Crissy and Mister from a cultural perspective or whatever

Next time I feel like running away, pour me a drink, would you?

My battles with Mister and Girlfriend are so typical, and I know that, I just forgot to mention that yesterday.  For me though, it’s not that Mister’s an insensitive douchewad (although he can be at times.  As we all can), it’s that he’s a guy.

Here’s what I think happens to us, all of us.

We live in an interesting time where we are trying to re-define some gender roles that our parents began to re-define when we were little kids.

Here we women are, no longer so much relegated to the kitchen and responsible for 100% of all the household duties and childcare.  We are educated.  We have goals that belong only to us and have nothing to do with our husbands and children.  Many of us have to work outside the home because surviving on only one income is impossible.

We owe our mother’s generation a heartfelt “thanks mom” for standing up and saying “FUCK. THIS.” And they went on strike (I remember the day my mother did it.  We were beside ourselves.  We thought she was crazy.) and they said “it shouldn’t have to be like this.”  And they made it so.

As girls, this became a part of our idea of what it would be like when we grew up and had families.  We know we shouldn’t have to do it all.  The problem is, our husbands and partners grew up watching their dads come home from work, crack open a beer and dig into a lovely dinner our mothers prepared (while grumbling and popping pills or drinking wine or sometimes smashing dishes and locking themselves in their rooms and crying).

Our mothers have helped re-define motherhood and womanhood, while at the same time showing us how to pull off our traditional roles, the guys haven’t had that experience.  They’re lost.  They find themselves in a sea of roles that they have to learn for themselves.  They are burdened with having to figure out how to be husbands and fathers in a whole new way to a whole new generation of women who expect equal partnership.

There are growing pains.  There are resentments.  There is jackassery.

I always try to remember to say “thank you” when Mister does the laundry or the dishes or changes a diaper.  I want to encourage such behavior because he is doing his part, but if I don’t leave Mister a list of what needs to be done, he plays video games because he assumes everything is under control even though the sink is full of dishes and the floors are gross and there’s piles of laundry.  He’s just not tuned into that stuff.  He simply doesn’t see it because he’s not programmed to think it’s his job.  We recently had a fight about that.  I went to Target with Homeslice so he could get stuff done without her being in the way, and when I came home, he was playing Zelda in the basement and the chores were untouched.  I asked him why he wasted that time and he was incredulous.  He said I needed to “take responsibility” for it because I didn’t give him a list of stuff to do.  I thought it was pretty obvious what needed doing,  but he  just didn’t see it.

OR! That’s just an excuse to be a shit ass and Bill Cosby was totally right about men being smart because they screw up household chores purposely so they won’t be asked again.

I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt on that and just say they’re clueless and we need to teach them how to sniff out a shitty diaper and how to see a pile of laundry.

I don’t know.

Maybe I’ve just had too much academia crammed up my ass, but I want to believe that men want to be equal partners in all things domestic and that they don’t want to be married to overburdened, exhausted, frigid, shrews.

Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe they’re all shitbags.

I don’t think my husband is purposely being a dick.  We just have to learn how to share the responsibility equally instead of the house being primarily my responsibility and him “helping out.”

I also need a full-time j-o-b so I actually have ground to stand on here…

This is like, way too huge an issue to deal with in a single blog post, but there it is.

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45 comments

  1. You are correct in that this is too huge of issue for 6 in the morning. I am still trying to wake up. Another point that should be mentioned is that our husbands as well as ourselves might have been brought up by divorced mothers, so neither of us saw what a worthwhile husband or father should act like. We had no strong male role models, just strong mothers who did everything because they had to. It is hard to navigate how and what a husband and father should do around the house and with the children when all you have to go on is what you have seen on tv or in books. Needless to say it creates conflict. Bill Cosby and Martha Stewart do not have all of the answers.

  2. ummm…correct me if I’m wrong, but the house, children, pets and husband ARE a full-time job–so you DO have that leg to stand on PLUS your part-time gig.

    Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

  3. I honestly don’t think it’s that Mister is a douchewad, Crissy (although, as you said, we can all be that way sometimes). I think it’s really valid that we (collectively) are trying to figure out who does what and how it all works when there isn’t a predefined “Women are domestic goddesses, men are the breadwinner” lists of expectations.

    In my former life, my wasband stayed home (didn’t have a job) and I went out and worked. And then I came home and cooked and cleaned and paid the bills. If I didn’t tell him what needed doing, nothing got done. If I made a list I was “nagging” (and nothing got done). If I didn’t do it myself, nothing got done.

    That being said… the times I was between jobs and home being a “housewife”? OH MY GOD was I miserable. HATED it.

    There are no easy answers. We’re writing the book so we can’t cheat and look in the back for the answers. I hope y’all have a stellar weekend and way less stress!
    .-= MsDarkstar’s last blog post… Less Stressed Wednesday =-.

  4. I totally agree with you. My husband thinks I have to be the one to clean the kitchen all the time and cook all the meals. I totally hate doing that. He sits and watches TV or gets on the computer while I am doing the dishes for an hour after dinner. Pisses me off. Yesterday he yelled for me to do the dishes “right now”. I said “No”. He told me to call a taxi cab and leave, pack my suitcase and leave. I got out the phone book. I was going to find a taxi to call. I was going to leave. I was mad. He told me to put away the phone book and fix my son some lunch. Sometimes…I…hate…him.
    .-= Connie’s last blog post… My thoughts on Wal-mart’s lower prices =-.

  5. Yes Ken, it does…it works both ways.

    BUT, doing half the housework should not mean only what you receive a list to do…you should be able to see what needs to be done on your own…

  6. This is a great post!! Men are so different than we are, that’s just the way it is. My husband stays home … he’s a full time Dad and does a great job at it. But his focus is on the kids … not the house, so I still end up doing a lot of the household duties myself. Sure he picks up and stuff but it’s not the same, and that’s fine too … mind you it took a lot of arguments and getting used to.

    Sooner than you know you’ll have two little girls wanting to help with everything … and that’s not all that fun either ;)

  7. I haven’t been able to figure out if they don’t see it or they just don’t care. They definitely are wired differently. JUST THE KIDS ALONE IS A FULL TIME JOB without the housework, by the way.

  8. Crissy, thank you for this. Nobody could have said this better. I’ve seen this in many relationships from my parents to my friends. Gender roles is still a huge issue and I just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone.

    Again, fantastic post.

  9. i have a need for a very basic system: give me a list of things you want done, and i will do them.

    to expect my thresholds of “it’s time to vacuum the floors” to be precisely identical to my wife’s is unrealistic. however, if she writes down “clean downstairs floors” on the chalkboard, it gets done… vacuumed and washed.

    the system works. my wife will agree! i don’t consider it nagging. i know that the “machine” of a house needs to be kept running and in good condition. it must be tended every day.

    i float above things. part of it is being a male, part of it is my temperament. when the shit is hitting the fan, i’m the one who keeps his head. i’ve always been that way. my tolerance for stress and chaos is high. i literally do not even notice it until it gets to a level that my wife could never abide.

    while i don’t assume that gives me a right to refuse to pitch in, i recognize we each have our areas of expertise. i’m a proponent of disparate yet complimentary partnerships–i can’t pick out a paint color to save my life, but my wife isn’t exactly skilled with a plaster trowel and hawk either. between the two of us, we work as a far more effective and efficient team. getting pissed about these differences neglects the positive benefits that specialization brings to the table.

    as in any team effort, the key is that the total labor is divided equally. otherwise morale suffers and the team falls apart. nobody likes carrying dead wood.

  10. I can’t help but wonder if the bigger issue of how we were raised comes into this discussion.

    As a child, I was required to do chores on a weekly rotation with my siblings. Part of it was because we were latch key kids and my parents both worked full-time. Part was because we had a large family. It was just a way of life – you helped out. It was EVERYONE’s responsibility. (This is not to say I didn’t complain about doing them)

    My husband as a child was not required to help with anything. Not only did this contribute to his inability to notice the obvious tasks that need to be done around the house on his own, this taught him ZERO life skills. When he moved away to college, an we moved in together, I was the one who taught him basic house skills (cooking, laundry, etc.) His parents (mostly his Dad) decided that rather than fight and force his kids to do something to help out (and keep his mom from getting mad) he would just do it all.

