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?

louloutheshamed Mon 12-Aug-13 18:41:39

Apologies for random capitalisation!

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 18:47:59

I do agree to a certain extent. She had a bad marriage, and compared to a fairly equal marriage it might not ring as true. I do also recall her being a bit over-fond of the broad brush statement.

Where I felt that there was a lot of truth for even many ostensibly very equal partnerships was the wife as social PA. Responsible (and held responsible by the wider family) for organising birthday cards, christmas presents, scheduling meeting up with friends, etc.

I would also say that many many marriages I know follow her expectations. My parents and in-laws both massively do. But even in my own generation. For example, men who love to cook but do so for big show stopper meals like Sunday lunch, and who need the kitchen to be emptied of small children whilst they cook. So the women still do the day in day out grind of putting a meal on the table every day. Men who would happily buy nappies at the supermarket, but would never think to check if they were running out.

LaFataTurchina Mon 12-Aug-13 18:55:16

I've not read it but keep seeing it mentioned on here. Anyone fancy giving me a super quick summary?

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 18:55:50

I know my parents or even grandparents arent/werent anything like that. I know many people with decent dhs or boyfriends.

When it comes to pa stuff Ido all the finances, but dh does all the school bits etc because he goes up there. I havent done a school run in months so it makes sense he does a lot of the kids stuff.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 18:59:49

I think the thing is, feminists are the most likely to have read the book but the least likely to accept a marriage on that model, or have even seriously dated someone like that!

LaFata - Her basic argument is that many women take on a massive additional burden even in apparently equal partnerships. Things like being the one who organises the family, being the one who carries all the diary information around in their head, being the person who cooks big meals even if they don't fancy them, etc.

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 19:01:09

I havent read the book just heard about it on here. I think it would just get me frustrated at people that put up with crap tbh. It already gets me annoyed even reading it on here.

badguider Mon 12-Aug-13 19:03:11

I haven't read it but the reason I haven't is because I don't think I do this 'wifework' - in fact, I often joke that I'm a rubbish 'wife' but that if I was a 'normal wife' dh wouldn't have married me.

I do some stuff around running our house, and he does other stuff... I have never been motivated to 'care' for him in any way and am not a housey person anyway so I guess it's quite easy for me. I also don't feel any guilt whatsoever when he fails at something like buying his mum a birthday present on time... to be honest I don't know WHY I feel no guilt for things like that and other wives do... I just don't.

I think that maybe us meeting later (I was 29/30 and him around 33 when we moved in together and we were 34 and 41 when we married) means that I felt no need to take over things he'd been doing for himself all his adult life before me.

BasilBabyEater Mon 12-Aug-13 19:03:18

I get more annoyed with the people who are dishing out the crap, than with the people who are putting up with it myself.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 19:04:15

I think where it is valuable is not so much the 'DH sits on his arse whilst I do all the housework' families. It's more thinking about the idea that you've made a fair deal if he does the garden and the washing up and makes a big song and dance about it <looking at you male relatives of mine>.

Also I think a big issue can be that the woman is the organiser. So the man will buy your mum a birthday card if you ask him to. But it would never occur to him to do so off his own bat, and no one would expect him to. Whereas as the 'wife' you are held responsible if his mum doesn't get a card.

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 19:05:27

I get annoyed with the lot of them wink

kim147 Mon 12-Aug-13 19:09:06

"Whereas as the 'wife' you are held responsible if his mum doesn't get a card."

Having been in a relationship where we brought our own cards for relatives birthdays and would never expect the other person to get a card, I have to ask who do you think holds the "wife" responsible if they don't get a card for their MIL?

Is it the MIL or the husband?

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 19:10:00

I think it works both ages badguider. We met at 18 and it would never occur to be to feel bad if he hadnt got a present for his mum or organise that type of thing. He knows what his mum likes, he did live with her for 18 years. I dont get guilt either.

LaFataTurchina Mon 12-Aug-13 19:11:03

I'm not even sure when DP's mum's birthday is :D

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 19:11:29

I don't do DH's cards, but when I have said this to friends in the past they have been shocked and said that their MIL would be cross with them at no card. A societal expectation of wife work. I said I didn't much care if MIL was cross with me as she wasn't my mother (not in a nasty way, but YKWIM)

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 19:15:20

I havent a clue when my mil,fil or any of dhs families birthdays are and we have been married 10 years. I dont know many women under 30 that do this.

Phineyj Mon 12-Aug-13 19:26:24

It rings true to me, but most of the tasks are things DH simply didn't bother to do while he was single, but they are things I would feel bad if they weren't done -- his auntie etc must be aware why the thank you cards etc suddenly started coming though. I do sometimes get annoyed that DH cannot apparently apply his considerable organisational skills to things that affect us jointly -- he has got better over the years though.

badguider I wish you could bottle that and sell it!

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 19:37:32

I think it's easiest to see in stuff that applies to all of us, however good your marriage is or however much you don't conform to social norms - stuff like, if you watch adverts, that is a world where mums naturally care about wifework, isn't it? And men don't, and/or are clueless (I find the clueless bit incredibly annoying).

It definitely rings true to me, but I grew up in a house where my mum did 90% of the work and it really upset her, yet she still rings up to think my DH for 'letting' me visit them without him, as she 'knows' if I'm not there, he must be cooking his own meals. So I found it exceptionally obvious from an early age, because I was exposed to it.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 19:44:58

Yes, thank you letters. Who makes the kids do the thank you letters for birthday and Christmas (or whatever religious festivals apply). Who writes the note to thank X for having you to stay. Very rarely have I ever seen such a note written by a man in a couple - or heard a mother say her partner organised the children doing theirs.

maja00 Mon 12-Aug-13 19:45:39

I don't have a relationship like that, but it is exceptionally clear from reading MN that many, many women do.

The number of threads about "how good is your DH about helping with housework?" or women having to take time off work to deal with childcare, MILs being upset about wives not organising birthday presents, "should we split the housework after the baby is born?" and on and on. Many (most?) women still do most of the housework, childcare, PA stuff and have less leisure time than their husbands.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 19:47:49

Yes, the language of 'helping' with the house work and the (thankfully becoming less common) 'babysitting' of one's own children. Guess which gender that language applies to?

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 19:52:14

Dh writes thank you cards with the kids. I have done some before. It isnt set who does it. He takes time off when kids are ill. I cant say either of us have wrote one saying thanks for letting us stay as thats what texts are for.

maja00 Mon 12-Aug-13 19:56:33

Well, sure - same here. But that's because I'm a feminist and have made sure I have ended up with a man who feels similarly. That's not the reality for everyone, or even most people.

Yama Mon 12-Aug-13 20:00:05

Yes, my colleagues at work think my dh is some kind Demi-God because he does a lot around the house. I have to regularly point out (when they tease) that he merely does HIS FAIR SHARE. And, where's my praise for doing my fair share?

Not just housework but taking time off when kids are ill, organising shit and remembering stuff.

My Dad does much, much more than my Mum. Always has done. I think what my Mum taught me was defiance.

MadameLeBean Mon 12-Aug-13 20:02:35

We split it. I do all the "organising" bills and social diary. He does all meal planning food shopping cooking. Even the boring cooking. It works. We split cleaning equally. No resentment. Feel I'm in the minority of partnerships though.

MadameLeBean Mon 12-Aug-13 20:02:35

We split it. I do all the "organising" bills and social diary. He does all meal planning food shopping cooking. Even the boring cooking. It works. We split cleaning equally. No resentment. Feel I'm in the minority of partnerships though.

louloutheshamed Mon 12-Aug-13 20:07:52

See I do the birthday/thank you card: present thing BUT dh does all cooking, most laundry, all grocery shopping, childcare is shared. I am constantly being told how 'good' he is by my older colleagues and now I just avoid participating in conversations when people moan about their husbands as I just have nothing to contribute and feel like I'd across
smug and boasty if I said
What actually happens at home.

In terms of 'emotional care taking' and leisure time we are even too- I was Always v conscious to 'preserve' my leisure time since having ds as I can see how that could easily slip.

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 20:09:06

I wouldnt describe myself as a feminist really. Never read any books or really known anything about it. It just wouldnt make sense to me to do all the work. I dont even think I am the minority in my friends partnerships I know a fair few young men like this.

kim147 Mon 12-Aug-13 20:13:49

"It just wouldnt make sense to me to do all the work."

Exactly. I don't know how someone can sit on their bottom watching TV and watch their OP doing the cleaning, cooking, organising and expect it all to be done for them.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 20:14:11


We're not even. We're not awful, and my mother and most of my mates think that he does about 60%-80% of the work. He does about 40%. That is the thing that bothers me the most, actually.

