In Money

Your wife is not your mother

Now that I have a son, I’m starting to be acutely aware and hyper observant of how men are, what they say and how they act.

(I basically don’t want to eff up my son.)

I know it isn’t ALL due to their upbringing but some of it in truth, has to be attributed to the way their parents raised them and the circumstances of their environment. Growing up during a Depression isn’t the same as growing up today. You don’t need to be forced to learn the same values and things have changed.

It doesn’t surprise me that many guys grow up and then expect their wives or significant others to be replacement Mommies.

REPLACEMENT MOMMIES?

By this, I mean, perhaps their mother has:

  • Always cooked for them
  • Always cleaned for them
  • Always did all the laundry and picking up after them
  • Always made all the appointments for them
  • Always organized their life for them
  • Always made sure they studied what they needed to know and kept them on track academically rather than letting them take the initiative on their own

(I’m picking on mothers here because I have yet to hear a story of a father doing this. Still waiting. Would love to have a man post a comment that he has been doing this for his kids the whole time and prove me wrong.)

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF THE MAN-CHILD

It is sort of no surprise when these boys grow up to be men, they are sort of rudderless. Lost, if you will.

Instead of having given them “the best of everything and made sure they have grown up to meet their innate potential”, they have effectively hamstringed them into being dependent on them.


These boys now have no notion of what it takes to do basic tasks like feed themselves, or how to restrain themselves from gorging on the entire Costco sized triple family pack of chips in one sitting and calling it a meal.

It is the equivalent of parents paying for a lifestyle their children can’t afford with the 4-bedroom house and 2-car garage with a stocked fridge and then expecting them to go out into the “real world” and be content with a studio apartment shared with 4 people over a Chinese restaurant while the fridge sits alone with a single lightbulb and a ketchup packet if you’re lucky.

I’ve dated at least one man-child, if not two

…. and honestly, I did feel like a mother. I was nagging them to do basic things like clear their bills, put their socks away… it was exhausting, it was frustrating and frankly, very detrimental to our relationship.

The physical part of our love went out the window pretty quickly. No one wants to sleep with that.

I kicked them all to the curb, and just washed my hands of them. (Sorry… whoever got them afterwards).

When I found my partner (most absolutely the opposite of a man child), I practically wept with relief. It was really nice, and a great thing to have someone who was your equal and your partner. Whom you didn’t have to nag about bills, or laundry, or basic tasks.

In fact, my partner is one of the few guys I know (or talk to) that actually take the initiative to do things around the house without being asked because… he… wants.. to.

 

In contrast, the problem with these man-children is two-fold:

(A) They haven’t been taught basic life skills

“Cooking? Cleaning? This sounds like WORK and crap that I have not been used to doing for my entire life.”

(Not to mention that some guys have zero standards when it comes to at least having a clean sink or floor.)

Or traditionally the men don’t learn such skills (rather antiquated as a notion because who is going to do your laundry forever? Your mom?!?)

(B) They haven’t been taught or forced to take any initiative or responsibility for their own lives

Their Mommy did it all! Why would they ever need to do any of it if someone else has been so eager her whole life to step in and do it?!?

It becomes a real issue when they truly grow up and get married or god forbid have children of their own.

You would think that men who have kids “grow up quickly”, but the harsh reality is that the woman just ends up with MORE work and children, having to deal with a dependent man-child who should be taking over some of this ish!!!!

So, what to do?

Well for starters it isn’t healthy nor is it sexy. Who wants to sleep with that!?

Here’s what I’ve gathered so far as help:

REALIZE YOU, THE SPOUSE ARE THE ENABLER

Wives….nagging, asking, begging, policing whatever you want to call it, are enabling them to just keep doing what they do.

The more you remind them of things or the more you try to help them by putting up reminders or whatever, the more dependent they are on you to catch the issue and they just don’t even try to think about it any more.

PARENTS, HE IS NO LONGER A BABY

Mothers, he is not a baby any more. He can make his own decisions and if he forgets to go in for his yearly checkup, that is his problem and his decision.

Cut the cord and let him drift. You may actually be effing up his romantic relationships if you keep stepping in.

ANYONE, GIVE HIM ACTUAL TASKS

Starting as early as possible (I’m doing this with Little Bun), set an expectation that he cleans up his things, gets dressed on his own and is ready at the door in time to leave, has remembered his things for school and helps with things he can do on his own like fold napkins.

As they get older, MORE responsibilities as a contributing member to the house. Give them a meal to cook each week and do the dishes of. (I can’t wait for this one).

If you have passed all these stages and unfortunately have a full blown, whiny man child who doesn’t want to do his own laundry, dishes, clean, cook or basically LIVE like an adult human being, it is time to do two things:

(1) Have a talk

Tell him you’re not his replacement mother … in a nice way, and you two need to be equal partners who are ON BOARD with the same goals in life.

