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Conversations With Kyle: Division of Responsibility

Eva Amurri Martino and Kyle Martino laugh together while drinking espresso at the bar of an NYC restaurant

As it turns out, this blog series has become one of Kyle and my favorite ways to connect and talk about parenting and marriage! It’s so interesting to have a focused period of time to really get in to a certain topic and share our feelings and opinions– I think we’ve both been learning a lot about each other through the process.  This week we sat down with a cup of tea and talked about the division of responsibility in our home and in our marriage.  I think in households where both parents work, the lines can get really blurred, especially with regards to responsibilities with the kids or household responsibilities.  And in some families, roles are totally reversed when it comes to more traditional gender roles.  As you can tell by our conversation, it’s taken us a minute to get in to a groove with division of labor in our own marriage, but we’ve found what works (ish) for us.  I’m curious to hear how your own relationship compares! Please share in the comments below!

 

Eva: So. This one is about how we divide up our responsibilities, within our  marriage and in our life, and how that–

 

Kyle: I’m not going to come across well in this one… (laughs)

 

Eva: (laughs) Well…I think it’s an important thing to talk about.  Let’s just get in to it.  So in terms of marriage stuff, what would you say your responsibilities are? And for people who will be reading this who don’t know, we both work.  So we’re both earning income and contributing financially.  So then taking financial responsibilities off the table…

 

Kyle: What marriage maintenance do I contribute to?

Eva Amurri Martino sits on a stoop with her husband Kyle

Eva: Yeah.  Like, household, kids, all that kind of stuff.  Within our relationship, what do you see as your responsibilities?

 

Kyle: Umm.  Hmmm.  (Pause). I think that I’m the resident P.E. teacher.

 

Eva: Okaaaay….

 

Kyle: I think I’m the activities in terms of sweating and skinning knees.

 

Eva: Ok, yes.  But I would say I’m the plans coordinator.  I’m the social chair for sure.

 

Kyle: Yeah.

 

Eva: So you are in charge of the heavy lifting, like running the kids’ energy out for sure.  But I guess I would say, for you, since you seem to be drawing a blank… (both laugh)

 

Kyle:  Can I phone a friend? (laughs)

 

Eva: You’re in charge of a lot of the financial stuff.  So you’re the one who takes care of organizing everything with insurance, our investments.  You’re the one who is more consistently in contact with our business manager…

 

Kyle: Yeah. I mean, I’m financials, technology.

 

Eva: Technology for sure.  You make sure everything gets installed where it needs to get installed, and fixed, etcetera. Also you’re the one who gets those bills.  But what’s so hilarious is that I’m better at fixing the technology.  Like, when a computer isn’t working or the TV or something, who fixes that?

 

Kyle: You. (laughs) I didn’t say I was good at it! I just said it was my responsibility! (both laugh)

 

Eva: Ok, so you’re financials, you’re technology.  I would also say you’re really good at the dirty work.  Like if we have to fire somebody or…

 

Kyle:  I’m the hard conversation guy.

 

Eva: You’re the hard conversation guy! (laughs) And by the way, that’s worth a lot in my book.  I think I– not that can’t have hard conversations, and I definitely have– like when you used to travel all the time when we lived in Los Angeles it was always me having to put the fires out.  But I think that it’s easier for you than it is for me, because I’m so emotional.  I get so caught up in the emotion of it, and you don’t as much.  So you’re much better at that.

 

Kyle: Basically when it comes to home maintenance– inside and outside– I’m also the guy.

 

Eva:  Yes.  You’re the one who thinks we need to repaint our entire house because there’s one chip in one little area…

 

Kyle:  I like to maintain my house!  It’s funny, I take care of a lot of bills– but also you do. It’s like we naturally–

 

Eva:  Yeah! I was going to get in to that, because it’s interesting how we never really had a conversation about how it would work but it just kind of did.

 

Kyle: I think that we very quickly divided up the responsibilities of how the home operates without really planning it.  We just kind of naturally went to what we felt most comfortable with, but also what we each used more. And then, it’s almost like “if you set it up, then it’s your responsibility to keep track of it.”

 

Eva: Yeah. So, then, what do you think MY responsibilities are? I’m curious (laughs) What do you recognize as the things I do around here?

 

Kyle: You are basically our calendar…

 

Eva: Yeah. Social Chair.

 

Kyle: Social Chair.  You are the food provider and preparer.  You are the health and education master.

