Is the Bar Too Low on Being a Good Father?

Is the Bar Too Low on Being a Good Father?
37 Shares

A year ago, I wrote this piece about emotional labor called “Why Married Women Get a Raw Deal.” In it, I confessed I was as sensitive and available as my stay-at-home wife could have hoped for, and still, she works harder and has less free time than I do.

The story wasn’t really about me but readers offered all sorts of constructive criticism for what I could do better to improve my wife’s life.

I took all of this into advisement and today, I’m proud to announce that everything’s changed.

My wife is now sleeping normal hours and is happier than ever.

She has let go of her perfectionism, OCD and inability to delegate and has offloaded half of her housework to me and the kids.

Even if we don’t do things exactly her way, she’s okay with it because she knows it’s not the end of the world. As a result, she has freed up a lot more time for personal care.

In the end, this was a triumph of crowdsourcing, for, without the input from the comments, I would have not had the knowledge or courage to insist – against my wife’s will – that I take over 50% of household duties while acting as the sole breadwinner.

Just kidding.

None of that happened.

It was just a prelude to today’s article, an opinion piece from the New York Times, called “What Good Dads Get Away With.” Brought to you by the same author who wrote, “All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership,” you can only imagine that men do not acquit themselves well in this.

To be fair, I agree with what the author posits:

“Mothers still shoulder 65 percent of child-care work. In academic journals, family researchers caution that the “culture of fatherhood” has changed more than fathers’ actual behavior.

Sociologists attribute the discrepancy between mothers’ expectations and reality to “a largely successful male resistance.” This resistance is not being led by socially conservative men, whose like-minded wives often explicitly agree to take the lead in the home. It is happening, instead, with relatively progressive couples, and it takes many women — who thought their partners had made a prenatal commitment to equal parenting — by surprise. Why are their partners failing to pitch in more?”

The couples offered three explanations for this labor imbalance. The first was that women take over activities like bedtime, homework and laundry because men perform these tasks inadequately. But this isn’t “maternal gatekeeping,” the theory that men want to help but women disparage their capabilities and push them out. Instead these seem to be situations that necessitate the intervention of a reasonable adult.

The second explanation involved forgetting or obliviousness. A mother in Illinois said: “My husband is a participatory and willing partner. He’s not traditional in terms of ‘I don’t change diapers.’ But his attention is limited.” She added, “I can’t trust him to do anything, to actually remember.”

A dad in San Francisco said that many of the tasks of parenting weren’t important enough to remember: “I just don’t think these things are worth attending to. A certain percentage of parental involvement that my wife does, I would see as valuable but unnecessary. A lot of disparity in our participation is that.”

Finally, some men blamed their wives’ personalities. A San Diego dad said his wife did more because she was so uptight. “She wakes up on a Saturday morning and has a list. I don’t keep lists. I think there’s a belief that if she’s not going to do it, then it won’t get done.” (His wife agreed that this was true, but emphasized that her belief was based on experience: “We fell into this easy pattern where he learned to be oblivious and I learned to resent him.”)

Like most issues where there is a reasonable debate, I would say this is a both/and, rather than an either/or question.

Couldn’t it be that a lot of self-proclaimed egalitarian men take a passive role in domestic chores because they either assume or hope their wives will take on the lion’s share?

Absolutely.

But unless you’re completely discounting the opinion of men, I don’t know how you can ignore the three explanations above, which, unfortunately, also apply to my marriage.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Men do need to understand their wives, empathize with their plights, and offer to do more where possible.

I pay the bills. My wife takes care of the home and the kids. As a result, she knows everything and is on top of everything. That means she has lists on top of lists. It means that she knows more about the house and kids than I do, cares about doing things a specific way than I do, and has a hard time delegating because she’s the only person who is an expert in our household. If I tried to delegate my job to her, it would be similarly difficult. Factor in that my wife is admittedly a procrastinator, a pleasure seeker and extremely detail-oriented (pulling three straight all-nighters to pack for a trip, for example), and, well, it paints more of a two-sided picture as to how my marriage falls directly into this pernicious stereotype.

Like political problems, I don’t claim to have the answer, but I know the problem isn’t solved by demonizing one side and ignoring its feelings. Men do need to understand their wives, empathize with their plights, and offer to do more where possible. It would also seem that women, if they want the help of their husbands, could stand to let go of some of the quality control, since it’s perfectly fair for him to not care as much about some of the details as you are.

Between taking 90 minutes to get out of the hotel and remember to bring a change of clothes, baby wipes, three different kinds of sunscreen, a light jacket, band-aids, and a variety of snacks and reading materials (my wife’s method) and throwing on clothes and getting out of the hotel room in 20 minutes (my method), there has to be a happy medium, no?

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated. Personal attacks are not. 🙂

 

Join our conversation (64 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 1
    jo

    Evan, 3 all-nighters in a row? This isn’t a personal attack, it’s an opinion based on health studies: your wife should consider her own well being, including her health, in her actions and decisions. Not long ago, it might have been NY Times that published an article about a student doing exactly this (he was studying for a test), fainting, and winding up in the ER.

    I think this is the kind of situation that can’t be solved if you just show your caring / taking over childcare once or a few times. It has to be a PATTERN over a longer period of time, so that your wife comes to trust you in that arena. The example you gave of preparing for the beach: the difference between what you wrote your wife did, and what you did, is that you were only taking care of yourself, while she was taking care of the whole family, kids (and you?) included. So I don’t see it as particularly ‘virtuous’ or efficient to get out the door more quickly, if the only person one is focusing on is oneself. The complications increase exponentially once you take others into consideration, including their preferences, needs, and health.

    Could fathers try to think differently, and that thinking can lead to acting differently? Think holistically. YES it’s uncomfortable, but women have been putting up with thinking on behalf of whole groups rather than just ourselves for most of our lives! Think holistically, fathers (I’m not focusing on you specifically, Evan), about what everyone in your family or group needs, and then you will come to understand how complicated it is. And then, try acting on it. Yes, it is difficult. But your wives will see it, appreciate it so much, and over time if you keep doing it, they will trust you and release a bit of themselves, their anxieties, to you to take care of the whole family.

    1. 1.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      The hard part that you don’t see is that literally ALL I do is sit there while she’s running around and ask “What can I do?” The answer is usually: “nothing.” I am literally on call waiting for orders because she believes she’s the only person who knows what it takes and it would take too long to explain it to me – only to have me do a worse job. So this isn’t about intent – my wife knows that I would MUCH rather contribute to the household than to sit there doing nothing. That’s what makes this pernicious.

      1. 1.1.1
        jo

        Evan, you may have already tried this, and I don’t usually (ever?) recommend a husband ordering a wife around… but could you, the next time you are on this vacation, tell your wife ‘This time I will be the one to prepare the beach items for all of us, and I will only take 20 minutes, and you will just leave everything to me and see that nothing bad will happen. If something bad does happen, then we will go back to you taking care of it.’ – and see what happens?

        And then do this with thing after thing that she insists of taking care of by herself, including packing for trips and household duties? Show her by actual consequences that the situations turn out fine (if not better, because you have more time and she has more sleep), and with enough times of doing this, she may have a paradigm shift.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Interesting. I’m not averse to it but I think she would be – simply because it’s impossible for her not to think of 100 things we need to do. It is more torturous for her to cede control than to do 100 things and feel prepared for every eventuality. If she were to respond she’d say the same. Truth is, I’M more bothered by this arrangement than she is. It feels bad to not be able to help and it feels bad to have to wait an hour before we can ever leave the house.

        2. Jeremy

          The trouble with high-neuroticism personalities is that they really believe (on some level) that disaster will strike if things aren’t done just so. The solution to the problem isn’t taking away their work, it’s letting them do it and thanking them for it. Anything else leads to less happiness for all involved. The question of whether to assume more of the burden really depends on whether the person wants that burden to be assumed by others. Some do. Some don’t.

  2. 2
    Jeremy

    This article resonated with me, not in terms of its content but in terms of the powerful emotions that underlie it. Outrage, anger, frustration that the world isn’t as it “should be,” that things just aren’t “fair.” That some people are reaping the benefits of that unfairness while others are paying the price. I too have experienced such emotions. I too have thought such thoughts.

    My journey out of the dark hole of those emotions began with this story: You are standing at a party and you see a good-looking woman you might like to get to know. So you approach her and introduce yourself….but she ignores you, pretend she doesn’t see or hear you. What do you feel? -Anger? – Outrage? And what do you think? – That she is pretentious, stuck-up, thinks she’s too good for you? Now add one piece of information. This woman is deaf. She didn’t respond to you because she didn’t HEAR you. NOW what are your emotions? Different, aren’t they? Because your thoughts, the thoughts that subtend those emotions, are different. The story you were telling yourself wasn’t complete, was missing a crucial perspective, and so led you to emotions that were appropriate to your story but not to reality. This is the essence of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – changing one’s emotions by recognizing incorrect thoughts, and correcting them.

    And so this article. This article full of anger, frustration, outrage. Emotions subtended by the thoughts that men are lazy, that men aren’t stepping up, that men aren’t doing their fair share and that women get stuck with all the work – the picture of the woman holding the heavy barbell and the man holding the teeny free-weights – UNFAIRNESS!. Are the thoughts correct, or are we perhaps missing a piece of information as important to the correctness of our emotions as the deafness of the party-going-woman?

    “I want an equal partnership,” say the women (and they mean it!), “That’s the story I want to be part of.” But what they aren’t saying with their words, what they aren’t realizing about their story, is that there is nothing equal at all about what they want. Because they want that partnership entirely on their own terms. I want “us” to do what “I” want, I want the relationship to look how I want it to look….and I want YOU to do half of it. Half of it….the way I want you to do it. Not the way you do, not when you do. Equality? Is equality defined by each doing 50% of the concrete “things,” or is it defined by dividing our concepts of what “should” be done 50/50? That is the question – the question masked and muddled by all the words and emotions of the article. The question that the author…totally ignores, focused on the “things” as she is, taking for granted the correctness of her own “shoulds,” their divisibility in the concrete but not in the abstract. She is not the only one ignoring this question.

    1. 2.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Indeed.

    2. 2.2
      jo

      Jeremy, I wouldn’t characterise this article as expressing ‘outrage’ or ‘anger’ at all. And while your points would be relevant perhaps in your family and others, that isn’t what this author expressed. She wanted her husband to care as much about their children’s dental health as she does (instead of brushing his own teeth and not caring whether they brushed theirs) and who will care for the children when they have school days off, since they both work. I don’t see these as unreasonable, ‘women only’ expectations. I see these as non-negotiables for a healthy and safe family.

      I can’t help feeling that your last paragraph, while again, probably true for your family, is a bit of a strawman argument for the broader point she is making about non-negotiable care duties of children and family in MANY families. Women are forced to take care of these in most households because men will not, sacrificing their own time, health, and energy in ways that men don’t; and that is unfair. That is her point.

      1. 2.2.1
        ezamuzed

        @jo

        You missed Jeremy’s point. These men likely would have done the non-negotiable care just not when and how their wives would like it done. Just because the husband went to brush his teeth in the article it doesn’t mean he was not going to have the children brush theirs.

        1. jo

          Nor do you know that he would have even noticed or cared.

      2. 2.2.2
        Jeremy

        No outrage? Her first sentence blames men’s not doing what women want on sexism. How many men blame sexism when women don’t do what men want? How many men think that what men want is “correct,” and that women not doing such makes them “lazy”? Regardless of whether men need to pick up the slack on their own. LOL.

        The research she quotes – the research that finds men doing less household work than women – ALSO finds that men do more paid work, with both sexes doing about the same amount of work in total (men slightly more) – see Pew study from 2013. No accounting for that is made in the article, but with this in mind it stands to reason that if the average man did the same amount of household work as the average woman, he’d actually be doing much more work overall. What else but outrage can explain the author’s lack of accounting for the second half of the very research she quotes? Confirmation bias?

        I can certainly acknowledge that there are many marriages in which women legitimately make more sacrifices to do necessary work that men ignore. But I also acknowledge that a lot of chaff gets lumped in with this wheat. For instance, I have a female employee who can’t relax at night if there are unwashed dishes in her sink. Her husband doesn’t mind the dishes being in the sink – he can relax just fine watching some tv. If left up to him, he’d eventually do the dishes, either when the mess bothered him or when he ran out of clean dishes. The dishes don’t “need” to be done just then. But she thinks they do. And she gives him an earful until he does them – ’cause her doing them all the time wouldn’t be fair. LOL, “fair.”

        Oh, and Helene (if you’re reading), you’ve cleverly figured out how to get a man to do something he doesn’t care about doing in the long-term? How do men get women to do things they don’t care about in the long-term? Any difference?

        1. ezamuzed

          Yes and there are plenty of super lazy woman out there. In my marriage I was the sole bread winner and I did the vast majority of work around the house and with the kids. But really it is my fault for marrying someone like that. It is not like I didn’t know about her issues before getting married as we lived together for a long time. I just didn’t know about mine.

    3. 2.3
      Cathalei

      Jeremy,
      I have observed the things you mentioned in the last paragraph too. It is not as much about men vs women as much as difference in priorities assigned to a given task. I cannot relate to this article because I have very low degree of neuroticism according to the Big 5 Personality traits. I am very much okay with things not being done in the way I do them as long as it delivers the results. Heck, in case I find out I do things quicker with the new method I may just as easily adopt them. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I am very careful about seeing to, but I just don’t give too much stress (pun intended) on how they are done, so long as the job gets finished. If I have shoulds, I explain it and why. I think closer levels of neuroticism ensures more compatibility in that regard.
      Another thing is, I think feminist ideology (yes, it is an ideology) makes women out to feel like martyrs. If a woman does a thing because she wants to, many feminists portray it as a huge sacrifice to show her as such. When necessary efforts are given all the time, it becomes easy to take it for granted. It is unrelated to gender. Such portrayal does disservice to women as perceived martyrdom breeds bitterness and resentment. People should own what they want to do and be ready to defend their choices. Not as in justifying to others but standing by them when they end up in results whatever they may be.

  3. 3
    Gari

    Dr. Meg Meeker’s book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters has a great deal of data on the impact of a father on female development. This book made a huge impact on my life.

  4. 4
    Mrs Happy

    Would the average man die, or kill for, his children?
    Serious question. We know what happens if a person gets between a mother bear and her cubs. Does the same thing happen with a father bear and his cubs?

    1. 4.1
      Jeremy

      Not sure about bears. Human males have been dying to protect their children for a long as the species has existed. For their wives too. But of what relevance is that to this discussion? Whether a child has packed a snack and water bottle before her trip to the mall (or whether she be fine without it) has little bearing on life and death.

      1. 4.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        Effort. Care. Amount of extra an adult will do for family/offspring. In my opinion it’s the underlying reason there’s such a gender difference in workload for kids.

        1. Jeremy

          The generation of helicopter parents is beginning to discover that all of their excessive care and neuroticism have largely resulted in worse outcomes for their children. Their children who have never been allowed to fail and so have not developed any resilience to failure. Who have never been at all uncomfortable and so have not developed any resilience to discomfort. Who have been so overprogrammed that they have never developed the ability to fill their own time with thinking and imagining. There is a great wide spectrum between the neglect of out childhoods and what’s being advocated now on the mommy chatrooms.

          The arguments I’ve had over child-related chores have NEVER been due to laziness or lack of care. They’ve been due to the realization that in the calculus of what’s best for the happiness of everyone involved, mine, hers, and theirs, certain things are necessary, certain things are not. Certain things are better off done, certain things are better off not done. The men in this article told the author that the chores their wives were obsessing over just weren’t important to them. And she interpreted that as laziness or shirking responsibility. Never considered that maybe the kids and the wife would all be better off without some of those chores.

        2. jo

          Except that, Mrs Happy, it isn’t just within the nuclear family that women do more. In any social setting, which includes most work, we do more – constantly, rarely appreciated – to make sure that everyone is comfortable and stays healthy and alive.

          We do the bulk of planning social events and are the ones to make sure that we have enough food of enough different types, cutlery, plates, napkins, drinks – and that everyone is happy and comfortable. At my workplace that has many visitors from outside, not just the secretaries but the female professionals are always the ones who remember to ask the visitors if they need to use the loo (restroom) or offer coffee or water. The men just plow ahead, often shouting their opinions loudly, instead of considering the visitors’ needs. Of course there is variation in workplaces, but just take a look today at who is doing all the unpaid quiet managing to ensure comfort and ease.

          Long story short, Mrs Happy, I am not sure it is about deep passionate love for children that women do more of this work. I think we’ve been socialised to do it, because we are doing the bulk of this work in the WORLD, not just in nuclear families. I happen to think it’s more sociological than biological (because I remember the ways I was explicitly trained to look after others this way, in ways that boys my age just weren’t), but YMMV.

        3. Mrs Happy

          On population average, males invest less effort in their children and are more selfish about their own needs being met above the needs of their children, compared with women. On a daily basis, from everything I see and read, I think that’s indisputable. I can’t predict what any one man will do, but I can statistically predict what sections of percentages of men will do, re fatherhood and chores and effort.

          Don’t go right to the end of the fatherhood-effort spectrum where Evan, YAG and Jeremy lie, look at the rest of the world. Men leaving young kids and wives for their secretaries, abandoning their bio children to be raised by a single mother with all the disadvantage that will entail. (Just to get their own sexual and admiration needs met. For oh, three years, until the secretary becomes just like their wife in giving them less. Wow, didn’t see that coming.) Men leaving minutes after after act of conception to never return. Married men in Africa travelling vast distances for work, having sex with randoms, bringing back fatal viruses that infect their wives, and future children via those wives. Because of course his few minutes of sexual pleasure is much more important than his kids being drastically ill, dead, or at best case orphans in the decade it’ll take him and his wife to die. Men in polygamous societies barely even knowing the names and ages of all of their offspring.

          Mothers don’t do this. They don’t leave with their secretary, or the hot young pool boy, because they stop to think, hang on, though an exciting fling with a muscly man would be fun, it will disadvantage my kids, and then, mothers decide to prioritise their kids. They think, I’ll get enough snacks and sunscreen before leaving the hotel, because then when the kids get thirsty and hungry, there will be something healthy to eat and drink quickly, and the kids (and I) will enjoy the outing more with rapid solutions to whinges, and healthy food and water will advantage the kids in the long run, and the kids won’t be sunburnt and sore tonight. The average man (not Evan, who actually cares) thinks, let’s go, I want to go, the kids can cope, we don’t want to helicopter them too much, but basically, I can’t be bothered, and even, I’m now jealous you’re concentrating on the kids’ needs not mine.

          Based on previous discussions here, and the above, may I conclude men that can’t possibly have too much of their pie charts of life spare to devote to kids, given their pie chart is almost completely filled with sex, and wanting sex, and hey everything they do is to get sex, including even just having a job? Cause you can’t have it both ways, there’s only one pie, and the sex and kids bits of pie aren’t legally allowed to overlap.

          On population averages women give up so much more than men for kids. Career trajectories. Promotions. Income. Educational opportunities. Retirement funds. Down time. Fit bodies, health. Sleep. Freedom. Friendships. Mind space.

          Someone asked if the bar is really that low for fathers. God, it’s so low, that a man like YAG who stays in a marriage just for the kids (something women do all the time), or a man like Evan who spends weekends and evenings really involved with his kids (something women do all the time), or a man like Jeremy who gets up to crying kids at night though he has to function the next day (something women do all the time), are seriously stellar, the best-of-the-bunch fathers, right at the very top end of the fatherhood-effort spectrum. These men are absolutely great fathers, but I suspect haven’t sacrificed as much as the population average mother has. The average fatherhood bar is so low a baby bear cub could vault over it.

          But that’s why there’s a chore discrepancy – women have more physiologically and psychologically invested in their kids from the beginning of the pregnancy, and it never equalises. Hence my animal question – it summarised all the above in a sentence; its relevance is, via Mrs-Happy shortcut speak, that it makes the central pertinent point.

