How to Assume the Blame


My Poor Husband Just Wanted to Ride His Bike


A Long Post that is Worth Reading to the End (Hint, Hint, Hint)

A few days ago, I wrote about How to Defuse Anger. Many of you asked for more guidance on step 4: assuming the blame. I was expecting that, as it’s the hardest part of the process. Assuming the Blame requires you to shed your pride and embrace your humility.

My problem was this: I didn’t have a good recent situation that I could use as an example.

Until Monday.

Around 4 p.m., my husband came home from work. I was in my running clothes. He asked, “Are you going running?”

Since it was QUITE OBVIOUS that I was going running, I instantly suspected a trap.

“Yea-ah,” I said slowly. “Why?”

“Could you pick up Kaarina?” (Note: we alternate retrieving our daughter from daycare and this was HIS day to do it, which is why I had not run EARLIER IN THE DAY.)

“I’m going running,” I said.

“I know, but could you pick her up?”

“It’s 4 p.m. If I pick her up, I won’t have time to shower, and I can’t go to meditation class tonight without showering.”

“You’ll have time. I’ll be home by 6.”

“There’s not enough time.”

“Yes, you can do it. Pleeeeeeeese?”

“Alright,” I said. “Fine.”

“Are you sure?” he asked.

The answer to that question was “NYAHIANS” (have fun interpreting that one), but I mumbled, “Yes,” and I left for my run.

To understand the state of my anger, you need to know a few facts. First, him asking me to rearrange my day in order to make his day more convenient is a Hot Button Issue for me. When our marriage fell apart years ago, my unhappiness stemmed from him asking me to take on more and more responsibility so he could assume less and less of it. When things were at their worst, I was shouldering nearly all of the parenting responsibilities while also serving as the household breadwinner.

We’ve, of course, come a long way since then. We now have an elaborate parenting system in place.

But the point is this: I’m basically a generous person, but whenever my husband asks me to sacrifice my time, I go from happy to pissed off in a matter of nanoseconds.

So there I was running through town. Every curse word that had ever been spoken was running through my mind. And, yes, I was even talking to myself. I was quite the pissed off spectacle.

During all of this, I was reminding myself, “This is great! Now you can blog about this! Now you can practice your Buddhism! What a great opportunity!”

This Great Opportunity, though, did little to calm me. So by the time I got home, I was mentally blaming my husband for every possible misfortune.

Dripping with sweat, I made a marinade and put the fish in it. I got marinade all over the kitchen floor. His fault! If I wasn’t in a hurry, this wouldn’t have happened!

I sliced up broccoli and mixed it with oil and salt so I could roast it. I dropped a few pieces. The dog chewed up one of them, leaving tiny green bits all over our white carpet. His fault!

As I drove to pick up our daughter, I got behind a slow-driving car. His fault!

There was not a single good song on the dang radio! His fault!

And so it went.

By the time I picked up our daughter, I could feel the anger ebbing. I even laughed a couple times as I tried to blame really silly things on him that obviously were not really his fault.

I wasn’t completely calm, mind you, but I was kinda close. So I thought about how I would Accept the Blame.

“Why are you so angry?” I asked myself.

It took me a while to figure that out. At first, I thought, “Because he’s a stupid idiot who doesn’t love me or respect me.”

Not helpful.

Eventually, though, I realized that I was angry because I’d said Yes when I’d really wanted to say No. I’d agreed to do something that I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to do it for myself, and I didn’t want to do it for him, either.

What I wanted was to go back in time and undo my Yes. That way I could have gone for a longer run. Then I could have taken a nice long leisurely shower. And then I could have made the dinner I’d been looking forward to making all day long: marinated fish with roasted broccoli and twice baked potatoes.

Then I could eaten the twice baked potatoes. Then my daughter and husband would have marveled out loud about my potatoes.

And then I would have taken my happy, potato-filled self to meditation class.

I wouldn’t have had to rush. I wouldn’t have made a mess in the kitchen because I was rushing,

I certainly would not have forgotten to put salt in the potatoes because I was rushing!

And dang it, the potatoes would have been cooked and done LONG BEFORE IT WAS TIME TO GO TO MY CLASS.

Alright, that was settled. I was really mad at myself.

But I was also mad at my husband, especially when I saw him walk in the door 15 MINUTES AFTER 6 PM with his CYCLING GEAR ON. Geez oh man, you don’t even want to know about the angry thoughts that took place inside my head once I realized that I’d done all of this to myself so he could have a NICE LEISURELY BIKE RIDE AT MY EXPENSE.

Livid? Doesn’t come close to describing it.