He tries, and it's deliberate wankerishness or anything, but it does get me down.

DH and I have a fairly equal relationship I would say. I am acutely aware of the imbalance in home organising - I sort childcare, meals, shopping, thank you cards etc. if I didn't do it it honestly wouldn't get done. Poor excuse I know but we're a team and play to our strengths, even if these strengths are social constructs. Didn't Jenni Murray say something like 'Don't tell me men can land on the moon but a week's meal planning is beyond them'.

However, I am sometimes completely at a lost for words at some of my friends' relationships - dads who have never changed a nappy or cleaned anything, men who expect a meal on the table every night on arrival from work, men who are bemused at the thought of sharing childcare at weekends or on holiday etc etc. And don't get me started on financial abuse.

God forbid we raise our son to be like this.

kim147 Mon 12-Aug-13 20:20:29

I hesitate to mention this but there might also be a difference in expectations and standards which one person in a relationship might see as less important than the other and so not bother to do it or do it to less of a high standard.

Thank you cards are one - some people might think they are important to do and so bother about doing them whilst the other person might think a text / chat is adequate. Same for cleaning standards. What is acceptable to one is not to someone else and you can see resentment building up if one partner takes more pride and spends more time in cleaning to a standard that the other partner thinks is too high.

kim147 Mon 12-Aug-13 20:21:46

"However, I am sometimes completely at a lost for words at some of my friends' relationships - dads who have never changed a nappy or cleaned anything, men who expect a meal on the table every night on arrival from work, men who are bemused at the thought of sharing childcare at weekends or on holiday etc etc"

I really hope none of my friends are like this. I just can't believe people would expect that.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 20:26:19

I get what you're saying kim, but I do think it is a bit of a red herring.

If you're in a couple, you compromise.

What happens a lot is, someone says 'yeah, but my DH, he just happens to have lower standards than me'.

What I think is, ok, that's nice ... now what do he and you do about that? Cos it seems to me the reasonable thing is to meet in the middle. Instead, people usually seem to reply 'well, I do all the cleaning because DH, he just doesn't see it ... it's his low standards.'

Miraculously, those 'low standards' disappear when it's something that bloke cares about, too.

I am aware this is stereotyping massively and I do believe there will be many couples where this isn't the case - it's just I've seen so many MN threads with this pattern, it's obviously not that rare.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 20:27:37

Btw, with the specific example of thank-you cards, it would be perfectly logical for the average bloke to find them less important than the average woman.

This is because the average bloke isn't expected to send them, and the average woman is.

louloutheshamed Mon 12-Aug-13 20:29:15

It's funny because mil and oil have had a v traditional Marriage, fil was the big earner, mil never worked since having dh. They had 3 boys and both said they wanted to make sure they knew how to iron/cook/clean etc so they wouldn't rely on a woman, and I have reaped the benefits of this. None of them inc dh are Especially 'alpha' or ambitious, and I wonder if this sometimes irks Fil, but i am so e balance out quite well.

Yama Mon 12-Aug-13 20:40:36

I have never done thank you cards. This is what I mean by defiance.

If something is not expected of dh or my brothers then I won't let it be expected of me.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 20:43:48

LRD- I think that the thank you card thing applies to cleaning too. men just happen to have lower standards in so many couples. But those men were raised in a patriarchal society. Many families will have modelled cleaning as women's work. Even if not, adverts, many friends and colleagues, etc will have done. So of course lots of men don't 'see' the dirt.

It's much like I lived in a city for five years but only know a couple of road routes - the ones my bus travelled. I didn't have a car and I didn't drive, so I didn't 'see' those routes. I was always a passenger. The turns and the junctions passed me by. By contrast, we've lived in our current area a year, but because I need to know how to get about by car, miraculously I know all about it.

A surprising number of men have simply filed cleaning away in the same manner - it doesn't cross their consciousness because it literally does not occur to them that it has anything to do with them. So fo course they are seen has having lower standards, and then they can use this very lack of awareness to avoid the jobs. Win/win for them really.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 20:51:35

Yes, absolutely, it does apply to both.

It's true different people have different standards.

But there's also good reason why men and women would have different standards.

Actually, it's interesting that lovely gleaming cars (which are a blokey thing) seem to be one of those things where men are judged for dirt as much as women. But generally, I think it's a perfectly rational response in both men and women to care about dirt in proportion to the amount society expects you to care about dirt.

(Or cards, or whatever)

MadameLeBean Mon 12-Aug-13 20:55:05

Think Amanda has hit the nail on the head. It just does not occur to them that it has anything to do with them. Most but not all men .

Thurlow Mon 12-Aug-13 20:55:23

I think kim has a good point with here might also be a difference in expectations and standards which one person in a relationship might see as less important than the other and so not bother to do it or do it to less of a high standard.

Carrying on with the cards example, DP would never think to buy cards. But his family don't really do cards. I buy them now because I feel bad that MIL doesn't get a "Happy Birthday Nanna" card. But it's not because DP thinks that it is "wifework". He didn't spend his early twenties not sending cards because he was waiting for a woman to come along and do it. He just doesn't think about sending cards.

So I really do think that some of the examples are less about a wife being by default an organiser and more about the fact that one member of a couple has different standards than the other.

Thurlow Mon 12-Aug-13 20:57:08

X posts with a few, but some aspects of cleaning and housework can be viewed in the same way too. Does not cross my mind that the hedge needs trimming. Does not cross DP's mind that the tea towels need changing. If I can see out of my front window and he can't see a stain on the towel, we're both oblivious.

kim147 Mon 12-Aug-13 20:59:35

You've only got to ask on here when people change sheets and towels to see opinions vary. Or how often people clean floors and toilets.

I adapted to a new regime which I thought was excessive but my ex thought was perfectly normal.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 21:00:51

Ok, if there are 'just' differences, why would there be a gendered pattern?

Logically, it's either:

- There is a gendered pattern because men and women are subject to different social conditioning, such that men and women develop perfectly genuine different expectations.

- There is a sex pattern, such that men are biologically incapable of noticing what women notice.

(There is a third possibility, that men are deliberately being jerks and women are deliberately being nags. Let's ignore that one cos it's full of shite).

My suspicion is it's reason no. 1.

But we don't usually say 'ah, there's social conditioning in play, so let's throw up our hands and not worry', so why would we here?

I know perfectly well that DH doesn't hoover as often as me cos he's not conditioned to notice it, and to feel guilty, and I am. I'm aware this means he genuinely doesn't care, and would leave the floor unhoovered if he lived alone.

I don't care.

We're married, he has to compromise upwards and I have to compromise downwards. I'm not going to live in a pigsty or do all the hoovering just because I am capable of understanding social conditioning.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 21:02:30

Cross post ... see, thurlow, I think when that sort of thing evens out nicely, that's when you have a good even relationship, you're compatible. I think that's what most of us aim for really.

But when things don't even out, that's where there's a problem.

CMOTDibbler Mon 12-Aug-13 21:05:24

DH and I have a very equal relationship, but I see many relationships where they are equal on the surface, but its the woman that organises packed lunches/birthday parties/presents esp for other children/childrens school uniforms and labelling thereof etc. And in a two job household, it always seems to be the woman who worries about childcare and has the spreadsheet of summer holiday arrangements.

DH and I both travel for work. No one ever asks him what ds is doing while he's away or how I feel. I get asked very frequently who is looking after ds, and 'doesn't dh mind you being away?'

Thurlow Mon 12-Aug-13 21:12:03

Oh, definitely, and if one partner can't appreciate that something is important to the other partner then there are problems too.

I often imagine a thread by men of things women don't notice or remember to do might be quite enlightening...

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 21:15:41

Ask blokes you know about it - it is enlightening.

SinisterSal Mon 12-Aug-13 21:16:48

It's totally the gender thing, as LRD says.

I get judged on the house, so I do something about it. DH gets judged by the lawn, so he is particular over that. We both like having a tidy house and a neat lawn, of course, but we only take one of them to heart. My standards are so much lower than his when it comes to the shortness of grass. it's a real headscratcher

Of course, even in the height of summer mowing the lawn is half an hour once a week,compared to housework. The imbalance is there.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 12-Aug-13 21:18:55

What have they said when you've asked LRD? (Sorry, my pool of available men to ask currently is relatives and a few SAHD's - who are unlikely to be representative. It really is sadly gendered becoming a SAHM in a new area!).

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


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.

AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 22:10:04

I wish I could spell priviliged though...it catches me out every single time

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 12-Aug-13 22:12:40

Also I think this was discussed on an old thread ages ago, but women tend to be more houseproud in general because we are brought up to believe that the state our houses are in are a reflection on us personally. Men don't have this same conditioning, in general. The stereotypical idea of a single man's house is messy, it's not expressed as a reflection of his personality or "worth" and he would be less likely to feel embarrassed or apologise for it than a woman might do. I always feel embarrassed to let people in when my house is messy, and it's nowhere near as bad as some single men's houses I know yet they never say "Sorry about the mess" or go around cleaning as people are coming in (as I do and I am really NOT houseproud!)

You see it on here, even - people saying that leaving washing hanging out overnight or in the rain is "lazy" - a man wouldn't be judged for that. Similarly if you went to a woman's house and found that there were no clean plates or cups but she washed one up when she needed one, most people would be shocked or consider this lazy. In a man's house, the same arrangement would be regarded with amusement.

So I think in a way the standards are conditioned. It matters - if you're just considering your own preferences and your standards are low, then they're low. If you're always considering the potential preferences of visitors then your standards are likely to be very much higher than your own personal preference.

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 22:13:28

I have never encountered anything like that tbh. I do think its probably because Im younger. When I met dhs mum she was 39 when we met we spent all our time together drinking and playing with the xbox. I would of thought she was nuts if she had said that to me.

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 12-Aug-13 22:14:28

That took me about 3 hours to write (kept getting distracted) so the conversation has probably moved on, sorry...

AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 22:15:03

the daft thing is, MIL always worked full time whilst her husband finished at 3pm and went straight to the pub

she used to get in from work and start peeling potatoes without even pausing to take her coat off

she admits now it was madness but she was brainwashed and indoctrinated and took a long time to accept that it didn't have to be like that in the next generation

she thinks I am fab now, of course and applauds my "assertive ways" as she calls them wink

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 12-Aug-13 22:18:01

AOF imagine it rhyming with "Privet hedge" or the privilege being a ledge that people stand on and don't notice what difficulties the people below are in (or, perhaps,they can see some of the suffering/difficulties far out off the edge of the ledge, but don't realise that this extends underneath and behind the spot that they are above, also)

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:19:07

I believe that people who study how oppression works in all sorts of different contexts find that it's most efficient when you get people to believe that they really do just happen to want to do x, and that wanting to do x makes them inferior. It's the exact same pattern with women's appearances - we're constantly told that it is shallow to care about how you look, and we're also constantly told that women do care, a lot.

If you started a thread on AIBU now asking 'who judges women for [insert activity] and is [insert activity] a bit shallow really?', you would get at least some responses insisting that women are their own worst enemies, and women judge other women, and we're very shallow to care.

This same pattern will hold whether it's about housekeeping, or social relationship stuff like sending thank-you cards or organizing parties, or appearance, or whatever.

All of these things are big money spinners, too.

So, effectively, there is pressure on women to prop up a sexist, capitalist system whilst also feeling shit about it, and believing it's all our own fault really.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:21:41

How old are you, petey? I think I was 8 or 9 when I realized this sort of thing was a crock of shite, but I grant, I did have a fairly extreme case of it to watch in my parent's relationship, as I've said.

I do also think, however much I think I've cracked it, there's always something that catches me out. I've had threads on here where I was in tears trying to work out why DH was doing what he was doing. That's not because he's like, OMG, the worst man evahhh ... it's just because we don't escape social conditioning by wishing it were so.

cookymonster Mon 12-Aug-13 22:25:08

Another lurker here who has just signed up. smile

My relationship bears no resemblance to the Wifework depiction either, and I wouldn't tolerate anyone who expected me to do more than my fair share. My OH is a fantastic chef and we share out the housework between use. If others do more than their fair share, then more fool them for letting some lazy swine take advantage of their good nature.

I completely agree with the person who pointed out than men are described as ''helping'' with housework when it should be about doing half of it. As for ''babysitting'' their own children... don't get me startedon that idiotic term.

AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 22:26:35

Yoni, that is most enlightening, thank you (in more ways than one)

I am a good speller, I have a blind spot for certain words though

perhaps it's the ones that stick in my craw that cause me the most difficulty, who knows eh

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 22:27:02

Or you could realise air freshner ads etc are made by marketing conpanies and if any of your mates are in your toilet judging your toilet they are probably a bit batty and need to get out more.

If you anything like me and dh then your friends have been around since you were partying three days straight, ate last nights cold pizza off the box and the floor, and used every single plate in house and were eating supernoodles out a pan with a spatula andso they arent really going to be bothered now. grin

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 22:27:52

Lrd Im 29 and dh is 28.

nulgirl Mon 12-Aug-13 22:28:08

I think it is true that people have different expectations and standards. A lot of it is based on their own childhood experience. In our household I am responsible for organising everything and take the lead with childcare / entertaining. My dh does all the housework and cooking (and I mean everything). It's because we have fallen into a pattern of playing to our strengths. We're both happy as I hate housework and he isn't very good at entertaining the kids. We both work fulltime which makes it easier to split as neither of us has time to do everything.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:29:13

I doubt it's your age, TBH, then. I think some people just come to it later than others - which is not a criticism, or me suggesting you're naive or privileged (I struggle to spell that too AF) - it's just different people are different.

I'd say enjoy it while it lasts! Why not?

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 12-Aug-13 22:29:33

Same here. I couldn't spell privileged for ages. Still can't spell horiffic. My spellchecker keeps trying to correct it to "Triffid" confused. One of my beloved old English teachers used to remind us how to spell certain words by drawing cartoons and the habit stuck.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:30:58

I always want privileged to have a d in it.

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 22:31:03

Sorry come to what later?

AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 22:31:52




who would think I used to win spelling bee week in week out ...

kim147 Mon 12-Aug-13 22:32:10

I still remember one time I went to a friends' house - the kitchen was filthy especially the cooker. I just thought they were both messy and judged both of them. And you don't want to ask about the cat mess.

But that might be because I'd been used to cleaning kitchens for ages.

FattyMcButterPants Mon 12-Aug-13 22:34:15

Yoni Is the state of our houses a reflection on us personally, or a reflection of our personalities?

It's a bit like the clothes we choose to wear, and actually all of our appearance that we present to people. Consciously or not, we think that we are betraying or displaying our character traits with our outward appearances...and our homes. A slovenly appearance or home is, we fear, indicative of a slovenly mind or person.

In similar ways, generalizing greatly, men don't care so much about their appearances. Either they don't have the insecurity, or the intelligence to make the link, or they just plain don't care.

I think this is part of what's behind this unequal division of labour. Some women just care about things more than men, but because it's a shared space, feel they should be helped to maintain their own higher standards.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:36:45

Yeah, but kim, it's not wildly likely to be us doing the judging (though I say that, and I do catch myself at it at times).

Thing is, there genuinely are judgy people out there - obviously judgy people, some of whom are family (as AF says), and some of whom are strangers. And yes, to an extent you can just tell yourself to ignore them.

But I think there are also pressures that are subtler and harder to ignore, and that's what I found most interesting about Wifework, that she was talking about how we can't entirely control our perceptions.

I don't think the big problem is the conscious judging.

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 12-Aug-13 22:37:38

I think (some) women work harder than they used to and (some) men work less hard. the wifework thing is an issue because it is a way of hiding work. you have visible work - what would once have been called men's work - and invisible work - which would once have been called women's work. In some families (I hear - I don't know any) the wifework is equally shared. In many, the visible work in shared and the the invisible work is done on top, by women.

My grandparents had a very typical traditional marriage. Gpa was a GP, worked hard early and late, but if he had light house calls could sometimes get in a round of golf in the afternoon. Gma worked hard as a dr's wife (which was a job then - receptionist + looking after a big house including consulting rooms)+ garden + bringing up 4 children. but she had help, especially for heavy work and entertaining and always had a rest after lunch. they were happy. then she got very frail in later life. Gpa was retired but very fit and well. He learnt her "job" in order to let her retire. He learnt to cook, he learnt to clean, he learnt to plan and shop (including for big and rather grand dinner parties) and he threw all of his intelligence and energy into it (he had a lot). he had systems for everything; remembering birthdays, rotating food in the freezer, etc. (I am crying a bit now, he was ace)

anyway I think that their traditional set-up enabled him to have respect for her work and when necessary to see how it had to be learnt properly. It was never invisible, he never took her for granted. And when they were both working "full time" in their peak busy years, they both had down time.

I am a feminist. Women need to work, at least to have access to work if they choose to work, because to be economically inactive as a class is to be very vulnerable. but frankly I think we fucked up in taking all all the work. many men - hell, many people- don't even recognise it as work. I'm tired. I have visitors coming on Friday for 3 days and even thinking about what has to be done for that is exhausting me and it is only Monday. how did we get to this?

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:40:23

But women have never been economically inactive as a class. That's the biggest myth ever, surely?

