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Men and housework...

(86 Posts)
madchocolatemum48 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:10:00

Background: Dh works away a lot. When he is home he renovates our new house.
Our house is now finished (but dh still works away)
He is home for quite long periods at a time ( a few weeks) with not much to do now around the house.
I am a SAHM and do lions share of everything, never a problem before.
He helps when it suits him and when I ask him specifically to do something.
Is it unreasonable to think he should do more without having to write a detailed list.
"can you tidy the bathroom? means something completely different to him than it does to me, for him it means lifting towels from the floor confused So I end up saying "Can you pick up the towels, clean the dinnermints off the sink(Blobs of kids toothpaste)use the loo brush in the loo, checking for 'dribble' marks while doing so, clean the mirror of kids fingerprints etc,etc,"
Don't get me started on "Can you tidy the kitchen?" .......
When he does use his own initiative and vacuums a room with out being asked, then I get the impression a standing ovation is required from me.
It's like having a 3rd child, the way things have to be explained to him.
Is it just mine or do most men just not get the housework thing.

cailindana Tue 03-Feb-15 11:14:05

No, not men in general, just men who see housework as women's work and think it's beneath them.

Unwillingness to do housework, even when I was very poorly with PND, was one of the reasons why I seriously considered leaving my DH.

He woke up pretty fast, now he does so much it sort of annoys me - I try to wash up and he makes me a cup of tea and shoos me away. It's great, really, I'm just so unused to it that I'm all upside down.

bettyboop1970 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:14:17

I think they do it on purpose so we don't ask!

cailindana Tue 03-Feb-15 11:15:45

There should be no asking involved betty. If you are a grown adult and live in a house it is your duty to contribute to the smooth running of that house. Going around getting a place dirty and untidy (as we all do) and then expecting someone else to clean up after you is shockingly arrogant behaviour.

SnowWhiteAteTheApple Tue 03-Feb-15 11:20:04

If I worked away a lot and my DH didn't work I wouldn't expect to come home and start the housework. Share any left over jobs on days I was off work yes but on the other days I would expect it to be done during the day.

I don't think its dependant upon sex, it just falls that way as many still subscribe to the men work and women stay home so naturally they do the bulk of the duties as home to do them.

BertieBotts Tue 03-Feb-15 11:21:10

You have bolded the key word there... you're all seeing it as your responsibility that he sometimes does a bit of to be nice, not a joint responsibility that you pick up his share of when he's away.

He's seeing the housework similar to this: Say you came to visit him where he is working. You walked into his workplace. He asks you "If you wouldn't mind and have a free minute, could you address these letters for me?" You can see he's busy so you say "Of course!" and sit down and write them. Then, he's baffled as to why you wouldn't finish the job and take them to the post office. You weren't going to the post office, or out of the building at all, it's fairly out of your way, and you assumed that somebody else would have that job, or that he could do it on his way back to the hotel or whatever later.

He's not likely to take initiative for stuff when he doesn't see it as his job, in addition if he's not around much he probably isn't familiar with what needs doing, and he will assume that you have systems etc for what needs to be done.

Has he ever lived alone, and does he stay in hotels when he's away or self catered accommodation?

madchocolatemum48 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:25:15

Of course when he is away for 2/3 weeks I do everything. When he is home 24/7 for 2/3 weeks at a time I think he shouldn't have to be asked to do the daily things that need doing.

cailindana Tue 03-Feb-15 11:25:47

SnowWhite, did you read the OP? Her DH is home for weeks - he's not away.

And it is incredibly naive of you to say it's not dependent on sex - while I'm sure there are men out there doing all the housework while their wives swan in and out making a mess and never clearing it up, I'd bet my own kidneys that there are far far far more women being treated as servants.

Thurlow Tue 03-Feb-15 11:27:29

If I worked away a lot and my DH didn't work I wouldn't expect to come home and start the housework.

I think that's a small part of it in some relationships - I would expect the SAHP to do the lion's share of the housework.