(For goodness sake do NOT have kids with him yet.)

(2) Back off and assign tasks

He wants to let’s say, go on a vacation to Cuba? Then HE plans it, and organizes the whole thing down to where to stay, and what to do.

Resist the urge to step in and / or freak out when he realizes two weeks to D-Day that his passport has expired.

Bite your tongue and say: “Guess I’m going without you with a friend unless you figure that $&@!? out in time to board the plane with me.

…and keep in mind…

Be firm.

You are sort of dealing with a full grown toddler and I’m finally seeing the results of my firm “I said No” stances against Little Bun. He is realizing I mean it and when I ask him to pick up and he doesn’t want to, and wants to play instead, I stand there and give him a look, and wait. He normally picks up without a fuss now (or a very little one).

Be patient.

Full grown ass toddlers in man bodies think they’re adults because they’re big. They may be adult sized but their brains haven’t caught up. If he screws up, leave it. Whatever that mess is, leave it (unless it drains your bank account). They need to realize there are consequences so if let’s say the mistake costs $100, then that $100 comes out of the budget somewhere for HIS night out with the boys or whatever. Make it memorable.

Be willing to cut your losses.

Harsh but true. I basically broke up with all the men-children I dated. It was easy for me after I realized how much I dreaded being with them because of all the stuff they wouldn’t do to be actual adults.

If you can or want to because who wants to be saddled with a man-child for the rest of your life? I’d rather live alone.

But it isn’t a choice for everyone, I know, and it can get very hard when you have been with someone for a long time or they are otherwise quite amazing individuals. Try therapy in that case.

Look at role models.

Know great husbands? Observe them. See what they do, their tasks, their responsibilities and then make yours in charge of the same things.

Or, split the chores fairly to what you each like to do.


He does the toilets cuz you hate them but you do the dishes.

Set up a cleaning schedule and stick to it. Not doing it, is not an excuse. You can slack one even two weeks but you HAVE TIME to do this. Unless your job is super demanding and challenging, it isn’t that hard.

Get rid of the distractions: TV, video games

You’d be surprised how much free time you have when you don’t have TV or games to suck up your time.

I’ve noticed that even in myself and I’m not a big TV watcher. I watch it on iTunes or Amazon Video when I can and I find my hours are freed up if I don’t have anything to watch.

For instance, with my partner, it may also help that he isn’t really into sports (except when the World Cup comes around), doesn’t watch TV (like ZERO shows unlike me), and doesn’t play video games (finds all of it to be a waste of time). His mother was also pretty proactive in teaching him basic life skills, but he was also the one who asked to be taught how to sew when he was a child rather than his mother just teaching his sister because he thought it would be useful as a life skill.

Anyway, the point is that the lack of distractions gives him a lot of free time to think of things to do to make our lives better, to help our family be comfortable and organized, and to do what he loves to do.

So.. .maybe the problem is that he prioritizes TV over adult, LIFE stuff. So… you can go to the extremes and get rid of the TV, or set some basic rules — chores first, TV later (omg.. like dealing with a child).

Have you ever dated a man child? ARE YOU A MAN CHILD?

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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17 Comments

  1. Way

    I really enjoyed reading most of this. I couldn’t continue reading it because it would barely load onto my phone. I kept refreshing the page and the bottom half wasn’t loading.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I’m sorry – I am working on the site right now.

      Reply
  2. P S

    I was married to a man like this for 22 years and when I started noticing that our son was beginning to care for himself more than my husband, I had a talk with him and explained that I wanted him to be my equal.

    He was like a playmate for our son and I felt like I had two children. Long story short, he rebelled, got worse and we are now divorced and our son doesn’t have a father because his father chooses not to be a part of his life, he is too busy going to party’s and having fun. He literally acts younger and more immature than our 14 year old son. Needless to say, my life has become easier and less stressful.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I completely feel for you. I have seen these relationships and they never end well

      Reply
  3. Paul Burns

    I agree 100% but somehow every may I’m in an argument about why I didn’t buy my wife a mothers day gift.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Listen… for me, gifts are not a thing I want. Give me money instead. I am so picky, you couldn’t know what I would want unless I give you specific lists… so I’d rather not have anything and just have good food.

      Reply
  4. C

    We did not go on a vacation to the UK because my spouse didn’t get his act together in time to get the visa… the thousands-dollar hit (plane tickets and hotel deposits) woke him up a bit (and thank goodness we had enough emergency/vacation fund to just cover it). For a happier result, me NOT doing stuff is also how we ended up eloping rather than having a traditional wedding – hell was going to freeze over before I spent all my time planning the massive party he wanted. That represented a $$ savings, however! Also, to head off issues of different cleanliness standards we had conversations about hiring cleaners as soon as we had enough money to afford it (much better use of $ than, say, cable, to my mind!). These talks were early on, before we even got serious in the relationship. All of this said… I am still definitely the planner.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Cleaners > Cable TV any time… honestly. I’d rather have a clean place than TV. Plus you can have Netflix or Amazon Video so no need for cable..

