How can I communicate in "man terms" and not like a "emotional chick"?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2011
How can I communicate in "man terms" and not like a "emotional chick"?
12
Sun, 01-20-2013 - 8:15pm

I’ve come to the conclusion my husband has decided he wants a 1950’s housewife that also has a full time job. He had moved us 5 times in four years by accepting managerial promotions with his job. Each move he has become more and more demanding of me. My work hours are not constant sometimes I can work closing/opening shifts with just enough time in the middle to get 5 hours of sleep. Yet when I get home he goes off on a tangent talking about how he doesn’t understand why I cant keep a clean house and keep up with the dishes or laundry. We recently decided we wanted to try for kids but then he drops a bombshell of considering applying for a position 9 hours away from my family. This set me off. My life literally consist of working my ass off and going home and cleaning while he tells me I’m not doing a sufficient job.

I explained to him that that I needed help with chores and I didn’t want to move again because I’m tired of feeling unstable and didn’t want to raise children in a home where we could be uprooted any minute. I also explained how I feel he never considers how moving affects my life and my resume, I can’t do anything of enjoyment with my life because I’m to far from friends and family and we move to much for me to get more. He’s response to this was I was being over dramatic and was being selfish and preventing him from having the career he wants. Right now I have the flu…the house is a mess and of course I called into work. He had not once offered to get me a drink or medicine but has repeatedly gone on a tangent about how messed up the house is. When I started coughing he kept giving me dirty looks and asked if I’d be quiet cause he was trying to concentrate. Then later he goes to bed attempts to beckon me to the room and he’s completely oblivious why I have no interest in getting all hot and heavy. My husband was not this way when I met him his bad attitude towards me seems to have something to do with is job since with every move it gets progressively worse. I feel like when I describe my problems to him I come across as a needy emotional chick when all I want him is to step back and look at how he’s treating me. I’m not looking for “ leave his @$$” comments or comments bad mouthing him. I’m looking for constructive feed back on a better way to communicate with him. Any suggestions?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008

Please don't try for kids till you sort out expectations of each person's role and communications!  Kids can survive being uprooted if they have a stable family and the parents have a good relationship.  I have army brats friends who are happy and well adjusted.  Kids cannot, however, survive in an environment where the parents have a tenuous relationship.

Also, from a practical standpoint, if he would not give you care and help out when you have the flu, what kind of help could you expect from him when you have a baby? 

I think you were right in seeking counseling.

Community Leader
Registered: 05-14-2001

First, I totally agree with Demontespan that you need to get all this resolved to your satisfaction and see that it's stayed that way long enough for you to be sure it's going to stay that way before bringing children in. 

You say he didn't used to be this way...so what's the reason for the change?  I may be wrong but I suspect that you insisted on taking more of the household responsibilities until one day he stopped trying to help.  I can tell you from personal experience that when someone takes over the responsibilities, it's very easy to lose track of what should be shared.  It's so easy to fall into a place where you find yourself feeling that you're entitled to be taken care of that way and even feel put out when it's suggested that you should do part of it. I'm wondering though, when you're completely overwhelmed, have zero help and are buried in household duties to the point that you have no life other than work and housework and don't even have enough time to sleep, why in the world would you so much as entertain the idea of children? 

When you talk to him what do you say?  How do you say it?  Is your speech full of drama, high tones and "always" and "never" statements?  Are they calm and even, using "I" statements and speaking with facts and reality?  It may be that you're getting emotional and dramatic when you're talking about it, obviously we can't know that.   Here are some therapist-approved guides and tips for conflict resolution and healthy arguing:

The Lie About Trying Harder

Ten Rules For Fair Fighting

Verbal Fencing With Someone You Love

Dos and Don'ts For Fair Fighting

Conflicts - Points to Remember

Managing Anger, Conflict & Tension

What can you do?  There are two solutions:  You can hire a cleaning service to do the clean up, or you can stop taking care of everything.  I promise you that as long as you continue to do it all, he's going to continue to expect you to do it all.  Sit down with him and tell him you're no longer going to take care of it all.  If he's hearing it, the two of you can write up a list of chores and decide who does what.  If he's not hearing it make the list yourself and be clear with him what you consider his to take care of and what you will be taking care of.  If he complains, I would ask him why this will be hard for him?  After all, if he can't understand why you have a hard time keeping up with things, then it really shouldn't take much work on his part either right?  Then comes the hard part - do your part, but do no more.  If his job is dishes, leave them for him, no matter how long they sit, no matter how gross it gets.  No reminding, prompting or pushing.  Move forward with a mindset that he'll take care of them when he's ready.  If company comes by, it's his embarassment, not yours.  If the dishes all end up dirty and you have nothing to use, wash only what you need for yourself for your immediate use and leave the rest.  You know, one coffee cup in the morning.  One plate, fork and knife for a meal.  Seriously, do nothing for him.  Of course, this applies to any chore he's assigned to.  Eventually he'll see that you're really not going to do them and he'll step up.  If you cave and do it for him, you're telling him that he never has to do anything because you will, no matter what you say.  He just needs to hold out long enough and you'll take care of it for him.  Understand that if you use this method, you have to do it with a positive attitude, this is not meant to be a "pay back" or punishment to him, it's meant to give over responsiblity to him and get him to realize things have really changed.  This method works great on kids too -- they too will ignore their chores if they know you'll do the chores if they ignore them. 


~ cl-2nd_life

cl-2nd_
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-29-2002

For starters.

You cannot reason with someone who is not willing to behave reasonably.  And you cannot expect him to treat you respectfully, if you dont respect yourself first.  And part of respecting yourself is establishing healthy boundaries in which to maintain a healthy standard of living for yourself. 

IE Don't adhere to his expectations, but rather say "Honey, I love you, but you either get the 50s housewife or the working wife, not both"

He can dismiss you, and he can fuss.  But he will still have to live with one or the other.  Not both. 

And second, you have just as much say in this relationship as your DH does.  And you are free to tell him NO, whether he likes it or not.

At this time, you are pandering to his preferences.  And in turn, you are neglecting yourself.

I know how hard it is to have a life, when you are uprooted often and having to adjust.  Due to my DH's career, we moved 4 times in 4 years.  It was certainly not ideal, but at the time it was indeed necessary in order for him to stay employed and for us to be able to support our family financially.  We have 4 kids, and while the moves were not easy on them, they have adjusted.  BUT DH and I have also always worked hard to find a healthy balance in our marriage.

Maybe start small.  Look at your current schedule and decide what YOU can live without, and do it.  Let your DH know what change you are making.  And then make it.  As long as it does not detrimentally affect (ie cause you to risk not being able to afford to eat, pay rent, etc).  Then make the change and see what happens.  Your DH may fuss, but most likely he will adjust, and he will probably come to appreciate a slightly happier wife.

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Community Leader
Registered: 05-14-2001

I didn't ask a couple of important questions.... what is it that makes you think you're coming off like an emotional female?  Also - since he disregards you then expects you to be interested in sex, it seems clear the problem is about more than household duties and expectations and more to address and fix.  When you talk to him do you talk TO him or AT him?  What are his responses? 


~ cl-2nd_life

cl-2nd_
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2011

Thank you everyone for the constructive feedback. I have never insisted on taking on all household responsibilities especially cleaning. My grandmother raised me and was a typical 1950’s housewife and picked up after me. So keeping a clean house is something I’ve had to learn. I am by far not a perfect housekeeper but I’m learning. All the more reason why I’ve explained to him I needed his help. Having a housekeeper is out the question financially. When I verbally try to discuss issues with him I start to lose track of my points so I recently wrote him and letter explaining to him how I felt. I told him I loved him very much but I felt sometimes he didn’t care and that I felt emotional unsupported . That I need his help with more than one thing and that I wish he would include me in big decisions like when it comes to moving and how it affected me. His response was “ I’m sorry you feel that way I didn’t realize me and my career was such and inconvenience to you” …I feel as he totally missed the point. I dunno why I think I come across as an emotional female except that fact I truly mean what I say and I feel very strongly about it. I’m not a naggy wife. I actually feel he is the nag. I do suppose I get very defensive when he ask me to do something that he himself would not do.

Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010

  Hi I am chuckling here.  Have you realized that both you & H are acting 1950's?  He is being a 1950's husband!  IBM usually meant I've Been Moved!  What career have you chosen?  First off both are acting the roles that you were programmed to be.  It is just not that He is doing but both are doing.  You may not realize it. 

     The expectation at this point is a complete transformation of communications.  Men like directness.  Do not Hint!  men do not get hints because when we talk amoung ourselves we (Yes I am Male)are very direct.  There is no mistaking what action is desired. 

    Just "talking" will not work.  To most men it is annoying.  Worse many women choose the absolute worst times to have a talk.  Most men are not as verbal(we are direct remember).  First I suggest reading some books.  Male books, Warrior books,

 

The Complete Book of Five Rings [Paperback]
Miyamoto Musashi (Author), Kenji Tokitsu (Translator)


Thick Black Theory: Forbidden Strategies For Victory by Zhao An Xin

Thick Face, Black Heart by Chu Chin-Ning
The Art of War by Sun Tzu - Classic Collector's Edition: Includes The Classic Giles and Full Length Translations [Paperback]


The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

On War: The Complete Edition by General Carl von Clausewitz 

   There are other books but they are easy reading an are cotton candy compared to a 13 course meal.  Some will not be easy reading.    But with a computer research is easy. 


Goldfish

Community Leader
Registered: 05-14-2001

You're missing something obvious.  If your grandmother raised you and was a "typical 50's housewife", then that explains a lot.  She was your example.  No, you didn't pick up after yourself, but you learned that women do.  Have you not noticed that the woman who served as your example is what you describe your husband as expecting?  Seems that he got what he expected, and that's not a coincidence!  The observation made because once you recognize it, it's easier to deal with and modify.

I've asked some specific question and it's hard to get a good feel for the situation without specific responses, of course that's your choice, but in your reply you talk about getting off track and his reaction to your written word....it's hard to know whether or not what you're saying is part of the problem without hearing specifics and likewise it's hard to know if getting off track might be a subtle sabotage without specifics.  It's hard to for me to think you'd get off track as important as this is to you.  When he says he's sorry you feel that way and acts hurt, it may not be anything you did wrong, it may simply be him being upset..or it might be his way of deflecting discussion.  Hard to know from what we've been told here.

It is indeed possible that how you're presenting your problem, whether spoken or written, can effect his response.  The articles I posted for you should provide some help in how to present things.  It's true that men and women speak different languages.  A good book that illustrates the different ways men and women speak and perceive what the opposite sex says is "Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus" by John Gray.

Good luck!


~ cl-2nd_life

cl-2nd_
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-27-2004

Ms_Quandary, I apparently see this completely differently from most of the other posters, because I see a person who has been doing her best for an increasingly distant, demanding, and manipulative man.  You say you don't want to leave him (or at least, you don't want to be told to leave him), and it's certainly too early for that.  You don't have to feel, however, that this situation is all your fault.  Your husband is definitely playing you to get you to go along with what he wants.

When you told him you wanted to participate in deciding whether or not you would move, his response of "I'm sorry my career is so inconvenient to you," was not constructive.  It was intended to make you feel guilty and to make you shut up.  Moving five times in four years would stress out anyone, particularly when you don't get a say in it.  Are you the one who does all the packing, makes the moving arrangements, and finds a place to live in the new city?  How much notice do you get?  When my husband was in the moving phase of his career, we would get at most a week before we were supposed to be on the ground in the new place, and it wasn't a military situation with base housing.

