Partnership or Competition?

Does anyone else struggle with viewing marriage as a competition, not a partnership?


DH and I each have different things we do around the house. I feel like I'm always weighing my contributions vs his contributions. I worry that I'm not doing as much as he is--and we've had problems before with him feeling like I'm not doing enough but not having the guts to say so, so he just stews about it until he blows up... but that's another story.


I don't want to feel like I'm competing with my husband to see who is better/does more... but at the same time, I don't want to not pay attention and start leaving him to do more than his fair share. Do you think it's something that gets easier once you've been married/together longer, or is it just a personality thing?

Posted on August 5, 2011 at 9:16 am
LadyHope
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doolittlebride
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10/03/2010
doolittlebride

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doolittlebride

It definitely takes a bit of time to get to a comfortable place with the designated or assigned chores. We've been together 9 years and lived together 7 of those. It's STILL a work in progress for both of us.


A part of our "reconnection" and going into our date nights is a minimum one hour talk, face to face with no distractions (not eating, actually sitting in our living room facing each other) to bring up or air out these issues.  We've actually gotten better at it in the last year I would say.  But what you're describing is exactly an issue we've had before.  Most of the time (in the past) it was him not really seeing my contributions.  I would do so much that he would not register because his #1 pet peeve is a dirty kitchen. If the kitchen was dirty but the rest of my contributions were all up to par, he still got majorly aggravated.  Now that I am juggling kitchen duty better, the I'm dropping the ball on OTHER aspects and that aggravates ME! LOL, it's just a constant battle. Well, not battle but struggle to find a balance.


I also find myself saying outloud to him what I've just done so he is more concious of it. We are leaving for a trip on Sunday and sat down and wrote out what we want accomplished around the house before we leave.  I finished a part of my list last night and announced it. ;o)


If it's a personality thing, then you will have to discuss how you both can be comfortable with the amount of work being done and how you can acknowledge it with each other.  Some men would hate me "announcing" my accomplishment but my DH knows he sometimes doesn't take notice so he's ok with it.

Posted on August 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm
carolinawedding
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03/19/2011
carolinawedding

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carolinawedding

:) That's great advice!! Our pastor also suggested the couch time during the premarital counseling.


DH will also get very frustrated with the house (and at me, even if he doesn't say it often) if it's not cleaned to his liking. The issue is we have different definitions of clean. For me, it's vacuuming, dusting, dishes, etc. For him it's loading the dish washer and uncluttering the place. He's very busy, but if he thinks I'm not doing enough he'd make comments that he feels he's alone in everything and I'm not really pulling my weight. Um, the problem came when I'd have to remind him that "my weight" consists of paying all the bills while he's back in school.


And then the fight starts. :) It's a work in progress. If y'all find something that works, do share with the rest of us still lost in limbo.

Posted on August 8, 2011 at 12:51 am
msdl
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05/28/2011
msdl

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msdl

Wow, I can relate to all three of you on this one. Since my DH and I did not live together before we got married, that has definitely been our toughest adjustment. We actually just had a fight yesterday because he was outside doing yard work. I was inside on my computer, meal planning, looking at our bank accounts and figuring out what needed to be done before his mom came to visit this week. He came in for a drink and asked if I was going to "do anything today." I was LIVID! It went downhill from there.


I have gotten to be like you, doolittle -- sometimes I find myself telling him what I have done so he will notice it. I hate that, but he also acknowledges that he takes certain things for granted. And I'm definitely not the traditional wife in the sense that I think we should have certain roles. I don't think there is anything that I should be "expected" to do. And carolina, like you, I am shouldering most of the bills. It takes everything I have in me to not pull that card when we are in the trenches of an ugly argument. (I fail sometimes.)


I had been feeling bad about this, so it really helps hearing that others are going through it, too. The title of this thread couldn't have said it better for me, and I have even used those exact words to DH on multiple occasions.


Coincidental sidenote: Yesterday I logged on to PW to find the ingredients for LadyHope's lasagna toss recipe (ha!), and OF COURSE that is when DH came back into the house and chose to pick the fight. I explained that I was "working" and he said, "Oh yeah? It looks like you're PWing to me!" LOL! It was so not funny in the moment, but what could I say? I tried to explain, but it sounded completely ridiculous.

