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I can't be his wife because I don't clean well enough--long.


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Last night, I asked my boyfriend if he still sees me as seriously as he used to. When I said that, I meant--did he still intend to marry me one day, have children with me, and so on--at some point in the future. He said yes--but there was a definite hesitation.

 

Before you guys rip me a new one, yes, a man's allowed to have his doubts. We are both in our early 20's, and we have been together for 2 years and three months. About a year and a half (or so) of that has been time that we spent living together (and still do). I asked this question because it's been on my mind recently. I'm reaching a milestone in my education, and as plans for my career start to unfold, I can't help but start to think about planning my personal life.

 

My boyfriend and I used to talk about marriage a lot, but this has declined recently, and for a good reason. We had some big problems until about 5 months ago. I was highly dissatisfied in the relationship, and tried to end it multiple times, despite the fact that we were still living together. It was a combination of feeling a lack of passion between us, a lack of connection, and wondering if this really "was it". I was also attracted to someone else--which did not help matters at all. I was not happy about ending my relationship with my boyfriend, because there was over a year of "near perfection"--We are best friends, we can talk about anything, be goofy around one another, without fear of judgment. I knew that it was possible for us to be happy together, but I honestly just gave up. This relationship had been the easiest (in terms of compatibility, depth of feelings for one another) I had ever had, and when the intense spark we had in the first year started to fade a bit and we started to fight (over the MOST trivial things--this will come in later), I didn't make any effort at all to fix things like I have in past relationships.

 

But in January, for one reason or another, I decided that I wasn't ready to give up on things. I sat my boyfriend down, and started talking to him about our relationship. This happens very rarely, and most of the time it's hard to get that kind of information from him. You really have to probe him to find out what he feels and thinks about those kinds of things. I genuinely feel like he is afraid of saying something that will upset me. Nevertheless, I got him to open up. He said that he was dangerously close to ending it himself. And I don't blame him, I was terrible. Not only had there been issues between us--but issues with my father's health and pre-existing issues regarding my father's and my relationship that had turned me into all but a raving lunatic. We had a long talk, and I said that if he was willing to give it one last go, I was willing to put in 150% into making it work, and getting things back to normal. He agreed.

 

When we had this conversation, his main gripes with me were (in spite of my newfound--temporary--insanity) the fact that I didn't have sex with him enough (and that I kept turning him down, and he felt rejected--which is understandable), and the fact that I didn't contribute enough to cleaning the house (which is true, I got very lazy, and he was working and doing most of the housework). So my goal was to slowly increase both of these things--and I have.

 

Our sex life is pretty much back to normal now. I try to "give" more to him. I also have done the vast majority of the cleaning in the past 5 months--in fact, I have done almost all of it, including taking care of our dog and rabbit. When it comes to cleaning, in the past 5 months, my boyfriend has hardly lifted a finger--I am the one who knows where everything is, keeps everything in order for him. However, during exam time, I was understandably less focused on cleaning the house, because I was finishing up some last-minute research projects. Then, shortly after, I had to go to out into the field. This requires that I be on-site for 5 days out of the week. So I'm not here to clean--but I'm not here to make the messes either. As a side note (this is also important for later), I do not have a job during the school year, but take one during the summer (I have a scholarship that pays my living expenses for the school year). Because I'm working in the field, I cannot have a job right now, but intend to get one as soon as I can.

 

So, flash forward to last night. I ask the marriage question, my boyfriend hesitates. I ask him why he has doubts. Does he not think I'm the right girl for him anymore? Well, no, he says, but there are one or two things. When I ask what that is, he says that the thing that bothers him the most about me is the fact that I don't clean the house enough.

 

Really?

 

He feels like a disproportionate amount of work falls on his shoulders, because he must now take care of the house alone, as well as work and go to school (he's doing summer classes). I believe he thinks that my work is some sort of vacation--when it's not, and is very physical. On top of it--it's temporary. He's focusing on this temporary situation when, for the past 5 months, I have shown him real initiative towards making him happier and making our relationship and home better. However, he's the kind of guy, though, that needs to be commended for what he does, for example, when he cleans the house, you have to notice it and pat him on the back for it (when he almost never notices when I clean--go figure! but I'm not the type that rubs it in your face, and I don't feel the need to be commended for simple things). So I told him that I recognized how hard he'd been working and that this situation (with him working and going to school and taking care of the house alone) was a temporary one, and as soon as I was done, I'd find a job and things would be easier for him.

