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An Honest Episode!

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Totally Married Podcast

Episode 92

Y’all. Marriage isn’t always roses. And we are married, so…. Shit gets real in this episode. Then Andy and Elizabeth answer listener questions about different work ethics within a relationship, how to handle a rambunctious puppy, and what to do when your husband’s sex drive has gone sayonara. Enjoy!


David says:

Just finished, and I definitely don’t think it was a bad episode. In fact, it might have been the best. I feel like I just watched my two senseis spar.

Felicia says:

Some feedback. This is said with complete love for both of you – but Elizabeth doing everything isn’t the answer. It totally does get much worse when you have kids. Much worse. You need to find a path now rather than later. I would make two points.

1. I get about supporting the person who is earning the money but “life” stuff is a joint responsibility. Even in a situation where one person is doing more day to day stuff than the other, the “responsibility” is still shared. This is a tricky distinction to explain in words but think of it this way… You have a joint life. That life can’t run, wouldn’t be pleasant or enjoyable at all without ALL the things being done that make up that life. Making money is one essential task but so is doing the dishes. Devaluing one as small and pumping up the other as “so important” in the long term makes one person feel that their contribution is small. Which it isn’t. You can’t earn the money without someone doing your dishes, paying your bills and looking after your kids. Everyone needs acknowledgement for the part they play.

2. The other thing I would say is that as a grownup we all need to take responsibility for our own shit. I get that sometimes work feels overwhelming and super important, but this is a long term thing and there needs to be some balance and responsibility taken for life stuff so that your partner gets to focus on some of what she wants to do – even if that isn’t making money or as much money. Taking responsibility means not having to be reminded all the time because you take responsibility for it. You make an effort y’know? Because you are a grownup.

Sorry about the preachy-ness…..eeek. To put this into context I am a sahm with an unused Masters degree who has agreed to put my working life on hold (over 5yrs now) to raise our kids. While I agreed to raise the kids, I didn’t agree to becoming a household slave. At the end of each day I have worked equally as hard at an equally valid task. So from the time he gets home we share the tasks and responsibilities of life. Sometimes we do this well. Sometimes not so much.

Think your podcasts and you are ace.

DT says:

Great episode. The title is bang-on. This is honest. It’s probably not the best episode if someone’s just be introduced to the podcast, but for us committed listeners, I think it cannot help but reaffirm how refreshingly sincere you both are on here. None of this is a put on, it’s all you guys. I think your advice is more credible because you don’t pretend your marriage is just sunshine and rainbows 24-7. Why would we trust people who never have any issues of their own? If you don’t have issues, you have no experience solving those issues.

I’m currently doing graduate school, not bringing in much income and my partner is working a job with a professional’s salary. At the same time, I’m also the forgetful doofus who will neglect the things I should be doing around the house. I’ve worked very hard to notice what needs to be done and remember what I’m asked to do. I don’t know what Andy’s home life was like, but my guess is his mom did a disproportionate amount of home care. As little boys, the mantra of ‘being a man’ gets drilled into us. Yet, one of our examples of ‘being a man’ is our own fathers not pulling their weight at home, where gendered chores produce a very unequal distribution of work.

One solution we’ve found is that I’m responsible for meals. I’m at home so I start dinner while my partner is still at work. Then, when she gets home dinner is either ready, or she’ll sit in the kitchen, having a rest, while I finish preparing the meal. Cooking can be a great communal activity if it works with a couple’s schedule. Dinner can also be a nice focal point to ensure you spend some time together.

Laila says:

I do understand that the division of chores might need to be uneven when one person is working a ton and financially supporting the family- that totally makes sense. It doesn’t make sense, though, that virtually ALL of burden should lie on the other person. That’s too much and it undermines the sense that, you know, you’re in it together and you have each other’s backs. Also, if Elizabeth is eventually going to get to where she wants to be in her career and start bringing home a bit more money, she does need time to create/pitch/etc., right?

The other thing is the issue of really owning one’s responsibilities. So, let’s say you guys divide up the chores (with fewer responsibilities, for the time being, on Andy’s plate). It’s really important that each person just takes care of their own shit. If the other person is constantly having to remind and whatnot, it kind of defeats the purpose. Imagine if you had an employee and they had some set of tasks for them to do. You just want them to take charge and get these things done, right? If you constantly have to prod them and remind them, it’s like, what’s the point? They would get fired.

So, yeah, that’s my take on things– maybe divide things up unevenly for now, but both parties still have some stuff to do. And, perhaps most importantly, each person takes ownership of his/her own responsibilities.

Al says:

I was the primary source of income in a previous relationship. We settled into a pattern where my ex would handle the housework, most of the cooking, and the groceries. Unintentionally, I lost perspective of the home and household as an investment, and that bled into the relationship as well. If you think of household maintenance and investment activities as rituals that simultaneously reflect and shape your concept of home, then committing to some level of engagement is key.

Emily says:

This was my first time listening to the podcast and I enjoyed the episode. I think mainly because it covered a conversation my husband and I have countless times throughout the year. He is a teacher while I, as a librarian, work around the calender so our roles in the house are constantly shifting depending on school breaks/summer.

Bill Allen says:

Elizabeth, to help Andy remember to do tasks, make a list throughout the day, have him, that night, put those items in his phone as scheduled tasks/appointments and his phone will remind him. It will be Andy/his phone who is nagging him to do specific tasks, not you. Also, any task that takes longer to communicate than it does to actually do, then just do it yourself.

Katie says:

I agree with some of the other comments.

Your solution to just do all the household work and life stuff isn’t going to work as a solution, it’ll just bring you resentment. Also, Andy’s work lifestyle isn’t sustainable for his own health, in addition to your marriage. This way of doing things will have to be temporary and you’ll have to work together to create a sustainable plan on how to change things moving forward. We all get ourselves into these types of situations from time to time and just have to plan and communicate to work yourself out of it. You’re already headed into the right direction just by talking it out and not holding in resentments.

Sarah says:

I work full time. My husband stays home during the day and watches our son and then works at a restaurant at night. I consider us both working full time so right now, we both just take care of shit.

That being said….this summer I took on teaching a college class. It was a 5 week course and it was SOOOOO much more work that I had anticipated. It paid well and we are going to use that money for the house. Those 5 weeks (and about 5 weeks before it), my husband had to step up and take on responsibilities that I typically take. It kind of sounds like maybe this is what you and Andy are going through?

My other thought is that when I’m working full time and taking on additional jobs, I get stressed and my mind is constantly on my job. Also, when I’m home, I want to just do mindless things like be on the internet. Little chores (like taking dishes to the sink) get lost. I have to make a conscious effort to “not be lazy” and depend on my husband to do it for me.

Finally…what if Andy had a honey do list. Something simple where you can write down things that you need him to do. Then maybe he can dedicate an hour each Saturday or Sunday to do things off the list.

Just my thoughts.

I loved the episode. I thought it was wonderful!!!

Richard C says:

The whole breadwinner not having to do stuff at home has always seemed like a lazy excuse to me.
Being a single guy, I do the work and I clean and take care of my apartment. Sometimes it sucks, but it’s a responsibility. I couldn’t imagine having someone cleaning up the messes that I made. It feels totally irresponsible.

bon says:

totally get this sitch – just had this convo with hubs. i was thinking i was a bit needy asking for appreciation/gratitude, but i think we all need a cheerleader every so often. its a sign of respect and love (to me). had this talk with my counselor and she totally validated me in knowing what i need/want.

Julien says:

First of all, great episod. I’ve read all comments and I agree with all of them. I just want to add 2 things for Andy:
1 Even if you work like Obama, you can still find time to clean the coffee table.
2 If you say that you do it, do it immediatly or most of the time, it will become an issue

I’m a guy, I know it works for me

Frances says:

I have so much to say about this episode that I may just have to break it up into sections. So, about the division of labor in the house:

I totally agree with the previous comments and would only add/emphasize that the idea that working outside the home earning money is important and valuable and all the stuff inside the home/unpaid is “stupid little stuff” and unimportant is a pernicious and false idea that will ruin your lives. I say this as an unemployed mom with a Ph.D., I know how stupid and unrewarding taking care of the “little stuff” feels to the person doing it. That is probably the worst thing about it, is that even though I know in my head that these things are necessary, it feels totally unimportant, mundane, and unrewarding to take care of all that stuff. So the least you can ask for is to be appreciated for doing it.

I totally agree, that you can’t set a precedent now of the “breadwinner” being off the hook for any of the mundane day-to-day stuff. That doesn’t sound like a good deal now, and it won’t fly at all when you have kids. Also hiring “help” will not solve the problem (although it will relieve some of the burden) because in many cases it is not the actual work but the *responsibility* for it that is the issue. Who is remembering/thinking about it/problem-solving each little thing? You have to remember that you are a team and each of you is not only contributing to the success of the team, but each of your happiness and fulfillment is equally important, even if one of you isn’t earning any money.

