“What is something above and beyond your husband has done lately that made you happy?” asked a well-meaning mom in my local mom group.
I tried to narrow down the times my husband had gone above and beyond. There was the obvious, when he planned a surprise ambush and took me to the musical I had been longing to see, but that was a big gesture.
There was the day that I ruined a handmade baby item I had been working on with a stained iron and had to start over. He left for work but showed up twenty minutes later with a new iron and my favourite drink order from Starbucks before heading back out to work for real.
As I tried to choose the best example amongst many, the replies started flooding in.
“He played with the kids after work,” wrote one mom, proudly.
“He unloaded the dishwasher and took out the trash, he is so sweet,” beamed another.
“He vacuumed the living room without me asking him to.”
“He made dinner last week.”
“He watched the kids while I went shopping,” the replies went on.
I was admittedly surprised by what I was reading. The question had asked what our husbands had done that was above and beyond, and none of these seemed to be above and beyond the responsibilities of a husband and father to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it when my husband cooks and cleans and takes over the kids, but make no mistake, I do not view these things as a favour to me. I expect my husband to help around the house, just as he expects me to.
I expect him to be active in the parenting and care of our children. The children are not my responsibility by default, with him “helping” from time to time, they are ours. And our responsibility for our children is not 50/50, we are both 100% responsible for them. We have high expectations of the other, and rightly so.
My husband enjoys cooking and is good at it. He also drives, I do not, and he is very particular about his groceries, so my husband does the grocery shopping. I appreciate that he cooks, because I am terrible at it. But cooking dinner for our family much of the time is not going above and beyond. No one would consider a wife cooking dinner exceptional.
My husband cleans too (he’s mine, ladies, sorry.) But again, that is not a gift to me. He is an amazing, kind, sweet man, but not because he takes out the garbage and puts on the dishwasher. Just as I am not “being an awesome wife” when I fold laundry or vacuum the floor.
A good friend of mine answered the question with, “Every morning, because he gets up earlier than I do, he puts coffee on for me, and puts out my mug that says Good Morning Beautiful on the counter, so it is the first thing I see when I come downstairs.” That is going above and beyond. That is a kind gesture that is not part of just being a husband and father.
We need to have higher standards for our husbands, if we consider household chores and caring for their children to be husbands going the extra mile. Expect the same from them that they expect from you. Set the bar high and accept no limboing under.
Appreciate all your husband does around the house, because everyone deserves to have their contributions and hard work acknowledged, just as ours should be as well. But do not consider it a favour to you. We’re better than that, and given the chance, our husbands are too.