    Basically, what I am getting at, is that it is more than just the gender roles being redefined for the mom and dad and the husband and wife, its about how work is viewed by the entire family unit. If something needs to be done, who helps?

  11. I don’t think anything is accomplished by making this a gender issue. There is nothing constructive being accomplished by trying to figure out why your husband does – or doesn’t – do these things. Instead of finding a way to move forward in this issue in your relationship, you are finding excuses for the problem.

    Each marriage is unique. Every individual brings something unique to that partnership, and a balance has to be struck for the union to work and everyone be happy.

    I don’t know how long you two have been married, but if this problem of division of labor still exists means that it was not settled when you married. It doesn’t matter that we are the children of the Ozzie and Harriet generation, it doesn’t matter what we learned growing up. While it might give an indication as to why the behavior exists, at this point it only serves to allocate blame and could easily become an impediment to improvement.

    If your problem is that your husband can’t figure out what household chores need to be done, that tells me he doesn’t expect to have to do them. Which then tells me that you are the one that does them the majority of the time. He has already stated that when you are working he cooks, cleans, does laundry, takes care of the children. That tells me that he indeed does know what needs to be done – and does it – when he knows that he is responsible for doing so. That he doesn’t do these things at other times tells me his experience is that you do them when you are at home. I could just as easily say that you were raised as a girl to cook and clean and take care of children and so when you got married you automatically assumed those roles IN ADDITION to having a career. If you didn’t want to be the one primarily responsible for doing these things, then you should have said so at the beginning, instead of doing it and then blaming your husband for not doing them when you don’t.

    when you go to work, do you just “do things” or is there a job description that defines your responsibilities? Do you see work on your co-worker’s desk and pick it up and do it because it needed doing? No – they do their work, and you do yours. In other words, there is an agreed-upon set of responsibilities.

    Raising kids and keeping house is no different. If you don’t want to do the dishes all the time, then you should set up a household set of responsibilities. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but it could be something along the lines of – if I cook, you clean up. Whoever is not cleaning up after supper gets the kids ready for bed. If you don’t like mowing the grass or changing the oil in the cars and expect that your husband makes sure “it gets done when it needs doing” then be prepared to take primary responsibility for some other household chore.

    It all comes down to this. If you have expectations of your husband, then don’t assume he knows it. That’s a recipe for failure. Talk to him about it instead of assuming and then having your feelings hurt when he didn’t read your mind. If you feel your husband has unrealistic expectations of you, the same applies: talk to him about it.

    This does not mean you have to lay out a list of chores for him in order to get things done – hubs has to pony up here too. If he’s passing through the room and smells a dirty diaper – he should change it. If it is his turn to do the dishes, then playing video games instead is wrong.

    Sorry to hijack your comments here, but since you decided it was a serious enough issue to continue to write about it, I felt a detailed response was warranted.

    Please don’t feel I am being critical here, what I wrote can equally apply to you and your husband. Marriage is a partnership and it takes the best efforts of both to make it work.

  12. That’s right, Mel. That totally figures into it too! This is a really, really huge issue. Way too much for me to handle in just one blog post.
    If we had a boy instead of two girls, I would require that the boy do just as much as the girl. My brother was excused from chores because he was a boy and I always resented it. There was no family unit doing chores. It was just me and my mom.

  13. We’re only having a discussion, Bob. Feel free to say what you feel. Like I said. This is a big issue with as many explanations as there are people.

  14. I love this post. Your family works for you guys. Most of the time. Like any other system. And sometimes you get overwhelmed (yesterday). But for the most part, it happens. And I agree with what Pimp says. His level of tolerance for chaos is much, much higher than yours. He doesn’t act until it’s at Death Con Level 5. You’re uncomfortable at Level 1. And if he needs to be reminded what makes you uncomfortable, you leave him a list. And seriously, he wants you to be happy, so he does it. I SO get that.

