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"You should have asked!"

  1. Mrs. Pickle

    blogger / wonderful cherry / 21628 posts

    I thought this was really interesting. She makes a good point about how we are conditioned from birth. Women are raised with the expectation that they will maintain the household whether they work outside the home or not. Then you have the media stereotypes of the nagging, shrill wife and the idiot husband. It makes me wonder if households with same sex partners have a better balance of the mental work or if one partner inevitably takes on more.

  2. mrs.shinerbock

    pomegranate / 3779 posts

    DH definitely does a lot of the household chores and parenting duties, he just doesn't do them to the same standard I want them and he doesn't do any extra unless asked because he just doesn't see that it needs to be done if it's not an everyday task like dishes or taking the garbage out.

    But I am the one who remembers that we are out of cleaning supplies and toilet paper, what sizes everyone is wearing and how close they are to growing out of them, that the kids haven't had baths in 2 days and really need one tonight, etc. There are so many things in my head some days, that it's hard for me to focus on other things like quality time with him.

    ETA- we've had a few conversations lately about how it makes me feel when I come downstairs from putting kids to sleep and he's watching TV, but there are still things to be done before we go to bed and DH is trying a lot harder. I think he is starting to understand and make an effort to be more cognizant of what it takes to make our house run smoothly.

  3. periwinklebee

    grapefruit / 4466 posts

    I identify a lot with this. I'm definitely the household manager, in part because I care a lot more about it - my husband wouldn't mind if the house was a huge mess, the bathroom never cleaned, and we ate out every night - and in part because it's my personality to not mind too much, whereas my husband hates keeping track of stuff. I often get tired of having to remind that stuff needs to be done and it is easier to just do it myself to start with, especially if it will be done in a half-baked sort of way. I think it's gotten better but there's definitely still scope for some improvement.

  4. 2PeasinaPod

    pomelo / 5524 posts

    @Pumuckl: Yes! I find that our home is pretty balanced because we each have jobs that we're fully in charge of.

    I suck at packing anything. I forget a ton, so DH is in charge of packing a bag for us to go anywhere. Even if it's just to go to the park, he packs the bag.

    He gets really nervous clipping either LOs' nails, so that's my job. Something small and silly, but he's never done it and I don't mind.

    We split morning duty - I get the boys up, teeth brushed, and dressed while he packs up the bags for day care and makes them breakfast.

    I pay the bills because I'm more detailed than he is. We have a system though that if he sees a bill sitting in our spot that is upcoming, he asks me about it to remind me to pay it.

    I make all of the doctor's appointments while he's in charge of the activities like swimming and baseball for the boys. We have a shared calendar so that we both know what's going on when.

    I should say that there are hiccups here and there, but I also speak up when that happens. I tell him when I'm feeling overwhelmed with the bills or appointments and I ask him to let me know the same when he's packing the boys for the school day the next day. We do our best to keep each other informed when we need help. If one of us is up doing something, the other asks what they need help with.

    Neither of us does anything in a nagging tone, it's more of a, "hey, can you make DS1's snack for school while I make his lunch?" or I'll remind him that both boys have a dentist appointment coming up and I will need help wrangling both of them there if he can swing it.

    I think sitting down and telling each other that you need help without it being accusatory or naggy is helpful. I usually let DH know when I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed and need his help.

  5. MrsADS

    nectarine / 2262 posts

    @mrs. shinerbock totally agree on the stuff you have to remember. That's what I do too.

    @mrs. pickle think you're totally right on girls being conditioned to be this way. It makes me want to really sit down with my husband and figure out a better way, because I *don't* want that to be the example that my son sees growing up.

    @periwinklebee same here. I'm not a neat/clean freak by any stretch, but my husband really doesn't care about a lot of household stuff and if I left it up to him, I just think it wouldn't get done. I.e. no lunches packed for work, just eat out for lunch. Sheets never get washed. Bathrooms rarely get cleaned. Because he doesn't notice. It's just not on his radar. If I ask him to do it, he's more than happy to, but wouldn't on his own. One thing I gave up on was floors - vacuuming and mopping. I can't keep up on them. I told him it was his to handle. Well, he vacuums about 1x/month.... maybe. When I start mentioning it because it's been forever or people are coming over. I try to run the roomba when I remember but it's really not enough. But I just. cannot. do. it. all.

