Every relationship experiences a series of ups and downs. It doesn't matter if you've been together two months or 20 years, no couple has a stress-free, fight-free, disagreement-free relationship. In the almost 14 years my partner and I have been together, we've had to navigate a slew of arguments, all thanks to parenting fatigue and that mythical work-life balance we can't seem to find. So believe me when I say there are more than a few fights every couple has when both parents work. Hell, my partner and I have had some of them on a daily basis.
According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, nearly half of all U.S. homes include two full-time working parents, compared to just 31 percent of U.S. households in 1970. That same report found that 54 percent of the 1,807 parents surveyed left the majority of household and parenting responsibilities to the working mom. The continued inequalities in the division of household labor is sure to contribute to interpersonal strife, especially if both parents are holding down outside jobs. And since working dads make more money than working moms in every single state, according to The Washington Post, pay inequality and financial inequity can contribute to relationship troubles, too. In other words, just because two parents are both working, doesn't mean anything is "equal."
My relationship was impacted in a variety of ways when both my partner and I worked outside the home. Hell, even when I was a stay-at-home mom — before I decided to find part-time work outside the home — I was working freelance gigs and finding ways to contribute financially from the comfort of my living room. So my partner and I have been trying our hand at the work-life balancing act for as long as I can remember and, honestly, it never feels easy. So with that in mind, here are just a few arguments every couple is sure to face when both parents work outside the home.
The "I Need Me Time" Fight
At the start of almost every single day, my partner and I do the intricate dance of getting in our respective morning runs before we part ways for the day.
I truly think my run should take precedence. After all, I've been doing it longer, take it more seriously, and can't get through my day effectively if that routine is messed with. I'm happy my partner's started running for the benefit of his health, but I'm not ready to sacrifice my self-care time for what will probably be a hobby my partner abandons in a few weeks. Sorry, but it's true.
The "I Need The Shower First" Fight
After my morning run I want to shower immediately. So if my partner is busy wasting time in the bathroom or lallygagging, my entire morning routine is thrown off and, yes, it causes a fight. I understand he has to leave for work earlier than I do, but my plate has a lot more on it. If I'm sweaty and gross, ready and waiting for that shower while he's sitting on the toilet playing a game on his phone, we're going to have problems.
The "Who's Making Breakfast?" Fight
I never know if my partner will make the kids breakfast before he leaves for work, or if he'll peace out and leave me panicked and scrambling to fix the kids something before they leave for school. When he "doesn't have time" and I'm left to pick up the pieces, there's bound to be an argument or two.
The "Who's Getting The Kids Ready For School?" Fight
For the most part, thankfully, my kids are self-sufficient. Still, there are some mornings where we're all in a hurried frenzy to get out the door and the kids require some help. If my partner is "too busy" or "running late," and this responsibility falls on me, we'll definitely be discussing it over dinner.
The "I Don't Have The Time" Fight
Truth be told, there's never enough time in the day to accomplish every single one of my goals or cross every single item off my seemingly never-ending to-do list. So this whole "I don't have the time" excuse? Yeah, it doesn't fly with me. We're all busy, and we're all trying to manage our time effectively.
The "I'm More Tired Than You Are" Fight
Seriously, I'm the most tired. My dozen jobs to his one? Come on. Fight over. Period. The end.
The "I Can't Parent Right Now" Fight
I think all parents have those days where you just want to throw your hands up and let the kids do whatever, whenever, and for however long it'll keep them out of your hair. Maybe you're tired or overwhelmed. Or maybe you feel like, even though you work too, you're the one left picking up the slack at home.
I don't know why, but it seems like my partner and I have these arguments at the exact same time, which means one of us usually has to concede and let the other one take a break. I'll give you a guess as to which parent I am.
The "Why Don't You Help Out More?" Fight
I think every parenting couple, regardless of whether or not both individuals work outside the home, can end up feeling like they're not completely supported or fulfilled or being met half way at various moments during their relationship. And, I'm sure, as the result of those feelings, there are arguments.
Working parent couples are no different.
The "This Schedule Really Isn't Working" Fight
If I had a nickel for every time I had to adjust my work schedule because of my partner's, I'd have a lot of nickels! We've worked to make things "equal" or "fair" in all sorts of ways, but at the end of the day I usually go to bed thinking things are far from equal.
Then, when I wake up with a clear mind and those "feel-good" mantras have set my day in motion, I forget how stressful yesterday was and focus on making today the best it can be for the sake of us both...
... until I go to make coffee and realize my partner used up the last of it. Then, we have a real problem.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.