He's Not a Mindreader

My mom tells me this all the time. That if I want my husband to do something - laundry, dishes, diapers - I have to ask.

Well, when is that just an excuse? "You didn't ask honey, so I just sat on my ass all day watching television while you cleaned the house, fed the baby, played with her, gave her a bath, and put her to bed." Why do I have to ask for every little thing? The whole concept just makes me mad.

I work on Saturdays and it's a really long day. I'm a gymnastics instructor at a facility for kids and on Saturdays I teach 3 classes in a row. This weekend I had to teach 5 to cover for someone. That's almost 5 hours straight of gymnastics. 5 hours of trying to get a 2 year-old to stand up straight on a balance beam. 5 hours of running, jumping, galloping, forward rolls, pullovers, and cartwheels.

After work, I got dressed in the bathroom, drove to my niece's communion party and put in another 5 hours of overtime.

I watched the baby while hubby went inside to catch the NFL draft and parts of the Devils/Rangers game. I pushed J on the swings at my sister-in-laws house, helped her down the slide, fed her, played referee between her and her cousins, blew bubbles, kissed her boo boo, and watched while she had a grand old time.

When we got home from the party, I was still working. I didn't get a break all day and I was fuming. But because I didn't ask for help, it's all my fault. Because complaining about how much my back hurt wasn't enough of a clue that maybe I needed a break. Because watching me doing everything from the comfort of the couch wasn't enough to make him feel guilty.

Oh and here's the kicker. I did speak up to hubby after the baby was in bed. He asked me what was wrong and I laughed because I thought for sure he can't be that stupid. But I was wrong. He apparently had no clue that I had a long day and would have liked a little more help from him. Screw help. I'm used to doing everything. I would have liked some compassion, some companionship, some awareness.

You don't want me to act like your mother so why make me nag you? Open your eyes and take a look around asshole! The icing on the cake was when we were arguing and I mentioned how hard I worked. Hubby replied, "You don't know what work is."

Doesn't my hubby have a way with words? He's always knows just what to say! His reason for not lifting a finger - I didn't ask. So I ask you again, when is that just an excuse for laziness?


icancarryallthebagsandthebabiestoo said...

Ahhhhhh yes! I'm familiar with this myself, but find it's not entirely intentional.

What I think happens in my house is that because I'm at home all day long for five days a week, my husband considers our house "my territory." When he comes in at the end of the day and on the weekends, he's happy to (and even dare I say is willing to) put in his share of the work, but because he's not here during the day five out of seven days, he just doesn't know the routine, doesn't want to step on my toes and wants me to deligate responsibility to him.

I, naturally, resent this because:

a.) I'm not his mother
b.) I have enough to do
c.) I boss around lots of people and I don't need to add my husband to that list
d.) wouldn't it just be nice if he could take the initiative and just do something if he sees it needs to be done.

We've talked and talked and talked about this. It improves little by little. But generally I point things out that need to be done- assign tasks and he does them when he sees them forever after.

It's not perfect. It's not even close. But, I'll take whatever I can get.

J's Mommy said...

I'm not even talking about things around the house though because I feel like that is a never ending battle and I accept that. I'm talking about recognizing your partner's needs. We were at a family party - HIS family - and yet I'm left on my own while he goes and watches television. I would have liked to sit and relax after working all morning, but I didn't ask so too bad. I just don't get why that can't come naturally.

Thanks for stopping by!! :)

MommyWithAttitude said...

I think you're not alone! I don't know WHY this is true, but it is at my house too. As an example, bedtime is always at 7:00 here. Always. Like for FIVE years now... and every time I suggest that my husband maybe REMEMBER this from day to day, he looks at me as if I'm insane. Still, he does "help" with bedtime (I hate the idea that they're HELPING anyway--- don't they want the kids to go to bed for the peace and quiet too?)so I try not to complain too much.

Denise said...

That's not an excuse, it's a cop out. You shouldn't HAVE TO ask. Husbands should be wise enough to offer to help.

chelle said...

I agree one should not have to ask their husband to help out. To be honest my husband sat me down and told me to make him lists so he could as he said "live up to my expectations". I felt really awkward at first, now I love it! He completes everything I need in a timely manner.

When out he does not want to look useless so he helps a lot!

Mommy off the Record said...

Dang. I think men just really don't get it sometimes. That would have pissed me off too. You have every right to be upset. I think that claiming ignorance is oftentimes just an excuse, like you said. I feel like a nag asking my husband for help with the baby, but I usually end up having to ask.

Juliabohemian said...

subtlety is LOST on men. Actually, being obvious is also LOST on them. You DO have to tell them and that's just the way it is.

