My Husband, The Third Wheel

Love & Sex 15

There are many aspects of my husband's schedule that are wearing on me. But the most challenging part, by far, has to be that we are suffering from "The Third Wheel" syndrome. And if you're a sometimes single mom, then you probably know exactly what I mean.

For the most part, he's home a couple of times a week for dinner and bedtime, and then the entire weekend, where he generally does stuff around the house that I don't usually do anyway. Like mow the lawn, watch golf. (Ha.)

And the deeper we get into this schedule, the more I feel as though we are two separate entities: The four of us. And him. Or versus him.

I hate to admit this, but I feel more and more like he's a complete outsider, and that it's more work than a relief when he's home.

Take dinner, for example, when he'll do everything from ask the kids if they want bread with their hamburgers (which I know doesn't sound like a big deal, but the kids never ever EVER have bread with their hamburgers because when they do, they take it off and eat it and not the actual burger) to discussing how flies sit on poop and trash right after a fly just landed on their dinner, therefore rendering the entire meal almost pointless. That pretty much equals his latest discussion about how ticks suck your blood and pass on diseases, just after we found one attached to our son.

I know this is probably a "dad" thing or a "guy" thing or something of that nature, but it bugs me when I spend so much of my time being aware and in tune with what to say and what not to say that he comes home and just acts like the awkward third wheel who's on a date with you and has absolutely no business being there.

I realize he's got work to deal with. And important things to remember other than that the kids don't need bread on their hamburgers.

But so do I.

And it's becoming unavoidably frustrating to have to mess with our somewhat perfect little system. Granted, it's definitely got its kinks. We're not always in sync, and there are times when we could all use a break from each other. But for the most part, it works.

The worst part is that the kids know this.

Now, I don't purposely promote any sort of "us against him" mentality in them. In fact, I spend a lot of energy trying to sing his praises and make sure that he's integrated back into our lives as seamlessly as possible. "It's hard for Daddy," I tell them. "He's away and so he's not used to how we do things," I remind them. Constantly.

But it's draining me. It's draining our relationship. And I honestly have no idea what to do.

Any suggestions?


Image via Kiwinz/Flickr

love, marriage, sex


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nonmember avatar Heather

I totally understand.  I have the same issue in my house.  Yes, he is doing the things that need to be done that I will not do and doing his own thing as well.  When he joins us, it seems like it is more work.  I am not sure what the answer is but I do know that despite the annoying issues our daughters love the craziness and even his outlandish stories that I have to pickup the pieces. 

Pundi... PunditMom

I so hear you -- amd Mr. PunditMom doesn't travel nearly as much as your hubs, but he has many things that keep him away in the evening, so several nites a week, it's usually just me and PunditGirl.  It gets tiring and I thin I've given up.  I know that's not good advice, but since he doesn't acknowledge this is an issue, I'm not sure how else to deal with it other tha, as Michelle Obama might say, build my own village.

It doesn't make for a very happy situation, though.

ErinR... ErinRenee815

I can totally relate! My husband had a job that kept him working 12 hour shifts for almost 10 years of our marriage.  It was awful.  He was gone 3-4 nights a week every week and then home for the next 3 days in a row.  It was very difficult for me to keep him up to date on the happenings of our home.  I would call him at work if something major happened but I handled the small stuff on my own.  When he joined us on his days off everything was out of balance. He felt left out and we didn't know how to handle the change in dynamics.  He would scold a child for something that happened days ago because he never got the chance to get his word in.  That was the hardest thing for me to deal with.  I often felt like a single mom with no one to help with trips to practice or anything else really.  It caused a lot of struggle in our relationship. The tension was very difficult.  I wish I had some great advice for you, but all I can say is that you are not alone.

Last year my husband was able to secure a 9-5 job and it has changed our lives.  We are finally a normal family.  Good Luck to you sweetie.

tabby... tabby1catt

sounds alot like my 17 year marriage that has now ended for 5 years now.  amaizing how now we can talk about it and thinking we should of talked about it more while married.  Chances are like my x your hubby is feeling left out too even if you do ur best to keep him upto date it's not the same.  maybe talk to him and get some ideas to include him.  When I went back to work he used to make crazy lunches with silly names the kids still talk about his hammy dogs whichis just cheese n ham around a hot dog lol.  he prob feels left out too thats all I'm saying if you are feeling it he is too.