The potatoes were done about 2 minutes before it was time for me to leave. I inhaled one, burning all of the skin off the roof of my mouth.

His fault! Yes, I was back to that.

I managed to keep my angry thoughts to myself, and I left for meditation class. Well, that fixed me. Meditation always does. It’s magic. By the end of the class, I was laughing at myself for being so angry about something so trivial.

Back at home, I sat next to my husband. I muted the TV. And I said this:

“I didn’t want to pick up Kaarina. I don’t know why I agreed to do it. I do that sometimes. I say Yes when I really mean No. And then I get mad that I’m doing something that I don’t want to do. I wish I were more assertive, but I’m not as assertive as I’d like to be. I still agree to do things because I want to make you happy and because I want to please you, even though I feel taken advantage of and resentful. I also worry that you will get mad if I say no. Would you have?”

“No, I wouldn’t have been mad,” he said.

“I don’t like feeling this angry with you, so I was wondering if we could do this. When you want me to change our parenting schedule, could you ask me the day before and give me 24 hours to make a decision? That way I’ll have time to think about what I really want and whether or not I’ll end up feeling resentful.”

I’d planned to say a little more, but my husband cut me off and said, “Yes!”

It wasn’t a “just shut up so I can watch TV yes.” It was a “Wow, I’m so relieved that you didn’t just blame all of the world’s problems on me” yes.

And although you might say that I had a right to blame him for a few things, it felt a lot better to dig deep down, find the true cause of my anger, accept the blame for it, and allow my husband to know the more vulnerable me. We’re closer as a result.

And, in the end, we’ll get to a better place.

Do you agree?

Tomorrow: I’ll list real and hypothetical situations for Accepting the Blame. Friday: I’ll list ways you can defuse your own anger.

What do you want me to write about? I’m inspired by a fellow blogathoner who is allowing blog readers to help him design his own website. I thought I’d try something similar. The first 21 people to suggest a topic in today’s comments will have their wish come true. I will write about whatever you tell me to write about. Snails? Bring them on. Garbage? So all over that. Really, anything goes. (I think?) So tell me what you’d like me to address here on the blog and I will make it happen.

47 comments… add one

  • gregclimbs May 5, 2010, 10:41 am

    NYAHIANS – NoYouA**HoleIAmNotSure?

  • Alisa May 5, 2010, 10:43 am

    Gregclimbs: you are clairvoyant!

  • gregclimbs May 5, 2010, 10:44 am

    Nope, just thought it myself as well…before. :D

  • JohnMcG May 5, 2010, 11:06 am

    I have trouble with this as well.

    Last Thursday, my wife called at 4:15 at work if I can pick my daughter at dance class. I could, but it would require pushing a couple things back at work.

    In my mind, the deal is that if I do this task, this will allow my wife to get dinner ready so I can have a more relaxing evening.

    The reality is that I come home and my wife is playing a game with my other daughter. The one usually open space in our kitchen counter has a box of videos I perceive I am implicitly expected to carry down to the basement (where I find a cat pee mess that I have to deal with). The sink is full of dirty dishes, and the dishwasher still has the clean dishes from when I ran it the previous night. And I am asked what we will have for dinner, with what I perceive as the implicit expectation that I will prepare it.

    Now, obviously the problem is that I did not communicate what I thought the “quid-pro-quo” was with me picking up my daughter.

    But I have a hard time figuring out how to communicate that without (in my mind) coming off like Patriarchal Husband from a 1950′s sitcom. Why should I require some concession for the simple act of picking up my daughter? Isn’t she my daughter too? Why should I expect dinner to be served when I come home? Should my wife touch up her make-up and bring me a cold drink, too?

  • Alisa May 5, 2010, 11:33 am

    JohnMcG: so I think there are three issues here. 1) Your inability to validate your own feelings. You’re trying to talk yourself out of feeling resentful, but you still feel resentful. Keep searching for the WHY. It might go deeper than you realize. 2) The unknown: you don’t know what your wife does all day, and you suspect it’s a lot less than you’d like. Talk about this. Obviously, careful wording is in order. But maybe: “I feel resentful whenever XXXX. I don’t want to feel resentful. Whenever I feel that way, I feel guilty on top of it because it’s like I’m this 1950s stereotypical provider who expects XXX. And I don’t want to have those expectations. But I do. Could you help me to understand why you XXXX? I think that will help me to feel less resentful.” 3) The communication in the moment. Saying “yes” when follow up questions are in order. (I obviously do the same thing, so in no way am I suggesting that any of this is second nature or easy.)