Frances says:

I also have to agree with everything you said on the podcast about adopting a puppy. Neither my husband nor I are “pet people” and had never owned pets as adults, but our kids persuaded us to get a dog. We looked into it for a few months and thought we had it figured out, but we really were completely unprepared. Our original plan was to get a dog of a year old or more, and we found the perfect dog on Petfinder, a 1 year old Maltese who had been surrendered by her owner with her 8 month old puppy. (I don’t even want to do the math on that!) Anyway, turns out the mom was adopted instantly so they asked us if we wanted the puppy. At first we didn’t, but when we met him he was so adorable and loving that we fell in love with him and adopted him.

The first few weeks we had him were so hard! He was not housetrained, and would chew or eat everything he could find. We needed to watch him every minute. We also had to care for him after his neuter surgery, which was more than we bargained for.

But 1 month later it was already a lot easier, and now 2 months later it is even better. We still have a lot of training and adapting to do, but he is so delightful that he has really become an adored member of our family.

Also, I will say as a mom that you were right on about the amount of work a puppy requires compared to a baby. I don’t even know what a newborn puppy is like, but an 8-month old one is definitely like a toddler. The main difference is that you can occasionally leave a puppy home alone for a few hours if you have a crate or designated puppy-proof area. But otherwise it is a very similar commitment, especially at first.

So congratulations to your writer-inner on the new addition to their family. Hang in there! It will definitely get easier.

Steve says:

I just want to know, a day after broadcast/posting/whatever, how big a bouquet of roses did Andy bring home? Alternatively, which exclusive restaurant did he book reservations for this weekend?

In all seriousness, I thought he got defensive and realized it at the end.

It must be odd having complete strangers comment on your interactions, but then again, you guys do put it out there. Thanks!

Priscilla says:

Read SECOND SHIFT by Arlie Hockschild

These are ancient issues and this book will help you to gain some perspective and insights into the balance of power in the house.

Don’t have children until you have managed to resolve this to both your satisfactions. The resentments will otherwise boil into other facets of your relationship.

Great podcast. You have many fans and in time will get some additional sponsors and E. will have more jingle in her jeans.

Simone says:

Even though listening to this podcast made me have flashbacks and a stomachache, it was an interesting show.

As a woman actively avoiding relationships for years (and please take that into consideation) here’s my unsoliciated advice.

1- Read or get from Getting the Love You Want byJohn Gottman. When I heard Elizabeth asking for appreciation, I thought of this book because that is a vague request. The book will help you tell Andy exactly wan he needs to do to make you feel loved andappreciated.

2- Elizabeth, remember how Andy was living when you met him. Keeping up the house wasn’t high on his priority list then and it’s not now. Face reality.

3- Look to same sex couples There is no more “male work” or “female work” in 2013. Generally whoever cares the most is going to take care of it. If you have to hire outside help to get things done and keep the peace it’s chaper than splitting up your stuff and finding another place to live.

4- Elizabeth, I think some of your passive aggressive/ martrdom is because you aren’t satisfied with the way your career is at the moment. I know that you have big dreams and I honestly think that they will be realized, but right now I think you might be a little bit jealous.

5- Andy, Elizabeth is your wife, not your mother, don’t depend on her to remind you of what needs to be done. Make a note, get a whiteboard, put it in your smart phone, hire an intrnto remind you, but don’t leave it to Elizabeth to remind you.

6- Think about the baby. Andy how do you plan to make time in your life to spend time with your family and to be involved? How to you picture your life as husband and a father? Will you take time of to take a sick child to the doctor? Take a child on a playdate? Stay up all night walking a fussy baby or do you think Elizabeth’s going to take care of these things? What’s Elizabeth’s picture of family life? How big is the chasm between your ideas?

In the meantime go do something fun together, don’t let this little problem become a big problem.

Did I mention who much I like the podcast?

Danielle says:

I don’t have any advice because I often face this same problem, and we haven’t figured anything out yet, either.

But I do want to say it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this. I appreciated your honest discussion, actually, because you two always talk about how you’ve gotten better at communicating with each other. I was thankful to have the opportunity to hear some of that firsthand! You guys do a really good job of expressing yourselves.

