Inside His Head: ‘Gym rat’ husband skips out on family too often

inside a guy's head

If you’ve ever wondered, “What was he THINKING?!” you’ll love this monthly feature.

Here we go where women fear to tread — Inside His Head. Find out what men are thinking, delivered straight from the “horse’s” mouth.

This month’s question for our anonymous panel of husbands:

Q: It drives me nuts when my husband gets home from work, grabs a snack and says he’s going to “run to the gym”. Meanwhile, there’s dinner to cook and kids to take care of — which I get to do by myself. I would be fine with it a couple of nights a week, but it’s more often than that. I haven’t put my foot down yet, but I know it has to be done. Any advice for getting my point across without it leading to a huge fight?

GRAY: Seems like he’s too busy pumping iron at the gym to recognize he’s not pulling his weight at home and it’s making you resent making a meal and spending time with your children. It appears to be making the situation divisive. And if something this innocent could lead to a “huge” fight then some time together might do you all some good.

To me the solution seems simple: find time to exercise as a family.

Exercise is a great habit to have, but carving out the time to do it regularly can be a real bugger. Making it a family affair can be a great way to teach your kids the importance of staying fit while giving you all an opportunity to share your day with each other. If they’re too young to go on a bike ride or run around the park, there’s a whole host of carriers and strollers perfectly suited for the situation.

Sure, you might be able to talk him into switching a workout or two to the weekend or a morning, but why not join him? Find ways to bring the family together. It’ll be the best exercise any of you can do.

john.thumbnailMAVERICK: Your complaint sounds pretty reasonable. You don’t mind him going to the gym, it’s just his timing that puts the whole family, except for him, in a bind.

The best way to get this across without leading to a huge fight is to address it when A) he’s not “driving you nuts” with his behavior and B) when he’s not focused on getting out the door and hitting the gym.

Assuming he’s not a total gym rat who has to be working out every day, bring the subject up on one of his off days and in the evening when dinner if finished and after the kids are in bed or doing something to keep them occupied. For goodness sake, whatever you do, don’t “put your foot down.” He’ll instantly react badly to that, you’re not his mom and best I can tell he’s not even been told his behavior is causing you grief.

Unless he’s just a jerk, and your question points more to oblivious rather than jerky, he simply doesn’t realize he’s jamming you up with the timing of his workouts. He likely is thinking that by timing his workout between the end of work and dinner he’s getting it done before he can be lured in to simply staying home and hanging out and it leaves his evening free to be with the family.

Let him know you think his gym time is important to his sanity and his health, but you really need him at home to help with his family in that all-important time before dinner. Tell him there’s just too much going on during his gym time and you need some help. Remember, you are both adults. This is a reasonable request, not an ultimatum or a chance for you to vent, bringing up all the times in the past he’s fallen short of your likely unvoiced expectations.

Offer some alternatives, maybe starting dinner earlier while he helps you with that or tends to the kids so he can still get out to the gym at a decent hour afterward.

If his going after dinner all the time isn’t the best solution maybe you two can compromise, with him going to the gym straight after work a few times a week and on those days he becomes responsible for evening duties, like baths or homework or the bedtime routine. Or maybe some of those things you need help with regarding the kids, say homework or household chores can shift till after dinner when he can be the one who tends to them.

You have every reason to expect help and likely a compromise can be arranged. Just don’t minimize his gym time. Don’t couch this like he’s out playing while you slave around the house. It’s important to him.

It’s become an issue, most likely, simply because he’s unaware. And don’t, I repeat don’t, come at him like your his mom. It’ll just make him defensive and make that huge fight you say you are dreading a near certainty.

generichead-1MICHAEL: It’s not a matter of “putting your foot down”.

It sounds like your husbands personal time has edged past an acceptable limit. You need to clearly communicate your annoyance to your husband in a constructive way. He may assume that dinner and kids is your “job”. Clearly it’s not.

We all want our spouse to be healthy, but not at the expense of the rest of the family. Tell him you appreciate him taking care of himself but you need him to cut back and expend some of that energy at home helping you in the evenings. He can always go later at night if necessary after things have settled down.

Summer-Remix4When you have kids, you have to shift your priorities a bit. That doesn’t mean that you never do anything for yourself, but you do have to compromise a bit to ensure that the entire family can win. It’s time for him to take one for them team.