    But it doesn’t mean that the system is never “off” because we’re human beings, so we pull through and reasses, and off we go. And we continue to grow and learn and that’s part of life.

    So, have a drink on me next time.
    .-= k8’s last blog post… Happy Feet Friday =-.

  15. Ken I heart you and your strengths. And your whole family…I can just empathize with the notion that making you a list is just ONE MORE THING to do and can even make the mundane and ordinary stress seem overwhelming.

    I know my postings are less theoretical than most today…but pragmatics are all I am capable of right now! :-)

  16. I think giving Ken a list and him doing it is awesome. At least there’s some reliability there. I guess I see it as a person who was in a relationship with someone who wouldn’t do anything ever no matter what. Ever. List or not. Despite saying yes yes yes.

    And I remember being so tired and wanting to cry and feeling alone and so frustrated and shrill. It’s so crappy.

    One of the most shocking and reassuring things about Fancyhats is that he’s reliable too, like Ken. He does what he says. If I ask him to do something, he does it.

    But I also can see that making a list is a drag and something like WHY CAN’T YOU JUST SEE THIS POOPY DIAPER?

    There are so many studies out there that say women still do the bulk of the housework. I know that I like doing housework when the man is doing other stuff — like taking care of the yard and the cars and man things. But I don’t like it when he’s sitting around making even more of a mess.

    I know Ken does a lot of car stuff, building stuff, etc. It’s something I envied oh so long ago. I still think it’s awesome.

    Anyway, you know I love you both. We’re future in-laws and everything. It’ll all get sorted out.
    .-= Melissa Lion’s last blog post… What We’re Doing This Weekend =-.

  17. You, my friend, have hit the nail on the head. Even those of us without children face a similar set of issues. I constantly struggle with wanting my husband to be responsible and step up to the plate on his own. But, if I don’t give him a list (i.e., NAG), then he doesn’t do it, which sends me into fits.

    You’re totally right, though, about what we experienced through our own parents and how our generation is in phase two of growing pains (our parents had to get used to a new role for the woman/wife/mother while we have to get used to a new role for the man/husband/father). The difference, though, is our mothers wanted and welcomed their new roles whereas we’re kind of forcing something un-fun on the guys now. Sigh.

  18. My 11 year old vaccums twice a week, I get the other days. My 7 year old dusts twice a week, I get the other days. I do all dishes, laundry, cooking, cleaning, errands, bill paying, money stressing, and caring for the kids. I also work FT and deal with most of the responsible parenting stuff. Hubby works FT, does the fun stuff with the kids, and brings in three times my income. We are also both grad students.

    It works for us. If he were to do things around the house, he would just screw it up and I would have to redo it anyway. Sometimes it is just easier for him to go play with his fiends and get the hell out of y way. I love him and all, but honestly, he is my oldest child, and I am a single parent, two income household.

  19. A-fucking-men sister. My husband acts like there is a damn maid living in the house because I am currently a SAHBeeahtch. I feel torn between nagging him and just doing it because I am home all day. The reality is that housework sucks. I would much rather have an outside job like his (that pays). I am a college educated woman who chose to stay home with the kids until they are in school. I made that decision for all of us so he should help. Alas, he watched his dad do nothing and his mom do everything (and work) so I think he believes that’s how it is. The women’s rights movement has left us all reeling a bit. I constantly struggle with being home because it doesn’t feel natural although a few generations ago it was. No matter what I do around the house I feel like I am just not contributing even though trying to keep the place in order while dealing with 2 clingy toddlers ain’t a walk in the damn park. Somewhere my brain equated a paying job as contributing and standing on equal ground. As for my husband, this issue with my thinking leads to me cutting him too much slack because he works. The whole thing leaves us both confused and bitter at times.