  6. periwinklebee

    grapefruit / 4466 posts

    @MrsADS: Yes, exactly, I think there are tons of things I see and think - 'ew gross, that needs to be cleaned asap' that he just doesn't notice. Seeing the state of my parents' house, as compared to his parents' house, I can understand why we're different. And even if he noticed I think he just finds the work more onerous, which probably goes back to the cultural gender norms. Yesterday I was scrubbing down the shower, and he comes in and says "there really should be a robot to do this, I'm going go see if I can find a robot that does this." [there's not]. When there's a roomba for everything, though, he'll be in charge of purchasing them

  7. MrsADS

    nectarine / 2262 posts

    @periwinklebee totally. And that's funny what you say about your husband's parents, because my in laws are TOTALLY the same way! Their house is always a total wreck and not clean at ALL! Whereas my mom is always cleaning. I actually get like a little skeeved out at their house sometimes. Confession time... I usually pack Clorox wipes and wipe down the sink and toilet in the bathroom we use. It's not like filthy, but just like... you know, toothpaste stains, kind of dirty mirror, etc. I ALWAYS have the house clean for guests, I guess that's my thing.

  8. periwinklebee

    grapefruit / 4466 posts

    @MrsADS: Hah, hah, this is me exactly!

  9. Mrs. Cereal

    blogger / kiwi / 626 posts

    The thing that really kills me about this is that not only is it true, but it is sad to me. I don't think that husbands are deliberately being lazy about taking on the extra tasks, but the time it would take to teach them all the extra things that we do as "household managers" is insane. Honestly, I am not even sure if my husband knows what size either of our kids wear. Or what their schedules during the week look like. He's rarely takes on the tasks that are the mundane detail-oriented things that make all the behind the scene things run. One of the things I hate the most about our relationship is that I am basically the cruise director. I plan EVERYTHING. I sometimes step back and refuse to do it for specific things (getting birthday gifts for his sister for example) and then they never get done and it rives me crazy. I used to think of it as selfishness, but now I think I am seeing it more as obliviousness.

    I often wonder why I am so exhausted all the time and it really has to do with the fact that I work a second shift when I get home. While he can relax on the couch after work, I am making dinner, doing laundry, packing lunches for the next day, cleaning up, etc. He does contribute and I think if I asked him he would say that he is doing a lot, and that is true. But again, it is the mental side of things that really overwhelms me at times. I am tempted to send this to my husband but I don't want to hurt his feelings...

  10. travellingbee

    hostess / papaya / 10219 posts

    I sent this to DH today and told him that I wanted to talk about it tonight. He is really a wonderful partner in many ways, but he does not have the mental load at all. For me it isn't even about chores in the house, although that does drive me crazy. But it's everything. Like remembering peoples birthdays in both of our families and buying teacher appreciation gifts, and registering the kids for school and activities and remembering to buy household supplies, taking the dog to the vet, to get him groomed, find clothes for the kids and us, everything to do with food including shopping meal planning and cooking as well as prepping everyone's lunches the night before except his because he eats out every day. Does he ever think to buy a birthday gift for the party we are going to on Saturday? Absolutely not. If I left it up to him, we would never get together with friends, go out on a date, or take a vacation. Not that he doesn't want to do those things, because he does, he just unconsciously expects me to manage it all. There are always 1 million other to do things in my head beyond the day-to-day chores. And that constant swirling list makes me anxious. In addition to all of the to do's that I need to do for work, which is also a never ending list. He works longer hours than I do, but it still seems unbalanced.

