Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Much of family life is managing shared responsibilities  and chores.  The result of that mandate is that much of family life is getting out of responsibilities and chores.   My husband, although he never says so directly, thinks I should do more of the household tasks since he makes more money than I do , and works longer hours.  Yikes, now that I am writing this, I suddenly realize he may have a point. Anyway, best not to put too much energy into  that epiphany! I mean let's face it, a trained gopher makes more money than a writer, and sometimes I don't look like I am working, when I am reading the New Yorker, but, hey, I have to get ideas and keep up with the current zeitgeist.

Let's face it, if a wife and mother of three sons didn't have her guard up, she would be doing all the work.  Hint number one. Men never feel guilty when they see you doing more than your share of household tasks. So don't do what I did  many years ago and  assume  that since they were watching you do more of your share, they would feel guilty and pitch in.  In  actuality, they feel relaxed and somewhat thrilled that they are being taken care of.

 There are a few sentences that are  red flags. There are several key words that let you know a request is immanent.  They let you know that a task is coming along the pike and it is coming right at you.  One of these is when your husband says, "You know what we should do? " The word we is a misnomer.  He waits for you to say , 'Oh, isn't that  a good idea.'  Then the we  disappears and he says, "Great so you'll do it this week?  Now with years of experience, I just say, Who is we?  Do you have a mouse in your pocket?

 Another one is when your husband says "You know what you're really good at?  You fall for it, thinking it is a compliment. ( You have to learn to control your vanity on this one, believe me.)  It always turns out to be a chore. He follows that compliment  with the line, "You are so good at stick-handling  with companies, please call the car dealership and tell them that they have to honour the warrantee on my car.

In the event that you are unclear how to deflect  what is perceived to be your responsibility, an  example with a step -by-step instruction kit . It will show you how to take deflection into action.   It has worked for forty years so I think for the sake of the sisterhood it is time to share.  You have to have strategies for family survival.


Husband comes home and says he doesn't understand, since I am home all day 'writing' ( always in quotes), why I can't take some time to start a dinner or at least buy some food.   Now there are several ways to go with this 'accusation'. You can say I have been working for eight hours writing a crucial scene.  I am tired. let's go out. That works about 90% of the time.  However, occasionally things can escalate and get dark.  He could say, 'There is a wonderful technician at work and she brings in all of my favourite dishes. She says she enjoys seeing how much I enjoy her home made sausage.  (Where he works they treat him like gold-- bad for the wife at home who does not want to make a homemade spicy sausage and then dry it in her basement like said technician.) Over the years I have tried rational discourse mentioned above.  Now, after forty years I just cut to the chase.  I simply say,   'I wish you had married a sausage maker. You would have been so much happier.  Actually, I have news for you.  You are lucky to have married me. Anyone can make and buy food. I am a comedian.  How hard is that to find?  You can eat in a restaurant, but where can you find fun every day of your life?" At this point his shoulders slump and he walks up the stairs to change his clothes.  In the event that he is going to say something snide over his shoulder, I yell up the stairs, " Well, I hope when I die, ( It helps to be 64 when you say this) and you remarry a really good cook, you can say to her, "My first wife,Cathy, was so much fun. Why don't you ever say anything amusing? Then you can both eat your home made food in glum silence, big guy!"  At this point he usually yells down the stairs, 'Oy, Oy, o.k. pick a restaurant. '

After years of marriage a you have to learn that you never win a popularity contest with male family members. ( Are you going to argue? No you are outvoted and they can each bring in  reinforcements. Just fold, leave the room and read a book.) Why work your fingers to the bone? It is best to make yourself happy. In the end it helps marriage  to endure.  I have a few  friends who have had husbands and sons and they met everyone's needs and then one day they just walked out the door with no forwarding address. If you don't want that to happen-- know when to hold and when to fold.


  1. Very true to life Cathy. I'm relieved to hear that other wives with sons share my experience (misery loves company).

  2. Great article! I am a single mom and when my kids were at home I would use what I referred to as the Imperial 'We'. That meant the Queen has spoken and 'We' means you!

  3. Ha! Yes indeedy. I use a similar tactic when my husband chides me for having "too many shoes." You know ... "What do you need all those shoes for? I only have two pair" and "Your shoes take up the whole damn closet" and so on. I don't bother pointing out that I also wear clothing of more than blue (as in the blue jeans he wears daily) and I like my shoes to match; he wouldn't get it.
    Instead -- and this has shut him right up -- I say "Women like to have a variety of shoes to match their clothing. If you can't handle this, get yourself a man."
    Not that there aren't men who don't like to have matching shoes, but ... my husband doesn't know any.

    I know whereof you speak when it comes to male assumptions that women will do the cooking and cleaning, period. The old ways are still there.

  4. true blue Gildiner it and want more more

  5. Of course we Gildiner readers know about your cooking lineage... I have a beer in my dubonnet about that memorable lyric from Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler". It's just that ya can "fold em" or you can "check", "call" or "raise". You can "draw" or "stand pat" but nowhere in Hoyle's does it mention the option to "hold". Yet you hold your cards every time you play and of course everyone knows exactly what's meant and it rhymes so fine. Unlike "...I need you more than want you and I want you for all time / and the Wichita lineman is still on the line" which is is a rhyme crime but a great line man. "Texas Holdem" came from "Hold Me" which came from "Hold Me Darling" A link to the "Life" article about that...