 

Eva: Right, basically all the kid stuff.  So doctor appointments, everything for school. Homework, lunches, playdates, sign ups, camp, forms, paperwork, projects. 

 

Kyle:  I’m starting to feel like that scene in Office Space where the consultants go “What exactly would you say it is that you DO here?” For me.  (both laugh)

 

Eva:  I also do the aesthetics.

 

Kyle: Yeah, you design the place.

Eva Amurri Martino sits on a stoop with her husband Kyle

Eva: Our home but also everyone’s wardrobes and everything. 

 

Kyle:  Resident stylist.  Also you’re the one who cleans. 

 

Eva: Therapist? Chauffeur.  Actually, the chauffeur thing leads me in to my next questions…

 

Kyle: Ok…

 

Eva:  If there was one responsibility that you would want to shirk OR that you would want the other person to do, what would that be? I’ll go first.  (laughs) The responsibility that I am looking to relieve myself of halfway is the chauffeur stuff and the bringing to appointments etcetera.  I think in the past year you’ve started to do a little bit of that, but I think you can definitely do more.  And staying on top of that stuff.  Because for me it’s a lot to have all of the school stuff and the doctor stuff and the appointments and then to also be bringing them to everything. 

 

Kyle: Ok, I get that.

 

Eva: What about you?

 

Kyle:  I’d love to not pay another bill (both laugh) I mean I know the bills need to be paid, I just wish I wasn’t dealing with it.  I hate admin.  I hate the time consuming admin stuff.

 

Eva: Yeah

 

Kyle:  One thing I wish I wanted to do but I don’t is cook.

 

Eva: Yeah I wish you could do that too.  That would totally change our world if you could cook, even just a little bit.

 

Kyle:  Yeah, definitely.

 

Eva:  Yeah (pause) Maybe you should learn how to do that (both laugh)

 

Kyle: Yeah.  Then you would fall back in love with me!

 

Eva: Probably.

 

Kyle:  I just wish that I enjoyed, and had curiosity about it.  Like, I’ve tried to cook, but…

 

Eva: Ok, here’s the thing about the cooking with you.  And no offense, but…

 

Kyle:  Just go for it.

 

Eva:  You don’t have good instincts when it comes to cooking or food, and I think that’s why you don’t enjoy food that much or cooking.  Like, whether it’s flavors, or cooking techniques, or just nuance with food, that instinct is not really there, and so I think it prevents you from really being invested in food.

Eva Amurri Martino sits on a stoop with her husband Kyle

Kyle: I’d definitely agree with that.  I don’t have that instinct. 

 

Eva:  So that’s probably why you’re not interested in cooking.  And it is what it is.

 

Kyle: Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m realizing that it’s actually remarkable how much we accomplish in terms of dividing responsibilities without even really talking about it or planning it…

 

Eva: Yeah, we have telepathy.  (laughs)

 

Kyle:  Yeah.  It was basically a musical chairs of responsibility.  The music stops and we both just find chairs (laughs)

 

Eva: Ok, that is true, but we did have a major bump in the road after Marlowe was born.  Because I was taking on all the baby responsibility, completely.  And also working.  And that was not working. And so I needed you to help me more, and we had to go through that process to really figure out how you could help me in more consistent ways. So I wasn’t working and doing all of the child responsibilities.  That was a serious learning curve. 

 

Kyle:  Yeah.  I think what’s really tough is that having two parents who work from home– it muddies things a little bit, where you think that the other person is available for a responsibility, when they’re really not.  Like, you think he other person is there to help but really they’re going through their own day of business related responsibilities.  Like, I look at you or you look at me and think “ok, they can do this”– and I’m a lot worse at this than you are.  I struggle to plan out a day when I know I have to work and there are things I have to get done, it becomes a kind of “start and get back to it” rather than being good about blocking off time.  I’ve always really struggled with time management for sure. 

 

Eva: Well…

 

Kyle: And you make the teas.  This one’s delicious. 

 

Eva: (laughs) I make the tea. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.  I’m also resident health nag, making sure everyone is drinking their teas and taking their vitamins and everything.

 

Kyle: I mean when forced to really unpack it, I’m realizing there is no way that this house would operate without you.

 

Eva: You’re just realizing that right now? (both laugh) I mean let’s just be honest.  If I disappeared off the face of the planet, you’d be toast.

 

Kyle: (laughs) It just made me feel better to think that we weren’t so dependent on you.