    This was a great post. You hear so much about equality but you never really hear about the transition issues that are part of that equality. Sorry the comment was so long but my week was pretty much summed up in your post.
    .-= Sabreena’s last blog post… I Added Pages!!! =-.

  20. i think the problem is nobody wants to do this shit work. it’s tedious and thankless. i say get a cleaning service and give them a list of things to do. and if you don’t have one already, get the mister a lawn service.

    life’s too short to be cleaning floors and toilets. it’s money very well spent and time you won’t get back.
    .-= pattypunker’s last blog post… pause before you play, my ass =-.

  21. If he can’t see things but will work off of a list, then make a list every day. It seems he is willing.
    And yes, guys just want a good looking woman to do all the household chores, preferably naked, and be available anytime they want something. Sounds good to me.
    .-= joeinvegas’s last blog post… Can’t we just get along? =-.

  22. So i don’t co-habitate with my boyfriend, but he spends most weekends at my place. He often has Friday off or at least half a day Friday (he works for the government), so I often come home on Friday to find him already there, and having cleaned up anything that I might not have been able to get to throughout the week. He grew up in a big family where everyone pitched in all the time, so he always helps. He is better at tidying than actual cleaning though…he doesn’t mind dust etc. but can’t stand for things to be out. I on the other hand don’t mind clutter, but can’t stand dirt and dust…so we actually complement each other with our cleaning styles. This is a huge issue for a lot of folks though. I have some friends whose parents never taught them to clean up after themselves at all.

  23. From reading all of your other blog post I have gathered that you two are a great couple. You remind me of me and my husband and you also have the same complaints (ALL the same complaints). My husband says the EXACT same thing that Pimp says. Make a list and I will do it. I keep telling my husband that making a list of things for you to do is just one more thing I have to do. Moms tell kids what to do all day. Everything they do has to be guided. It is really infuriating when you also have to tell your husband what to do. My husband for the most part washes dishes (about 70% of the time) and takes out the trash. He knows these are his tasks and really the only things I ask him to do on a regular basis but I STILL have to remind him almost every time when the sink or trash can is full. My husband knows for a fact that being with the kids all day without the cooking and cleaning is a full time job because he can’t handle the kids by himself without freaking out for 3 hours by himself. I also think it has a lot to do with what is required of our genders in childhood. I was made to wash my own clothes and fold them every Friday by the time I was 8. Now my dad has two stepsons (15 and 18) and he washes, dries and folds ALL of their clothes. My husband also never had to wash and dry his own clothes or do anything as a child. I am kind of glad I don’t have a son (2 girls 2 and 5) because I think I would be harder on a boy about chores just where his wife doesn’t have to pay the price in the future. Having said all that if telling my husband what to do is the biggest problem I have in my marriage I guess I am pretty lucky.

  24. This is one very interesting post… i actually like doing housework and used to do it while I was married but now that I’m alone, i don’t do shit, and not because I don’t feel like doing it but because, I don’t see the purpose when no one is around anymore. Boo hoo i know
    .-= PorkStar’s last blog post… Back from the dead – Part deux- Hi!!! =-.

  25. Interesting point, Porky. That’s because the term “house work”, which has been used repeatedly here, is more expansive than we think. We can roughly state the two ends of the spectrum concerning house work. At one end there is a basic level of necessary maintenance a house requires so that stuff doesn’t fall apart and we don’t live in our own filth and fungus. At the other end there is a compulsive and furious level of house work that goes so far beyond a necessary level such that it begins to appear that it’s no longer the house being maintained but something else. That something else? The Female Psyche. So if one says that hubby isn’t doing his “share of the house work”, it’s possible the overall level of “house work” required was defined by a female. Provided of course the the male isn’t prone to living in his own filth and fungus.
    .-= Christian’s last blog post… I Wore Two Sunglasseses =-.

  26. Wow, this was timely. I’m a SAH-Fiancee for the time being. And I have been Losing. My. Shit. lately because of it. I love my fiance, but I start to wonder if he’s inconsiderate or I’m just too touchy because anything I ask (nicely! I promise!) of him is met with a huge SIGH, even though I feel like I’m “earning my keep.” There are no bright line rules here I guess. Thanks for making me feel less alone!

