stress approach to parenting—and to other household chores—will also help marriages and women's overall sense of well-being.
This isn't to let men off the hook: Certainly they should proactively help alleviate the child-rearing burden on mom. Yet women shouldn't expect that men will “act like us,” or even assume that all of our higher standards are entirely rational or useful. Readjusting expectations may prove better than endless nagging at alleviating our anger.
Men are imperfect creatures. So are women. In the spirit of the season, we should not only strive to do better as parents and partners, but to cut each other some needed slack and love the people in our lives, flaws and all.
In Honor of His 103rd Birthday, Here Are The 20 Best Quotes From The Late, Great Milton Friedman | John Hawkins