A reader recently sent me a private message saying the following:
“So I’m thinking about writing my own blog called 'in my next life I want to be the husband.' It came to me when I came home from work...after spending an hour at the chiropractor for therapy...went straight to the kitchen and fixed dinner, unloaded the dishwasher, filled the empty dog dish with both food and water...blah blah blah while the husband...who had been home an hour...played an I-pad game and watched King of Queens. Am I the only one who thinks, '’What is wrong with this picture?’ The holidays are a whole nuther story...the shopping, planning, wrapping, card-writing, cooking, cleaning, entertaining....and the men eat, burp, and watch a football game. Better yet...I'm tired just writing this paragraph. You may have the thought and run with it if you wish...”
Yeah, we’ve heard it a million times, haven’t we? Men sit around and fart while the women work in the kitchen, and the women are annoying, whiny nags. You’ve seen all the hilarious Facebook memes, right? The ones about man-flu are just absolutely hysterical.
Or… are they?
|I'm sorry; I fail to find the humor in this...|
Is it really funny that in 2013 we still have this INSANE double-standard wherein women get the shaft much of the time? When I was working full-time, I still did all the cooking, all the laundry, all the grocery shopping, all the cleaning, and not all but most of the child-care. The Hubs took care of the cars, the lawn, and the electronics. All of those things only need intermittent maintenance, if we’re getting picky… and I am.
Back when I was working, if I got a cold, even a really bad cold, I still went to work. I shut my office door and stayed away from people, so as not to infect everybody, but I still went. I still cooked dinner, did laundry, etc. I took medicine to help with my cold symptoms, and tried to go to bed early. If my son was sick and someone had to pick him up from day-care, I was the one to do it. Those were my only ‘sick days.’ On the other hand, if the Hubs got sick, he would stay home for a couple of days, sleep in until around eleven, come shuffling downstairs for a bowl of soup, then go crawl back into bed until dinner, after which he would stay up watching TV until about 1 a.m. When the Hubs got sick, I had not one single iota of pity for him. Not a single one. In fact, if he even hinted at the possibility that he might be getting sick, I would roll my eyes so hard I would sever a blood vessel in my brain.
Back then, we had this agreement that I would cook and he would do the after-dinner dishes. He rarely adhered to this agreement. He would say, “I’m tired, I’ve been working all day!” and I would be like, “DAFUQ does he think I was doing all day???” but I would usually leave it alone because even I was too tired to argue about something as stupid as dishes. So they would sit crusting in the sink. Sometimes he did them later in the evening, sometimes not until the next morning (GROSS), sometimes not at all. In the last case I would have no choice but to wash the dishes after arriving home from work, prior to starting dinner. Granted, that extreme wasn’t an every-day occurrence… but when it happened it made me fantasize about what life would be like without him. Yeah guys, ARE YOU LISTENING??? We hate it that much.
Then there were the discarded socks, shoes, and clothes lying all over the place, plates, glasses, and mugs left forgotten, used tissues and apple cores, hangers all willy-nilly and multi-directional in the closet, toothpaste tubes that were squeezed from the middle… FROM THE MIDDLE, PEOPLE!!! WHO DOES THAT?!?!?!
People who are used to having other people pick up after them do, that’s who.
One of the reasons I decided to quit work and stay home is that I was just sick and tired of nagging all the time. Contrary to my family’s opinion, I really am not fond of the sound of my own whining. Now that I stay home, I take the brunt of the housekeeping responsibility, as I should, because that’s my job now. However: And call me persnickety, but I simply refuse to pick up after someone for the little things that they ought to do themselves. I SAID I REFUSE!!!
And so, after more than ten years, the hubs and I have reached a happy place of mutual understanding, and I would be overly-modest to the point of lying if I did not give myself complete credit for this transformation in our relationship. Dr. Phil helped me use my nice words, but what really got results and incited tangible change in my husband’s indolence?
You may call it Husband-Training if you wish, but just don’t call it that in front of your husband, because that shit is condescending.
Besides, it is far more effective to simply take action and not say a single word accept for what I tell you to say. Because I’m a freakin expert on this shit, okay? DO YOU HEAR ME, FELLOW NAGGERS, WHINERS, AND SINGLE-EYE-BROW-RAISERS? This is going to be VERY difficult for you. You must simply take action and SAY ONLY WHAT IS REQUIRED.
So if you’re in need of some good ol’-fashioned Husband Training… Buckle your seatbelt honey, cause things could get a little bumpy:
1) If you get a bad cold, go to sleep. Just really. Go to sleep. Only do the absolute bare minimum that is required to keep people alive. And by ‘people,’ I mean your kids. The husband doesn’t count right now. He’s in training, remember? If he’s around, wait until right before you take cold medicine so your voice sounds extra congested, and say, “I feel horrible. I’m going to bed. You’re in charge of all the stuff I normally do.” And leave him a list. Don’t forget to put something about feeding the kids on there, you know, in case he’s the ‘forgetting’ type, and I’m assuming he might be, or you wouldn’t still be reading this. This tactic can and will backfire. You will be left with a giant pile of laundry and dishes that he will expect you to ‘take care of.’ He will think that by simply not letting the children die, that he will have completed his solemn duty, and he might even expect you to be grateful. Don’t worry; we’ll get to how to handle that in a moment.
2) Alternatively, when he gets sick, make sure to bother him with as many things as possible. Run the vacuum where he’s sleeping under his giant pile of tissues, ask him where stuff is, and send the kids in to ask him as many random things as you can think of. (What? It’s not like you get to poop alone… at least we’re not making voodoo dolls.) And when he tries to stay up really late because he’s wide-a-freakin-wake from sleeping all day, say in your best ‘mom voice’ (because men like to be babied) that he really ought to get to bed. Only when he gets pissy because you won’t leave him alone should you say, as sweetly as possible, “But honey, I thought we were equal partners in marriage! I just wanted your experience of being sick to be the same as mine! By the way, the grass is getting kind of long. It’s not going to mow itself!” Okay. That last part will start a fight. But it’s a fight that needs to be had. Seriously. This shit ain’t funny anymore.
3) For clothes that get left all over the place: RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO PICK THEM UP. I know for many of you neat-freak types, this is a hard one. But how is he supposed to become self-sufficient if you keep doing everything for him? Don’t worry; I have a solution for you! When your husband drops his dirty clothes next to the hamper instead of in the hamper (really, how freakin hard is it to move your hand over three inches so they go in the hamper???), or at the side of the bed, or on the living room floor… wad them up, stuff them on his side of the closet, and close the closet door. There! Now you don’t have to look at them anymore! Of course he won’t notice the giant pile of clothes on the floor, but he will notice when you do laundry that he’s missing a bunch of crap. When he asks you about it, say: “Oh, I only wash clothes that make it into the hamper. Anything that wasn’t in the hamper I figured wasn’t dirty, so I put it back in the closet. On the floor.” This works. I know from experience. I hardly ever see clothes anywhere but the hamper anymore.
4) Also with regards to laundry… this is something that rarely gets addressed and I really don’t understand why: Why must everything be taken off wrong-side out? There is a way to remove your clothes and still keep them right-side out, and it only takes a fraction of a second longer to do it that way. On the other hand, it takes thirty minutes for whoever does laundry to turn everything right-side out. How to get your husband to take his clothes off right-side out? Fold them or hang them in whatever condition he took them off. I have hung and folded many a shirt wrong-side out. Haven’t done it in a while, though… (wink wink).
5) Dirty dishes left on a night-stand or end-table? Create a special pile by the sink just for him. Point them out, in the most casual non-naggy voice you can possibly muster. This is hard, really really hard, but essential. Your voice must be your regular speaking voice. NOT your nagging voice. Practice in front of a mirror, or for a friend. Here’s what you say: “Honey, these are the dishes I picked up for you from all around the house. Would you please wash them for me?” I know, I know… “for me”? Really??? Well… yeah. Because the sad thing is, you’ve been picking up after him for so long he probably doesn’t even realize anymore what a total slob he’s being.
6) Any other trash left lying around such as empty beer bottles, apple cores, etc… See above.
7) As for helping with all the other stuff, you just have to ask. Be very clear and put your nagging voice away. “Honey, are you about done with what you’re doing on your I-Pad? I could really use some help over here.” If he would rather play games on his I-Pad, then you would rather crack open a bottle of wine and read a book. Give the kids some chicken nuggets and put them to bed without a bath. Don’t cook. Maybe make yourself a dinner, something easy that only feeds one person (we’d all rather eat a box of macaroni and cheese for dinner anyways, amiright ladies?), and when he sees your mac-n-cheese and gets all jealous and huffy, just very calmly say, “Oh. I’m sorry, I thought we were just hanging out and relaxing tonight and sort of all doing our own thing. Did you want to come to the kitchen with me and help me whip something up?”
You see where I’m going with all this, right? I know this might seem like a man-bashing post, but I promise, it’s not. Who do you have to blame if your husband doesn’t help out like he should? YOURSELF. Yeah, that’s right, you enabler. If you do everything for him all the time, he’s going to let you. Why wouldn’t he??? (I would!) If you don’t demand that he helps (you know, in a nice way), he won’t help.
Slamming cabinets and heaving giant sighs of frustration are NOT effective means of communication, not with anyone really, but most definitely not with men. When he hears you furiously banging pots and pans together, he’s not thinking, “Hmmm… maybe my sweet wifey is feeling like she’s shouldering too much of the responsibility around here; I should probably get in there and help out so she doesn’t smother me in my sleep.” That’s what you want him to think, but it’s not what he’s thinking. Here’s what he’s really thinking: “OHMYGOD SHE’S HAVING HER PERIOD. I’M STAYING AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE.”
So don’t be an enabler. Don’t be a nag. Just quietly and calmly demand the equality that we all deserve.
Oh and all you moms of boys? If you don’t want your son to have to go through the degrading and manipulative process of husband-training (I sure as hell don’t), then you’d better start training him NOW.
Did you have to ‘train’ your spouse? (I say spouse to be gender-neutral because really this could all be just as true if the genders were reversed – obviously I’ve done a lot of generalizing.) Do you have any great tips on how to create an equitable balance of shared responsibilities within a marriage? Leave them in the comments!