Guest Post: My Husband Is the Nurturer

By Bryn

The October 2018 Women’s Session of General Conference certainly electrified me (not in a good way). As I went from deep unease to shaking a bit and wanting to cry, I’m not sure I can explain fully why I felt such a deep sense of wrongness as my being was continuously described to me as a natural nurturer, but I know it has something to do with my husband, the nurturer, who happened to be sitting right next to me during the session.

I married a man who was raised, at least for a time, by his single father. Becoming a father himself was one of his great ambitions. He expected to be a father, just like his dad had been a father to him. It was special, perhaps made more so by the passing of my husband’s father before we started having children.

Well, now we have children. Three, in fact. My husband used to toss his tie over his shoulder as he held a baby through sacrament meeting. He never once complained about holding a baby, managing bottles, diapers, and entertainment, but he didn’t enjoy getting spit up on his silk ties. He would hide out in hallways and unused classrooms as he rocked a little one to sleep. He packed the diaper bag and made a point of us choosing that diaper bag together. He wanted to feel comfortable, like it was HIS bag and MY bag, as we carried our babies around in public.

My husband is the chief night nurse of the house. Now that our children are mostly sleeping through the night, he does the late night feedings, the bathroom runs, and the early risers. He bears sleep deprivation better than I do and can usually get back to sleep faster, so it made sense for him to take on this role. Our children even go all the way around the bed to get to him, even though they have to pass me. They know their dad is their go-to 2 AM problem solver.

My husband asked for flex-time at work so he could be home in the late afternoon. He gets up early in the mornings so he can be home with time to make dinner or to take the kids out to play. My husband loves to cook and often makes the bulk of our dinners. With three young children still mostly at home and me working part-time from home, he often takes over in the afternoon by planning and making dinner while managing the kids so I can lock myself in the bedroom and finish my work. He doesn’t multi-task effortlessly, but he does it, the same as I do during the breakfast and lunch rush of my daytime activities.

My kids light up when my husband arrives home. They know it’s play time. He lays down on the floor and plays “Robot Dad,” “Chase,” and “Tackle.” They sit on his lap to play video games. They giggle, screech, and beam with joy. They go to the park so often with their dad that the kids christened our park bag, with toys and snacks, the “daddy bag.”

In the evening, my husband takes either the littlest one or the two big ones, while I take the other option, and reads a few bedtime books. He cuddles, hugs, kisses, and noses each child in the way that they love. They hug first, they give a kiss, and then they brush their noses together. He puts out the bedroom lights, shuts the door, and walks to the kitchen.

Now he’s going to prepare the older kids’ milk cups in the fridge, in the exact place and with the exact cups that they like, so they can get them out in the morning and buy us a few extra minutes of peace. He’ll wash the lunch box containers and set them out so I can pack them on preschool mornings. If it’s Sunday morning, he’ll be packing the sacrament activity bag with snacks, scrubbing a child’s hair with shampoo (he leaves the brushing to me because he is just. so. awkward. at it), and picking out Sunday clothes.

I could write an entirely different piece about the vital and unique ways I also nurture my family. I could write about our partnership and how we perceive our roles as equal providers, nurturers, and individuals who bring our unique skills and talents together to serve our family. But today, I think it’s just better to say, without a doubt, that our happiness as a family is deeply derived from the efforts of my husband, the nurturer, far more so than his efforts as a provider or leader.

What a shame it would be to limit him to presiding and providing. What a shame it is to ever limit anyone to one single role.

Bryn teaches online basic writing classes, studies rhetoric and writing, and keeps three little people going all in partnership with her awesome husband. Her greatest parenting trick is that she can now recite Little Blue Truck from memory.

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5 Responses

  1. Jan Signore says:

    Amen Sistah!! Very well expressed, have the same thoughts every time I read about our prescribed roles.

  2. Em says:

    Honk said the dump, I’m coming through! I’ve big important things to do! Yeah, I’m with you on reciting Little Blue Truck. I had exactly the same thoughts on conference Saturday, because I was sick and my husband made lunch, played with kids, ran to get milk, did some birthday shopping, made us smoothies etc. etc. Its so limiting and inappropriate to act like nurturing is innately female and thus not natural in men. Nurturing is hard work for everyone, and we all have something important we can contribute to the work of care and love.

    I work later twice a week — my husband picks up the kids, feeds them dinner and often has a plate waiting for me when I finally stagger through the door. I would not describe our partnership as perfect, or perfectly equal, but I very much value his nurturing qualities, and they were what attracted me to him in the first place.

    • Bryn says:

      Having Little Blue Truck at the ready has been a savior on some long road trips!

      I have met some seriously nurturing fathers who don’t see themselves as nurturing because it is a feminine characteristic in their minds. It’s interesting how it hurts men who don’t believe they can ever measure up to their wives in terms of being nurturing, who don’t see what they are really doing, and it hurts men who haven’t in any way learned to be nurturing to know it’s a possibility and something they should work toward.

      Nurturing really is hard work for everyone and it’s hard work that everyone should be doing.

  3. Violadiva says:

    What a great balance to the family
    You all have discovered! I wish more people knew this type of life was an option. I think the indirect discouraging of men to be nurturers is one of the worst effects of patriarchy in our families today.

  4. L says:

    Nurturing is so much more then the daily duties which either spouse can do. It’s the cherishing, the inspiring, the feeding the soul. Both can nurture. Woman are just more natural at it. I think the Conference focus was to realize that and embrace those divine characteristics.

    This nurturing can be practiced and developed and I believe both spouses should be working together to figure out the best way to go about it in the family and to support each other’s efforts.

    A fathers divine role is to preside and provide but we have never been asked to limit fathers and husbands to only do that. There is so much joy and freedom in striving to live the Lords way. If the spirit inspires a Father to nurture a child then there is no instruction or encouragement for them to not do it because it isn’t their role. Everyone’s role is to have charity for everyone, our kiddos included. I think the key here is to find the true principles and then live by them with an eternal perspective. A mother’s role is one of those true eternal principles. It’s love. Dads can love too and can show that love through service which is what your hubby is great at! But there is a deeper love and nurturing of that love that comes more naturally to women.

    I love how you’ve found so much good in your husband and that you appreciate him. There is so much spouse bashing these days, so your post was refreshing in that regard.

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