Wifework- I don't get it...

(202 Posts)
louloutheshamed Mon 12-Aug-13 18:41:11

I have lurked here for a while and thought I'd try and boost my feminist credentials by doing some reading. So i read delusions of gender which I loved, I felt it articulated a lot I what I feel and experience in my life.

I have moved onto wifework and I'm just a bit baffled by it. It's Fascinating and coherently argued but the thing is I just don't recognise her description of marriage in my own marriage or those of many of my friends and peers. A typical husband as she describes would be generally accepted as a useless sorry waste of space by me and my friends, we just would not accept it. obviously I know these types
Of husbands/marriages exist but they are generally accepted to be crap. So many threads in relationships describe unequal
Partnerships but then there is always virtually a unanimous Condemnation of this behaviour by other posters.

I accept that I am slightly unusual in that I work full time and my husband went pt on the birth of my son. He does huge amounts of what is described as 'wifework' in the book, probably more than me. Moushart often starts sentences with 'I don't suppose there is a woman alive who hasn't experienced this..." and I am Screaming "well I haven't!!"

Perhaps I am the exception that proves the rule but it doesn't feel Like it in my experience. I don't even recognise my parents or in laws marriages in it as much as she suggests...

I also think, having read delusions first, that Moushart relies a lot on 'essentialist' (not sure if that is correct term) differences between genders rather than social constructs. I find it all a bit negative and bitter. When she describes how when she first got married suddenly felt like she had to be a domestic goddess type-??? I just felt like saying 'more fool you!'

Can anyone enlighten me as to what I am missing?

amothersplaceisinthewrong Mon 12-Aug-13 21:19:24

I am a very good organiser and good with money, so I look after the family finances and social arrangements. DH loves cooking and finds it therapeutic so he does that. I don't mind ironing but hate gardening so he gardens and I iron. A cleaner cleans.

LaFataTurchina Mon 12-Aug-13 21:20:38

My relationship's not like that - if anything I think DP remembers/organises a bit more of the household admin stuff than I do.

We're both only 25 though, so I'm inclined to think it's a generational thing.

I am aware of these expectations on women, but I don't agree with a lot of them - so I just don't do it. It doesn't occur to me to feel guilty about it.

I hope it won't suddenly all change when we have children.

kim147 Mon 12-Aug-13 21:22:26

Who's doing the judging - and does it matter?

I've had reasonably good standards but I've never really thought about being judged too much.

Except when the lawn got a bit tall.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 21:26:11

Sorry, didn't mean to be cryptic amanda. blush

Ok, I know what DH notices about me (which is obviously specific to us), and it's that I don't give a shit about my car being shiny clean.

Responses from blokes I know who are not generally arseholes were cars, lawn, big DIY stuff like peeling paint outdoors.

Responses from blokes I found slightly less reasonable - apparently, 'women don't notice' that it is revolting to leave tampax wrappers visible in the bin.

Responses I've only noticed on here but notice a lot - blokes who say 'I come home and DW hasn't picked up the baby's toys' or who notice their shirts need ironing and their pants need washing.

I admit, I am judgy about these.

But I think the DIY/outdoorsy ones are pretty rational, because these are the things the media telss me they're meant to consider their responsibility.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 21:28:55

Kim147 - I think a lot of the judging is going on from people you value and care about though. It's natural and normal to want your DP's family to like you when you first meet. That is very easy to translate into caring how they feel about your house or your thank you cards or the quality of their Christmas present. Similarly, you want your own family to be impressed and proud of you - which is easy to translate into feeling that the house has to be tidy when they come. You want your friends to think that you're together and on top of things. Ditto.

It is very difficult to walk away from those kinds of standards.

I am very conscious of it. But I have to consciously override it IYSWIM. And I consciously override it because of my feminist principles. If I didn't have these beliefs, I don't think I would.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 21:31:00

Ha ha LRD. Wasn't complaining about cryptic comments, just bemoaning my own current straightened social situation grin.

Yes, I agree. We had friends coming round on Saturday and on Saturday morning DH announced he needed to quickly mow the lawn. Would not have crossed my mind. I tidied the kitchen though.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 21:31:37

But it's internalized, which is why it is such a problem.

It's similar to anything else.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 21:33:26

Cross post - YY, it's so odd, isn't it?

The intersect with cultural ones too, so DH and my US mates think we are animals for not having mixer taps as standard, whereas, as a Brit, I just don't care very much.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 21:34:22

I never realised until I spent time on MN how upset one could get about mixer taps and the lack thereof. smile

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 21:36:08

grin

True. But I accept it's something that genuinely bothers him.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 21:38:23

Oh yes, there was that recent thread about things people dislike about the UK (if they are originally from elsewhere). It was all mixer taps and tiny fridges. Oh, and suppositories. I never knew we were making life miserable for so many people!

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 21:39:10

Do the ones who care about this think its because of a dysfunctional upbringing and being brought up to be people pleasers?

I dont get any of that amanda tbh. I dont think the giving of presents or my house has anything to do with people liking me. It really would never in a million years crossed my mind that those things mattered.

Thurlow Mon 12-Aug-13 21:45:47

Suppositories?! What the hell did people find to say about them?!