Posted on August 8, 2011 at 3:09 am
scgirl
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scgirl

It's one of those things that I've chosen NOT to fight about. I'm only about a week out of every month for my job so I designate one day I'm home our cleaning day. My DH goes into bachelor mode with the house and I usually come home with all of his crap spread out all over the place. After several disagreements he will now make sure to put some of his stuff away before I get home haha. 


When I was home all the time I just figured I would do the majorty of the picking up and cleaning up as I was in school and had more free time. 

Posted on August 8, 2011 at 1:18 pm
thisiscooling
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03/11/2011
thisiscooling

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thisiscooling

Its a relief to know that I am not the only one who experiences this! We DEFINITELY have issues about recognising each other's contribution to the house, however its more me getting angry that he's not doing enough. I will get mad if I come home and see, for example, that he has taken a drink of juice and not put the bottle back on the shelf, or came home and just left his gym bag in the hallway. I'm always getting frustrated that I seem to have a higher definition of what's clean and tidy than he does, while he argues that when he does stuff around the house he doesn't point it out to me like I do to him.


We're still working on it. I would like to do the couch time like doolittle suggests, but DH isn't overly keen on just sitting down and airing out all our differences since he thinks it is pointless and will descend into an argument.


I have very strong feminist views which meant that I have always refused to be a woman who just lets her husband do nothing and always cleans up after him, so I feel I really push him to do work around the house for fear that if I do it he will never get into a habit of doing it.


Generally, I think the partnership thing is something that takes a while for couples to work on and find a balance that is right for them. We shouldn't feel bad because we don't have it nailed within the first few months of marriage, it will come with time and learning more about each other.

Posted on August 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm
doolittlebride
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10/03/2010
doolittlebride

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doolittlebride

"I would like to do the couch time like doolittle suggests, but DH isn't overly keen on just sitting down and airing out all our differences since he thinks it is pointless and will descend into an argument."



This is actually good practice - airing out the little issues - WITHOUT arguing is good practice for when you do have major issues to discuss or have a conflict that you need to discuss.  By doing this every week and listening - that's the real key, is listening, empathizing and mirroring back to your partner (both of you!) - you learn better communication skills.  This is NOT easy stuff even if it's about little boogery things like cleaning house or things left out (my DH leaves his socks on the couch every night - weird how it irks me but it does!).  As we get better at discussing these things, it will give us a discussion pattern to discuss the bigger issues.


We had a tiff while on our trip.  He felt I was disrespecting him but waited hours to tell me later in our hotel room. While I appreciated him not unleashing on me in public, I knew he was angry and it made for an uncomfortable few hours.  I was able to calmly accept his anger and discuss how he felt I had disrespected him and yet also tell him that I wish he could learn to tell me there was an issue to be discussed "later" and then move on from that feeling until we had a place to discuss it.  He agreed. Years ago, I would have been SO MAD back at him for being like that and our discussion would have been a full-blown argument. Instead, we were very calm and it's all due to practicing on the "little things".


There is a relationship guru named Harville Hendrix that has a guide on conversations with your partner and how to listen and be heard. It's been helpful to us! (with the help of a counselor we went to, as well)

Posted on August 19, 2011 at 4:48 am
msdl
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msdl

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I agree, doolittle :-)


After our first couple arguments, I quickly realized that we came from two very different backgrounds when it came to conflict resolution. I'm more likely to avoid confrontation. I let small (and big) things pile on top of each other, until one day I snap and it all comes out. He is the opposite. In his family, there was a lot of drama and blowing up was normal. Both of us were bad at dealing with certain issues, and it took us sitting down and actually talking about our fights before we figured out how to communicate effectively :-) We have definitely made good use of that "couch time". For whatever reason, sometimes it takes place when we are driving long distances. I guess it helps that neither one of us can get out of the car ;-) It can be awkward, but mostly it really feels like we are listening to each other and resolving our conflicts.

Posted on August 19, 2011 at 7:37 am
Lilivati
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07/10/2010
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I have a similar problem, LadyHope, in that I'm always worried I don't do as much as him around the house, though I think some of it might just be female-programming-backlash.  We're both messy people so typically the place looks like a bomb went off in it, and 80% of the time we're both ok with that lol.  But he usually loses patience with the mess first.


My husband doesn't seem to mind though...he's never said anything about it or gotten upset about it with me.  Which makes me of course think that either a) he's resenting the hell out of it, or b) my rational instinct is correct and it's not as unbalanced as my emotional half believes.


We don't fight much, period.  Sometimes I think it would be healthier if we did? lol

Posted on August 31, 2011 at 7:46 am

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