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It's OUR House, Not Just Mine, Dear

Or, where Jaune Chat needs to rant about her household, her husband, an unequal division of labor, and just Go To the Damn Doctor, Sweetie.



Now, since I've ranted about something like this before, one might think my husband is a loser. That's not the case. We care for each other, we have a lot of similar interests, and generally we get on great.

But we've reached an impasse that I don't think he even sees. Now, Mr. Chat is from the UK. He does not have good heat tolerance for American Midwest summers. I know this, and I knew this coming into our marriage. But I also distinctly recall him being able to at least mow half the yard upon occasion before the heat really got to him.

For the Fourth of July, we went to my mom's house, where my sister was in from out of town, and also my cousin and his new wife were visiting (whose wedding we had attended in April, of all my cousins, he's the closest in age and I went to college with him, so I'm fond on him and don't get to see him very much). We decided to kick off the festivities by going down to my mom's boyfriend's boat for some drinks, a great view of the river, and just the fun of sitting on a nice boat.

The day was warm, the area we were sitting faced west, and it was late afternoon, so we were in sunlight most of the time. I chose to sit in partial shade (I have good heat tolerance, but I'm rather fat and sweat like a hog, so I didn't want to end up having to mop my face every three minutes). Mr. Chat sat in complete shade, laid out on a cushioned bench. He couldn't participate in most of the conversation because he couldn't hear most of it. He drank nothing but a small can of Coke.

Two hours later we left the boat to go back to the house and get dinner warmed up. On the way back, Mr. Chat said he was too warm and was going to go back home as soon as he'd dropped me off. Now, I had my own car back at the house. We'd driven separately because he'd been up working very early in the morning and likely wouldn't stay much past 8:30 in the evening. It was only 5:30 now. As he seemed miserable (but not faint, shocky, or suffering from heat exhaustion, all things I've been trained to notice), I wasn't going to force him to stay, but he didn't even wait to say good bye to my sister (whom he hasn't seen since Christmas, nor will see again until next Christmas) or to my cousin and his wife (who came in especially to see our family).

So... that was very uncool.

But what particularly got my goat was that apparently two hours of heat exposure in the shade made him feel "ill" for the next two and a half days.

Despite 24 hours of recuperation, on July 5th he was unable to attend our regular weekly D&D session. Since another person couldn't come, that necessitated me having to come up with a whole new adventure on the fly (I'm the Dungeon Master, the game runner). Those of us left had a good time, but I had to completely rejigger things, and the people that were hosting had ended up overbuying food, because we were down people.

On the 6th, my father and sister were coming over to our house for some additional Independence Day celebrating (my parents are divorced and Mom doesn't like inviting Dad to her boyfriend's boat, that's understandably awkward). The house was a wreck, because Mr. Chat doesn't really do cleaning up unless I ask him specifically, or he needs his traveling coffee mugs clean for work.

Mr. Chat still claimed he was feeling "poorly," and when I wrote down a list of things for him to do while I was asleep (I maintain a nocturnal schedule because of my work shift), he said he'd try, but even standing up for a while made him feel "meh."

Christ on a pogo stick, I knew where this was going.

To give him a head start, I did about a third of the chores, and then gave him a list of the rest.

When I got up five hours later (oh yeah, had to go to bed late because I was busy taking out the recycling, moving our gaming books back to the library, and rounding up errant articles) he had done two things. He'd put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher (but not from the dish rack by the sink) and cleaned the bathroom (which is no wider than my spread arms).

Not wanting to live in chaos or having to host guests, even family, in a disorganized house, I went into whirling dervish mode, putting away and cleaning the rest of the pots and pans, changing the garbage, moving the empty cans out, sweeping and mopping the kitchen, moving the rest of the errant crap back to where it was supposed to go, and a few other things. Mr. Chat finally bestirred himself to wipe down the end tables with Pledge and vacuum (though he missed the dining room... and the shredded paper the cat had left in the den... and all the corners and edges where dust had collected).

After setting out the cooking apparatuses and ingredients for the impending meal, I finally was able to sit down for fifteen minutes. I needed it to let the dripping sweat dry so I could get dressed without stinking up my clothes.

Part of the impending conversation I need to have with my husband is this - If two hours of heat exposure renders you incapable of doing anything but watching the World Cup finals and playing and chatting on a game on Facebook (not ill enough to stop doing that, oh no) for two and a half fucking days while I do nearly all the chores, then you don't need rest, you need to see a damn doctor. Your heat tolerance needs to have gotten better, not worse, since you've moved to the Midwest. It's not healthy, assuming you're not just milking this "fragile English flower" routine, to get that set back by the heat when we live in it six months out of the year.

Also, in regards to the doctor, I don't think I've ever asked Mr. Chat a question about "How are you feeling?" that didn't involve the word, "Tired."

If you're tired all the time, claim you aren't sleeping well, then it's time for that sleep study we've mentioned from time to time. You need to find out why you aren't sleeping and take steps to correct that, because your fatigue is contributing to your heat intolerance, your bouts of indigestion, and your lethargy.

We both could stand to exercise more, I know that would help, but getting him on our treadmill is going to take some persuading. I may need to do it backed with a club.

