to say I'm not doing all the organisational stuff anymore?(79 Posts)
I have posted about this before but its finally come to a head now.
Long story short - we are a normal family I think - 3 children under 8, 2 at school, 1 at nursery. I work 3 days (have our 3yr the other 2 days), H works full time. Both do the same job, stressful, deadlines etc. Family life is busy and we're strapped for cash most of the time.
DH is a brilliant father, good husband most of the time, hard working. He is great at doing what I ask, pulls his weight with childcare / household chores / DIY. Doesn't have expensive hobbies or go out with his friends all the time. He is generally great.
Except for anything to do with organisation / planning of our life as a family. He will stretch to liaising with a couple of the other dads re lifts to DS's football matches. He also arranges for the cars to be serviced. Thats it. His salary goes into the joint account and a nominal sum goes into his own personal account to do with what he likes. He has no idea re finances - he couldn't tell you to the nearest £500 what the mortgage is, I manage all the finances, pay bills, budget, search for better deals all the time for utilities / insurance renewals etc. He doesn't plan any weekend activities, holidays, help to sort out things to do with the children in school holidays. I arrange play dates / after school activities / children's parties / presents / our social lives. I feel like I am constantly "thinking" about what needs to be done, whether everything is sorted / planned - just so all of the plates keep spinning, whereas he does what hes asked and can then just get on with his working day with no other demands on his time.
I've said I'm not doing it anymore - I'll give him all the details for bank accounts / payment dates / provisional dates for holidays but he's got to manage it all now. I'll do the day to day stuff - playdates for the children, be the point of contact for childcare etc, but all the "behind the scenes" organisation, he can do if from now on.
Am i expecting too much or do most mums / wives end up doing what I do?
Lots of interesting stuff here.
Cailin - to come (late in the day!) back to your point - yes, I agree that not willingly participating in shared duties is disrespectful in a relationship. as someone else said, though - it is one thing if you are dealing with persistent, wilful refusal to pull one's weight - but often it is something else. As others have said - things get done badly, incompetently, only after repeated requests and reminders (which is where this thread started. With the brainspace necessary to organise family life).
But is is not a deliberatel intentional disrespect. DP doesn't FEEL like a bastard when he fails to do things. One of the most shocking conversations we've had was when I (very upset) told him that he might feel like he loved me, he might tell me so, he might believe it - but the way he behaved was not consistent with an equal loving relationship. Doesn't sound like much, I know - but to be told you are one thing (basically, exploitative) when you believe you are another (kind, loving) is something that no one wants to hear.
As I said - I think a lot of this is down to men simply not cognitively, intuitively, 'naturally' seeing much household/childcare stuff as being their job. i think it was you who rightly pointed out that men are obviously capable of great organisational tasks, in their work.... so what's the problem?
For me, 12 years and one dc into a relationship, I have a partner who is a LOT better than he used to be at money, household jobs, organising our son's life and generally doing stuff. He sees this as well. But it has taken a lot out of me to get this far. We've had the conversation that goes 'why do I have to remind you about things so often? You don't like being nagged - I don't like nagging, and it is a waste of my time remembering things because you don't. So why don't you do it?'
The answer is usually defensive and tetchy (I have said, I never ever want to hear the phrase 'I'm GOING to do it' again). And often nothing has happened until I have lost my temper and yelled at him, upsetting myself and him in the process. Now any request I make is usually met with a reminder of all the things he is already doing that he didn't used to. Or that kind of 'Oh, GOD, alright then, fine, I just won't have any tme to do any actual WORK' etc etc - as if what I am asking is unfair.
He has occasionally reminded me of other relationships we know of where the husband does nothing at all. As if to let me know how lucky I am. I have asked him what he thinks about those men. He says he thinks it is shocking what they get away with... but at that point, he is making an intellectual, almost political point. I think his head tells him in no uncertain terms that those relationships are unequal and very unfair on the woman. Hand on heart - he FEELS a bit jealous.
i have got close to leaving him once. I would never make an idle threat like that, it would be toxic. I genuinely meant it. It was so upsetting and an awful upheaval for me to get to the point where I knew that was true. It shocked him deeply - and it did make a difference to his behaviour - but there is always a default to be slipped back to. Old habits die hard. If changing was simply as easy as deciding we were going to, we'd live in a very different world.
Btw, one useful argument for me was this. This worked because DP is a liberal, leftwing guy who would hate to be on the 'bad team' for equality. If I was doing a job in an office, alongside other men and women (the same job) where the women were routinely expected to work an extra hour or more a day, unpaid, cleaning and tidying the office, and setting up the diaries and admin for the men so that they could simply come into work, sit down and get on with it..... we would all see the unfairness. DP would be up in arms, and be encouraging me to take stand.
But when exactly the same thing happens in a domestic context, he's blind to it. And very very resistant to being told he's behaving like one of the bad guys. But that's what it boils down to.
Calin, I really really hope (and would be interested to see) if when you need your dp to take over more of the kids's organisation, he steps up to the plate and takes responsibility in the way you think is right. I have a dp who is very hands on, day to day, and absolutely accepts the idea, on an intellectual level, that parenting is a shared job.
