Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It Just Doesn't Work

The whole purpose of having a blog for me is to write down stuff I think up so I can remember it later. Here's one of those insights:

It just doesn't work if she doesn't expect me to do stuff.

Here's what I mean: My beloved is a do-er, not a complainer. So it can be my "responsibility" to do the laundry or pay the bills, and if I don't do it (which I don't, or I do it sporadically), she picks up the slack. It's true that the more of these things I do, the less she has to do. I thought that was OK - not in the sense that the slacking was OK, but our relationship has always been cooperative. So if I'm doing as much as I can, it's natural for us, as has been for the last 25 years, for the other person to pick up the slack.

I realize now that this totally doesn't work because it doesn't create any reduction in what she's "responsible" for. In the sense that we're both responsible for keeping the household running. So if I do more stuff, she may do less stuff (or she may find other stuff to do), but the psychological weight of being responsible for getting all the business of running the household done is not reduced.

Let me also say that it's not a matter of my just doing more. It really needs to be an attitudinal shift on her part. Because she works at home. So no matter how much laundry I try to put through the system, she's going to be home when the stuff on the line gets dry, and she's going to be able to fold and put that away and start the next load. Nothing wrong with that per se, except that it means that she's still responsible for the laundry.

[It occurs to me that we could get to a place, once the expectations were right, that her doing the obvious practical thing like the laundry wouldn't do violence to the arrangement. But that depends on where we are and what our attitudes and expectations are. We could get there, but we're not there now.]

The other part of expectations is that it provides a standard by which to judge how good a job I'm doing. I'll make no secret of the fact that I want to be held to account by her and have her exercise her authority over me by assessing how I'm doing and providing or withholding privileges based on that, whether it's something "fun" like orgasm denial, or something un-fun like sleeping on the floor, or something mundane like no desserts or wine, or what. It really doesn't matter. What matters is a connection between what I'm responsible for doing to make her life easier, how well I do those things, and any other mudane part of life where she chooses to exercise her authority.

There are two stages to making this process "real" in my mind: doing something I'd rather not be doing, like being tired and working on the home business or the bills or a chore she's set out. And her assessment of the outcome of my work at some point - good enough or not good enough. It's not so much the reward and the punishment as her ability/authority to provide the reward or punishment. It's not even anything she has to do - just saying that I'm free to have an orgasm or not free to drink or have sweets until such-and-such a time. Those really do fall into the mode of Ms. Rika's quick reenforcements - the positive and the negatives. She need only take the time involved to assess the work and determine the outcome. I'm happy to do all the executing of the reward or punishment. It's the "she cares" part that I crave.

we'll have a long drive (to which she alluded) this weekend perhaps during which we can talk about this stuff. I'm also strongly inclined to show her this blog, because I really don't want there to be any secrets, and this is the last one.

Should be interesting.


Anonymous said...

Showing her your blog maybe risky, but only you can judge what her reaction maybe. It maybe the thing that she needs to help her understand the depth and extent of your feeling and desires, it maybe too much, and she may resent you sharing your thoughts with strangers.

Good Luck

graeme said...


I have a similar problem. We have been married for eons and only during the last five or so years have I tried to be submissive and carry the domestic load in a disciplinary wife led marriage. We have come a long way but, as in your home, my lady picks up the slack rather than leave things till I get home. Sometimes it feels like she is competing with me to see who can fold the laundry first etc. when I really want to do it.

Our problem is that old habits die hard and my Queen impulsively does chores which from my perspective are beneath her (they always were but she did them throughout decades of marriage) and should now be done by me.

When I find her cleaning the kitchen counter or making the bed for example and I try to take over from her, she argues with me "why shouldn't I do **** I've been doing it for most of our marriage?"

I really don't know how to handle these situations. I keep telling myself that she is the Queen and can do anything she wants; it is not my position to tell her what she can and can't do, but my love and my desire to serve her is at such a pitch that it upsets me when she refuses to let me make her life chore free.

Do any of your other readers have suggestions how to handle these situations?

Jamie said...

AAT - for sure you're right about that - I particularly worry about the "sharing your thoughts with strangers" part. But my rationale is two fold:

1) I really am finding the secrets thing to be toxic, and conversely, the fact that I can share my feelings with my beloved, as opposed to the past when I was feeling all sorts of ways but couldn't share it, is making me realize how important it is to be able to be candid about life. (Sorry - a little stream-of-consciousness there...) Like "How the heck do I know so much about blogging?" Oops, can't mention that. etc.

2) If this is really making me happier, and to some extent her, I think (because of my happiness and increased candor), then I owe that in some large part to all the bloggers I've read. So this is a way, I hope, of giving others a perspective of how this works out in one relationships.

But it's certainly not without risk.

Graeme, I don't know how far you've read back in this blog, but I certainly am concerned for myself/ourselves about this "I'm doing all the stuff I should have been doing since long ago, and now I'd like 'relationship credit' for it." If your wife is like my beloved, she's got a big balance in the "I put my shoulder to the wheel for years" account which you'll have to work off.

Trust that she's not trying to compete with you, she's just doing what comes naturally and is habit,and seems like the path of least resistance to her, in terms of getting drudgery out of the way. In my case, I think I have to accept some of that, and some of that we'll have to talk through. My beloved *likes* to clean the kitchen counters - likes the feeling of making something look better. And she does a better job than I do. So she does. NO problem there.

But one hopes there are some areas that you both can establish as your responsibility. If she's really willing to let go of those, then you've taken a small part of the responsibility of the day-to-day off her shoulders, and feel good about that.

Conversely, if you're doing it but she still feels responsible for it, maybe you've gotten yourself all hot-and-bothered about it, but you haven't really done much for her. Maybe that particular activity (whatever it is) just isn't one she can let go of, of isn't one that means anything to her. Then, for the both of you, you have to find something else.

Maybe more than you wanted to know, but the physician is trying to take his own advice here (i.e. me...)

Thanks for reading - good luck.


Owbee said...

You gotta tell her what's on your mind otherwise you'll both go nuts.

But consider this; if you knew your wife was going to read every post you have written, would you have written them the same?

When I started the blog which I knew my wife would be reading (and other wives, too), my life-long, self-absorbed tendencies where really called into question and I found myself thinking and writing from a different perspective.
It's been a very refreshing experience and my wife encourages me to continue.

Have you shown her
Some of it is pretty ho-hum but there are forum dialogs that are right on target for marriages such as yours or mine.