  27. My husband does most of the cleaning- he likes things cleaner than I do (and he notices first). I don’t think this is because I am a woman and he is a man. I conclude that none of this is part of being male or female- Gender is not sex. I agree with you, Crissy, that these are learned behaviors and whatnot.

  28. This is Jo. I’m 60 and Geo is 64. Both my parents worked until my dad had a stroke at 55 and he decided he didn’t have to do anything much around the house, altho he was fully capable of walking several miles to the library daily, Divorce followed.

    Keep in mind that my mother’s generation was the one that began to become educated and were pretty much shit on by everyone. I can’t tell you how many office managers she trained that were men, even caught them stealing, but she was just the bookkeeper.

    Geo’s dad, worked his mom stayed home with 4 kids. We both did major stuff as kids. I pretty much took over cooking at about 10. I did laundry, floor cleaning, etc. I think Geo did yard stuff, had a paper route and a paying job by the time he was a senior in high school.

    Fast forward to our relationship 34 yrs ago. I worked, he worked. No kids by agreement. When we began living together, I announced I didn’t own the housework. For many yrs we had hired cleaning folks. I did a lot of fancy cooking because I loved it. I did grocery shopping so I would have what I wanted to eat and cook. I did more yard work cuz I liked it. He has always done all the laundry. He has also always done dishes. That includes loading the dishwasher. Every dish I put in, he has always rearranged so I thoughtfully place them in the sink for him to load as he likes. He does car maintenance and fooling around, does toilet plunging of which we seem to need a great deal more then the average household. I do financials, bookkeeping taxes

    Then we retired at a very young age, downsized to a small apt and illness reared it’s ugly head. I became more and more ill and less and less able to do any chores. Geo has really surprised me by taking over almost every single chore, including grocery shopping and COOKING. He dives onto the internet to find recipes, he’s become a crackerjack crockpot chef.

    And now being without cleaning help partly from lazies, we live in a cluttered, semi dirty and dusty environment. The kitchen gets done…that’s health. The toilet get done when it smells. The bathroom floor gets washed when the senile cat hangs his ass over the litter box and pees on the floor. The box gets scooped 3 or 4 x a day. That trash can gets emptied ASAP. Other stuff kind of gets done when it seems like it’s an annoyance.

    In general, I think it’s time for y’all to sit down and decide what’s important for one reason or another…one of you cares about it getting done, it’s a matter of health, the cars gotta run ’cause ya gotta get to work, the kids gotta be taken care of.

    Make a list of what all it takes to run your house. Do it together. Figure out the least amount you can live with under normal circumstances. Then decide on a breakdown of who does what…other then the kids…all the time. Then no body has to make a list of “chores” to do. As has been said, that’s one more sucky chore. I would only do that if it were something extra special and out of the ordinary.

    From my advanced age I do agree it’s all part of the rearrangement of gender roles, and I do think it’s partly because even your generation had a lot of bad examples of
    poor male behaviour.

    If mister were in the middle of a video game and you asked him to do something, what would happen? Have you thought about why you don’t ask? I’m not picking on you, Ken, but you really do need to remember you both need to give 200%, because you love each other and want each other to be as happy as possible under the overworked and overstressed lives you lead.

    I guess I better quit before I wake up the rest of the dinosaurs around here…

  29. Oh Crissy.

    You hit on a big topic in our household here. Roles have totally changed.

    Dave and I have had 15 years of running arguments about who is supposed to do what. We both have gone through at least 12 of those years renovating a house. The first 2 years were where I primarily did a lot of the work. (Yes, demo work, tiling, taping and plastering drywall seams, you name it. I was Ms. Contractor). He had a “hobby job” on the weekends.

    On top of all of it I kept on top of making sure the house was drywall dust free on a very regular schedule and dedicated so much time into it that I too felt I had 0 time to do anything else.