 

Eva:  Well, too bad for you.  You are.  Congratulations!

Eva Amurri Martino sits on a stoop with her husband Kyle

 

 

Photographs by Carter Fish.

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20 Comments

  1. Nicole says:

    I soappreciate these raw, honest conversations between you and your spouse. I learn something about myself and my husband from each one that you publish. Thank you!

    05.24.18Reply
  2. Ann says:

    Lol. This! Yep. I say it all the time. If I disappeared my hubby would be in trouble. He can cook though. Amazing cook but only in the winter when he’s off from his business. I allow my hubby to focus ALL of his attention on his business (landscaping) April through mid December. I work full time as a dental hygienist, take care of all the financials for our home and investments. Do all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, appointments etc. But with that said, hubby has given me a beautiful home. In the winter he has used his carpentry skills to transform it. He does the majority of the cooking, grocery shopping in the winter. He works about double the amount of hours that I do but it works. This is why we have girls night out to vent about “all that we do.”

    05.24.18Reply
  3. Devon says:

    I just love conversations with Kyle!! You and I are on similar life pages (early 30’s, married, 2 kids-older girl/younger boy) and so it is so refreshing and a relief to connect with someone about the day to day struggles and miracles. I don’t know you, but am grateful to you for sharing glimpses of your journey to allow us moms out here to not feel alone, thank you!! ❤️

    05.24.18Reply
  4. Anne says:

    LOLOLOL this is the best post! Loved it! We have similar conversations in our house! My husband would definitely be in trouble if I wasn’t there – he basically told me that this week when we were frantically trying to get out of the house and to work/school on time with our two girls! Ha!

    I handle a lot of the kid stuff (pretty much everything you listed – which is a lot for two kids, right?!) and my husband does all of the financial and tech stuff (I have ZERO interest in that but feel like I should because if he didn’t do it we’d be in trouble!). He can also do a lot of home improvement stuff when needed. Luckily he also cooks so I don’t have to be the only one responsible for making dinner every night, which is so nice. We do a pretty good job dividing the responsibilities at bedtime – I handle bath/bedtime with our (almost) 2 year old daughter and he handles bath/getting ready for bed with our 6 year old daughter. Our older daughter is reading now so we divide the reading-with-her responsibilities every night and I am the one who actually puts her to bed (which takes all of about 10 minutes – easy peasy!). I guess I should give him more credit – I always feel like I do everything! LOL

    I do wish I didn’t have to do all of the laundry myself but at least I can watch TV and have a glass of wine while folding. 🙂

    05.24.18Reply
  5. Amy says:

    Haha! You have inspired me to have a similar conversation with my husband. I’m guessing his responses will go a lot like Kyle’s!

    05.24.18Reply
  6. Nora says:

    That was very interesting, thanks, Eva! My husband and I also both work from home most of the time. We have two kids (7 and 4). Kids are out of the house from 8:30 until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. That is the period of time when we both work (or work out or do whatever we need to do for ourselves). Each of us takes one kid in the morning, and we take turns picking them up (both kids) in the afternoons and spending the time until dinner with them. That makes two afternoons per week for each, one for the grandparents. We and the children are happy with this, beause it gives both parents time alone with the kids to connect with them but also stay aware of what hard work this is at times… Although it still takes a lot of planning and changing plans due to appointments and stuff! And with the housework we also have our responsibilities each, but the work never seems to end… :).

    05.24.18Reply
  7. Jordy says:

    I would love to see these in Podcast or YouTube form. I’d love to just hear you guys having this natural dialogue.

    05.24.18Reply
    • Georgia says:

      I second this!

      05.24.18Reply
    • Glenda says:

      Me too 🙂

      05.24.18Reply
  8. Jennifer says:

    I am loving these conversations! It’s refreshing to see other couples navigating through life just like the rest of us! Thank you for your openness and honesty. My kids are now school age. My son is 8 and my daughter is 6. It’s amazing how with each season of life you have to re-evaluate the responsibilities. I definitely don’t miss packing (and re-packing) a diaper bag. Now, it’s just lunches and backpacks and homework. Again, thank you for these conversations! I can’t wait for the next installment.

    05.24.18Reply
  9. Kay says:

    Oh Kyle was right, he did not come off very well in this conversation. This is typical in my circle of friends too, the wives do just about everything and the husbands do a few things here & there and the things they WANT to do. Wives/Moms are responsible for everything else. In my next life, I’m coming back as a man!