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 21:45:54

How do you mean? confused

The men who care, or the women, or what?

If you just mean the very basic stuff like, is it odd to think that social contracts matter, well, no, it's not.

Obviously, yes, how you behave socially does have a lot to do with people liking you - and with how you feel about yourself. If you break it down into little specifics, like 'will everyone in the world suddenly hate me if I don't give auntie jill a present this year?' of course, it seems daft.

But if you were someone who never conformed to any social customs, you would find it hard to participate in society.

The social codes are different for men and women, which is why we end up having this debate about stuff like thank you cards.

badguider Mon 12-Aug-13 21:47:09

It's the judging and the feeling judged that is the issue really isn't it? When people start doing stuff they dont' give a shit about just because they think somebody else thinks they should.

There's nothing wrong with being 'houseproud' if you really genuinely are... but if you just feel you should be because you're female and that results in you setting higher standards than your partner and doing more work then that is an issue.

I care that people visiting my home don't feel dirty or uncomfortable with mess... but I do NOT care about putting forward an image of a wonderful housekeeper or interior designer or magazine lifestyle. AND more importantly I know that my friends are my friends for many reasons but my housekeeping is not one of them. My BIGGEST pet hate is those adverts on tv where they imply that everybody who comes round to your house is judging your loo and use of airfreshner. There was even one where the householder had a brand new baby!!! If some cow wants to come round to my house to judge my loo when I've just given birth they can fuck the fuck of as they're no friend of mine. sorry... angry

SoftSheen Mon 12-Aug-13 21:47:50

Interesting. At present in my relationship I tend to do most of the housework and gardening because I chose to be a SAHM and DH works 7-7 most days (he does do a lot of ironing though).

My parents are retired and in their case my mum does the cleaning and washing and organises the finances, whilst my dad does food shopping and most cooking, and looks after anything relating to the car. They both do their own ironing. In terms of house maintenance, my dad organises plumbing/electrical work whilst my mum does any required painting. They both look after the garden and organise their joint social lives.

I don't know how typical my parents' relationship is, but I think it is a pretty equal one really.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 21:48:34

Thurlow - very good for children and shockingly little availability in the UK because we are uptight about bottoms. Oh, and expensive.

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 21:52:08

I must have the skin like an ox then. It really doesnt come on to my radar tbh. You like me for who I am and cause Im fun and friendly not cause my house is clean for the inlaws and I remember to buy presents for Aunt Mabel.

Thurlow Mon 12-Aug-13 21:52:14

Oh, right, that makes sense. I do actually have some of those, they are much better. Sounds good in the MN list - twigs, loo brushes, small fridges and suppositories...

ShoeWhore Mon 12-Aug-13 21:54:24

I'd say we were very equal before we had children but after that it shifted. Having said that, before dcs I had a very demanding full time job and now I am a sahm. Also, dh is away a lot with work (3-4 days pw) so there are some things (eg events at school) it is genuinely trickier for him to keep track of.

I do keep an eye on it though. It irks me a bit that he seems to have forgotten how to use the washing machine even though he did all the washing pre-dcs. I leave all his family cards and presents to him but although he does plenty of tasks, I always feel like I'm the one who has overall responsibility for stuff 9eg Christmas). I'd feel happier if it were more equal but our circumstances atm make that difficult to achieve. I think actually I maybe get more leisure time as he's very conscious of it being hard for me when he's away so he does take over with dcs and boring domestic stuff like the dishwasher when he is home.

So it's not awful - but there is a little niggle. Many of my friends' husbands are much, much worse tbh.

I don't know a single man who shops for their dcs' clothes though!

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 21:55:10

True, petey, whereas I'm very thin-skinned and people only like me for the presents I buy, it's a terrible curse but fortunately I'm loaded and generous. grin

This could resolve into yet another of those 'well I don't believe in any of that social analysis' threads, I think.

DH and I have a pretty equal relationship. He does school drop off, I do pick up. I tend to look after the DCs social lives but I like doing that. DH does the cooking, food shopping etc. overall it balances out.

What I find astonishing/ depressing is the number of women (young and old) who tell me how 'good' DH is for helping me. Someone said to me the other day that she had never imagined a man might 'help' so much. This is a young, intelligent woman yet she expects nothing. Is that really what men are like?

AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 22:06:45

My MIL have an understanding and we adore each other now

it wasn't that way 20 years ago

I was a selfish and uninvolved gf/wife who didn't respect his family, apparently. I refused to take responsibility for the birthday/xmas card writing for all the obscure relllies most of which I had met only once or twice. But it was what a wife did you see

I "made " DH do his own ironing and didn't have a hot meal on the table at 5pm (I wasn't even home from work at 5pm, but he was)

I objected to being the one who did all the thinking and organising. It looked good though when DH was the one seen pushing the noisy lawnmower around every fortnight though smile

MIL still helps DH out and provides a last minute birthday card for his neice though...

relationships don't start in a bubble of just you two...it's a work in progress

anyone who thinks differently is either very priviliged or very blinkered

AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 22:07:02

MIL and I

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:08:37

*relationships don't start in a bubble of just you two...it's a work in progress

anyone who thinks differently is either very priviliged or very blinkered*

Absolutely spot on. As always.

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