This episode actually reminded me of the infamous Pittsburgh episode of the Harmontown podcast because it’s like getting a for-real peek into a couple’s everyday life together. While some may find it awkward or uncomfortable, I welcome it with open arms. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

Allison says:

I love this episode! I mean, I like all of them, but this one is so true! I think very couple faces this issue, and it changes all the time! Thanks for sharing your discussion.

larly says:

you’re both right and both wrong. Lizzy: door know takes two minutes to fix, but if it’s late, you’re stressed, and you’re not in that frame of mind it takes an additional 15 to reset. Andy: you know why it was wrong to make Liza feel guilty about not making money from her podcast. You’re also both right. check out “Byron Katie” on youtube or Oprah to figure out why.

Dana says:

I am in the same situation with the “chores” deal in my marriage. We’ve only been married for a few months but we have been living together for two years. Recently, his parents moved in. When we lived alone, we both shared Saturday morning responsibilities to clean the house, do the car stuff, blah blah all the not fun stuff. When we were pressed for time, we kinda got to choose which tasks we hated least to do that week.
Now since his mother lives with us, I cannot get him to wash one flipping dish. He places it in the sink and within minutes his mother has washed it for him. I even caught her folding his laundry one day.
I will say it irritates me that he “seems” lazy but what irritates me the most is that I HAVE TO REMIND him of everything!!! Even continually to walk the dog every afternoon. Frustrating! Really, I bet no one at work has to remind him to do stuff. How do we “fix” that?? 🙂 nah I’m kidding. I have finally convinced my boo to use his calendar and please place events and “to-do” lists on there. It seems to work (a little). And I will not touch the items that he has promosed to do.
My only suggestion, don’t deem certain tasks as “the man jobs” bc my husband will say “why do I have to do the woman duties.” So occasionally I will grab some tools and do some of those things too. We all hate doing chores but it doesn’t make it sooooo miserable when their is sharing involved.

Erica says:

I’m digging into the older episodes because I’m a newish listener and can’t get enough – love this podcast & totally mommy. Side note, I’m also expecting a boy, this nov. Anyway, love this episode. It really struck home as it did clearly for so many others. My husband is in the 2nd year of his startup and I’ve been having similar feelings to Elizabeth about being the one who does everything else. And we have a toddler, so there’s a lot of “everything else” to do. I also work, but for his company My job is much more easy going, but still that plus taking care of the home and our little has been making me feel so stressed lately. Anyway, hearing you say you’re going to live with doing everything now, only asking for gratitude in exchange in order to let him focus with the hope that later on his company will be rolling along and maybe we can afford help or maybe he’s less busy (one can only hope!), gave me a new perspective. I decided I’m going to try to adopt that mindset for now, which surprisingly gave me a feeling of relief, and see where just letting him focus on work can take us. I did listen to the next episode as well and I think assigning him ONE consistent task, for now is also a great idea.

The main reason why I decided to leave this reply was because this episode makes me really want a follow up! How are you guys balancing things now, with Teddy and your pregnancy and it sounds like you’ve been busier with writing & pitching. Sounds like Andy has been super busy lately too. I’d love to hear how things have gone in this particular realm of your relationship since this, and the following episode aired. Thanks again for all of the entertainment!

Wet Kitten says:

Hi Elizabeth & Andy – I’m 54 year old heterosexual woman in great long-term relationship with a great guy. We’re really enjoying the Totally Married podcast, listening to them all from the beginning. Your disagreement in this one made me so angry that I had to write in — I know that years have passed since this was recorded and I hope that you’ve been working to communicate much more effectively since then (I haven’t listened to any of the newish podcasts). Many heterosexual women unwittingly fall into the domestic role in their intimate relationships and become enablers in keeping their male partners childlike and irresponsible. For anyone who has this challenge, (even Elizabeth), if your cohabiting mate does not appreciate all the “little” things you do, just go on strike for a week and stop doing them. When the dirty dishes pile up next to the sink, the clean underwear drawer becomes empty, and there’s no food in the house, then perhaps he’ll understand the importance of your efforts. My relationship is happy because we do not live together and I have a housekeeper at my home. When I visit my mate, he knows that he must tidy up, and make his his home clean so that I’ll feel comfortable there. Most importantly, it’s critical for couples to communicate their expectations, non-negotiable items, and limits for each other’s behavior to maintain their lives — in short, communicate as adults and be as direct as possible as early in the relationship as possible. Love your advice, and your listeners’ advice too!

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