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My wife and I have a 2.5 year old. Since she was born, my wife has been on various trips with either friends or her family (who live overseas) with the child, while I stay home at work, or to catch up on the holiday later when I was able. I've never complained or denied that she should go and enjoy herself.

I recently brought up that I would like to attend a seminar in Japan next year (for a hobby of mine, not work related). It would entail about 5 days away including travel. I have been to such seminars before, but not since the kid was born. My wife immediately said that I could go, as long as I organised my family to help her with the kid on the days I'm away (Wife is going back to work full time next year, kid is going to childcare daily), and that organizing help was non negotiable, that I couldn't go if she was left without aid.

I feel this is unreasonable.

On the days the kid goes to childcare now (wife working part time this year), I stay home, get the kid up, dressed, fed and to childcare, starting work much later then I usually do. I see no harm in her being able to do the same thing for a few days. Her work time is as flexible as mine. How can I approach this to avoid getting into an argument about it!

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    Without argument? On what Planet? Jokes aside, why is it unreasonable making sure you got help when you need it? – Fildor Dec 19 '17 at 5:23
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    It seems that her position is that if one of you leaves with the child the person leaving takes responsibility for their care and that if the child is in the home that it's a shared responsibility; you leave without the child and you need to arrange a replacement for your assistance during your absence. -- Q1: Is it only family that can care for or assist with the child's care? Q2: Can the child go with you? – Rob Dec 19 '17 at 5:27
  • @Rob Q1 Generally, yes. Q2 No. – AerusDar Dec 19 '17 at 5:39
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    @Fildor Apologies, I wasn't clear - my family members live at least an hour away, by arranging help, she means my mother coming to stay with her for the few days I'm away. She is more then capable of looking after the child on her own, the help is less 'need' than 'want'. – AerusDar Dec 19 '17 at 5:39
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    That speaks for your mother. Now would it be a great nuisance to your mom? – Fildor Dec 19 '17 at 5:44
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Frankly, I think it would help successful "negotiations" with your wife if you try to understand her point of view.

From her perspective, what you are offering now and what you got when she went on vacation with the child are two different things.

What she gave you (from her perspective): Quiet time at home without the child and her to do whatever you please. It sounds like this is something she would like as well (especially given that one of her jobs seems to have been primary caregiver for the child). Maybe she just wants a brief vacation from being a mother.

What you're "offering" her now (from her perspective): Taking care of the child alone while you enjoy yourself and do what you please. So essentially a double-shift of being a mother.

It currently looks like you get to enjoy some "me-time" no matter what and she gets to take care of the child no matter what. No wonder she's none too happy about that, it doesn't sound like a particularly fair deal for her.

If you can see the situation from her perspective and understand what she wants and finds important, you can go on to offer her a better deal. One where both you and she get something out of it.

It sounds like you don't find spending time with and taking care of the child particularly exhausting and that's why you're wondering what the big deal is. But it may be exhausting for her, since she does the majority of it and she may have grown somewhat weary of it.

You would like to go to that conference for fun. Find out what you can offer her in return so that she gets something out if it, too. She's already told you one thing she wants: help with the child. If you don't want to bother your mother, find someone else. Or find something else to offer her that she finds equally appealing.

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You need to have this conversation in a calm manner, even though there's a good chance that it will devolve into a fight. Pick a moment when both of you are in a relatively good mood.

Decide what your main issues are, and state your point of view as calmly as possible.

For example, I find the fact that she's issuing ultimatums absolutely unacceptable, and that would be my main talking point. It's not a healthy power dynamic in a relationship when one spouse imposes absolutes on the other. I'd tell her that I love and respect her opinions, but that she has no right to impose such conditions on you. That any problems she perceives could be discussed, and solutions found, but that ultimatums are not something I'd stand for.

Once that's out of the way, you can discuss why she feels she can't take care of the child for 5 days. I understand that she's not looking forward to it, but although it may be difficult it is hardly impossible. Express your point of view - you do this all the time already, and this is simply a temporary arrangement for her - a sacrifice she would be making to support your interests and personal growth.

Perhaps compromise on your mother coming down for one day (on the Wednesday, for example), to help her catch her breath as it were, but not every day.

At the end of the day you need to choose whether you want to make your voice heard, or embrace a "happy wife, happy life" attitude (which I think is unhealthy, as it often comes at the cost of the husband's happiness).

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If you wish mention you are happy with everything: new job for her, child, and your work; despite your happiness you wish to be able to attend a hobby related conference.

She needs or wants extra help. You need or want extra learning / networking / whatever you are doing at the conference.

Worth the discussion versus worth going ...


It would seem that, the way things are, there are few choices:

  • Discuss changing the way things are, see if you can agree on a different way to do things in accordance with both your beliefs and acceptable to both your families (if all of your families also has an opinion on your lives).

  • If it's OK with them send the child to your mother's (or other relative's) home, without either of you.

  • Don't go.

  • Bring wife and child to Japan.

  • If it is Robotics Conference it seems like there is one every month. Can you go to a different conference at a time and date better for everyone else or can you visit conference using LiveStream, Skype, YouTube or read Papers online (check conference's website for last year's info and see if it is good enough or if you would miss too much).

Maybe she doesn't say she wants to spend more time with you and the baby before she is busy with work. She thinks your time with her and the child is better than hobby she doesn't understand or isn't interested in.

[PS: If you wish add a Tag to your question stating which country or add it to the question; if you think culture is a relevant part of your situation - you might gain insight from someone more familiar with this situation and a means to resolve it.]

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