Monday, June 22, 2009

Marital Dynamics

A couple of weeks ago I posted this on Twitter: Married Ladies: do you ever wonder if your husband is being deliberately annoying or if he's just that inconsiderate naturally?

I was pretty irritated with the mister, who had done several of my least favorite things all in one day, pretty much all of which include him doing something without even thinking, for one second, how that might inconvenience me, annoy me, create more work for me, or be downright rude.

The responses I got to my irritated post were pretty funny. “I wonder the same thing every day.” “All the time.” “YYYEEEEEESSSSS.”

These responses started me thinking.

The mister never accuses me of being inconsiderate. Annoying, sure. Bitchy? Sometimes, and he’d be right. Inconsiderate? Never. He, on the other hand, is forgiving, laid back, and really, really inconsiderate. And thinking of my friends in steady relationships, I don’t think those women could be called inconsiderate either, while their mates very well might be.

Are women more aware of how our actions and inactions impact others? Are women more aware of their significant other’s comfort and solicitous of that comfort? Is it because we think about others more while men are more inwardly focused? Is it some innate, estrogen enhanced characteristic?

Or is it societal? Are we trained to focus more on others, to take care of others, to do the dirty work and the heavy lifting for someone else?

Looking back, I can count on one hand how many loads of laundry my father has done and how many times he’s done a load of dishes. I can remember my mother picking up after him and rolling her eyes as she shoveled his magazines and books back into the basket by the couch, an action I often mirror as I scoop up dirty socks and put them in the hamper. I wonder how much of my actions are learned from this behavior.

The mister, too, actually. His own mother picked up after him, did his laundry, washed his dishes and took care of him, took care of his father. Even when she worked in the evenings, she’d cook dinner and leave for work, never getting the chance to eat herself. When the mister lived on his own, she’d still come by and “help” him clean. How much of his leave-it-and-the-wife’ll-get-it-for-me behavior is learned?

And how stupid am I for perpetuating that? He leaves it and I get it. Sure, I get annoyed and I rail at him, and we have our little standoffs where I refuse to replace the toilet paper and will in fact carry my own roll in and out of the bathroom and just leave him to fend for himself, but when push comes to shove, I always give in. Someone has to clean up, put away, make the calls, think about something other than themselves. So far, it's been me. I wonder if it always will be.


Pickles and Dimes said...

I think it's a learned behavior: their moms took care of everything, and they've never really had to fend for themselves.

And to answer your Twitter: YESSSSSS.

NGS said...

I don't actually think it's gendered. My husband refers to me as "insensitive" more than I like. It's not that I actually AM insensitive, but I'm just brutally honest. So sometimes I forget that what I am saying might hurt someone's feelings. Including his. He thinks I'm inconsiderate, not about doing the dishes or taking out the trash, but about people's feelings. So.

No. My husband is actually very considerate. I'm the jackass in the relationship apparently!

zarah said...

After 8 years of marriage I have come to conclusion that if I want it clean, I am going to have to clean it. Either that, or let it get SO DISGUSTING that I am literally not willing to enter a room or walk on a floor because it is so dirty. That seems to be the level of filth required to spur my husband to action.

Julienne said...

This is exactly my life. I've basically come to realize that we have very different definitions of what clean is and if I want it clean to my level, that's my own problem to deal with. I can't get mad at him for not doing it on my schedule or my way. My dad was like that when I was growing up - I was never given the chance to figure things out on my own, I had to do them his way.

I've also realized that the less I harp on Alex for not doing things my way, the more he is willing to do which is AWESOME. Last week I came home and he had done all the dishes and vacuumed and mopped all the floors which would have been unheard of a year ago. And then I rewarded that behaviour by making him a lucky man! Guys don't realize what a turn on it is when they help around the house!

Wow, sorry that was so long!

-R- said...

H grew up in a house where his mom and sisters did everything in the house, and his dad, his brother, and him did NOTHING. So he has come a long way since then, but there is still a long way to go!

H is good about some things, like he checks with me before he finalizes plans. But there a lot of situations where he puts things off, and then I end up having to do them. Like we needed to switch the car seat from his car to another, and he was running late for work, so he just left the car seat on the garage floor, and I had to install it in my car while dealing with a crying baby, which made me really frustrated and late, and I would never do that to him. Could that last sentence be any longer?

Swistle said...

I wonder this all the time. My husband can be so inconsiderate (and I think of considerateness as one of my strong suits in our marriage), and I'm always wondering what made him that way. His mother, who did everything for him? His father, who set a terrible example? Himself, for being in his mid-thirties and still not figuring it out? Me, for in some ways allowing it to continue to happen, because I can't be CONSTANTLY nagging and complaining?