    A couple of years ago we had a blowout because I didn’t do something – I forget what, maybe taking out recycling or something – and he totally freaked on me declaring that he has to do “everything” in the house. My only response was to stop doing the seemingly “invisible” things that I ‘d do every day to make this house a home every time I’d hear it.

    Boy oh boy did it suddenly become obvious that fairies aren’t in here cleaning floors and purging the fridge. The fights about me not “doing anything” escalated until I finally said. “Dude, every time you accuse me of not doing anything, I do one less task”.

    End result? We now have a little task list listing everything that needs to happen during the week that we both cross off when we do it.

  30. The Boy and I just had a conversation about this last night with the neighbors. The Boy is really great about doing whatever I ask, if I ask. Sometimes it grates on my nerves when I work an 11 hour shift and he’s been home for three hours watching reruns of NCIS and there’s a pile a laundry to do and dishes in the sink and the thought for him to do them doesn’t even cross his mind.
    However, I realize that I don’t have to keep track of when my car needs an oil change. I haven’t mowed a single blade of grass. If something breaks it’s fixed in days without the help of a professional…etc. And even though these are typical “male” things they’re also things I don’t care to do, so I feel we’re rather balanced.
    In reality I guess it’s not a huge deal that the floor will only be vacuumed by Not-Me if I specifically ask it to be, it’s just a little depressing to think that my partner in life needs the same chore list as my 10 year old brother. I think that’s what gets me the most, I end up feeling like I’m bossing him around by writing him a list and “checking his work” when I get home. It imposes a strange power shift in the relationship and it just feels wrong.

    When you figure out how to make it all work please let me know. I feel like I’m navigating in the dark.

  31. “to expect my thresholds of “it’s time to vacuum the floors” to be precisely identical to my wife’s is unrealistic”

    I think this says more than all they talk about gender roles and parental examples. I can certainly attest to it being the truth in our home.

    My wife and I both have demanding careers…..plus a household and two monsters. We are both fairly realistic about division of labor and attempting to make sure that each of us gets ‘alone time’ without work/spouse/kids. I do diapers, doc appts, laundry, dishes, parent/teacher meetings, cleaning, cooking…..a little bit of everything. So does my wife. And we both manage to squeeze in time for the office.

    That being said, there is a distinct difference in tolerance levels or chore threshold levels in our home. In most areas, mine are more lax than my wife. I don’t have a problem with sandwiches for breakfast or pancakes for dinner. I don’t mind knocking out all the laundry on Saturday as opposed to each night. I can leave the dishes in the washer for a day before cranking it up. Sure, it leads to occasional confrontations (which are usually due to other contributing stressors) but for the most part we have slowly settled into a system that works for us. Neither party has 100% of their wants or desires met…..but it works.

    Beyond that, I reallllly get sick of stay at home parents whining about it not being fair that they have to keep house or take care of the kids. If staying at home is what you do…..IT’S YOUR FUCKING JOB. It’s no different than your spouse going in to the office and putting in their 10-12. Deal with it. It drives me nuts hearing the stay-at-homes in my neighborhood talk about having to get a maid or babysitter just so they can make it through the day. And no, that’s not to say that when the spouse gets home they can go kick back for a nap and not put in to help with the family.

  32. fascinating post, and very interesting comments. i think i agree with shaba, the part that’s the most frustrating for me is not that guys that i’ve dated won’t do “housework” stuff without a list, it’s that to me, a list feels like i’m nagging, and i really really really don’t want to be a naggy girlfriend. so it sucks that guys get to be all “look, just give me a list, and i’ll do the work, and we’ll both be happy” when in reality, i’m not actually “happy” to make a list in the first place. i’m just less happy if he never helps out, so a list it is.
    .-= Alice’s last blog post… paintings of the pole: volume 4 =-.