Another thing about this fatigue - Flowers and forgetfulness. We get bedding plants every spring. Usually impatiens for our shady front flowerbed (I put perennials elsewhere because I don't have time to do extensive gardening). Mr. Chat also wanted a hanging plant. I said, "We'll get one, but you have to water it." I have had to save the thing from wilting to death several times already. Just because it rains does not meet the hanging plant is getting water! It's actually almost completely covered from the sky. Unless we get a driving storm, no rainwater touches that plant. It needs to be watered every day, Mr. Chat!

We also recently had a couple of bushes removed, and we need sod to go over the bare spots. I told him to get the sod, soil, and fertilizer a week ago. Never happened. When I mentioned it again, he also talked about getting a hydrangea or something to go in one of the sunny spots.

Yeah... considering the hanging plant, that won't be happening. I'm the one that mows the lawn, and I'm not mowing around a flower. Also, I'll end up having to water it too, because he will forget or claim heat fatigue.

A further thing that will need discussing is the division of chores and the cleanliness of the house. Currently Mr. Chat does, voluntarily and without needing to be prodded, the laundry, and taking out the recycle bins on recycle day (provided he isn't in too big of a hurry that morning). And sometimes he fills and empties the dishwasher. Sometimes. And until I called him on it two weeks ago, sometimes it would take, I kid you not, a week to do the laundry. When he brought the hamper in on Sunday, he would still be taking out clean clothes he left in the dryer from last Sunday (or Monday, or Wednesday, whenever he had put them there). I told him I was tired of trying to find my work clothes, never knowing if they were dirty or clean. This is how I end up with two dozen bras and eight pairs of work jeans, because I need them to cover the turnaround.

The last time he took a trip out of town without me (he went to England as a birthday present from my mom, I was cool with that, because his gran is quite old), it took me about four hours to do all the laundry.

Four hours. Don't tell me it can't be done.

Mr. Chat also didn't do any dishes that couldn't go into the dishwasher because it hurt his hands. The skin on his hands would become painful when he tried to wash things, particularly in winter.

Fine, I got him a pair of dishwashing gloves. He said they worked well and actually cleaned some things.

If he's touched them since this winter, I'm a monkey's uncle.

He and I also have very different interpretations of cleanliness around the house. Recycling builds up, he plays "chicken" with the garbage because he doesn't want to haul out two bags to the trash guys on pickup day, and if we don't schedule a time to put our DVDs in order, they stay piled up higgledy-piggledy until I'm about ready to scream.

He seems content to let things build up, and I admit I do that sometimes too, except I always break first. I think a lot of this comes from the fact that he always lived with his dad, stepmother, and gran, who always took care of things like that, and all he ever had to tend was his own room.

I really, seriously hate having conversations like these. He's said in the past all I need to do is ask him to do something. But I shouldn't have to bloody keep asking. I need him to take initiative on things! And I need my damn downtime.

I mow our lawn and my dad's, because he's crippled up with arthritis. I do most of the dishes, most of the garbage, most of the recycling, nearly all of the organization of objects, three-quarters of the household shopping, all of the paperwork regarding the household (all of it, every damn bit), and I'm working the night shift in a factory with 12-hour shifts.

This means I don't do a lot of those chores on my days off because Mr. Chat is asleep, and he sleeps much more lightly than me. I'm cramming most of these things into the few hours I'm awake during work days, sometimes going with as little as three hours of sleep to fit everything in (like on lawn-mowing day). I'm the primary breadwinner in the household; I make over three times at much as Mr. Chat, and if we need extra money, I earn more in one day of voluntary overtime than he would with a week of extra hours.

This is why my creative energy has gone down the crapper, because my days off I end up spending half the time sleeping instead of writing.

Hopefully I will be able to have this conversation when I wake up today, and Mr. Chat will listen. I'll update this as soon as I know, because I'm about to pop, and I don't think he realizes how close I am to doing so.

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
hiddencait
Jul. 7th, 2014 11:03 pm (UTC)
Oh jeeze hon.. gah that just sucks. I know that's a crappy situation to be in. Here's hoping the conversation goes better than expected and the subject actually sticks with him!
jaune_chat
Jul. 15th, 2014 01:58 pm (UTC)
Yar, the conversation did go better than I had hoped. He was receptive, and seemed to realize he'd let things slide until I was in a state. Thus far we've been able to keep our "public" areas of the house (living room, kitchen, dining room, bathroom) much, much cleaner than we have in the past year. Or rather, we'd clean them, let them get dirty again, and have to do another hour of cleaning, but we've actually been keeping up on it, so that's a positive sign. :)
game_byrd
Jul. 8th, 2014 01:33 am (UTC)
I can't think of anything to say that's what you want to hear. Anytime you need to preface something with how he's not really a loser, you might need to consider the possibility that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ... Do you really want to spend the rest of your life trying to convince other people how it's actually a swan in disguise?
jaune_chat
Jul. 15th, 2014 02:03 pm (UTC)
Don't worry, we're not nearly at that nuclear option yet. I've made maybe four rants in five years of marriage, so I generally reach for a conversation before a lawyer.

Mr. Chat was attentive and receptive to my concerns, and seemed to realize he'd let things slide. So far we've been able to keep the public areas of the house in a much better state in the past week, and he's been better about attending to household tasks. So, a better start in the right direction. :)
game_byrd
Jul. 16th, 2014 12:31 am (UTC)
Great! I'm so used to people who can't be reasoned with that it's a novelty to find one who can be!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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