Unsolicited advice is the worst.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been getting some totally unsolicited advice from a colleague (married for 17 years) about being in a relationship.
He doesn’t think what I have set up with my partner is fair — splitting duties, splitting bills.. he says it is too dry and like running it like a company and “love and marriage isn’t like that”.
Side note: I have probably written about this topic ad nauseam, but here is why I split everything 50/50.
I want to tell him “Oh no? The #1 reason for divorce is because of money. Tell me again how love conquers all? Shouldn’t love see past that? Hmm.”
Maybe he thinks he is “saving me” from a mistake.. of… being.. and feeling..equal.. in a relationship (????), or that he has 7 years on me in his relationship and therefore KNOWS IT ALL (#Mansplaining).
But I really, truly, wanted to tell him to keep his opinions to himself (yes, that’s what they are, OPINIONS, not facts), and that if I am happy with the way things are with my relationship, he should STFU.
It may not be your cup of tea.
You may not agree.
That is perfectly FINE, but you don’t have the right to tell me that my way is “wrong”.
But you know what I realized?
At first it bothered me (all day) when he said that until I realized that he is critical of it because it is a deeper reflection of HIS relationship and he finally realized he doesn’t have a fair one in that he doesn’t do as much as his wife does.
This is not my problem. THIS IS HIS.
The same way when that guy basically mansplained my own job to me, that is HIS baggage. I was asked by a reader if I would stop freelancing because that schmuck tried to tell me what my job was.
My response was: Why would I stop working or freelancing? It’s his problem.
Once I got that in my head (I worked it out during yoga class), I realized it was him. Not me.
I’m happy. He should look into why he isn’t after talking to me.
He has to work his own @$&#%! out. Not me.
I’m not about to change my relationship, explain to him or question “what love is”, or second-guess the “dry” equality we have created between my partner and I where we split household tasks, time spent on each (I spend a lot of time with Little Bun and my partner makes up for it by doing things I don’t want to, like fix the apartment), and we both EQUALLY contribute to the household pot.
Actually, I don’t need to explain anything.
I’ll just avoid him and not get into this discussion again. I don’t want to end up angry at a colleague at a place I want to keep working at as a freelancer (he’s an employee and a manager I think), and I am right for MY relationship.
If he is the one who thinks something is wrong with my relationship because it sounds “too fair” (WTF?), then it’s obvious to me — he has to work out his issues with feeling like he isn’t doing as much as he should.
In my colleague’s case, what I suspect is that his wife does all the cleaning, cooking AND works full-time but as once in a while he helps out with a meal here and there, and he only just realized from chatting with me that he has some areas he could improve on, isn’t as great of a husband as he thought he was.
So instead of saying: “Oh my. OH MY. I need to step my game up“, upon hearing how my partner and I split the household tasks and bills, he decides he has to defend his position by attacking my relationship.
For the record, I was never attacking nor criticizing his marriage, I am far too smart to do that to anyone at the office because I stay away from hot controversial topics that have nothing to do with a professional environment.
I don’t even know for certain what he does and doesn’t do, and what she does or doesn’t do, but from his answers, I am starting to paint a picture and it looks… pretty typical, I am sad to say.
He must have been for 17 years, privately patting himself on the back for being such a “modern” husband, helping out, cooking one meal here and there ON OCCASION, and doing the dishes ON OCCASION, and thinking he’s a rockstar … until he talked to me and realized that my partner does a @%&-load more, but I also pull my own weight financially which balances it all out.
Every guy seems to feel the need to explain and justify to me how much of a NOT-A#$(#HOLE they are
Almost every colleague, has at one point or another, said ALL of the things they do / have done versus what their fathers may or may not have done before, and have given me an expectant look at the end to gush and praise them.
Couple of examples:
- I did pickup AND dropoff at daycare for all our kids (Okay.. and..? It was convenient for you with your job. I also see mothers doing that and not waiting to be praised.)
- I would come home and start dinner for the kids (And…? Were you waiting for Mrs. Doubtfire to come over and feed them? They’re your kids.)