        4. Evan Marc Katz

          “Based on previous discussions here, and the above, may I conclude men that can’t possibly have too much of their pie charts of life spare to devote to kids, given their pie chart is almost completely filled with sex, and wanting sex, and hey everything they do is to get sex, including even just having a job?”

          Appreciate the occasional kind word but this is the most unhinged thing you’ve ever said here. You have a point but fail to acknowledge the points Jeremy and I made as to why your version of events isn’t the only version. I will say that I’m very sorry you think so little of my entire gender.

        5. jo

          I hope you wouldn’t let one questionable sentence by Mrs Happy take away from the validity of everything else she has written. What she describes really is the case in North America, the western world, and the whole world.

          In the West, the things that qualify dads for being great dads is something the average mum does all the time and never gets credit for.

          In other parts of the world, it is far worse. Not only do the men repeatedly abandon their wives and children, they have copious sex with others and then infect their wives with HIV and other STDs. The men also beat their wives, control the wives’ finances, and abuse the wives in multiple ways. I would say it would be better for the wives if their husbands disappeared entirely, but a single woman in these settings is then prey to many other men and suffers torturous conditions on a daily basis.

          None of this – what Mrs Happy and I wrote – is an exaggeration. Many who study, write, and give millions of dollars to alleviating gender inequality know this: among the more famous are Bill and Melinda Gates, and Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. We wish the decent men of the world, when we point this out, would not immediately react defensively, but would acknowledge these truths, and join in reducing gender inequality at home and worldwide.

        6. Evan Marc Katz

          I wrote about it, acknowledged the truths, and offered another POV from a man who does believe in equality, yet still doesn’t have it because of my wife’s preference to control things. And if all you can say to that is “men are bad,” you’re the one who isn’t listening.

        7. ScottH

          “Mothers don’t do this. They don’t leave with their secretary, or the hot young pool boy, because they stop to think, hang on, though an exciting fling with a muscly man would be fun, it will disadvantage my kids, and then, mothers decide to prioritise their kids”
          Umm, you don’t think that secretary running off with her boss might just be married with kids? My ex left me for her boss and while she (unfortunately) didn’t vanish, she sure as hell left the kids in a huge mess.
          And furthermore, when my kids were extremely young and quite the handful and their mother stayed home with them, I remember coming home from work and she would walk away because it was my turn, with ABSOLUTELY no regard for what I was doing while I was at work, as if I was sunning myself on a beach for 8 hrs.

        8. Jeremy

          Mrs H, regarding your comment here… I think it is important to remember that we all prioritize our evolved reproductive strategies because they are our evolved strategies. Not because we are good or bad or caring or not caring. Men’s evolved strategy is to focus on sex and competition, women’s is to focus on child care and cooperation. We each focus on these things because it’s easy for our brains to do so and difficult not to. Our brains reward us for focusing on these things and punish us for not.

          Yes, there are too many dirtbag men out there who hurt women and children in their eagerness to fulfill their biological imperatives. Rape, cheating, abandonment, as you wrote. And the flipside is just as prevalent – dirtbag women who, in their haste to fulfill their biological imperatives harm men and children….in different ways. Reproductive fraud/coercion, emotional abandonment of their husbands after birth of children leading to conflict and divorce (which harms children), parental alienation syndrome, coercion of alimony payments while gaslighting their own moral correctness. IME women focus on the ways men are assholes and see that women aren’t assholes in those ways… and so assume that women are rarely assholes. They miss the female assholery all around them because they aren’t focused on it…. In the EXACT same way that so many women believe that women do more work overall than men because they focus on the household work they see and not on all the other work that they don’t.

          Oh, and one other thing. The irony as I see it is that our evolved strategies came to be due to the choices of the opposite gender in choosing partners. You like the way women have evolved to be? Caring, nurturing, cooperative? Thank men for choosing such women over time. You don’t like the way men have evolved to be? Self-focused, sex-focused, dopaminergic and risk-taking? Blame the ones who find such men sexy. I recall that you once wrote of a man (I think in Washington) who asked you out while bleeding from a gunshot wound, and that you found him “all man.” When women find men who help out with chores to legitimately be “all man,” their problems in this regard will evaporate.

        9. jo

          Jeremy, on a global scale, you must agree that the assholery visited upon females by males is much greater than that visited upon males by females. How about a very simple metric: homicides committed by one against the other. And then we can go to crimes in general.

          We don’t need to talk on a global scale (although Mrs Happy and I did both discuss this) – but let’s not make false equivalences, as if the degree of assholery was the same for the two genders. Historically and even currently speaking, those who study gender equity / inequity would acknowledge a vast difference.

        10. Evan Marc Katz

          Yes. But this has NOTHING to do with this post, which is about the blind spot in the linked article (and the continuous comments that further ignore that there is another side to this story).

        11. Jeremy

          We are not talking about crime. We are talking about the ways in which the genders are assholes to each other in their effort to fulfill their biological imperatives – men to have sex, women to have babies. And I do not agree at all that male assholery exceeds female in the modern western world in which we live. It is just under recognized… by women. Because they largely refuse to step outside of their own perspective IME.

          For example, my mind is still reeling from Mrs Happy’s comment, what she and other women see and what they fail to see. Because while it is true that many moms wake up with their babies every night and so my doing so is nothing special by that metric, women who wake up with young babies don’t generally do what I do all day as well. They can’t. I barely could. Instead, they largely take time off work and prioritize their child rearing…. While their husbands prioritize and support THEM.

          When my wife discovered she was pregnant with our first child, she immediately started all the planning. Researching pregnancy, car seats, cribs, mommy chatrooms. And she noticed that I wasn’t doing all that and chided me about why I wasn’t more involved. What she missed was that from the time I discovered her pregnancy I went into non stop planning of how I was going to PAY for everything we’d need. The carseat, the crib, my wife’s time off work, the house I knew we’d need, the bigger cars. My wife saw what I WASN’T doing, as relative to what she was. But she entirely missed what I WAS doing relative to what she wasn’t. By the former metric, being a good dad seems super easy to women. But only because they ignore the latter metric.

        12. jo

          Jeremy, you wrote: ‘We are not talking about crime. We are talking about the ways in which the genders are assholes to each other in their effort to fulfill their biological imperatives – men to have sex…’

          That is why it is impossible to disentangle crime from this discussion: because men’s biological imperative to have sex is exactly what leads to widescale crime against women, including in the modern western world. We’re not talking rape or sexual assault against strangers, even: Intimate partner violence is the leading cause of homicide against women, even in the modern western world.

          Crime, homicide, that is what I called assholery (I didn’t first come up with the topic). Aside from ScottH’s story, which really does sound awful, I didn’t see what else qualified for that label in other men’s stories here – unless you have a much lower bar for what constitutes making someone an asshole than I do.

