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Have ordered Wifework....slightly concerned about the after effects

(380 Posts)
TheProvincialLady Sun 18-Sep-11 09:12:38

I hadn't encountered Wifework before lurking on the feminist boards, but it sounds so interesting that I have just ordered it from Amazon and I'm really looking forward to reading it. But at the same time a little concerned about what I will actually DO with the enhanced knowledge that I am a Wife.

I willingly gave up work when I had the DC. We both discussed this and it was what I had always thought would be the best thing for the children. 5 years later, we have two children and I work a few hours a week (and really enjoy it). But I am now basically responsible for all the housework, all of the time. And getting the children ready. My husband does help, but he is not responsible and I'm not sure how this happened. It affects my choice of job but not his, the hours I work but not his, etc. Before children I still did more housework - partly because our standards are somewhat different - but also because he was raised to do nothing in the way of housework and has an underlying belief that it gets done anyway.

Anyway, a slight resentment of all this has been bubbling under the surface for some years now I suppose, and now it is all about to come to a head when I read Wifework. As the children get older I want to work more hours outside the home and so DH and I will be more equal in that respect, and I can foresee a battle over the housework and the children. So how can I approach this in a constructive way?

I posted this on the feminist board because I value your opinions and would be interested in any theoretical stuff as well as practical advice. Thanks.

UsingMainlySpoons Sun 18-Sep-11 09:36:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

carocaro Sun 18-Sep-11 09:40:05

You chose to do it so why moan? To me, and I have been a SAHM for 6 years and all that housework stuff yes it can be a bore, but it's a total no brainer I just get on with it. I don't resent it. DH does not particularly enjoy driving round the motorways of the UK and being stuck in traffic for hours on end with leg cramp, hours in endless meetings with idiots, but it's part of the job and he knew about it when taking up the job. We do not waste breath on whining about the stuff we just have to get on with.

Housework and taking care of the children does not A define me or B demean me. My choice of work is affected, as DH travels in the UK and Europe a lot and for me, I did not want a job which meant due to DH's work I would be left holding the baby 99% of the time, no good for the children. He helps around the house, and when I need some extra help I ask and he helps - so hard!!!! So I just adjusted and am starting my own business from home, in the same field, and I am loving it. My children are now older, last DS has just started reception. I get fed up with women being their own worst enemy, not you particularly, but others, all this "I am now a worthless person who can only dust and hoover with no brain" Women moan they are labeled but they lable themselves. Instead of a "I am a fantastic, strong, clever talented woman" it all "I am a SAHM with no brain and little to offer whoose OH can't lift a duster"

I am certainly better, wiser, more enriched for having children, being a SAHM and a wife and I don't see it as a life sucking degenerative experience. I also find it shocking that you seem somewhat scare and reluctant to have to discuss this with you DH? You are not subserviant to him are you? Instead of 'slight resentment and bubbling under the surface', speak to him FGS! Is it his fault you are resentful because you say nothing? No, it's yours.

You want him to help but your standards are better, so he's buggered from the get go. Is that all there is in life, a pefect clean and tidy house to prove who you are? You seem to have been on a downer with the lable WIFE from the get go, so this has scewed your perception on it all.

You don't need anyone to tell you what you need to do as it really is not that complicated. Just discuss it with your DH and OMG you might reach a better understanding and feel better about the future and you don't need a book to do that.

moondog Sun 18-Sep-11 09:43:45

Well sadi Carocaro.
If you enter into this with divisive ideas about what is yours and what is his responsibility ,then you will just become bitter and twisted.

A constructive partnership is one where people engage in the necessary work (paid or unpaid) which ensures best outcome for all members of the family.

I do most of the domestic stuff (and work f/t and raise 2 kids) because my dh is abroad most of the time. I don't resent this. His earning powere and skills are such that in this way we are able to benefit maximally to suit us all.

AyeBelieveInTheHumanityOfMen Sun 18-Sep-11 09:49:35

Oh my, looks like you should just suck it up,TPL. confused

"It affects my choice of job but not his, the hours I work but not his, etc." This encapsulates one of my core reasons for being a feminist.

Would he be willing to read it too? And what is/would be his response to the statement I picked out?

moondog Sun 18-Sep-11 09:54:06

My husband's choices affect my choice and hours of work too.
However, as he earns about 3 times what I do and as I sit in my lovely mortgage free home (courtesy of his labour) I think I can live with that.

[hmmm]

SheCutOffTheirTails Sun 18-Sep-11 10:00:37

Right, so you were for sale moondog, and you've been bought and paid for?

How lovely. I'm sure we're all v v v v jealous.

TheProvincialLady Sun 18-Sep-11 10:01:03

Gah, I posted a long reply and lost it.

I'm not scared of my husband (he is considerably more scared of me as it happens!) but this issue has become a flashpoint in our relationship and I wanted to approach it armed with information and constructively. Yes I agreed to become a housewife, I have enjoyed it (I also set up a small business and volunteered) but now things are changing and the household stuff needs to change too, only because of the way DH was brought up and lots of other factors, it looks like I am set to keep doing what I do AND work increasingly long hours outside the home. And that is not fair, is it?

