You just got married. Everything is wonderful. You have a beautiful wife with a sparkling personality. You are very much in love. You have a good job. Your wife has a good job too, which helps in this economy.
Your wife is a good cook. She keeps the house clean. You have a fantastic sex life. You both have so much fun together. You can’t wait until the day is over so you can go home and be with your wife.
Things, They Are a Changin’
After a while, however, on weekends she seems to be busy doing other things, so you go fishing with a buddy. You come home; she is still busy. So you park yourself in front of the TV and watch a ballgame or two.
Gradually you have little spats over things that shouldn’t really mean much. (Unknown to you, your wife is beginning to resent all of your free time while she has little.)
You are happy. You have a beautiful wife, a mostly good sex life and a nice home. You don’t see the lopsided workload because life is as it should be, according to what you and your wife have been taught by society.
Thinking But Not Saying
Your wife thinks, if she waits long enough, that you—being the wonderful husband that you are—will help her with household tasks because you love her. When you don’t, your wife thinks you couldn’t love her or you would realize how unfair her workload is.
You can’t read her mind. You already do your part—your full-time job, as society says, is your role.
She Feels Guilty/Angry
Once in a while, your wife asks you to help. But unknown to you (and sometimes to her) she feels guilty because, subconsciously or consciously, she thinks it is her job to keep up everything on the home front. She has been taught by her parents and everyone around her that it is her responsibility, and even advertisements and movies portray that fact.
Maybe you try to help. Wash the dishes. Take out the trash. Mow the lawn. You can’t figure out why she can’t find time to do anything fun when you always do. It takes her way too long to get her stuff done and then get ready.
NOTE TO GUYS: THIS IS NORMAL! Before you read further, I want to stress emphatically that all this stuff is NORMAL. The fault lies with the wife who won’t speak up and our culture/society that makes her feel so guilty that she thinks she’s a failure when she can’t “do it all.”
There is no way that you, the husband, should automatically know that there is a problem. Especially when the evolution is so slow from a happy wife to fed-up wife. You can’t realize the monstrous job she has shouldered.
You Go Out, She Stays Home
You have already mapped out your free time, often with your wife’s permission (“Oh honey, you work so hard, you need a break”). Your wife, however, feels more angry and bitter than ever that she doesn’t have any free time. But now there is a difference:
Your wife no longer hides her anger. She feels so overloaded and exhausted that her resentment overflows.
The idea that a wife should be able to “do it all” is imbedded in her psyche BY SOCIETY. So once again, you get the blame because your wife thinks you should automatically know her predicament and ride to the rescue.
Your sex life has dwindled because of her exhaustion and resentment. You are still in the dark about what is wrong. When you ask, your wife repeats that nothing is wrong. But she does know what is wrong. And blames you for not knowing. She can’t fix it because she doesn’t know how and deep down she still believes all of this extra household stuff is her responsibility and society helps her to keep believing it.
NOTE TO GUYS: Some couples don’t sink into such unhappiness and dysfunction, but some marriages go through far worse and explode in divorce that didn’t need to happen. Lack of communication causes havoc in every aspect of a relationship.
Society and upbringing seldom prepare men for the realities of a true partnership. It is not the husband’s fault. But that doesn’t let you off the hook.
Ride to Her Rescue
You were once the super hero or knight in shining armor to the woman who fell in love with you. You can ride to her rescue again. Indeed, the mutual disappointment and anger described here can be eliminated.
For both sides, it can be eliminated by a strategy where you and your wife together pitch in to balance the load of household chores so that both of you can enjoy time off, time with the children, and—most important—time with each other.
- Society has imbedded in our psyche that women should “do it all.” This upbringing tosses ticking bombs into today’s relationships.
- Often when your wife is angry, she won’t say why. She thinks you should read her mind. Agree to communicate now, not wait for a crisis.
- Start (or restart) your married life sharing household responsibilities and become her hero again.
Note: The preceding is an excerpt from Sherri Mills’ book, Marriage 101 for Men: Why Taking Out the Trash is a Turn-On. Mills is also the author of I Almost Divorced My Husband, but I Went on Strike Instead.