But it's not him thinking, damn, need to get ds registered with a dentist. Must ask friends if they have local recommendations and write down numbers... must check weather forecast to see if I need to have any indoor activities up my sleeve over the weekend... if ds is going to stay with nanna next weekend, I should give her a ring Monday at least to check it's ok. And I know I have 2 really busy workdays Tuesday and Wednesday this week, so I must do a shopping list and shop Monday so we have food ready... and I know x has suggested meeting in the park Thursday with. her kids, which would be nice, so I must text back and say yes, so she knows we're up for it... and have eon billed us for an estimate or a reading this time round? And I must check joint account to see if that cheque has cleared because I need money to pay the cleaners to need to get it out of my account if it hasn't....When do swimming lessons start again? It's not in my diary, I'll have to ring them....
And so on and on and on. Now, I can lighten my load by saying YOU check the eon bill. YOU do a list and go shopping. But I am still running the show in my head.
The 'giving him a particular area to run' idea has worked in the past. I'm like you Cailin with the bins. His job, his responsibility. It mostly works, although often he will try and go week to week without emptying any of the bins in the house except on bin day. Including that gross tactic of just putting rubbish BY an overflowing bin instead of taking the bag out and putting a new one in the bin....And the fact he does the bins is sometimes used as a weapon if I ask him to do anything else. I've got to the point before of losing my temper and saying I would rather do the bins myself than have it thrown in my damn face, as if it was the one task that kept the household running.
But there you go! it is an ongoing struggle, with me being able to point to some significant advances over the years, is the best I can say. I wish it was easier - but I don't, now, think it is something we would split up over, with all the attendant upset for the children etc. I've got there once before, pre-dc, and if things got worse again, I can see it on the cards. So on we go.
I agree sowornout, my nana was the same after my grandad died - she used to ring my dad in a panic when a bank statement arrived - she didn't know what they were.
rainrain, YYY!. Your comment on 'running the show in your head' is EXACTLY what I'm talking about. It is ALL the crap that DH doesn't appear to realise that someone has to be thinking about. I hate having to deal with all these thoughts - I'm not a naturally organised person - and I feel swamped and overwhelmed lots of the time, because there are always so many 'to do' jobs on my mental list that I'm feeling stressed when I lie in bed at night trying to remember what I need to sort out that week - and knowing that only about 75% of it will probably get sorted.
DH will do jobs if asked - but I have to think about them. So he'll put the bins out - provided he is asked, reminded, asked again, and probably left a note about it. He will never ever notice that something needs doing and just do it. Not even unload the dishwasher or wash the pots up. If asked, 'could you wash up?' he will look vaguely surprised and say, 'Aye, nae bother' but it doesn't seem to occur to him that someone will need to wash saucepans after the evening meal. To be fair to him, he does work very long hours, and is self employed - but I'm the one who juggles work, 5 dcs, home, bills, and doing all the paperwork for his business and paying his lads. It doesn't ever seem to occur to him how I fit it all in - or how I have to be constantly thinking of things in advance. This week, for instance, he suddenly said on Wed eve, 'Could you pay the lads tomorrow, instead of Fri? One of them needs his wages and I said that would be ok'. And I had to say, 'Well, no. I can't. Because tomorrow I am teaching until 3.45, and then I have a dept meeting from 4.00 til 5.00, by which time the bank will be closed. I also have a lunchtime club tomorrow and I work in a small village which is 15 miles from the bank. When I pay the lads' wages I have to come flying out of school, drive 15 miles and hurtle into the bank at around 4.25 - when they close at 4.30pm. It is a pain to do every week - as I keep on telling you, but you simply look at me as though I'm mad and say, 'Aye - but I'm at work on a site from 7.00am - 5.00pm. I can't pay the wages'. His mother used to do all this stuff for him, and he automatically thinks that I will, without appreciating how difficult it often is for me.
sowornout - I felt worn out reading your post! That was a useful bit of perspective for me.... I'm not 'naturally' organised either, it is an effort and I don't really enjoy it. Although I do like the feeling of not being out of control of my affairs.
Just to pick up on what a couple of others have said about financial affairs - yes, there are different ways of being in an unequal relationship. I read here sometimes about marriages where the husband refuses to tell the wife how much he earns, how much money he has, where it goes etc. And I always find that gobsmacking because it is so far from my own experience.
I think that where a woman has been financially independent and lived independently before marrying (which is surely most women these days?) then that situation is less likely to happen. Obviously still does, though.
Sometimes it feels like these relationships where men just don't take a role in running the domestic show are because a memo from feminism never reached them. For women, the deal so often seems to be - yes, by all means, go out to work, be more independent (well - women have always WORKED, they have not always had careers, which is a big difference) - but you, women, must either fit your work around your exisiting domestic duties, or find a way of doing it all at the same time.
Logically, if women want to do more, men have to take on some of those duties - or be more flexible about what they see as 'theirs'. Each relationship will be different, and we all have different ways of organising things to suit us.... but I know SO many mothers who take on virtually all of this stuff because the men are unwilling or unable to do it. That isn't fair. And I think in talking about it, there 's often a double kicking to be had, because not only are women doing too much, but also, running a household, or anything domestic and to do with basic child welfare, is just not seen as being important. So in complaining about it, we're seen as being small minded and petty.
But like I said before.... put it in a work context, with women being expected to do unpaid cleaning and admin duties for their male colleagues, and we'd all see the unfairness.
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