But, if your husband is at a point where he doesn't see what you do as work, that is a real problem and the potential for resentment.

Be open. Take time to write down your feelings and expectations. Turn of the TV and get his undivided attention and speak to him from your heart. Let him know that his choice of words is hurtful to you.

Christina said...

My husband helps with watching Cordy, but usually I'm the one walking up to him and saying "Tag, you're in charge" while I go take a break. He does the same for me, though, too.

You'd think men would naturally pick up on helping out with childcare, but not all do. And I somehow think your husband wouldn't be happy if you did tell him when you need help - then you'd be accused of nagging. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Maybe do as he asks and start asking for help all the time. Then if he gets upset, tell him you're just doing what he asked you to do.

The whole "You don't know what work is" line is just mean and inappropriate.

Pattie said...

" you don't know what work is."
Damn...he does NOT get it.

Stephanie said...

I think it might be time to have a real heart-to-heart with your husband about what you really need from him as a husband and partner. Good luck!

Shana said...

It's an excuse for laziness, in my opinion. He's an adult. He can see when things need to be done. You shouldn't have to ask him for help. He should be doing it because he also lives in the house and J. is also his child.

Maybe the two of you need to actually have a sit down over what is whose responibility? Because YOU doing all the houseword and childcare is absolute bullshit. Being a man doesn't absolve you of all domestic responsibility.

Awesome Mom said...

Don't get me started on this sort of thing. I think it is a very common thing for men to be this way and I find it very annoying. My husband sometimes thinks that just because he leaves the house for a job that he gets to do nothing at home. I have done my best to discourage this sort of thing but it still happens.

something blue said...

Your words make me want to come there, grab your husband by his shoulders, give him a huge shake and scream "Partner in life! Get it?"

Lisa said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Check out my post on my own blog titled "24 hours in a day -- I need a longer day"

I can totally sympathize with your scenerio. I will admit that my husband might be slightly better than yours but I still have ask for help most of the time. He also can at least admit to the fact that I work just as hard as he does... and lord help him if he ever said to me 'you don't know what work is' I'd be sitting in jail right now. So I give you a great deal of credit for not clobbering him.

Keep your chin up cause we are all in the same boat (not that that makes it any easier to deal with sometimes.)

Jamie said...

I'm so sorry. I don't think most men realize all the things that would not get done if we were not around (the dr's appointments, the kids getting new shoes, etc.) If I mention something more than once it is typically deemed "nagging." My husband told me something the other day that gets on his nerves (having to do with our trash bags in the kitchen) and I said OK, and I proceeded to tell him something that gets on my nerves having to do with the bathmat still being on the floor when I get home with the girls at 5:30. He actually appreciated my forwardness! Hang in there...communication is the key. Tell him what's on your mind.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Stop asking, start telling.

Go with something he'll understand: "Here honey, you take the child for a while. I need to go take a dump. I'm just going to take this new issue of People in there with me, because you never know how long it could take."

Crass, I know. But men understand bodily functions. And even if you intend on just going in there to get some piece and quiet, he'll never have to know!

Nancy said...

Sorry, I'm coming late to this discussion. But I agree with the other commenters -- time for a heart-to-heart, let him know that you don't want to have to (and shouldn't have to) ask every time you'd like a break. Give him a chance to react nicely and change his ways. Then next time, don't be so nice -- hand him that child and go.

Anonymous said...

I hate to give men an "out", but they do seem to be wired differently. And just as you wouldn't get mad at someone who only spoke spanish for not understanding instructions in french, we need to learn their "language". Women are the masters of subtlety, men are more concrete. They seem to work best with lists, schedules, etc. What worked for me was to literally, write down everything I do each day, as if I am reminding myself (I also follow flylady.net - so she has it all written down anyway- just print!), and giving him a list of what he needs to do-put his clean clothes away, take out trash, etc... Sometimes it also helps them to actually see what you "do all day". I also gave my dh choices-"do you want to clean the kitchen, or give the baths"-then I point out the benefits of splitting it up-kids are occupied, go to bed sooner, we can do what we want, etc...I do the same on weekends. If anything needs to be done, I write it down, ask him what he needs to do(lawns, etc), what he would like to do(sports, etc), and divide equally(so he thinks-hehe). Kind of like when you tell your kids "you can play when your room is clean", you kind of give him the same deal. The biggest difference between our job and theirs is that they can leave their job at the end of the day. We don't have that luxury.

Oh, and that "you don't know what work is" comment? That is f*cked up. My husband would be lucky to have dinner or clean clothes for a few days after that. Let him know his comment was unacceptable.

Domestic Chicky said...

That wasn't meant to be anon. Damn blogger!