Have you seen Ali Wong’s Netflix special?
You haven’t? Well, let me tell you… It’s a treat. And it’s also what sparked this topic about how to be a great dad.
Lucky for all you dads out there, the steps are pretty simple:
- Get someone pregnant.
- Go to a few doctors appointments.
- Make dad jokes.
- That’s it.
- You’re done.
- You’re now officially a Great Dad!
Obviously we’re kidding.
But really, in this episode we talk a lot about the low threshold dads seem to have when it comes to being considered a great dad.
I mean, viral YouTube videos get passed around when they so much as show an interest in learning how to braid their daughter’s hair. (and yes, we realize this is really sweet but it’s also laughable; don’t come at us.)
But when a mother isn’t able to seamlessly juggle career, motherhood, and “wifely duties,” she’s a failure?
The amount of times I (Melissa) have felt frazzled because I was rushing between school, work, and home in order to do it all is… countless. And the amount of times I’ve beat myself up because I would forget one packed lunch or paying one bill is also countless.
And as for Shawn? The same “mistake” never seems to phase him, somehow life still moves on when he forgets to take the trash out or misses a doctors appointment.
And maybe the trick is that we don’t need to bring them up to standards but lower ourselves to theirs.
There’s always a certain amount of anxiety in a relationship. And the more it ends up on you, the less the other person has to carry it.
A trick Marie picked up in while doing marriage coaching was that your partner will naturally pick up the slack if you just let them.
Hear me out on this. I know it sounds a little far-fetched, but it’s true.
Don’t believe me?
Here’s an example:
During my 2L fall semester of law school, my schedule on Mondays and Wednesdays used to look like this:
5am: wake up + get ready
6am: make breakfast + pack lunches + prep/cook dinner
7am: drop Shawn off at work and head to school
7am-8:30am: sit in freaking traffic
5pm-6:30/pm: sit in freaking traffic
And for some ungodly reason, I still felt the need to be the one to cook dinner (even though I was getting home almost 3 hours after Shawn was.)
It’s like it didn’t even occur to me that “hey, he could make dinner while you’re stuck in Atlanta rush-hour traffic!” And it’s not that Shawn told me that I had to be the one to make dinner on those nights or that making dinner was only my responsibility.
I just chose to pick up that anxiety and hold on to it for dear life.
And for the first 2 months of that semester, I tried to fanagle ways so that dinner would already be prepped for us.
I did crockpot meals (one time
we I left it on too long and it somehow got moldy?)
I tried meal prepping on Sundays.
I cooked it in the morning (as well as our breakfast AND packed our lunches).
But it never failed! I still held so much stress and anxiety about dinner and making it home in time to prepare it on Monday and Wednesday nights.
But eventually, I just let it go. I stopped worrying, prepping, and trying to find ways to not get Shawn involved.
I started just winging it, sometimes just swinging by Chick-Fil-A before coming home.
And after awhile, do you know what happened?
I came home to cooked dinners. He picked up his share of the “anxiety” and did the dang thing.
So like Marie says, maybe the trick isn’t trying to convince them to care more or put in as much effort as we do. Trying to force them into doing or being something they aren’t isn’t going to fix the problem.
Maybe the trick is that we need to stop giving them the option to let the “anxiety” sit. Maybe we need to stop picking it up (the clothes, dishes, anxiety, milk on the way home, etc).
Much like our ancestors, the cavemen, our brains just want to do what it takes to survive. They weren’t carving the fanciest sticks, they were carving the sticks that got the job done.
Men, for the most part, are simply doing what it takes to survive. And if you’re covering all the bases for the entire time, there’s really not much else for him to do but to sit back.
Next time you’re feeling like the load is a little lopsided, consider the fact that your spouse is only doing the bare minimum because they know you’re there to hold the rest of it.
And when you remember that, pull an Elsa and let it the f*ck go.