  • sympathetic May 5, 2010, 11:49 am

    John- why would you feel bad about having some expectations? the only problem is not communicating those expectations. when one partner is the sole wage earner, i think it’s absolutely normal for the stay at home partner to do the majority of the parenting/homemaking while you are at work. if both partners work, then housework and parenting should get split 50-50. If the situation were reversed and a stay at home dad wasn’t pulling his weight to his working wife’s satisfaction, you can be pretty sure she would voice her feelings about being taken advantage of and wouldn’t feel guilty about it.

    No, you don’t need a cold drink etc when you come home 50′s style. but you do need your PARTNER to work as hard as you do and to take your opinion into account. I’m sure you take her opinion and expectations into account in your job/salary- you wouldn’t just decide to take a job at 1/3 the pay and put your family in tighter financial conditions because it would be much more professionally satisfying, would you?

    I’m all for sharing the work. If my spouse works/makes an effort during the day at home, while I’m working at the office, then we should share the work when we are both home. But if the stay at home spouse has time for a nap during the day when the kids are at school and the working spouse has to come home and cook dinner/clean up? or if the stay at home spouse is playing board games instead of taking care of household responsibilities? it seems something is out of whack. i struggle with this at home. my wife and family expect a certain lifestyle, which motivates me to a certain income, and my boss motivates me b/c it’s a job they are paying me for. if i don’t meet those expectations there is pretty immediate feedback, and it’s not taken personally. but when i ask my partner to be more considerate of me in terms of housework, I look like a controlling A**hol* because I’m her partner. it’s difficult stuff to communicate without it turning into a perceived attack.
    the work needs to be shared, and there needs to be an agreement on what the most important responsibilities are and how they will be shared.
    parent A working with kids on homework while parent B makes dinner? that seems fair. parent A playing on the computer while parent A makes dinner and helps kids with homework? not so fair.

  • Sabrina May 5, 2010, 12:18 pm

    Please write about when its time to finally walk away from a marriage. When to stop feeling guilty and do what is best for you and your daughter and to stop feeling sorry for someone who doesnt want to be with you.

  • Sarah May 5, 2010, 12:35 pm

    Okay, @sympathetic just said everything I was thinking as I read JohnMcG’s comment! My husband and I have a similar set-up: He works full time, and I am a stay home mum. I’ll admit, there were times, especially when the kids were little, when I would feel a bit “cranky” (that’s a nice word) when I had to mop up spilled juice for the third time in an hour, or whatever, and I would be thinking, “SO glad I got that English degree!” (Although, honestly, what else are you going to do with one?) but for the most part I realized that we each had our jobs, and my job as stay home parent was the house. I took/take responsibility for the cleaning, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, kid-related stuff, while he busts his butt at work. I think there’s a bit of a misconception that the working spouse is having some big party at work, while the stay home spouse does nothing but “boring” housework. My husband assures me that 98% of his job is just as boring as cleaning a toilet (not sure I quite believe him there, but that’s the idea…) A situation where the spouse who works outside the home comes home to no dinner underway and dirty dishes? Unless the stay home spouse has the flu, definitely not fair! I think some people think that looking after kids is a full time job, and that the rest of the housework/cooking should be shared…I disagree there. It is definitely possible to be the main care-giver to the kids and do the housework. I think, though, that there’s this perception that this isn’t how modern families should do things, or that it’s antiquated for men to expect women to do all the housework…however, as another commenter mentioned, if the roles were reversed, a woman would waste no time telling her stay-home hubby to smarten up if he were letting the household stuff go!

  • Basher183 May 5, 2010, 12:50 pm

    Hey John

    I also suffer from these situations and I found a ton of great information in a little book called “Hold on to Your Nuts”. I like this site becasuse I need much work on listening skills. I am a full on male problem solver and I think I drive my sweet wife nuts and cause her to shut down on me. The articles on here give me a feminine perspective I lack because of that. Anyways, the book is written for men and it has provided me with some good information on handling these potetially explosive situations.

    Alisa, I also suffer from a cycling addiction and becase of this little gem I have a better idea as to why I may be coming home to a less than happy wife, even when I get her blessing to get in a spin at the expense of someting else. I was always thinking why is she so upset at someone who wants to exercise? Its not like I was at the bar slamming beer with boys or something. Good information. Thanks Tim

  • JohnMcG May 5, 2010, 12:57 pm

    From my reading of previous posts, Alisa’s husband’s “bike” is a motorcycle.

    Thanks for the feedback. It’s true that there’s some, well, bad optics around a breadwinning husband raising complaints about a SAHM’s housework, but maybe I just need to get over them.

