Tuesday, July 27, 2021

An American Marriage on the Rocks

If you want to get a good look at the state of American marriage, read yesterday’s Carolyn Hax column from the Washington Post. If you want to know why American marriage is broken, why so many people do not even bother to get married any more and why so many people end their marriages over trifles, read the column carefully.

The problem is housework. OMFG, a husband does not do his fair share of the housework. For the record we know nothing about who contributes how much to the family coffers, and we assume that there are no children involved, but the letter writing wife is up in arms about the fact that her husband does not do enough housework. She has turned her home into a war zone-- for which she and Hax will place all of the blame on the husband. After all, the situation bespeaks systemic oppression and the wife is in constant rebellion against it. Now, where did she learn about the need to rebel against oppressive authorities?

So, she is about to end a marriage because her husband doesn’t clean the toilet often enough. Seriously. Dare I mention it, but you need to be a special kind of ideological fanatic to think this way. It’s feminism run amok, doing its homewrecking best to damage another marriage.

And if you thought, as I thought, that this couple should hire a housekeeper and stop bickering about the issue, Hax puts the kibosh on that one. By her dim lights, the issue is his selfishness, his being unwilling to live up to the feminist life plan. Dare we notice that said feminist life plan has destroyed countless marriages and has prevented large numbers of marriages from happening.

About that, the righteous feminist Hax is oblivious. This man does not clean the toilets enough because he does not think that they are dirty enough to need cleaning. Speaking about male toxicity.

Anyway, here is the letter:

I never realized how radically different my husband and I viewed housework until the past year stuck us in the house 24/7. My worldview is, two people sharing a living space should pitch in equally. His worldview, it turns out, is, “I’ll clean things when the dirt bothers me; you clean things when the dirt bothers you,” and — lucky him — the dirt never bothers him.

He'd be happy to clean the bathroom only after a month's worth of grime had accumulated, but since I'm bothered after a week, I'm … always the one cleaning the bathroom.

We've fought endlessly about this. He thinks I'm “unfairly holding him to my arbitrary standards.” I think he's using his dirt-tolerance as an excuse to let me pick up all the slack.

And frankly, what bothers me most is that he’d rather let me be unhappy and stressed than spend 20 minutes a day doing the dishes or running a vacuum. This feels like a big issue. Is it a big issue, or are emotions just high because they’re high for everyone right now?

Notice that the fault always lies with the male member of the couple. This has become a big issue because she made it a big issue, and because she believes that men and women should split chores equally.

We might ask here whether this beleaguered husband, subjected to constant harassment about household chores, was brought up by his mother to do household chores. Did his father clean toilets or vacuum rugs? 

And, note well, the feminist housewife-- or is that a contradiction in terms?-- would rather make this an issue than just let it all slide. Or, to hire a maid. She sees it as abusive behavior, because it does not conform to the new feminist rules for a bad marriage. 

Unfortunately, she would rather fight than give in. And thus, she has created a hostile antagonistic home environment. We must assume that he is not being antagonistic to her; he is doing what men normally do in such circumstances. They do not confront; they do not dramatize; they punt the issue. 

Guess what, team. If she has fallen into the habit of arguing and fighting with her husband-- the better to impose rules he has no interest in following--it will not matter whether he cleans as much as she would like. If a marriage is running on hostility, it will continue to run on hostility-- because that is its habitual way of functioning. Or should we say, it is her habitual way of suffering.

After all, what if he spends more time at his job than she spends at hers. Will she resent his career success? Will she harass him about that? And what is going to happen when and if they have children?

Somehow or other she has made herself into something of a harridan. Ergo, the marriage is not in very good shape. 

One day in the not so far future, he is going to return to the office and he is going to share his pain with some of his colleagues. And then, one woman, sitting quietly on the other side of the table, might speak out: If you were my husband, I would not allow you to clean the toilets.

At that point, the marriage will be on life support.

So, what does Hax recommend? Allow me to quote her lame response, in which she blames the husband for all of it. She considers that the husband’s position is self-serving bullshit. Always nice to see strong, empowered women cursing out men for not being good housekeepers.

