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I need some help in making this relationship work

(74 Posts)
Triathlete Sun 13-Jul-08 10:26:33

Background: oldest of three boys, grew up in a family where there were lots of chores and responsibilities. DW is single child and Russian. DS is 9 months old.

I work, she looks after DS. I'm out of the house from 7am til 7pm. He's an easy child to look after - happy, healthy, good-natured. She's a great mum with him.

DW is lazy, and I feel that having DS has given her the excuse she needs not to do any housework. Before anyone gets up on their high horse - I know how much work it is to look after a child, I was doing it when I was twelve. I have always done as much as possible in the parenting.

There are key issues. One is vacuum cleaning. We live in a old dusty house - garden, allotment, walks in the countryside. If we don't keep on top of the vacuuming, it becomes intolerable really quickly. I wake up coughing in the night. Practically this means 30 mins vacuuming 5 or 6 times a week. Not a big deal, very easy to knock off after breakfast. When I was single, I used to do it before going to work.

DW will do what she likes around the house - sorting out wardrobes or cleaning the bath. To me, the wardrobe is a marginal issue

Last weekend, after ANOTHER row in a 3 year series of rows, we agreed (again) that we'd write a list, negotiate and agree who does what, and stick to it. This weekend, I'm coughing in the night again, DW hasn't started the list as it's obviously up to me to sit her down and do it, and I had to finish off the washing up that she said she'd do.

I know this all sounds like it's about getting DW to do more housework, but it's not. It's about levels of commitment to making the relationship work. I feel like I have to be the manager, checking, delegating, telling the workforce what to do. That's not how I want the relationship to be. (I fucking manage stuff all day at work, I don't want to do it at home). I plan and do the shopping, I plan and do the meals - even if she cooks, she phones me at work to ask me what and how to cook. I plan and do the outings, and just about everything else.

This also isn't about male chauvinism and housework. My mother trained all three of us really well. I used to iron my own shirts as a teenager, we all had jobs, roles, responsibilities. We all learned that work doesn't go away, and the quicker you do it the quicker you are free.

I need some help in non-confrontational ways of helping DW to understand how important this is to me, working together to deal with it, and being adult and respectful of each other. I don't want more rows (actually there's another issue in conflict resolution - I come from a "let's identify the problem and agree the way forward" perspective, she has a "I must win this argument at all costs" approach). I want us to be able to work together and make our family a success, but I don't think she shares that vision - it feels like she just wants to be looked after.

Please help

feedmenow Sun 13-Jul-08 10:32:33

I would like to be able to offer some amazing words of advice here, but can't.

But just one thing. Is there any possibility that DW is suffering from PND to some degree? Could this be effecting her ability and/or motivation to do her share? Or even if not specifically PND, is she happy in herself? Feeling miserable/stressed/depressed can play a big part in a persons ability to get on and do things.....

Hope someone more helpful comes along soon.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gagarin Sun 13-Jul-08 10:38:10

How about you deciding what is essential to YOU. And putting that on your list.

And she can decide what is essential to HER. And put that on her list.

If there are jobs that are not essential to either of you then don't do them.

So for you that's the hoovering? Make that your job.

It is an impossible task to expect another person to see the world of cleanliness and hygiene in the same way as you. So you can't tell anyone else how the cleaning should be done I'm afraid.

If the washing up is on her list as she wants that to be done - then NEVER finish it off for her. That is undermining adn means you may end up subscribing to the very unpleasant martyr syndrome!

And all the shopping and cooking? That seems hard for you with a fulltime job as well. Can you eat your main meal at work on occasion so she just cooks for herslef and the baby? Then you are both off the hook.

Things will continue to be hard if you try and get your dw to bring her standards up to yours as it just won't happen!

Divide tasks by all means - and JUST DO YOURS. The rest you can leave and don't tut or flounce. And don't answer the "how do you cook this?" questions while you are at work! Just sets up irritations.

Good luck.

