Monday, January 24, 2011

The nasty threat of last resort

Also titled "Stay There"

We have recently emerged from a very stressful time that was trying on our marriage. A bit about Hub; he doesn't sleep well, and its not in his nature to bust a dust mop unless asked. He just doesn't see the dirt...

There were several weekends, erm months, in a row when he would come home and spell me for Thursday night. Girl would wake up several times however and Hub would not be able to fall right back to sleep each time. Then he would be really tried and cranky for Friday and Saturday because he was sleep-deprived. He would nap each day while leaving me with the kids and he would bark and growl and grunch around.

Moreover, he didn't spontaneously do the dishes, but instead would leave dishes lie, leave stuff all over the floor, drop trou on the bedroom floor and leave them there, and (most annoying), wouldn't close cabinet and closet doors after he opened them. A trail of destruction followed him that often criss-crossed with the trail of destruction lain down by his 2-year old son.

For a while I appreciated the one nights sleep, and he would spend almost the entire weekend playing with the kids, freeing me up to cook and clean unencumbered (something I do spontaneously if I have the energy). But then the mess started to really get to me.

I wondered if the place would be LESS messy if he didn't come home to be with me and watch the kids. Several weekends in a row I came very close to sending him back to his apartment out of anger. But I knew that denying him the chance to see his kids, when he so desperately missed them, would require something far more serious than my frustration with his slovenliness.

I finally did reach the end of my rope, but didn't shout at him and throw his clothes on the porch like I had envisioned myself doing. We aren't screamers anyway (icy silence, anyone?). I did tell him in a reasonable tone that he doesn't lighten my burden but just changes it. I said that when he is home I spend all the energy that I would save- by not wrangling the kids solo- picking up after him.

I think he took it seriously, and has really stepped up the efforts to provide me with real relief. He does a little better at picking up after himself, and he keeps in mind that one of his jobs is not just to play with kids, but to keep the house a little sane for my mental relief.

We both lament the fact that his bachelor freedom for half the week has resulted in him slipping back into his bachelor bad habits. At least realization has helped us deal with it. Girl is sleeping longer in the night, and I take the kids with me to the gym on weekends (they have a day care there) to give Hub a time to recharge his weekend batteries so he can have energy to be helpful. Hub even spent last weekend installing 3 new light fixtures around the house. I was very pleased. Now we both see the light.

Response to a.b.'s comment;
I dated him for nearly 10 years. I knew exactly what I was getting into when I said yes to the shiny ring. I, too, am culpable, but I am laso patient...and have an evil plan to slowly, slowly get him fully up to speed around the house.


  1. This seems to be a question that will never be properly answered, but you both work, but you work AND take care of your children most of the week. And he's put out by being a simple adult? I know, I know, it's not that simple (and he's not that bad) but the whole dynamic (that I also deal with, without kids) drives me f*cking insane. I'd rather be mad about a fluke in behavior than about "the way things are". Good to see he made some improvement.

    My mom says that men aren't biologically "wired" to clean and such. She is also a stay-at-home wife and has coddled my father back into infancy. It's just the way they're brought up, I think. My mom griped at me if I didn't fold towels the correct way.

  2. Glad you guys talked about it and it seems to be getting better. Looking forward to hearing more about your "evil plan to slowly, slowly get him fully up to speed..."

    Mr. T and I go through all sorts of problems like this. We dated for 8 years - I knew what I was getting into as well and wouldn't change it but that doesn't mean that it isn't hard.

  3. Just make sure you tell him how much you appreciate it when he cleans or picks up or does anything that's a challenge for him. My mom always made the argument that you shouldn't have to be appreciative of such things because they should be automatic, but if being clean is something that requires effort then a little reward and recognition on your part (not bribery) goes a long way toward a happy cleaning husband.

  4. I thank J. whenever he does something he wouldn't normally do, but I have to hold my gag reflex back, because I don't get praise for doing the same things. Blergh.