I am much more willing to help my kids than my husband, and I’m not sure it’s because he is an adult and they are not. Besides the obvious stuff, like wiping his butt and cutting his food up for him (though, if that’s what keeps someone else’s relationship strong, no judgment), there are things I’d do for my kids that I’d never do for my partner. After I’m done feeling guilty about that (two to three seconds, max), I can sort of understand why: I just don’t have as much generosity to give him as I did before becoming a parent.
I don’t take the position that you have to choose between your kids and your partner because, well, I would never be able to do that. My entire family — my husband, my daughter, my son — complete me. However, before we had kids we just had more patience with each other. We also had more energy, so it was really no big deal to put extra effort towards each other. Plus, before kids was simply earlier in our relationship, when we thought about each other a lot more; maybe because there wasn’t so much kid stuff forcing us to perform mental gymnastics in order to keep our household running smoothly.
I’m not proud of it, but I don’t think I’m alone in that I’m a lot shorter with my husband, and a lot less forgiving of his foibles, since having children. Neither of us have the time (or patience) after wrestling kids in and out of the bath, chasing them into bed, and digging into the pile of prep work for the next day, to do more than the bare minimum for ourselves, let alone each other. I’m hoping we can get back to the place where we put one another’s needs before our own more often than not. As our kids get older, and we assign them more household tasks to share the burden, and to encourage their independence, we might get some time back. But until then, here are the things I’m willing to do for my kids, but not my partner: