Mr. Mom Takes on Mrs. Poopy Pants

Dear Dategirl, My wife and I have an unconventional, but mostly successful, relationship, full of mutual respect, hot sex, and two beautiful kids, ages 2 and 4. I consider her my best friend, but on the rare occasions that we do fight, she always throws the fact that I am not working in my face. Our household income is in the mid–six figures with only one of us working—and, admittedly, she has a far higher salary than I could ever hope to earn. When we first began talking about children, we both agreed I would stay home with them. She didn't want to get off her career track, and my profession allows me the freedom to work at home. Granted, I haven't been working as much since our second child was born, but, as any parent will attest, keeping two toddlers clean, safe, and occupied is a full-time job on its own. I'm generally very happy, but these occasional jabs really hurt. I expect the occasional raised eyebrow from a stranger, but not from my wife. —Pukestains on My T-Shirt Your wife needs to quit it. You know it, and I'm sure she knows it. I know that stay-at-home moms face a certain amount of pressure from working moms and even their own spouses, so I can only imagine that pressure is quadrupled when it's a guy doing the diaper-changing. As much as society's evolved, we're still a bunch of backwards bumpkins in a lot of areas. You say your marriage is mostly happy, and only occasionally does she pull this stuff. Which is good, because it'll be easier for her to stop. When you're both in a happy, relaxed place, revisit your original discussion about staying home with the kids. Ask her if that's still what she wants. When she assures you that it is, tell her how much it hurts when she throws it in your face. I mean, obviously her purpose is to hurt, but I'll bet it's more out of frustration than hatred. (Not that that's any excuse.) I won't pretend to know what it's like to be a mom, but I imagine missing important kiddie milestones can weigh on a lady. And for every ounce of bullshit you put up with because you're upending expected gender roles, she's feeling it fivefold. So she comes home after a day of being yelled at by clients and side-eyed by her peers to find you chilling on the sofa with two freshly scrubbed toddlers. Of course she missed the explosive diarrhea episode, the mortifying bookstore meltdown, and the near-drowning by dog bowl. All she sees is you and two kids who seem to prefer you to her. (I find that small children, like pets, tend to favor those who feed them.) That's gotta burn, considering she carried them for nine months and then painfully pushed them out. But any misplaced mom-guilt she might be suffering is no excuse for treating you like crap. So I'm thinking you might want to formalize your agreement. Write down—yes, on paper—that she freely agrees you should stay home and take care of the children while she rakes in the buckage. But don't stop there. Maybe you agree to cook a real dinner every other night. Promise to hire a babysitter or leave the kids with one of your parents a few weekends a year so you can have hot hotel sex somewhere. Just do something, because letting it fester is only going to make it worse. And, honestly, I know she's being a bit of a shit, but it sounds like your problem is fixable.

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