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The Daily Dish Relationships

Busy Philips' Husband Wasn't Up for Childcare Duties During Their Marriage

“Marriage is always hard, but especially when you have kids," she said. 

By Marianne Garvey

Busy Philipps said her husband screenwriter-director Marc Silverstein, was not stepping up to his role as father when the duo first had kids.

The actress told Parents magazine that Marc wasn’t really acting like a good father after their daughter, 10-year-old Birdie Leigh, was born. Then they had a second child and things got even worse.

“He was not understanding how to be a dad and, in fact, didn’t try. I was parenting by myself,” Busy said. “When I told him I wanted to have a second child, he said, ‘Fine, but it’s all on you.’ That was so heartbreaking.”

When they had a second child, 5-year-old Cricket Pearl, Busy gave him an ultimatum.

“Marriage is always hard, but especially when you have kids … You’re going to go through periods when you’re not into it, but there always has to be one person willing to fight,” she said. “I went to Marc several times and said, ‘I cannot do this anymore. Something has to change, and it’s you.’”

Things have since gotten better, but there is still work to be done, Busy says.

“We’ve had a lot of serious discussions and counseling, and he’s incredibly participatory now in a way I don’t think he could’ve imagined before,” she said. “We’re a work-in-progress but trying our best, and that’s the most you can do.”

Lauren Eavarone, who offers sex therapy and relationship counseling in NYC, says what it comes down to is that two partners may have differing views of what childcare involves.

“If your male partner or husband is not holding up his end of the deal with helping out with child care duties it may be time to revisit the negotiation table," she says. "One partner’s idea of child care may vastly differ from the others. Unless expectations regarding such have been discussed and negotiated, placing ‘musts’ and demands on your partner will likely lead to disappointment when they do not adhere to your ideal vision of dividing child care duties. 

"In terms of child care duties it may not be so black and white in terms of who does what and when, rather it can be an ongoing negotiation as work-life balance needs fluctuate for each partner. This is especially true with more modern gender role adhering heterosexual couples where women are more likely to have careers yet are found to still maintain the majority of child rearing responsibilities-leaving minimal time for self care."

Lauren adds that holding in anger and resentment only further complicates things for everyone.

"Don’t simply expect your male partner to know what to do or do it ‘right’ every time, especially if he comes from a more traditional upbringing," she says. "Working with a therapist who specializes in relationship issues can prove to be a very useful resource. The professional will provide tools for effective communication, including avoiding blaming, shaming, and demands, that can promote empathy, validation and willingness to compromise.”

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