 

However--I didn't think his gripe about me not cleaning the house enough was fair--up until a couple weeks ago, I was cleaning the house regularly. His argument is that my definition of "cleaning" is just "picking up". Well, there is a hell of a lot of picking up to do after him! and tbh, I often feel as if he takes me for granted, because he never notices what I do around the house--the cooking, the "picking up", the taking care of the animals. This "picking up" is what keeps the house from looking like total chaos.

 

I think this was brought to the surface this weekend by his mom visiting. His mom is a very traditional columbian woman--very sweet and kind--but everything she does is cook and clean for you. It's fairly awkward for me because I am the "woman of the house" and his mom comes in and cleans EVERYTHING. I think that my boyfriend's expectations are that I should be like that. His final words in the argument to me were that I either need to take up all of the cleaning, or get a job. He says that (even though I contribute exactly half of all the bills with scholarship money (despite the fact that he both gets more money than I do from scholarship AND works)), because he works he brings more money to the table from work (with which he pays for outings, such as dinner, movies once or twice a month), I should be the housekeeper for him, or go out there and get a job. He knows I will not get a job because I care too much about school, and since grants pay for me to live, I don't really HAVE to put myself in the situation that I see some of my classmates in (struggling to work, study, and complete research projects). But since I don't bring any extraneous money to the table, I have no choice, in his eyes, but to be his maid. Understandably, this pissed me off quite a bit.

 

All our fights--the vast majority--have been over, what are in my opinion, stupid things like this. He doesn't like how I clean, and this is, in his words, a "reason why I wouldn't want to be with you forever". Wha?

 

Finally, I told him: "I don't know if I can ever be like that (like his mom, who cleans everything, all the time). I'm not saying I won't do my fair share, or if you're too busy to help clean that I won't do it all. But we're a team and I see it as fair that we both contribute equally to the cleaning". After a bit, he agreed to that, but on the contingency that we "always work to make sure EVERYTHING is ALWAYS clean".

 

Anyways--I know it was long, but I haven't posted anything about my relationship in a while. I guess I just feel like--after all the work I have done on my end to reinvigorate my passions for him (which was NO easy task), and to do the things that it would take to make things good again between us--he doesn't see a long-term future for us because I don't clean properly.

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He may be a nice man and you may love him loads, but RT, he is a mama's boy at heart and unless something happens to snap him out of it he always will be. He will continually try to mold you into being just like his mother. See if you can snap him out of it, but if it doesn't work with a reasonable effort, save yourself a lifetime of grief.

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it sounds ridiculous...but i came to resent my most recent ex for the same kind of thing. you touched on the fact that it's his expectations that might be making him unhappy at this point. couldnt' agree more with that. he's been brought up that. i used to laugh at my own mom because she was so compulsive with her own cleaning. i guess karma bit me on the ass with that one. i inherited a bit of the same behavior. it sounds a bit like he might have some perfectionistic attitudes. i can also empathize there. his standards are set so high that anything less than perfection (according to his expectations) is a complete failure. not only that, but any feeling that something has been accomplished is usually short-lived. it can be a pretty miserable way to approach things. in this case...it also seems like he's allowed himself to focus exclusively on the negative (and magnify that a little out of proportion). does he ever comment on all of the positive things you bring to the relationship? so important. might be a place to start.

 

sounds completely like your head and heart are in the right place. you've been making the effort. i commend you! no...seriously. ha. have you ever considered reading up on behaviors? his expectations might seem completely unreasonable to you...but on the flip side...the fact that you're not living up to those expectations might seem completely unreasonable to him. i don't really see it as anyone's fault. and i definitely don't get the impression that this is a reason for the relationship to fall apart. i'm not sure the best strategy for confronting someone about this sort of thing though. sorry.

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RT,

I agree with the posters who say his bar is set so high, because of his Mother. It's realistic in his view (Mama's boy), and unrealistic from yours.

 

I would suggest perhaps explaining this nicely to him, maybe you two can arrange some counseling. Or perhaps read up on "Mama's Boy" issues online.

Good luck to you.

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When you have problems in a relationship and you try and fix them it can take a long time to get things adjusted to the point where your partner feels that you aren't going to revert to previous behaviour. So you can make an honest effort but if your partner thinks the same problems are going to arise again - or are arising again - they lose faith that the change is permanent. So he may be thinking that what is happening now is an excuse to revert rather than a temporary thing.

 

It's all very well to fling insults around about being a Momma's boy and so on but that isn't really addressing the problem from his perspective. His mother being there may have highlighted the issue for him but it isn't necessarily the issue. Let's not forget that if he were a Momma's boy he would not have been doing most of the cleaning before this issue first came up. So beware of taking the easy way out of blaming him or his mother.

