My wife and I had a difficult time with scheduling and childcare this weekend.
At one point, she said, “It hurts my feelings that you don’t think my time with my romantic partner is more important than your plans to [just] go to a play party.”
Frankly, I felt slut shamed by the assertion that one was more valuable than the other, that if I didn’t have another romantic partner, what I was doing was less important. I shouldn’t need to be in another Romantic Relationship, just to prove my plans are important.
Beyond this, I wonder if I am a swinger or person who is sexually open but not polyamorous. I might be open to is dating people together. Or I might feel good about a metamour I have more of a friendship with or who wants to integrate more into our family.
I’m also unsure if I can truthfully say I still feel good about her other relationship.
I guess I could use help figuring out how to balance our lives that incorporates our other partners, without causing resentment.
Guilty with Kids
Dear Guilty with Kids,
I’ll leave aside the bit about your uncertain feelings regarding your wife’s partner. I think if we can sort out the time management issue (making sure that you both are there for your family AND have your own social/dating lives) that might work itself out naturally.
Let’s move on to the issues at hand, namely, making time for your own social lives.
Whether that means a romantic partner, a play party, or just a couple hours on your own, it’s important to have your “me” time. Without judgement of how you spend it.
I know you aren’t supposed to say anyone’s feelings are wrong, but, she is wrong in saying that her choices are more valid than yours. You and she can renogatiate how much time you have apart, but it is not okay to tell someone their choices are less meaningful than yours. Trust me, I ran into these problems in past relationships (feel free to PM me for more info, if you’d like).
You might argue that some couples/group arrangements happily spend all their time together. It’s true, but it’s risky. Also, this only works when it is freely and mutually agreed to (if one partner wants to spend all their time with another, but that other partner does not, it is not cool to guilt them into having no life apart from you.)
So let’s say that having your own life, apart from your spouse, is important to you. How do you do this in a way that doesn’t neglect your existing obligations, such as kids?
First, I think you need to help her understand why you need your time. No, you don’t owe her an explanation, but since you are married and living together, it couldn’t hurt to understand each other’s values and priorities. Can you sit down with her and explain why you want to spend your time the way you do? And ask her to talk about why spending time with her partner is also important to her, so you understand?
Once she starts realizing that this isn’t a competition of whose extracurriculars are more valuable- but rather that this is important time for both of you to have, doing your own things- you still have to manage the actual logistics of balancing your time.
Schedule the obligations first.
When do you both work? If one works from an office, and the other works from home, how do you divide the housework? It makes sense the homemaker does the bulk of caring for the house, but that doesn’t mean they should do it all. Your children have X number of parents (in your case, two) to divide 100% of financial obligations and 100% of childcare obligations. Maybe one parent works from home and does 60% of the childcare and makes 40% of the income to support the family.
When do you both do things with the kids? Does one parent do all the weekday driving, and the other parent do all the weekend driving? If you are both doing it all, all the time, maybe give yourselves a break and divvy it up. You don’t both need to do everything.
When do you handle the rest of the day to day life stuff? Whatever else needs to be done, it should be done first. Yu wouldn’t do a fancy date night with your spouse, if you had some Crucial Life Task to do first. Same for your “me” time. Don’t neglect your life for some new hobby or interest (that’s called a midlife crisis, sweetie).
Once that is done, schedule your “me time.”
I don’t know how much “me time” you expect, but I would think 2-4 hours a week is probably pretty good. I bet most parents don’t get that much time to themselves. And, if you need/want more, you can probably start living life a little more efficiently (work quicker, stop spending so much time on Twitter and Instagram) in order to squeeze in a little more. Or maybe you focus on home for a while, and then take a weekend away (or even a couple weeks!).
Bear in mind, that since your wife has a partner, rather than parties, she can probably “multitask” better than you. That is, her partner can join her for grocery shopping or spend an afternoon with the kids. You, on the other hand, have to go away for your play parties. So while you both get the “same” or similar amount of “me time” each week, she might get more socializing than you do. And that’s fair.
Most importantly, be flexible in your life arrangements.
One week, she might get more time with her friends, herself, and her partner than you do. Maybe nothing is happening that you want to do, and so you decide to do a lot of stuff around the house or with kids that week. But the next week, you want to go away for a weekend for a really big event.
It won’t also be perfectly balanced. And making this tit for tat will make everyone miserable (including your family). But I think you and she can figure out something that is A) equitable, B) makes sure you put your home and family at top priority) and C) lets you both have your own space and breathing room.
After that, it’s up to you to make it work.
Who knows what the future will bring? Maybe you never fall in love with another person, but simply keep having fun at parties. Maybe you do meet someone. It doesn’t matter, because you already have your commitments down and you already have your time. What you choose to do in your free time is up to you– and you can mix that up however you like.
And that is both scary and incredibly exciting. Good luck!