Wedding Woes

Jane thinks you're incompetent. Why stay?

Dear Prudence,

My girlfriend, “Jane,” and I moved in together during the pandemic, since her roommate was an essential worker and I lived alone. We figured it wouldn’t last that long (yeah, yeah), and it would be better than being all by ourselves. We’ve fought a bit, but mostly in a way that confirmed we were good for each other, and overall things have been great. Except for this: Jane doesn’t believe that men can or should do any domestic chores. She thinks we should leave it to women to “do it right.” I drew up a chore schedule so we’d both know what needs doing, and she does my share while I’m working. Anything I do manage to finish, she redoes with a sigh. I realize “not having to do chores” isn’t much to complain about. But even though part of me is glad I don’t have to scrub the toilet, I still feel like it’s unfair. Plus, what kind of life can I really build with someone who thinks I’m genetically incapable of wiping a plate?

I’ve spent a whole pandemic trying to convince her I’m capable of basic housekeeping, but it hasn’t worked. I don’t see how I can continue to date Jane, even though this is our only real problem. It sounds stupid, but I would just feel like such a weird throwback. Plus my family would hardly respect this “lifestyle,” and that matters to me. Am I missing something? I didn’t live in a pit before Jane moved in with me. I didn’t have a house cleaner, either; I paid a neighbor’s kid $20 to water the plants and open the windows when I traveled for work. Everything else I took care of myself.

—No Cleaning, Please, I’m a Man

Re: Jane thinks you're incompetent. Why stay?

  • Use. Your. Words.

    Talk to her.   Is this something that has to do with upbringing and old-school societal norms or is this related to something else?  You're going to need to address this when you aren't exasperated and find out why she holds this feeling and see what you two can do with a discussion to work through it.  
  • Jane is being sexist, plain and simple.  Men are more than capable of doing a lot of things women do, and vice versa.  I'd also like to be in on the conversation with Jane and her friends if they talk about how they divide household chores.  What must she say to them?  I wonder if she thinks less of women who think men are capable of looking after themselves.

  • downtondivadowntondiva member
    Sixth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited September 2020
    It may seem like your "only real problem" now, but I think it's a pretty big sign that you and Jane have very different values, and should your relationship with her continue, you're going to find yourselves at odds over more than just household chores. 

    If you like how this relationship is going otherwise, it's probably worth talking to Jane to get to the bottom of why she's like this and whether you think you can get her to think and act differently. But if you find that even after talking and promises, these issues continue, it's probably time to move on.
  • Jane needs some therapy for not only her internalized misogyny (what we all have), but how she acts it out.  It's fine for her right now, but resentment lurks right around the corner in her future, no matter what LW does in this situation.

    I think LW really needs to talk to her about "I WANT to do my part of the housework" and "if there's something you don't like can we discuss that and maybe I can change my style" and "you need to respect my want to help in our life".  I agree with @downtondiva, this is a difference in values.  Does LW want this passed on to their kids?  I suspect not and that's where it's obvious how really important it is.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    First have a talk and explain that you feel put down by Jane's treatment of you and the idea that you're not capable of housework because you're a guy. Ask her to stop redoing chores that you do. 

    Also consider couples counseling if you stay in this relationship. Jane needs to let go of the idea that your penis renders it impossible for you to do housework.

    If she won't go for either, then you need to get out of this relationship, because she's too controlling and it won't get better from here on in.
  • I have  to ask too, is some of this just personal preference on how chores are done?  I've had this conversation with hubby - he and I do dishes very differently.  It's just how I'm used to doing them and how he is used to doing them.  Neither way is wrong, but it can feel wrong to the other party.  It has nothing to do with him being incompetent.  

  • I wonder if it's a "this is how I do it" and also "I need to break free from how I was raised."

    When my aunt and uncle were married my aunt asked him if he didn't like the way she ironed.   He answered that he just always did it. 

    This isn't as sexist but it's possibly worth the conversation if the GF somehow feels that she feels like her worth is tied to the completion of these tasks.   It's completely sexist and yet it's also her way of having some control.   So you can't say that she's saying he's incompetent if she holds this view that her ability to do these things is somehow inherent in her value. 
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