Getting More Help From Your Partner

By: Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and Jan Hanson, L.Ac.

[Adapted from Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., Jan Hanson, Lac., Ricki Pollycove, M.D. Copyright © 2002. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.]

I did all the organizing for our son's second birthday, hoping that Bob would help out during the party itself. But no, he spent the whole time talking with his buddies while I raced around doing everything, except for when he cut the cake and then looked at me like he deserved some kind of reward! I want someone who doesn't need me to stamp my feet to get some help, who takes initiative with the kids and the house, whose mind is not elsewhere all the time. Somebody who does things because he wants to do his share, not just to get me off his back. I need to really feel like I have another half.

Some couples are equal partners in the work of making a family. But that's the exception, since many studies have found that the average mother is on-task, working away at one thing or another, about twenty hours a week MORE than her partner is, whether or not she is drawing a paycheck. And if she has no partner, in most cases just about all of the work of raising children falls to her alone.

If you are one the many mothers who would like more help from the father of your children, we suggest you do two things:

Here are examples of principled responses to various objections we've heard fathers make to carrying more of the total load; please adapt them to your own needs and voice:

Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, Jan Hanson, M.S., L.Ac., is an acupuncturist/nutritionist, and they are raising a daughter and son, ages 13 and 16. With Ricki Pollycove, M.D., they are the first and second authors of Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, published by Penguin. You can see their website at or email them with questions or comments at; unfortunately, a personal reply may not always be possible.

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