What would happen if women hadn't worked at the wifework?

Wifework is actually a lot easier, in the West in 2013, than it's been anywhere else. I have a hoover and an electric cooker and a washing machine, just for starters.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:41:05

(I do like 'visible' vs 'invisible' work a lot, btw, I just find 'economically inactive' a crap term because I just don't think it's true at all.)

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 12-Aug-13 22:41:38

LRD - yes, but also it is not about judging. some things have absolute value, let alone what her next door thinks. Ironing boxers, not so much; clean shirts and birthday cards, these are nice things. If we all just drop them, in defeat because the fuckers we live with don't bother, isn't that a bit sad? I think the world would be a grimmer place without them, but that doesn't stop me wanting it to be someone else's turn to sort them out sometimes.

kim147 Mon 12-Aug-13 22:42:57

"Wifework is actually a lot easier, in the West in 2013, than it's been anywhere else. I have a hoover and an electric cooker and a washing machine, just for starters."

Surely that should be "we" grin

badguider Mon 12-Aug-13 22:43:56

I thought 'wifework' was the emotional caring work and organising, not the actual housework?
[haven't read the book though]

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:44:41

Well, precisely.

I'm not suggesting we drop these things.

I'm saying that I find it really crap that when women complain about their men not doing these things, we're constantly told 'ah, you just have different standards'. And with apologies to kim, who just happens to be the person who said it this time, I really, really, really think that's a shit excuse.

I like living in a reasonably clean house and staying in touch with my friends and relatives. I am not going to pretend otherwise just so DH and I can do an 'equal' (and minimal) amount of housework.

AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 22:44:56

I talk to my husband all the time about the "invisible" work, that is a great way of articulating it

in 20 years of marriage, he is getting there in understanding it

he sympathises and says he realises what it means, but does he really get it, or is he still a product of his upbringing ?

when he plans ahead instead of just turning up and smiling happily at how things have "just fallen into place like they always do, I don't know what you are getting stressed about" then I will know

we are not there yet

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:45:19

Sorry, that was to zut.

kim - nope, it should be 'I', because the point is 'we' don't all have this stuff. But I do.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:46:49

When you find the magic way to articulate it, AF, let me know?

I find it reassuring you say you don't know yet, because I seem to be getting there slowly but I definitely don't think we're 'there'!

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 12-Aug-13 22:48:02

Ok I guess "economically inactive" is not accurate, but women having direct access to a living wage - that is something that the patriarchy tried very hard to prevent (as you remember - Barbara Castle's equal pay act of 1970 was passionately opposed on the grounds that it took money from working men, who needed it to support families; my aunt, who got married in about 1967, didn't tell anyone and took her wedding ring off to go to work as she would have lost her job - ok in that case she wasn't considered to be unemployable because she was female, but because she was married and her labour belonged to her husband now)
Women's work has been very low paid because their prime job has been considered to be at home, their labour "owed" to their husbands

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 12-Aug-13 22:52:20

- and of course, if they can live and love and support children without being economically dependent on a husband, that would be a disaster for abusive gits who find themselves single and having to wash their own shirts. That is really why, and that is the basis of right wing benefits howling. Anything that releases women from abusive husbands gets up those twats' noses something rotten

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:53:31

Yes, sure, well put.


AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 22:53:49

LRD, I certainly find it more "real" somehow to examine these things more closely

to outsiders, I expect my DH is the epitome of a "new man" who does his fair share

I don't take that away from him, but a bit more auto-direction and a bit less waiting to be advised would go down well

BasilBabyEater Mon 12-Aug-13 22:56:35

Your grandad sounds perfectly lovely Zut. smile

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 22:57:11

I think you have to be a little selfish and lazy to get what Ive got. I just would never be arsed to do it so if dh wanted his family to have cards and pressies he would send them. I might think hmmm could get mil a xmas pressie, but then I never get round to it. I think that came from bring young, as I only cared about getting drunk etc so obviously dh wanted his family to gave stuff so did it, and its just stuck.

I have been like that with most things really. I wouldnt get up in night with dd1 unless dh got up but again that was so I could boot him out of bed to get stuff I need etc. That way didnt really have to negotiate anything, its just my pure cant be arsed ness about stuff.

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 12-Aug-13 22:58:05

Yes it's great that we have washing machines, etc, but this is why you really have to keep an eye on mission creep - the eejits who iron boxers, etc.
There was a time when no one washed anything but linen next to the skin from one year to the next (which is why you had sunday best, and your other suit was not expected to be quite so pukka) and the linen you washed, once a week, did not have to be changed every day. then someone got a twin tub and she thought she was laughing. She thought "I can do a day's work in a morning now!" so they moved the goal posts - now you have to wash shirts and pants every day. So she got an automatic washing machine. Oh, no, that doesn't mean you actually get any free time. Now you have to wash everything that has been even slightly worn, every day. AND you have to to it after a day's work for money, somewhere else, and you have to feel grateful for having a washing machine. (I do not. I have seen lunatics on here confessing to doing 4 washes a day because in their family everyone has daily clean pjs, work clothes / school uniform, gym clothes, and sitting about in the evening clothes. All clean, every day. And they are proud of it!)

Ok it's a continuum, isn't it - one (wo)man's clean shirt is another )wo)man's ironed, fourth pair of boxers. But I do think you have to keep an eye on it.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:59:45

That's really sad you feel that way, petey.

You're not being 'selfish and lazy'. This is what we're all saying - you're judging yourself for something totally normal and rational - it's so easy to do, you're not even perhaps aware you're doing it.

But ask yourself this: what would happen if you took a step back and say, maybe, I'm not being selfish and lazy? Maybe it's ok I want an equal relationship?

I think that is what you have to do.

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 23:00:52

Dh does a lot lot more than me. I will admit I can be lazy. I do more paid work though.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 23:01:06


I love 'mission creep'.


Though, it's perfectly ok to say, damn, I like not living in 1384 and having clean knickers every day.

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 12-Aug-13 23:05:52

Thanks, Basil! he was.

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 12-Aug-13 23:11:56

but petey "selfish" and "lazy" are stealth boasts, you are implicitly blaming women who do all the work for not managing their husbands better. If they just put their feet down, it would be fine. It doesn't work like that. you can't make someone do something. You can try but all you are doing is reminding the other person something they have already agreed to or not. If they think "oh shit I should be getting up too" that is not because you made them feel responsible, that is because you reminded them that in their hearts they think they should be doing something. If they think in their hearts that it is not their problem, whatever you do will have a bad outcome; rancour, maybe, or violence. Because you are a nag, you see.

In general you have two options in life with people; ask them to do things, or end the relationship. if you work with someone who refuses to do as they are asked, you can sack them. If you work with a boss who refuses to treat you well, you can leave. If you are friends with someone who keeps dicking you about, you can stop seeing her. If you have a relationship with a man who won't lift a finger, you can put up with it, tell yourself stories about how it's fine really, or you can leave. c'est ca.

It's not fair either way to blame a woman for her husband's behaviour.

LRD, me too. about the knickers.

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 23:19:29

I do think they will do it if they are bothered. For instance I cant see many men not sending a pressie to their mum. Its not managing anything really its just not doing something. I dont manage dh I just let him do his thing.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 23:27:00

I don't think it's stealth boasting, just assuming everyone's relationship must be nice because your own seems nice right now.

It's not a horrible way to be, just something most of us think at some stage or another.

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 12-Aug-13 23:33:12

I think it is (I am influenced by remembering another thread, which might be bad form). I think Peteypirhana is very keen that we all know how good she is at taking no shit and that is why no shit comes her way. I wish. I do bloody well wish that was how shit decided which way to go.
PP are you very young?

AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 23:35:17

not boasting, but certainly a very narrow and limited view of what life is like for many people

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 23:36:39

I am 29 and dh 28 so not too young but quite young by mn standards

AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 23:38:09

perhaps when she grows up a bit, the grey areas will become a bit more visible

I am sure I was more black and white when I was younger and knew less

or perhaps she will always be an opinionated piece of work with zero empathy for others, who knows (or cares, really) < shrug > ?

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 23:40:55

I'm not sure age is an excuse, TBH.

I didn't know 29 was particularly young by MN standards, either.

I do think the idea that society couldn't possibly be an influence (which comes out of this thread) is a fairly recent trend, so it's associated with youth.

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 23:42:23

I just am yet to see any concrete ways in which society is going to change. Marketing people are always going to attempt to play on peoples insecurities to sell everything from air fresheners to make up. You really dont have to buy in to anything you dont want. I realise some people are fighting against their upbringing, but I do believe individual relationships hold the key to changing society, and that starts with women expecting more for themselves.

AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 23:44:07

LRD, you are a much more enlightened person than I was at your age

I was a right opinionated little upstart ! wink

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 12-Aug-13 23:46:20

But how / why do you want society to change? you seem to be saying that society is fine, and some individual women invite being put upon. I can't see how you want society to change, or that there is anything wrong with it, or even (sound familiar?) that there is any such thing as it.

"you really don't have to buy in to anything you don't want"

this is not true. oppression is not a choice

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 23:46:36

That's a bit confused, if you don't mind me saying.

You started by saying you don't see how society will change, and end by saying you do know how it will, and it's by women changing.

Then in the middle you seem to think social pressure functions in a constant way, but people can resist it (in which case, surely, it isn't very successful and is likely to evolve).

Which of these many possibilities is your view?

I do see, btw, that some of this is not straightforward, and it'd be almost rude to the generations of people who've researched and theorized this stuff to pretend it were. But we do know pretty well by now that society does influence people, and in much subtler ways that I think you are perhaps envisaging?

I also think focusing on women 'expecting more' is woman-blaming ... as if you calling yourself 'lazy' and 'selfish'. You're obviously in a bit of a mental twist at the moment, but the reason you may not feel like we're being as sympathetic to your situation as we might be, is that you're transmuting your own confusion into a way to make out it's other women's faults. That's a bit off.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 23:47:06

<slips AF a crisp 20>

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 23:50:53

Women expecting more I said. Of course people can resist social pressure. I didnt ask anyone to be sympathetic to my situation. I was saying it was quite simple to evolve an equal relationship. I think everyone should be a bit selfish and lazy a lot of women on these threads give way too much.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Mon 12-Aug-13 23:55:01

I know you didn't ask people to be sympathetic.

But, which situation do you truly believe?

And why do you think it's ok to call 'an equal relationship' being 'selfish and lazy'?

Darling, if it's equal, it isn't lazy or selfish, and I don't understand why you're calling yourself names.

I think you're blaming other women because you don't even realize you're doing it - you're so used to the idea that to want anything, even equality, is a selfish activity, you don't understand why we're calling you out on the woman-blaming.

I do think this is a big problem, and it's sadly ironic that you think that if women 'expected more' they'd be ok. Start with yourself!

BasilBabyEater Mon 12-Aug-13 23:56:34

" I do believe individual relationships hold the key to changing society, and that starts with women expecting more for themselves."


Can it not also start with men expecting to give more or not to have as much?

Why does it start with women? Are they really responsible for changing society?

Given that the people who control most of the resources, ideas and power, are men?

AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 23:58:26

Always back to the women's choices, ain't it ?

petey, you have a lot to learn

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 23:58:51

I said how it evolved I was extremely lazy and selfish when younger, as most young are. I didnt do much housework for a good number of years. It was good for me though as it means I never began doing all the work. Now I am older I am competent at household stuff but never fell in to bad habits through first maternity leave etc.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Tue 13-Aug-13 00:06:42

That's a nicer way of putting it. smile

But I would urge you to try to stop thinking of 'selfishness' in the same breath as 'equality'.

Maybe if you did that, you would find it easier to understand what's going on?

Anyhoo, I'm off to watch shooting stars - has everyone seen? They're addictive.

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 00:10:20

noooo, I have tried but not a sausage to be seen sad

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 00:10:45

and I stood on a snail while blundered about in the dark < shudder >

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Tue 13-Aug-13 00:13:17


Agents of the patriarchy, the crunchy little fuckers.

YoniBottsBumgina Tue 13-Aug-13 00:15:00

Tch, well, what did you expect would happen to his sausage if you kept making him do all the housework! wink Total emasculation, and as for the snail... sad

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 00:16:13


Beveridge Tue 13-Aug-13 10:06:58

DH and I have a 'whoever has a free pair of hands does it policy'. His mothrr raised him well, probably because his father is hopeless (can't/won't pack his own case.admittedly she does it but she has probably given up).

However, at the moment I am part-time so more domestic stuff gets done by me as DH works long hours. He is alsoa DIY genius so he spends more of his time at home doing that (been renovating for most of our marriage jn various houses!)

But when we had a domestic meltdown after having DC 1 it was me who instigated Flylady and I am the 'supervisor' of the housework routine, regardless of who actually is carrying out the tasks. I woild like to think that would change when house is finished and I'm back full time but I think the organisation thing will still be done by me. Is it a personality or a gender thing?

He does frequently buy clothes for DCs though!

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 10:27:41

One thing that I am starting to believe (and it is a major cause of friction between me and dp) is that whenever he takes care of anything – and he does, there are things that he takes care of – he sees it as an anomaly. He doesn’t see it as something reasonably offset against all the things I take care of. He seems to see his “natural lot” as one in which there are no “innate tasks” and everything that he has taken on is a task that he has, kindly, taken out of my “natural lot”. Because of this, he expects support with it all, and infinite congratulation. He is pretty resentful of me at the moment. I don’t see any way of changing this, because I don’t think he does more than me, I don't have a joule of spare energy, and I don’t think he deserves more praise than me (which he already gets, by the way, because I do comment positively on the things he does but he doesn’t comment on what I do, but it’s not enough arse-licking apparently) but we will never see eye to eye on it. I could insincerely arse-lick more, but I don't think that would help us in the long run as it would just mean me buying into a world-view that will actually kill me with exhaustion.

What has recently become apparent to me is that because of this, although we can sort of agree to differ and rub along ok, there are certain nice things that will never happen. One of them is that when my workload is too great, and I am in danger of collapse, no one is going to be nice about it, or proactive about helping me. I have to monitor this myself and I don’t like it because I feel selfish when I give myself breaks. I feel – although I know this is not true – that I am taking something I don’t deserve, even when I am just preventing a break-down. This is something I have to accept though, or it won’t happen, and I will have a break down. I would prefer some willing support to be actively given, rather than grudgingly forced by me.

The other thing that won’t happen is that I get any clear-eyed respect at home for all that I do. He is absolutely incapable of seeing that I do anything because he is so obsessed with what he does, and what he sees as my unfair lack of endless grovelling about it. I would like to be able to draw attention to what I do but every single conversation in which I have tried to be assertive about this has just resulted in him kicking off, because he is honestly very very angry, apparently, sincerely, that he does anything at all! This is damaging because it makes me want to dwell on things I need to let go of – I am always justifying myself to myself – and remember too hard and too painfully his lack of support and taking for granted of my bodily deracination in the bf-ing years, for instance. It makes me want to put it all on a scale, every last pebble, and that will never happen. What I need to do is focus on the occasional congratulation of others, who tell me my children are a credit to me, for instance, or that I am doing something difficult by working in a high powered full time job while having small children. It just will never happen at home. That makes me sad sometimes, but what can you do?

working9while5 Tue 13-Aug-13 10:31:31

Dh grew up in the sort of house where his mother was still packing his bags in his twenties but he's adapted well. He does all laundry, hoovering, garden work, bins, cleaning kitchen and doing dishes in evening, cleaning fridge, ironing, splits cooking equally, splits childcare cover if ill/bed and bathtime etc, shopping. I organise... where things go, clutter watch, our appointments, bathroom cleaning, putting away stuff, washing floors, window cleaning, home improvements, social engagements to a point and I sort of strategize when it comes to the kids education/behaviour and we agree a plan etc as this is my professional background. I work p/t but tbh this is something I want for me... I was burning out at work predc and I prefer the balance, also my commute was shocking so three days fine with smallies.

I don't think we are highly feminist in any grand sense, the alternative of me becoming like his mother was just never on offer.

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 11:02:36

Zut, that sounds very hard and very unfair

I don't think you should be accepting of the fair accompli, actually. Something has to give and it shouldn't be your physical or mental health, because what would happen then ?

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 11:06:10


ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 11:27:02

But what do you think I could do? I can't make someone see things my way. It can't be done. I could leave, maybe I will one day, but would prefer not to. When the children are gone and there will be less work perhaps I will mind less and there will be less need to leave. While the children are here it seems important to look after them and worry about the detail later.
It seems sad and bleak laid out like that, but seriously, talking about taking steps, what can I do?

In recent years it has become apparent to me, weirdly starkly, how incredibly sexist my mother is (although she taught me feminism in a way). She would never ever knowingly inconvenience a man (no matter how annoyed she was about what an arse he was being). I am sad to think that I might be passing all this nonsense on to dds.