But it's not just men. Or at least, you can't just blame all men without blaming many women for picking up the slack at the start of the relationship and then having an issue when there are kids, or the house gets bigger, or whatever causes it to come to a head.

Which tends to go hand in hand with it being predominantly women who cut down their hours or stay at home when there are kids, and men who continue to work full time.

It's not a simple "tsk, men!" issue. It's a huge issue about the roles people accept when they first start a relationship and how those develop as the family grows. And then whether, having cleaned the bathroom for the past 8 years, the woman/SAHP expects the other parent to suddenly start doing it, and in exactly the same way that they do it too.

bettyboop1970 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:31:31

My DP is excellent at washing up and hoovering, however tidying is not his strong point.
Sorry for the faecaetious comment up thread. I work nights and DP is in charge of all things domestic and child care whilst I sleep. I don't ask him to do tasks, he gets on with them. However, he is better at some tasks than others, as am I.

mrsmalcolmreynolds Tue 03-Feb-15 11:33:20

YANBU. When I was a kid (20-30 years ago) my DF worked overseas for long stretches and would then be at home, only doing the odd day's work, for up to a month or two at a time. During the time he was at home he did pretty much everything round the house - cleaning, cooking ferrying us to activities and DIY projects were on top of that, not some sort of substitute for it.

My DH works FT and does not have a brilliant eye for noticing what needs to be done, but he recognises that and checks with me automatically what needs to be done of an evening once the DC are in bed - i.e. I do not have to ask him.

These are examples of how reasonable men behave...

cailindana Tue 03-Feb-15 11:34:09

I get what you're saying Thurlow, but how is it justifiable for any partner to be off work for weeks and just watch their partner do everything around the house without at least trying to chip in? I'm sure most people would be fine if the partner who isn't used to housework said "I'm not really sure how to do this, is this alright?" The problem is that the situation you're describing is set up partly because the (usually male) partner avoids housework right from the start so the dynamic is set up where the willing woman picks up all the slack. Society tells her not be a "nag" not to argue about "petty" things like housework so she is dumped into a situation where the man gets away with treating his own home like a hotel and the woman ends up being piled with more and more endless drudgery. The situation becomes ingrained, as you said, but not because women want it that way, but because men just don't step up from day one and eventually it becomes a very hard situation to remedy. Why should it be up to women to force men to do such basic things as tidying their own kitchen?

Thurlow Tue 03-Feb-15 11:46:08

It's not justifiable. If he's at home for weeks, not working, then it all should be shared.

Having read so many of these sorts of threads on MN, I just feel it is far too simplistic to simply blame it on men being either intrinsically useless at housework, or believing that it is fundamentally woman's work - as opposed to their partners work, because that is how the relationship has progressed.

There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of men, who either pull their weight equally around the house or run their own house.

If there is a problem within a specific relationship whereby the man doesn't do much housework and the woman does most of it, I can't help but feel that it is a problem with the specific relationship, not with men vs women. At some point the woman started to do more housework, and a slippery slope was started down.

"They're men; they're useless at housework". It's just too easy and too simplistic to go with that argument. It's just... blaming men, whereas if something within a (non-abusive) relationship slips to such an extent, it's surely down to both parties that this impass has been reached.

This is probably not a popular opinion on here, but there you go.

SnowWhiteAteTheApple Tue 03-Feb-15 11:55:51

The DH has stepped up though, he is the sole earner for both of the adults and any children. That's a huge ask.

Millions of men do housework, those that are single or in a relationship where both partners share financial and house duties between them equally. When one adult opts out of working and the other has to pick up the financial burden then the non working person should be responsible for the housework. It doesn't take long each day and is easier than going out to work.

MrsKoala Tue 03-Feb-15 11:57:55

For me it totally depends on the whether the person wants the work done but doesn't want to do it (that is disrespectful and rude), or whether they don't want to do it and don't care whether it's done anyway (i think then that's a disparity between expectations and standards which you may have to compromise on).

My Dad wants the house pristine all the time but wont lift a finger (even now he's home all day and mum still works) as 'it's womans work' - i think that's out of order. My DH on the other hand works long hours and honestly doesn't care if the house is cleaned or not - so he doesn't do it (and neither do i much) - i think that's fair enough.