Also, my DH doesn't work long particularly long hours (sometimes obviously), he never works away and doesn't have a long commute.

I think he would listen to what I read out to him and take it seriously but he wouldn't read the book.

moondog Sun 18-Sep-11 10:01:12

<amused chuckle> grin

Thistledew Sun 18-Sep-11 10:25:53

TPL- If you were to say to your husband that this was an issue that was really bothering you, and that the book explains it better than you can so could he please read it, what would he say? Do you think he would actually refuse? If so, you may have greater problems in your relationship than just the balance of housework.

It should not be your sole responsibility to come to a solution that suits you both. Your DH should also see this as his problem as much as yours. You taking full responsibility for ensuring the emotional health of your relationship -ie so that neither of you feels resentful or fed up with the other is yet another example of Wifework.

joaninha Sun 18-Sep-11 10:32:10

I think it is important to see your work as a SAHM as a paid job equal to that of your husband's and that he values it too. From that he will understand that when you increase your hours outside the home the excess workload at home must be shared. It's simple economics but the trouble is that our patriarchal culture doesn't necessarily recognise the work of the sahm, hence recent poster's belief that her home is solely courtesy of her husbands labour and not hers.

I think one good measurement is to see if the two of you have equal leisure time. Plus the recognition that staying at home can be intellectually and socially isolating so your business ambitions are important for your mental well-being.
Good luck

BecauseImWorthIt Sun 18-Sep-11 10:33:36

I can understand that your husband wouldn't want to read a book about it - I doubt if mine would either grin - but it's clear from your OP that it's time for you both to talk about this. You can preface it with "now things are changing, I need you to do more of x, y and z ...".

He no doubt needs some of this bringing to his attention. Don't get resentful, cross, bitter and twisted, etc, if he doesn't do it without you talking to him about it.

And if he's frightened of you, then so much the better! wink That is a joke by the way ...

moondog Sun 18-Sep-11 10:33:59

I'm really interested in the fact that women obviously get together with me, buy homes ,adn have kids before sorting out this stuff.
It's fiundamental.

BecauseImWorthIt Sun 18-Sep-11 10:34:14

Oh, and if, when you've talked about it, he refuses/objects, then you know you have a real problem. At the moment, you have an opportunity.

joaninha Sun 18-Sep-11 10:53:52

Moondog, I wholeheartedly agree but I suspect when in the throes of love no one wants to bring up the mundane arrangements of married life! I can just see it, a romantic dinner in Paris overlooking the seine. He whips out beautiful ring and makes heart rending "you complete me" speech followed by proposal to which she replies "yes but only if you promise to wash your pubes out the bath"!!

SinicalSal Sun 18-Sep-11 11:09:05

it's easy to say though Moondog when it's just the two of you that things will be/are equal. It just seems to creep up when you throw kids into the mix, someone gets a promotion, maternity leave, you end up goimg aaround in the same old groove.

Another thing I've noticed, is when a very young couple move in together they 'play' at house, it's the novelty of being 'a grown up wife'. I've done it myself in the past. This can get entrenched really and when the novelty you still find yourself stuck with it.

UsingMainlySpoons Sun 18-Sep-11 11:11:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jellybeans208 Sun 18-Sep-11 11:13:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SinicalSal Sun 18-Sep-11 11:23:00

I don't know if it's the work as such in many cases, it's the recognition. I don't know the ins and outs of DH's average day - I know the ins and outs of his pay packet though and I recognise the lifestyle it enables us to have. Tangibles like roof over our head and intangibles like not worrying about whether if we have to bring the dc to the doctor (its e50 a visit here).

So maybe DH doesn't know exactly what I do all day when I'm at home (PT worker). But he does recognise that dinner is always on the table, clothes in the wardrobe, bills paid, kids vax up to date,, you can see out the windows, his mum got her birthday card etc etc. Tangible and intangible things that make life work and be pleasant. that are not done by magic, they are done by me.

SinicalSal Sun 18-Sep-11 11:24:51

Great if you have that wisdom so young jellybeans, for a lot of people it's something that comes with maturity. Most people 'try on' a variety of roles when they re young, ime, later shrugging off the ones that don't fit.

jellybeans208 Sun 18-Sep-11 11:36:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jellybeans208 Sun 18-Sep-11 11:36:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SinicalSal Sun 18-Sep-11 11:39:52

So what do you do if you are brought up that way? You have to make a concerted effort to change your conditioning, and your husband's too. Not easy, and I wouldn't be thinking it's something special on my part if I didn't have to.

SinicalSal Sun 18-Sep-11 11:40:40

Well yeah me too re relaxing - I knew that from a very early age grin

LRDTheFeministDragon Sun 18-Sep-11 11:47:54

ProvincialLady - I've not read it (though people have quoted from it so much I feel as if I have sometimes! grin blush), and I've been meaning to. Would you be up for chatting about it in a little bit when we've both had a read of it? I'd love someone to talk to who's also in the process of reading it.

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