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Sunday, August 15, 2010

I want you to want to do the dishes ....

So, this is a blog post that I have been writing in my head for years (that's my way of saying don't take this as a slam on the current man in my life ♥) ... but it seems to be an ongoing theme in my relationships with men and in those of my friends with their significant others. I have heard it reversed and I will get to that as well!

So, let's start with that line; "I want you to want to do the dishes" ... for those of you that don't know where that line is from, it is from the movie, The Break-up Jennifer Aniston's character says it to Vince Vaughn's character after a party has occurred at their house and he sits down to play video games while she is in the kitchen doing the dishes. She of course is angry, she wants his help, he responds and says basically fine, I'll come help, she says something like I don't want you to do it because I'm asking you to, and then says "I want you to want to do the dishes" ... he of course finds this ridiculous, stating, "who would want to do the dishes?"

Unfortunately, the metaphor in all that is one that most women know very well, and some men do too. Nobody wants to do the dishes, well maybe a few do, but not many. She wanted him to want to help her to want to spend time with her, to be part of the household of people instead of just a fixture in it.

No girl or woman wants to force a guy to take her on a date, or snuggle and watch a movie, or hold her hand in public or make love to her ... we don't want that ... we want them to do it because they want to. Maybe not even that it's something they want to do, but because they want to make her happy. Robert Heinlan once defined love as; "Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own" ... this is basically the concept at play in this whole metaphor of "I want you to want to do the dishes" ...

When I was married to my ex he had a hobby he did every Saturday morning at first and then it turned into every Saturday & Sunday morning, so along with his work, this meant he was gone from the house no later than 7am, 7 days a week. Sometimes I wanted him to stay home, sometimes for as selfish a reason as then maybe I could sleep in one day, but because I wanted to spend time with him, wanted to actually eat breakfast with him for once ... but it was never the same if I asked him to stay home. I wanted him to know that was something I wanted and make the choice to do it on his own, to choose me over his hobby, over his friends ... to choose to stay home just because it was something I wanted. I didn't want him to stop going altogether or to not go all weekend, just one day, every now and then, to just either realize the night before or the morning of that he wanted to and think something like, "you know what, today I'm going to spend some time with my wife, eat breakfast with my kids" ... it rarely happened, in fact I think it only happened when I asked him to, and even then there were times that he still went, just sometimes for a shorter amount of time.

I think there are a lot of situation where this falls into play and on the "gamer widow" side ... yes, my current boyfriend plays a lot of WoW & COD ... part of what I think I have a hard time with when it comes to this is that it's not predictable. I am a spontaneous person, but at the same time I like to know certain things in advance. It's the part where it catches me off guard ... like we just got done raiding on WoW together, and we get off the computer in my mind to go to bed and watch TV or whatever, and then he tells me he's going to play COD, I never react well. It's not that I have a problem with him playing, it's that in my own mind it wasn't the plan, so the lack of knowledge and the unpredictability don't help. However, it's the same thing in a lot of respects, if one of his friends IMs him or texts him and tells him that they want him to play, every once in a while it would be nice if he said, "na I'm going to spend some time with the girly tonight" or something ... it's actually a very hard thing to explain, but I think most girls get it.

The male analogy that my boyfriend gave me when he said that it made sense to him, was to say that he doesn't want me to sit there and watch the Broncos game with him because he's forcing me to, he wants me to do it because I want to. Whether he means that in the literal watch the Broncos because I want to watch the Broncos or in the "girl" sense of I want you to do it because it's something I enjoy and we can spend some time together, I don't know, but it is kind of a way of looking at it from a male perspective.

It's hard, because us girls are pretty willing to admit that a movie is a "chick flick" .. but we want to see it! We also want to see it with the men in our lives in most circumstances, but we also don't want to hear them bitch and complain the whole time or after or anything else about how "girly" it was or how we "made them watch it" ... we know that our men don't want to watch these movies .. and a comment after about how "girly" it was or something is one thing, but ruining the experience for us is a totally different thing. It comes down to the fine dance of a relationship ... guys don't want us to sit there and watch sporting events (I use sporting events as a stereotypical example, I actually like watching football & basketball) with them and bitch the whole time about how stupid this game is, and say things like "how can anyone watch this, they're all just a bunch of steroid driven male animals out there trying to prove their masculinity to each other" ... and roll our eyes and act like this is just the worst possible thing as a man that you could have made us do. Again it goes back to if you're with someone you truly love their happiness should mean close to everything to you. I don't believe in sacrificing who you are, but you should be able to bend, to open your horizons ... to compromise!

So, you don't like the same kind of music ... make a mix cd or a playlist on your iPod that has alternating music and then music you both like. So, she likes chick flicks and he likes horror ... alternate, a chick flick this week, a horror movie next week .... these are things couples everywhere do in order to compromise in relationships. The point is though it ruins the experience for the one that wants to see that movie or listen to that music if the entire time it's being complained about, eyes are being rolled, snide comments are made, etc., .... we know you guys don't want to watch The Notebook for the 5th time ... but it means the world to us for you to sit down with us and watch it, and do it without whining and complaining and qq'ing ... we want you to want to watch The Notebook .... starting to make sense yet?

As far as the actual dishes, the housework ... us girls do want you to want to help us. If you are part of the household, you are equally responsible for it. Sometimes we are stay-at-home moms or even housewives, and that means that we do take on more than half of the work, but you men out there can still help. In relationships where both or neither work, it seems only fair to split work 50/50. My ex and I made a deal when I started working part-time that he would take care of the kitchen .. dishes, counters, etc., he also did the litter boxes the bulk of our marriage, because I was pregnant for so dang much of it ... I did everything else. He helped before get togethers and sometimes helped put away his laundry, but as a stay-at-home mom I did everything else. That was a compromise that we came to, and it worked, however we did a lot of fighting before we wound up with that solution.

When there are things to be done in "common property" ... I think men and women alike think the other should help, but that should be something that is done naturally, not something that one forces the other to do .. such as the dishes .. us girls want you guys to want to help to want to do the dishes to want to do your part in the household to maintain it and keep it running.

I hate being naggy, it actually is harder for me to say "hey, can you help me with this" than about anything else. I am a hinter .. which is bad .. all men tell me that's bad. I'm like, "gee those dishes really need to be done," or "wow, the dogs shed a lot this week, we really need to vacuum" or "it's trash night we should get the trash out," or "the bathroom is disgusting" .. and it's not that I expect the men that have shared my life and my home to jump at the opportunity to clean something, and I'm all for cleaning myself as well .. but I absolutely detest having to flat out ask an adult type person to help clean something or do something that I see as obvious ... I want them to want to do the dishes, to want to vacuum, to want to help take out the trash, to want to help clean the bathroom ... I want them to want to help me and participate in the household that we share ...

Having talked to some girlfriends about this, I am not alone in this ... there are many of us women that detest the need to be naggy, we don't want to be bitchy, we don't want to make "honey do" lists ... we just want help when it's obvious that we need help ... we want you to want to help!

I know I've said basically the same thing now in about twelve different ways ... so I'm going to stop ... years of writing something in your head, could almost write a novel ;) ... so boys when it comes down to it we do want you to want to do the dishes!

2 comments:

Miss Ash said...

Practice, and having these kinds of conversations with whomever you're in a relationship with (boyfriend or not), make it easier to ask for help. :)

Erica said...

I don't necessarily have a problem having the conversation or asking for help ... it's that once I ask, then the doing it means less ... or I'm resentful that I had to ask. Also I hate the feeling of being naggy, so if I have to ask more than once, or have the conversation more than once, that's when the issues come in with not wanting to have the conversation.

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