It was never about the glass
January 22, 2016 6:42 AM   Subscribe

 
What on earth? He will never stop leaving glasses by the sink because he doesn't care about glasses being left by the sink?

How exactly does he think dishes get washed?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:47 AM on January 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


"...she’s NOT fighting about the glass. She’s fighting for acknowledgment, respect, validation, and his love."

Yes. That is the point. And partners coming to this realization is also the point.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:50 AM on January 22, 2016 [21 favorites]


Shakespeherian, I think you misread.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:52 AM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


He will never stop leaving glasses by the sink because he doesn't care about glasses being left by the sink?

Not living with them I don't care if he leaves glasses by his sink or that she divorced him.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:52 AM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I get annoyed with the tel3mum because she NEVER puts a dish in the dishwasher, ever. This means that every time I want to do anything at all in the kitchen sink I have to do 20 minutes of kitchen cleaning just to clear a path to the sink. If this happens several times a day, it's a big waste of my time. Not to mention that I find it disgusting that the sink is always full of rotting cat food that only I care about enough to clean out.

I don't doubt the tel3mum's respect for me. It is actually possible to get annoyed over actual dirty dishes.

Which the author of this blogpost ironically can't comprehend, so he reframes it as being about something he can comprehend. Oh well.
posted by tel3path at 6:53 AM on January 22, 2016 [13 favorites]


What we are not good at is being psychic, or accurately predicting how our wives might feel about any given thing because male and female emotional responses tend to differ pretty dramatically.

Is this article meant to be serious? I've long feared that I'm getting too old to count layers of internet sarcasm.
posted by ftm at 6:53 AM on January 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


male and female emotional responses tend to differ pretty dramatically

brb having an emotional response to this
fair warning men, it may differ pretty dramatically from your own
posted by prefpara at 6:53 AM on January 22, 2016 [152 favorites]


It is actually possible to get annoyed over actual dirty dishes.

This, and I'm the glass leav-er in the family. I leave my coffee cup EVERYWHERE. I don't actually even know where I left mine this morning.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:55 AM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Huh.

I'm female and I'm the glass-leaver. But not in the same spirit as this guy--I don't leave it by the dishwasher, I leave it around the apartment because I intend to use it for the rest of the day. I'm a one-glass-per-day person (if we're speaking of water, which I am). Manmillipede, if left to his own devices, could go through every glass in our kitchen in one day because to him, after about an hour, a glass, even if it merely had water in it, expires and grows bacteria and must be put in the dishwasher and replaced with a clean, fresh glass.

He used to stand around and stalk my innocent glass and put it in the dishwasher as soon as I stepped away from it for a minute. I'd come back and be like "where is my water glass!?" and he'd be all "HERE IS A NEW ONE IT WAS DIRTY!" And I used to shake my head with disbelief watching him go through six glasses in one morning. But now he lets me live and I let him live and we just have different glass orientations and that's ok!
posted by millipede at 6:56 AM on January 22, 2016 [59 favorites]


"It’s why the sexiest thing a man can say to his partner is “I got this,” and then take care of whatever needs taken care of."

There it is, men: that's the bar you need to make it over. All you gotta do is be an adult.
I think this guy just solved the friend zone, tbh.
posted by FirstMateKate at 6:57 AM on January 22, 2016 [46 favorites]


I'm also not particularly charmed by the heavy stench of "yeah women are unreasonable, incomprehensible, and basically objectively wrong, but... I'm going to be the bigger person and just indulge their whims."
posted by prefpara at 6:57 AM on January 22, 2016 [109 favorites]


Boy, this thread turned into a Rorshach test faster than usual.
posted by mhoye at 6:57 AM on January 22, 2016 [83 favorites]


...hmmm, she may be fighting for his respect, validation, and love; or she may be fighting to keep the kitchen clear of dirty dishes.

But *without* his respect, validation, and love, she won't get either.
posted by tel3path at 6:57 AM on January 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


What we are not good at is being psychic, or accurately predicting how our wives might feel about any given thing because male and female emotional responses tend to differ pretty dramatically.

This slant of the article rubs me the wrong way.

Other than that, the overall thrust is good. It just needs to be de-gendered.
posted by yesster at 6:57 AM on January 22, 2016 [24 favorites]


What a weird article. The dishes are not as effective a metaphor for his marital problems as he seems to think. His approach to the glasses could be laziness, could be a miscommunication of house rules, could be lots of things that are not disrespect or whatever. If they haven't laid down groundrules and expectations for dishes, then that's a problem for both of them. When someone leaves a glass by my sink, I know it's not disrespect, it's that the dishes are part of my chores, my agreement with cleaning some chunk of the house.

Dang, guy. You should have communicated better, not washed dishes better.
posted by mittens at 6:58 AM on January 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Oh boy. hmmm. I think it might be possible to have a conversation about the art of getting along with people who, regardless of their gender, have completely different lives, experiences, and brain chemistry from yours, but perhaps this was not the way to begin it.

Being married for almost 15 years has taught me a lot of astonishing things, but one of the biggest is that despite my societal conditioning as a "guy", I am significantly more Type A about this stuff than my wife. So I just do the damn dishes, it's not hard.
posted by selfnoise at 6:59 AM on January 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


It reads like he listened to It's a Man's Man's Man's World on repeat for two days and decided that he totally gets it now.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:59 AM on January 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


By the sink? The other members of my family don't even take their dishes off the table! I think of the "clearing the table" job as part of the "washing the dishes" job and I just do it. But I don't write really long blog posts about how any system other than mine is "totally irrational" but I just have to knuckle under to it to show my love.

“I never get upset with you about things you do that I don’t like!” men reason, as if their wives are INTENTIONALLY choosing to feel hurt and miserable.


It is super-hard for me to imagine any man (or other human being) saying, with a straight face, that they never get upset with their loved ones for doing things they don't like.

Basically what I'm saying is I'm slightly put off that this guy has uses the same default Wordpress theme as I do.
posted by escabeche at 6:59 AM on January 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


This article is the exact plot of an How I Met your Mother episode.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:00 AM on January 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


"What we are not good at is being psychic, or accurately predicting how our wives might feel about any given thing..."

Sympathy and empathy are sufficient approximations of psychic abilities. They can be learned too.
posted by klarck at 7:00 AM on January 22, 2016 [24 favorites]


"...she’s NOT fighting about the glass. She’s fighting for acknowledgment, respect, validation, and his love."

But she's choosing the most passive-aggressive way to do it.

Adults fight for acknowledgement. Children fight over where you put stuff.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:00 AM on January 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


I think the issue is how difficult it is trying to explain to one's spouse ***WHY*** leaving dishes out (after being repeatedly asked and begged not to) is annoying. It's not the dish, it's the exhaustion and soul-draining of the act of repeatedly asking. It's feeling unheard and unloved and un-cared-about. It's not being able to rely on your partner to step-up and put their energy into things you value, even if they don't.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 7:00 AM on January 22, 2016 [107 favorites]


Ok, what is this, though:

And this is important: Telling a man something that doesn’t make sense to him once, or a million times, doesn’t make him “know” something. Right or wrong, he would never feel hurt if the same situation were reversed so he doesn’t think his wife SHOULD hurt. It’s like, he doesn’t think she has the right to (and then use it as a weapon against him) because it feels unfair.

So men: incapable of empathy! Just can't do it! Oh well!
posted by emjaybee at 7:00 AM on January 22, 2016 [49 favorites]


Also: this is important: Telling a man something that doesn’t make sense to him once, or a million times, doesn’t make him “know” something

Women! You are responsible for a man's refusal to listen or understand you, no matter how clearly, directly, or repeatedly you state your needs!
posted by prefpara at 7:01 AM on January 22, 2016 [77 favorites]


Men Are Not Children, Even Though We Behave Like Them

Gee, thanks, guy. I don't even know you!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:02 AM on January 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


Outcome of posting this vague ramble on MetaFilter: everybody gets angry at what they think it's saying.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:02 AM on January 22, 2016 [30 favorites]


I didn't read it yet but I'm angry
posted by poffin boffin at 7:03 AM on January 22, 2016 [87 favorites]


So men: incapable of empathy! Just can't do it! Oh well!

Yeah, this. My main thought on reading this was that this dude has a really, really low opinion of men as a class, and is assuming all other men are exactly as clueless as he is. #notallmen, dude!
posted by pie ninja at 7:04 AM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Boy, this thread turned into a Rorshach test faster than usual.

Glass dirty on the kitchen counter. Rim encrusted in bacteria. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face.
posted by stevis23 at 7:05 AM on January 22, 2016 [113 favorites]


Not today, Satan.
posted by dorkydancer at 7:05 AM on January 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


The author has a lot of good points, yes. It sounds like he's grown some.

But he really, really needs to get over the "Men are like this, but women are like this' thing. It's a huge impediment to being a functional adult.
posted by yesster at 7:05 AM on January 22, 2016 [41 favorites]


Guy takes his gender roles seriously, I'll give him that.

Step Two? Don’t treat her as an equal. Treat her like something more.
I know how hard this is. All humans can be shitty and unreasonable. My guess is your wife is no exception. And when you give a lot and she doesn’t act appreciative or even considerate of what you do, it’s going to hurt. You’re going to resent it. You’re going to be angry. And maybe even feel a little shame.
Guess what? DO IT ANYWAY.


wut.
posted by Huck500 at 7:05 AM on January 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


It reads like he listened to It's a Man's Man's Man's watched It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World on repeat for two days and decided that he totally gets it now.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:07 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sometimes a water glass is just a cigar.
posted by gauche at 7:07 AM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I hit post too soon. I guess what I was getting at was the weird vibe of "men are emotionally stunted and incapable of perceiving or caring about your mysterious emotions, women, but we're sorry and we'll try to appease you," going on here.

I don't think that's true? The guy I married seems pretty capable of seeing that something upsets me and responding to it without me having to divorce him. I'm pretty sure he's not the only one.

Metafilter men: confirm? Are you actually alien robots or would a woman you love tearfully explaining something to you register as A Thing to Care About?
posted by emjaybee at 7:07 AM on January 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


At best it's a very misguided blog post by someone who is clearly still hurting. Doubling down on the essentialist "men are x, women are y" stuff is unsurprising, but still a bummer.
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:07 AM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Men Are Not Children, Even Though We Behave Like Them"

I'm so sick of being involuntarily included in this "infantile men" thing. I am a man, and I do not behave like a child, thank you very much.
posted by crazylegs at 7:08 AM on January 22, 2016 [28 favorites]


Metafilter men: confirm? Are you actually alien robots or would a woman you love tearfully explaining something to you register as A Thing to Care About?

bleep bloop bop boop YES DEAR I WILL REMEMBER THAT FOR THE FUTURE SORRY TO HAVE LET YOU DOWN THIS TIME blop boop bleep bop
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:08 AM on January 22, 2016 [29 favorites]


This is one of the most convoluted exercises in rationalizing the obvious I have read in a long time. I mean, that he had to go to such lengths to convince himself that something the person he loves should matter to him is just... horrific. And the whole "Men built skyscrapers..." digression is stunningly pathetic and so completely misses the point that I almost stopped reading right there. He still, at heart, doesn't get it.
posted by aught at 7:08 AM on January 22, 2016 [26 favorites]


Glass dirty on the kitchen counter. Rim encrusted in bacteria. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face.

I'm not in the kitchen with you. You're in the kitchen with me.
posted by mhoye at 7:09 AM on January 22, 2016 [54 favorites]


As a divorce lawyer of 28 years, and a longtime lurker here, I actually joined today just to comment on this guilt-ridden dude's ramblings. But after reading the other comments, I've decided not to. This fire needs no new fuel.
posted by melman at 7:10 AM on January 22, 2016 [82 favorites]


Glass dirty on the kitchen counter. Rim encrusted in bacteria. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face.

William Gibson, your next novel is already plotted out, just needs to be written...
posted by Fizz at 7:10 AM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


bleep bloop bop boop YES DEAR I WILL REMEMBER THAT FOR THE FUTURE SORRY TO HAVE LET YOU DOWN THIS TIME blop boop bleep bop

Who, me? As for me, I like putting glasses away for my wife like cool sunglasses guy!
posted by ftm at 7:10 AM on January 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Can we stick to comic book jokes from here on in? I really think if we work together we can salvage this.
posted by mhoye at 7:10 AM on January 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm not in the kitchen with you. You're in the kitchen with me.

Beans. Hurm.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:11 AM on January 22, 2016 [15 favorites]


Don’t treat her as an equal. Treat her like something more.

Isn't this almost exactly the formulation underlying the systematic oppression of women in fundamentalist religions like Sharia-based Islam, born-again Christians, and Orthodox Judaism?
posted by aught at 7:13 AM on January 22, 2016 [41 favorites]


But she's choosing the most passive-aggressive way to do it.

Nothing passive about divorcing him.

Adults fight for acknowledgement. Children fight over where you put stuff.

These two things are much less distinct than you are pretending they are.
posted by aught at 7:14 AM on January 22, 2016 [46 favorites]


I hit post too soon. I guess what I was getting at was the weird vibe of "men are emotionally stunted and incapable of perceiving or caring about your mysterious emotions, women, but we're sorry and we'll try to appease you," going on here.

Yeah, I was confused by this, because at the start of the post he says very clearly "my wife didn't want to be my mother, she wanted me to use my brain to manage my half of household logistics rather than relying on her to tell me what to do", which is so, so true.

And then it all becomes "but there is no reason for her to want me to put my dish in the dishwasher".

The reason you want people to put their dishes in the dishwasher, etc, is because putting all their dishes in the dishwasher takes up a lot of time, cumulatively. If they never do it and you always do it, it adds up. And it's seldom just the glass - it's "I never put the toothpaste back" and "I never unwrap a new bar of soap" and "I never wash out the mustard jar that has the last little dab of mustard in it" and "I never throw out the empty cat litter bag".....all these supposedly little things, these failures to take the last step, that then have to be done by someone< and when you're finishing up a person's processes all the time, it gets wearing.

That said, I think he's got some meaningful insights here - there's a lot of stuff that's not petty chore stuff for which "this is trivial but it's important to you, so I will do it even if it's not meaningful to me" really is a big deal. "I will not make fun of your favorite show if it gets you down, even if I think your favorite show is dumb"; "I will not start my evening with a big whine about my boss because it stresses you out even if it blows off steam for me"; "I will not interrupt you when you're in the middle of [tricky hobby thing] even if [tricky hobby thing] is silly"....that kind of stuff. And I think that is about as important as the chore thing.
posted by Frowner at 7:14 AM on January 22, 2016 [100 favorites]


The conflict of interests between the workers and the ruling glass, regarded as inevitably violent.
posted by Glomar response at 7:15 AM on January 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


It's kind of emotional labor related, but it's like going from zero on the emotional awareness scale to about 1.5 (on a scale of 10). *golf clap*
posted by matildaben at 7:17 AM on January 22, 2016 [29 favorites]


My wife will never divorce me because we don't own a dishwasher.
posted by crazylegs at 7:18 AM on January 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


My wife will never divorce me because we don't own a dishwasher.

But that's even worse. Then the fight is "clean the dishes AS you cook" or "clean the dishes AFTER you cook." Wars have been started over this.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:19 AM on January 22, 2016 [18 favorites]


Dang, guy. You should have communicated better, not washed dishes better.

In a weird, ham-handed way, I think this is what he is indeed trying to say.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:20 AM on January 22, 2016 [15 favorites]


Yes. I realize this is a gendered article, but I insist it works both ways. My partner values quality time in a way that I don't. I value my "alone" time, and I don't particularly like socializing. When he appeared hurt that I've begun a movie without him or am not interested in checking out a new restaurant, I would think to myself "What the hell is *your* problem, needy-mc-needs! Go on your own if you love it so much."

Now I recognize that it really doesn't matter if I VALUE starting and ending a movie at the same time together, or making an effort to get out on adventures more. What matters is that I value him, and I want to meet his needs (indeed, it gives me pleasure to do so!!). So I intend to express how I value him by being more mindful of how much quality time we spend together, whether I care about that new restaurant or not.

These are small things - but they signify more. That's what the article seems to be saying.

To those men who are experiencing mega butthurt right now, and #notallmen and so forth - you don't have to read this as a gendered essentialist argument, but rather an argument for looking at new ways to communicate with your lover and partner.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 7:20 AM on January 22, 2016 [13 favorites]


Men Are Not Children, Even Though We Behave Like Them

"Men Are Not Children and Generalizing Infantile Behavior on an Entire Gender Does Not Help the Problem"

There we go. Can I get the author to write a section on this, please?
posted by blurker at 7:23 AM on January 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm not butthurt.

This guy is just glaringly self-unaware.

His gender essentialism is more at the root of his relationship issues than the perfectly reasonable realizations he discusses.
posted by yesster at 7:23 AM on January 22, 2016 [27 favorites]


(also, how do people even live in a house where more than one person loads the dishwasher? don't they realize that vastly increases the risk of someone putting the dishes in the wrong way? like, what if he accidentally put the glass on the right of the top rack, where the little bowls go, maybe even mixing glasses and bowls, instead of having them lined up neatly by size and color on the left where god intended?)
posted by mittens at 7:24 AM on January 22, 2016 [78 favorites]


"What we are not good at is being psychic, or accurately predicting how our wives might feel about any given thing..."

For a while, I tried to hone my psychic abilities, but when that failed I spent time tracking my wife's microreactions to predict how she'd respond to what I did. That also failed, but then I realized I could just talk with her about her expectations and feelings. It worked like magic!
posted by filthy light thief at 7:24 AM on January 22, 2016 [32 favorites]


We solved the glasses thing by making laundry his deal and dishes mine (we both cook). I'm kind of crap at it so they only get washed every few days, and I usually fail to empty the dishwasher unless company's coming over. But he still prefers that to doing it himself. He has never critiqued my dishwashing technique, and I don't say boo about the laundry unless he dries something he shouldn't (happens occasionally, but even so, it's worth it never to do laundry. Clean undies magically appear in the dresser! It's the BEST).

Come to think of it, maybe I'm the asshole when it comes to housework, not him. Well, but I remember to vacuum and buy toilet paper and he never does. It probably shakes out.

The only equivalent I can think of to this glass thing is me informing him that he needed to clean his beard trimmings out of the sink when we first moved in together. And he has ever since. Though I saw this Beard Bib ad today and thought about getting it for him.
posted by emjaybee at 7:25 AM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Everybody's got their own shit that drives them crazy. I am the neat one in my relationship; Mrs. Card Cheat is constantly leaving stuff around the house that I stack in piles which eventually get big enough to catch her attention (a dynamic that, I learned relatively recently, is mirrored in my parents' relationship). The one exception to this is stuff piled in the sink; for whatever reason, dirty dishes are invisible to me until they rise above the edge of the sink or so, whereas my wife hates that.