          It isn’t my desire (nor the desire of most women reading here, probably) to wage a war of which sex is worse. But the topic is inflammatory – not in a bad way – and the statistics prove a point. We have indeed listened to the men’s stories, understood, sympathised, and in some cases even offered suggestions. What I don’t see on your part is a reciprocal or initiating desire to listen and express sympathy to the other side, although you insist repeatedly, here and on other posts, that we must do that for you. ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’ – a pithy quote.

        13. SparklingEmerald

          Mrs Happy 4.1.1 . . . “Mothers don’t do this. They don’t leave with their secretary, or the hot young pool boy, because they stop to think, hang on, though an exciting fling with a muscly man would be fun, it will disadvantage my kids, and then, mothers decide to prioritise their kids.”

          In your effort to paint men as bigger a$$holes, you also unwittlingly indicted women as a$$holes in the above example. ANY woman who knowingly gets involved with a married man, (whether she is married or not) is a a$$hole. PERIOD.

          And yes, while it is true, that women put careers on hold or even forgo them all together to raise children, MEN pick up the slack for this career change on the mother’s part by working longer, harder hours, at their job, taking on a second job, and staying in a job that they may HATE, unless they can find a more fullfilling job that enables them to make as much or more money in order to support their family. Men who were content to live in a small cramped apartment to pursue an art or music career, put THAT dream on hold, in order to work a 9-5 job to support a family. Meanwhile, his wife can quit her job to be a stay at home mom, and then perhaps a little later, pursue a “career” selling home made preserves at the local farmer’s market.

          There are TWO sides to every story, for every woman who gave up a big $ career to stay home with children, there is a man who was content to be a starving artist while single, who trades that life for an unfullfilling career to support his family.

          For every man who leaves his family for another woman, there is a home wrecking b*tch who enabled this.

          For every chore/child management thing the wife does, there is a husband who notices that there is something unsafe about the car and handles it, who installs smoke detectors and better dead bolt locks to keep his family SAFE, and all manner of household maintenance tasks, that the wife doesn’t even notice needs being done.

          Of course, I am talking about men and women in the aggregate here, anyone can come up with an individual story of a$$holery from the opposite sex, but consider my examples above in the aggregate.

          I have written many stories on hear about my ex-hubbies “a$$holery” but I MUST admit that he would put his life on the line to protect his family. I saw him without hesitation grab a big stick to beat the crap out of a dog who was attacking our son in OUR YARD. The owner came along and intervened, started yelling at my hubby “Were you going to BEAT my dog” and my hubby yelled back “You better believe it, I will protect MY son”. Then neighbors wife came along and apologized. (Neither dog nor child were harmed in this episode). My ex also gave up a carefree bachelor life, living with multiple men in house share situations, to free lance here and there and basically worked just enough to support his hobbies. He gave that up and worked a “real job” that was often excrutiating (but not all bad) and worked TWO jobs shortly after I gave birth, so I could stay home with our infant.

          I have told many stories of ex hubbies “a$$holery” but I can honestly say that he took his role as PROTECTOR and PROVIDER very seriously, and was very happy to do so, even though much of that role was unpleasant for him.

          No one gender is better or worse than the other (in the aggregate), we just have some unique gender based ways of expressing that a$$holery.

          And if you want a chilling example of toxic femininity and weaponizing tears, just watch Amber Guyger shedding crocodile tears for the man she shot dead in his own home.

        14. Jeremy

          We are all stuck within our narrative to some extent, Jo. A story:

          I grew up believing that my maternal grandfather was an ogre. Whenever I’d see him for a family dinner, he’d sit there on his ass, waiting for my grandmother to put his food on his plate. Wouldn’t eat until she did. If he saw some dirt in the house he’d tell her about it and wait for her to wipe it up. Not once did I see him clean anything himself. His daughters – my mother and her sisters – scolded him for decades about this. “Why don’t you go get your own food, dad,” they’d say. Why does mom have to do everything? Why don’t you wipe up the crumbs yourself, what, is your arm broken? But he never did, and his daughters and I thought much less of him for it.

          Years later, when he was 95, I happened to visit my grandfather in his retirement home, and he was in a pensive mood that day. “You know, Jeremy,” he said, “for years my wife and daughters thought I treated your grandmother like a slave. But for years and decades I went to work every day from 7:30am until 7pm to support our family while she went to the gym, volunteered, watched her shows, and did a little light housework. Sure, when the children were young she did a lot more than that, but for decades that’s how it was. Tell me, with all this in mind, which of the two of us was the slave? If I expected her to put my food on my plate and to keep the house clean, wasn’t that the very least she could have done?”

          I thought about his statement for quite some time after, it bent my world-view. Because no matter how I looked at it, I couldn’t shake the fact that he was absolutely right. Oh, he could have been nicer about it, less rigid perhaps, but expecting otherwise from him would have been the farthest thing from “equality.” His daughters (and I) had missed that because we only saw what we saw when we were together. We didn’t see what we didn’t see the other 99.9% of the time.

          At the next family gathering, I told my mother and aunts about what their father had said to me. They listened patiently, always happy to listen. And when I was done, they looked at each other and shook their heads. “Wow,” said one of my aunts, “isn’t that just typical of dad? Completely unable to empathize with mom at all! We expect better things of young men than an old European misogynist like dad” I didn’t continue the conversation with them. There would have been no point.

          Regarding what you wrote, Jo, to me the male compromise on this issue would be men telling their wives, “I get it. You’re over-worked. Let me help, let me do more.” Is this not what Evan has said, what I’ve done, only to be told we’re doing it wrong or insufficiently? And to me, the female compromise on this issue – especially when it comes to this article would be twofold: First, it would be women saying, “You know, I know it SEEMS to me that the world is unfair because I feel like I’m doing more work than my husband. But AM I REALLY? What is he doing that I’m not seeing? If I got what I wanted, would that be a step toward equality or only my version of equality which is actually my advantage? And secondly, it would be the realization that if women want men to assume half the household duties, they need to let men define what half of those duties “should” be, rather than standing on their own prerogatives of how things should be. I see that exactly nowhere.

        15. jo

          Jeremy, I get it and have wondered about that dynamic in past and current families (and don’t want to say anything about SAHMs in case of unintentionally causing offense). My question would be whether women in these past situations were in a sort of gilded cage. After their children had gone to school, they could do what your grandmother did… but they didn’t have the opportunity to WORK. Work itself is a pleasure for many reasons, despite the name. It gets you out of the house and in the company of others, the socialisation itself is a reward (even if some clients and coworkers are strange). It provides income and a sense of accomplishment and contribution. Some people really love the work they do, too. I don’t think it’s a slam-dunk one way or the other to judge which is better, but I don’t think that was the broader point of the story you were sharing – rather, that two people in a story might see very different sides.

