Sunday, August 25, 2019

Married While Feminist

Today Carolyn Hax prints a letter from a woman who is sorely discommoded about her layabout husband. You see, he does not do his fair share of household chores. He lies around watching television and playing video games. She nags him constantly about his failure to contribute, but to little avail. She wants to go out and to do fun things, but he only does so begrudgingly.

Of course, the letter does not offer us the information we need. First, we do not know what he does for a living. If he is unemployed, it’s one thing. If he has a high stress job, it’s quite another. And we do not know whether she is or is not working herself. The marital dynamic is normally defined according to such considerations. Thus, as often happens with these letters, we are flying blind. 

What we do know is that unhappy housewife is a nag and a pest and a shrew. She is talking about walking out of the marriage. I suspect that her husband has already done so. Why would he put up with her constant complaining? She wants to break him down completely and does not understand why he does not respond positively? Huh... she might try to rethink her strategy.

If so many evenings culminate in a fight, that tells me that the two are not indulging in very much intimacy. Thus, the marriage is pretty much over right now. Thanks largely to her... but naturally, rather than blame herself, she blames her hapless husband.

Anyway, here is the letter:

Before we married, my husband and I enjoyed doing fun stuff together. Now, he just wants to watch TV or play video games. When he does leave the couch, it's to play poker or basketball with his guy friends. He NEVER helps me around the house unless I've completely broken him down — asking nicely, nagging, cajoling, etc. By that point, I'm upset because I've had to expend so much energy for his minimal help, and he's upset that he's had to get off the couch.

I've also tried everything to get us to do recreational things together, but when I've managed to get him out the door, the results have been disastrous. He spoils the whole activity by pouting and faultfinding. These evenings always culminate in a huge fight!

I love my husband dearly and can't imagine leaving him. However, I thought my marriage would be a best-friend partnership, and now I feel like live-in domestic help. We don't have kids yet because I feel like my hubby's already too much of one. I don't think he's depressed because he's always pretty happy and up for going out with the guys.

What do I do? Get divorced? I've tried to talk to him about how I feel, but he thinks I'm being critical and gets defensive and angry.

— Confused

For the record, doing stuff around the house is not the same as going out to do stuff together. One does not know whether they were living together before they married or whether she was that obnoxious before the wedding. One does not understand where Confused got the idea that she had to beat up on her husband in order to get him to vacuum the floors. 

Evidently, Confused is following the feminist playbook, called How to Wreck a Marriage. She is so convinced that her husband should be doing his fair share of the chores that she never even questions whether her strategy--nagging and nagging and fighting-- is accomplishing the goal she has set. It seems to be an unrealistic goal, so perhaps she should change her approach.

Like a therapy-addled soul, she imagines that all she needs to do is to express her feelings about the matter. She does so, to no avail. Apparently, it never crossed her mind to negotiate the matter, to come to an agreement.

As you can guess, Hax recommends that she leave him, perhaps so she can find another husband to boss around and to alienate. Hax believes that Confused is trying very hard. She is wrong. Confused is not trying at all. She cannot bring herself to think that her vision of a feministically correct marriage is an illusion, and that she should change her errant ways.

Confused had thought that marriage was a “best friend partnership.” Wherever did she get that idea? It’s that idea that is destroying her and making her marriage into hell. The rhetorical flourish, to the effect that her husband is really a child, means that she has imbibed far too much of the feminist Kool-Aid. 

Why did she not know that she and her husband were not on the same page before getting married? And does she expect that her husband will share diaper duty with her if she has a child? Does she want her husband to become a Mr. Mom? And, if so, why has she never raised these issues with him? Perhaps she does not care what he thinks because she is married to her ideology. 

Again, given that we do not know who is working outside of the home and who is not, I recommend that she stop asking him to do anything at all. If the housework is too onerous, she should hire a maid. And then she should ask herself whether she wants to be married to a man she loves or to be married to an ideology.

1 comment:

whitney said...

I found it very positive the husband has a group of male friends. It does seem like men are having a hard time finding spaces for themselves. He should definitely let her leave.