Divorce. It’s the ugly “D” word. In fact, it causes emotions that are the direct antithesis of everything most people feel when they get married: joy, elation, excitement, hope. Rather than these, thoughts of divorce often lead to dread, embarrassment, fear, sadness. We usually don’t toss that word around lightly. At least we shouldn’t. I mean, not for stuff that’s fixable between two people in love. But recently, there’s a Facebook post that’s been making the rounds that has a lot of people talking. Essentially, it tosses out the “D” word as a compelling blowback to husbands who don’t handle a fair share of household and family responsibilities. It’s the answer offered to exhausted wives tired of taking care of babies, brooms, and bootie calls. Meanwhile, hubby is taking care of his “me” time playing golf or, worse yet, in his man cave, at home, “watching the game!” Yeah. We get it. There are some lazy, selfish, husband-wannabes out there. But is divorce a substantive response to a conversation that needs to be had? Let’s talk about it.
I have two teenage boys, 13 and 15. They know how to cook, clean, and take care of me. Why? Because both I and my husband require it of them. To be sure, I married a man whose mother was fierce. She had both a gentle touch and a steely backbone. There was no room for misogynistic ideologies in her presence. And though the world got a hold of him and offered different societal and military perspectives, her training had deep roots.
What’s the point?
Well, for each of you to do your “fair share,” I think there are three Ds that could prove viable first, second and third steps to addressing and eventually working through this issue.
Divorce: Is It the Answer to Lazy Husband Syndrome?
So, that Facebook post hit a lot of nerves and women are all up in arms about ditching these lazy men. The author in some ways equates this laziness to abuse and many women agree. Now, I will neither tell a woman to leave her man nor stay in an abusive relationship.
But, watch out now.
We need to be very careful when we start slinging around the word abuse. There are some women dealing with some harsh, life-threatening realities who might not take too kindly to referring to a lazy husband as an abusive one. That said, let’s take divorce off the table for a minute and see what else is out there.
Here’s the thing. When dealing with what can be considered a “normal” relationship, each couple needs to agree on what rules are in the playbook. By and large, when women end up airing their grievances on the world wide web, they haven’t had a serious sit down with their man. There’s often an unspoken understanding that he does the “man” stuff and she does the “woman” stuff. And, for ages, society has determined what “man” stuff and “woman” stuff is. So, she sits in her rocking chair with her newborn at 2 am crying about her newfound status because she’s accepted the societal norm.
She might try dropping a hint about her struggle which her clueless, and/or possibly lazy, man fails to pick up. When that doesn’t work, she might take the passive-aggressive route to deal with the situation. When that also fails, she’s on social media or in some mom group dragging her man.
Have a real conversation. Sit with your spouse…and your pastor or therapist if necessary. Have a next level discussion about what you each need to bring to the table now that life is changing. Then, take step two.
Now that you’ve had a real discussion, make a decision. As a couple, decide what “fair share” means for your relationship. Don’t fall back on societal norms, whether old or new. Make a plan that you both agree will work for you and then move on to step three.
As a side note, if you can’t reach an agreement, the problem that’s holding your relationship hostage isn’t just a lazy husband. Getting professional help might be necessary if you both want to make your marriage work.
Okay. This is probably going to be the toughest part. Actually, not probably…it is the toughest part. Once you’ve decided as a couple what you will each be responsible for, detach yourself from your spouse’s responsibilities. If he’s got dish duty, walk away from the dirty sink. When the baby starts screaming at 3 am on his watch, let the baby cry. If it’s his turn to bus the kids to soccer, don’t you do it.
I get that you don’t like a dirty house or crying babies. But if you want and asked for change, if you require change, then you should expect it. Just as with my teenage children, if you require it, in a “normal” relationship, it will get done. However, if you’ve gone through steps one and two but refuse to implement step three, you place the rules of your relationship playbook in serious jeopardy. Be patient and walk away.
Things won’t necessarily be perfect. But dragging your man through the social media mud will become a thing of the past. And hopefully, divorce will no longer be on the table.
BMWK: What options are possible besides divorce when dealing with a lazy spouse?