Paying Back Old Debts ... In Your Relationship

Getting rid of debtOne my husband's biggest gripes is that he's always in debt to me. And I'm the collections agent knocking down his door, refusing to offer him a deal to somehow pay it off once and for all.

You don't have to be a sometimes single mom to know what I'm talking about.

Whether you've got a spouse who travels for work or keeps long hours at the office or business, it seems that much of the burden of the house and children falls on the mother.

I realize that there are many husbands who do more than their fair share around the house and with their children. I'm fully aware of stay-at-home-dads.

I'm not one to make sweeping generalizations.

But in my experience, and in talking with many women whose spouses are away for much of the week, their husbands are always trying to make up for something.


Sometimes it's not that hard for them to make up for lost time. Getting an afternoon or even a whole day to yourself, which from what I can tell is a rare occurrence, might make up for being alone with the kids, the dog, and the mop all week long.

Sometimes longer.

Even chipping in and taking over a duty that's not typically his -- whether it's making dinner or cleaning up dinner or doing the entire bed and bathtime routine, helps to "repay" what you might feel is owed to you.

I understand that keeping score does not foster anything but negativity. But I also believe that it's a petty human quality. Unless you're Mother Teresa or the Dalai Lama, it's hard not to want something in return for everything you're doing. And by "something" I don't mean "more of the same exact thing."

While I know that my husband will never be able to make up for all the meals that I've prepared, when he gets up on one of his days off and makes breakfast, a huge amount of his debts are erased.

Or when he puts the kids to bed without asking me for assistance, I feel the weights being lifted off my shoulders.

It also helps when my work is acknowledged -- with flowers, or a small gift, or even a slight push out the door to go get a pedicure and a coffee. Just those simple gestures help to keep me going when I feel as though I can't.

Giving me an extra hour in bed to make up for the many hours of sleep I've lost during the week while he's alone in a quiet hotel room is magical.

I'm doing my best to stop the score keeping. And I'm trying not to think of my existence as the sum of a bunch of IOUs and unpaid bills that are slowly collecting interest. That's just no way to live.

But that doesn't mean that he shouldn't have to try to do what he can to contribute as well, or somehow make up for our often disparate existences, because if the coin was flipped, I'm betting he'd be doing the same exact thing.

Are you a score keeper? Debt collector? How do you manage the disparity in your relationship?

Image via alancleanver_2000/Flickr

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