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 12:15:57

You are right of course that children will model what they see in their own future relationships

I can only speak personally here about what I would do faced with such iniquity and disregard for the fairness of the situation. I put it down to respect, pure and simple. If this man doesn't respect the fact that I am entitled to the same amount of leisure time as him, then he really isn't the man for me and I don't want to live my life like that

I had a lot of similar boundary laying conversations early on in my marriage, but if you have an inherently decent and fair minded partner things should improve

If they don't, then perhaps you do need to reconsider your position

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 12:17:07

Sorry to be blunt, I am on my phone and it's a pita to type

maja00 Tue 13-Aug-13 12:18:41

Why do you feel selfish about taking a break? Is that something you can change?

Is a lot of the work you do stuff for him? I don't know - I think in that situation I would keep myself and the children clean and fed and stop doing anything else until I got some acknowledgement.

One thing I have noticed is, men don't feel guilty about doing the minimum. Most fathers wouldn't agonise about not interacting enough with the children - they just stick the football on and keep half an eye on any fights. If you go to soft play or the park, it's mostly dads reading the paper or glued to their iPad while kids play. If men are tired they go for a nap! They don't fret that the table hasn't been wiped from lunch, crumbs on the floor don't reflect poorly on them. I know these are sweeping generalisations, but so many women say they can't sit down and relax if there's work to be done or other people are busy, they don't leave the room unless they've double checked their husband is watching the children - whereas DP will nip upstairs and disappear into his office any chance he gets.

MadameLeBean Tue 13-Aug-13 12:37:38

Can someone tell me what flylady is?

Treaguez Tue 13-Aug-13 12:50:46

Such an interesting thread.
I have not read Wifework, because a) I read a review of it and an article about the writer, way back when it came out, and decided that she had made some poor choices in life that she had extended to all of Western womankind; and b) a friend passionately recommended it to me, yet her solution to being married to a man who doesn't see dirt/is never going to take any domestic initiative/relies on her to organise both visible and invisible work at home, was to rush out and employ a cleaner/housekeeper for two full days a week.
I sputtered something about avoiding the issue by throwing money at it, and she tactfully didn't reply grin

I wonder what people do take from the roles they see their parents in growing up. DH and his brother couldn't be domestically more different, one does anything and everything off his own bat, the other has no real sense of working towards making a sanitary home. My brother and I had different roles placed upon us: as a girl, naturally it would fall to me to take on the ironing etc, whereas he dodged all domestic chores and got away with it. I rebelled. He's very fastidious now. Perhaps it's all about who is trying to tell you what to do, not what is actually getting done.

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 12:53:08

I don't do stuff for him - I don't iron or any nonsense like that - I don't feel that I do too much or that I remotely wait on him, there is nothing for me to go on strike from, I just think that he is so weighed down by feeling a martyr that he doesn't see that I have no leisure (which he hardly does either)

what it is, is about is the children. I leave the house at 7.30 when the dcs are barely up, if at all, and he gets them dressed and breakfasted and to the CM. then he goes to work, collects them, and looks after them till I get back around 7.30 pm. We bathe them together. Then I used to make dinner but I thought bugger that and we don't have dinner any more. he might have something he makes. I don't bother. I go to bed early and get up at 6.30am and tidy the kitchen, empty the dishwasher, make lunches, do laundry etc before I go out. Because there is all that time in the day where he has sole care of the children he feels deeply put upon (I am now realising). I don't think this is fair because I do not choose to stay in bed while he is doing this, I am gone and out at work. I would say that I have less leisure time in the sense that I go to bed so early (to get up at 6.30) that I have much less evening time, although I have some now I have sacked dinner off, and he has long evenings reading and listening to music that I can't have without feeling a wreck the next day; also, part of the reason I have to get up early is because that is when I get the kitchen etc straight and I can't do that in the evening because he isn't done and I can't bear it if I think I have tidied and there are cups and crumbs everywhere in the morning, I find it pyschologically easier to feel I have only done it once by leaving it to the morning. (to be fair he usually does some tidying while I am doing the final good night with the dcs which takes a bizarre amount of time - that is when he will tidy up snacks, toys etc until I get down when we will finish together unless he has already finished). He thinks I have an easy life because I leave the house without having to have enormous toddler arguments about every bloody thing from shreddies to hair bobbles etc. That hour in the morning is the hardest hour in the day. He has a point. But so do I.

So you see the issue isn't that I live with a man who won't pull his weight but who seems to be deeply resentful about pulling his weight. I can't help, because I don't have any more time or energy. In theory I could say: I do bathtimes alone. But in practice why should I get up at 6.30, dash about all day, do a long commute home and then say "you sit down darling and read the paper" when that is not a luxury I have had and I come home knackered? Plus, even if I agreed in principle, I don't think I can do more. I am always close to the edge in a way that scares me. So what do I do?

Sorry about the essay. I don't blame you if you don't read it but I really want to get some of this out there, I have no one else to talk to

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 12:55:00

Madamelebean, FlyLady is an internet resource that provides day-to-day step-by-step instructions for keeping your house clean and tidy without feeling that you are devoting your life to it. It is a system that works by doing stuff as you go along, essentially, which has the upside that your house is always clean but the downside that it very effectively "invisible-ises" the work and makes it harder to account for and therefore share

mirai Tue 13-Aug-13 13:12:55

*If something is not expected of dh or my brothers then I won't let it be expected of me.*

I love this, Yama, thank you.

maja00 Tue 13-Aug-13 13:13:22

Do you have to get up early and do housework? Could one of you do lunches while the other does baths? You put a load of laundry on it the morning, he takes it out when he gets in after work?

MadameLeBean Tue 13-Aug-13 13:17:23

Ah I see. Thanks. I'm sorry to hear that your husband is resentful, I hope it improves. If someone truly believes they do more than their fair share then difficult to change their opinion... Is he perhaps resentful / has chip on shoulder about you having a more demanding job than him so he gets left with the kids which society regards as the inferior role? rather than it being about an unfair amount of domestic work?

peteypiranha Tue 13-Aug-13 14:31:08

Zuts - A man that can see you are ready to collapse from your workload is not a nice man. You are right it will affect your dds so bare that in mind when he tries to guilt trip you. He is not doing his fair share at all. Tell him exactly what you do, and if you are the sends birthday cards and pressies to the in laws and runs around after him do not do any of it.

peteypiranha Tue 13-Aug-13 14:35:00

And good god stop arse licking him. If hes says wheres my praise? Ask him where is yours. He knows you feel bad about him having to do stuff and likes feeling hard done by. Do not do the softly softly approach as it clearly doesnt work. If he wont listen write down what you do and how you feel.

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 15:06:29

So he does a fair share but constantly whinges about it ?

I would say that amounts to the same thing

MadameLeBean Tue 13-Aug-13 15:09:45

I agree present him with the evidence in black and white.. Unfortunately I think it's more about his perception of the situation than hard facts. Sit down with him and make him agree to statement like "one load of laundry and hanging it out is equivalent to giving the kids breakfast" or whatever. Then divide it equally but If he has less time at work the extra house work should fall to him so you have equal leisure time. That's fair.

MadameLeBean Tue 13-Aug-13 15:11:40

Yep whining and resenting it is almost as bad as not doing it

peteypiranha Tue 13-Aug-13 15:12:04

I think you need to start a regular hobby, and breezily say I wont be here 6-8 on Monday I am going to.... If he kicks off say he is welcome to do the same, keep calm,dont engage in his rants, and whatever his objections just do it anyway.

maja00 Tue 13-Aug-13 15:19:08

I would try to both clock on and clock off at the same time - so rather than you getting up earlier to do housework, but get up at 7am, get ready for work, you leave, he looks after the kids. When you get home in the evening, you take over with the children, he tidies up and gets lunches ready, when he sits down for his evening you sit down too.

If anything can't get done in the hours you are both doing stuff, then either it doesn't get done or you have to both agree to work half an hour later in the evening or whatever.

Maybe if he can see you are both starting at the same time and finishing at the same time, even though you are doing different tasks you are doing the same amount of work?

Yama Tue 13-Aug-13 15:32:53

Ah, thanks Mirai. smile

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 16:03:46

Petey, read the post. I can't do hobbies because I work too late. Nor can he, because I work too late to come back and relieve him. You don't get the listening thing, do you? that information is in this thread. Stop offering advice without taking in the facts of other people's circumstances. Just stop doing that. It is annoying and stupid.

peteypiranha Tue 13-Aug-13 16:12:40

There must be something you can do. I used to do zumba 6-8 on a Saturday.I currently do zumba 8-9.45 on a Wednesday as dh isnt home until.7 that day. There are classes and groups on at all times of day

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 16:18:51

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Yama Tue 13-Aug-13 16:22:20

Bit harsh there Zut. Petey is well-intentioned. It is not she who makes you this angry.

peteypiranha Tue 13-Aug-13 16:27:08

I do think downtime is fine, but I often feel its easiest to get it out the house when the kids are awake. Will your dh not relieve you off putting the children to bed for some nights if you do the same for him on other nights? Obviously you dont have to do zumba there is lots you.can do even if its take a book or a kindle and go some some quiet.

