Dear Prudence

I Resent My Husband for Being a Stay-at-Home Dad

Prudie’s column for June 22.

A man mops the kitchen floor. A woman looks annoyed.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by StudioGrandOuest/iStock/Getty Images Plus and Jevtic/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

To get advice from Prudie, send questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.) Join the live chat every Monday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion. Or call the Dear Prudence podcast voicemail at 401-371-DEAR (3327) to hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I have been married for a little over 10 years. We have two kids, 8 and 6. For the past couple years, I’d been increasingly frustrated by him not contributing enough to take care of our house and kids. We both work, but I’m the one who has had to sacrifice my professional goals. Last year it blew up in a big fight, and I basically told him he needed to help out more or I was going to leave. Instead of agreeing to do some vacuuming or folding laundry, he quit his job and became a stay-at-home dad. I was shocked, but I assumed he’d get frustrated or bored and he’d go back to work. He hasn’t. He loves it. He does the minimum to keep the house clean, takes the kids to school, makes dinner most nights, and spends his day playing video games. With me now working full time and not paying for child care, we haven’t suffered much financially. But I’m so angry that he’s doing this now that our kids are old enough to not need constant care. I had to put my goals on hold to birth, raise them, and do all the demanding work with feeding, diapers, and potty training. But now he gets to do all the things I wanted to do as a mother. I don’t even know how to approach this because he’s doing what I demanded, even if it wasn’t what I intended.

—Resenting My Husband

The good news is you get to have ongoing and complicated conversations about what you want, what you need, and what’s bothering you in a marriage. Just because your husband stays at home full time now doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to him about old hurts or resentments. That attitude of technicalities and loopholes—“You wanted more help at home. Now I’m home all the time, so you can’t ever talk to me about it again!”—is self-defeating and arbitrary. You have every right to ask that you two coordinate big decisions, not because you want to dictate his choices (or vice versa), but because you want to act as a team. You don’t have to find the right way to approach the topic, because you get to talk to your partner about what you’re feeling whenever you want (with the usual caveats about bringing problems up in a respectful, constructive fashion). It may help to see a couples counselor for a little while so you can figure out what you actually want from him in order to move past this. Think about what you want most out of these conversations. Is it to revisit your shared standards for what constitutes a clean house? Do you want to talk about his decision to quit his job and prioritize making decisions together in the future? Do you want to talk about a plan for when the kids get old enough that they don’t need someone at home full time? Maybe it’s some combination of all of the above. You can both acknowledge that your present situation is mostly working out and that you love him while also asking for some understanding and help healing your old hurts about a very difficult time in your marriage where you felt overwhelmed and like you weren’t getting enough help from him.

Dear Prudence,

I have had a dog for a year and a half, and he is the best thing that ever happened to me. He is a really sweet, loving, silly, and good boy who until now has had no behavioral problems. In recent months, however, another side of him has come out. He is a rescue and was abused before I got him from the kill shelter. There were a few incidents where he was protective over toys and snapped at people, and at two different times he bit my fiancé and I over a ball or his food. This is not OK, but it was easy (though admittedly irresponsible) to brush off because we are his owners. This came to a head last week when he bit a close friend in the face unprovoked, and the friend required many stitches. We got professional advice and have been training him and keeping him on a muzzle around others, but his aggression is getting worse, and on top of that he is now having accidents in the house whenever he is left alone even for a few minutes. We are in a city with very few resources for dogs like this, and everywhere that could help is at full capacity. It breaks my heart, but do we have any alternatives to the only option I can see, which is euthanizing him? What will we tell our animal-loving friends who love him so much? And he’s only 2 years old! I want to avoid this, but I don’t see a way out.

—Broken-Hearted Over Biting Dog

I’m glad that you’ve been seeking professional advice, and now’s the time to go back to that same source with your question. If that professional isn’t also a veterinarian, schedule a visit with one. Tell him or her what you’ve told me: that you’re regularly muzzling your dog and working on training but that you’re concerned for his quality of life as well as your own safety and the safety of others, since his aggression is only increasing, and that you’re considering euthanasia as the safest and most humane next step.

It’s clear from your letter that you love this dog and that you’re not considering ending his life just because he’s an inconvenience or because you don’t want to do the work of training him. People who love dogs can get lost in the weeds of their own affection, pushing for heroic measures that have more to do with prolonging life at any cost rather than taking a holistic look at the dog’s safety and well-being as well as the safety of people and animals around it. If your vet and trainer can’t give you reason to believe your dog’s behavior will improve, and if you can’t find anyone willing to take him in (someone who knows how to safely handle and train very aggressive dogs), then I think it’s both kind and necessary to start planning to end his life. I hope your friends can understand that you’re taking this decision very seriously and that you want more than anything for this dog to be happy, safe, and healthy—and that if that’s not possible, and if you know you couldn’t live with yourself if he hurt someone else, that you’re prepared to care for him to the very end. If he’s frequently muzzled, a threat to other animals and people, and soiling himself on a regular basis, then the kindest and most loving thing you can do for him is to end his pain and hold him as he dies peacefully.

Catch up on this week’s Prudie.

More Advice From Care and Feeding

My husband and I are parents to an amazing 20-month-old boy. Before I became pregnant with him, my husband and I would frequently have some drinks with dinner, drinks on the weekend, et cetera. We also work at the same place, which has instituted a weekly gathering of co-workers at a local bar for drinks after work. My husband always goes and ends up getting sloshed. I stay home with our baby and always cherish this alone time with him that I rarely get since my maternity leave. I love our quiet nights together.

My husband, though, insists that I need to get out more and come to these gatherings. I do not want to drink anymore and find the idea of getting drunk with my co-workers unappealing. Bath time and cuddles are my excitement now, but my husband thinks I’m depressed. He thinks I am shutting myself in with our baby and it is not healthy. I honestly have never been happier since becoming a mother. It is hard, but my life has become complete. I am honestly at wit’s end here trying to make my point and I’m worried that we are going to have a fight over this eventually. I know people insist new mothers get out and let loose, but the very thought of this has me digging in my heels at home and sets off waves of anxiety. Am I wrong?