          That’s why non-defensive conversation is key… and the ability to know when to let go (whether of an argument, a hope, an expectation, or more).

        16. SparklingEmerald

          Jo at 4.1.1 . . . “After their children had gone to school, they could do what your grandmother did… but they didn’t have the opportunity to WORK.”

          As someone who has worked, stayed at home and is now retired, I must say that I think WORK in and of itself is highly over rated. Of course, I never had any kind of a big deal career, I basically was an office worker at a mediocre job. While I found much pleasure in my work, mostly through the social connections, but also from the feeling of accomplishment when I rec’d recognition and promotions for a job well done, I must say that in my over 40 years of working compared to my One and Half year of retirement, RETIREMENT wins, hands down.

          I have contemplated finding some sort of “part time, just for fun” job, but seriously, I am getting so entrenched in coming and going as I please, getting up as late as I want to, going to bed when I want to, packing a bag and hitting the road with my hubby whenever I want to, just to much fun to give up for even a “fun” part time job.

          My hubby and I do volunteer work together, but that’s a bit different. Of course, since we both saved for our retirement, we have the best of both worlds, no job and financial security combined.

          When I was SAHM (or mostly SAHM, working part time) what I found most frustrating was the fact that I WAS working hard, very hard, to care for my son and manage the household, but still felt like all the money was “his” money and felt like a beggar when I wanted to do something totally frivolous like go to lunch with girlfriends or buy a gift for someone’s baby shower. I actually LOVED being home with my boy, and I treasure those memories, but I HATED feeling like a little girl asking daddy for an allowance and hated having to justify spending $10 for coffee, while he spent thousands of dollars on his hobbies. Luckily, that was a short time, I went back to work when my boy entered first grade. I felt liberated when I got my first paycheck. But I never really LOVED the work for its own sake, only for the financial bit of independence it gave me.

        17. jo

          Sparking Emerald, great point – that’s another benefit of work: the feeling of financial freedom. No one wants to feel that they need to ask someone else for $20 for this or that, which is like being a teen again. This needs to be talked about more as a psychological drawback to SAH motherhood, that many don’t think about before making that decision. In some ways, it’s like reverting to childhood oneself where spending is concerned.

          Glad to hear you worked out such a happy retirement with a partner who wants to do fun activities with you. Most of what we read is gloom and doom about retirement: how people are most likely to die in the first year of retiring, fall prey to depression and meaninglessness, etc. But clearly it doesn’t have to be that way, and a sense of fun and a supportive partner help.

        18. SparklingEmerald

          Jo at 4.1.1….”Glad to hear you worked out such a happy retirement with a partner who wants to do fun activities with you. Most of what we read is gloom and doom about retirement: how people are most likely to die in the first year of retiring, fall prey to depression and meaninglessness, etc. But clearly it doesn’t have to be that way, and a sense of fun and a supportive partner help.”

          I think the reason for gloom and doom about retirement is that work is way overrated and is being sold as some sort of mystical gateway to self full filled bliss. First thing people usually ask when they meet someone is “What do you do”? meaning what is your job. Women who stay at home to raise children are often shamed for that choice. Men who lose their jobs are seen as less than. For some reason, manual labor is sneered at, even though it is an honorable and skilled profession. Snobbery over the type of work one does and the amount of money earned is rampant.

          Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some enjoyable moments and sense of accomplishments throughout my working life, but if I won the lottery or otherwise came into a large sum of money at a younger age, I would have quit my paying job in a heart beat.

          To me, work is merely a tool to live a comfortable life. I worked to live, I didn’t live to work. Going out and earning a paycheck to me is in the same vein as going to the dentist twice a year or having the car serviced. I don’t do these things because I WANT to, I do these things because I HAVE to.

          Sure, maybe if I had a job as an actress, artist or a doctor who found a cure for cancer I would list my career as a source of personal full fillment, but I didn’t. It was always something I did because I HAD to, because poverty really sucks.

          Things I do for personal full fillment: Spend time with family and friends, hobbies, travel, volunteer work. Reason for working: So I could do the above mentioned things.

          I really don’t get the doom and gloom and depression over retirement. The day I retired was one of the happiest days of my life. I would have done it sooner if I could have.

          None of us know how long we are going to live, but the longer we work, the shorter are retirement years will be. I really didn’t want to work well into my 70’s, just to get a bigger SS check and amass more money in my 401 (K), my goal was to work until I had ENOUGH money. I didn’t want to retire, then have my health decline, and spend most of my retirement days in a nursing home.

          Couples should have a looong discussion before deciding if the wife should stay home. Don’t do it if hubby is going to resent the lack of income she brings. Men, don’t ask your wife to do this, if you are going to start begrudging her money to spend on anything other than household necessities, because it’s “your” money. Don’t ask her to do this if she LOVES her job and will spend her days mourning the loss of her career.

        19. Cathalei

          Why not? I don’t understand this “men are evil when they want X” or “when they fail to do X as another person wants” thing. Your definition of effort and his may be different. There is room to talk about it. And why would spend time with a man who doesn’t care about his kids? I know for a fact that my father would kill for me. (He came very close to doing so.) I know my experience is not universal as could be said for that of anyone but it’s very far from being a rarity. If one has such a poor opinion of men in general they needn’t them as partners in childrearing.

    2. 4.2
      ezamuzed

      @Mrs Happy
      “Would the average man die, or kill for, his children?”

      Men have been dying to make the world a better place for their families in far greater numbers than woman have since the dawn of humans. If it wasn’t for their sacrifices we likely wouldn’t even have the freedom to have their conversations on the internet.

  5. 5
    Anna

    I like the comparison between household work and career work – and how difficult it can be to delegate in both fields. Maybe, carrying the analogy further, you and your wife could come up with written standard operating procedures for repeated tasks (like leaving a hotel, or leaving for a trip.)

    1. 5.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      My wife and I talked about this on the way to the play we saw last night (Idina Menzel was AMAZING). Basically, like everything else in the world, we look at the same situation differently. She prioritizes, well, everything. Really thinks things through so we’re never missing out, never at a disadvantage, and are prepared for all eventualities. I appreciate the spirit of what she does but believe that she does not calculate the costs – a husband and two kids who sit around for 60-90 minutes for her to go through a process that she believes is the “best” way to do things. A standard operating procedure, I suppose, could speed things along but from the inner workings of our relationship, I would suspect that little would change. Because there’s so much on her list of to-dos and those to-dos are constantly changing, the only person with the knowledge to handle the task according to my wife…is my wife. Between letting go and doing things “my way” (and I AM pretty organized) and doing things her way, she gets to do things her way…which annoys the rest of us and deprives her of sleep and downtime. All the people who are telling me what to do – I hear you – but this is really between my wife and a therapist. Alas, she doesn’t do self-help and doesn’t change things even when they’re broken so… we’re gonna be dealing with this compromise for the rest of our lives. And by the way, the compromise is mostly mine. This is the way my wife WANTS to do things – her way or the highway. Like our political gridlock, it’s pretty broken. Unlike our political gridlock, apart from our issues on time management, we’re really, really happy and functional as a couple.

