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Rebuilding the Bank of Goodwill(11 Posts)
I've previously wrangled in AIBU about DH and housework; at the current time he's better than he was a year ago but still not back to the level of fully-competent-adult which he existed at before moving in with me.
The most pressing issue now though, is that after 5+ years of this and repeated short lived improvements followed by periods of increasing resentment on my part, and other conflicts around overall workload and childcare ... my bank of goodwill is simply run dry and there's no buffer zone against any daily frustrations. So I can be calm and happy and then find myself biting down incandescent resentment if he (as typical) gets up from the table to go play on his DS oblivious to our agreement that since the kids see me cooking every meal, they should see him clear the table afterwards.
All my ability to ride the ups and downs is shot to hell which just isn't constructive, especially when he is inch by inch, improving.
So ... I badly need ideas on how to build up that bank of goodwill again. Good sex can obviously help but it's not really a go-to option at the moment with kids, tiredness, frequent OMG-stop-acting-like-I'm-your-mother frustrations . What else can work over both the short and long term?
I think a more salient question to ask yourself is how much longer you are willing to tolerate being treated like a domestic appliance ?
I have given that some thought, and he knows I have. But it doesn't seem fair to go to the nuclear option at this stage just because progress is slow - there is progress now. I'm just wrung out and finding it difficult to focus on the positive changes. Hence wanting to find other ways of improving the atmosphere.
Tell him how you feel and ask him what he feels he could do to improve the bad atmosphere he has created? You're willing to be charmed but he has to do the charming really.
Beautifully articulated op. Nothing useful to add but i know exactly where you are coming from.
I agree with Thomas - let him know it's his job to improve things, and you're willing to work with him on ideas.
Something I've done in the past is to make sure every single day that you say something nice to each other. Not huge flowery declarations of undying love, but just "You look lovely in that shirt" or "Thanks for cooking dinner love, it was really nice."
Jesus Christ. No wonder your bank of goodwill has run dry - you're lumbered with a pathetic Man Child who is behaving like a sulky teen.
The first thing you have to realise is that the second X chromosome does not harbour some magical, considerate cleaning-and-cooking gene. In other words, these skills are by no means accessible only to women. Witness the fact that there are loads and loads of more supportive men out there who work, cook, clean, and do childcare.
Clearly, your DH is just a dud in this department. He may well have had terrible role-modelling from a father and one of those awful patriarchy-pleasing mothers who does everything for their son. He may just be selfish and lazy as hell.
I advise you to embrace the fact that your bank of goodwill is running dry. You know why? Because it's a synonym for saying 'I will no longer be treated like a doormat in my own home. I will not perpetuate this cycle and allow my own kids to grow up and to think that women behave in a subordinate way in the home and men can do whatever the hell they like'.
Get angry. Make it clear that if he doesn't buckle up there are consequences. And if he still doesn't change, kick him out and trade up to one of the more modern models that does a more all-round good job. They do exist. Promise.
He does this because he wants to and he can.
Think about the minuscule amount of effort it would take him to think after a meal "now I clean up" and then do it. This is completely within his power - he is choosing not to do it.
He has thrown you some small crumbs of "improvement" to give you 'hope' and to keep you on board, all the while still not pulling his weight. More importantly you have been very honest about how this affects you and your relationship. And still he doesn't care enough to clear the table and wash up some fucking dishes, after you have cooked a meal for your family.
It's no wonder at all there is an atmosphere. But do think about why you see it as your responsibility to change it, rather than his or even yours jointly.
If he's behaving like a naughty child perhaps he should have his DS confiscated? Is that the kind of thing you are looking for?
You have my every sympathy Leggy (FOTC fan?) but I don't think there is a solution you can provide here. He has to take responsibility for chores/housework etc and actually do it, without being asked.
The resentment he is so skillfully fostering in you, is death to a relationship - if he doesn't change he will squash any chance the relationship has of recovering. He is killing your relationship slowly but surely.
Do you think he's sat there thinking "I wonder what I can do to improve LeggyBlonde's goodwill factor while I take ages to learn how to be grownup?" Why is it that now he's "making progress" you're having to put in more effort than ever just to stay sane?
It's not working because he hasn't made it a priority. I suspect that if he were given a list of responsibilities he had to live up to in order to keep his job, he'd suddenly find the ability.
I'd do two things to start with.
First the I'd remove the DS, tell him he can have it back once he has completed all his daily chores and the children are bathed and in bed which going forward he will be involved with.
Second the consequences will be no dinner for him, as he is not being part of the family and you don't cook, clean or anything else for lodgers.
I thought I'd update on this thread 2 months later in case it could be of use to others.
Things that have helped since I posted:
1. Going away for a weekend by ourselves. Turns out (thank goodness) that away from the housework and childcare and strains of home and responsibility, that we actually really like each other.
2. He bought 'Matilda' for our eldest and read it to her at bedtime over the course of about three weeks, then moved on to new books - bedtime story is now basically his thing; youngest usually sits in. The result is I've had 20 minutes to myself once they're in PJs nearly every night for weeks now.
3. I've been doing a bit more of my own stuff at weekends - both volunteering, and just simply sitting down at the piano or picking up the guitar. And he's been supportive of that.
Those are probably the three biggest things that have improved my emotional resilience again. Clearing the table at the end of a meal still seems to somehow evade his mind (seriously, he NEVER had to do this as a kid, my otherwise-lovely MIL has a lot to answer for), but he's been doing other stuff without complaint which also helps. Oh and getting youngest from his cot every night when he wakes up and not complaining about me getting more sleep than him for the first time in 5 years. That's probably helping too!
Thanks for the comments on my original query. It always helps to know that I'm not unreasonably bonkers about the domestic conflicts!
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