My wife works so hard I resent her - what should I do?

You can't bottle up your feelings, but it's important not to make her feel guilty, says Jeremy Bullmore.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 20 Oct 2016

Q. My wife is the breadwinner in our family and works long and hard. She leaves for the office at 7am (I drop the kids off at school), she's attached to her laptop in the evenings and she travels a lot. While I try to be supportive, I'm starting to feel resentful.

My career is suffering and the children barely see her. Any advice?

Jeremy Bullmore says: Unless you're utterly devoid of sensitivity, you must surely recognise that your letter would be read with howls of joyous recognition by thousands of women throughout the country: 'So now you know what it feels like!' If you're hoping for sympathy from them, you should look elsewhere.

But you do, I think, deserve some sympathy - not least because, for far too many years, convention held that the woman's place was in the home while her chap was out there, hunting and gathering. So you suffer the double indignity of being the put-upon parent when most of your male mates are still getting away with it.

You need to be a little more assertive; but don't bottle things up until you become so charged with resentment that your most reasonable suggestions come across as graceless bluster. Fix a date, and fix a babysitter and take your wife out to dinner somewhere quiet.

Keep it low key. Make it amusing if you can. Make it clear that you're genuinely delighted that she's so good at her job and enjoys it so much. Don't imply that she should feel guilty; just that she's carrying far too much responsibility for the breadwinning side of things when you're willing and able to play your part.

Don't insist on an immediate response: any change for the better is bound to be gradual. Have another glass of wine and enjoy the evening.

Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. Email him your problems at editorial@managementtoday.com. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

Image credit: Forest Runner/Flickr

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