Have you noticed how often parents get complimented on their skills. We've all heard "Oh he's such a good Dad" and "She does a marvellous job with those boys". But no-one ever compliments people on their spousery (is there such a word?) skills. You never hear "Oh he's a great husband to that woman". Well no-one ever says it about me anyway.
I know why - it's because we are all so focused on our kids that we can so easily lose sight of the one person who made their creation possible in the first place. When you are constantly running around after demanding children, as well as fitting it in with your job or your business, partners are all too often relegated so far down the pecking order they don't get a look in.
Now kids don't care about this. They want a mummy and daddy for sure, and a mummy and daddy that will look after them, but are they that bothered about how mummy and daddy feel about each other? I don't think so, not at the age mine are anyway. They just want what they perceive to be their share of attention i.e. all of it.
Going to say something really controversial now and I don't care. The next time you hear someone moaning about coming from a broken home, ask them how much they contributed to it. Yes, it's true, kids put an enormous strain on a marriage that might otherwise be strong, unintenionally, yes, but even so. I guess they can't be expected to know any better at that age.
I'm not a perfect husband. Sometimes I practically ignore my wife half the day because I'm running around putting the house and kids first. Everytime I think of something nice I might want to do with her, something gets in the way. She feels left out, I feel bad, it's not a good state of affairs. At least I recognise this and try and do things about it. When I can - now the odd evening out with a baby sitter is great but I want more than that. But trying to get all various family members who can help out co-ordinated so we can do things is a huge logistical challenge and sometimes I feel I am putting people out so much that I just don't bother. Just so I can remind my wife that I am actually still the person she married.
And when we do get the chance it works. We had an amazing 48 hours down in London last year, probably the best time we've ever had on our own together. I want to do more. We need to do more, before we have another baby (if we do). To remind ourselves we are actual real people with personalities and not robots programmed to load the washing machine and change nappies on demand.
I've seen too many marriages founder for the very reasons I've laid out here. I don't want to ever go down that road, but people have to remember I am not just "Ollie's Dad". I am also "Claire's husband", and offer us some help accordingly.
I loved London. I want to take Claire to Paris. I could do this. I have been looking at deals for February. Claire has a week off during half term. I thoought it would be a lovely romantic gesture if we could go on Valentine's Day - Tues 14th, on Eurostar, be back here on Friday 17th, neither of us has any work, there is no school, I've got the money to pay for it, all the boxes are ticked.
But no, it can't be done. Because of the kids.
Broached the idea with a couple of family members and got a generally negative response - OK, I know it's short notice, but even so. Nothing ever gets done unless I organise it all anyway. Just once it would be lovely if someone close to me said "Just book it and go, I'll take care of everything". That's what happens on the TV. But not in my life it seems - never gonna happen.
Anything that happens in my life happens because I find a way to make it happen. Not expecting any favours.
I suppose some people would say, you are parents now, get used to it. But why should I? Why does my life have to stop just because I'm a parent? It's not on. Plenty of people want to help us be as parents, no-one much wants to help us be a couple.
I want to treat Claire, I want to spend quality time with her, show her I'm not turning into some mddle aged set in my ways bore, but no-ones offering me much help.
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