Anyway, people are a land of contrasts, but this guy sounds like a tool.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:25 AM on January 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


My husband shares a hobby with his friend. The friend is more experienced, and often offers technical recommendations on technique. This is good advice, clearly explained once, and my husband makes the adjustment and gets better results. He will come home and show me his improvement as a result of the suggested changes. He considers it learning; he's open to advice, attentive to the need to change the way he does things, respects the source, and maintains the new techniques.

I would like to see this dynamic in play more often on issues that don't involve said hobby. My husband is getting better, in fairness to him; nonetheless, I am still a little stunned when his first response to my advice/requests is "Great point, I'll act on that." It has taken me years of repeated effort to get to the same baseline at home as the buddy has automatically.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:25 AM on January 22, 2016 [43 favorites]


I never wash out the mustard jar that has the last little dab of mustard in it
"In the refrigerator, who is it, please that puts into the refrigerator the half-gallon containers of milk with only that much left in them? I get one of those every time. Hey, here's some milk- fooom! ... God, not enough to drink. Better put that back, huh? I know my responsibilities ..."
This thread is nothing without Ice Box Man!
posted by octobersurprise at 7:25 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Quite often I am unable to leave a glass by the sink because my wife and daughter have already piled up so much other crap there. I wonder where all these guys are who are slobbing out their homes, I never meet them.
posted by colie at 7:28 AM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't think she really divorced him because of the glasses.
posted by Segundus at 7:28 AM on January 22, 2016 [13 favorites]


Meh, I take offense at this for being gender-essentialist nonsense and I'm not actually a dude.

This reminds me of that horrible essay written by a dude about what it's like to have a period, based entirely on his experiences with post-surgical bleeding. Initially I assumed it was the same dude, but searching suggests it's not.
posted by pie ninja at 7:30 AM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I hope he moved in to a hotel.
I'm not sure he's able to keep his own apartment together.
posted by littlewater at 7:31 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've tried to read this and I don't get it. Why wouldn't he just put the glass in the dishwasher and apologize to her when he forgets and try to be better about it in the future if only to not be a complete jackass? It doesn't even have to be your wife. It could be any person. It could be a roommate. If someone politely asks you to stop doing something that bothers them why wouldn't you stop doing it?
posted by Talez at 7:33 AM on January 22, 2016 [17 favorites]


There are two parts of this that really jump out at me:
But I remember my wife often saying how exhausting it was for her to have to tell me what to do all the time. It’s why the sexiest thing a man can say to his partner is “I got this,” and then take care of whatever needs taken care of.

I always reasoned: “If you just tell me what you want me to do, I’ll gladly do it.”

But she didn’t want to be my mother. She wanted to be my partner, and she wanted me to apply all of my intelligence and learning capabilities to the logistics of managing our lives and household.

She wanted me to figure out all of the things that need done, and devise my own method of task management.

I wish I could remember what seemed so unreasonable to me about that at the time.
And:
I don’t have to understand WHY she cares so much about that stupid glass.

I just have to understand and respect that she DOES. Then caring about her = putting glass in dishwasher.

Caring about her = keeping your laundry off the floor.

Caring about her = thoughtfully not tracking dirt or whatever on the floor she worked hard to clean.

Caring about her = taking care of kid-related things so she can just chill out for a little bit and not worry about anything.

Caring about her = “Hey babe. Is there anything I can do today or pick up on my way home that will make your day better?”

Caring about her = a million little things that say “I love you” more than speaking the words ever can.
Why is this so gendered?! This is my relationship but I'm the one who cares about the mess. I'm the one who runs the errands. I'm the one with the non-stop checklist of things that need to be done/fixed/taken care. I'm the one who gets home and sees so much work waiting for me while my partner sees a couch, an iPad and netflix binge waiting for her. I'm a man and my partner is woman. Is this that bizarre?

Last night is the perfect example. I went for a short jog and was exercising a bit, then she started cooking dinner. I asked her to let me know when she was done in the kitchen so I could cook dinner for me. She offered to cook for me, I told her I was quite alright cooking myself (I prefer it) that I just needed to know when she was done so I could cook. I let her watch TV for two hours while she ate and at 11:00p, stuck my head out to see if I could cook. She said I could. I looked at the kitchen and the dishwasher was still loaded (I had run it the day before, she hadn't emptied it), the sink was full, the counters were covered and there wasn't a free burner on the stove. It seems what she had meant by she was done in the kitchen was she was done cooking and it was ready for my to clean before I could start cooking.

I thought I was a crazy person for being bothered by these things to the point that I have long given up on asking/prompting/complaining/discussing.

This past weekend I was reading (as some on MeFi have recommended) Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay and another book by the same author. The other book talked about trust issues. Not just a "you violated my trust by sleeping around on me" trust issue. There are other smaller violations of trust that just add up over time. You said you'd pick me up at 8:00 and you got here at 8:15 and while I appreciate the ride while my car gets fixed, now I'm late for work. You said you'd put away your things last week and they're still in the middle of the floor this week. You said you'd try to be more aware of when you were going to bed so you wouldn't be so difficult or mean to wake up in the morning but you were watching TV at three in the morning on the couch again. According to the author, eventually nothing matters because there is no trust. Not because someone cheated on the other, but because on a daily basis, the "I'll do this to support you because you need it or it is important to you" never actually happens.

For the article's author, it sounds like his now ex-wife doesn't trust him to pick up his laundry, to put his glass away, to not dirty up what she just cleaned and a dozen other things that matter and are important to her. Yeah, I can totally understand not wanting to spend forever with someone who doesn't care about making small efforts in the areas that matter to you the most.
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:34 AM on January 22, 2016 [57 favorites]


On reflection, this article is kinda poignant to me because I know men who are both married and so deep into "nerd guy/bro" culture that they might very well have this revelation in ten years and consider it profound. And they have male kids who may very well inherit this essential laziness.
posted by selfnoise at 7:34 AM on January 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


...Hey, wait.

I wonder if there's some pushback to what this guy is saying because: this guy is actually trying to mansplain to other guys.

So - those of you guys who are being rubbed the wrong way by this? You know, the tone, and the gender assumption and such? The "I know better than you Receive My Wisdom" tone?

Now you know why so many women coined the term "mansplaining."

Yeah, okay, sure, "mansplaining" is a loaded term and yadda yadda, but - this is the kind of shit women mean when they say it, and the way you're feeling right now is the way a lot of women feel when these guys do it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:35 AM on January 22, 2016 [112 favorites]


popular reporting on science : peer-reviewed research :: this piece : the Emotional Labor thread
posted by threeants at 7:36 AM on January 22, 2016 [28 favorites]


This guy is a fucking troglodyte, but I think some people really do have blind spots about things. mrsozzy is loving and respectful, but I am coming to realize that she will never, ever close the dishwasher or push in her chair, no matter how many times I ask her to. She seems incapable of even noticing it. Or she is trying to sabotage our marriage; one or the other.

Thankfully toddlerozzy has noticed me doing these things and has started imitating it, so at least she will pick up some of the slack.

(To my wife's credit, the stupid shit I do that I try [and often fail] to fix is way more dangerous than either of those things.)
posted by uncleozzy at 7:36 AM on January 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


I wonder if there's some pushback to what this guy is saying because: this guy is actually trying to mansplain to other guys.

Huh. I'll be damned.

I think you're on to something here.
posted by mhoye at 7:37 AM on January 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


It has taken me years of repeated effort to get to the same baseline at home as the buddy has automatically.

Mmm, yeah - I remember wanting to mention this at some point in the emotional labor thread, but I had this boyfriend in college who just refused to listen to Taylor Swift, because ew, pop and girl stuff and etc. (This was in like 2009, well before she achieved total world domination.) He'd change the radio station while I was driving to avoid listening to her, knowing I liked her. (Which is super rude, IMO - driver chooses the music, right?) Then one day a Taylor Swift song came on in the car and he didn't change it - he said "You know, Jake (a friend he had just met) says Taylor Swift is a great artist" and I was like OH, WELL IF JAKE SAYS SO.

So in that light, the whole "OMG you can't expect us to comprehend things that you clearly tell us to our faces over and over" bit makes sense, in the sense that some dudes apparently willfully hear "blibber jabber jibbah wah" until another man says the same thing to them. He has this whole elaborate explanation for it, but really it's just that.
posted by sunset in snow country at 7:40 AM on January 22, 2016 [76 favorites]


This reminds me of that horrible essay written by a dude about what it's like to have a period, based entirely on his experiences with post-surgical bleeding.

wait.

what.
posted by emjaybee at 7:41 AM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Why hello, timely sequel to the emotional labor thread. I shall send you along with your predecessor to my friends and family and see which couple upends themselves first after realizing how imbalanced their relationship has been since it began. (Many of my enspousenated peers have been fighting whenever I come to visit them and the more mercenary of them sometimes ask me to play referee so threads like this are perfect for sparking meaningful discussion and unearthing age old resentments.)
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:42 AM on January 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


dirty dishes become invisible to me until they rise above the edge of the sink or so, whereas my wife hates that.

Well, how are you supposed to wash the dishes if the sink is full? You pile up the dishes *next to* the sink so you have a nice empty sink that can actually be used without first doing the work of emptying it. Thank goodness it only took a few months to train my father-in-law in that. Now if only I could get my wife to stop leaving wet paper towels in the sink.
posted by Slothrup at 7:42 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah that thing! I couldn't figure out what it reminded me of, but I also thought it was the same guy. It had a very similar tone, iirc - trying hard to say something supportive of women but unable to let go of its performative masculinity for long enough to really be effective.

Here it is on the blue.
posted by sunset in snow country at 7:46 AM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Wow, on one hand this guy is SO. CLOSE. to getting it in some ways.

I dated this dude. I mean not this exact dude, but I dated a guy who wanted a mom and not a partner. His idea of equality was to tell me he wanted an allowance and that I had to be in charge of the budget because he was incapable, and that if I only told him exactly what chores to do, he'd do them and that if I only took care of his diet he'd eat better, and that if I only reminded him to take his meds he wouldn't have high blood sugar and that if I only drove him to work for a week he'd go to the DMV and replace his driver's license instead of looking for the wallet that fell under the bed.

And he thought it was perfect, because he was Doing Things, and to his credit if I said "Mantroll, go pick up all the dirty laundry and put it in a basket and then bring it here and I will show you for the 100th time how to use the washer." he would go put all the dirty laundry into a basket and stand there for the 100th time while I showed him how to use a washer. And if I made him doctor's appointments he would go, and if I gave him a grocery list he would follow it to the letter and call or text me when he couldn't decide if blueberry or strawberry waffles were what I secretly wanted even though the list just said waffles.

And this was my life for five years, and when I finally blew up at him for the nine hundred things I was carrying and he wasn't, he emailed all our friends to say I blew up at him because I wanted him to make his own doctor appointments and I was a controlling bitch who wanted him to be a monk and never eat candy again (He was -diabetic- and non-compliant with the meds that *I paid for* and wouldn't go to the goddamn doctor.) and I wouldn't have sex with him and I got mad that he'd jerk it at 3am and wake me up and I wouldn't stop complaining about how snoring and why couldn't I just sleep on the couch and then he broke up with me and moved out and stole my bed and half my kitchen appliances.

And he thought he was a feminist. He thought he was a good partner because he was willing to do anything I asked, as long as I gave him an itemized list and made appointments for him and handled all the money.

And this guy - this guy's a step past that, where he gets that his partner didn't want to give him lists and didn't want to make the appointments and didn't want to explain why the cups needed to go in the dishwasher five hundred times.

He's so close to getting it that I want to shake him and say "Dude you were so close, you almost had it and then you pooped on it."
posted by FritoKAL at 7:47 AM on January 22, 2016 [87 favorites]


"What we are not good at is being psychic, or accurately predicting how our wives might feel about any given thing"

This is disingenuous. So he is saying he has no clue what his wife finds funny, how she likes to spend her time, what she likes to eat, or things that piss her off? No concept of her as an individual person with her own wants and preferences, despite living with her for however many years? In which case is he a narcissist, or a moron, because most normal people would be able to predict how their spouse would react to something with a pretty high degree of accuracy. Game shows have been created around this fact.

Or is this another way of saying he's well aware of how she will react, but he's happy to run that risk when it conflicts with his own preferences because he's kind of selfish?
posted by tinkletown at 7:48 AM on January 22, 2016 [27 favorites]


A well intentioned structure built on a poor foundation. C-. Please de-gender and resubmit.
posted by meinvt at 7:52 AM on January 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


What starts at an early age on playgrounds, turns into a relationship killer in adulthood. Men using jokes, sarcasm and mockery to belittle their wives and girlfriends both privately and publicly. It may not be intended to be cruel. It often isn’t. But the recipient of those “jokes” often feels as if it’s cruel. Beat her down long enough, and only one of two things can happen: She’ll leave you for someone who respects her, or you’ll break her and she won’t be the person you married anymore. Maybe she already isn’t.

OK, seriously, this is a troll, right? Right?
posted by Huck500 at 7:54 AM on January 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


I have been known to take dirty glasses out of my wife's hand while she is drinking, and replace them with a clean glass, so the dirty one can go in the dishwasher before I turn it on.

I have not yet sought counselling.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:57 AM on January 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


I demand that my wife leave all the dishes on the counter. How else will I get my alone time, loading the dishwasher and listening to my podcasts?
posted by Triplanetary at 7:57 AM on January 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


Man, this thread sure does feel a little bit like struggle with chronic disorganization makes me a non-adult, child, or otherwise subhuman.

I think there's a lot to say for the wrongful socialization of women to always do these tasks but I'd also like to pump that we women (and men) who struggle with this can be fully adult and good people! People with disabilities who need help to function can still be adults and worthy of respect even if their limitations don't work in a dating relationship with a specific person.

I think lifestyle preferences and abilities around chores and tasks are things it's good both to consider before marriage (but that doesn't always come up til later) and also to consider outsourcing household labor if one person feels they are doing a lot more of the work and the other person can't keep up with it- or both can't keep up with it. It's something I think a lot of people have a hard time communicating about and sometimes just have radically different abilities and needs around.

I kind of hope we could not be dehumanizing and lowering the status of people who struggle with this. Sometimes it's a lack of effort or care and that SHOULD be addressed so I'm down with encouraging men to try more and to value doing these things more, but I also want more understanding that humans are diverse with varying strengths and deficits. We don't all have to be good or even decent at every skillset to be respected as an equal adult. It's fine to not want to live with someone who has such issues but making the leap into calling them not adult seems unnecessary.
posted by xarnop at 7:59 AM on January 22, 2016 [13 favorites]


Dang, guy. You should have communicated better, not washed dishes better

Exactly. Clarity about WHO is responsible for WHAT and WHEN can help relationships a lot. And if one person will never bend or compromise, then maybe that's not the right relationship for him/her. Or, hire a cleaning lady and save your marriage for god's sake!
posted by theorique at 7:59 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just wish my husband would understand that I leave a water glass lying around BECAUSE I'M USING IT GODDAMMIT. It goes in the dishwasher at the end of the day, because I drink water constantly and if I had to fill a new one up every time I wanted a sip I'd be forever traveling between the sink, the cupboard, and the fridge.

But oops, I guess as a woman I should be the one bothered by the clutter and he should be sighing internally and resenting me for asking. Which is to say, yes, strive to understand your partner's requests and quirks and respect their boundaries but for crying out loud it has nothing to do with your gender presentation.
posted by lydhre at 8:00 AM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I have been known to take dirty glasses out of my wife's hand while she is drinking, and replace them with a clean glass, so the dirty one can go in the dishwasher before I turn it on.

Don't you just end up with one dirty glass and another clean glass in the dishwasher you have to put away later?
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:02 AM on January 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


I think that what's interesting to me about this is that for a reasonable number of men, this article is what enlightenment looks like. I think that's a useful thing to know.

So it seems like there's plenty of guys out there, even if #notallmen, for whom it is a huge improvement in their behavior not to mock their wives and girlfriends to their faces and behind their backs, not to ignore simple but important requests, not to assume that they should wait for their wives and girlfriends to tell them all their household responsibilities and not to assume that a woman will both act like the mother to a pre-teen boy and maintain romantic feelings towards them.

I have mixed feelings about that.

First, it's really depressing and somewhat baffling.

Second, it makes usefully clear just how pervasive and entrenched even the kinds of really stupid, retro misogynist nonsense are.

Third, I feel like I have to give some credit to guys who read this stuff and learn. If you've been socialized to be an absolute boor and you read some stuff on the internet and you make the effort to change your ways, I actually do respect that, because I know that most humans don't change themselves willingly, even a little bit. I think that if someone starts out in a pretty retrograde place and inconveniences themselves to get to a less retrograde place, that actually speaks well of their character, especially in a society that basically tells men that women are all crazy, neurotic whiners.

It's really difficult to square all those things.
posted by Frowner at 8:02 AM on January 22, 2016 [88 favorites]


"Hire a cleaning lady" is oft-proffered advice for these situations. How will that go? Leave the dirty dishes by the sink for a week, then the cleaning lady will come in for 2 hours and spend all of it cleaning away a week's worth of dish buildup with no time to touch the rest of the house.

Pay the nice lady, wave goodbye, and immediately empty another dump truck full of garbage into the kitchen.

So, by adding a cleaning lady into the mix, everything is just as messy. But with this system you have to pay!
posted by tel3path at 8:03 AM on January 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


May I submit my request for residency on Crone Island here? I missed the emotional labor thread (which was shown to me last week after yet another rant about being a female in an IT career). I read that thread for 3 days straight thinking "My people! I have finally found my people!".
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 8:06 AM on January 22, 2016 [23 favorites]


In re hiring a cleaning lady: Hm, let's outsource our problems to underpaid working class women, because that's easier than teaching a man to put away his stuff! Also, what do the working class women do?

I notice that "just hire someone" is common advice here in response to conflict over chores (which is different from response to chronic illness, single parenthood, disability, etc), and I always wonder what the advice for the cleaning ladies, the Uber drivers, the Washio washers, etc actually is. Find someone even poorer than you and pay them?

Obviously, sometimes people need to hire someone to clean, and we live in a society where there's all kinds of price constraints and wage inequalities. But I am not always enthused about the idea that it's better to outsource something purely because one partner - often a man - simply won't (not can't) take care of their share of household matters.
posted by Frowner at 8:08 AM on January 22, 2016 [38 favorites]


I stopped at the "Women are like this, amirite?" part, as it didn't seem like the article was going to get better from there. He's trying to say "now I get it" while still kind of not getting it. Modulating your behavior to appease this weird, unpredictable, alien species is not the takeaway, here.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:09 AM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


[Couple comments removed. Dressed to Kill, I know this is your first post so no biggie if this is just site culture stuff you aren't aware of yet, but if you're making a post on the front page you need to do so and sort of walk away from it at that point; you're not literally prohibited from commenting or anything, but coming back in to tackle the comments you dislike head-on is definitely not an okay way to go.]
posted by cortex at 8:10 AM on January 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


The problem with the gendering is it allows the author to excuse his behavior by saying "I'm like this because I'm a man" instead of "I'm like this because I can't take responsibility for my actions."
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:10 AM on January 22, 2016 [28 favorites]


Metafilter men: confirm? Are you actually alien robots or would a woman you love tearfully explaining something to you register as A Thing to Care About?