    05.24.18Reply
  10. Nichole says:

    I think this has been my favorite “conversations with Kyle” yet! 😂 You really get a feel for both of your personalities & the division of responsiblities is too relatable for me as well! I hope you keep doing these installments, they are too good to stop! 👏🏼
    Lastly, I would like to commend you both for being so honest & open 🙌🏼

    05.24.18Reply
  11. Glenda says:

    I do all the financials, but if there’s any major purchases we sit and discuss thoroughly. We both cook. So we take turns if he cooks I clean up and vice versa. When the kids were lil I stayed home, so he washed dishes and did baths and bedtime routines most nights, bc I did the cooking and cleaning. When they were school age I went back to work so I dropped them both off and afterschool picked them up. Afterschool activities I dropped them off, he picked up. Hubby traveled for work, so that’s when I felt like I did it home, but if he was home and worked his normal work schedule 730-430 he was hands on always.

    05.24.18Reply
  12. Meaghan says:

    Do YOU feel like the responsibilities are split evenly? I would guess that’s the important part. Such an important conversation to have before marriage, during and after the arrival of children
    Side note…there was a mother’s day card that read: “mom, we don’t deserve you, but please don’t leave us! We will die without you.” I saw this card at the store and then got home to find my husband, 4 year old and 18 month old snacking and my husband says “oh thank goodness you are home! We are starving!!” 🙄

    05.24.18Reply
  13. Vanessa says:

    The cooking made me laugh. When my other half would cook it was like a tasting menu (and not in a delish way) of weird courses, rather than a meal. Green beans isn’t meant to a course, rather a side dish. That escaped him. There was major timing issues with getting everything on the table for a singular hot meal. 😂😂😂 And he thought anything was yummy if you just added a packet of hollandaise sauce to the top of it.😝

    05.24.18Reply
  14. Mary says:

    I really enjoy reading your discussions with Kyle, always very interesting !!! So, you are basically responsible for all the cooking, cleaning, handling kids stuff and obligations, being the social chair of your family, maintaining the aesthetics of your household, driving around for chores and appointments with doctors etc. AND work full time AND contributing equally in financial terms? Well…then ONLY LORD knows what more a woman -who doesnt work (outside home) and doesnt contribute as much financially- is expected to do and take on…!!! At least in her husband’s mind cause looking after a kid all day and doing at the same time all the above stuff is not considered hard work but more of a type of leisure since you stay at home and dont have a boss or clients over your head.Only after many heated (and not so civil and polite like yours) conversations I managed to kind of make my husband realise that choosing to be a full time mom for the first years of our kid’s life is actually a very hard work and yes I also need help sometimes.Finally, I got some help or a better division of parental responsibilities but it didnt came easily or telepathically! It is encouraging when your man acknowledges that he would be a liiittle lost without you managing so much stuff! I think it’ s kind of sexy for a man to give his wife this credit.

    05.25.18Reply
  15. Stephanie Alvarado says:

    I enjoyed this post a lot. My husband got married late in life (I was 45, he 48) and I wondered how we would handle the division of maintenance. Like you and your husband, we went through some growing pains. Since we are childless, we can be spontaneous. Luckily, he likes to cook and is a good one at that. Your post made me feel more comfortable with how our lives have meshed. I would emphasize what you and Kyle convey which is find what works for you and yours and don’t be constrained by convention, play to each other’s strengths.

    05.29.18Reply
  16. Whew. We have been working hard recently at unpacking this topic in our marriage after a job shakeup gave us some time to reevaluate. It’s hard work! We’ve both definitely felt unappreciated for our contributions to our household and had some resentments build up. My husband has significantly more earning power at the moment and was working a lot, which left me with most of the child care (we have a 4 yr and 1.5 yr old) and home responsibilities, and I wanted to have more time for my own work (I’m a photographer) and also be relieved of some of the “mental load” of feeling like I take care of everything all the time – all that same stuff you do, plus I also do finances. It’s exhausting for both of us to depend on each other in those ways, but we’re making some changes.

    06.03.18Reply
  17. Dani says:

    This is so real. Thank you for asking us what we wanted to hear from you both. Mostly thank you for being honest and forthcoming about the true struggle after the first child is born. No one can really prepare you as a women mother and co parent. I love your blog and instagram. I have it saved on my homepage.

    Thank you and your family.

    06.10.18Reply