Hassled Sun 13-Jul-08 10:41:29

Apart from the house stuff, how is your wife? Does she have friends? Is she happy living in the UK? Yo say your DS is happy and good natured, but that doesn't mean that looking after him all day every day doesn't seem relentless, exhausting and isolating. What I'm trying to say is that maybe the apparent refusal to do standard housework (but to do the bits she chooses, like wardrobe sorting) is the only bit of control she feels she has in her life. The first year of motherhood can seem absolutely overwhelming, and despite my love for my DCs, I don't remember it as being a happy time in my life. And it's very easy to just wallow in that unhappiness and not feel able to move forward, so not bother trying.

I have a lot of sympathy for you and wish I could come up with more tangible solutions. I do think you maybe need to appreciate that what is manageable and do-able for you (the 30 mins hoovering) might seem overwhelming for her. You are very different people with very different upbringings, and you need to make a lot of allowances for that. Work out what compromises you're prepared to make in your relationship, and keep plodding away.

gagarin Sun 13-Jul-08 10:42:30

BTW I'm assuming she has always been like this? If so you ust have gone into the relationship knowing the score? Or (foolish person!) did you think she'd change?

If there is any major change in personality then I also think pnd is a real possibility. People I've known with pnd just cannot do anything even when they intend to do it.

And your definition of lazy prob has to include that "being lazy means not doing it my way" which is a very common definition of men among women!

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

beanieb Sun 13-Jul-08 11:56:39

From your post it is the lack of hoovering which causes you the most distress and so I think you should start taking that on yourself, even if it means running the cleaner around the house for 30 minutes 5 mornings a week before work. Infact 2 of those times could be on the weekend meaning you would only have to do it on 3 work days.

I lived with someone who expected a lot more housework to be done by me (We both worked) and it caused many arguments. I tried to explain to him that while I was making every effort to improve he was doing nothing to lower his exacting standards and that for it to be fair he needed to chill out a bit and trty to meet me half way. Are you doing that or do you insist on seeing your standards met?

You say the list is obviously down to you - so DO IT! sit down with her and reimnd her that you both agreed to do this. Don't do it in an accusing way and try to talk through what you are both prepared to do. Start by saying you are more than prepared to take on the hoovering.

Tell her what you told us "I want us to be able to work together and make our family a success" and try to not do it in a manager way.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NumberJill Sun 13-Jul-08 13:07:53

It sounds like this isn't about making the relationship work, it's about making the relationship how you want it to be.

If you ask your wife, I'd bet she'll say it already works, and she can't understand why you want her to do everything the way you would do it.

If you hoovered before work before, there is nothing to stop you doing it now. I certainly do not hoover daily, and I would not take kindly to being told to either.

As for making her take more responsibility, there is only one way to force her into that. Whe she rings and asks you what to cook, tell her you don't know - and stick to it. she will eventually have to make a decision and qwill become gradually more confident in her ability to do so. But has it crossed youir mind that she just wants to get it nice for you, and cook you something you enjoy? You say you plan all the meals - well, I don't plan meals, i DON'T FEEL THE NECESSITY so maybe she doesn't either?

You can't make someone have the same attitudes to everything that you do.

gagarin Sun 13-Jul-08 13:36:52

And another thing - if she's Russian how did you meet? Did you get a chance to meet her at home with her family so you have a good idea of how she would see a successful family life?

If you only met her over here you don't really know her family well and perhaps you're assuming a background like a UK family when in reality she may be from a totally different background - having a relationship between cultures can be very hard.

MrsMacaroon Sun 13-Jul-08 13:53:06

DW may well be lazy/flaky but looking after a baby full time and helping with your siblings is absolutely not the same thing. That doesn't mean you're not a good dad or don't parent enough...it is what it is.

If you don't understand this you have no right to ask her to understand where you are coming from, even when you have many valid issues.

zippitippitoes Sun 13-Jul-08 13:55:50

it does sound like you have a quite paternalistic take on the relationship

you do sound as tho you are much older or feel in some way the boss

the simplest solution seems to be that you do the hoovering

this was your house before you married her?

maybe if you moved somewhere else ...less dusty for a start smile..she would feel less servant and masterish and more happy

ihatebikerides Sun 13-Jul-08 14:13:19

Hoovering 5 or 6 times a week seems a little excessive to me, unless you are asthmatic? If so, have you considered taking up the carpets?
Perhaps your wife feels de-skilled re: cooking. I used to be a perfectly fine cook. Then I met DH who also likes cooking, but is quite a fussy eater and particular about how he would do it. He offered one too many bits of advice in the kitchen a good few years back, so I handed it all over to him. Great. But of course, now, if it ever does fall to me to cook, I find I'm constantly deferring to him, which is a pain.