Even if I honestly believed the thing under consideration were completely, 100% irrational, I would take it seriously because it's important to my wife. Fortunately, the fact that there are relatively few such things is one reason why I think our relationship is a good one. (If a man has to assemble a giant lookup table of "note to self: do X when wife does Y or there is hell to pay", life becomes increasingly stressful. It's a hallmark of serious incompatibility.)

Fortunately, you get pretty far with good intentions and good faith on both sides.
posted by theorique at 8:10 AM on January 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


...men are emotionally stunted and incapable of perceiving or caring about your mysterious emotions, women...

Seems to me that men can be incapable of perceiving your mysterious emotions without being stunted. And women can be incapable of perceiving my mysterious emotions, too.

I've had a few years to reflect on the end of my 23-yr marriage and I see it like this: I am emotionally mature, and so is she. And our emotional maturities overlap a lot, but not completely. We got ourselves a bit of an emotional Venn diagram here and it's the overlapped areas where we excel and the un-overlapped areas that piss each other off. (And of course my maturity changes over time and so does yours, so the overlaps change.)

(Please don't call me stunted.)
posted by booth at 8:10 AM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Hiring a cleaning person has certainly helped some people I've known with this issue. It depends how severe the issue is and how different the expectations of various people in the home. Some people are not compatible to live together that's for sure!

Frowner, I personally wish that homecare, and more intensive than once a week, was a standard service for people with physical and/or mental limitations and difficulties with these tasks. I would like it to be well paid and funded and accessible as a health service for low income people who often need this services.
posted by xarnop at 8:11 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just wish my husband would understand that I leave a water glass lying around BECAUSE I'M USING IT GODDAMMIT

When we're at my in-laws' house this is a constant struggle. My father-in-law constantly tidies up any glasses lying around to the point that in any given visit I've used at least two, sometimes as many as four, water glasses.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:12 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


My hangup about things left next to the sink as opposed to in the sink or in the dishwasher comes from growing up with my dishwashing-loving dad who would often say, "just leave them by the sink and I'll take care of them later." Which I'd often take him up on. So to me, next to the sink means "somebody else will handle this for me," whereas to my wife it means "I'm still using this."

My wife is the glass/dish leaver and I've come to just accept that and do the dishes because I like doing the dishes and seeing them done.
posted by emelenjr at 8:13 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes By the Sink

She left you because even though you think you've written an epiphany about how husbands should interact with their wives, you still have to sprinkle your blog entry with multiple references to how wrong you think your ex was for caring about glasses in the first place.

Imagine how insufferable you were before the "epiphany".
posted by 23skidoo at 8:14 AM on January 22, 2016 [42 favorites]


Just like everyone, I hated at the gender essentialist stuff etc. But then I thought about the jocks in my secondary school during the 1970's.
Like probably most people in MF, I was clearly on the nerd side in school, and like every nerd hated the jocks and their stupid "values" such as getting drunk and groping women or worse. And sports. But I love and loved my early childhood friend who became a (really stupid) jock. And he was friends with all the other jocks. The good thing was that because of our friendship, I was never harassed. We had sort of detente, where I didn't go too far in exposing their obvious idiocy in class, and they didn't go too far with their foul behaviour if I was there after school. And I still see them at some occasions.
These guys generally saw all and every woman except their mums (and sometimes sisters) as objects. (One of them actually called me "mum" at a party, just so you know how they managed the fact of a female nerd in their midst). So they got married with women they saw as things. I imagine those women were attracted by their great sporty bodies or something. But eventually, they divorced. All the women left the stupid jocks. And here comes the point: I think each and every one of them have been going through a reasoning similar to that of this guy. That is what they can manage. And hey - that's great. They have gotten to a stage of development where they realize that a woman is more similar to themselves than to a table.
And I am beginning to like them and we are having conversations.
As I see it, this is not about a normal man getting to terms about his bad marriage. This is a really dumb-ass partying beer-chugging guy understanding a fragment of reality.
BTW, what happened with my friend was that he had a great woman as professor and mentor at college and changed his attitude completely under her guidance and married a wonderful person who continued educating him. He is maybe the most un-stupid person I know.
posted by mumimor at 8:19 AM on January 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


When Partner A leaves a trivial task undone (glass by the sink, trash on the counter) for someone else - probably Partner B - to take care of, it implies that Partner A's time is more important and Partner B is expected to be the carer. Partner B doesn't wash the glass or move the rubbish into the bin or pick the dirtyclothes up off the floor because s/he enjoys doing those things, it's because clearly no one else is going to do them.

This shit is why we're already teaching our toddler son how to do laundry and take out the trash etc etc.
posted by trunk muffins at 8:21 AM on January 22, 2016 [46 favorites]


I don't like the Mars vs. Venus gendered stuff in the article, and I don't like the fact that he's perseverating on dishwasher issues, but I think that if my (female) partner had ever gotten closer to a basic awareness about stuff like this, I might not have had to drop $500 recently on court fees for filing divorce paperwork. Because this:
But I remember my wife often saying how exhausting it was for her to have to tell me what to do all the time. It’s why the sexiest thing a man can say to his partner is “I got this,” and then take care of whatever needs taken care of.

I always reasoned: “If you just tell me what you want me to do, I’ll gladly do it.”

But she didn’t want to be my mother. She wanted to be my partner, and she wanted me to apply all of my intelligence and learning capabilities to the logistics of managing our lives and household.

She wanted me to figure out all of the things that need done, and devise my own method of task management.
...summarizes the relationship I am divorcing myself from so accurately that it's making me squirm. And it's not just leaving a pile of glasses on the counter above the dishwasher instead of putting them IN the dishwasher (which was in fact an issue in our house), it was about so many fucking little things that life became fucking exhausting.

I don't like the article, and I don't like its writer, but he's closer to getting it than my partner ever got.

The article is emotional labor described by a guy who thinks he just made up the whole concept on his own but isn't really anywhere near understanding it yet.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:26 AM on January 22, 2016 [39 favorites]


I doubt I would divorce someone for not putting dishes away. Knowing myself, we'd never have gotten beyond cohabitation if that were the case.

I doubt it was the dishes — that was the catalyst, but Suddenly Enlightened Man seems to have justified everything nicely to himself anyway.
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:28 AM on January 22, 2016


When Partner A leaves a trivial task undone (glass by the sink, trash on the counter) for someone else - probably Partner B - to take care of, it implies that Partner A's time is more important and Partner B is expected to be the carer.

I partially agree. If people have worked out specific domains in advance then it might not be an issue. Of course, this presupposes a fairly well-defined level of communication and agreement having taken place, with EQ and maturity in evidence.

For example: if A leaves the glass by the sink because dishes were agreed in advance to be B's job (and A has other areas of responsibility), then that's perfectly OK.

However, If A leaves the glass by the sink because A 'DGAF', because A doesn't register despite dozens of reminders, because A's mom always picked up dishes from A's room, then that could be a problem.

Clear communication, in both directions, with messages communicated and received is usually the most effective solution.
posted by theorique at 8:30 AM on January 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


He has taken the step of realizing that if his partner cares about something that seems unimportant to him, he should take it seriously because he loves his partner.

But he hasn't taken the additional step of considering, "If this is important to someone I love and respect, maybe they see something I don't see. Maybe I'm actually wrong in thinking it's not important."
posted by straight at 8:31 AM on January 22, 2016 [13 favorites]


This is just what this single person needed to hear going into Valentine's Day season.

Thank God I don't have to put up with this nonsense. I have no idea how coupled-people do it. Or why.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:31 AM on January 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


The author has a lot of good points, yes. It sounds like he's grown some.

That made an interesting image pop into my head, of a man who has broken out in spikes.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:37 AM on January 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


When Partner A leaves a trivial task undone (glass by the sink, trash on the counter) for someone else - probably Partner B - to take care of, it implies that Partner A's time is more important and Partner B is expected to be the carer. Partner B doesn't wash the glass or move the rubbish into the bin or pick the dirtyclothes up off the floor because s/he enjoys doing those things, it's because clearly no one else is going to do them.

I don't think the glass on the counter is a good example of that dynamic. I'm leaving the glass on the counter because I like to drink water throughout the day and using multiple glasses seems unnecessary. Most nights I load the dishes, including that glass, into the dishwasher in the evening after we put the kids to bed. That said, I've tried to stop doing it because it bothers my spouse. Likewise, she has stopped leaving dust piles in the living room. She'd go to sweep, but wouldn't take the dustpan with her or ever use it, which I still don't understand. I asked her numerous times to just stop sweeping and leave that job to me and my dustpan.
posted by Area Man at 8:38 AM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


"If this is important to someone I love and respect, maybe they see something I don't see. Maybe I'm actually wrong in thinking it's not important."

This falls waaaay too close to the "cluttered/disorganized people are WRONG and they just need to see the error of their ways" abyss for my comfort.
posted by Lucinda at 8:41 AM on January 22, 2016 [13 favorites]



The article is emotional labor described by a guy who thinks he just made up the whole concept on his own but isn't really anywhere near understanding it yet.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:26 AM on January 22


Exactly.
posted by yesster at 8:42 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


When Partner A leaves a trivial task undone (glass by the sink, trash on the counter) for someone else - probably Partner B - to take care of, it implies that Partner A's time is more important and Partner B is expected to be the carer. Partner B doesn't wash the glass or move the rubbish into the bin or pick the dirtyclothes up off the floor because s/he enjoys doing those things, it's because clearly no one else is going to do them. ¶ trunk muffins
This is the exact conversation I had. "I'm glad that you find time to work on the things you want in life, but I feel like my time is less valuable and my goals less worth attaining when I put off my goals to clean the house, run errands, etc. and you don't (or only do so a fraction of the time that I do). I don't begrudge that you get to spend all day Saturday working on your art; I do have an issue with you always finding time for it while I can't find time for my stuff while I do manage to find time to maintain our home."

There's so much I'm not alone and I'm not a crazy person in this thread. I'd pay for metafilter again for this thread alone.
posted by Brian Puccio at 8:42 AM on January 22, 2016 [41 favorites]


He's so close to getting it that I want to shake him and say "Dude you were so close, you almost had it and then you pooped on it."

YES
posted by skrozidile at 8:43 AM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


The writer is still lying to himself. "One Thousand And One, One Thous," that's less time than it takes to put a glass in a dishwasher, 1.5 seconds. The seconds it took to write his article is more time than he would have needed to save the marriage, if it were ONLY the dirty glass issue.

Now this delusional tool wants to help you with your marriage. He is also looking for some new drinking buddies, now his married friends have disowned him.
posted by Oyéah at 8:47 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I promise you the behavior of "clean it later" is not gender-specific. While having housemates is in no way a marriage (if so, multiple divorces for me), it becomes a matter of communications; needs addressed, respect given. This guy does want to understand. It's like watching him bump his head against plexiglass. He can't quite get through, but he knows the answer is on the other side.
posted by datawrangler at 8:51 AM on January 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


Since I suggested hiring a cleaner upthread, I should probably clarify some things.

If the process of outsourcing ends up "sweeping the problem under the rug", so to speak, it won't be effective. While you can pay someone to deal with physical clutter or dirt, or laundry, or whatever, you can't pay someone to have better communication with your spouse about what is important to you.

Sometimes, these conflicts arise from different standards and priorities (e.g. about what is an 'appropriate' standard of cleanliness in the house), and other times they arise from communication about such things. If the partners genuinely have different standards (but otherwise good communication), then hiring a third party can be a reasonable compromise. However, a lot of times different standards can be a code for a game of chicken: "I'm willing to let the place get as disgusting as it has to, because you'll crack first and clean it and then I'm off the hook". Which is, needless to say, a fairly passive aggressive move if it is done consciously.
posted by theorique at 8:52 AM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


God help me, but I'm going to defend this guy, for two reasons.

First, I agree that the whole "Men are from Mars" framing is overly broad, and there are plenty of contrary examples. But hacky jokes and sitcom plots about lazy husbands and nagging wives (and threads about emotional labor) don't come out of nowhere. Even now, in our society, I suspect that this gender and relationship dynamic is way more prevalent than most MeFites would like to believe. The fact that it should not be the case doesn't really change the fact that a lot of guys think this way.

Which brings me to my second reason: I was totally this guy, and some years ago, this essay would have been pretty useful to me. I was utterly oblivious. It wasn't, or at least I think it wasn't, because I believed that housework was a woman's job. It was more that my wife would ask me to do Chore X, and I would reason that since I didn't care, and she clearly did, it would just make more sense for it to be her problem to deal with. And when she would become upset by this logic, I would do Chore X because she was upset, but I would be frustrated and irritated by the situation. It honestly never occurred to me to view this as a "relationship issue" or to see it as not valuing my wife, it was just a question in my head of efficient division of labor.

Luckily, it didn't take a divorce for me to come to these realizations, but it took a lot of looong conversations on the matter, and a less patient wife well could have divorced me. I'd like to think I get it now, and I have worked out a far more caring and equitable relationship as a result. But a few years ago? If I had jumped into the Emotional Labor thread at that point, I might well have decided the entire female gender was crazy. But this sort of thing would have helped. I get why the community wants to look down on this guy. Yes, he's probably a dick, and so was I. But learning is learning, and you gotta crawl before you can walk.
posted by tau_ceti at 8:53 AM on January 22, 2016 [45 favorites]


This falls waaaay too close to the "cluttered/disorganized people are WRONG and they just need to see the error of their ways" abyss for my comfort.

I think in a healthy relationship, both partners approach these kinds of conflicts by considering the possibility that what seems RIGHT to me is merely a preference, and what in my partner seems an irrational preference might have some actual reason to it that I don't yet see.

But also not forgetting to consider the sexist socialization that has shaped both of our expectations about what needs to be done and who is responsible for doing it. We can't talk about whether Christmas cards are really worth the trouble without paying attention to the fact that family members will blame my wife more than me if we don't keep in touch.
posted by straight at 8:59 AM on January 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


But that's even worse. Then the fight is "clean the dishes AS you cook" or "clean the dishes AFTER you cook." Wars have been started over this.

Burn the heathen clean-after-cooking infidels where they sleep.
posted by echocollate at 8:59 AM on January 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


In re hiring a cleaning lady: Hm, let's outsource our problems to underpaid working class women, because that's easier than teaching a man to put away his stuff! Also, what do the working class women do?


Well, the tel3mum used to hire herself out to clean houses, and I also used to do cleaning work when I was still working class.

I have no illusions that my newly attained middle-class economic status is necessarily going to persist. I could lose what I've gained at any moment. If I needed to find ad hoc employment quickly, one of the things I'd do would be to try to hire myself out for cleaning work.

It would really rub me up the wrong way if the main reason I couldn't find it was because middle-class families were too stuck up to hire me to do work they needed done.

However, that's something of a digression. Indeed hiring a cleaner is not even a practical solution to household slobdom. When I've hired anyone it's been once in a blue moon, for one-off deep cleans of areas that I'd already tried and failed to tackle on my own.

There'd be no point in my spending my hard earned money for routine daily cleaning because routine daily mess happens routinely and daily, so the benefit would be cancelled out in an instant.
posted by tel3path at 8:59 AM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


People who are dismissing this piece as nonsense, or who are saying, "I, as a man, would not be bothered by such a petty thing," might want to revisit the Emotional Labor thread. The article almost brought me to tears because I have a similar problem in my long-term relationship, which is that my partner doesn't seem to take seriously certain requests of mine because—I don't know why, actually. Because he thinks he has a better way of doing it? Because it just doesn't seem important to him? There is a thing I have been asking him to do for years, and even after multiple requests and more than one blow-up/meltdown on my part, he still doesn't do it. It's a very small thing, so I suppose it doesn't seem important to him, but that, along with a handful of other very small things, make me feel unheard and disrespected. And I have tried to tell him that it's important to me, that being listened to feels important to me. I don't know why he doesn't understand it, or if he does understand it but can't change.
posted by not that girl at 9:01 AM on January 22, 2016 [35 favorites]


I like your take, tau_ceti. Unlike many commenters here, I read that blog post as the author blaming himself for not taking responsibility, rather than blaming his ex for caring about incomprehensible things.
posted by trunk muffins at 9:01 AM on January 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


I used to live with someone (platonically) who constantly left half-full cups of tea around the house, like 2 or 3 a day. But she also did all the shopping, tons of cooking, and most of the vacuuming, and since she did her share (and then some) of other housework, I would track down her teacups and wash them for her. And that was OK! Because it was really just that one thing.

Whereas, my erstwhile boyfriend left half-full cups of tea everywhere, but also clothes and paperwork and straight-up garbage, and he did that thing where he'd grudgingly take out the trash if I asked enough times, but he'd never put in a new bag. And he said the same thing: "If you tell me what to do, I'll do it!" Meaning that even tasks that were his responsibility... were still my responsibility. In short, it wasn't just the one thing. Reader, I dumped him.

I don't think slobby-ness and disorganization are gendered, but I do think that the defensiveness around being a slob, the idea that it's somehow anti-establishment or rakishly charming or logical in some way, that is very gendered indeed. I (a ladywoman) was a messy teenager, and I definitely knew it was an issue and was working on it by age 15 or so. This dude didn't even admit there was a problem until his wife actually left him. Good for him on the epiphany, but "I have to have rudimentary manners or people won't want to be around me" is not news to most people.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 9:03 AM on January 22, 2016 [15 favorites]


The article is emotional labor described by a guy who thinks he just made up the whole concept on his own but isn't really anywhere near understanding it yet.

This is a good characterization.
posted by not that girl at 9:03 AM on January 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


There are people who specialize in chronic disorganization who might could help, but I agree tel3path it can be hard to find people to do the kind of labor your talking about although they are there. Plenty of people need work right now and don't mind washing dishes. I don't mind washing other people's dishes I mainly just have very limited awareness of my surroundings combined with chronic pain. If I get going with someone I can work on one project for a few hours but once it's off, it's off and I am trying to sit and rest my aching back as much as I can.

Sometimes people just have different cleanliness preferences and don't work as housemates. I still don't think calling people who struggle with it for whatever reason as innately not adults or in the wrong. For my part I just want to escape people who are always angry at me for things I try to fix but there is ALWAYS something out, a cabinet open, a pile of clutter somewhere---

on my end my mom has spent a lifetime trying to make me see how bad I am for this and it hasn't helped at all. It's taken a lot of work to get where I am, to the point where some rinsed dishes are on the counter at any given time is to me, success.

