Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Make it a man in the tub and you've got the picture.
Valentine's Day is coming up. I work pretty hard to find a nice card for my husband because he is sentimental and takes them to heart. Beyond that - he is like most men in his disdain for the "holiday" and we rarely do anything special. I usually plan a nice dinner and maybe get him some good chocolate. Sometimes he gets flowers or something, most years not.

The Huffington Post ran a column by a sex therapist about men's expectations of sex (which equals romance in many of their brains) and how it just turns Valentine's Day into yet another occasion for the wife to give and do for him.

...women are working harder than men. Most are still being paid less for their work outside the home. They are likely to be shouldering more of the burden of household and child rearing responsibilities than men. Women in the workplace continue to face sexism, spoken and unspoken. They are often exhausted by the expenditure of energy trying to combat the sexism they face without appearing petty or bitchy. Their work day is almost never over when they arrive back in their homes. Adding insult to injury, Valentine's Day becomes an opportunity for men, in the guise of romance, to obligate their wives to sex when what their wives really want is time to relax, sleep, and have their houses cleaned by someone else. Therefore, for so many women their understanding of Valentine's Day sex is just one more task that she is expected to perform.

I admit that statement struck a few nerves.  At work I am stuck with these guys who think it is so clever to make sex related remarks and so funny to be crude.  It gets old and it is exhausting to "play along."

Also, even though my husband moved his office into our house and has a lot of free time during most days to go to the gym or out for a bike ride, to watch TV and surf the net - he does NO household chores.  NONE.  His lunch plate is sitting next to the sink when I get home.  The trash will spill out onto the floor and he will not carry it out to the cans. He will call me at work to tell me we are out of milk.

Meantime, I leave the house at 8am and walk back in the door at about 5:20 (If I don't stop for a quick workout; then it's 6:30). I go straight to the kitchen to start dinner, cook, clean up after dinner and do whatever other household things need to be done and rarely sit down before 8pm to whatever leisure I might pursue before I head to bed at 10. The weekend is taken up with cleaning, shopping and laundry.

I don't think it's the sex that most women mind - it is the lack of thoughtfulness about the realities of our lives.  No matter how many times or how many ways I have suggested that pitching in or taking over some chore would improve things, I get blow back.  And believe me, I am not a nag.  I think in the past 9 years since I started working outside the home, I have mentioned the subject  5-6 times. 

I am thrilled to say my son is not like his dad in this respect. He has learned to cook (his girlfriend doesn't like to cook but she likes to do dishes.) He cleans up, he does laundry. I am very proud of his attitude about these things.

I don't think my spouse is different from most men.  He doesn't see things as "women's work" he just doesn't see things.  He claims he doesn't do housework because I somehow won't accept how he does it... I think that excuse is tossed around in locker rooms across the country.  He has admitted to doing some things in a half hearted way in order to make it seem like he is incompetent and so I won't prevail upon him to do it again...sigh.  What makes it worse is his huge resistance to having a cleaning service in.  For me it's the best, most desirable gift I can currently imagine.  To him it is a huge waste of money. 

So I say to any man who might stumble across this post - even if you don't get it.  Even if it doesn't seem romantic.  Skip the flowers and hire a cleaning service.  You might just get a memorable night out of it.


hokgardner said...

Preach it!

Once, ages ago, I vowed that I wouldn't wash the dishes again until Brandon took a turn. We went a week with dirty dishes in the sink. It just never occurred to him. One friend put it very well - "you're having a battle of wills he doesn't know about."

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

Two thoughts:

1. If you are dealing with crude sex talk at work, that is highly inappropriate and could probably be reported to HR. It sounds like some men need to smacked upside the heads.

2. If you husband is leaving dishes by the sink for you to deal with, stage a revolution. Ignore the dishes and tell him to load his own. Insist on it. Ditto the trash can. I'm actually pretty angry on your behalf about those two things. DEMAND some respect and sharing of household responsibilities. You might have to demand and insist repeatedly, but he should eventually get the point.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm with Jen. I have a friend who goes through this and I tell her people will take what you let them.