 

His primary concerns before were lack of sex and lack of cleaning and it looks to him as if those problems have returned - there may be good reason for that but since those were his main issues before you can't really blame him for thinking that there will always be reasons in the future why they might recur - this being one of them.

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This is a fairly common problem when the man has been raised in a house with traditional sex based roles where the wife's 'job' is to cook and clean and take care of her man and house and kids while the man's job is to work and drop the paycheck. But usually the problem is now, women are expected to do all the traditional wife roles PLUS drop a big paycheck. So the problem is one of a transitioning culture, and expectations.

 

This can be solved extremely easily by agreeing that you will work, and you'll both pay for a maid to come in and do the heavy cleaning that he complains about. So it is a solvable problem, unless it doesn't run deeper, i.e., he sees your lack of interest in extensively cleaning as you are somehow 'deficient' as a woman (i.e, he really wants to hang onto the sex based roles).

 

So you need to address the deeper issue, which is to ask him if he genuinely feels it is your 'job' to clean as a woman and does he feel you are a 'bad' woman for not doing it. And if he genuinely wants a stay at home wife who doesn't work, that isn't going to be you. Mostly like he will say he is happy for you to work, but will still feel like you need to clean to be a proper wife. Then you suggest how about we compromise and get a maid when we are out of school and i'm working? If he thinks that's an OK solution your problem is solved, but if not, then it's a deeper problem where his model for a wife is his mother, and you'll never be that so maybe best for you to find someone less traditional than that.

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Good post lavenderlove. I was thinking something along the lines of getting a housecleaner too.

I'm lik eyou RT. I can clean but don't expect me to do it all. I like a guy who can pick up after himself and help out, without complaining I don't do enough. Plus there's just something about housekeeps lol. They're like godsent, and seem able to do a better job then me and less then half the time. Practise I guess and alot of experience in getting it done quick.

 

But like lavenderlove says, it depends on this:

he sees your lack of interest in extensively cleaning as you are somehow 'deficient' as a woman (i.e, he really wants to hang onto the sex based roles).
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I think people missed this part of the original post:

and the fact that I didn't contribute enough to cleaning the house (which is true, I got very lazy, and he was working and doing most of the housework).
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I think youve both made mistakes and that theirs lots of issues here. I dont think your main concern should be whether he'll marry you or not but What happening in the hear and now, I think you need to talk, explain how you feel.

 

I wasn't asking about marriage because I wanted to be married immediately, and I wasn't pressuring him. I suppose I just wanted to get his thoughts on where our relationship would be in the long(er) term. This is important to know because I/we may be making a move to a new city in a year or so (school/career related), and he has agreed to come with me. If something had changed about how he felt about me, or "us", I would want to know--and it was something that we hadn't discussed in a while.

 

Do you think this is an excuse for something bigger?

 

I don't think so, really. This was an issue for him before--I am just surprised/disappointed that he still considers it to be an issue.

 

does he ever comment on all of the positive things you bring to the relationship?

 

He'll thank me when I help him out, tell me I've done a good job IF I bring something to his attention. The commentary is usually brief, but it doesn't bother me all that much because I just don't require it. He and I are different in this way. If he cleans the house, he harps on about what a good job he did all day long and, as a result, I thank him multiple times. He gives me personal compliments as well (pretty, beautiful, smart, etc), but these are different, I suppose.

 

When you have problems in a relationship and you try and fix them it can take a long time to get things adjusted to the point where your partner feels that you aren't going to revert to previous behaviour. So you can make an honest effort but if your partner thinks the same problems are going to arise again - or are arising again - they lose faith that the change is permanent. So he may be thinking that what is happening now is an excuse to revert rather than a temporary thing.

 

DN, I do believe you are right. While there haven't really been anymore problems re: the frequency of sex, I do think that this temporary situation has made him afraid that I have reverted back to my old ways in regards to cleaning, particularly since I WAS fairly lax about cleaning during exam week, and as a result, the house got pretty bad--the worst it had been in at least 6 months(even though I did clean the whole house immediately after, because he had exams then and was stressed and I knew the clean house would make him feel better). But then again--he had been lax as well, because he had gotten used to me doing everything around the house (except for laundry). While I understand what you're saying, DN, it still hurts me to think that the past 5 months of me working my butt off to change, to make things different and better for us, suddenly mean nothing because I am away in the field and literally CAN'T do anything. Am I supposed to work my butt off all week and then come home and play maid for him?

