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Unfair Burden for this Working Mom

QUESTION: I am in a dual-career marriage with a son who is 10-1/2 months old. After we pick him up from day care and return to the house, we struggle to make dinner. Sometimes we pick up fast food, as I am too tired to cook, or my husband helps out and makes dinner while I watch the baby. We argue almost every evening. PLEASE HELP!

ANSWER: Don't make the mistake of feeling inadequate because you cannot do it all. This is a setup for depression and a formula for resentment in your marriage. You have agreed to work outside the home. It's good that your husband is the type who helps out around the home. That means he should be willing to do his fair share in coming up with solutions to your problem.

Ask him for his suggestions on how you can eat healthily together. Consider dividing up responsibility for researching professional cooks and how much it would cost a few times a week. Or, could you and your husband each make one dish on the weekend that could be frozen and would last for a couple of days? Consider both possibilities as well as ordering one day a week from a natural- foods restaurant.

All of these are options for supporting dual-career families. The key to not being overwhelmed is the extent to which you feel your husband is a part of your team rather than a sideline critic. Don't solve the immediate situation by doing double duty, because overwork will lead to burnout and further alienation from your husband.

It is likely that much of your arguing is about loneliness and missing each other. Carve out time to talk, to enjoy your child and to recharge your batteries by spending quality time with each other. Work to resolve your problems through teamwork -- this is an opportunity to strengthen your bond by solving problems together, not on your own, which can create a durable foundation for your family. Superhuman feats are not the answer. Instead, lean even more on your husband to lighten the load.


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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