Alfreda Sun 13-Jul-08 15:20:42

Sometimes we have different personalities, and different standards. I found that I understood a lot more of my husband's irritating peculiarities more when I got him to do an online personality test (keep reading, I don't mean a cosmo quiz, I mean a properly validated test). Triath, you say you are a manager, I'm sure you've done a Myers-Briggs? If not, it's worth doing it, you and the wife both.
So I am perennially untidy and never do the washing-up before going to bed, and never put things away. I try, I just don't notice that it needs doing. I am also quite frequently in a world of my own, processing all sorts of things, the typical absent-minded professor. Drives dh crazy, he likes things organised, he lives in the here and now. Once we understood that some of these things were innate, we sorted them another way (my housework duties became more limited in the tidying dept but I took other stuff on, basically)

A thought, anyway. You have clear views, but remember the definition of self-evident: that which is evident only to oneself.

Other things: vacuuuming 5-6 times a week does seem excessive, even accepting that I am an absolute slob. If it is not done so often and this makes you cough, do you have a definite house dust mite allergy, and/or do you have untreated asthma? You might find that a visit to your GP and some appropriate medication will sort the vacuuming irritation and (given your username) improve your training times.....

BecauseImWorthIt Sun 13-Jul-08 15:26:43

Sorry - but haven't we had this post before? Is this genuine?

Seem to remember another one where the wife was accused of not doing the hoovering but sorting outher wardrobe.

rookiemater Sun 13-Jul-08 15:27:38

Triathlete, you posted about this before a few months ago and got lots of useful advice then, which you don't appear to have taken in.

I agree with Alfreda,vacuuming that often is a lot. I'd be mighty pissed off if I was at home all day with a 9 month old and was expected to vacuum everything once a day, oh and also was told how long it should take me and when I should do it. Get a robobot ( or whatever they are called) that does the hoovering.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rookiemater Sun 13-Jul-08 15:31:04

It's quite a long post. I'd imagine you could get a hall and a living room hoovered in about the time it took to type it.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lulumama Sun 13-Jul-08 15:33:47

you sound very much 'been there, done that, it is easy, can't see what the problem is' which is not going to get to the root of the problem

mabye she is depressed, isolated?

ironing your own shirts as a teenager is hardly the same as keeping house for a family of 3

if she is struggling with cooking, why not spend a weekend cooking with her, and stocking the freezer and at the same time helping her so she is not so unsure about cooking

and what if she does want a bit of feeling looked after, rather than she is a housekeeper. mother. cook etc..

maybe that is what is lacking , some care and nurture that will help move htings forward

beanieb Sun 13-Jul-08 16:22:06

Ah - I remember the last thread now. My advice is still the same. You both need to make the effort to find a middle-ground and this may mean both of you havinf to put up with some things.

If you have an agreement that she runs the house and you do the paid employment then you have to let your wife do what she thinks is reasonable and achievable. I doubt she tells you how to do your job better?

Alfreda Sun 13-Jul-08 17:23:49

I agree it is annoying when the other half phones you at work (I used to get really worried when dh did this, now I know it will be "where did ds leave his swimmers?" or some such). Quite often when I am doing something important or have client in front of me. I think he often does it out of isolation though.

Alfreda Sun 13-Jul-08 17:25:25

Sorry. That might not be comprehensible. It was to do with the wife's calls about the cooking.

The alternative to that one is to sit down at the weekend and agree a menu for the week, or do batch cook-freeze sessions at weekends, the two of you, together. It is a strange and unusual tyranny deciding what to cook for the family each day off the cuff. I hate it.

dittany Sun 13-Jul-08 17:41:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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