But I have developmental and intergenerational trauma and all kinds of weird brain stuff, which I learned later in life but spent a lifetime just thinking I was a bad person and inferior and not an adult, so when I hear these situations I just always wonder if it's just how the persons brain works and if some people just aren't as good at executive function stuff. Doesn't mean a relationship can work, but it doesn't mean after the break up it needs to be framed as "one person was a total failure non adult who never deserves a relationship dptf good riddance!" that is seems sometimes is how people talk about people who struggle with these issues.

I feel like part of empowering women is not JUST educating the public/men that men can and should try to work at doing these tasks- but also that women can and do sometimes have limitations with these tasks even when they are trying. It doesn't make them less equal adult human beings even if it means any particular person doesn't want to live with them.
posted by xarnop at 9:10 AM on January 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


uncleozzy: I think some people really do have blind spots about things. mrsozzy is loving and respectful, but I am coming to realize that she will never, ever close the dishwasher or push in her chair, no matter how many times I ask her to. She seems incapable of even noticing it.

Questions along the lines of how can I notice my messes? are common enough on Ask.Me that I was thinking of one but found others instead.

This is also me - I notice when things are cleaner and I like things to be cleaner, but general clutter and disorder don't bother me that much. I get distracted and leave cupboard doors open, finish washing half of the dishes then go to find more music to play and get lost on my computer. Some of this drive my wife batty, but she generally doesn't push me on this until it becomes too much for her, because with two kids and busy schedules, neither of us have time to really clean, so she has gotten better at letting it slide. But that also means cleaning takes more time, instead of keeping things tidy. I need to be better about all this, because it's not fair of me to make more work for her. And it's not that she values cleanliness above all else, it's just that messes bother her more than me, and I shouldn't do things that bother her.

In short: your wife is not unusual in this "mess blindness." The author of the article was probably one of these people, and it's not a gender thing. It's a "be considerate of things that bother your SO, and if they don't bother you, work harder to notice those things and address them so you don't stress out your SO unintentionally." (And for goodness sake, work on communicating your concerns and issues!)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:11 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the article and the insight would make more sense if it weren't a minor housework issue that he'd focused on. For instance, a thing that my partner and I have struggled with is that when he brings in the mail with him after work, I want him to put it in my inbox. I do bills and money in our house, so all the mail comes to me. But I don't want to be handed it when I'm sitting in a comfy chair reading or having a snack at the dining room table. But he will still come in and hand me the mail. I've said to him that if he can't put the mail in my inbox, he should just not bring it in. I'll get it at some point or send one of the kids out for it, but he still brings it in. I recently had a big blow-up about this because it has been YEARS of feeling unheard about this small thing about how I handle a piece of the work I've agreed to do in our relationship. I dusted my hands of and thought, "Well, surely that got the message across." But less than a week later he came in and tried to hand me the mail.

If we were co-workers, and I said, "If you have papers for me, please put them in my in-box," wouldn't he be able to do that? I think he would. So why is it not possible for him to respect my preferences in my work?

He follows me on MetaFilter, so hi, honey. I'm not trying to be passive-aggressive. I'm trying to express what seemed useful to me about this article.
posted by not that girl at 9:11 AM on January 22, 2016 [52 favorites]


he did that thing where he'd grudgingly take out the trash if I asked enough times, but he'd never put in a new bag. And he said the same thing: "If you tell me what to do, I'll do it!"

It's kind of a double bind: if you talk to a person playing this game as though they are a child who needs explicit, step-by-step instructions, then you feel like a micromanaging, infantilizing jerk. (e.g. "Please check every wastebasket in the house and remove each bag, place a new bag in the wastebasket, and collect all the separate bags in the trash barrels. Please check the indoor recycling bin and empty it into the large outdoor recycling bin. Place all the trash barrels and the large recycling bin at the curb.")

And if you make an adult request ("hey, tomorrow's trash day, could you put it at the curb") then you didn't give them enough information for them to do what you actually wanted, and so the fact that it didn't get done is your fault.
posted by theorique at 9:14 AM on January 22, 2016 [28 favorites]


But if it gets people (mostly guys, I suspect, since it's from a guy-centric point of view) thinking about the concept of emotional labor, great!
posted by rmd1023 at 9:14 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hey, not that girl's partner: Stop doing that. It's annoying. It's not just her.

:) <--- a smiley so that doesn't sound too aggressive.

But seriously, listen to her.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:15 AM on January 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Roles reversed? A glass? How about this: Women own most of the property, women make most of the laws, mostly women in military positions, mostly women police, mostly women tenured teaching positions, and now you do the dishes, too. Maybe the glass will look a little different to you.
posted by effluvia at 9:22 AM on January 22, 2016 [28 favorites]


Well, you know, the tel3mum and I both have developmental issues, it's just that mine are made worse by messy surroundings because every time my eyes light on something that's out of place, I have to make a decision about what to do about it. I've also grown up being severely shamed for my messiness (at school and so on) whereas my mother has been able to retreat to the domestic realm and tune out other people's opinions to a large extent.

Here's the thing: it's a point of contention that I never do any cooking. And I like cooking, but it takes so much time to clean the kitchen beforehand that I don't have any time or energy left to do it. And the only person that actually wants a clean kitchen is me - the tel3mum's content to work around mess and ignore it. So it's actually a peculiarity of mine that I want clean dishcloths, clean teatowels, clean handtowels, as much of the countertops as I can reasonably uncover (all the cupboards are crammed and every available surface is covered in junk and clutter) to be wiped down, the puddles of grease wiped off the stove, the dishwasher unloaded and reloaded, the hand-dishwashing done, any clean towels taken out of the dryer and folded, or any dirty dishtowels poured into the washing machine and set going, the cat dishes cleaned out and refilled and their newspaper placemats reset. I try to get all that done, plus cleaning out the litter tray, within a 30-minute timespan every morning. It all started when I started going downstairs to brush my teeth because the tel3mum is an insomniac and sleeps in the bedroom next to the bathroom; and of course I had to clean out the sink in order to do that, plus I felt terrible about not doing enough around the house anyway. But it turns out this thing I'm doing is something only I want done, and even then, it takes too long.

And then I have to repeat it throughout the day, 20 minutes a time, which soon mounts up. And the tel3mum agrees that I have more important things to do: go on! you go do your work! this'll get done! But I mean, no it won't actually get done, and anyway why should she spend time on something that's only important to me.

And the end result is that there's still a problem, because I'm no good at doing any cooking, and she went so far as to complain to visiting relatives about this and it got back to me because they talked to me about it. And the biggest bone of contention she had with me, after they left, was that she perceived that I hadn't done anything at all to contribute to hosting them because I hadn't done any cooking (she did only cook one meal for them, but it was stressful). And I let her know I was mad that she would say that when I had cleaned, and kept clean, the entire house including the kitchen, including continuous efforts the day of; hired a cleaner to scrub the ick out of the shower stall; bought all kinds of replacement shower curtains and guest towels and bedding and a new guest bed; and run out to the store at the last minute so that we'd have more than tap water and a single bottle of chianti to offer six guests. I also dragged back down to the garbage heap, the 15-year-old mattress that we'd thrown out (outside) a week earlier because she decided that my guest bed wasn't good enough and they'd obviously prefer a mattress that had been outside in the wind and the rain for a week.

Well, she conceded that I did have a point and she was glad I'd answered her back. Because up until then it really had seemed to her like I hadn't lifted a finger.

She still doesn't like that I don't cook, but staying organized and doing self-care are hugely effortful for me too and, just as it never became automatic for me to just get up and brush my teeth at the same time every morning, it's never been automatic for her. And now she's old, and also has ADHD which, unlike mine, was never treated.

So, since we respect each other on a fundamental level, we can work this stuff out *even if* we never quite come to terms with actually doing the thing the other one wants us to do. I mean, I know she is never going to see the value of a clean kitchen and wouldn't be able to keep it clean if she did. She knows I'm probably not going to get my act together to cook any time soon. We're OK though.
posted by tel3path at 9:35 AM on January 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


Oh and regarding That Glass: the tel3mum is also one for drinking from the same glass all day, so I have explicit instructions not to touch the glass that she leaves next to the sink.

The problem is distinguishing That Glass from the other three half-full glasses that are also next to the sink and the 27 half-full glasses that are distributed throughout the house, as well as the plates and half-empty coffee cups that are sitting on the piano lid. THE PIANO LID

I'm trying to clean, and it clutters up my mental space when I'm looking around for the next thing to put away and it's "that glass- no, don't, it's That Glass - is it That Glass? or is that the one by the sink - yes, take that one" and I do that and I come back into the room and 15 various and sundry dirty dishes have materialized in my sightline in the interim, like one of those hidden object games.

Dollars to doughnuts the one glass is not even just one glass!
posted by tel3path at 9:43 AM on January 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Whenever I read these things, what I really want to know -- and usually don't find out -- is how it all worked out. You ultimately judge actions by their consequences not their motivations.

Did she get what she wanted from the divorce -- a fair financial settlement, and a new partner who was neater / more conscientious around the house, and at least as attractive in other respects? Did he ultimately suffer as a result of the divorce or does he have a more tolerant and more attractive partner? Etc.
posted by MattD at 9:44 AM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


And wow, imagine the essay from the wife.
posted by littlewater at 9:46 AM on January 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Did he ultimately suffer as a result of the divorce or does he have a more tolerant and more attractive partner?

I, uh. Hmm.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:47 AM on January 22, 2016 [24 favorites]


My goodness tel3path, our mothers are identical twins, separated at birth.
You need to move.

For both my mum and I, things have gotten much better after we got a distance - and I stopped trying to change her.
posted by mumimor at 9:49 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised more people didn't bring up this bit of awesome:

Men invented heavy machines that can fly in the air reliably and safely. Men proved the heliocentric model of the solar system, establishing that the Earth orbits the Sun. Men design and build skyscrapers, and take hearts and other human organs from dead people and replace the corresponding failing organs inside of living people, and then those people stay alive afterward. Which is insane.


I mean that's some straight up gross stuff, adjacent to "white people created society, everyone else would be living in huts" nonsense.
posted by sweetkid at 9:51 AM on January 22, 2016 [47 favorites]


Whenever I read these things, what I really want to know -- and usually don't find out -- is how it all worked out. You ultimately judge actions by their consequences not their motivations.

Did she get what she wanted from the divorce -- a fair financial settlement, and a new partner who was neater / more conscientious around the house, and at least as attractive in other respects? Did he ultimately suffer as a result of the divorce Etc.


This doesn't even make any sense. What, so if he didn't suffer after, or if she is now single and blissfully free of his bullshit instead of remarried... she shouldn't have divorced him?

or does he have a more tolerant and more attractive partner?

LOL.

The awfulness of this framing aside, people who are now in happy relationships with "tolerant and more attractive partners" usually don't write quasi-bitter therapy blogs about how they're trying to be less of a douche since their divorces.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:51 AM on January 22, 2016 [23 favorites]


Yeah my mom and I found a way to work it out. Basically I focus on addressing health hazards (actual food stuffs left out) and making sure even if dishes are out they are at least rinsed. Over time we found compromises, she tries not to get angry if I come over and there's a dish out and cabinets open. I do think the assumption that the person with the issue has to be able to fix it and if they can't they just don't care (rather than at least considering they genuinely struggle with it and may be doing better than what it would look like if they were ACTUALLY not trying at all.)

I feel like I spend all of my life cleaning and I can never get it all clean and it's heartbreaking when I clean and clean to make it pretty for my mom and she comes over and sees one dish out and a pile of clutter on the table I hadn't sorted and says I don't try at all not knowing I try so hard to make her happy. I've just had to learn to accept I will always fail her and she will always slightly suspect it's because I don't care. And just, pep talk myself out of thinking I am a piece of shit who just doesn't care about people and doesn't deserve to ever have relationships until I can be perfect at this. I will not be, even with therapy and medical interventions I've tried the problem is too severe and the level of organization I've got to I'm so proud of even though it would fail most people's standards.

Standards and abilities around chores and household duties really can break a relationship, and sometimes not because one person just doesn't care, but it's just not a good match. I think there IS a real issue that some people haven't put forth any effort, I just sometimes wonder if "Trying" is different amounts of difficult for different people male or female. It's always ok to break up with someone if their needs or preferences are making you miserable whether or not it's a disability, but whether it's a disability might change how you talk about them later and how we as a culture or community frame people who struggle with these things.
posted by xarnop at 9:52 AM on January 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yes, littlewater! Every time I see something like this I can't help but think, "god, how would the other party describe this?"

Ex-wife, if you see this I would gladly contribute funds to commission a piece from your side of the story. Maybe it could list some things women invented or list the names of one or two female heart surgeons.
posted by betsybetsy at 9:54 AM on January 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


The gendering is a bit annoying, and my husband is the one who steals my drinking glasses and coffee cups, but overall, that sort of thing is often gendered. But it's because of socialization, not evolutionary psychology or anything like that.

Girls are socialized for maintenance and caregiving roles much moreso than boys are, and boys are also socialized not to listen to girls and women.

And it sort of drives me nuts when I hear men complaining about their wives and girlfriends being passive aggressive or 'giving them the silent treatment,' because I know your wives and girlfriends. They are my friends and we talk and I have had many different women tell me this exact story: The men they live with expect them to do all the cooking and cleaning and appointment making and all the other life maintenance stuff, and they consider it some big favor when they help out with any of that. But the women have to remind them every single time. And when women are reminding you to do things, that is called nagging. The men call it that and complain about it. Most women don't like to nag, and don't want to see themselves as nags. So eventually, they stop nagging and that's when they get accused of passive aggression. A woman I worked with, after having given up reminding her less-employed husband to do the dishes, ate off of paper towels for something like a week just hoping he'd eventually notice on his own. That was really really passive aggressive. She wasn't some sort of ridiculous bitch for doing it, though. She was just worn all the way down.

So every time I see some dude talking about his silly wive who won't discuss things rationally, being passive aggressive or nagging him all the time, I figure there's at least an 80% chance that that is the actual dynamic. Their wives probably DID explain these things to them plenty of times, but the man is incapable of listening to what women--even the women they are voluntarily sharing their lives with--have told them.

This is what grownups do: Grownups, when they decide to live together, discuss all these seemingly insignificant lifestyle things and come to agreements and compromises. And everyone's is different. I know this sounds facile, but it's totally normal for different households to have different rules and different standards. It's not a public policy issue, where everyone debates and decides which is the correct way to live or anything like that. (I know it sounds silly to point out, but a lot of people dig in so hard on their lifestyle choices that they feel the need to argue with random strangers about theirs.)
posted by ernielundquist at 9:55 AM on January 22, 2016 [31 favorites]


Haha. I can't move. I can't afford to cuz I keep spending all my money on shoes. The tel3mum is very long suffering about this.

So it all cuts both ways really!

Also, I'm pretty sure we like each other. Shoes and all, dirty dishes and all.
posted by tel3path at 9:55 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised more people didn't bring up this bit of awesome:

I didn't quote it specifically, but that was where I went from reading to side-eye to full on halt. I think I made it 1/2 a paragraph past that before I cashed it in.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:59 AM on January 22, 2016


and also if I moved, six weeks later i would come back to visit and i would hear a teeny collective "heave... ho!" sound and I would look down and it would be the family home being lifted up and carried away by ants.
posted by tel3path at 9:59 AM on January 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


WITH MY SHOE COLLECTION INSIDE
posted by tel3path at 9:59 AM on January 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


The comments on the article are full of how differently wired men and women are - and then when the "wiring" about brains argument is challenged, it's about estrogen and testosterone.

I can't - I can't anymore with the brain crap.
posted by sweetkid at 10:02 AM on January 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


ok im finally reading it and coincidentally i have just arrived home from my endoscopy and my constant hilariously explosive farting feels like the best possible accompaniment to this article
posted by poffin boffin at 10:03 AM on January 22, 2016 [43 favorites]


Anyone would think that being a neurotypical male was more disabling than having actual neurodisabilities.

This is why I don't date much - I actively avoid guys who come out with the "I'm a bloke, so I can't do the [thing I am routinely expected to do because I'm female, even though by definition I'm disabled in this area, YET STILL USUALLY MANAGE TO DO IT]".

Bad enough carrying out executive functions for one person - I'm not going to take on some guy's executive functions too!
posted by tel3path at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


i feel like clicking around on his site a little gives a glimpse into him and his followers and it's not surprising that he wrote something full of evo-psych and gender essentialism.
posted by nadawi at 10:07 AM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


i feel like clicking around on his site a little gives a glimpse into him and his followers and it's not surprising that he wrote something full of evo-psych and gender essentialism.

It's so frustrating! Because if he could just drop that stuff it really does seem like this guy could start to Get It. The most current post is a great example, because in just one essay he is both like:

HONESTLY, GUYS: ACCEPT THAT SHE IS SMART AND MEANS WHAT SHE SAYS

and

6. Wife’s Stories Boring You? Listen Anyway.

He's so wedded to the damaging essentialist bullshit that he can't even see where it's making him internally consistent within a few sentences.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:15 AM on January 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


internally inconsistent sorry obviously blinded by rage.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:20 AM on January 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


he also thinks he's found the holy grail and can now start passing that wisdom out to others : Sobbing wives write me all the time, desperate for answers. “I just read your posts and cried all the way through. Thank you for understanding me. How is it that you seem to get it but my husband can’t?”

...i mean...
posted by nadawi at 10:25 AM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


and then all the wives stood up and applauded!
posted by poffin boffin at 10:25 AM on January 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


It also grosses me out that there seems to be this underlying effort to obtain forgiveness and approval from women who get to stand in for his ex-wife and absolve him of all these Terrible Mistakes he is Bravely Confessing.
posted by prefpara at 10:37 AM on January 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


I was wondering what it would be like to be his ex wife and know that he is constantly blogging about you.
posted by Area Man at 10:41 AM on January 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


If we were co-workers, and I said, "If you have papers for me, please put them in my in-box," wouldn't he be able to do that? I think he would. So why is it not possible for him to respect my preferences in my work?

This was what finally got through to my partner, when after a really rocky period, I asked, "Why is it that you treat me in ways you would never dream of treating your coworkers? Why do they get the best of you and I get to be the target of your stress and frustration? What do you think I think of someone who claims to 'love' someone else but treats them with less courtesy and cheer than their most hated coworker?"

This was a helpful wake-up call to my partner: Your loved ones can be the "safe" people to whom you show your worst sides and they still love you, but that is not the same thing as having a license to be your worst self without consequence. And there are consequences other than "my job could suffer." I think some people have been socialized to diminish these consequences.
posted by sobell at 10:42 AM on January 22, 2016 [61 favorites]


It's always puzzling to me that people are still using passive-aggressive as a slur against women, as if we have a ton of other options. "Hmmm, what do I want to be branded as today? A controlling bitch, a fucking nag or passive-aggressive?" Once I've gotten to this point with a man, it's because I've already asked multiple times if he could [whatever], he has continued to ignore my repeated requests and it's come down to this exact kind of internal monologue.