  • Alisa May 5, 2010, 1:23 pm

    Oh, my husband has a motorcycle, too, and a dirt bike (motorcycle designed to go off road) BUT his true love is cycling on a bicycle. He owns a bike shop (for bicycles). He loves cycling like I love writing, so I can relate NOW. When things were really bad, I was jealous of the bike like it was some other woman. Oh, let me tell you: spouses can become jealous of anything that monopolizes one’s time–whether it’s a vice or a virtue. Now things are a lot better, and I would never want him to give up what he loves the most. But, once you become parents, the balance is a lot harder to achieve.

  • Sarah Liz May 5, 2010, 1:26 pm

    This is a great post, Alisa! I really liked all the of the details and the way you were honest about what you feeling & thinking! I also like the happy ending–if only we could all communicate as well as you and Mark! Practice, practice, right?

    Actually, I did practice this great communication last night and I’d like to share it with you all:

    I was actually thinking last night that if you don’t mind, I’d like to know a few of the books you read during the darker part of your marriage.

    The books that you think helped save your marriage–when you didn’t go to counseling but spent 12 months reading self-help books??

    I am interested to know what kind of books you read and if possible, even a tittle or two! I think that’d be really cool!

    This post really inspired me to chill out, last night, after dinner my husband and I had to talk about our finances–and I actually stayed really, really calm and mellow. And we were able to practice that great communication, here’s the story:

    He wanted to talk about money first thing yesterday when I got out of bed and I said “No. I really don’t want to talk about this right now. Please. Not first thing in the morning. Let me meditate today and think about what I really want to say about this issue, okay. Can we talk about it tonight after dinner?” And he said yes! Yay!

    I was able to think about my REAL point, how I really felt and then when the time came last night, I was able to convey that in a mellow, loving and respectful manner. I was quite proud of myself. When he started to get testy, I said “I don’t want to be angry tonight, or at all really. You wanted my opinion and this is how I feel. Please just listen to me, I’d really appreciate it.” And he did! (I listened to him and he made some good points too!) I was SO proud of him too!

    My husband and I are really stubborn and sometimes have trouble knowing when to shut up, so for us, this was a huge accomplishment!

    I felt so much better after our conversation, and even if we didn’t SOLVE the whole money issue (who does that anyway? Ever? Unless you’re a millionaire?), we both felt a lot better that we were honest, respectful and willing to listen to each other. We crossed a hurdle and we’re very proud!

    This morning, he came up to me right when I got up and put his arms around me and said “Good morning, babe.” Very cool!

    This blog is helping, your posts are helping….little by little! Thank you! Have a fabulous day!

    Many Blessings,
    -Sarah Liz :)

  • Elizabeth V. May 5, 2010, 1:42 pm

    Hi Alisa-
    I found your site several weeks ago through a general google search about relationships. I’m not currently married, but my boyfriend and I have been dating for eight years and have lived together for almost two. We were engaged, but recently he dropped the “I’m not sure I still love you” bomb. I guess I would like to know if it is the marriage certificate, the time invested or the love that was once felt that makes it possible to begin working to rekindle a relationship the way you have done with your husband.

  • Newlywed & Unemployed May 5, 2010, 1:45 pm

    I find taking the blame to be incredibly empowering. It takes me right out of the victim cycle and gives me back all the power to change the situation and myself.

    When I left my first husband, there was a lot he’d done wrong. A lot I felt hurt about and a lot that wasn’t my fault. But it did me no good and I was deceiving myself that I hadn’t had a role in the mess our marriage had become.

    I made a list of everything I’d done wrong, I even apologized to him for a couple of them and I moved on with my head high and certain that by acknowledging my blame, I’d be better at not making the same mistake twice. And I was no longer the victim. Not that I was proud of my failures, but I was very happy to give him less and less control and credit. If that makes sense.

    It works well in daily life, like you described, too. Each time I apologize or say “I was wrong” or “that was my fault” it gets easier and it makes Gary feel more secure with me. No crazy woman coming from left field with a wheelbarrow of blame.
    .-= Newlywed & Unemployed´s last blog ..To Do Tuesday =-.

  • CW May 5, 2010, 1:55 pm

    I emailed Alisa about this issue already and you were a great help. Now I’m just looking for feedback/opinions from others. Maybe it’ll help give me further clarity about my issue.

    I am in a relationship of 9 years in which my bf has been unemployed for 3 years. He has so much anxiety about going back to work b/c he’s experienced so many work issues in all his jobs. The jobs he can get will not bring in much money and with his student loans in default at the end of the month he will have close to nothing. He does not see the point of working a job that will make him miserable and doesn’t pay. He is experiencing a mid life crisis at 37 and wants to enjoy his life and pursue what he loves to do and doesn’t want to have to worry about the burden of making money. I make enough to make ends meet but I don’t want to remain in a relationship with a guy who will not be working. I’m embarrassed about this fact and I don’t speak about it to anyone. Our families cannot help because they themselves are stuck in dead end jobs. He says that it’s not like he won’t be working for the rest of his life but for now he wants to pursue what he loves to do and I want a deadline of when he’s going to go back to work and he says whether he can get a job or not is out of his hands in this market.

    He doesn’t believe in career coaches or therapist b/c it won’t change his view on working a miserable job he won’t enjoy but that’s all he can get. I’ve suggested going back to school but it’s something we cannot really afford to do b/c he has a huge student loan he hasn’t started paying back. He’s ‘dying’ on the inside and its tearing us apart and I don’t know if this is a sign that I should let it go and move on. We have no kids and the past 3 years of unemployment he took care of the household chores. He’s a wonderful loving person with lots of anxiety about work and says he doesn’t want to be a disappointment in my eyes because he can’t match my income level. I feel like if I leave him it’s only for the money and relationships bring more happiness than money. But his unemployment is something we always argue about that does not get resolved and I’m waiting for it to be resolved because I won’t accept it. Has anyone been in a similar situation or have any feedback or advice?

  • Elizabeth V. May 5, 2010, 2:21 pm

    I have been on the other side of this situation (minus the not wanting to get a job). Around Christmas 2008, I was laid off from work. Although I started applying for jobs right away, I refused to apply to fast food joints (which was a prideful mistake). It took me five months to find a temporary job, and another four to find the job I currently hold. During that time, money was a very loaded issue for my boyfriend and I. He felt I wasn’t trying hard enough to find a job and that it was making it impossible for us to make ends meet. I felt rejected on numerous levels and ashamed that I could not support myself. In the end, the things that helped were pretty basic. Finding a permanent job was important and played a role in renewing my confidence as well as his. It also really helped to lay out a budget of what each of us was contributing. The most important thing however, was to have calm, open discussions about our needs and our frustrations. I will not pretend that the months of fighting didn’t leave us wary (and weary)- and if you read my above post, that is obvious. But I believe this is something you can work through.

    You say your boyfriend wants to do what he loves- does this mean he wants to sit around and be lazy all day, or does he have a dream that he would like to follow? If so, is it possible this dream could eventually turn into a career or business? Does it require an investment or is it something that can be done with little or no capital?

    Does he feel rejected because he hasn’t been hired by a company he would like to work for? Is he worried that if he accepts a job that makes him unhappy, that he will not be able to disconnect from his job when he leaves work for the day? Does he feel entitled to do whatever he wants while you work hard to support the household? Does he feel like he is defined by the job he holds? Does he feel like a failure? You may already know the answers to some of these questions, but basically it seems like you both need to dig deeper to figure out the root of the problem.

    I am still pretty young, and I have already learned that sometimes you just have to do things you don’t want to do because it is the only way to make ends meet, and to someday achieve the things you do want. Your boyfriend may not like the jobs he can get now, but they might make better things possible for him in the future if he just lays down his pride and works hard. He should not expect you to foot the bill just because he doesn’t want to go to work- not if this is something you are uncomfortable with.

  • Anne W May 5, 2010, 2:37 pm

    I totally agree with getting in touch with the real source of anger. It helps you make better choices the next time you’re at that crossroads…and there will be another time. If you had said, no, I can’t pick up the little one, then you might still have had some uneasy feelings about it all e.g. how selfish of me, I really should be more supportive of him, etc. Both choices have consequences but when you understand the real reasons for your anger, at least you can deal with the real issues. Even after 7 years I still have a twinge or two or three when I decline to help my partner out of similar difficulties. But I’m getting better at dealing with the results of my choices. Best of luck to you!

  • CW May 5, 2010, 3:12 pm

    Thank you so much for your post. Dig deeper to the root of my problem with him not working. I’ve thought about it before because I know him working will not be making a significant income contribution to the household but if I do that why am I still insistent that he still work? Is it society standards that I insist upon? I’ll be bringing this up with my therapist.

    My boyfriend loves to play his guitar but he’s still learning it and he can’t see a way to turn it into a career so he feels so much guilt when he plays it because it doesn’t lead to income. And he doesn’t want to take any job that makes him unhappy because he won’t be able to disconnect from it when he’s home. He’ll bring the stress and frustration with him and our household atmosphere suffers that’s why he doesn’t work. Why spend 40 hours at a miserable job to come home to be just as miserable? So he definitely feels he’s failed himself in life and me as well and it’s something he is struggling with. But at the same time he doesn’t feel entitled to do whatever he wants either because he says it is my money.
    I’ll keep working at it but I wish you the best of luck with your bf. I believe your love can be re-kindled but I think with the issues you’ve had in the past with your bf just made you guys focus on the problems and you forgot to work on the love part of the relationship.

  • Melissa May 5, 2010, 3:28 pm

    Hi Alisa,

    I have a topic suggestion. I’d love to hear a post on what you wish you had known before you got married.

    Clearly, you love your husband – like any couple you have your ups and downs. Despite not being married myself (yet) I love reading your blog because you have an incredible voice and because a lot of your tips are also valuable in any long-term relationship, regardless of if rings have been exchanged (yet). I’ve been dating the same guy for 6 years and find a lot of your tips, strategies and ideas really useful. But I’d love to hear about the kind of advice the *Now* you would have given the *before marriage* you… (that is, the advice you’d give someone like me).

    Thanks! Thrilled that you opened topics up for suggestions.

  • Melissa May 5, 2010, 3:43 pm

    Also, just a follow up note (though possibly I should post this in the thread from the relevant post) – After reading your post the other day about things your other half does that turn you on (and posting there with a long comment with pros and cons) I texted him and told him he was awesome, with no explanation. Well we talked about it last night and I told my guy that I had made quite a long list of little things that he does and that I appreciate and reaffirmed that he’s awesome. It was clear I’d made his night.
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..It’s the Little Things =-.

  • Kathy May 5, 2010, 7:15 pm

    Glad someone figured out what N…….. means.

    Great blog.

    Blog ideas: I had one up until last night. My daughter and I hadn’t spoken in 9 weeks. But she called last night, so I don’t need a blog about that anymore. Also, hot flashes, but I don’t figure you’re there yet, so you probably don’t have any experience with them.

    I have no blog ideas. I enjoy reading whatever you come up with. And it seems there are a lot more “followers”, so there are a lot more comments to read.

  • Kathy May 5, 2010, 7:33 pm

    @CW, I’m curious why after 9 years you aren’t married? You’ve been in an unmarried relationship longer than I was in my first marriage. No disrespect intended, I’ve just never been one to not get married (hence three marriages – maybe I did it wrong?.)

    I’ve been with guys that don’t work – can’t find a job, got laid off, etc. It doesn’t work for me. Or the relationship wasn’t working and the no job was the icing on the cake.

    If I were in your shoes, I’d be wondering where is the relationship going.

  • Kathy May 5, 2010, 7:38 pm

    @John, I agree with Sympathetic.

    I’m a housewife with no kids at home. My husband expects me to take care of the house. That’s it. And when we did have kids at home, he still expected me to take care of the house. He was out working to make the money so I could be at home.

    I get that your wife wants or needs to give one child some one-on-one time. But it shouldn’t be your responsibility after working all day to come home and get dinner on the table. Just my opinion.

  • Karen May 5, 2010, 8:25 pm

    Topic: Why am I pissed off at my husband for being sick?

  • Robert Keteyian May 5, 2010, 8:36 pm

    What a great story! One question I ask myself when I get caught up in all the reasons I have for being angry and right is: Do you want to be right or effective? It always gets me, because being right is a way to keep conflict going. Whereas, being effective means trying to actually solve a problem and look at my own behavior. It takes a lot of discipline and, though I hate to admit, I love being right.

  • Beth May 5, 2010, 8:43 pm


    Could it be a perception issue on her part? I work from home and we homeschool, so the dynamic is a bit different. My husband does work outside the home, but he comes home and makes dinner most nights, BUT he loves to cook. It’s a form of relaxation for him, so me doing it takes some of his “fun” away. He also loves to do laundry (and those of you looking, no he is not available and he’s an only child) and gets really irritated when I do laundry.

    On the other hand, he doesn’t know where the vacuum is, doesn’t realize we own a duster, and left up to him, the bathrooms are never cleaned. I had a near death experience 18 months ago and until recently wasn’t allowed to do a great deal. The things that are important to him got done, but the things he doesn’t care about fell by the wayside until I recovered.

    I guess where I’m headed is could she believe that you enjoy cooking and that you want to do it? Or is there possibly some underlying reason why playing a game with your other daughter took priority over everything else? I mean, did something happen during your daughter’s day at school or something that meant she needed some extra support from mom?

    I’m also wondering about all of the implicit things that you’re seeing. Is that more about you or is that more about her? What would the reaction have been if when asked what for dinner you said, “how about pizza?” I guess my point is that you’re attributing motives to her actions (the implications that you’re seeing) and I’m wondering if those were really the motives or if they’re what you assumed were the motives.
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Some First Blooms =-.

  • JohnMcG May 5, 2010, 9:16 pm


    Right — and I think some of these possible excuses are why I don’t speak up. Maybe it was a bad day. Maybe my other daughter was lonely… So if I express irritation about the state of the house and dinner when I get home, I’m a jerk.

    But then it happens four out of five nights. And it’s escalated, and if I bring it up then it feels like “scorekeeping.”

    I’m sure there’s a sweet spot somewhere.

  • Kim Tracy Prince May 5, 2010, 9:48 pm

    I would like you to address grooming of the lady parts. How often and what method? What is the best frequency to keep it looking attractive to your partner, and does he even care or pay attention?

    I may not be in the top 21. I wonder if you’ll take the challenge anyway.
    .-= Kim Tracy Prince´s last blog ..10 More Things About Zumba =-.

  • Beth May 5, 2010, 10:28 pm


    Honestly, I don’t know the dynamics in your house and I don’t know anything except what you’re presenting, which is why I was asking if there’s a chance that you’re reading more in than is there, but it sounds like you’re committed to a viewpoint.

    I think it’s a matter of presentation whether you sound like a jerk or sound like you’re score keeping. If you say “You never do anything around here” or “I can’t stand how the house is a mess because you never do anything” then, yeah, you’re a jerk. Or if you say things like, “I’ve had to clean the dishes the last five nights, when is it your turn?” Then, yeah, you sound like you’re score keeping. But if you initiate a conversation where you talk about the current challenges of your job and changing pressures/workloads, then perhaps that could spur a conversation that shifts the dynamic. I’m not saying it will, but you could try.

    When my husband was looking at taking on a different job, we seriously evaluated what the impact of the different workload would be on our household. We had to figure out what changes we could live with and what changes would need to be outsourced. Again, though, our situation is different from yours because of the work from home stuff.

    I think you can’t possibly be worse off by talking to her than by allowing yourself to simmer in resentment. If you’re really unhappy, either you have to change yourself or you have to change the situation in some way. I wish you luck and I do feel for you (and your wife if she’s oblivious to how you’re feeling).
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Some First Blooms =-.

  • Maureen May 5, 2010, 11:21 pm

    I woulda thwacked my hubby on the back of the head if I came home and found him coming back from a bike ride. My husband cycles as well.
    Gosh if this had been my first marriage I would’ve had a ton of ideas for topics. But I’m deeply in love with my guy and we general talk a lot about what is bothering us. We have the 24 hour rule. If something is bugging you you have 24 hrs to say something or the issue is dead. We also never go to bed angry at each other and yes there have been some late nights.
    I love that I get to stay home and take care of the house, dogs and yard while he works. I do think he would love to switch though.
    I will have to think about this.
    .-= Maureen´s last blog .. =-.

  • Christa May 6, 2010, 12:36 am

    I would love to hear your opinion on arranged marriages.

  • Alisa Bowman May 6, 2010, 5:56 am

    Kim Tracy Prince: Oddly I know quite a bit about that topic!
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..What are your turn offs and turn ons? =-.

  • Michael May 6, 2010, 6:43 am

    I am struggling with a separation from my wife instigated by her. She has asked me not to contact her so she can work out what she wants to do. Help! I’d love to hear any advice on what I can be doing to save our marriage.

  • aguyreader May 6, 2010, 7:35 am

    Ouch, funny and painful at the same time.
    Totally been there, that entering the house still in athletic gear packs an extra punch. That probably would have pushed me over the edge. I’m still working on my spouse, ‘Stonewall Jackson’, to where we can talk about these things.

    Ps. It took me aprox. 2 miliseconds to translate that phrase, like I said Ive totally been there.

  • aguyreader May 6, 2010, 7:36 am

    ok just reread my statement and noticed i said “working on my spouse” instead of “working on my relationship”. Guess I need to work more myself. :P

  • Drummer Guy May 6, 2010, 9:56 am

    Wow I didn’t know my comments were so long lol ;-)

  • Sabrina May 6, 2010, 10:09 am

    @ Drummer Guy, well said.

  • Drummer Guy May 6, 2010, 10:34 am

    Hey again Alisa. As always a GREAT post. I have an idea for a post but not sure how you would title it or word the issue. I guess the closest thing would be how we speak to our spouse or just respect in general. I see so often people who talk to their spouse in a tone or things they say to their spouse that they wouldn’t say to a complete stranger. I have never understood that. Why would we not at the very least treat them with the same respect we show complete strangers? When we are wooing our potential spouse we are all sugar & sweetness in the way we talk to them, look at them & interact with them. Then after marriage many seem to think we suddenly can to stop all that. Suddenly all the things that attracted us to them are gone.

    I also hear people talk about their spouse to friends & family members that is demening, degrading & disrespectful. Right along with that they may talk to their spouse in private or public in the same way. Since when does a marriage license give us freedom degrade our spouse? If they were gone tomorrow do we really want to look back & say wow I wish I had treated them better?
    Just some food for thought. You would know much better than I on how to title it lol ;-)

  • Drummer Guy May 6, 2010, 12:36 pm

    A Christa. Look up on the internet arrainged marriages. I was stunned. The divorce rate is low. May just be a cultural thing though as to that statistic.

  • Gwen May 6, 2010, 1:08 pm

    Just found ya. your book looks great.

  • Joanne & Ray May 7, 2010, 10:10 am

    Ray- Joanne works the two jobs so my responsibilty is more the house and sometimes I just don’t want to deal with and Joanne gives me a hard time about it because it still needs to be done. Joanne doesn’t yell about it or even act angry she just points it out to me and I see what she sees when she walks through the door at 9PM. That is usually enough. Alisa is right before you react look at yourself and examine the validity of the complaint, if they are right accept the blame and get you butt in gear.

    Joanne- Well said sweetheart!

  • Joanne & Ray May 7, 2010, 10:14 am

    Joanne- I would love to see a blog about the five ways we receive and give love ala “The Five Love Languages” to open a discussion about how a husband and wife can need to express and receive love differently. Ray and I had a big issue with this because I was feeling unloved even though he was assuring me every day of how much he loved me just not in a way I received. He is a nuturer/caregiver and I receive and express love phyically. It almost ruined our marriage which would have been a hugh wast since we love each other so much.

  • JohnMcG May 7, 2010, 10:21 am

    I think one problem with the “can’t say no” personality type is that we assume other people are wired the same way.

    So when I get a request to pick up my daughter at school, my mind starts cranking on how I can possibly fulfill that request. Whether I want to or not is secondary. The decision hinges on whether it’s possible.

    And in some sense, I *do* want to be the type of person who can be called on to help out when needed.

    Since I know that, I am reluctant to do that for others, whom I assume are wired similarly. So if it’s a beautiful day outside and I’d like to take a bike ride, the last thing I would do is call my wife and ask her to re-arrange her schedule in order to accommodate that.

    I also assume that if I am being given such a request, it must be for some bona fide reason beyond it just freeing up time for a leisure activity.

    So I think there’s a sense that this personality trait, which is useful generally, is being taken advantage of, resulting in a power disparity.

  • Andi May 7, 2010, 4:08 pm

    OH, I SO needed this lesson. I say Yes when I mean No all the time and then get mad at everyone else, when in reality, it’s all me. Excuse while I go bitch-slap myself!
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..French Friday – Guest post series =-.

  • MLR May 9, 2010, 8:27 pm

    Great posts as always, Alisa. Your blog has helped me tremendously to re-establish happiness after having a kid. My husband & I had had our differences pre-kid, but had always managed to work through them. The first year after our child’s birth, however, was hell on wheels. Nothing either us did made each other happy. We both always wanted more. And we never had a chance to re-connect as a couple.

    So my question is: (a) for other readers – I’d be interested in your thoughts (and readers’ thoughts!) on how to negotiate the “new” division of labor after having a child; and (b) how do you decide if it’s worth it to try for a 2nd, given how long it takes to get back to “normal” after a 1st?! We both struggle with crazy-demanding jobs and low tolerance for sleep deprivation; and we both think that having a good marriage is the most important thing for our (and our child’s) happiness. *But* we both want our kid to have a sibling. (OK, I’ll admit, I want this more than he does… if we were both equally committed to having a 2nd then it would be an easy decision….)


  • JOhnMcG May 11, 2010, 12:31 pm

    Here’s a post on “Ask vs. Guess” culture that I think is relevant:

  • OneHotTamale25 July 6, 2010, 12:25 am

    Boy am I sad I missed the opportunity to tell you what I want you to write about in the blog!

    I have not yet arrived at a place where I don’t want my husband to assume SOME blame. I don’t typically have a problem owning my part in something, but I don’t want to own his part! I have come a long way just to go to him and accept blame without folding my arms and waiting for him to do it first. I anticipate my graduation to this next stage where I don’t even concern myself with whether or not he acknowledges his contributions to the situation at hand.

    I think all of us could use lessons in assertiveness at times, especially when it comes to the notion of assertiveness vs. spousal satisfaction. One should not automatically dismiss the other.


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