Also it depends how old and difficult your dc are. If they are school age then i would expect things like bathroom cleaning to be done by the sahp in the school hours.

cogitosum Tue 03-Feb-15 12:03:36

Mine does most cleaning and I cook. We share washing etc depending on who is there etc. I probably do more loads as I work 3 days whereas he's full time. He tends to do more at weekends.

He cared for his terminally ill mum for several years so became very adept at keeping a house clean to a high standard (higher than mine!)

This attitude would disgust me.

peggyundercrackers Tue 03-Feb-15 12:05:32

yabu - he works presumably offshore hence the reason for being away/at home for weeks at a time.

if he is offshore he is working all the time he is out there - he doesn't get any days off so his time at home is his few days off after working for 2/3 weeks solid.

given you are a SAHM he no doubt finances the while of the families lifestyle. you are in a very fortunate situation

BreakingDad77 Tue 03-Feb-15 12:10:09

Depends on the upbringing, I was brought up in a chores family where we had to do our bit.

DW is bit crap as she has lived with parents a lot. I'm at wits end with the piles of clothes we have, I sort them into DW/DH and for DS age range as some young baby stuff is too small and needs to be passed on/stored and again she has just piled it all together. So when ever you need to find something the whole lot gets turned upside down.

NimpyWWindowmash Tue 03-Feb-15 12:11:28

agree with everything Bertiebots said:

You have bolded the key word there... you're all seeing it as your responsibility that he sometimes does a bit of to be nice, not a joint responsibility that you pick up his share of when he's away.

He's seeing the housework similar to this: Say you came to visit him where he is working. You walked into his workplace. He asks you "If you wouldn't mind and have a free minute, could you address these letters for me?" You can see he's busy so you say "Of course!" and sit down and write them. Then, he's baffled as to why you wouldn't finish the job and take them to the post office. You weren't going to the post office, or out of the building at all, it's fairly out of your way, and you assumed that somebody else would have that job, or that he could do it on his way back to the hotel or whatever later.

He's not likely to take initiative for stuff when he doesn't see it as his job, in addition if he's not around much he probably isn't familiar with what needs doing, and he will assume that you have systems etc for what needs to be done.

Has he ever lived alone, and does he stay in hotels when he's away or self catered accommodation?

BertieBotts Tue 03-Feb-15 12:14:37

Thanks for the agreement, you didn't have to copy and paste my whole post though grin

NimpyWWindowmash Tue 03-Feb-15 12:16:50

Scary stalker fan I am blush

sometimes threads move so fast, that you end up referencing to a post from pages and pages ago. That's why I C&P

Validation by a nutter, do you like it?

FriendlyLadybird Tue 03-Feb-15 12:20:23

My DH contributes his share of the housework, though he does not do everything the way I do. Our house is 'good enough' but not pristine. If I wanted pristine, I'd have to do the last bits myself because he doesn't care enough about it -- and, in the final measure, it turns out that I don't either. So I think there is something to be said for compromising on standards.

He was brought up in an all-male household so is quite capable of cooking, washing, cleaning etc. I don't think he COULD watch me do housework while he did nothing.

rinabean Tue 03-Feb-15 12:20:46

Have you tried literally saying "can you clean the bathroom?" - I'm not making excuses for him because I reckon it's as others have said and he sees it as your work but if someone asked me to tidy a room I would not be getting out the sponges and buckets either. Like to me they are two different words whereas to other people it's 2 things you automatically do at once but not to me and maybe not to him

Thurlow Tue 03-Feb-15 12:23:58

There's a lot to be said for that, rinabean. Tidy and clean can be understood as very different things.

cailindana Tue 03-Feb-15 12:33:41

Peggy, of course he has days off, it's illegal to expect anyone to work without a day off. Unless of course you're s SAHM in which case you have the privilege of running around after everyone every single day. If the DH gets a rest, when does the OP get hers? She looks after the kids and house entirely on her own while her DH is away - does that count for nothing?

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