One the one hand I could continue to ask him nicely in the hope that maybe the fifth or tenth time's the charm; OR I could just fucking do it myself, which is a hell of a lot easier than me trying to hold his hand and gently guide him through the learning process of showing respect to others by doing basic things (and why it matters). Figuring out a way to do it on my own is almost always easier, quicker, less time-consuming and less emotionally draining.

My reward for that? I get called passive-aggressive. Which is better than being a controlling bitch, I guess.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:42 AM on January 22, 2016 [43 favorites]


David leaves all dishes in the sink, unrinsed. I can't work in the kitchen with a sink full of crap. I load the dishwasher, and subvocalize, "What the HELL is wrong with you?" Finally, after a dozen years of marriage, I say neutrally, "Honey, when you leave your dishes, it makes me feel like the maid." He was so upset and hurt! It didn't bother him at all that I'd been cleaning up after him throughout our entire relationship. But now that I've said it in a way that made an impression on him, he usually takes care of his own dishes, or if he realizes that he's left dishes in there, tells me to leave them and he will take care of it. Sometimes I do, but sometimes I need the fucking sink.

Believe it or not, I'm taking this as an improvement. If I ever do divorce him, it will be over the Second Amendment.
posted by corvikate at 10:43 AM on January 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Too bad about the silly framing.

I'm fairly certain my wife and I could come up with a laundry list of household disagreements and "unfair" labor splits and things we don't care about nearly in the same scale as the other person. It makes things bumpy and hopefully we survive it, but remove the gender pandering and recognize that yes - in a relationship - it's important to recognize what's important for your partner and work to acknowledge that and vice versa. Equally important - recognize that failures to the first part don't mean that people are awful and irrational or emotionally stunted. Just people.

I totally do the thing where I can remember wee tiny little details of writing/brewing/cooking advice, but can't remember what she's asked me to do. I feel terrible about it.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:46 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Agree about the gender problems with his story, but I think it's a worthwhile article just for this:

when I leave that glass there, it hurts her— literally causes her pain—because it feels to her like I just said: “Hey. I don’t respect you or value your thoughts and opinions. Not taking four seconds to put my glass in the dishwasher is more important to me than you are.”

The thing that's helped me most in my married life has been this book, which I initially scoffed at (and still feel kind of silly mentioning). But it hammered home two points for me:

1. Different people (regardless of gender) have different needs and priorities.
2. When you demonstrate love, are you doing it for the person you love, or are you really doing it for yourself?

I don't care about dishes in the sink, and like this guy I never will. Moreover, doing the dishes doesn't feel at all like an act of love. But to my wife it does, and if I actually love her, shouldn't that be all that matters?
posted by bjrubble at 10:52 AM on January 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


I load the dishwasher, and subvocalize, "What the HELL is wrong with you?"

If you're upset about something, you need to communicate. Subvocalizing is not communication.
posted by Lucinda at 10:54 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you're upset about something, you need to communicate. Subvocalizing is not communication.

It is, however, a normal coping mechanism when decades of attempts to clearly communicate have been fruitless and painful. Communication doesn't work when the other person is actively refusing to listen.

When all prior attempts to vocalize have been treated as meaningless silence or "nagging", then subvocalizing is not a surprising result. I think a lot about how much emotional labor I expend on biting my tongue, telling myself that there is clearly no point to speaking up.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:00 AM on January 22, 2016 [41 favorites]


At the same time as I'm eyerolling this dude I am also realizing that during the last Discussion Of the Dishes at casa Hardcheese I had a pretty wide-open window for expressing the emotional needs and priorities behind my philosophy of "Dishes are done before bed" and I did not take it, opting instead to be vaguely irritated by the situation for the rest of the day. I don't really have the excuse of "attempts to communicate are generally fruitless" to fall back on, either. So, you know. Motes and beams and shit.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:02 AM on January 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


It is, however, a normal coping mechanism when decades of attempts to clearly communicate have been fruitless and painful.

But if there was no previous attempt, just years and years of bitching under one's breath until "finally" you say something to the other person, you can't blame the other person for not picking up on it.
posted by Lucinda at 11:05 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, but you can blame them for assuming that someone else should do all their dishes.
posted by Frowner at 11:06 AM on January 22, 2016 [38 favorites]


You can't solve decades of miscommunication / non-communication with one conversation. Time for therapy. Let the healing begin!
posted by theorique at 11:08 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


You know, I was kind of okay with this essay initially. Like others mention upthread, all the things he says aren't great but people have to start somewhere. Then I started looking at other things he's posted on his site and, no, I really don't think he gets it.

A few days after writing the essay linked in the OP about how enlightened he is, he's right back to proselytizing about what women universally want, expect, need, and all kinds of other crap. He paints women as requiring emotional intimacy in order to have sex (we all do? no, go on tell me more) "because they are wired that way" (there's that word again) while not-so-subtely suggesting that it's a woman's fault if her husband has an affair because "sex is very important to a husband" and "accomplishes many things for him."

Here's my favorite part: "So, she’s craving emotional connection, but he’s not connecting emotionally. In fact, he’s withdrawing because she has cut off his sex supply, which feels like prison since he promised never to sleep with anyone else."

See, women, all you need to do to keep a relationship on course is make sure his penis stays out of prison.

When things go south, he says, women will go find another man who makes her feel wanted (oh really, we will?) and men will have meaningless affairs because they feel physically abandoned. That is, if he's not "jerking off to internet porn to feel satisfied" or "flirting with someone at work to feel desired." But he can't help it. It's because he's "chemically and emotionally disconnected from his wife."

At this point, many people here might suggest he open his mouth and use actual words to discuss the situation with his wife. But, no, he can't. Because you see, "even though he seems like part ape, he actually craves emotional connection, too. He’s just weird and man-ish and doesn’t verbalize it effectively."

So let me get this straight. Women should shut up and put out to keep their husbands from straying. Men, on the other hand, can't be expected to speak actual words or take an active role in addressing their part of a relationship's problems. No, what they need to do instead is make sure she feels "cherished, respected and validated, so that she can feel emotionally connected, so that it feels good to have sex." That's a half step up from the guys who believe buying dinner should make a woman's skirt fall off.

This is some male entitlement bullshit right here. There are mere days between these two essays, not months or years that would demonstrate a journey of growth or clarity. I feel like the link in the OP is nothing more than this guy trying to visibly arrange his male feminist playing cards so he looks attractive to a larger pool of women.

Before my head completely explodes, I'll leave you with this gem.

"And if she just understood that when he absent-mindedly left the toilet seat up, there was no disrespect or malice in the action; and if he just understood that taking whatever life steps are necessary to NEVER leave the toilet seat up will help his wife feel emotionally connected, which will then improve his physical relationship, creating a cycle of fostered love and connection rather than a slow descent into divorce and shittiness; millions of people’s lives would benefit from all the good that comes from great marriages, and from the elimination of all the bad that comes from divorce."

Yes, women, if we just understood.
posted by _Mona_ at 11:14 AM on January 22, 2016 [30 favorites]


Some people are “pile everything up on the worktop until it’s time to run the dishwasher” people, others are “everything goes straight in the dishwasher” people. Being one of the former group doesn’t mean you expect someone else to fill the dishwasher, just that you disagree about the timing. Either way is a perfectly reasonable way to be.

*But*: if you have a preference & your partner ignores it for years (or alternatively you ignore your partner’s preference for years) then maybe that’s symptomatic of a wider problem in your relationship & is something you ought to talk about before it festers into seething resentment.

Or at least, that’s how I read this article. Other people up-thread seem to have read very different things into it.
posted by pharm at 11:16 AM on January 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


He paints women as requiring emotional intimacy in order to have sex (we all do? no, go on tell me more) "because they are wired that way" (there's that word again) while not-so-subtely suggesting that it's a woman's fault if her husband has an affair because "sex is very important to a husband" and "accomplishes many things for him."

construction of the wicker man shall begin immediately
posted by poffin boffin at 11:18 AM on January 22, 2016 [21 favorites]


"accomplishes many things for him."

Like . . . . . what? Cleans the car? Unclogs the drain? Builds IKEA furniture? Finds the remote? Teaches him piano? So confused . . . . .
posted by soundguy99 at 11:31 AM on January 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


I am mistrustful of arguments against routinely doing some easy mundane task. My partner never turns off lights when he leaves a room, and it bugs me. It takes basically no time to turn off the light as one leaves a room in our house - the switch is right next to the door, where you are going anyway! It would be one thing if he was like 'Whoops, I forgot - next time!', but instead I get to listen to another round of 'This is an unimportant and irrational request. What if I was coming right back to the room? This is barely saving any energy, what do five minutes matter? If this is so important to you, then you do it.'

Yeah, bro, word - it totally makes more sense for me to follow you around the house making sure that you're not actively costing us money because you refuse to move your finger toward the switch as you leave a room. Because you totally only leave the lights on when you intend on coming right back, and there has never been a time you left the lights on in an empty room for literally hours (see: yesterday, the baby's room). There is nothing more rational than using fossil fuels that we pay for in order to prevent that dread finger lifting, which is free.

Imagine the energy spent arguing against turning off a damn light switch, one of the easiest things to do in the WORLD. Imagine how lazy a person must seem when they argue against turning lights off. (Imagine also that this argument comes from a man whose primary argument against air conditioning is the energy used. Then come to my house and IMAGINE NO MORE!)

What I'm trying to say is that, for me, this dude's constant reminders that caring about when to put a glass in the dishwasher really is pretty stupid fatally undermined whatever else he was trying to say.
posted by palindromic at 11:36 AM on January 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


Wow, soundguy99, I think I've only heard two of those euphemisms before.
posted by straight at 11:37 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's like he is slowly and haltingly figuring out how to perform feminism, instead of understanding feminism or becoming feminist.
posted by prefpara at 11:42 AM on January 22, 2016 [23 favorites]


Hey, baby, I think it's time to build a flatpack bookshelf if you know what I mean, nudge nudge wink wink.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:43 AM on January 22, 2016


A lot of objections to (apparently) minor things emerge from assertions of autonomy and agency, and resistance to being made wrong. Which are very big emotional issues and not minor things at all.

It's pretty remarkable how these "dumb little household chores" are actually entry points into very big issues of personhood and identity. It's important for people to work on their baggage and make an effort to prevent it from leaking into their important relationships.
posted by theorique at 11:43 AM on January 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


Holden: The glass lays by the sink, waiting to go into the dishwasher. But it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping.
Leon: [angry at the suggestion] What do you mean, I'm not helping?
Holden: I mean: you're not helping! Why is that, Leon?
[Leon has become visibly shaken]
posted by Green With You at 11:50 AM on January 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


Being one of the former group doesn’t mean you expect someone else to fill the dishwasher, just that you disagree about the timing.

But it does. There's nothing inherently wrong with being a person who is fine with letting everything pile up before loading. But if I've asked you to please try to load as you go and you don't do it, that means I have to do it because I need the space in the sink to rinse veggies (or whatever). So effectively, you do expect me to load it. You may not (and probably not) have consciously made this decision, but if I end up doing it because you don't then I'm not sure if your intentions matter, if the end result is the same to me either way.

That's a big part of the problem and goes back to the very first comment in this thread:

What on earth? He will never stop leaving glasses by the sink because he doesn't care about glasses being left by the sink?

How exactly does he think dishes get washed?


Just because you don't want to do things, doesn't mean it's not an issue anymore; it's just not your issue, so it becomes invisible to you. The loading of the dishwasher, taking out the trash, wiping off the counter, rinsing out the sink, wiping grubby hand prints from cabinets - these things don't just happen, places aren't just magically clean and tidy by default. If you're not doing it, it means someone else is and people need to realize this. It's not just about the dish on the counter, it's a million of these little things that are ignored by you that add up to a huge burden on me. It's death by a thousand paper cuts.

(Obviously I'm using "you" universally and not you specifically. I'm sure you specifically are a very nice person.)
posted by triggerfinger at 11:58 AM on January 22, 2016 [20 favorites]


This post is like "the dress": Everyone sees something different and no one is objectively right or wrong.
Many times, marital relationships exhibit the same tendencies.
posted by melman at 12:01 PM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Re: "the Dress" comment above: Well, if *I* can't be right and get *my* way, I am only willing to compromise that we both have to be wrong.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 12:05 PM on January 22, 2016


> construction of the wicker man shall begin immediately

Don't worry I've got a spare right here. Someone bring the torches.
posted by rtha at 12:17 PM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


"The loading of the dishwasher, taking out the trash, wiping off the counter, rinsing out the sink, wiping grubby hand prints from cabinets - these things don't just happen, places aren't just magically clean and tidy by default. If you're not doing it, it means someone else is and people need to realize this."

This is really not at all true. When I live alone, and I currently do, no one else does these things for me. I thank the gods I don't have anyone else living with me to make me feel like I am a horrible human being and deliberately uncaring because I am not able to do these things as often as they want me to. I was reading about how women diagnosed with adhd and chronic disorganization are often so shamed they feel they deserve abusive relationships-- for me I felt like I belonged there being mistreated and screamed at and told I was worthless and if he did everything he wanted he would have killed me a long time ago and no one could ever loved me.

I believed him because I hear my whole life people saying the things your saying and internalize them and believe them. And for anyone else who feels like shit over this, worthless, like it's proof they don't care or love people around them because they can't meet these timelines or keep up with things I want them to hear an alternative so they don't get abused and believe they deserve it. Live alone if you have to and certainly try not to hurt others with your diffulty but don't let anyone make you believe it's because you don't care or you're less of a human being or you aren't trying.

We are not worthless. We don't not care. We are not trying to harm anyone. At least not all of us who struggle with this.
posted by xarnop at 12:19 PM on January 22, 2016 [15 favorites]


But it does...(explanation of why it might matter to someone & how annoying & belittling it would be if, even when asked, someone continues to leave stuff to pile up upon the worktop.)

Um. Isn’t that pretty much what I said in my second paragraph?

I kind of feel that triggerfinger (& shakesperian right at the top) are reading some thing *completely* different than the things I am. Am I the only one? To me, shakesperian’s comment right at the top is such a complete misreading of the original blogpost that I can’t even engage with it - it’s so obviously wrong to me that I’m not able to conceive of how one could read the original article & think that that was what the author meant.
posted by pharm at 12:28 PM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I thought the writer really got it, until "Caring about her = thoughtfully not tracking dirt or whatever on the floor she worked hard to clean." How about, cleaning the floor yourself? How about, agreeing on what is a reasonably clean house and an equitable division of labor to maintain it?
posted by JawnBigboote at 12:30 PM on January 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


And my wife will look up and shout, "Put your glasses in the sink!"

And I'll look down and whisper, "No."
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 12:31 PM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I just realized I'm having this same issue at work over documentation (and structuring the database, and technical debt). There's lip service that it's important, but no one writes it, or writes it very badly. I care, deeply, but if no one else cares enough to make an effort, I'm not going to either.
posted by JawnBigboote at 12:37 PM on January 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is really not at all true. When I live alone, and I currently do, no one else does these things for me

I would suggest, though, that living alone is a different situation, partly because there's no reason for one not to let the place attain to whatever level of mess or cleanliness one likes, and partly because one person just doesn't make things as dirty. When I lived by myself, for instance, I didn't actually clean the bathroom super often - I lived in a nice place on a quiet street, not dusty, and it was easy to deep-clean when you did clean it. Now that I live with two or three other people, our bathroom needs a lot more cleaning, and things like handprints on the doorframe or crumbs on the counter build up a LOT faster. I think that if someone is living in a shared situation and actually can't wipe down the counters or clean the toilet, it is reasonable to expect that some figuring-it-out process be undertaken rather than assume that it's just weird high standards to expect the doorframes to be cleaned and the refrigerator to be free of drips.
posted by Frowner at 12:39 PM on January 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


I was the man in the post recently enough that reading it was like "hey, dude, nice, that is a big realization to come to. But, uh, you have some kind of messed up conclusions and feelings still" and also "I really owe my wife for not divorcing me."

I was the man in the post recently enough that reading this thread was like "oh god, it stings" and also "I really owe my wife for not divorcing me."

I know where that guy is, and I know the wave of future realizations (hopefully) ahead of him, all as difficult and painful as this one (though hopefully he learns quicker now). I know a TON of guys who are where he is, or not even there yet. They are all going to keep saying things like "I'm sorry" and "I'm trying" and "Ok, but give me another chance, I promise next time..." and our SOs are so fed up with that shit that they don't want an apology or a promise and the guys aren't going to understand why their SO doesn't want an apology or a promise to do better (I didn't for a long time).

And getting to the point where that dude is now, it's like defeating a monster in one on one combat. A thing which you did not understand, you finally understood in a way that allowed you to defeat it. Except, you only thought that was the case, because you cut it into 10 pieces with your sword and all 10 just grew legs and arms and stood up and came at you. And you know what the next camera shot is? If you manage to put down all 10 little monsters, you walk up the hill and crest it and see the Emotional Labor thread battlefield littered with thousands of the little monsters.

But by now hopefully you (I) have grown enough that, while daunting, the challenge seems necessary and important, even while you question your ability to overcome it. You stop making excuses, you stop saying "but WHY is it like that?" and you toughen up and learn to accept criticism as deserved.

(and you're still terrified to post in this thread, and mostly just want to apologize to your SO again, and to everyone on the wrong end of a childish SO who has posted so emotionally on metafilter that you really owe like all of them a beer and a thank you)
posted by jermsplan at 12:44 PM on January 22, 2016 [23 favorites]


The housecleaning in my marriage tended to be an occasional problem; Mr. logical does a lovely, thorough job of cleaning the kitchen when he does it, but on a day-to-day basis tends to forget that there is no magic Cleanliness Fairy that visits and makes sure we have clean plates for dinner, and I hate feeling like either his nagging mom (where I have to badger him for days before something gets done) or the maid (where I just do it all so that it gets done, but resent the hell out of it and tend to let it build up as a result.) We came to the gradual compromise that housecleaning for planned guests is mandatory and mostly his job, so I handle most of the day-to-day crap and then every three weeks or so we have friends over, and he knows it's his turn to do a thorough clean without me being a nag.

Works for us, anyway.
posted by tautological at 12:44 PM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


"I think that if someone is living in a shared situation and actually can't wipe down the counters or clean the toilet, it is reasonable to expect that some figuring-it-out process be undertaken rather than assume that it's just weird high standards to expect the doorframes to be cleaned and the refrigerator to be free of drips."

I agree with that. I just assume I will never be able to live with anyone. I can assure you if it were as easy as "just do it" or even "just do all the therapy and medicine and you can achieve normal functioning!" then I would have got there by now.

I am happy to be no longer having panic attacks and dissociation that leave me in the mental hospital and crippling pain that leaves my unable to even stand up let alone put away the dishes. I have achieved a lot of things that have been so hard and if the cleaning isn't where others like, that's ok with me. I have a stable mood and feel pretty good most of the time even with some limitation and that has taken years of effort and therapy and professional help. I just don't like it when people make sweeping judgments about how if people just try they can do it.

For some, or most people if they just try they can do it, some people with help they can do it... some people need a LOT of help, or maybe at some point in time, they can be understood even if they just struggle with it and can't modify themselves to be what everyone wants.
posted by xarnop at 12:44 PM on January 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm with shakesperian- I really want to know if this guy ever does the dishes. He says that he will never care about putting the glass in the dishwasher. So if his partner wasn't there, would the glass ever get washed (I guess if company was coming over?).

He refers to a singular glass- did they have more than one? If they did and his partner didn't put it in the dishwasher, would the glasses keep piling up by the sink?

I totally get the "use one glass until it really needs to be washed" and I do that but if I'm going to reuse it I don't leave it by the sink. In fact, I keep it very far from the sink to avoid any confusion.

Maybe he fills the glass at the sink, drinks it down, and then puts it down next to the sink for next time. If that's the case, then the problem is him not communicating that he'll use it again or his partner has a different philosophy on glass usage (once used, it needs to be washed presumably).

I just have so many questions about the mechanics of this that are unanswered in the post.

I do agree with his central thesis though- if someone you love asks you to do something that's totally easy for you to do and you don't do it, you are not respecting them. Where he loses me is when he brings gender into it.
posted by betsybetsy at 1:04 PM on January 22, 2016


Sure, xarnop, the thing is this article is written by an apparently neurotypical male who probably has much more capacity to take responsibility for housekeeping than you do. His problem is that he's been socialized to presume that it's not his responsibility to keep the house clean, nor *by extension* to be considerate of others' feelings, even when that other is his wife. Or especially not, since he still assumes men and women have radically different emotions and priorities.

It is progress that he's apparently realized he doesn't need to understand (why a glass should go in the dishwasher) before he accepts (his wife's deep emotional need for glasses to go in dishwashers). But his basic problem seems to be immaturity, yet he's blaming it on neurology.

Neurology is OUR excuse, dammit! Immature Guy is NOT allowed to use it. Especially when we try harder than he does!
posted by tel3path at 1:06 PM on January 22, 2016 [21 favorites]


During university, I lived in a co-ed dorm, and this guy and me were the only people out of 15 who felt the need for cleaning our kitchen and bath (originally there had been staff, but they were fired). He was really angry, but I convinced him that we were just cleaning up for ourselves. And the others had other virtues. For instance, my meal-planning was very boring, and I loved it when one of the no cleaning people cooked a traditional meal. Or when the Japanese guy cooked traditional food from his region.

To this day, I keep a professional grade kitchen. But the rest of my home is a mess. We all have different priorities, and every couple needs to negotiate this.

I get a sense that this guy never ever thought about how their home was organized, and basically treated his wife as a servant.

Now he has realized that she is probably not a servant, and maybe has her own ideas about mariage and they don't fit with his ignorance.
posted by mumimor at 1:08 PM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I agree tel3path!!! I think without meaning to, a lot of the attempts to hold him accountable calling him a child or not adult can sting for those of us who really struggle, so I hope we can approach this much needed issue of asking guys who are perfectly capable to value doing a lot more of this kind of work without shaming people who really have a difficulty with it or calling them less adult or deliberately hurtful.

I think we can achieve that!
posted by xarnop at 1:10 PM on January 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


I've burned an inordinate amount of time today clicking through other posts on the author's site, trying to get a feel for why "maybe don't have your wife do all the emotional and mental labor in a relationship!" is presented like rocket surgery.

My only takeaway so far: I really feel for his ex-wife. I can't even imagine what it would be like to have my ex-partner build an online presence and a body of work around obsessing over all the ways he failed the relationship.

By all signs and indications, she made a swift, clean and decisive break, and the oddball references in different "open letters to shitty husbands" and divorce postmortems seem to indicate that the ex-wife is visibly more content with her life and may even have a new partner who makes her very happy. And this is sort of killing the author that a) she is not in pain like he is, and b) some other man is doing something he could not.

I hope this woman has erected very strong boundaries around how she communicates with her ex regarding coordinating custody. It's bad enough to have her ex going on and on about how much pain he's in from his previous bad behavior choices; imagine getting an earful every time you dropped off or picked up your child.
posted by sobell at 1:12 PM on January 22, 2016 [26 favorites]


xarnop - the thing is, this doesn't really change when one or more people in the household have disabilities because the discussion isn't about what you are Unable to do, it's about what people are Unwilling to do or just Don't Notice. It's not really about things you're not capable of - if you're not capable of cleaning, and your partner went into the relationship knowing you're disabled, that is an entirely different conversation.

Unable is a different conversation. So with Current Partner, the conversation goes (paraphrased)

(thing I am unable to do)
Me: CP, I am unable to clean the toilet, looking at toilet bowls makes me vomit.
CP: Okay, I can do that. You shouldn't have to do a chore that makes you barf.

(thing CP is unable to do)
CP: Frito, I cannot touch raw meat, my skin crawls and I risk a panic issue.
Me: Okay, I can cut up raw meat when we're cooking.

(note the lack of discussion, exchange, favors in return, etc. This is because when someone you love has a disability you just take on the shit they can't do. )

However, when it becomes not an issue of disability but just an issue of awareness, social conditioning and maybe gender roles...

(thing I want my partner to do to take burdens off me)
Me: CP, what is with you just not having any awareness that the diaper pail is full and needs to go out, you change the kid's diaper before you go to work. I know you can do this, because you took out your own trash before I moved in and before we had a kid.
CP: Oh shit, yes, I should be more aware of that. I'll set a phone reminder.

CP:Can you remember to not leave your wet towels all over the place, because ugh, wet towels. I know you're capable of this, because you remember to do it about a quarter of the time.
Me: Yes, that's a bad habit of mine, I'll put a post-it note on the mirror in the bathroom.

I mean, tbh, idgaf about the towels but it makes him happy to not have them all over, and I am perfectly capable of putting them away. And he's tired in the morning and doesn't think about the diaper pail but it's far easier for him to do it than me.

-

I have ADHD. I have an ex-partner who abused me because I struggled with capability, because I had no good coping mechanisms, and wasn't medicating or in therapy. I internalized all the "you're worthless because you don't remember to pick up wet towels."things he said, and it took 15 years of therapy to get out of that, only to have it pop right back up this last month when I had to go off meds for 3 weeks.

But

The conversations are radically different when disability comes into play. My current partner doesn't give me crap for my blizzard of post-it notes all over the house, or my use of endless to do lists and reminder apps, even if the noises are annoying. I don't give my partner crap for needing to take a minute to steel himself to deal with baby poop or when he has a day where he has to lie down in the dark with a migraine. "I can't" and "I don't care to." aren't the same at all.

I can't clean a toilet.
I don't care to deal with wet towels.
I can't organize without to do lists
I don't care to write a grocery list, I prefer to wing it.
I can't function without somehow medicating my ADHD
I don't care to wear socks to bed no matter how cold my toes are.

If you are Unable to Clean, you get Help. If you are unwilling to clean, you work at it. If there's overlap between the two, you do what you can, and a good partner should be willing to listen and believe you about disability and not belittle you for things you cannot control. But if you can control those things, because the issue isn't disability but is just social conditioning or a difference in tastes, that's where even more communication comes in.
posted by FritoKAL at 1:50 PM on January 22, 2016 [16 favorites]


wait wait wait

let me get this straight

there are people who can't be bothered to put things into or take things out of the dishwasher? The machine that saves you like 90% of the annoying work involved in cleaning dishes? I've wanted a dishwasher for years and some people have that and they still just can't be bothered?

And I guess that's one point where it feels like a metaphor for the relationship itself, maybe. Some people are alone and desperately want to be with someone who loves them, and some people have a relationship but can't be bothered to appreciate it.
posted by clockzero at 2:09 PM on January 22, 2016 [24 favorites]


And the difference between a partner who understands disability and one who doesn't is that when I did have to go off meds for 3 weeks, my CP jumped on all the things I suddenly couldn't handle, or said "You know what, fuck the laundry, we'll get it once you're well again, you handle the things you can and I will pick up as much of the rest as I am capable and as long as we're clean, the kid is clean and we're all fed and I go to work, we're fine, we'll figure out solutions together." and now we have like a 300 email convo where we're figuring it out because it became a great way to actually figure out our emotional labor and physical labor balance.

As opposed to Mantroll who just threw up his hands and stood around all Arms Akimbo and gave up, or EvilEx who you know, threw cat poop at me.


===

also a quote from the email convo that CP and I are having about this thread, because he's a Mefite:

(also, how do people even live in a house where more than one person loads the dishwasher? don't they realize that vastly increases the risk of someone putting the dishes in the wrong way? like, what if he accidentally put the glass on the right of the top rack, where the little bowls go, maybe even mixing glasses and bowls, instead of having them lined up neatly by size and color on the left where god intended?)

CP: Okay, I lol'd.
ME: I did lol at that. But it's a really good example of this kind of discussion, because

"I put silverware handles down because they get cleaner."
"I put them handles up because I just stabbed myself in the hand!"
"Okay, so when I load the dishwasher I'll also unload it, or I'll at least handle the silverware."
"Okay, and I'll do dishwasher tetris because I am the King of Dishwasher Tetris except silverware you're in charge of that."
"This feels fair."

CP: Yes. It really is a good example. (because dang, we have some sharp knives, yo)
===

This is us, and he is the King of Dishwasher Tetris (He sings the Tetris Theme Song while he does it, it's adorable) and so I put the silverware away and he does all the loading and we made sure it was fair and equitable for us and no one feels bad or gets stabbed by silverware.

I also want to note that all this really has only started to happen after the many Emotional Labor threads here. I talk a lot here about how awesome CP is and how well we communicate but really this only started clicking for us because of those threads. Thanks Mefi, you may have saved my marriage, I'm going to go put my empty cups from this morning and last night in the dishwasher now.
posted by FritoKAL at 2:12 PM on January 22, 2016 [19 favorites]


This is really not at all true. When I live alone, and I currently do, no one else does these things for me. I thank the gods I don't have anyone else living with me to make me feel like I am a horrible human being and deliberately uncaring because I am not able to do these things as often as they want me to.

I think we're in agreement on this. If someone legitimately couldn't do something for whatever reason, I wouldn't expect it from them or get upset if they didn't do it. I also would never expect someone to read my mind. I'm talking about me asking someone nicely, often multiple times, to do something that is fairly reasonable and then that person just not doing it or even making an effort to remember to do it (when I know full well they're capable because I see them do it all the time for other people).
posted by triggerfinger at 2:14 PM on January 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


I guess I have mixed feelings? On the one hand, I think it's good that someone as obviously clueless as the author is able to make progress. It's never a bad thing to get better at respecting your partner, even if you're still not great at it.

On the other hand, it is super-frustrating to see him missing the point over and over again. There are many hundreds of tiny things that my partner and I don't quite agree upon when it comes to household organisation. So much so that I occasionally fantasise about sending her on a "vacation" for a few days while I rebuild the house as a majestic machine of domestic splendour. There will be routines! Things will go in their place! The children will be organised! None of the problems in our house are my fault!

But I digress. Mad fantasies aside, the point isn't exactly about who cares about what, as much as it about communicating like grown ups. Is it so hard to talk about how you want your household to work, and explain why you care about this or don't care about that, and negotiate something fair and mutually agreeable like bloody adults? I mean, the part where he seems to think it doesn't matter why she cares about where the dishes go? Of course it bloody matters why: if you don't understand her reasons, how can you possibly work out what counts as a reasonable accommodation and what doesn't? I honestly don't get this line of thinking at all.

On the gripping hand - my partner's preferences are completely irrational and mine are awesome and people who drop their bags in the hallway are irredeemable monsters and I absolutely never do that and it's TOTALLY NOT MY FAULT EVER.
posted by langtonsant at 2:28 PM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've wanted a dishwasher for years and some people have that and they still just can't be bothered?

Well, in many cases they do have a dishwasher, if unacknowledged and/or unhappy about it: their spouse.
posted by JenMarie at 2:28 PM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


there are people who can't be bothered to put things into or take things out of the dishwasher? The machine that saves you like 90% of the annoying work involved in cleaning dishes? I've wanted a dishwasher for years and some people have that and they still just can't be bothered?

That's really the thing that staggers me about it.

Some years ago, the first dishwasher we ever had, broke down. Cue massive amounts of distress for the tel3mum, who was spending 3 hours a day washing dishes. I mean she was literally at the point of screaming and crying about it. (Why dishwashing should be such a monumental task that it would take 3 whole hours each day is, of course, a matter of her ADHD.)

I was able to do the dishes in an hour and a half myself, but because I was working full time and studying full time, and it would take a good couple of hours' cleaning just to clear a PATH to being able to do the dishes let alone starting to do them - it was very difficult for me to find that hour and a half (really three and a half hours) block of time. Well, she really resented my unhelpfulness. And she didn't actually believe in the two hours of cleaning I said I was doing before that and/or that it was necessary; she outright said to me "you liar".

It got to the point where I had to lay it out there: I'm going to ask if I can go part-time at work, but it's extremely unlikely that they'll let me, and I'd be unable to pay my course fees anyway, so the other choice is for me to stop studying. Or else, give up work entirely to dedicate myself to dishwashing plus studying, and you 100% support me including the university fees. Which do you want?

She was confused, like, you mean go part-time at work... so you have more time to study?

No, I said, so I have time to wash the dishes.

But you can't give up work to stay home and wash dishes.

[etc.]

So yeah, when I laid out my actual choices for getting the dishes done, she applied herself to getting a new dishwasher installed.

But then didn't put any dishes into it?

Well, at least now I'm the only one who's distressed by a kitchen full of dirty dishes, so that is progress.
posted by tel3path at 2:29 PM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


And the missing piece is: valuing clean dishes, but not a clean kitchen. In that ruleset it makes perfect sense to leave dishes piled up.
posted by tel3path at 3:25 PM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Urgh, now I've painted the tel3mum in a bad light and this after she's cooked every single meal I've eaten today. It's tough to be non-NT and try to keep a kitchen clean and there are people out there with good disshwashers AND good brains and they WON'T USE EITHER?!?
posted by tel3path at 3:33 PM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


if someone you love asks you to do something that's totally easy for you to do and you don't do it, you are not respecting them

I get really itchy when I read things like this, because my ex husband is Dutch and as a result I have household cleaning PTSD. I am a reasonably clean person now; I'm messy by nature, but over the years I have learned I prefer things neat. But what happens when you are married to someone for whom cleanliness is a moral statement and who has thousands of rules about what is right and wrong (many of them cultural)? What if all of those rules are theoretically easy, one by one, but it is not easy to manage to do all of them? What if you disagree with some of the rules? And what if you care about cleaning things, but you don't see them as moral imperatives? I cleaned up all the piles of paper, cleaned out the drawers, did the laundry. I made sure things were organised and sanitary. But none of it mattered if I broke one of the zillion rules about 1) how the curtains should hang 2) how dishes were organised in the dishwasher 3) how the toothpaste gets squeezed 4) how to organise while cooking 5) etc. etc. etc.

Sometimes it's not as simple as "put the dish in the dishwasher".

the point isn't exactly about who cares about what, as much as it about communicating like grown ups. Is it so hard to talk about how you want your household to work, and explain why you care about this or don't care about that, and negotiate something fair and mutually agreeable like bloody adults?

My experience is that often people don't want to negotiate or communicate, especially about household tasks. "If you loved me, you'd just make sure the curtains were hanging straight after you did the vacuuming! I shouldn't have to negotiate over every little household basic!"

And people wonder why I'd rather live alone post divorce.
posted by frumiousb at 4:10 PM on January 22, 2016 [17 favorites]


I have a stupid question: Would ongoing situations like The Dishes work out better if the non-dishes-doing partner who's thinking the "controlling bitch, fucking nag, passive-aggressive" thoughts communicated clearly and simply said, "No, I'm not interested in doing the dishes, and I'm not going to do them"?

(...'cause it sounds to me like the person thinking those thoughts is often being passive aggressive right from the start, by finding a whole bunch of ways to never say "no" to doing the dishes but also finding a whole bunch of ways to never do the dishes.)

There's a debate about whether good intentions or clear communication is the most important thing in a relationship. In this case, which one is it?
posted by clawsoon at 4:13 PM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have a stupid question: Would ongoing situations like The Dishes work out better if the non-dishes-doing partner who's thinking the "controlling bitch, fucking nag, passive-aggressive" thoughts communicated clearly and simply said, "No, I'm not interested in doing the dishes, and I'm not going to do them"?
...
There's a debate about whether good intentions or clear communication is the most important thing in a relationship. In this case, which one is it?


I don't follow. If someone has bad intentions and communicates them clearly, then everyone has all their cards on the table and can make decisions based on that. The only way this wouldn't be "working out better" is if somehow ending an incompatible relationship with a hostile actor is a bad thing.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:28 PM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I agree that just saying "I'm never going to do that" would be much better than just not doing it

The latter seems disrespectful to me and completely puts the responsibility of having the conversation / negotiating the boundary on the other person. They have to notice you're not doing it, think about what that might mean, and reopen the conversation in a reasonably nice way despite being irritated. It's a huge amount of work because someone won't just say "no I don't want to do that" or "I don't think I will remember, sorry"
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:28 PM on January 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


In re hiring a cleaning lady: Hm, let's outsource our problems to underpaid working class women, because that's easier than teaching a man to put away his stuff! Also, what do the working class women do?

Do the chores? IDK. When I was nannying I would do household things at work and then go home and do household things at home. It did get quite old, but on the other hand, I was also really good at that kind of thing. I liked being hired to do household things because it was nice to have a job.

Also, yes, US working poor do outsource a lot of things to even poorer people -- sewing their own clothes is a big one. But they don't necessarily need to outsource to people who are making less; things like buying cheap crappy food instead of cooking is outsourcing, too.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:33 PM on January 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


DH has an annoying habit of leaving empty cans on the counter RIGHT ON TOP OF the bag where I keep the recyclable cans.

So nowadays I just pick it up and put it on his desk.

(I could nag him, of course, but why bother? Putting the garbage he leaves in my space back in his space is so much more effective.)
posted by Sallysings at 4:44 PM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


there are people out there with good dishwashers AND good brains and they WON'T USE EITHER?!?

