General discontent.

backhousiaFebruary 3, 2009

I am in a marriage where my DH is very clear about the fact that I take care of the household chores, and I have done for 25 years. He uses the logic that he works hard, is self employed, so the more work he does the more income we can have, if he were to spend time making a meal, or ironing a shirt, it would mean less time for him to work.

My role in this marriage has been one of bringing up the children and running the household. Obviously I am more skilled in doing these things, because I have had enough practice !

In addition to running the household I have educated myself and taken on a 10 year "job" of landscaping a 2 acre garden, propagating many of the plants myself. This property is now for sale. My children have grown to be well educated contributing members of the community.

Now, I run a small business from home that brings me some income, whilst he sits in his office working, as well. We have an office each. We have recently relocated to a city apartment, in an effort to have a sea-change, moving from a rural situation.

Currently I am feeling very sad, as my DH and I had an argument about housework, a few days ago. He basically said that I had been letting things slide a bit. This upset me a lot, as I felt it was very condescending of him to speak to me like that and told him so. He could not understand why I would be upset by his criticism.

My question is - I don't seem to be able to move beyond this argument and I find myself being very upset by it. Obviously it has not been resolved for me.

What should I do next, should I just move on and let it go, and resentfully continue with my cleaning and cooking ??

Any suggestions would be welcome.

Ideally I would like our home life to be team work, where we both contribute and work is work. But it hasn't worked out that way and I would like to to change. Yes, I have have said this to him.

How do others manage these sort of issues ?

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bnicebkind

Have you talked about having someone come in and clean for you? Would you consider paying for this from what you earn, if he doesn't agree? Is it something you could try and see how it works for your family?

Could you tell him you need to try something like this for a few months, and then you will make a decision if you want to continue with this arrangement?

Its either that, or paying someone to counsel the two of you as a couple (cost a lot more than paying someone to clean) but I don't imagine he is willing to change without a 3rd party telling him he needs to help.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 7:42PM
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tracystoke

I Wouldnt continue with the cooking and cleaning,enough is enough,it should be team work,id let the housework slip a bit more, if it bothers him that much he will do it himelf

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 5:08AM
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linda117117

What should I do next, should I just move on and let it go, and resentfully continue with my cleaning and cooking

Why would you do that? This is important to you and it is making you unhappy. I would make it clear that while he was working outside the home, you were working INSIDE THE HOME for all those years. Now you are both on level playing fields and the INSIDE work needs to be shared. Why should you work two jobs? I would tell him that I think he's slipping on his share of the work and he needs to step up to the plate. We arent in the 50's anymore Mrs. Cleaver!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 7:11AM
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nancylouise_gw

If your hubby starts complaining again about the housework not being done I'd hand him the broom and tell him to sweep the floor himself or hand him the dishcloth and show him to the dishes that need washing and tell him to have himself a ball! And I WOULD NOT, WOULD NOT do those chores. The floor would be left unswept and the dishes wouldn't get done until he did them. The nerve of him to say you are falling down on the job. Talking about the situation to him hasn't helped, now it is time to take a stand and let him start doing some things around the house. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 7:58AM
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asolo

I'd be interested to learn more about the income difference before I got excited. Basically, I'm all in favor of sharing chores but income is basic. If he's a hard worker and high-earner -- which seems to be how he's been described -- I can imagine a gentler approach to the dissatisfaction issue than others are suggesting. If both are good income earners, a lot of this stuff can be hired.

On the other hand, many such circumstances are actually power issues. Suspect there's likely some of that in there, too.

Not enough info for me to have a hard opinion about it.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 2:44PM
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linda117117

Asolo what does income have to do with it? She could work 60 hours a week and make half of what he makes, does that make her work any less valuable?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 4:36PM
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asolo

No mention of hours either. I don't have a picture of how things are going there except for wife's discontent. Not enough info for me to come with any particular opinion.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 8:40PM
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asolo

"She could work 60 hours a week and make half of what he makes, does that make her work any less valuable?"

Too funny to let go without comment. Question rather answers itself doesn't it?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 10:42PM
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finedreams

lol asolo, too funny.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 11:09PM
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backhousia

Thanks for the comments.

I guess it does all boil down to where your time is better spent. I guess housework is not something that is time well spent when you are self employed and could make the money to pay someone to do it. Maybe that is the issue here.

I guess my problem is that I feel my efforts have not been valued, over the years. I need to be more assertive and deal with the problem, I guess.

An aggressive approach would not be the best outcome, but I know it would be silly for me to remain resentful, only doing myself in there.

He does earn the majority of the income.

But I work long hours, as well...so does that mean I should do all the housework just because he earns more money ?? And basically I am fed up with it all !!

Asolo, I would love a male's viewpoint here, particularly with cooking - he is completely bamboozled by the prospect of doing that !

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 12:41AM
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asolo

"....basically I am fed up with it all !!"

Well, there it is then. No sense in living a life full of things you hate doing. Some people dig housework. (My SO is one of those -- and I'm impossibly deficient in that way) Maybe you did at one time but don't anymore. Doesn't matter. Apparently the previous division of labor was OK with you but you've grown dissatisfied with it. You're not a rebellious slave, just a seeker after a new balance. Nothing wrong with that.

Personally, I think cooking is a kick. (My SO is luke-warm about it and likes my food better anyway) However, most men I know are hopeless once the steaks are off off the grill. Since you described him as "bamboozled" by the prospect I see little sense pressing the issue. Carelessly or poorly prepared food is a real downer. The first ingredient is always love. Different people have different interests and aptitudes. Can't teach a cat to fetch. If you try, you'll annoy the cat and make yourself crazy.

Seems to me you've described two mature people with evolving lives that have become a little -- not a lot -- out of synch. He's more dug into his productive routine and you're changing. Of course some wrinkles have come up. You're all grown up. Unless one or both of you are completely unreasonable tyrants, I see no reason why a new balance can't be struck.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 8:27AM
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steve_a

I don't usually post here, but given that you have asked for male perspectives, I'll give another. I don't disagree with anything asolo says, BTW, especially about cooking. I like to cook, but now do it mainly when I'm in the mood. We have two daughters, both grew up around me cooking; one is a cook, the other is basically "bamboozled," as you say. So it's a personal thing. Anyway, our marriage was not like yours; I shared the housework, we both worked outside the house (me more than her), and things worked out. I think it was just a matter of respect and consideration for each other. We are both children of the sixties, we both went through a version of feminism, and somehow we managed to evolve a sharing of responsibilities that worked over the years (25 of marriage, like you). I would strongly urge you to try having someone come in and clean. We've done two things over the past year that have made our lives so much easier, and better: I finally agreed to get to hire a yard service to relieve me of lawn care. That was such a weight lifted from me, I can't even describe it. And we hired two ladies to come and clean every two weeks. This has the side benefit of forcing us to pick up and throw stuff out, rather than letting it pile up.

As for your situation, my old feminist roots agree with the hard-line comments that some have suggested here, but my reality tells me that those tactics probably won't work for your hubby. Sounds too set in his ways and attitudes, hasn't had his consciousness raised, as we used to say. Maybe you can figure out how to do that in a way he understands. Or maybe you can get him to go to counseling (and hope to find the right person to go to). I agree that you shouldn't just grin and bear it. At our ages, with retirement coming up, we've spent a lot of time thinking and talking about what we want our lives to be like. Maybe this could be part of your discussions. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 9:58AM
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backhousia

My heartfelt appreciation to you Asolo, and Steve for posting such gentle suggestions to my dilemma.

"Maybe you can figure out how to do that in a way he understands." I think I have been thinking along those lines myself.

Would really love him to cook a meal for me, this basic thing is really something I treasure. He says, he is happy to eat out to give me a break, well that's nice...but the home cooked meal is really special to me. I really need to encourage him to cook something !

Seems such a trivial thing to quibble about when there are so many more pressing issues in the world.

Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 6:44PM
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lindac

It's all about attitude...
you seem to have the attitude that everything is "halvesies"....and it's not.
Share...love one another...if he does less of one thing, are you resentful? And if so why? Do you think your chores should be equal? Do you think that when you work and he works, his work is more or less valuable than yours? And why.
Marriage is not a 50-50 proposition...but more like 75-25....with each partner striving to give the 75%.
Do you share a household bank account? Are all decisions of vacation, car, furniture purchases jointly made?
If you love him and want the marriage to continue you will ignore such comments, or answer them with the semi humorous reply of "Really? I didn't notice, I have been busy with my job. Do you want me to stop working?"
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 7:38PM
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popi_gw

Thanks Lindac, you have given me food for thought.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 5:47PM
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asolo

Good on ya, lindac. Wisdom there.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 6:52PM
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akangel76

I went through a similar situation with my husband. From the begining he worked I stayed home took care of the kids, house, bills and stuff. Then I went to work also. He was very resistant to the change of the devision of work in the house. So I decided just to comprimise with him. I picked selected chores for him to do that helps me and thats all he has to do. It worked out great for us because I am sorry but my hubby can't clean they way I do. So the not so important stuff he did. I since went back to not working and back to normal rountine for the most part but he now makes a bigger effort to do those few chores still. I would just try and talk to your husband about needing help around the house because you are also working.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 4:19AM
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