We have the same as dh comes home late at 7/7.15 and both up at 6am for work and do long full time hours jobs. What we do though is for alternate nights putting kids down as some times Im out, or vice versa or even one of us stays out of way in bedroom on phone/kindle getting some headspace.

It helps a lot as sometimes you just need a recharge. It sounds like you are both getting stressed as neither of you have a break.

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 16:28:06

Yeah ok I did enjoy that a bit too much. in a sense it is not she how makes me this angry. People in general who don't listen make me angry. I have to work with them, I have to live with them and I have to be nice to them all the fucking time. However in a sense Petey is the one who is making me angry because right now she is the one who is not listening to me and is dishing out nonsense all the same

peteypiranha Tue 13-Aug-13 16:35:43

I think you arent really annoyed at me its your dh/situation you are annoyed at so I dont mind. I think a few people have tried to personally insult me on this and the other thread, but I dont feel angry and know its because they are frustrated.

Blistory Tue 13-Aug-13 16:43:21

Zut, are you saying that you take on an extra burden by being aware of his dissatisfaction and trying to manage that and that he takes no notice of your dissatisfaction. All of which takes up headspace that you simply don't have ?

I can see that there might be some practical things that you could both do to try and take some pressure off but yet again it involves you in having to take responsibility for raising it and trying to find solutions which leaves you with the bigger burden yet again.

I don't have anything to say that won't come across as trite but I really hope you find a resolution as it sounds like you're approaching burn out.

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 16:45:53

< wrestles zut to the ground and sits on her > grin

peteypiranha Tue 13-Aug-13 16:50:13

I didnt report that by the way and wasnt bothered if it stayed. This has all gone a bit crazy

Blistory Tue 13-Aug-13 16:59:17

No Petey, what you are seeing is an poster who is being driven to distraction and putting her thoughts out there.

You then come along with advice that you may well think is helpful but just adds to her frustration. Zumba is not the answer to inequality and never will be.

Here is a poster telling you that she pretty much has the equal workload thing down to a fine art but the sexism in her household doesn't come from the physical tasks but from the mental ones. She thinks she's equally sharing a burden with her husband and he thinks he's manfully shouldering a burden that shouldn't fall to him in the first place. Add to that that they are both working full time with young children and there isn't room for anything to give.

The expectation would be that she cuts back her hours, spends more time helping out, finds time where there is none. And yet her husband just continues on with resentment. He'll get the credit and praise and she'll be the one having the mental breakdown and yet they should both be doing an equal share of the mental burden as well as the physical one.

And you suggest zumba - you might be reading posts but you're not understanding them.

peteypiranha Tue 13-Aug-13 17:02:56

I understand that it can be stressful at times. I have a five year old and 1 year old, work 2 jobs and do 48 hours a week, and dh does 39. I did not suggest just zumba I said take time out on a hobby or downtime in bedroom on phone/kindle. Take it in turns. By the sounds of things they ate both stressed and busy, having a rested mind is going to help them both.

The reason I said leave the house is if he is resistant to doing anything he cant come in asking questions, or stressing her out further.

peteypiranha Tue 13-Aug-13 17:04:18

She doesnt have an equal workload in the slightest she says he has time to listen to music and she has to go to bed earlier to get up earlier than him for chores? That is not an equal workload I am afraid.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Tue 13-Aug-13 17:09:57


Sorry for such a difficult situation. It must be very hard. I have inequality in a different way at the moment because I am a SAHM with a DH who works away a lot. So there are days when I 'work' a very long day. But equally I know that he does too those days. I do worry, however, that when I return to work it could be difficult to rebalance our tasks.

Sorry, that was just by way of introducing myself.

Do you think your DH realises he is resentful. Or whether it simply conditioned into him so he has never addressed his feelings at an objective levell? When people post those awful 'my DH doesn't help around the house' threads there are often practical solutions offered like lists of tasks. But I think that that only works if both parties are striving towards harmonious equality and struggling on the implementation. If his problem is basically attitude, I think the first thing you have to work out is whether it's conscious attitude or not.

Does that make sense?

Blistory Tue 13-Aug-13 17:10:13

No Petey, he seems to do a fair share but he resents it and resents her for him having to do it. He thinks that he is doing her work essentially and that she should be grateful and more appreciative. He doesn't see it as 'their' work. And she has to deal with his resentment, her guilt and the pressure it's putting them both under.

His resentment is unfair and a form of sexism. Her guilt is also something that only women tend to feel. He doesn't suffer from that.

Again, well done you for making it work in your life but this isn't about your life.

Sorry Zut, don't mean to talk about your relationship

peteypiranha Tue 13-Aug-13 17:13:18

He has long evenings listening to music and reading whicg I cant have without feeling like wreck the next day is whst was said. She still then gets up earlier than him loading dishwasher and god knows what else. Its unfair.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Tue 13-Aug-13 17:15:38

Sorry to ignore a few posts, but, zut, what you said really struck me.

It is just so depressing - I think what you describe is exactly the reason why so many of us just find it easier to put our heads in the sand and pretend it's all fine. Because it is almost easier, isn't it? To say, yes, love, you are brilliant and you have done so much work, that's what society is telling you and it's easier for me to agree.

I really relate to what you said about time to sit down, actually. I think it's so ingrained in us to feel lazy when we do that. I have a persistent argument with DH (which I'm slowly getting there with), that I have to explain to him that if I argue the toss about the fact he hasn't do x and should have done it, and then I sit down and he grudgingly goes and does it, that is really, really, really not relaxing. And what I would like would be not to have the row in the first place.

I wonder if perhaps some of it comes down to the fact your DH is genuinely not perceiving things the same way you do? You might both be seeing things that aren't happening - because we do that, it's a normal human thing, it's been studied.

I've had conversations with DH where I completely lose my shit, because he is absolutely convinced that he's done task x regularly. I honestly don't think he's gaslighting me - I've been gaslighted (gaslit?) and it's not as simple as that. He genuinely thinks he remembers doing it pretty recently.

Yet, if I deliberately stop doing it, it stays undone. And his initial reaction isn't 'shit, I must have forgotten to do something I thought I did quite often', it's 'huh?! How did that happen?!'. Because I think he quite honestly believes he does task x regularly.

I know it sounds as if I think my DH is uncommonly stupid (I don't), or as if I'm kidding myself. But this is similar to the ways our brains work in all sorts of contexts. If you ask the average driver 'did you stop at the red light?' he or she will say yes. Because drivers believe they stop at red lights. But it's not something we consciously remember every time we do it, and patently, sometimes people run red lights without meaning to. I imagine most people have seen someone calmly run a red, or have had to screech 'the light's red!' at a driver who's on autopilot.

My DH thinks 'I'm good round the house, task x needs doing regularly, therefore I do it regularly'. I need to find a way to demonstrate that this isn't always true. My current way is to demonstrate that, when I do n't do it, it stays undone. This produces a conflict every single time. The conflicts are getting smaller.

It would take immensely less energy and stress for me simply to do task x, and DH would still be a 'good' man who does more housework than average, and if I wanted to hide my head in the sand, I could probably convince myself 'oh, yes, he does loads, in fact, probably more than me, lol!'


LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Tue 13-Aug-13 17:15:54

Shit, sorry for the essay.

peteypiranha Tue 13-Aug-13 17:31:01

I can see why people in your situation do that LRD and can see thats what zut has done she feels guilty for leisure time when he has relaxing time, but still feels there is no time to carve out for herself. That is why the man is moaning he knows it, but doesnt want to lose the leisure time he has or share it. He is also unwilling to help his wife who he can see is struggling. Call him out on him zut channel your anger you used on me to him.

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 17:35:13

Fucking hell, LRD, this is a genius insight:

"My DH thinks 'I'm good round the house, task x needs doing regularly, therefore I do it regularly'. "

that is exactly it. It is the corollary of the recognised psychological process where a person's values reflect their behaviour, rather than the other way around (as we tend to believe: it is not that we think "debt is ok nowadays, so I will put the supermarket stuff on a credit card" - it is more likely to be "I have to put the supermarket shop on a credit card this month, so I am going to have to believe that there is nothing wrong with debt").

That is exactly the thought process that we have about so many things that he thinks he does: "I am a good man, good men do their share at home, therefore I must be doing my share" - except that I think in his case it goes a bit further too, into something like "it is normal to do a fair share, I am so tired, this can't be normal, I don't know any other men who do this much, therefore I am doing her work" - all unconscious, naturally.