 

It's all very well to fling insults around about being a Momma's boy and so on but that isn't really addressing the problem from his perspective. His mother being there may have highlighted the issue for him but it isn't necessarily the issue. Let's not forget that if he were a Momma's boy he would not have been doing most of the cleaning before this issue first came up. So beware of taking the easy way out of blaming him or his mother.

 

I've never called him a "momma's boy". I don't think he is a "momma's boy" in the true sense of the phrase, but he certainly does like being coddled, and this fact is only emphasized when his mom comes around, because she will do EVERYTHING for him--while I don't and will not.

However, he has showed himself to be responsible--particularly when it comes to work. He takes his work very seriously, and doing well at it instills him with a sense of pride, even though it is a relatively low-average paying sales job. I respect that about him--as far as (paid) work goes, he's not one to rest on his laurels. However, he has a history of being very lax when it comes to school work, and for the past year and a half, there hasn't been one semester where he wasn't at risk of being kicked out of our university. In the past, he has gotten frustrated with me--telling me that it's not fair that school is so "easy" for me, while it is so hard for him. I never know what to say about that--besides the fact that it IS in fact hard for me, but I put the effort into it and eventually, it just becomes easier. I tried pushing him to do more, reminding him of his homework, making sure he was doing his readings--but he grew to resent that because I was, indeed, acting more like a mom than a girlfriend. So I stopped (this was a long time ago--over a year).

 

I think he's looking for Mummy and thinks your schooling is a hobby rather than work.

 

You are spot-on with the bold part, Agent. I do believe that he views my extended education as a "hobby", or just an excuse not to have to work.He is not particularly gifted with schoolwork to begin with, but he just really didn't care about it, and didn't put in the effort. I am the opposite. Academia is my life. His thoughts are--"I have school and I work, why can't you?" I feel differently--school comes first because my field is academic and excelling in my courses is important because it is directly linked to my career. My courses aren't about getting a letter grade, while his are. Midnight cramming and last-minute papers might be okay for his classes, but that is just not sufficient for mine. If I had taken a job this past semester, there is no way that I would''ve been able to put in the time and effort required to do my papers and research projects (and do them well). Paying my expenses with scholarships and grants during the school year and working in the summer has been how I have done things my whole post-secondary education. He has struggled through college, but it was a breeze for me. He has thousands saved up in the bank, but I have very little. We certainly have different priorities. I always saw this as a positive thing--I ALWAYS help him with his projects and papers, and he is great with managing and making money. I felt like we made a good team. Am I wrong? Would he be happier with a girl that is just like him? I like to think that we balance and compliment each other...

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While I understand what you're saying, DN, it still hurts me to think that the past 5 months of me working my butt off to change, to make things different and better for us, suddenly mean nothing because I am away in the field and literally CAN'T do anything. Am I supposed to work my butt off all week and then come home and play maid for him?

 

No, of course not - but you do have to see this as he may see it - as a component of what to him is possibly an on-going problem rather than one that has been resolved. Yes you have tried hard - but does he see this as something that is temporary or an excuse to go back to the old ways? What happens when other things in your life cause stress and so on?

 

Perhaps if you were to sit down and work out who does what with cleaning so that neither one does more than the other - then you can agree that both of you will pick up the slack for the other if temporary reasons means that one of you can't do their share.

 

And 'share' is the key word here. Not 'help' but sharing responsibilities for getting the chores done.

 

If what you have done in the past and done recently isn't working - try something new.

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Also, when I talked to him about compromising and working together, he admitted to me that he worked so hard before (when he was doing everything), that he just doesn't have the will to do anything now, 6 months later, and thinks that I should continue to do everything (but BETTER than I have been doing for the past 5 months). I told him that I was sorry about how I acted before, but that things have been different for a while and I have really been trying to be better and more considerate. He also blames me for imposing my bad habits on him--such as leaving plates, cups and clothes around. He says that since I did it before, he picked up the habit. So that is my fault as well.

 

Can we move on from this? I agree with the person that says that this seems like a stupid thing to break up over. I like things to be clean, but it's not my #1 priority. It's not HIS number one priority--because he isn't cleaning 24/7--and yet, he believes it should be mine. I really HATE to think that it is, in fact, traditional gender roles that have been instilled in him that are to blame, because he always told me how his mom discouraged that in him. His dad was Cuban and was very much a "traditional" hispanic man, and expected his wife to cook and clean and keep everything in perfect order while bringing money to the table.

 

I don't think my boyfriend is that severe--he's not stingy or cruel like his father was. Am I an idiot for arguing about this? Am I just throwing a fit for nothing? Should I just suck it up and take up the role of housemaid because he works and pays for our occasional outings?

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Well, we have never written up a chore list, but I suppose I could do that. I think that this situation in particular, though ( me being in the field), is very stressful for him because, 1. he is lonely, 2. he has to take care of the dog, and this is usually my job, and 3. his schedule is busy, and no one is there to pick up after him while he is away at work. He has brought the issue of how hard he is working to keep things together the past two weekends that I've been back from the field. But all in all, it doesn't seem like he's working that much harder than he might be during the regular school year--the only difference is that I am just not there. Not there to clean up the messes, but not there to make them either! This is what frustrates me.

 

He also mentioned last night that perhaps we ought to move out and live in separate places so I could "learn some responsibility". I lived by myself for 2 years before moving in with him and I know how to take care of myself and my things. My ways of doing things may be different, but I do get things done. I really don't think either of us moving out will make things any better--it feels to me like it is him that needs to get used to being on his own and doing things by himself. Because if I were gone permanently, the only responsibility he wouldn't have (that he DOES have now) would be taking care of the dog. All the messes made throughout the week are his own...he should be all right with cleaning up his own messes if he were, indeed "responsible". But it seems as if he's not ok with it. He needs me there, to do it for him, because he believes it is my job--since I CANNOT have a job right now because of field work.

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Lots of women can 'suck it up' and do all the housework until there get to be kids involved. Then they're working, doing the housework, AND taking care of the kids.

 

You need to negotiate who will do what, and or talk about getting a maid once you are out of school and working.

 

Otherwise these resentments will build. You also need to address with him what other traditional roles he expects you to take (i.e., most of the child rearing responsibilities). This may not be something you want to sign up for unless you both agree before the marriage how you will handle it.

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You also need to address with him what other traditional roles he expects you to take (i.e., most of the child rearing responsibilities). This may not be something you want to sign up for unless you both agree before the marriage how you will handle it.

 

Interestingly enough, I have brought this up in regards to our pets. The dog was originally my dog, and she lived at home with my mom until early this past semester when I was feeling very lonely and depressed, so I brought her up to keep me company--so I understand if he feels like she is "my pet" and my responsibility. But we also have a rabbit (we bought her together, so it is "our" pet). He will throw food at the rabbit but because the rabbit doesn't respond to him much, he doesn't really care for it, and won't change the litter even if I ask him multiple times...I always end up having to do it. The last time I had to do it, the litter had gotten so disgusting that I was very upset with him (I was not home to change it), and that he let the rabbit's cage get so filthy while I was gone. He also refuses to clean up dog poop. I came back from a week in the field to find the rabbit's cage and the dog's cage full of poop. He said that, since the dog is mine, and I was the one who "wanted the rabbit more", I should be the person who is primarily responsible for their care. I asked him: what if we have a baby? Will you tell me the same thing then?

 

I am beginning to see that his is a very responsible person as far as finances and working goes...a good friend, and a good boyfriend...but as far as what he's doing and how he's acting about domestic matters is a little less than ideal.

 

I cannot help but feel that my laziness and my lack of initiative prior to our january conversation is to blame for this. I think he feels that he gave so much and now is only willing to contribute to our household in a financial way.

 

how can I fix this ?

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You were wrong to stop doing your share, but now he's wrong to stop doing his share. Two wrongs don't make a right.

 

I also think he does expect you to be like his mother, and i can't imagine letting a rabbit and dog sit in their own poop and let them suffer because he refuses to clean when you are not around. I suspect if he has this attitude, he'll never change a diaper either if you have a kid.

 

You need to talk and get a chore list where you split the work. If he really hates doing something like taking care of the animals, then that can be your chore, but then his chore needs to be equivalent like cleaning the bathrooms. If he won't agree to a fair splitting, then i imagine he will expect you to do all the housework in the marriage, so there is no point to that, unless you decide that is OK with you.

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You guys need to have a good sit down and decide if you're going to make this work, and if he is willing to put it in the past.

I think it's not fair to hold a mistake against someone and take advantage by making them feel bad for the demise of everything.

 

What matter's is: do you love each other? do you want to make it work and be together long term?

 

And from now on you guys need to talk things out before it gets so bad that the other begins to resent their partner.

Even if he is tired, and you're tired.. relationships need a bit of "fixing" from time to time (though I'm no expert... just speaking from experience so far). And yes it will take some effort. But mostly you both speaking up when something bothers you.

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