      I hope he doesn’t pull the same crap any more re: getting his act together in time for big things now?

      Reply
  5. Carolyn

    Question for all (or would-be) mothers: why do they spoil the sons?

    Is it a pattern? Spoil the men in their lives: first the husband then the son.

    Independence is not associated to a gender. (My thought. But it’s might be a utopian idea.)

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I am not sure. I think daughters are spoiled too, but for some reason it is more acceptable for a woman to be helpless than a man.

      Reply
  6. Paula

    Great post. I once dated a guy who asked me it I knew how to sew after a month going out… Why? To sew his stupid old socks! Needless to say that the relationship didn’t last much after that. But unlike you, I don’t seem to have had the luck to ever finding an adult man, among my friends maybe one or two are self sufficient, other than that all have a wife/mother on their side. It’s really depressing.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Isn’t that sad? That someone can’t sew their OWN DAMN SOCKS? Damn son.

      I have been very fortunate and I am hearing MORE AND MORE women at the office and their situations, and feeling quite lucky.

      Reply
    2. Paul

      If something in the house broke would you feel uncomfortable asking your mate to look into it, what if you needed something heavy lifted? If you did find your way into a serious relationship, would it be his job to take out the trash or cut the grass?

      Reply
  7. Sense

    I think I used to be a woman-child, meaning that I followed my mom’s ‘rules’ and habits blindly. Everything I did for housekeeping and personal maintenance I got from her–got my haircut every six weeks on the dot, cleaned everything once a week, changed my sheets once a week, etc. It didn’t occur to me until my 30s that maybe some of the chores could slide for longer, once in a while! I haven’t seen a hairdresser in six months now…(!).

    I 100% agree with you–I wish all men had the same willingness to help out to a high standard as your partner.

    I think the standards thing is really the issue. I am picky about things like how to fill the dishwasher efficiently, how tidy to keep the common areas, where I stay on vacations, etc., so I’d have to let go of a LOT of my control-freak-ness to let a partner take over certain chores. From talking to friends about this man-child issue, I get the feeling that some women aren’t able to let go of control or lower their standards far enough for the men in their lives to take over–they don’t TRUST that the guy can do things the ‘right’ way. What if the guy is willing to help out, but his standards are so low that you feel like you have to re-do their work in order to have a clean fork and plate to eat off of or to have a safe, clean place to stay while on vacation?! I would have no idea how to handle that–I think a lot of women just give up and do it themselves rather than nag a guy about doing a chore the correct way…what do you think would be the best thing to do in that case?

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Once I discovered I could cut my own hair, it was a #Revolution.

      My partner is one of a kind. I have yet to meet another man like him who is as conscientious. Not to put him on a pedestal of course, he has VERY exacting standards and when you’re on the receiving end, it can be extremely frustrating, grating, humiliating, etc. He is not very flexible in many ways but overall, he is a good person who does his fair share. I can say that we are very equal, perhaps I lean on him more than I would normally if I were living alone but he also relies on me for other items.

      My partner is a control freak too but only if it makes sense. It’s hard to constantly want to be on the lookout to “improve your life” as he puts it. Exhausting.

      Honestly I am still stumped as how to get a guy to meet your standards. The ONLY THING I can think of, is to make a procedure / list, and hand it to him on HOW to do things.

      Like: Step 1. Boil the water. Step 2. Open pasta packet. Step 3. Pour in pasta once water is boiling. … etc

      If he has a procedure to follow, it might help. Like a work instruction.

      Otherwise, a chore chart, or anything like: “Clean the bathroom, here are all the things to clean — Sink scrubbed, Taps wiped and edges cleaned, etc etc.” A checklist.

      Or when it is dishes, make sure they’re soaking in water, or pre-rinsed before sitting in the sink to be cleaned. If they’re dirty again, my partner would just put them back in the sink. I would bitch: “WHY ARE THESE CLEAN THINGS BACK IN THE SINK”, and he would just turn over the plate and point to some spot I missed.

      Now I soak everything beforehand. 😛

      Reply
  8. GYM

    So good.

    Yes my long relationship (the one I bought a home with) was with a man-child. I should have known to cut it off earlier instead I became a nag, and acted like his mother. Made his lunch for him, made dinner, cooked, cleaned etc, nagged at him about the number of cigarettes he was smoking, nagged at him when he used our HELOC to buy a BMW convertible…His mom spoiled him.

    My husband is the complete opposite. He does things without me asking and it’s amazing! I don’t nag at all. My mother in law spoils him slightly too (she stocked his fridge when he came back from vacation when he was living alone in his condo) but somehow he turned out ok.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Maybe it’s a personality thing.. some people just don’t get spoiled?

      Reply

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