  6. 6
    Helene

    The only way to get men to do tasks is to clearly ask them to do a specific task (“help out more!” is useless) let them do it their own way and then offer endless praise- and I do mean ENDLESS…. like training a puppy. It’s really boring, but it does work. Make him feel like a hero for loading the dishwasher. I’m 55 and have an executive job but have had 3 husbands so i know what im talking about.

    1. 6.1
      Stefania

      I don’t know about this. I regularly wake up to find the cats have been fed, dishwasher unloaded, and house straightened up, etc. without ever asking my boyfriend to do anything. In return he gets an agreeable girlfriend who makes sure he knows he’s appreciated. We both said we were not looking for anything serious when we first started dating and within six weeks he asked me to be exclusive. EMK’s advice works. When you get the right guy it’s just easy.

  7. 7
    Sandra

    You’re the sole breadwinner. But this same thing applies in households where the woman has a paid job as well. Mine for example. I don’t know how it happened, but it did and I don’t like it.

  8. 8
    Michelle

    This was very interesting for me as I, a woman, identify more with Evan and my fiance is more like his wife. My fiance has moderate anxiety and is borderline OCD. It genuinely upsets him when household items aren’t put *exactly* in the same place or the refrigerator or freezer is not arranged “correctly”. I appreciate his attention to detail when it comes to things like packing for a camping trip or a flight (99% of the time we are very well prepared and don’t get in trouble with important items missing). Before we lived together I was contentedly a moderate slob and didn’t mind clutter and a certain degree of disorder, but I had to seriously up my game because we fought constantly otherwise (almost to the point that I moved out again). In order to fight my procrastination tendencies, if I see him doing a household task or if I know he is at the supermarket (he does all of our food shopping due to our work schedules) I make sure that I am doing something too. If he’s sweeping the floor I’m cleaning the bathroom. If he’s sorting the recycling I’m getting started on dinner. As long as my feet aren’t up while he’s beavering away at something it keeps tension low though there is still the occasional blow up which inspires long walks around the block on my part! I also say thank you many times per day, eg he cooks breakfast Monday-Friday (he works from home so it makes more sense) and I never forget to say thank you and then call him later to tell him how delicious it was. Thanks are great lubrication for someone who probably feels like they care more about the household.

  9. 9
    Anna

    @Michelle
    My relationship with my boyfriend is very similar. We’re about to move in together so these tips are very helpful!
    I know that my boyfriend wants to get away from the tyranny of his own to-do list (it makes him feel very unhappy and like he can’t ever relax) but at the same time he sees it as the thing that stands between him and disaster and so doesn’t really want to change anything. He often asks me why I don’t get stressed out about my own to-do list – which I find hard to answer. In some ways his point of view/feelings seem very logical to me. There really is a never ending list of tasks one could be doing, and a lot of them have bad consequences if you don’t do them (though often very mild ones.) Does anyone have a good set of parameters for what tasks can make it on to your to-do list, and which stay off, so it doesn’t become overwhelming and never-ending (though I do suspect that the issues are probably more deep-seated than just the extent of the list, but I feel this could help anyway.)

    1. 9.1
      Michelle

      @Anna we could go out to lunch and commiserate! 😉 Like Evan I wish my partner was more into self help. I suffered with anxiety and depression for many years (now beautifully managed with medication and working with therapists) and found CBT, in particular David Burns’s books, to be very helpful in managing my anxious thoughts and feelings. I recognize all-or-nothing thinking, snowballing, and globalizing in my boyfriend’s reactions to very non-consequential situations (water dripping on the floor, a fan left on, an item on the “wrong” shelf – I could fill a book, and that was just this morning) all the time. However I know I can’t change him. We are completely compatible on money, religion, children and other big dealmakers, and we are genuinely each other’s best friends, so this something I will have to cope with in a *mostly* easy and compatible relationship.

  10. 10
    Anna

    @Evan
    Thank you for your response. Sorry if my suggestion was patronizing. I do get that this situation runs deeper than mere divsion of chores.

    1. 10.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I don’t think it was patronizing. I put it out there. You reacted. It’s cool. I’ve put a lot of thought into how to “fix” this situation, so my wife can relax and get more time to herself and I don’t have to sit around waiting and I realized… it’s not up to me. As long as she insists on operating this way, she will get the same results. And if she doesn’t want to change – for her betterment and mine – I just have to begrudgingly accept it.

      1. 10.1.1
        Marika

        I agree, Evan.

        My sister is a lot like your wife. She’s in her 30s now and she’s been like it since birth. I still spend a lot of time with her at her house as she has a little one and a new baby. We also used to run a business together. They aren’t changing.

        And while it’s annoying, they aren’t setting out to be annoying. I’m pretty sure, unfortunately you have to find a magazine or jump on FB, and read it while you wait. My sister’s husband spends a lot of time on his phone..and it looks rude, but I get it. He is fast and highly efficient. She’s not. If you don’t tune it out you end up snapping at them, then you feel bad.

        From all you’ve written on here, it’s a minor flaw in a wonderful human. Same with my annoyingly loveable sis ☺

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          That’s right. I’m always on my phone, not to be rude or take advantage, but because it’s my way of staying sane while my wife goes down the rabbit hole.

  11. 11
    Lynx

    A stay-at-home mom might be analogous to the leader of a very, very small nonprofit. She determines the vision, mission, and goals of the enterprise. To realize that vision, she has resources. If she’s lucky, there are paid staff (housekeeper, childcare provider), but most have only volunteer staff (partner, children), and like all volunteers, quality and reliability are sketchy. Of course, since the nonprofit does not generate its own revenue, it must rely on the contributions of benevolent donors. All of these resources are unpredictable. There is only one resource she can absolutely trust: her own labor.

    If she is an ambitious and committed leader, then it’s no surprise to find her working long hours and sweating over details that others casually disregard. As with any leader, it’s part of her professional development to learn how to prioritize her goals, manage her resources, and assess whether her workaholism is negatively impacting her health and/or the organization.

    If a business leader has high standards, it’s often admired. A SAHM who possesses high standards for her chosen career is unlikely to appreciate it when they’re belittled.

    1. 11.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      That’s well said. The salient point is that she is the “leader” yet she wants equality. That doesn’t wash. If it’s “our” vision but my opinion doesn’t matter, I’m not really a partner but an unreliable employee. And, while you didn’t acknowledge it, an unreliable employee is unlikely to feel very good about his position when he thought he was an equal partner.