  33. I’d prefer a list from my husband, but it’s not fair to ask him to be in a parent role and give me chores. He likes things cleaner (actually, so do I, but I am not bothered as quickly as he is). If I lived alone, it would be gross, undoubtably, and I am a lucky bastard to live with him. So, as the one messy woman in these comments, I guess I sympathize with the messy husbands, but I also had a mom who was messy and a super-clean dad, so I probably learned my gender role as a kid (ie. mom and I are messy, dad grumps and cleans, I only do chores when nagged, etc.) I hope I’m getting better, since it makes my husband really, really bummed when I say I will clean and I don’t. I’m not writing this comment because I’m proud of being messy, but because I think gender roles are learned, and I agree with Fenrec that it is:
    1. Unreasonable to expect thresholds to be the same
    2. Unreasonable to expect a list

    Don’t know if anyone else here reads Dan Savage, but he has written about this a couple of times. Basically, his partner cleans and cooks, because he likes to, wants to be stay-at-home parent and cares more, and Dan is a breadwinner, because he has a great job. They both clean when they are both home, and their ten-year-old son cleans and does chores. Dan’s advice is something like “if you like things clean, marry someone clean or be prepared to clean more often” and also “don’t be a lazy slob, especially if you have kids.” Seems like good advice. But then, of course, Dan’s partner doesn’t write the column!

  34. Sorry but I’m going to have to call utter bullshit on Mister. Does Chrissy have to give you a fucking list to tell you when to take a shit? No you just take a shit when you need to, same thing goes with chores and responsibilities. Take a look around and if shit needs doing just do it.

    Sorry Chrissy but if I were you I’d be on Strike right now.

  35. well, toe, i guess i’ll start leaving a list for things like:

    measure, order, pick up, remove and replace 3 bedroom windows (simonton 5500, w/sculpted grid (top sash only), white inside/outside, full size metal screen, super 336 glass, 7/8ths spacer).

    excavate grass/earth, determine quantity and order gravel and sand delivery, determine quantity and order paver delivery (ideal millstone vinyard blend tumbled), rent power tamper, string out dimensions, install patio

    once patio is finished, install final stairway off of rear deck which was built last summer

    lots of kinky sex in various places

    dismount tire from out-of-round wheel on saab, remount on wheel from junkyard that is waiting in garage

    troubleshoot drifting and out of range fuel trims on subaru, possible induction leak/maf sensor failure/o2 sensor failure

    i mean, if my wife loved me and paid attention to me, she’d know what needs to be done, and she’d just do it, right?

    did i get a list today? no, today the chalkboard was clean. still i managed to fold and put away laundry and load and start the dishwasher. i do not refuse to do things off list. however, i do not expect to be raked over coals because i can’t read people’s minds–if it’s a priority, and you want me to be sure to do it, put it on the list. THEN when it goes ignored, feel free to justifiably flame my ass.

  36. I’m with Kimberley as a messy F married to a tidy M. But I think we Fs have a bit more empathy/ sensitivity to the moods of our Ms. When my M is all stressed out with work, even if I am too, I try harder, do more dishes, figure out how to wash his socks, and make sure I am in the mood for de-stress sex. For him, the housework is a habit. For me, it is an act of love.

    I am also incapable of cooking well for myself; I need to cook for those I love.

    We are not going to have children, as I would probably be a terrible womb and not a great father-figure.

    Put those gender roles in your pipe and inhale deeply.

  37. This post and comment conversation reminds me of that line from The Breakup: “I want you to WANT to do the dishes.”

    I feel like I grew up in a home where household chores were shared equally by my mother and father (dad cooked, ferried me to and from school/dance/soccer/journalism/choir, and contributed to laundry, as we all did), but my mother jokingly credits our housekeeper with saving their marriage. And it’s because, as others have pointed out, her idea of clean and organized was different than my father’s.

  38. I wonder who does the dishes and the laundry at the cleaners house ? Does he or she have these same relationship problems brought on by domestic chores ? Roll on the day when we all have robots that can do everything in the home, including mix a bloody Mary. Tell then I’ll have to make do with the Roomba…
    .-= Deirdre’s last blog post… Mommy-to-Be Fairy Costume =-.

  39. Hiya very nice blog!! Man .. Excellent .. Wonderful .. I will bookmark your site and take the feeds additionally

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