good luck

nonmember avatar jessica wiley

take a trip with him... only you two. i have recently felt like you have and i hate it. my husband is an amazing man, but i find that i've been very "confused" about our situation lately. we just went to the beach together...actually the bed & breakfast where we were married 10 yrs ago on the beach. stayed in the same bridal suite. it was perfect... until one night, it dawned on me. i feel differently. all the issues i had been struggling with became crystal clear. the sad part now is that i have to make a decision now. live with the boredom and "uncomfortable-ness" or build up all my courage to make a change. it's a terrible choice, but the time away made me see things more clearly... and they don't have to be somber for you, either.

nonmember avatar LM

married to the outsider for 19 years. Had 3 kids (first came after 5 years together). I was stay at home mom. He worked swing shift at the newspaper. Those hours destroyed our marriage. I never got relief from the mom job, so I went to work on weekends when he was home. He found a girlfriend at work and when I found out (4 years later, because I was just happy he was at work so much and not interfering with my mom job at home)=divorce. I have felt everything you describe. Even though we both loved each other, we couldn't take the family set up. Work hours, etc. Please find a way to re-connect with your husband. Because it sucks when 20 years is down the drain.

Life goes on. Better men are found. But you never get back your "family". And you can't re-live those memories with someone who doesn't speak to you anymore. PS  He's been with the girlfriend for 9 years (only 5 years divorced to me), she "understands" him. She also has no children.


sissa07 sissa07

Hi there wow the difference between men and women is really what we all deal with in our marriage. Why do we have these momnets hmmm I think sometimes men and women get so tired of tyring ...I mean one trys when the other dosn't want to and it reverses. I hope that makes sense. My husband has a kins heart and I have been married to him for three years now and its not been a honey moon type of marriage. Marriage is what we make it it seems. We have a lot of time together and sometimes we talk and other times we just do not say a word. I love to talk and feel like at times I do not have the right words to say to him. Do all marriages have these momenst yes I sure think they do. I was a sigle mom and I want to grow old with my husband so we just make the best of what we have and enjoy every moment we can. I would say to peole out there NEVER give up always keep trying hard WORK really does pay off. I hope that I can help someone on here if so give me a shout and we can chat more. Big hug. Enjoy life.....and always keep smiling  :)


nonmember avatar Tania

I'm sure there are elements of male personality coloring this. But I'm a mom that works out of the home and this feeling of being the third wheel speaks to me. There are nights I look for work to do late because I don't want to go home and have dinner with these strangers that I love more than anything. They talk about people I don't know and places I can't go. Even they are nuts about me (I don't get a minute to myself when I get home) I'm not connected to them like their stay-at-home dad. And no amount of special-mom-and-kid-Saturday-breakfasts will change that.


I guess I'm saying that as hard as it is for you, it probably sucks for him too.

nonmember avatar Jaelithe

My husband (who is a wonderful father and whom I adore but STILL) does things like this fairly often, and he works five minutes away from our house. My son and I can finish each other's sentences; I know how he likes his food made, what latest Scary Thing he's currently scared of, which stuffed animal he currently prefers to sleep with and how to head off a tantrum painlessly five minutes before it starts. And my husband doesn't know all of these things, or at least, he often doesn't remember them.  Even though he sees us every day. And in fact often volunteers to cook dinner, and is usually the one to put our son to bed at night. 

When my son was a baby my husband was away a lot, and sometimes I wonder if all that time apart somehow permanently prevented them from bonding in the same way my son and I did. But I know so many other women who have the same problem, even though their husbands have never had to work long hours away from home that I think their early separation can't really be it.

And sometimes I wonder if it's just how men are -- that they are socialized to think it's not their job to know such things -- but then I remind myself that this issue is not strictly a gender thing, because I know stay-at-home dads who have the same issue with their wives just not having their heads in the game when it comes to taking care of the kids.

Anyway I don't know how to solve it. And I wish I did.

nonmember avatar Vicky

I wish I had words of wisdom for you but I don't.  My father worked second shift from the time I was ten until I was out of the house and married.  When he was home on the weekends, if he wasn't working, he was the third wheel too.  I never knew how to actually relate to him and still to this day have a hard time. My mother says she often felt like a single parent. 

All that being said, this actually sounds like stuff my mother says to my kids each time she visits. I read it out loud to my husband and he agreed saying, "That is so your mother!"  And you know what? She vacuums like a fiend too. 

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