Well, emotions are high, but this is a huge, often marriage-ending issue.

That’s because doing all the housework is flat-out miserable when there is an able-bodied person just sitting there watching you do it. Not bothered at all that you’re doing everything.

This is usually the marriage-ending part. How can someone who loves you be okay with leaving things around for you to clean up, knowing it demoralizes you? No hired housekeeper can fix that one.

That's something you're going to need to say out loud.

Plus, he’s arguing in bad faith. He’d never say to you, “Go do all the housework for me” — right? (If he would, then picture me backspacing all of this to type, see ya!) But he’s holding to an argument that effectively means you do all the housework for him. His position is intellectually dishonest. It’s bad faith.


Therefore, he needs to clean the bathrooms once a month minimum. Otherwise he's taking advantage of you.

From there, you can clean bathrooms once a month as well, and learn to live with a roughly two-week cleaning cycle in which you alternate, or you throw in extra spot cleanings to satisfy your preferences.

Note the expression-- he needs to clean the bathrooms once a month. And how, pray tell, is she going to force him to do something that he manifestly does not want to do. Because, keep in mind, it's about forcing someone to do something he does not want to do. It's all about bullying.

Hax uses some interesting locutions, as she makes the case against the brutally oppressive husband. He is intellectually dishonest, acts in bad faith, takes advantage of his poor pitiful wife, how much worse can it be. Keep in mind that in traditional families wives have normally taken charge of their households. According to the new feminist rules, this is unjust, a sign of patriarchal oppression, something that must be stamped out, the sooner the better, no matter the cost.

Hax is having a fit of high dudgeon here. She is so angry that she rejects the obvious solution, of hiring a maid. For her, the issue is feminism. The issue is making your everyday life conform to terms set down by leftist ideology.

So, the solution is simply to hire someone to do the housework, or for a beleaguered, put-upon husband to walk away from the situation. At the least, we now have a good picture of how feminism has broken the American marriage, and how, under the aegis of people like Carolyn Hax, it will continue to do so.


urbane legend said...

Hax and the wife aside, how hard is it to clean a bathroom? I give the bathroom my wife and I use an effective cleaning in 20 minutes. Any adult male should understand cleaning to be part of having a residence, and act accordingly. It isn't about standards; it is about responsibility.

OTOH, this wife didn't see any indication of this while she was getting to know this man?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Not quite-- if it's that easy, why doesn't she do it herself. But, the real issue, perhaps I was not clear enough, is making everyday life into a battleground in order to promote an ideology. Normally, the solution would be to hire a maid, but that does not solve the ideological problem-- striking out against patriarchy by forcing the husband to do something that he clearly does not want to do. By the rules of leadership, the more she bullies him the less likely he is to give in. OTOH, didn't the husband see any indications in his prospective wife that she was going to bully him about housework?

Anonymous said...

I wonder how Hax would respond if the issue was that the husband wanted sex once a week, while the wife was good with once a month? Would Hax insist the wife step up her act and meet her husband's demands? Would she claim the wife was acting in bad faith, being intellectually dishonest?

markedup2 said...

Or split the chores. She seems particular about the bathroom, so that one's hers. He can do something else. Laundry perhaps. Mowing the grass. Throwing out all the knick-knacks so they don't have to be dusted. There are lots of options.

And 20 minutes to clean a kitchen? How big is the thing and how messy is the cook? I just cleaned my kitchen while my omelet was cooking. Yesterday evening's dishes into dishwasher, wipe down the counters, wipe up the grease on the stove from last night hamburgers, hand wash that pan (too greasy for the dishwasher), put bread in the breadbox, rinsed and put cooling rack away, emptied the trash, filled the coffee pot reservoir, watered the herbs, blah, blah, blah. After finishing, the omelet was still a bit under-done (but tasty - used the last of the Cromwell cheese; now that I've finished it, back to work).

Sam L. said...

My wife built her dream home. She has an old bathtub up on legs to soak in. I have a tub and shower in the basement. All is well.