      My point: I know your side and my wife’s side. It may be worthwhile to hear from a conscientious man and listen.

      1. 11.1.1
        Lynx

        Announcement to all conscientious men: we are ready to listen to your varied perspectives and strive to understand.

        1. Jeremy

          Lol. You know what I’m going to ask you, right? You stand ready to listen….. But is there any readiness to agree? Even to some extent?

          I can acknowledge what you and Mrs Happy and Jo and the author of the article are all saying. Women wish men would do more of the household and childcare work, assume more of the emotional labour, because women are tired and don’t find their workload fair. Can there be acknowledgment from the other side that if men meet you half way, you (generic you) can meet us half way conceptually and really examine what needs to be done and what doesn’t – based on that the members of the couple think and not what the woman and her girlfriends do?

          When it came to sex, Mrs Happy advised men to remember that over half the population sees sex as a serviette. That maybe men would be happier and more functional if we lessened our obsession and focused on other things that might make us and our partners happier. Swap the words men and women, swap sex for chores, but keep the word “serviette.” Doctor, will you take your own medicine?

      2. 11.1.2
        Lynx

        While we’re waiting on conscientious men, perhaps I miscommumicated. In a SAHM + breadwinner dad couple, the tacit agreement is the she owns the family life and he owns the work life. There is no equality — it’s difficult, perhaps impossible, to have two fully equal leaders. Generally speaking, the only way to resolve a disagreement among two leaders is compromise, and that means both parties leave the negotiating table dissatisfied.

        You have the final word in your business — she can lob out an opinion, you can consider it, but you aren’t required to act on it.

        It flips in your household: your wife has the final word, you can lob out your opinion, she can consider it, but isn’t required to act on it.

        We all learn and grow in our leadership roles. If your wife, as the nonprofit leader, isn’t getting desired results from her volunteers, then she needs to figure out a solution — and the solution should start with listening carefully to her volunteers to solve the problem.

        But equality — no. I do not believe that’s possible. Both parties should acknowledge the realm they own, and the realm they do not own.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Correct. But that’s why I wrote this. I would like to help out more but I cannot because of my wife’s desire to do things her way. I suspect I am not alone.

      3. 11.1.3
        Marika

        I think you have to have experienced this type of personality to understand. Some of the suggestions are analogous to saying to a mother of a child with inattentive ADHD to ‘just get him to focus’. I think asking if you can help just flusters them and they don’t have the mindspace to explain, nor the skills needed to efficiently delegate. It’s quite amazing Evan you are still offering at this point!

        You’ve offered, you’re there, and you’ve done all you can. I think the options are to find a way to maintain sanity while waiting, or if it gets really bad, take separate cars and meet at the place (could try to take one of the kids too, in that car, but not sure it would fly). IME.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          On my phone right now, waiting with the kids as my wife puts on her makeup.

      4. 11.1.4
        Lynx

        “I would like to help out more but I cannot because of my wife’s desire to do things her way.”

        A friend of mine is the volunteer coordinator at our local SPCA. All of the volunteers want to play with cats and dogs, however, that’s not what is needed. The greatest need is to keep the kennels clean so the abandoned pets present the most adoptable appearance. But no one wants to pick up poop and hose down urine.

        Only you and your wife know the greatest need in your household. But be open-minded to the possibility that you’re the volunteer who just wants to play with the puppy and ignore the steaming pile behind you.

        (After I hit “Post Comment”, I will be heading into the backyard to clean up after three dogs!)

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          I don’t know why you presume to know the dynamic and circumstances inside my marriage better than I do, but okay.

    2. 11.2
      Lynx

      “I don’t know why you presume to know the dynamic and circumstances inside my marriage better than I do, but okay.”

      Prickly response. I specifically used statements like, ‘Only you and your wife know…’, and ‘be open-minded to the possibility…’. Within the limitations of text-based communications, I feel I tried to share a perspective to consider without insisting it was relevant to your situation. I don’t know why you assumed the worst in my words, but okay.

      1. 11.2.1
        Marika

        Lynx Mynx

        There’s a general assumption, if a man isn’t helping at home it’s because he doesn’t want to, doesn’t care that much, doesn’t try, seems apathetic & phones it in when pushed, etc. And tbh, that is often the case.

        Evan is presenting another situation, one I’ve seen play out myself, where the man desperately wants to help out, but can’t because the other parent can’t give up control. If it’s anyone’s ‘fault’ here, it’s the parent who can’t let things go or be more organized. My guess is that his wife is happy to do everything – her way – and I could imagine Evan feels a mixture of frustrated / useless. Nothing to do with his lack of care or effort.

        I think that’s the point.

        1. Lynx

          Marika: If I was trying to make any point (which I really wasn’t, I’m more of a throw-out-an-observation-based-on-my-experience type) it was that in a SAHM + breadwinner couple, when a change in family responsibilities is needed, the SAHM must own that change.

          I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom, a part-time-paid-work-plus-mom and a full-time-paid-work-plus-mom. in my experience, when I was a SAHM, I sweated EVERY detail. Literally sweated, I remember throwing a birthday party that rivaled a corporate event and left me passed out from exhaustion the minute the door slammed behind the last guest.

          But when I resumed paid work, guess what? I tossed so many of those details out the window that by the end of my parenting years, I considered it a success if I remembered to chuck a gift card in my kids’ direction anytime before midnight on their birthday.

          When I look back, I realize I created soooo much needless work for myself by failing to prioritize, by failing to establish ‘work’ boundaries, by failing to enlist the right kind of help from my family. I’m now in a paid leadership role and guess what? The professional development I gained during my SAHM years have helped me excel in my career…those lessons learned were more powerful than any seminar or training course.

          I would encourage any SAHM to try the exercise of viewing herself as the leader of a nonprofit and if her organization isn’t thriving, then she needs to initiate change…and if one of her ‘volunteers’ is expressing frustration, then her organization isn’t thriving.

  12. 12
    Rampiance

    I knew two parents who split their household into two VERY different styles. One, R, held a full-time job, set a table for every meal with all the dishes, cutlery, and full food pyramid, did all the laundry for everyone, etc. The other parent, A, stayed at home, preferred to use no chairs nor tables, usually no cutlery and often no dishes, preferred to serve one food group per meal. A found that using less furniture and fewer dishes resulted in a lot less clean-up and chores, thus more time for fun with the children.

    As many pointed out previously, balancing priorities is the task of every human, and every human balances them differently. The households above were separate and the children were not subject to daily dissensions between the parents, and everyone was overall healthy in spite of the huge differences in philosophies and practices.

    I think some folks get way bent out of shape over their own shoulds and oughttas. It really is not that big of a deal.

    By the way, the conventional parent in the story above was maile, and the unconventional parent was female, kind of a switch from the standard gender norms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *