Is It Something I Said?

by Darwin on March 31, 2011

The other night I had one of those moments where I felt I needed to write a post about the experience.  It’s about women and money.  And attitudes and feminism.  All mixed into a brief conversation.

Here we go: My wife asked me to stop by the gym where our kids are taking a class and pick two up while our oldest finished his class since the start/stops were staggered and it’s really annoying keeping the younger two under control when they’re bored while waiting.  So, I popped in and talked to my wife for a bit and watched the kids doing their thing.  There’s another mom there with a kid in my son’s class.  Her and my wife converse somewhat routinely and the kids like each other so they’re quasi-gym friends, if you will.

My Wife, The Planner

My wife asked if I’d hold our daughter while she went to book a birthday party for our son.  She then asked me about what I thought about various dates and times.  I shrugged, laughed, and said, “I don’t know dear, that’s your department”.  The friend said to me, “Oh, you don’t have any say, do you?” jokingly.  I replied, “No, I just ask her where I need to be and where to send the checks”.  The reality is…I literally ask my wife where I need to be and where to send checks.  That’s the truth.  We have so much going on with various activities for school, birthday parties, piano lessons, baseball, swimming, gym, etc., she pretty much books everything and covers what she can during the day and at night, I drive the kids to various things, coach teams, etc.  I also handle all the finances, so I get stuck paying the bills.  She has no interest in finances at all and just trusts me to pay the bills, save enough for college and retirement, and not do something stupid with our money.

Was It Something I Said?

So, my comment about “sending the checks” apparently struck a nerve with this woman.  She went from joking and being friendly to being an immature, misguided feminist in my opinion.  She started spouting off about how her husband would never “get away with saying something like that” and how she works 3 jobs.  Get this: A Mom, she’s on the school board and she’s some sort of beautician.  She was going on an on and I was kind of watching in awe about what an idiot she was making of herself.  I was thinking of countering that I have 3 jobs – a Project Manager, a Dad and a blogger and that she should read my post I was going to write about her, but it wasn’t even worth bothering; it was kind of humorous, kind of annoying and I didn’t want to go off on my wife’s pseudo-gym friend.  So, I just let her embarrass herself.

Here’s the funny part. Mid-rant, my wife walked over to me and said, “Honey, I don’t have my credit card, can you go to the desk and pay?”.  I looked at the friend, laughed, and said, “Sure, honey, I’ll go pay”.

In this day and age of working moms, women out-earning men in many couples, women running companies, girls outperforming boys in school, more women going to college than men, and the over-the-top era of feminism seemingly over, what is it with some women that they still feel the need to jump down (a stranger!) someone’s throat over an innocent, factual, and personal statement.  How my wife and I split up our responsibilities is our choice.  I mow the lawn and fix things.  She doesn’t.  I handle the money, she doesn’t.  Big deal.  My wife is bright, has a Master’s and frankly, isn’t uptight about any perceptions about her intelligence or standing in society.  So, we’re frank and open about our roles in our house.  If she’s not uptight, why should someone else be uptight about OUR arrangement?

Was It Something I Said?

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1 JT McGee March 31, 2011 at 9:29 pm

I don’t think there’s any problem with this at all. Granted, my girlfriend and I don’t have a lot of tangled business together, but it is very much understood what each of us add to what and where. She wouldn’t think any less of me for the things that I can’t do but she does very well, and I don’t think any less of her for the things she can’t do but I can do well.

I think its a good idea to have segmentation for things like this, and I don’t know why anyone would really care how you guys structure your lives.

As far as I see it, we’re both mostly type A people so we’d PREFER to spend time on what we can do better on and let the other do the things they can do well with. Not a big deal. It’s simple teamwork.

2 Evan April 1, 2011 at 9:31 am

I have a similar set up that you do, and I often get the same reaction. It is not that we don’t have a say…the Saturday or Sunday she chooses just doesn’t matter!

That woman seems to want to justify her position in her family. If I had to guess this is the same type of person that brags that whatever she is doing at that time it is the right thing…from buying her cell phone to where her kid is going to school

3 Roger, the Amateur Financier April 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Heh, your relationship with your wife sounds much like the one I’m building with my fiancee; she’s the one with the social skills and the memory of our commitments, so she tells me what I need to be doing on a given day. It works out pretty well; I don’t have to remember any of those social engagements, and she gets to tell me where to be, as she would anyway (I kid, I kid…). We divide up other duties as well; she does the cooking, I do the dishes and laundry, she does most of the cleaning in the house, I mow the lawn and take care of the outside, etc. I’m with you; dividing up the household chores like this just seems to be the way things work in many (most?) relationships. I definitely don’t see why this ‘friend’ of your wife’s feels that doing so is somehow in appropriate; it’s just how couples tend to be.

But yes, it sounds like it was pretty funny when your wife came up and asked you to pay in the middle of the other woman’s rant.

4 Maggie April 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I’m not sure if you’ve provided us with 100% of the conversation here. It sounds like, because she brought up her “three jobs,” she felt like your statement about “sending the checks” meant you were in control of the money because your wife is “just” a mom. And your pondered response about your own “three jobs” seems to indicate that, even if you didn’t say it aloud, you were at least thinking about how your contributions compare to this stay-at-home-mom’s contributions to society.

Also, as the planning, socially-involved woman in the couple, the whole “I don’t know honey, that’s your department” thing gets tiresome to hear sometimes. Sometimes, it’s nice to get some input. Or if you at least pretend like you care. Just say, “I’m available each of those days–what’s better for you?” or even, “You’re good at this. Let’s do whatever you think is best.” To say, “That’s your department,” seems to foist the responsibility on to her and say, “You take care of this. I don’t care about this at all, it’s not my responsibility and I have no interest in it.”

Honestly though, your statements weren’t worth squabbling with a stranger in the gym. If I had heard you say that, I wouldn’t try to correct you or play my feminist card. But I would feel kind of bad for your wife and wonder how she felt about your attitudes. As a reader, I notice you didn’t include what her response was when you later told her about the conversation. In your rush to write your “Can the feminists please chill” post, did you even think about this being a jumping off point to have a conversation with your wife later to make sure your attitudes and assumptions about your relationship and respective roles don’t bother her? Or to take the opportunity to say how you couldn’t believe that this woman might think that you don’t value your wife’s contributions when you couldn’t value her more?

Darwin Reply:

@Maggie, Wow, spoken like a true feminist!

My wife thought it was quite funny – especially the timing; we have some couples we’re friends with where the women are self-proclaimed feminists, yet the irony is their husbands don’t treat them as equals, make ALL the decisions that matter and the women are generally unhappy based on what they share with her.

I think if people lightened up a bit and didn’t take everything so seriously, they could laugh a little and not think everyone’s got an agenda.

5 شات April 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm
6 BadBoysDriveAudi April 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm

I think I would’ve calmly interrupted the rant and said, “I think you misunderstood me. I didn’t say I was the macho breadwinner or anything. We’ve mutually agreed that it is my responsibility to handle the finances because I like that sort of thing but my wife actually directs where and when I send the cash.

When I said I just ask her where I need to be and where to send the checks, it’s because I literally ask my wife where I need to be and where to send checks.”

Then calmly walk away.

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