I think there is even some very unconscious contempt for the work itself - that it is so hard and demanding and tiring must be wrong when he does it, because he is a strong clever man - so that it is so draining means something has wronged him, and what could that something be but me?
(because it is draining - I get that - but it was never the work's fault that it was draining when I was doing it, on mat leave- it was my fault for being a weak and feeble woman - never ever said, merely implied occasionally)

It is of course completely normal for women to be exhausted, and this is one of the most important insights of Wifework: don't compare what the man does to what other men do, but to what women do. does it still look ok?

Blistory has some great insights too

and thanks for holding me down anyfucker!

Petey, I forgive you for being an idiot

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 17:36:58

And Amanda, thanks for your post. I don't know what dp thinks about any of this consciously, part of the problem is we can't get at any of this explicitly, it is such a seething impassable area of heat and pain

I do believe I know a lot about what his attitudes are derived from unconsciously, but I doubt that any good could come of my attempting to explore any of this with him! Only if it could be done socratically - I doubt it

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 17:41:57

can I let go now, Zut, my bloody arms are aching and I have cramp

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 17:47:13

petey, has this ever happened to you ?

you are in a pub with a bunch of like minded people getting to the crux of a really good session of putting the world to rights

then someone joins in, with a "that's enough about you, what do you think about me" kinda vibe

everyone rolls their eyes and fixes the interloper with a stony faced stare, but he/she doesn't know when to withdraw gracefully and blusters on with some yap that makes it clear there is no real understanding just a white noise and a void between the ears

that's you, that is smile

grimbletart Tue 13-Aug-13 17:58:56

Hi Zut. It sounds as if your bloke has what I call "I'll dry up for you" syndrome i.e. subconsciously he doesn't see what he is doing as something he and you both do for "us" but as something he does for "you" what with you being female and all and therefore in position of the housework gene. So his whole context is skewed, thus the unjustified resentment.

I've never been one for hard-wired biology but I am beginning to think there is also a gene for feeling guilty that is only on the X chromosome and only passed on to daughters! grin

LRD - know exactly what you mean. Functioning on autopilot.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Tue 13-Aug-13 18:01:07

What you say makes a lot of sense Zut. It's a twist on the old 'What Women Do' issue.

The business of running a home and looking after children is tiring and exhausting and relentless. But there is very little to point at and say "I did this today".

What often happens is that that woman is doing a lot of that stuff and not getting support, or being valued.

What seems to be happening to you is that your DH is doing a lot of that stuff (because of the longer hours you work) and, because inherently he doesn't value that work, he is frustrated that it is hard. He feels he must be doing someone else's share too, or this would be easy. So he's resentful as hell.

Does that make any sense?

I honestly don't understand how you change it without either leaving him or getting him to understand though sad

Sorry if I missed this, but you said your DP does drop off and pick up. Does he have a job for between those hours?

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 18:05:45

Yes. He does, but with a very short commute.

peteypiranha Tue 13-Aug-13 18:06:36

Its because you have been trying for 20 years and still havent managed total equality in the home anyfucker. Thats a very long time of having to wait, good luck with it.

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 18:11:01

You're quite the piece of work, petey.

Loopytiles Tue 13-Aug-13 20:28:34

Really interesting thread.

Sorry to go off topic, but "snails: Agents of the patriarchy, the crunchy little fuckers"grin

I've always felt guilty about accidentally squashing them, they're everywhere round our way. Have gone so far as to move them to safety. But thanks to MN will do so no more!

AnyOldFucker Tue 13-Aug-13 20:33:16

I hate them bastard snails

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 20:33:47

Petey thinks her relationship is perfect, but what we don't know is what forum MrPetey is on, battering the keyboard: "she just doesn't get it, she thinks the work does itself, when I try to talk to her about she interrupts and misses the point and says "just go to zumba like me", I don't want to leave her but I can't get through to her"

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Tue 13-Aug-13 20:40:27

Snails - slugs with pretensions.

IWasAshamed Tue 13-Aug-13 20:55:47

The thing that has been rattling me recently is to do with work.
DH: started to work away 4 days a week 2 weeks before dc1 was born hmm.
Response: it's for work, it's normal. His wife will be at home with a young baby but that's OK.
Me: a few years later, I am now working evenings 4 days a week so not back until 8.00pm.
Response: That means DH is seen a 'God' because he will be doing all the HW, childcare etc... 4 days a week.

The worst thng is that I do feel guilty about it hmm

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 21:13:22

IWasAshamed, how does your dh feel about it?

LRD's insight before has been like a bomb going off in my head. i have remembered so many conversations in the past before I had children where my friends have been talking unguardedly to me about the reality of having babies, with their partners in the room, and the partner having a strop. One of them got so angry left the house banging a door, and I asked "what will he do? When will he come back?" and my friend said "I don't know! he has never done this before!" and burst into tears. After that one I made a mental (and physical actually, I wrote it in my notebook) note not to talk about the realities of housework and childcare in other people's relationships in front of their men.

Anyway LRD has expressed what was enraging them so much. I saw it but couldn't articulate the syllogism so precisely. They are all decent lefty supposedly pro-feminist types who simply could not bear the exposure of what shits they were unconsciously being. Their wives were too gentle and tired and kind to put them through it; probably meant to sort it out one day; the single friend bounces up, drinks 2 glasses of wine, everyone is talking freely like they did in college, and you know what, humankind cannot bear very much reality.

"I am a good man. Good men do not leave all the shit work to their wives. therefore I do not. Therefore this is wrong. but they are saying it! So I am angry!"

I hypothesised that this double think is actually worse in the lefty "conscious" types. You can accuse some men of being sexist and they would laugh and say "so what". Some of them you could say "because it hurts me. Do you love me?" and then you might get somewhere. If you have the sort of man who believes he could never ever ever be sexist ever, how do you even get into this conversation? It can't be said. It can't be suggested.

Sorry about this epic ramble. I have never talked about this before.

BasilBabyEater Tue 13-Aug-13 21:25:43

Just an observation on the proportion of housework thing, men tend to over-estimate how much housework they do compared to women (and actually, women over-estimate how much men are doing as well).

I remember reading a research study which showed how when couples were asked what the balance of domestic labour was, the man would say 50:50, the woman would say 65:35, with me doing the 65% and when the researchers actually went in and monitored it over a period of time, it turned out to be 75-80:25-20 with guess who doing the 75-80%?

It's a bit like the old Samuel Johnson quote about a dog or woman preaching - just the fact that they're doing it at all is so staggering that what they're actually saying is neither here nor there. Men and women are so impressed by the fact that men are doing housework, that they wildly over-estimate the amount men are doing.

Similar to the wild over-estimation that goes on when women talk in meetings - everyone assumes women dominated the meeting when they did 35% of the talking.

Expectations skew perceptions.

IWasAshamed Tue 13-Aug-13 22:05:07

Well actually my DH is OK with it! It's me who is struggling and feeling that 'I am letting everyone down, especially the dcs', even though I will do that for 9 months and DH has done the same for 7 years! As if being with their dad wasn't good enough and I had to be there hmm

And I agree about the over estimate. I am certainly guilty of that one too. After years of nagging convincing DH to be doing a fair share of the HW, we are getting there and now I sometimes feels guilty about ho much he is doing. That is until I am reminding myself about how much I am doing too!

And that's the thing isn't it? Even when you are convinced about equality, even if you are a 'feminist' sometimes going against all the things that society has taught re who is doing what is very hard to shift.
And then my 9yo comes home telling me it's normal that 'women do all the HW' and that's how things are working everywhere except in our family. Arrrg

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Tue 13-Aug-13 22:17:24

zut - glad it made sense!

In general, I think it's pretty important to remember this stuff is very, very, very ingrained.

So much so that petey (hope it's ok to use you as an example, but you seem a pretty robust type so I figure you will not) is holding two positions simultaneously. She's thinking 'wow, DH and I must have such a cool equal relationship! We don't struggle with this stuff, amazing!' and she's also thinking 'my mum was strident. I was selfish and lazy. Other women have been putting up with this for 20 years - that's a long time to wait'.

This is what's called cognitive dissonance. I can't explain it that well, but basically it is a coping strategy. It's where you have to believe two contradictory things, because if you admitted they were contradictory, you'd have to think about what was going wrong.

Women who want equality aren't 'strident'. Waiting 20 years for a relationship to be equal is a teeny, tiny blink of an eye when you look at what's going on in wider society. Yet we force ourselves to believe these things - that mostly, women are 'strident' or 'nagging' or 'have high standards', and simultaneously, that sexism is a trifling problem swiftly solved.

It is both a normal coping strategy, and very difficult to see your way out of, because it's so much easier to keep clinging to a coping strategy if it makes you not have to question what's going on.

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