Ponderings

I don’t know if it’s learned or just born-into-the-brain behavior. I only know it causes BIG problems in a marriage.

There are men who seem to believe that their contribution is to earn a paycheck, and that’s it.  They’ve put in their eight hours, they provide financially, and nothing more is required.

That, of course leaves EVERYTHING else up to the long-suffering wife and their children, as they grow older, and can help shoulder some of Mom’s burden.

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These men truly seem to believe that all their wives do all day is–well–not much. A little cooking, a little cleaning.  Not much else, even though the men do nothing at all about maintenance of the house and property. If they enjoy doing so, they may engage in some yard work, sitting on a riding mower until the grass is cut. That’s how they “help.”  If the kids need to be driven to games, lessons, etc., that’s Mom’s job. Grocery shopping, Mom’s job. After all, what does she do all day but sit around watching the soaps?

One would think, in these days of women working outside the home just as much as men do, that this  type of behavior would be a thing of the past. Sadly, it’s not. Do the men learn it from their fathers?  Or is there a male gene that convinces them they have no business doing “women’s work”?

I am blessed to have married a man who never hesitated to change a diaper, soiled or just wet.  Never hesitated to mop up vomit  or snot, just figuring it needed doing and he was right there. He told me years ago, as he was cleaning up a wiggly child, that he actually enjoyed knowing he was making the baby comfortable and keeping diaper rash away.

Believe me, his willingness to lend a hand in no way diminished his masculinity, and I respected him all the more for seeing that I was nearing the end of my patience.  He was not a man who came home, expected to be treated like a conquering hero, and sat down for the entire evening while I cooked, cleaned up, got the kids to bed. He was a part of the process, unless he was unusually tired from the work he did.  When that was the case, I understood and expected nothing.

Maybe that’s part of the problem, though, for women whose husbands give nothing but their paychecks. Those women have learned to expect nothing, and guess what?  Nothing is what they get. If they do ask for help, they get “What do you want from me? I work my tail off all day to provide for you, and I’m tired!  You’ve had all day to sit around doing nothing.  No, I’m not going to help you. Figure it out.”

Those women do—they figure it out.  And they go to bed feeling lonely, unloved, unwanted and unappreciated. Their husbands don’t understand that getting all lovey-dovey at that moment isn’t exactly appealing to their worn-out, disappointed wives.

As I write, I’m realizing that this mostly applies to an older generation in which the wives were mostly stay-at-home wives and mothers.  Their husbands must have often thought that their wives had a pretty cushy time of it.  Unfortunately, there are women who don’t do much but the absolutely necessary, if that.  Maybe it’s in retaliation for feeling disrespected because they aren’t making any financial contribution. I don’t know.

What I do know is that this is an age-old problem, and it takes the romance out of a marriage pretty quickly. At some point, maybe I’ll write something directed a wives who expect their husbands to do far more than is reasonable. There is, after all, another side to every story.

 

4 thoughts on “Ponderings

  1. Times have changed a lot! I think it was the tradition for centuries, maybe stemming from the days when women had servants. And even more so in polygamist cultures where the man had several wives so he didn’t have to do any work.

    Some women who stayed home and managed the house didn’t want the men interfering, either. And my sweetest has said I’m fussy so he can’t do things the way I want. I might debate that, 🙂 but some men — and some women — are more adaptable than others. Some men are too squeamish to clean up vomit, cat litter, etc.

    My dad was a carpenter, but could cook and bake with the best of them. I had a friend who spoke of her father (circa 1920) who’d get up early in the morning and weed their garden. “People always told Mother what a lovely, clean garden she had, but they didn’t know how much work Father put in every morning.”

    I think the biggest thing, no matter who does what, is if the two have the sense of working together to build a home. Sometimes a husband prefers, as you say, that “I have my sphere and she has hers.” Sometimes a man will control all the finances, ostensibly so the wife need’t worry —HA!— and his wife has no idea what’s in the bank or how much they owe their creditors. It may work, but it isn’t “working together.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes the “working together” is the most important part. My mom was one who really didn’t want my Dad interfering in the cooking or cleaning, but he took care of lots of other things. As long as it’s a true partnership, there will be no need for resentment.

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