  11. travellingbee

    hostess / papaya / 10219 posts

    @Mrs. Cereal: I did send it to mine with the caveat that I love him and appreciate him as a partner, and then I didn't want him to feel defensive about this. I told him that this comic really described why I feel so overwhelmed sometimes. And that I would love to talk to him about it later. He hasn't gotten home so we haven't talked about it yet but he sent me a very nice reply saying that it was really powerful and that he definitely wants to talk about it.

  12. Mrs. Cereal

    blogger / kiwi / 626 posts

    @travellingbee: I'm seriously considering bringing it up to him tonight. It really describes exactly how I feel and I have up until now been unable to communicate this to him.

    And yea, agreed a million times to the birthday concept. If I don't do it, and all the other gifts/holidays/etc, it just doesn't get done. It never even occurs to him to take care of this stuff.

  13. travellingbee

    hostess / papaya / 10219 posts

    @Mrs. Cereal: I had a few moments of real resentment over the holidays, like when kids were opening gifts and DH didn't even know what I had bought and wrapped for them. I decorated the house, I made the food, I bought the gifts, I wrapped the gifts...

  14. MrsRoo

    pear / 1642 posts

    This is so timely for me. I just had a conversation with DH about how I'm just so burnt out right now. And I couldn't articulate it very well, since he does a lot of housework, it's definitely the mental load that is so exhausting. The girls have an appt this week for their well visits that he must take them to, I called around to find their new doc, made the appointments around his schedule, texted him and send a calendar event. He still completely forgot that he's taking them and had a little fit because he made plans.

    @travellingbee: omg, yes- the birthdays and holidays! He saw what "we" got them (and his parents) as I was wrapping the gifts two days before Christmas.

  15. erinbaderin

    pomelo / 5563 posts

    It's interesting how many of us are using this as a springboard for talks with the spouses, I did it too. I think that my husband and I probably do a fairly equal amount of actual stuff - I do a lot more household stuff but he's always playing with the kids while I'm cooking - but all the behind the scenes planning stuff is me. Like @MrsADS: said, I could send my husband to the grocery store, but I'd have to give him a list (so first I'd have to plan all the meals for the week and check to see what we were low on), it would take twice as long, and it probably wouldn't all be what I wanted. One time I sent my husband to the store for cream cheese because I was making cheesecake and he came home with herb and garlic cream cheese because he liked that kind better. Every week he asks me what time the boys' swimming lessons are. That kind of thing. It shouldn't be a big deal but it all adds up and gets so frustrating, and then I end up exploding over something little.

  16. mrs.shinerbock

    pomegranate / 3779 posts

    @erinbaderin: omg, I sent DH to the store for a block of cream cheese one time and he brought home a block of cream havarti cheese from the deli counter!

  17. MrsSRS

    nectarine / 2987 posts

    @MrsADS: This is a little thing, but I've found that catching my spouse doing something helpful and praising the hell out of it is the beat way to have it done again. Specific praise "thank you for doing the dishes. I was feeling overwhelmed and it makes me feel so cared for that you took care of one of the things that needed to be done. I really appreciate it." I used to think this was dumb because he shouldn't need to be praised for doing necessary chores, but he regularly thanks me for doing things, and it works, so...
    The other thing is to push him out of his comfort zone. Here's the grocery list, I know you can do it, thanks! And also pointing out that perfection isn't necessary. My husband once said he never loads the dishwasher because I'm better at it than him. This is true, I am, but one day I was just tired of it and asked him if he ever thought "man, I wish she'd left the lawn for me to mow, I'm so much better at it!" He said that his thoughts were always more like, "oh she mowed, thank goodness!" I pointed out that my feelings on the dishwasher would be the same. He started loading the dishwasher.

  18. Beth24

    cherry / 223 posts

    Love this and definitely plan on discussing with DH. I work a pretty stressful full time job, do almost all parenting duties, all yard work, laundry, etc and am so overwhelmed. I ask for help and he will usually do it, but never does it without me bugging him or asking him. We've discussed ways to make things more even but nothing has worked so far. I'm hoping that this cartoon will finally explain what I'm going through!

  19. looch

    wonderful pear / 26210 posts

    On the grocery shopping thing though, you can't expect to begin from nothing and have it be successful the very first time out.

    My husband can go on his own to one particular store, he knows the layout (it's a specialty store that you basically have to follow the path through) and he knows that we need 2 half gallons of whole milk, mini bagels, cold cuts and whatever meat looks good/is on sale that week. He also will usually pick up a fruit and veg for the weekend meals too. It took literally 2 years to get to this point, I kid you not. At first, we went together. I showed him what I bought. Then I sent him alone with a list. Then when he mastered that, I sent him alone to "get breakfast." Baby steps.

  20. 2PeasinaPod

    pomelo / 5524 posts

    @Mrs. Cereal: I feel like this is part of the problem. You said, "While he can relax on the couch after work, I am making dinner, doing laundry, packing lunches for the next day, cleaning up, etc."

    That wouldn't fly in my house. I want to relax too...the faster we get this stuff done together, the faster we can both relax. If either of us was sitting on our bum while the other one was doing all of this, we would speak up. If you allow it to happen, he's not going to do anything to change. As a rule, no one sits down at the end of the night until everything is done for the next day.

    I've also allowed DH to get his own rhythm with the kids from day 1. Who cares if he doesn't change their diaper the way I would do it...he's doing it, which means I don't have to do it. He picks out their clothes some days, and they don't match, but he did it...so who cares? I think a lot of this is letting go of some control that you have...standards don't have to be as high, and you can't just do something because he's put it off for such a long time. It's still his responsibility.

  21. lamariniere

    pineapple / 12566 posts

    @Mrs. Pickle: that's a good point about women generally being raised into this. I see kind of the opposite scenario on the male side in my DH's family. My DH is one of three boys and my MIL definitely has some old fashioned notions about gender roles. She does all the cooking/cleaning/logistics in their household, and I don't think she ever really expected or demanded that my FIL or her sons help (it's still true today). Also, my DD is her only granddaughter (with 3 grandsons), and I've heard her say things like "that's for boys" or "this is what little girls like" on many occasions.

    But I'm with you ladies who said you can relate to this. My DH is more than willing to oblige when I ask him, but that's the thing, I have to ask. I don't even think he knows what our ped looks like since I'm pretty sure he's never been. I know I also have some minor control issues about how things should be done and how clean our apartment should be, but it doesn't help when I feel like I'm the only one making an effort.

    For those of us who have sons, what, if anything, do you think we can do to raise our boys to be more responsible?

  22. macintosh

    pear / 1750 posts

    I've been stewing over this since I read it the other day. I loved it so much that I posted on Facebook. Only one friend (a woman my age who I really respect) commented to the effect of "dont forget the mental labor of traditional male roles, i.e. noticing that the car needs new tires." Valid, but it doesn't negate the mental work in the woman's role.

    I'm struggling lately (still?) because I literally do all the mental, emotional, and physical labor for the household, plus I'm the breadwinner. It's not that DH doesn't want to help, but he physically can't in most cases. He also has trouble with executive functioning and controlling his own anxiety. I can't exactly put him in charge of paying the bills or scheduling doctor's appointments.

    I think my best solution is to hire more help, but I do struggle with my feminist ideals vs. the very traditional role I have of caring for my family. It kind of sucks.

  23. 2littlepumpkins

    grapefruit / 4455 posts

    @macintosh: interesting because I was telling dh about this when he noticed the car needed air and an oil change. I told him it was his mental load. 😝

    Mostly I'm ok with it because I don't work ft but even when I did I did mostly all the stuff around the house and I admit I resented dh a bit for it. The only way it improved to a level we are happy with was for me to say "you do it" and literally do nothing. I realize a lot of guys would also do nothing so I'm lucky. I also know that when I'm working or just out doing something else sometimes my MIL bails him out of things like dinners or washing some dishes if she comes over or whatever. 😂 Fine by me though!

  24. SugarplumsMom

    bananas / 9227 posts

    This. Omg, this. I'm the only one cleaning the sink while I brush my teeth. DH has never actively tidied up DD's toys after playing with them. He only cleans on his own if we have company over, otherwise, I'd have to ask him. He has no clue about DD's clothes and what's required for her to bring to school (which changes each season). I'm definitely sending this to him.

  25. caterw

    persimmon / 1445 posts

    @travellingbee: OMG the presents! The only person DH buys for is me (and I often tell him *exactly* what I want and where to buy it. He gets it and wraps it using wrapping paper, tape, and ribbons that I got). I get literally every single other gift and card, including for his parents and brothers. Also I arrange all holidays and I have to remind him to invite over HIS parents.

  26. Mrs. Pen

    blogger / wonderful cherry / 21616 posts

    @macintosh: that's interesting because I actually handle that too. Just the other day I said to DH, the edge needs an oil change and the brake pads changed.. he was like, what? He doesn't keep track of car stuff any more than I do. The only "mental load" he carries is from his job and I'm an equal there because my work comes home with me too.

    When I had my first, I told DH I wanted him to take over household stuff so I could just have those first couple weeks to heal and nurse... he couldn't do it. He couldn't figure out bill payment due dates, he never remembers the bank password, he never sorts through mail so it just piles up..
    Like many here, my husband isn't lazy and he does many chores around the house- but he doesn't take initiative or notice the little things. The other day I pointed out, "how you and I clean the kitchen is very different. I wipe down the walls, cabinets, fridge, clean out the fridge, do the dishes, clean the counters, tidy up the pantry, sweep the floor, empty garbage and recycling... you wash the dishes and wipe the counters." Its just very, very different.

  27. periwinklebee

    grapefruit / 4466 posts

    @Mrs. Pen: wiping the counters is one step more than my husband usually does in cleaning the kitchen I'm trying to convince him it's important!

    If we have a son, it's going to be super important to me to teach him how to do all sorts of things around the house at a young (appropriate) age, so it comes naturally. When I was a kid, my mom taught me how to cook, iron, clean, sew etc from a young age. My grandma reinforced it, and we even had cooking, etc classes at church every Sunday afternoon. By the time I was a teenager I was responsible for a lot of that stuff for the household, including making dinner every night. My brother was taught how to mow the lawn and change a tire. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do boy stuff so I learned how to do those things too, but I don't know any boys I grew up around (very traditional setting) who placed much value on the "girl stuff."

  28. Mrs. Cereal

    blogger / kiwi / 626 posts

    @macintosh: I definitely do the car-related things as well. The only thing that is really his "mental load" ends up being the back yard. I do mow when I get the chance, but that is really his responsibility.

  29. Mrs. Cereal

    blogger / kiwi / 626 posts

    @2PeasinaPod: My point is not that he is being lazy, but more so that while I am multitasking, he is usually not. This is not because of how our household is set up but rather because of the fact that he just doesn't even think of these tasks as something that needs to be done. I know I can ask him to help me, but that is the whole point of the comic. That I shouldn't have to ask, that most of us shouldn't have to ask.

    BTW, I am always concerned that I will come across as rude and I want to make sure that I am not trying to. Just trying to state facts.

  30. erinbaderin

    pomelo / 5563 posts

    I read a separate article that pointed out that the mental load tasks that men take on are things that happen quarterly/yearly/etc. like your example of the tires. That's his job? That's a once every few years responsibility!

  31. Coral

    clementine / 874 posts

    This comic really inspired me to talk to my husband. I sent him the comic and we sat down and talked today. I explained that it's not just about the household chores but about the "mental load" of being the one to call the gardener, reminding him to call about something, remembering all the details that make our family work. We decided that he would take more of an active and consistent role in the house to give me more mental space to manage the rest. I don't think it's going to work for us to have two equal co-managers and I don't mind it, but not when I also spent the whole night cooking etc. Anyway, his responsibility is make the grocery list, cook dinner, take out the garbage, do the dishes, and mow the lawn. I'm happy.


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