Complaining about the lack of housework is another way of keeping you in your place.  2nd_life is right that you need to be able to tell him that you need him to pitch in (and you probably need to be specific: "I need you to fold the laundry, load the dishwasher, and vacuum the living room," for example), but there is a difference between being clueless about taking on some jobs and browbeating someone because there are not enough hours in her day to work two full time jobs.

Finally, I'm not at all surprised that you can't get your husband to have a reasonable conversation about these issues.  You are assuming that he wants to get things clarified and resolved, but his behavior suggests that he has little interest in meeting your needs, he just wants things the way he wants them.  This accounts for his "going off on a tangent," as you describe it.  You say, "I don't want to move again right now," and he says, "You won't support me in my career."  You say, "I feel lousy, and I'm not going to work today," and he says, "Why is this place such a mess?" and then wants sex.  When you are trying to talk to him, he keeps deflecting the conversation from the path you want to take it on; this is a common tactic of a person who doesn't want any changes and doesn't plan to accept any responsibilities.

I encourage you to talk this out with a professional.  If your husband won't go with you, which I feel is very likely, go by yourself and learn not only to communicate more effectively, but to recognize when your attempts at communication are being thwarted.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2012

I agree with the others that you might learn to communicate with him in his own language.

My hubby was raised by a woman that did everything for him, and when she visits, even at the age of 84, still loves to clean, cook and do laundry, and of course pick up after her only son.

My husband learned early on that I was not going to be like his mom. He cooks, cleans and helps with the kids. He has retired recently and has pretty much taken on all the household duties. But, when he was working, 4 days away from home, on his 3 days home, he didn't just sit around but helped me out. I refuse to nag him so I put a dry erase board on the wall in the hallway and if he forgets to do something I put it on the board and he can see without me having to remind him that "this" hasn't been done and it keeps us from arguing or him saying I am nagging him. Sometimes he even tells me thanks cause he "forgot" something he meant to do.

So, you do need to work on who's responsible for what and as was said, don't do it for him if he doesn't do it, just let it sit. If he is so worried about the "mess" than he will take care of it.

And the comment about his job inconveniencing you was like a kid throwing a bit of a temper tantrum.

Hopefully you two will get your relationship on a better track.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2011

Let me get this straight...I was raised by a 1950's housewife not raised to be one. My grandmother was actually a college grad who chose to stay home with her children when they were young. When she tried to go back to work the medical field had advanced past her training. And since I had a deadbeat dad my mother worked her @$$ off while my grandmother took care of me. They both insisted I grow up to be self sufficient and not be dependant on a man. Nor have I ever showed 1950's housewife traits. I grew up on a farm and I was a granddads girl. My husband knew I'd rather be outside working on an engine or driving a tractor anything that kept me from being cooped up inside. Also my husbands mother was not the type to baby him she was quite the opposite she was more

“ if you don’t pick that $#*! Up I’ll bust your @$$” type. And to answer another question each time we move I’m lucky if I get a two week notice. Usually my husband goes on ahead finds some horrible rental to live in and I’m left packing after I’m finishing my two weeks at work. After we finally get to our destination I’m the one unpacking and looking for a job which with each move has become increasingly harder because when they glance at my resume it looks like I cant keep a job longer than a year. I don’t have a career because I have never been able to stay anywhere long enough to develop one. I was even considering school but again it hardly seems worth starting when you know you might be uprooted. Right now I’m in a different place(whether good or bad I dunno) but I’ve pretty much been doing what I want when I want. I clean when I want, cook when I feel like it, etc. Because I feel like what’s the point at busting my @$$ when our life revolves around his job anyways. My feelings were hurt so badly I’ve been down in the dumps. My husband is now asking why I haven’t been hugging and kissing him and that I hardly don’t even talk to him. I just don’t feel enthusiastic about anything right now and I kind of just wanna be left to myself for the moment. Don’t know how to explain that to him and I’m sure its not healthy for our relationship but right now I’m just emotionally drained.

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