- I already do all of my own laundry! (…. whaddya want? A cookie? Your reward is CLEAN CLOTHES so you don’t come to work smelling like a garbage can. THAT IS JUST NORMAL.)
“Woman’s work”? Everything home related.
It’s a losing situation. Seriously. You go home, you live at home.. anything to do with “home life” covers a lot of ground (cooking, cleaning, kids, organizing events), and it somehow falls squarely, and directly on a woman’s shoulders to manage all of that.
But anything with toys like a grill, car, or fixing stuff? Men. But how often does this crap need to be done? My car only gets an oil change a few times a year.
That is NOT equivalent to having a toddler cling to your leg, and ugly cry for an hour because he couldn’t jam two puzzle pieces that don’t fit together. Or my favourite of Little Bun’s — because the banana he was eating broke in half.
That oil change sounds like a dream vacation to me….
…yet it is expected and devalued..
Oh and let’s not forget that she has to also go to work too. Don’t forget that. No no no. “She isn’t staying at home, no siree Bob! NOT MY WIFE.”
She just isn’t as valued because she may not make as much money as my male colleagues (probably from having to take time off to have said urchins, raise them for that time which is 1 year in Canada after they’re born, etc), and therefore has to “pick up the slack at home” because her income is not enough.
Here’s some news for you — your income probably isn’t enough to sustain your household either. It sounds to me like most people need BOTH incomes to run a household, and it is a rare partnership indeed where one can run on just one income comfortably.
Listen, I privately suspect his wife has very low expectations (their culture, which I do not want to name as it is like EVERY other patriarchally-led culture out there, prioritizes the woman at home doing all this family life stuff and the man, THE MAN not doing jack squat); so she is more of the stereotypical “wife” (by the way, stop being a house elf and own being an equal partner in your relationship), which means she is VERY appreciative when he deigns to do even one lick of housework, or to prepare a meal.
All of this gushing and praise she does, just puffs up his ego, but secretly, she is thinking: “The more I praise him, the more he will WANT to do this stuff, and maybe I can one day, come home, and finally put my feet up and read a book for just one night instead of doing it all.”
It takes so little for a husband and a father to be considered a ‘rockstar’ in the house (doing dishes ONE day because the sink was full, or making ONE meal in 3 months), and it takes so little for a wife and mother to be considered a terrible, crappy, person (“Doing dishes daily? Uhhhh ….. That’s your job. Why are you bitching?“)
All I can say (and will never say to him because I have absolutely ZERO need to defend my life), is that what he and others may not realize about the relationship I have is that there is no other options for me.
I am with my partner committed for life.
It is not that I don’t believe in separation, divorce, whatever you want to call it.
It is that I don’t consider it as a choice to take. It is that is the last, last, LAST option, which is why I chose very wisely before having a child with him.
I don’t think about my partner: “Oh if he doesn’t do his share or pay his half, I’m out…” because there is no “out” for me but I most definitely expect him to pull his weight.
That is not the same as saying: “Oh marriage is forever and I can be as lazy and as useless as I want and she/he won’t leave me.”
I’m expecting a true partnership. I want to be in this relationship because I WANT IT. Not because I NEED it financially or otherwise.
We are going through thick and thin together.
If he got sick, if I got sick, if I couldn’t do something, if he couldn’t do something, the other would step up and time and time again, this has been done because THAT IS WHAT YOU DO.
We aren’t that insane about being 50/50, but we do keep a communal budget and make sure that we are contributing equally because I make as much as he does, and it is the only way we BOTH feel is fair. I was already a Money Idiot before, and I am not doing that again.
Love is about equality and caring about the other person which includes making sure you DO YOUR FAIR SHARE whatever that is, and making sure you treat them with respect and the love you feel.
Maybe, my colleague is resentful. Maybe his wife stays at home (I have no idea), and he feels like as the guy who goes to work, he has the right to come home and sit on the couch, do nothing and drink beer.
I HAVE NO IDEA. AND FRANKLY, I DON’T CARE.
Know what I really want to say to him?
(but won’t because I am a professional…)