There are so many people in this country, primarily men, who feel like they’re only a paycheck to their partners, and sometimes even to their kids. I can’t think of a lonelier feeling than thinking your sole purpose to your family is mere income.
I know there are single-income women who get slammed by an entirely different set of unfair circumstances at home. I know there are dual-income families out there, the majority of our country, actually, and one day I will write about their burdens and sacrifices, not to mention inequity, in those family situations. There ought to be a law.
But today I’m writing to the disappeared husbands and fathers, perhaps you, who feel unappreciated, taken for granted, and unseen. I’m reaching out to you, the guy who comes home late, leaves early for work, and who feels you’re just along for the ride, which is largely driven by your spouse. The worst thing, oftentimes, is that feeling of being an outsider; marginalized in your own family. You feel like they’re in the way. Except for the financial support you provide.
Men like you report to me that they have no voice at home. You feel largely un-consulted about virtually all the small and large decisions being made. Your parenting strategies are eclipsed. You may be no longer be intimate with your spouse. You live like a hard-working monk.
But there’s so much you can do to rearrange your life so that you feel heard, loved and respected. Not to mention appreciated. You deserve to be seen as much more than just a paycheck!
Listen, of course, but don’t be told. Let your spouse know that you want to do a better job at making joint decisions about the house and kids. And make sure that both of you have an equal say on what to do with your money. Too many of you are silently struggling to pay credit cards debts because your spouse has no idea what you and she can actually afford. So talk. And listen.
A partnership will get you both out of that financial father-daughter relationship some feel they have. Treat your spouse as a full partner and you will be better able to command partnership with all decisions about the kids, house rules, how money is spent, and where.
Start letting members of your family know that your vote carries weight. A great way to gain respect is by expecting it. Check out one our recent article about how to gain and show respect to others for more information on this topic.
Ward Cleaver is dead. And so is June. Whether your wife is working or not, respect her contributions and let everyone know you expect regard and acknowledgement, and respect from your kids. After all, you are the dad.
Many of you are so agreeable that the next thing you know, you find yourself being told rather than asked. There are going to be lots of things that you would prefer not to do, so just say so. Doing things you don’t really want to do might be also making you really bad company. And who wants to be around that? Further, your wife also needs to have her “No” respected by you. Partnership, remember?
Let her know how it feels that your needs don’t carry much merit. And tell her what you need from her in your relationship. So many men tire of initiating lovemaking. And they are tired of be rejected. Perhaps I’m talking about you? Explain how important it is to you to also feel sexually desired. As a man, you get rejected a lot more than women do. So tell her.
You are so much more than a paycheck. And I’m quite sure that you fell into this trap together over time. It’s okay. It’s fixable. But you have to use your voice and let your thoughts and feelings known.
Quiet soldiers get lonely. And you matter too much to be just a paycheck, especially to your wife and kids, to remain silent. Get to a couples therapist. Let your wife know that she’s your first priority and that you’d like to be prioritized the same way with her. Get better at saying “No” when you honestly feel that way.
And remember that the best way to command respect is to expect it.
At the end of the day, you are so much more than just a paycheck! And you deserve more respect than that. For more insightful blogs, check out Counseling for Busy People.