As I can personally attest, one of my long-ago roommates was a nice person, but yes, for about six months until the point where we split up, could rarely be bothered with cleaning anything in the kitchen at all, despite the presence of a dishwasher. Oatmeal scattered all over the counter and floor? Oh well, just leave it. Food encrusted on a dish? Meh, someone else will soak it and put it in the dishwasher eventually. I assume she either lived in near-total filth in her own place or ate mostly pre-made frozen food and takeout; I never really wanted to find out.

I have a stupid question: Would ongoing situations like The Dishes work out better if the non-dishes-doing partner who's thinking the "controlling bitch, fucking nag, passive-aggressive" thoughts communicated clearly and simply said, "No, I'm not interested in doing the dishes, and I'm not going to do them"?

I think most adult relationships would not amicably survive a flat-out refusal of that kind; I mean, it's one thing to honestly negotiate and say "I will never mow the lawn, but I will always take out the trash, which I know you hate doing" but just saying a flat no is pretty disrespectful to your partner's request. It's certainly upfront, but I wouldn't be surprised if it just got to the end result faster (the Divorce.)
posted by tautological at 4:50 PM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'd think the adult thing to do, if you disagree about what needs to be done or how to do it is that you would say that. Like a grownup. Discuss and debate it like a grownup. Be reasonable and respectful and listen to your partner. Maybe one of you can make a compelling case and change the other person's mind. Maybe you'll come up with a compromise or a tradeoff. But saying you're going to do something knowing you have no intention of doing it is the sort of thing that petulant children do.

It's not easy, but if everyone is adult about it, it's learnable.

I do pretty much all the cooking in our house, and my husband does most of the cleaning up after me. This works really well, except that every now and again, he'd forget where something goes or make an ill-advised improvement and I'd end up having to hunt around for things I needed.

But he really wasn't ignoring me or being incompetent on purpose, which is a relief because that is a major hot button for me. It's just that my system didn't make sense to him, so it was hard for him to remember. So when that happens, I explain why I need things a certain way. I have a hard time memorizing stuff by rote too. It's just much easier to remember if you know why things are the way they are.

Real life examples!

Although butter knives, steak knives, paring knives, chefs' knives, and cleavers are all in "Knife" family, this taxonomy is useless to me. My kitchen is organized functionally, so things are stored according to other criteria such as what stage of cooking or eating they're used in, how often they're used, and how they need to be maintained.

The reason you can't store stuff in this empty part of the corner cupboard is that I have maximized storage space by having wooden boxes tucked back in the corner that I can pull out, and that empty space is the minimum I need to get those boxes out. It's like the aisles in a parking lot.

This bowl is a mixing bowl that I frequently reach for when I only have one clean hand, so if you stack other bowls in it, I have to stop everything I'm doing, thoroughly wash and dry both hands and pull out the whole stack of bowls to get to it rather than being able to just reach in with my clean hand and grab it.

I don't think he's ever forgotten something once I've explained to him why I need it that way.

(Sometimes, too, it's just because that's the way I'm used to doing things, and unless there's a compelling reason to change it, I'd rather just keep it that way.)

That obviously doesn't work on a dude who has already convinced himself that he is the sole arbiter of logickin' and that ladies are capable only of irrational lady feelings. But in my experience, it does work for people who are acting in good faith. It IS hard learning new things, even if they're things you should have learned a long time ago.
posted by ernielundquist at 4:52 PM on January 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


I get really itchy when I read things like this, because my ex husband is Dutch and as a result I have household cleaning PTSD. I am a reasonably clean person now; I'm messy by nature, but over the years I have learned I prefer things neat. But what happens when you are married to someone for whom cleanliness is a moral statement and who has thousands of rules about what is right and wrong (many of them cultural)?

I mean it comes down to "leave them" or "gird your loins" but I do feel like either one is a valid path.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:04 PM on January 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think most adult relationships would not amicably survive a flat-out refusal of that kind; I mean, it's one thing to honestly negotiate and say "I will never mow the lawn, but I will always take out the trash, which I know you hate doing" but just saying a flat no is pretty disrespectful to your partner's request. It's certainly upfront, but I wouldn't be surprised if it just got to the end result faster (the Divorce.)

I don't know, I feel like if done suitably early (like before you get married!) it's probably going to improve the overall relationship, if that's really how you feel. But I always wish I'd made it clearer earlier in relationships that I hate and resent cooking for other people and generally won't do it unless they're sick or a child. Which is yeah, a weird-ass kind of thing of mine that maybe I should work on. But it's better to just say so than to be all weird and sneaky about it.

I feel like we might be talking past each other, though
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:17 PM on January 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Actually I think it looks like lower income people may struggle with this more than higher income people. "Household chaos, defined as a high level of disorganization, lack of structure, and high levels of unpredictability or instability in household composition, has been found in a number of studies to be a key poverty-related household stressor that is clearly predictive of lower self-regulation, lower academic achievement, and lower language acquisition"

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4682352/

"Living in squalor" has been associated with poverty for a long because people in poverty often have higher rates of disability, they GET disabilities both physical and mental from being poor and the kinds of work they have to do. My extremely poor friends homes look radically different than middle, even lower middle class apartments and homes. There were always a few even among the minimum wage friends who were still pretty tidy but the number of people who would just trash their places and get drunk/stoned because fuck it all was a lot higher in my experience. I think it would be worth teasing out the variables here, but not in order to other and pathologize poor people even more, but how about to get them some actual support both financial improvements and the ability to hire help in their own homes when they need it instead of yet again finding ways to label them the problem and the pathology. Every body needs help sometimes especially when sick or damaged or hurting a condition poor people are statistically at high probability of facing.
posted by xarnop at 5:21 PM on January 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


My ex-husband announced to me, early in our marriage, that he wasn't going to clean the bathtub. In a sense, it was better than just not ever doing a chore, or worse yet, saying that he'd do a chore, then not actually do it--a maneuver that was one of his passive-aggressive specialties.

That said, I thought that announcement was an utterly shitty thing to do. I still do. The entitlement was galling. As if I liked cleaning the tub? As if there were no reason to discuss or negotiate it at all? As if it was any way an option that the tub would never be cleaned? I mean, what the hell? He was just going to decree that cleaning the tub was my job? There was literally NO task in our shared life that I felt entitled to simply refuse, as an able bodied adult, as was he.

I thought--and still do think--that what being a responsible adult means: doing what needs to be done. I thought--and still do think--partnership means you negotiate those things, and for sure if there's something you truly hate that is part of the mutual decisionmaking discussion.

Sadly his conclusion seems to have been that he was, in fact, entitled to refuse tasks and also to refuse to decide in partnership how share responsibilities. He certainly continued to blow off whatever he wanted to avoid, and it appears that his takeaway lesson from the bathtub cleaning fight was that he didn't need the added hassle of mentioning it and getting shit from me about it. He eventually also developed the aforementioned tell-her-I'll-do-it-to-get-her-off-my-back approach; when I caught on and called him on it, he robustly defended this as a legitimate way of dealing with people who pressure you to do things you don't want to do.

However charmless and clumsy the author of the article is, at least at some point he did twig to the fact that his wife was a real person who did indeed merit the respect she was right to demand, and that he didn't deliver. I'm pretty sure my ex will never do that. Someone up thread said you gotta crawl before you walk--some guys just stage a sit down strike and crawling is entirely out of the question.

He could do worse.
posted by Sublimity at 5:25 PM on January 22, 2016 [16 favorites]


I mean it comes down to "leave them" or "gird your loins" but I do feel like either one is a valid path.

Hence the "ex" part. But I'm sure he still sits there and says that we'd still be together if I could only have done the simple little things he asked. (This wasn't the complete reason we broke up, but it was part of the picture-- I just couldn't perform well enough in the role of "wife" he had in his head and it stressed him out completely that I wouldn't do so.)

I guess my point is that of course as a grown up you try to do the little things which make your partner happy. And a house should be clean and liveable for both. Sometimes in these discussions, tho, I get the feeling of neat freak = healthy and good, and this isn't always so. Issues and anxiety play themselves out in all kinds of ways.
posted by frumiousb at 5:43 PM on January 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


I demand that my wife leave all the dishes on the counter. How else will I get my alone time, loading the dishwasher and listening to my podcasts?
posted by Triplanetary

THANK YOU! I love it when my partner leaves them all out on the counter and around the apartment. It gives me the chance to do a really upfront visible thing that will take some stress off of her when she gets off of work, and let's me decompress post work with a beer and podcasts. Washing dishes, especially glassware, is my zen happy alone time place. I'm like Jerry in Parks and Rec when he's stuffing the envelopes - it just...makes sense.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:31 PM on January 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


As a divorce lawyer of 28 years, and a longtime lurker here, I actually joined today just to comment on this guilt-ridden dude's ramblings. But after reading the other comments, I've decided not to.

Good call.
posted by bongo_x at 6:43 PM on January 22, 2016


I feel like if done suitably early (like before you get married!) it's probably going to improve the overall relationship, if that's really how you feel. But I always wish I'd made it clearer earlier in relationships that I hate and resent cooking for other people and generally won't do it unless they're sick or a child.

Yeah, I think we are talking past each other; I mean, as a pertinent example, my husband typically doesn't want to cook anything, so most of the time he orders delivery when it's his turn to feed the pair of us, and sometimes he cooks a frozen pizza or something requiring 30 seconds of effort, and life pretty much rolls along amicably. If he'd just flat out said no, I was responsible for feeding the pair of us always, he would not lift a finger to do so, and would not be taking on any other household stuff to compensate, that would be pretty obnoxious and would probably have resulted in one of us moving out posthaste. Equally, had he agreed to do it, and then just never handled dinner or the dishes without a boatload of nagging and sulking, we would probably just have taken longer to reach the breakup point with a bunch of fights in the middle, instead of endeavoring to meet each other somewhere in the middle.

There's household stuff he does exclusively, household stuff I do exclusively, and stuff we either split or don't care much about getting done very often, but neither of us gets to just permanently flop on the couch Jabba-style and be waited on.
posted by tautological at 6:52 PM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Came in here to comment that both of my brothers-in-law are living out the clueless husband role like the OP who wrote this article, pre-divorce. And their wives want to divorce them right now for the reasons delineated by him (not feeling loved and acknowledged). The brothers-in-law really believe there is such a thing as women's work, and it's not for them to do. Period.

And thankfully it doesn't describe my own marriage, but I have to point out that MeFi is an incredibly progressive place (and I live in Berkeley) but there are many millions of men right now who could learn a lot from this guy and his blog. And I hope they do! For their sake, their wives' sakes, their kids' sakes, for society.

Yes, this guy has just barely grasped that women are human beings and not servants (but certainly doesn't deserve a cookie) and the gendered-ness of the article is appalling, but I know two men right now wreaking havoc upon their marriages, and it is sad for everyone involved.
posted by honey badger at 8:33 PM on January 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


But she didn’t want to be my mother. She wanted to be my partner, and she wanted me to apply all of my intelligence and learning capabilities to the logistics of managing our lives and household.

She wanted me to figure out all of the things that need done, and devise my own method of task management.


I stopped right there, because the comments on the rest make it sound like the rest is going to just piss me off, but this, oh this. Add me to the pile of folks who walked out of a ten year relationship (we never got married, thank bob) because of shit like this. And well meaning friends would say "Well, why don't you just tell him to take out the trash/give you his half of the rent on the first/empty the dishwasher/vacuum/scoop the m-fing cat box/etc?"

BECAUSE I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO CONSTANTLY REMIND A GROWN ASSED PERSON TO DO THOSE THINGS. I didn't even need it to be all the things. Just some of the things, some of the time.

Sometimes, sure. We all forget to do things sometimes. But it was all the damn time. If I didn't it, it didn't get done. I'd leave the bathroom trash as an experiment in just how long his mom and himself could leave the trash (until it overflowed), and then I'd cuss and take it out. Because I wasn't up to reminding grown assed adults to do something basic, again.

(There were other reasons I left, but they were all variations on this theme. Let's talk about the bathroom sink. The sink started not draining well, so it had to get fixed [old house]. Okay, fine. Well, while that's out, let's retile the counter. Okay. And put up towel bars. Okay. But before we can do that, we need to paint. Okay. So the sink came out... and nothing happened. And before anyone points out that I could have fixed the sink, I was working 3 jobs, and he... wasn't. We washed our hands in the bathtub.

Christmas starts coming up, and he asked what I wanted for Christmas. The sink installed. Didn't happen. Birthday, Valentine's, his best friend coming to visit, same deal.)

So, I left. I'm (amazingly happily) married now to someone who I don't have to try to manage (I said try, because the even more infuriating part is when you do ask for something to get done, and you get home and the sink is still full and the trash isn't out), but whom I happily help out sometimes, and she helps me out when I need it, and that's how it's supposed to work.

This stuff absolutely does wreck relationships, no matter the gender configuration.
posted by joycehealy at 8:44 PM on January 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


pie ninja: "So men: incapable of empathy! Just can't do it! Oh well!

Yeah, this. My main thought on reading this was that this dude has a really, really low opinion of men as a class, and is assuming all other men are exactly as clueless as he is. #notallmen, dude!
"

Dunno. I tend to be pretty clueless about partners.
posted by Samizdata at 9:15 PM on January 22, 2016


langtonsant: "I mean, the part where he seems to think it doesn't matter why she cares about where the dishes go? Of course it bloody matters why: if you don't understand her reasons, how can you possibly work out what counts as a reasonable accommodation and what doesn't? I honestly don't get this line of thinking at all. "

Huh, that was one of the bits where I thought he was going the right direction. I guess you're picturing genuine curiosity and an attempt to help. My mind immediately leapt to something where they immediately start counter-arguing to justify why they don't have to do the thing asked of them:

A: Could you do X?
B: Why would I need to do X?
A: I need all these things Xed so I can Y.
B: Well, if you just did Z then it wouldn't matter if I did X or not.
A: I have to do Y instead of Z, because of P Q and R.
B: Well why are you doing P Q and R? I'm not going to be able to do X until you explain all of these in great detail.
A: Ugh, never mind about X.
B: (thinking) I knew that X wasn't important.

But I guess I'm assuming the worst. That B has been doing nothing to understand this whole domain until the moment that something is expected of them. Whereas if B's been involved the whole time, it's not going to be an added imposition on A to get B up to speed.
posted by RobotHero at 8:36 AM on January 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


RobotHero: "I guess you're picturing genuine curiosity and an attempt to help. My mind immediately leapt to something where they immediately start counter-arguing to justify why they don't have to do the thing asked of them"

Yeah, I guess I think there's a lot of daylight between the kind of disingenuous counter-arguing you're describing and a genuine attempt to understand. The conversations start the same way, but I think they diverge pretty quickly. When it gets to the "P Q and R part" of your dialogue, the response B gives is just shitty. If your goal is to understand your partner, well, mission accomplished: so the right response is usually something like "Oh right, I wasn't thinking of P Q and R. I'll make a point of doing X from now on". I've noticed that my partner is very good at giving that response - and I'm trying to become so.

The reason I like asking for the elaborated "P Q and R" bit is that P Q and R usually turn out to be important things that will be relevant in other situations besides just X. By asking about them I start getting a good feel for which things my partner will end up feeling strongly about. It makes my mental model of her more "here is a person with complicated goals and needs that sometimes differ from my own" and less "oh look, a mysterious box of arbitrary and unknowable preferences #womenareweirdamirite". Plus, very occasionally the conversation reveals a more substantive conflict of interests/preferences, like when B says
B: "Ah, okay, I see why P Q and R matter. I'd been thinking of these situations in different terms, and I don't really like doing X because E F and G. Can we talk about this later?"
Those conversations are hard, and sometimes there's no way around the impasse other than for one of the two of us to suck it up, but when we do have that conversation later on I find that - whether I get what I want or not - I don't resent the outcome because I understand the situation and have agreed to it for good reasons.

Maybe I'm being uncharitable to the author. Possibly "you don't need to understand her reasons" isn't an attempt to avoid having to learn about your partner, and is merely intended as shorthand for "you have to accept her reasons as legitimate and not be a dick about constantly picking away at them in an attempt to evade your responsibilities". Which, yeah, totally a sentiment I can agree with. But also a pretty fucking low bar for a grown up?
posted by langtonsant at 1:47 PM on January 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


(sigh) Here I go.

I read the article, got mad at it for all the reasons above. I read the thread, found a lot of confirmation of stuff I think I "get", and a lot of clarification of things I had buzzing around in my head but haven't thought of in a long time because I haven't lived with anyone long-term for...god...years. It makes me feel like I'll have to go back to school if I ever do find a live-in partner.

And I'm looking. And I'm coping with the fact that I'm looking. I don't like to admit it to myself, because I'm a career-oriented progressive dude who's got his heez figured out and ain't got time to be living with no girlfriends, that comes later, right now I'm playing the field and having fun so I can avoid a mid-life crisis when my future wife complains about some little thing like this, says that little monkey who crafts my inner narrative. Except I am looking, because I'm not PUA-ing anybody (I fell into it once, lived with a coach & student, I got over it real quick after that) and beyond that I am having the thought "how is she as long-term partner/wife/mother to children I will also parent" about every woman who I have an interesting conversation with and sense interest from. If I'm having the thought, it must mean something, probably about me, right? Probably that I'm looking, or at least open to it, right?

The thing is, you're a single guy. And dating, if it's something you engage in, becomes a numbers game. You meet women, you have to do that calculator thing in your head where you compare them against your own priorities in life and go tick tick tick add filter here for next time weight quality Y more heavily in next rating. I...generalize, as one does. I'm sorry, but you know, Tinder, OKC, I live in China so Tantan/Momo/Wechat Look Around, you rack 'em up and keep trying until you hit one that clicks. It takes 6 months to get to know people and I don't have 6 months per person unless she (I'm very straight, so that pronoun) clears a lot of filters very quickly. On my end I deprogrammed friend zone, nice guy, formal courtship...I mean, whatever. We're talking, we're getting along, I'm as up front as I know how to be about my goals and behavior, "let's see if we really enjoy each other's company to the point that we want it all the time" is the usual phrasing. We talk for a bit, some people say yes, we spend the time to find out...been at it for few months (after pretty much giving up for a year, not dating related, other lifestyle issues (econ/workaholic)), and so far no.

The thing that is driving me nuts? Women ARE socialized in their gender! I don't want to be an entitled white straight male with a developed country passport! I take that apart! I get that I have privilege, and I try to not use it, or I try to Use My Powers For Good. But that's what I AM and that's how women, as a group, treat me. "As a group" means...enough to make me paranoid! Enough to make me think, "Hey ladies, how can I tell you that I want to know you've deconstructed your own gendering and found a way to be yourself that you're comfortable with...oh I see you haven't. SHOULD I MIND? Or perhaps you are struggling with patriarchal bargaining and don't know me well enough to know that I don't ever want you to have to do that with me, HOW DO I TELL YOU/SHOULD I MIND?" Do I blame them? No. How do you blame an individual for their past. No. But this shit is everywhere! Common enough that...every one. Sorry. Every date so far. I have to be a jerk about this to every guy I know already. I have to constantly watch it when I lecture people about it, because I live in China and dammit China and expat privilege and the whole Chinese cultural edifice and its constant cultural othering-that-is-not-ok-but-how-am-I-an-outsider-to-that-edifice-supposed-to-tell-you-that-and-do-so-on-a-date and OMG MINEFIELD. And the fact is, in a long-term partner/wife/whatever label we end up using, I want her to know I think about this, and get it, because it is tiring, and sometimes I will need empathy, and I will need directions because strait white het males with no disabilities from the USA are the most privileged creatures on planet Earth and by definition we DON'T get it all the time. I mean I'll put the cup wherever you want! I keep track of that already! I have 3 roommates, some leave cups in places, I know it's an issue! Etc.

So I dunno. I'm meeting women, and my takeaway is that most of them...don't get it. Some people say "most of them are Chinese" and I say "GRRR I believe socialization is a universal thing that can be taken apart but just ISN'T often enough, but no way will I only date from this pool ("white women" is often a serious suggestion I hear, I'm like "there are other races too, and what is race construction can we please not have this conversation right now you're ridiculous" so I just nod) and not that pool ("that one" most often being Chinese women), those are unfair categories, I'll just keep slogging thanks for caring." Usually I class people by "likes music I also like" or "has their shit together without making it look too effortless but without whining too hard" or "you're so hot I'll say almost anything just please love me" (special category I'm trying to minimize) or "people in their 20's" (I'm early 30's, in that magical zone where I know I'm aging but I'm not sexually invisible to 18+ year olds yet but starting to be sexually visible to people above my age bracket (who have been sexually invisible to me, which is my own problem), so also, special category I don't even know how to handle I mean I don't even) or some other category. There have to be filters, there are 50 million people in this conurbation and a lot are single, and even non-single ones use the apps and talk to strangers. 24 hours in a day.

I'm trying HARD to get it, but I'm realizing I want someone who knows what that feels like, and there aren't many out there who are capable of getting it, or conveying to me that they get it, on the first-third meeting, and I don't know if, given who I am, or given that timeline (I could lengthen it! I could! I've arrived at that number because history with it!) that's a reasonable request, and if it's not, I don't know if it's reasonable to screen for the capacity to get it, and if that's not ok...I don't know what comes after. This is having a very real effect on dating. How many more people do I have to cold-shoulder/dismiss because...I can't figure out how far to project my internal map of my privilege and my expectations that she (that pronoun again) will understand my position? It feels to me like a dick move, because dammit you respect that women are smart...unless they're not, which might be okay, if she gets at least some things...but how do you even make that call in a sane way?

And if I'm further along in "getting it" than the dude in the link, good, I can take some solace in that, the way a WWI soldier maybe celebrated Christmas with the enemy. Yay most people aren't monsters, but tomorrow we have to kill each other. But the whole "red pill" framing? Well peeps, it's even deeper on our side. It goes down to who and what you are. Dissembling your privilege, no matter who you are, is something we have to find common ground over. It's HARD. I am failing. It's hard not to generalize. I try not to, I fail.

I'm missing something. I have to be. WHAT IS IT?

I will look at every link and every comment anyone answers this with like gospel. Help!
posted by saysthis at 10:27 PM on January 23, 2016


I'm surprised that Dan Savage's idea of "the price of admission" hasn't come up in this discussion yet. It's been a long time since I've co-habitated, but I can say that back then the things that annoyed previous partners that I persisted in were just straight up memory holes -- you get called out on this thing and you literally can't remember when you did it or why and you sure as heck didn't do it with a conscious desire to disrespect your partner. It was auto-pilot. You feel guilty and you make a conscious effort to do better and you may still mess up. Even if your batting average improves, confirmation bias can mean that the one time that you miss resets the same hurt feelings.

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/08/28/the-price-of-admission-dan-savage/
posted by Skwirl at 11:53 PM on January 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


saysthis, it sounds like what you're asking is how to do what the author of the article is describing - in other words, taking the initiative to be an equal partner - when you're around people who are performing their socialization, which involves doing more than their fair share of emotional labor.

The answer is in the first part of that paraphrase: taking the initiative to be an equal partner. So if someone insists on doing something for you, like cooking dinner for the fifth time this week or whatever, you say, "no, it's my turn, you go chill while I cook." (And do it without needing hand-holding or being told what to do.) Or if dinner's on the table already, clean up. (And do it right.) Etc. That's just an example; the point is, you don't have to give up and let the socialization take over the second it shows up. You can help resist it.

Which leads me to my second point. You say dissembling your privilege is hard. You're right: it is.

But here's the thing. For people who do not have your privilege, living with YOUR privilege is HARDER. And they're less in a position to do anything about it. Because of the privilege thing.

I took the time to comment at the end of this very long thread because it really seems like you're on the brink of starting to get it. The scales will fall from your eyes when you can appreciate that as hard as you have it, others (those without your privilege) have been struggling even harder, and on top of that, struggling with things you don't even notice.

The right thing to do, the grown up thing to do, the honorable thing to do, is to do the hard work of learning and taking on the emotional labor (and, more broadly, identifying and resisting the negative effects of your privilege). And to trust that however much it feels like you are swimming against a current, those who do not have your privilege are starting even further downstream.

Still with me? Okay, here's Step 1. When you read this and the other comments in this thread your first inclination will be to rationalize how the advice doesn't apply to you, because your situation is different; or to think that the people around you can't possibly be as bothered by this as others seem to be; or to find a small detail that you disagree with and decide the rest of it must be wrong too. Step 1 is to resist that inclination. Privilege means you can't see these things. At least not yet. Step 1 is to be open to the realization that you might have been wrong about some very basic things, and that is hard. If you've been the benficiary of privilege you will not be used to being wrong on that kind of fundamental level. But you can do it, and you will be a better person for it.
posted by AV at 5:19 AM on January 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


Having read 99% of the emotional labor thread, it's weird to read this thread, which is about the same topic but with so many reverse experiences. In the EL thread, lots of women talked about very similar experiences to the blog post. Their partners didn't pull their weight, etc. But here it's full of men who are like well I don't act like that guy, and women who either say their partners don't, or they're the ones who leave the glasses out. Not sure what accounts for this, and I wonder if the reaction would have been different if it was written from the ex-wife's POV.
posted by desjardins at 8:54 AM on January 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


AV, I don’t think that’s what saysthis is asking.

His question (it seems to me) is this: as someone who believes in the social justice view of the world (not exactly sure what to call it, so lets go with that), how do you practice that belief in a world where the people you want to date are not themselves part of it & do not see 'takes on emotional labour' as something that a man should do - indeed, stepping outside the socialised "male role" in that society eliminates you from their dating pool for the fault of 'not behaving like a real man'.

This is the circle saysthis is asking for help squaring: how to behave as someone who believes in social justice in a world where gendered expectations limit men’s behaviour to their privileged male roles if they wish to be seen as a potential life partner. He isn’t tying to rationalise not stepping up, he’s trying to work out how to step up in that gendered world without it messing up his chances of having a life partner at all.
posted by pharm at 8:54 AM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


pharm, perhaps saysthis can clarify what he meant, then?

Emotional labor is not just "man does woman's work," though; and I think that's the premise that's underlying your comment and maybe also saysthis' question.

I don't claim to have all the answers, and there's a cultural component that I can't speak to. In particular, I'm not in a position to say whether everyone in saysthis' dating pool is so entrenched in the gendered norms that he describes.

But I kind of doubt it. Like, I don't buy that everyone in China is so fully invested in the idea that women do the emotional labour and men can't, so much so that it is simply not an option for him lest he lose his male-ness and become a pariah. Maybe it plays out differently, though. Maybe my example of cooking is a non-issue, but doing emotional labour manifests in other ways. That's the thing about emotional labor: it involves doing the work to figure out what those priorities are, and taking them on. It involves looking beyond the socialization to what's really important to the people you care about. It's not about white-knighting people and telling another culture they're doing it wrong.
posted by AV at 10:22 AM on January 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


Having read 99% of the emotional labor thread, it's weird to read this thread, which is about the same topic but with so many reverse experiences. In the EL thread, lots of women talked about very similar experiences to the blog post. Their partners didn't pull their weight, etc. But here it's full of men who are like well I don't act like that guy, and women who either say their partners don't, or they're the ones who leave the glasses out. Not sure what accounts for this, and I wonder if the reaction would have been different if it was written from the ex-wife's POV.

Isn't it normal that there would be more kinds of experiences and more ways of looking at issues of shared living? In my case, I was away during the original thread-- but my experience of the subject matter hasn't been about housekeeping. As a woman, I identified with a lot of it, but not the housekeeping part.
posted by frumiousb at 5:07 PM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Part of it is simply that the emotional labour thread became a venting thread for many people & those whose experience might have been different chose not to participate since it was clear that their likely contribution wasn’t wanted & would have been seen as intrusive. I suspect many people read the room & quietly closed the door on their way out.
posted by pharm at 12:45 AM on January 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


and I wonder if the reaction would have been different if it was written from the ex-wife's POV.

Sometimes I can't figure out a way to depersonalize a perspective that will become part of the public discourse. I saved something I wrote to notepad and have been sitting on it deliberating over whether to post it. Suffice to say, I feel a little like I'm trapped in a nursery rhyme living out the part of The Little Red Hen always eating her bread alone. It sucks, and it's not how I envisioned I'd play the grown up version of House with a partner.

I read the first two letters to shitty husbands as well, and think the author gets it, except his solution is off the mark (she's irrational, but I'll do it anyway so she won't get mad/leave), and I think it could be a breeding ground of eventual resentment.
posted by squeak at 6:36 AM on January 25, 2016


I read the first two letters to shitty husbands as well, and think the author gets it, except his solution is off the mark (she's irrational, but I'll do it anyway so she won't get mad/leave), and I think it could be a breeding ground of eventual resentment.

Yeah, "I'll do this because it makes her happy" can definitely turn into a passive-aggressive "FINE, I put the glasses in the dishwasher, are you happy now?" or "I'm doing what you said you wanted and you're STILL not happy, so fuck it, I'm going to do whatever I like." My marriage definitely went down this spiral and for that and other reasons, it was unrecoverable. I don't know that it's possible to find someone who shares 100% of the same priorities and values but in the future I'd be more careful in the beginning. He couldn't tolerate a borderline perfectionist and I couldn't tolerate someone with wildly different priorities.
posted by desjardins at 7:09 AM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't claim to have all the answers, and there's a cultural component that I can't speak to.

I'm going to take a stab at this and say that's the component that is kind of important in what saysthis is, uh, saying. I think his bind seems to be that in addition to the typical awareness of gender and emotional labor, he has to also consider and be aware that he is a white ex-pat. Any interaction with a local person is going to be heavily influenced by this fact. So, I think he mentions how careful he has to be when he tries to lecture a local person about issues like privilege and feminism. Because as a white guy, his words are going to be given special consideration and probably more weight. And so he has to think about things like are people listening to him because they are actually persuaded, or only because he's a Western white guy and they want to please him?
posted by FJT at 12:22 PM on January 27, 2016


I read the first two letters to shitty husbands as well, and think the author gets it, except his solution is off the mark (she's irrational, but I'll do it anyway so she won't get mad/leave), and I think it could be a breeding ground of eventual resentment.

That's a good point. A marriage can stand an context or two where you just say "OK, my wife is crazy - in this specific area - but I love her". But if this is happening constantly, or about everything, or in areas of high importance, it can be a real threat to the marriage.

Yeah, "I'll do this because it makes her happy" can definitely turn into a passive-aggressive "FINE, I put the glasses in the dishwasher, are you happy now?" or "I'm doing what you said you wanted and you're STILL not happy, so fuck it, I'm going to do whatever I like." My marriage definitely went down this spiral and for that and other reasons, it was unrecoverable. I don't know that it's possible to find someone who shares 100% of the same priorities and values but in the future I'd be more careful in the beginning. He couldn't tolerate a borderline perfectionist and I couldn't tolerate someone with wildly different priorities.

That's the key with these things. There are a wide range of humanly tolerable living conditions, and to suggest that (e.g.) your spouse forgetting a coffee cup in the living room is a moral failing of him or her is not going to go well. But to deny that it bothers you and just suppress that feeling is not going to go well either. The fewer areas of great disagreement, the better. That nagging little thing that your spouse does that drives you crazy could be the thing that drives you apart. Or it could be thing thing that brings you to enlightenment. But we should be fair about these things - if one spouse is always giving in or doing the compromising, that's not fair and won't lead to long term happiness.
posted by theorique at 8:51 PM on January 27, 2016


Men invented heavy machines that can fly in the air reliably and safely. Men proved the heliocentric model of the solar system, establishing that the Earth orbits the Sun. Men design and build skyscrapers, and take hearts and other human organs from dead people and replace the corresponding failing organs inside of living people, and then those people stay alive afterward.


Shades of We Hunted the Mammoth.
posted by brujita at 10:00 PM on January 27, 2016


This is the circle saysthis is asking for help squaring: how to behave as someone who believes in social justice in a world where gendered expectations limit men’s behaviour to their privileged male roles if they wish to be seen as a potential life partner. He isn’t tying to rationalise not stepping up, he’s trying to work out how to step up in that gendered world without it messing up his chances of having a life partner at all.

The problem is that that particular premise, as you have stated it, assumes that there is only one way to qualify as "a potential life partner".

Okay, the way I make sure I understand what you're saying is that I rephrase it in my own words, so do please let me know if i'm wrong - but it sounds like the assumption is this: that the dilemma is that "I believe in gender equality, but I also want a life partner. And that means I have to be perceived as a good life partner myself. And the way to being perceived to be a good life partner means that one must be a good financial provider. And the only way to be a good financial provider is to continue to operate in a way that lets me take advantage of being the privileged person in a gendered society."

The problem with that assumption is that "being a good financial provider" is actually not the only way to be seen as "a good life partner". There are plenty of women who greatly prioritize emotional support over financial support, and thus they wouldn't give two shits about whether a potential mate is "a good financial provider". There are also women who prioritize domesticity in a man over financial support, or who prioritize a status of gender equity - hell, there are probably women for whom the priority is "I don't care about anything except whether he's got a dick the size of Sandusky".

So the saysthis can square that circle is to accept that there is more than set of criteria by which one can evaluate whether someone is a good potential life partner - in fact, there are as many different sets of criteria as there are people.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:24 AM on January 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: there is more than set of criteria by which one can evaluate whether someone is a good potential life partner - in fact, there are as many different sets of criteria as there are people.

I've realized very recently that denial of this fact is one of the threads which ties together Evangelical Christianity and PUA culture. Both of them say that you have to be this exact kind of partner, and you must desire that exact kind of partner.
posted by clawsoon at 1:26 PM on January 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I leave my manospheres by the sink in case I need to get affirmation from them later.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:30 PM on January 28, 2016


there is more than set of criteria by which one can evaluate whether someone is a good potential life partner

I think saysthis's concern is exactly that women have varying preferences, and some women do not prefer what Mefites would laud as feminist behavior, and in some places those women are a non-trivial fraction of the population.

In saysthis's case, it sounds like there's the additional complication that he's a foreigner dating Chinese people in China, and he's afraid of preaching feminism too strongly for fear of appearing or being some sort of condescending "Here, let me teach you poor savages what you should think" colonialist.

Leaving aside the colonialist considerations for a moment, I can empathize with the problem of believing oneself to have a obligation but living in a society which disagrees. By U.S. norms, I have some pretty weird ideas about what parents owe children and vice versa. As far as I can tell, my options in dating Americans have been either to scare them off up front or keep quiet and risk getting stuck with someone who will disagree strongly with me on important questions in the future. As per usual, it sucks to be an outlier, even if you think you're right.
posted by d. z. wang at 9:07 PM on January 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I wasn't aware of that (all the more reason for saysthis to be rejoining this conversation). And I do sympathize, as I'm a bit of an outlier myself; I don't always have the patience for the traditional trappings of gender femininity.

But I would argue that that is all the more reason to hang in there and be your own self rather than "playing a role" - you would be happier with a mate who agreed with you on these matters, after all, and you being who you are would make it all the more likely that he minority of people whose views complement yours to be able to spot you.

I do know that in some parts of the world this is easier said than done, but...still there are small ways to signify your allegiance. And for the love of god, maybe you can concentrate on equity inside the household,when you DO find someone, too, because that also counts.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:54 AM on January 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


A lot of people read my post about “dishes” (that wasn’t really about dishes) and came away believing I’m sexist, or that the post was...

(his response is that he is sexist to the extent that sexism is accurate, for example, most women really do prefer pink - it's evolution, can't argue with facts, ok? men and women are different and "when we first accept that men and women are often wired differently, and then take time to learn how those common traits adversely affect marriages and opposite-sex relationships, we gain a MAJOR advantage in overcoming common marriage problems")
posted by prefpara at 1:26 PM on February 1, 2016


God that response is just horrible.
posted by sweetkid at 1:56 PM on February 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Men are from Mars, women are from ... I dunno, mostly porno mags and Piers Anthony novels."
posted by uncleozzy at 3:15 PM on February 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


Well, in fairness to the guy, his blog does say, "I MAKE BAD DECISIONS" in big letters right at the top, so . . . . . he's not lying? I guess? He's . . . . making those bad decisions loud and proud?

Really the best part is how he uses astrology to justify his belief in evo-psych.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:10 PM on February 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


Because I took the accusations to mean: “You’re an asshole! You think women are better than men!”

See, the problem between the sexes is, women like pink, and to go to day spas, while men like to lie about other people's statements in order to make a rhetorical point.
posted by mittens at 6:24 AM on February 2, 2016 [11 favorites]


The more I read this man, the more I desperately want to get his ex-wife's side of the story. And then I want to know whether she's ever read his blog, or if she's all, "No, I avoid it for mental health reasons." I hope she ignores it or has a friend who skims just to make sure there's nothing in there that their child can't see later.

As a reader, I get the impression that this author is never going to get over being left by his ex-wife. He's crafting an entire persona around being someone's ex-husband and someone's shitty ex-partner, and the entire blog comes off as a guy desperate to get the last word in an argument his ex-wife has already walked away from. He wants his ex to know he's changed! He's a better man now! Look what she's missing out on!
posted by sobell at 11:23 AM on February 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, if I was his friend I'd advise him to stop blogging about her and move on with his life.
posted by Area Man at 11:28 AM on February 2, 2016


it's evolution, can't argue with facts, ok?

This guy should really read Evolution's Rainbow.
posted by clawsoon at 7:12 AM on February 3, 2016


« Older Moving with the reindeer in the winter   |   Top this, Templeton Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments