Does she owe him sex, too? November 14, 2009 8:18 PM   Subscribe

This answer in a recent AskMe made me very uncomfortable. I know about "flag it and move on," but I don't actually think the answer breaks the guidelines. It didn't seem appropriate to turn the thread into an argument about it, so here I am.

I think it's outrageous to say that in a relationship, the person whose salary is less "owes" housework to the other person, especially as the asker stated that she and her boyfriend work the same hours.

In addition to that, the answer relies on questionable assumptions (e.g. "you chose not to invest as much time/money/effort into developing your human capital"). I think the overall feel of the answer (as well as the other answers by Jacqueline) is sexist.

Frankly, this answer, and all of Jacqueline's answers in that question, make my blood boil. It feels to me like an attack on the asker. I disagree completely with all of it.

I'm not sure if this is the kind of thing where I should just ignore it and accept that not everyone sees the world the same way that I do. If so, I apologize for making this post. However, I think that the perspective Jacqueline is sharing is actively harmful and just horribly wrong, and needs to be countered.
posted by prefpara to Etiquette/Policy at 8:18 PM (293 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

For what it's worth, I agree with you.
posted by chowflap at 8:24 PM on November 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


Hmm, reading over the question and that answer, I'm not offended and I thought the answer was worded in a respectful, if matter-of-fact tone. For context, I'm a feminist and have found other threads bothersome for reasons related to gendered assumptions, but not that one.

It seems to me that the real "issues" in the relationship are not particularly or especially centered around housework, and "solving" the housework problem probably won't solve the bigger problems, but still, I thought that answer was appropriate and seemed to me to be posted in the spirit of being helpful.
posted by serazin at 8:26 PM on November 14, 2009


Listen, you chose to have blood that boils in a temperature range consistent with a typical human body. Don't cry about that now.
posted by ~ at 8:28 PM on November 14, 2009 [9 favorites]


I think "a guy who was nice enough to let a single mother and her child live with him" is a really bizarre way to describe a romantic partnership. Not just sexist, but also really, really weird.

That said, I didn't flag it, so.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:28 PM on November 14, 2009 [14 favorites]


I think it was a good move to post it here, but actually this seems like one of those times where countering an in-thread opinion is within the guidelines. I could be wrong though. But yeah, that's a boneheaded idea put forth, in my opinion. Sidhedevil nailed it. It's about communication. It could be cleaning, it could be the price of the toenail clippers. If he locks up every time she's trying to communicate to resolve a conflict, adios amigos.
posted by cashman at 8:28 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Annnd speak of Sidhedevil.
posted by cashman at 8:29 PM on November 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


I think it's outrageous to say that in a relationship, the person whose salary is less "owes" housework to the other person, especially as the asker stated that she and her boyfriend work the same hours.

I don't think it's outrageous, necessarily. I don't think it's a good way to arrange things, personally, but it's not me in this situation. It might very well be how the guy sees things. It's pretty easy to make yourself the underdog in your own head, especially when there's arguing going on.

It doesn't sound like they've talked too much about money, mostly everything being "ad-hoc", so it could be they have completely different expectations. The fact that he has chores labeled as his seems to undermine this a bit though. It's hard to get a complete picture from the question.
posted by ODiV at 8:34 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't find Jacqueline's answer out of line. Maybe the asker is "using" her boyfriend for money the same way he's "using" her as a maid. I don't know, it's not my life, I couldn't say. I wouldn't judge if that's the truth of the matter; life is hard work and we all make our bargains. It's something for her to think about.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:38 PM on November 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


I don't read that as sexist or otherwise offensive. I think the assumption that people place exact monetary values on "services" provided by family members is questionable, but I don't doubt the idea that one has an obligation to (a) work to complement the skills and resources one's partner brings to a relationship and (b) to not piss off / to generally not be pushy toward the person punching your meal ticket.

I wouldn't stay in that relationship another second, on either side of the partnership. But I don't think jacqueline's analysis is necessarily didiculous.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:38 PM on November 14, 2009


ridiculous
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:39 PM on November 14, 2009


I think it was a good move to post it here, but actually this seems like one of those times where countering an in-thread opinion is within the guidelines.

A single counter on either party's part, done respectfully, is pretty much okay in askme, but insofar as this is going to be anything more than that then this is pretty much bang-on for using metatalk to redirect what could otherwise be a derail of an askme thread. So, basically yes and yes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:40 PM on November 14, 2009


I don't think it's sexist, but I agree that it's an odd way of analysing a relationship. From what I can gather, even if the roles were reversed the relationship would be evaluated by who contributed how much money, and how much time, and who was under a legal obligation to look after someone else, and then a spreadsheet would be made up with a formula that tells you whether or not the relationship works.

The phrase "for him to expect in return that his house be kept up for him" does come across as sexist due to a history of men expecting just that, but I don't think Jacqueline is saying that he should expect this because he's male- simply because he pays more for the upkeep of the house. Again, it's a little more cold and calculated than my ideal way of looking at a relationship, but it's not sexist.
posted by twirlypen at 8:40 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's certainly not the way I approach relationships and I would find being in any similar situation profoundly sad. That said, I also don't think that I have a monopoly on the way a romantic relationship ought to work -- I only have a monopoly on knowing what would work for me.

Different cultures, different generations, different people in general are all going to think about male/female intimate relationships in different ways. I think having a diversity of viewpoints on MeFi is one of its strong suits, and am comfortable in letting the "askers" of AskMe sift through all the answers they get to come to an answer that is right for them.
posted by modernnomad at 8:43 PM on November 14, 2009


What I just posted in the original thread:

"That's a ridiculous answer, given that she's not just some random single mom off the street with a kid, and they, like, you know, have a romantic relationship."

But not a marriage. She's just his live-in girlfriend, but she seems to think that she's entitled to being treated like his wife.

If this were a roommate situation, I doubt she would be so pissed off. She would realize that her roommate paid a greater portion of the rent/bills in exchange for her doing the housework/yardwork. So why does having sex with the unrelated person you live with suddenly entitle you to getting something for nothing? (Unless she thinks that sex is the service she provides him, in which case, you want to talk about a bizarre and misogynistic perspective...!)

Marriage is different because when you get married, you agree to form a family that functions as a single economic unit. But if he wanted her and her kid to be his family, he'd marry her and adopt the daughter. He hasn't. Her expectation of him to act like a husband and father when he has indicated clearly (by not marrying her) that he doesn't want to assume those obligations is thus unreasonable.

The OP and many of the commenters seem to be approaching this situation as one of "my husband and I both work all day but I still do all the housework/yardwork for our family" when it is really "my boyfriend heavily subsidizes my and my daughter's living expenses and in exchange expects me to do all the housework/yardwork." Those are two very different situations.

There seems to be a big disconnect between the OP's perception of the relationship and what the relationship actually is. The boyfriend has NOT committed to becoming her husband, but the OP expects him to act like they are married (socialized contributions to the household, addressing conflicts in the context of expecting the relationship to last long-term, couples counseling, etc.).
posted by Jacqueline at 8:46 PM on November 14, 2009 [21 favorites]


If the thread was the other way around and it appeared the guy was mooching off his girlfriends finances and upset he had to do work around the house, people would tell him he should be a ditched motherfucker already and the word sexism would have never come up in response to that response. I don't really see what is being perceived as sexist about it — it may be a cynical way to look at relationships, but I didn't really take in anything creepy with gender in my parsing of it.
posted by floam at 8:50 PM on November 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


I don't think it would have turned out that way if he was complaining that he had to do ALL the housework and that his girlfriend never did anything.
posted by ODiV at 8:52 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


My point is that there is a big difference in obligations and reasonable expectations between just dating/shacking up with someone and being married/a family. The OP seems to think they have the latter when the OP's boyfriend seems to think they have the former.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:52 PM on November 14, 2009


My point is that there is a big difference in obligations and reasonable expectations between just dating/shacking up with someone and being married/a family.

I've been in several non-marital relationships where you function as a household. Since when is your romantic partner by default your roommate until you get married? I've never heard of that. The unmarried couples I've known that lived together functioned as a unit. They didn't put their names on the orange juice, sleep in separate beds or pay rent separately.
posted by cashman at 8:53 PM on November 14, 2009 [36 favorites]


Marriage is different because when you get married, you agree to form a family that functions as a single economic unit. But if he wanted her and her kid to be his family, he'd marry her and adopt the daughter. He hasn't. Her expectation of him to act like a husband and father when he has indicated clearly (by not marrying her) that he doesn't want to assume those obligations is thus unreasonable.

WOW. There are a lot of reasons people choose not to marry. There are a lot of ways other than marrying to make your expectations about your relationship, who's part of the family, etc explicit to each other.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:55 PM on November 14, 2009 [35 favorites]


Personally, in that question, the post that made me feel uncomfortable/like I was reading something divisive wasn't the one by Jacqueline, it was the original question.

She says, right off the bat, that she thinks she should leave this guy. Then she lists two reasons why she hasn't: that he is nice to her and her kid, and that "us breaking up would entail some pretty serious financial hardships for me." to the affect of her having to move to a different town entirely to find someplace within her means as a sole provider.

Is expecting her to pick up extra work around the house, because she isn't pitching as much into the pot fair? I don't know. But I do know that living with someone so that you can take advantage of their money under the auspices of a romantic relationship is certainly unfair.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:57 PM on November 14, 2009 [43 favorites]


She's just his live-in girlfriend, but she seems to think that she's entitled to being treated like his wife.

If you're in a monogamous romantic relationship and living in the same house and functioning as a single economic unit, then you're a family and you're a single economic unit.

What is wrong with you?
posted by anniecat at 8:58 PM on November 14, 2009 [42 favorites]


@Cashman: By DEFAULT, yes, you shouldn't assume that you have a marriage-like relationship when you're not actually married, because you're taking on many of the risks of marriage without any of the security.

If your unmarried couple friends explicitly agreed to act as if they were married, then they'd made a conscious decision to not engage in the default behavior.

One person assuming that level of commitment (as the OP seems to be doing) when the other has not explicitly agreed to it, though, is very risky.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:59 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know about that. I think that the word married might be leading us off course. Sure there are unmarried couples who are a family. And it could just be because the OP wrote this while she was steaming or because of how I'm reading it, but I don't see a family mentioned in the question. I don't see someone asking about how to get her daughter's step-father to help around the house more.
posted by ODiV at 9:01 PM on November 14, 2009


Since when is your romantic partner by default your roommate until you get married? I've never heard of that.

I'd agree, but in this case I think the part where the OP makes it clear she'd ditch him if not for his money makes it pretty clear we're closer to labeled orange juice.
posted by floam at 9:03 PM on November 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


"If you're in a monogamous romantic relationship and living in the same house and functioning as a single economic unit, then you're a family and you're a single economic unit.

"What is wrong with you?"

If the OP's boyfriend wanted them to be a family, he would marry her. By not marrying her he's made it clear that he DOESN'T want to commit to that. He's also made other indications that he's not committed to her by not investing his time in the upkeep of their shared household, and by disengaging from the OP rather than invest time and emotional energy in resolving conflicts. Thus I think the root problem is that OP sees their relationship as a marriage when her boyfriend does not.

Also, given that she says "he pays the rent, I pay all the other bills" indicates that they have separate accounts/finances, so they aren't really functioning as a single economic unit.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:05 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe he just doesn't know how to respond to your expression of anger. Often, men start feeling flooded

Sexist.

Welcome to the "second shift" that most women work. Your complaint is extremely common and your likelihood of finding a man who will do what you perceive to be his "fair share" of housework is small.

Sexist. And whereas it was almost sympathetically so (as in "yeah, all men are bastards"), the "you perceive" turned it dismissive. The OP was wrong to have ever expected the housework balance she did.

Both of those statements were before the discrepancy in bill payment was even raised by Jacqueline. Putting all of this together, perhaps Jacqueline believes the OP (as well as most women?) should expect to work a "second shift" because they earn less than their male counterparts.
posted by salvia at 9:09 PM on November 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


But I do know that living with someone so that you can take advantage of their money under the auspices of a romantic relationship is certainly unfair.

Oh look, there is an elephant here.

Well spotted, paisley.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:10 PM on November 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


If the OP's boyfriend wanted them to be a family, he would marry her.

And how are you so intimately acquainted with OP's boyfriend's mindset? Because you wrote the book on men? Did it occur to you that OP doesn't want/didn't want to marry him or are we not thinking that deeply today? Plenty of people who have been in serious LT relationships and marriages that end in divorce who do not remarry.

You don't know very much about relationships other than your own and it's time someone told you that.
posted by anniecat at 9:17 PM on November 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


"Often, men start feeling flooded" ... "Sexist"

Please refer to the research by John Gottman that the feeling "flooded" response during conflict is much more common amongst men.

"Welcome to the "second shift" that most women work." ... "Sexist"

Please refer to the extensive research by many sociologists and economists that women in America generally do far more housework than men do.

Reality is sexist, I'm just acknowledging the way things are!
posted by Jacqueline at 9:18 PM on November 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


And blaming it on the women for earning less. Please refer to the research that women earn 80 percent of what men earn for doing the exact same job.
posted by salvia at 9:20 PM on November 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


I am married, I rarely do housework because I just don't care that much, my husband and I lived together before we married, and he does a lot more housework than me. Also, I make around fifteen thousand less than he does and it's pretty much been like that since we started living together.
posted by anniecat at 9:21 PM on November 14, 2009


She says, right off the bat, that she thinks she should leave this guy. Then she lists two reasons why she hasn't: that he is nice to her and her kid, and that "us breaking up would entail some pretty serious financial hardships for me."

Yeah, it looks like she is pretty flagrantly exploiting the man.
posted by jayder at 9:21 PM on November 14, 2009


Yeah, it's a sexist, weird relationship, and it's a sexist, weird answer, and I basically agree with you, but, you know, you can just be uncomfortable with a stranger's weird relationship and another stranger's weird answer and go on with your life.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:21 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Did it occur to you that OP doesn't want/didn't want to marry him or are we not thinking that deeply today?"

It's possible, but given that the OP is the one who seems to be acting/thinking like they are married whereas the OP's boyfriend doesn't act like he's committed to the relationship, it's a good bet that he's the one who didn't/doesn't want to get married.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:21 PM on November 14, 2009


Every unhappy family, eh? There's a lot of seemingly fundamental communication issues to be worked out, it seems.

anniecat: "You don't know very much about relationships other than your own and it's time someone told you that."

Have you written any relationship books? You're taking a remarkably strident tone.
posted by boo_radley at 9:29 PM on November 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Please refer to the research that women earn 80 percent of what men earn for doing the exact same job."

Having the same job title is not the same as doing the exact same job. If one person is taking off from employment for months or years at a time, taking more time off for family sick days when employed, and less willing to work long hours, travel, etc. than another person, those two people are not doing the exact same job. Please refer to the research that it's actually MOTHERS who earn less, and that childless women and men generally earn about the same.

(On a related note, I recently read that young (under 30) women in cities earn more than their male peers. Probably has something to do with more women than men attending and graduating college. So we may see a fairly large change in the ratio of women's earnings to men's after the baby boomers (who started their careers when women had significantly fewer options) all retire and Generation Y begins its ascendancy.)
posted by Jacqueline at 9:30 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


and as for the 80% earning rate: I was just thinking about that the other day. The last three jobs I've held were in small-to-large entities with HR departments; the jobs had structured pay rates, and anyone putting his ass in, say, a project managers chair would get the same pay as any other irrespective of gender. It seems like a huge legal liability for any organization to try to pay a woman less than a man.
posted by boo_radley at 9:34 PM on November 14, 2009


The institution of marriage is really fraught for a lot of people. It's kind of strange to have these absolutist views of the state of the relationship of two people you don't even know.
posted by citron at 9:35 PM on November 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


I feel like I've stumbled upon Bizarro Metatalk. Weesha asks a question where she more or less states outright that she is staying with a guy primarily because his wealth allows her to live a more luxurious lifestyle than she could on her own (allows her to live in a nice area, send her kid to a good school, etc.) and we're ragging on Jacqueline for being offensive?
posted by The Gooch at 9:36 PM on November 14, 2009 [16 favorites]


But, that's not what she said. That's not at all what she said.
posted by citron at 9:38 PM on November 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


If the OP's boyfriend wanted them to be a family, he would marry her.

This may or may not be true of the OP's boyfriend, but just to put it out there: people can become a family together without getting married (and I don't just mean LGBT people who are currently deprived of that right). A marriage certificate is not the only way to make that happen.
posted by scody at 9:38 PM on November 14, 2009 [29 favorites]


(I can't wait to show my husband this thread*. He will think it's hilarious that I've been accused of promoting traditional gender roles with regards to the division of housework, because he does 90% of the cooking and cleaning in our household. I work full-time and go to grad school full-time and told him there was no way in hell that I was going to come home to a third shift of housework on top of that. Between that and winning the last-longer contest of who has the most tolerance for living in a dirty house, all I do these days is laundry and mostly just because I run out of clean clothes sooner than he does.)

(*Then after I show him this thread he'll ask, "So THAT'S what you did all night instead of homework?" and threaten to block Metafilter.com in my hosts file.)
posted by Jacqueline at 9:44 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


If the OP's boyfriend wanted them to be a family, he would marry her.

What a ridiculously reactionary and unhelpful thing to say.
posted by mediareport at 9:44 PM on November 14, 2009 [24 favorites]


If the guy acknowledged responsibility by making a list of chores with his name on some of them, and then failing on his duties, then whether the relationship should be more of a tit for tat business affair or a romantic union is a moot point. It sounds like the guy is conflict avoiding and passive aggressive, and that's the root of the problem.

I have no problem with the idea of someone else treating their other half like a servant (sexual or otherwise), as long as the conditions of the relationship are explicit, but mouthing the words of equity while acting out the role of privilege is a shitty way to behave.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:45 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


it's actually MOTHERS who earn less

And it's actually FATHERS who earn more than non-fathers. So, it's still a sexist world, and you're still defending unfair expectations by referring to a wider systemic imbalance, i.e. still essentially blaming the victim.
posted by salvia at 9:45 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Have you written any relationship books?

I'm beginning to write one now called Jacqueline Is Wrong So Don't Listen to Her, by S. Anniecat. (The "S" is for strident.)
posted by anniecat at 9:48 PM on November 14, 2009 [24 favorites]


I didn't so much have a problem with the stuff in the thread because different people view money differently, but the stuff here, this is utter bullshit.

If the OP's boyfriend wanted them to be a family, he would marry her. By not marrying her he's made it clear that he DOESN'T want to commit to that.

Bull. Shit.

They moved in together, they're a family, she has every right to be treated as an equal and as someone in a meaningful relationship. So does he. Just because Jacqueline needs a piece of paper to define her relationship doesn't mean shit about the rest of the world and this attitude just boggles my mind. They're living together in a romantic relationship (and yes, sex helps define this), both partners deserve to be treated well and as an equal and no one owes anyone anything. Made up rules about marriage are old fashioned, stupid, and sexist.

But hey, I'm not married, never had a serious 'lets pretend to be married' talk, earn less than half what my boyfriend does, and he does 80% of the cooking and 95% of the housework. So clearly I'm some jumped up floozy taking advantage of him and should have tried harder.

That question was very clearly one about poor communication within a relationship. Telling the questioner what she deserves or is allowed to ask for is dismissive and beside the point.
posted by shelleycat at 9:49 PM on November 14, 2009 [14 favorites]


But, that's not what she said. That's not at all what she said.

Enlighten me? She states bluntly:
… breaking up would entail some pretty serious financial hardships for me. I do have a job, but it's not enough for me to be able to afford to stay where I am, so I'd have to move …
posted by floam at 9:50 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]




anniecat: "I'm beginning to write one now called Jacqueline Is Wrong So Don't Listen to Her"

The sequel: I am also wrong, don't listen to me either, by S. Anniecat.
posted by boo_radley at 9:50 PM on November 14, 2009


Yeah, it's a sexist, weird relationship, and it's a sexist, weird answer, and I basically agree with you, but, you know, you can just be uncomfortable with a stranger's weird relationship and another stranger's weird answer and go on with your life.

Echoing this. The answer is a weird perspective on the relationship, and it's probably better that it's being discussed here rather than inthread, but I can't possibly be alone in noting that this is far, far - I mean leagues, rods, ridings, cross-ocean passages away - from the weirdest and most inappropriate answers that I've seen in AskMe which still meet the guidelines. In other words, I think it's icky and creepy to view relationships this way, but it's a valid answer in that some people do view relationships this way.
posted by Miko at 9:50 PM on November 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Gooch: "Weesha asks a question where she more or less states outright that she is staying with a guy primarily because his wealth allows her to live a more luxurious lifestyle than she could on her own (allows her to live in a nice area, send her kid to a good school, etc.) and we're ragging on Jacqueline for being offensive?"

more than one person can be annoying at a time

it's like, physics
posted by kathrineg at 9:52 PM on November 14, 2009 [16 favorites]


"people can become a family together without getting married"

Sure, but doing so without a marriage certificate is very risky. If you begin functioning as a single economic unit without legally becoming one, you run the risk of one partner sacrificing for the well-being of the family, then being screwed over financially if the partnership breaks up. I've known a lot of women who've shacked up with boyfriends and functioned as their housewives, but were entitled to NOTHING when they broke up because they weren't legally married.

The reason the gays, lesbians, and supporters care so much about the right to marriage is because we realize that marriage DOES convey very important legal and economic benefits.

The fact that the OP and her boyfriend COULD get married but DON'T indicates that at least one of them (probably him) is not seriously committed to the relationship. Thus a big part of the OP's problem is that she seems to be acting/thinking like they have a marriage-level commitment when they don't.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:52 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I found all of her answers bizarre in their logic, but not technically wrong.

Uncanny valley--close enough to thoughtful advice to be creepy.
posted by kathrineg at 9:54 PM on November 14, 2009 [13 favorites]


y. If you begin functioning as a single economic unit without legally becoming one, you run the risk of one partner sacrificing for the well-being of the family, then being screwed over financially if the partnership breaks up.

I don't think going to the level of marriage actually improves this much, though, does it? I've read about several studies showing that after a divorce, women (and their children) are more often left disadvantaged than men. I've even known women who refused to marry because they wanted to keep their finances and credit separate from their partner's. It's really only a risk if you're functioning as a dependent, isn't it?
posted by Miko at 9:55 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


The reason the gays, lesbians, and supporters care so much about the right to marriage is because we realize that marriage DOES convey very important legal and economic benefits.

Yeah, as a passionate and active supporter of same-sex marriage rights -- I mean, seriously, I consider it the defining American civil rights question of the 21st century -- I'm kind of on board with that, thanks.

Simultaneously, I recognize that millions of people -- gay, straight, and elsewhere on the spectrum -- make families without marriage certificates all the time. My boyfriend and I are family, we both explicitly consider each other family, our families accept each other as family, our workplaces and insurance plans and retirement plans recognize us as family/domestic partners, the times we've visited each other in the hospital we've been referred to as family, etc. -- all without a marriage certificate. YES, the certificate conveys a host of other benefits. YES, we'll probably get around to getting one... at some point, probably when it carries an explicit legal or financial benefit that one or the both of us will require. But whether that day comes in one year or twenty, we're already family.
posted by scody at 9:59 PM on November 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


I have a feeling someone might be projecting her own frustrations about her own relationship with her own under-contributing partner onto the OP's situation.

I won't mention any names or link to any AskMe histories, though.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:00 PM on November 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


From the question:

while we are not married, we do live together and have a nice little family unit. He is great with my daughter, and he and I have a lot in common and have a lot of fun together.

...Part of me feels like this is petty stuff to break up with an otherwise great guy over...


Uh, her acknowledging that money is an issue doesn't mean that it's the only thing keeping her there. I don't know if you folks are projecting or what, but she discusses a whole bunch of (fairly common) relationship and communication issues that seem to indicate a interest beyond "tolerating this dude for his cash."
posted by desuetude at 10:00 PM on November 14, 2009 [13 favorites]


What's funny, Jacqueline, is that I agree with you about the risk women take when they sacrifice their time and skills and contribute to a non-marriage. I know someone who's always dragging this dude's ass to the ER, supervising his diet, everything, and he still won't marry her.

What I don't get is, in light of what you're saying now, why you advised the original poster to sacrifice more of her time doing housework. Perhaps you should have been counseling her in risk-avoidance instead?
posted by kathrineg at 10:02 PM on November 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Woah, I completely missed the word family in the question. That changes my reading significantly.

You know, because you all desperately want to know what I think... about everything.
posted by ODiV at 10:02 PM on November 14, 2009


"And it's actually FATHERS who earn more than non-fathers. So, it's still a sexist world, and you're still defending unfair expectations by referring to a wider systemic imbalance, i.e. still essentially blaming the victim."

You seem to be assuming that employers look at a person's gender/parenthood status and then decide what to pay employees based on that, instead of considering that people's own gender/parenthood status affects their behavior at work, which then affects their earnings.

If becoming a mother tends to make women want to work less so they can spend more time with their kids, and becoming a father tends to make men strive to be better economic providers for their families, you could still see an imbalance between men's and women's earnings without employers being sexist.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:02 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


"It's really only a risk if you're functioning as a dependent, isn't it?"

Which OP and daughter are.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:03 PM on November 14, 2009


I thought Jacqueline's advice was good, but the tone was kind of harsh.

But the person who asked the question sounds like she could use a little harsh advice. This is the second relationship she's had that she's felt, in her own words, "guilty" about with regards to her daughter. So I'm not sure a bunch of whuffles is what she was looking for. If a relationship doesn't feel right to you, it's probably worth examining and/or getting out of. In some circumstances we call the people who tell us these harsh things "friends."
posted by bardic at 10:04 PM on November 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


women tend to be exploited as sex objects and men tend to be exploited as money objects

but the unspoken thing here is that she wants him to change for her when it's pretty obvious he isn't going to - and it's also pretty obvious that he isn't a totally irredeemable jerk who's abusing her

she can accept how he is and shut up about it or she can decide to leave - it sounds like she thinks that her life is better with him than without him - and therefore, she needs to realize that complaining about stuff he doesn't want to change may make him think that his life might be better without her

she was on her own for 7 years - she could have chosen to stay on her own - i'm sure she noticed that he was, at best, a very casual housekeeper - but no, she thinks she's going to move in and he HAS to change for her - it might be good if he did - but he's not going to

and she KNEW that she was going to be upgrading her financial lifestyle by moving in with him, just as she KNOWS her financial lifestyle is going to downgrade if she moves out

so what's more important? - the lifestyle or having a relationship that's the way she wants it to be?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:05 PM on November 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


Thus a big part of the OP's problem is that she seems to be acting/thinking like they have a marriage-level commitment when they don't.

Okay, hopefully from this thread you've already seen that lots of people have lots of different ideas about how marriage and family is defined, so I don't get why you keep making these "THUS I have found the definitive situation!" type comments.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:05 PM on November 14, 2009


Enlighten me? She states bluntly:
… breaking up would entail some pretty serious financial hardships for me. I do have a job, but it's not enough for me to be able to afford to stay where I am, so I'd have to move


She says a lot of other things too, including that it isn't simple. I read the question, it wasn't a question about just that one thing.
posted by citron at 10:05 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


You seem to be assuming that employers look at a person's gender/parenthood status and then decide what to pay employees based on that

Well yes, but only because it's how they actually did the study to which I linked.
posted by salvia at 10:06 PM on November 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


"It's really only a risk if you're functioning as a dependent, isn't it?"

Which OP and daughter are.


Right, exactly.
posted by Miko at 10:08 PM on November 14, 2009


She says a lot of other things too,

I was actually interested in how that was "not at all what she said", when you're now just sort of saying it's one thing she said amongst other things.
posted by floam at 10:15 PM on November 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh Sys Rq, it's true. But in my own defense, I did try to offer helpful suggestions to the OP and share in the original thread that Mr. Anitanita has several wonderful qualities. I'm not the least bit confused about why he can use medical mnemonics to remember the detailed composition of the brachial plexus or the cranial nerves, which he's never *seen* in real life, but still can't remember to put our toilet seat down consistently, though he sees it Every. Freaking. Day.

*clears throat and looks around*

Oh wait. Maybe you didn't mean me.
posted by anitanita at 10:23 PM on November 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


floam, your description was this:

I'd agree, but in this case I think the part where the OP makes it clear she'd ditch him if not for his money makes it pretty clear we're closer to labeled orange juice.

This is "not at all what she said" in that it is an inaccurate portrayal of a seven-paragraph question largely about communication and conflict. Her concern over money is more about disrupting her daughter's life than wanting to stay rolling in in dough.
posted by desuetude at 10:25 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


The sequel: I am also wrong, don't listen to me either, by S. Anniecat.

That's a dumb title to a sequel that will sell at most five copies to my family members (charged to my husband's credit card). I'm going to decide between calling the sequel "That's What Boo Radley's Mom Said" and "Boo Radley, Your Mom Told Me To Tell You That She's Sorry She Ever Adopted You."
posted by anniecat at 10:27 PM on November 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


my mother is a saint :(
posted by boo_radley at 10:28 PM on November 14, 2009 [11 favorites]


That was a really insidiously nasty AskMe answer.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:29 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


desuetude:

You're totally right! Except citron wasn't talking to me, it was a reply to The Gooch's comment right before, I'm pretty sure.
posted by floam at 10:29 PM on November 14, 2009


"why you advised the original poster to sacrifice more of her time doing housework"

I didn't actually advise her to sacrifice MORE of her time (since she's already doing everything, what more is there for her to do?), just to adjust her attitude about what she's doing now.

It seemed that the OP's problem was her anger/attitude about the situation:

"Part of me feels like this is petty stuff to break up with an otherwise great guy over, but when I come home and see all the chores piled up for me it just fills me with rage and frustration that I can't cope with. I mean, if we broke up then I'd still have to do it all myself so it wouldn't solve anything. But i know if I go forward eventually I'm not going to be able to stand him anymore. Help!"

So I suggested that she try a perspective shift to get rid of her anger. She explicitly acknowledged that she had financial motivations for staying in the relationship, so why not do the math and figure out how much she's effectively "earning" per hour by doing the housework/yardwork?

If she came home to a pile of chores and thought, "My hourly rate for doing these chores is twice what I make at my job" (or whatever the ratio is) she'll have a better attitude than if her thoughts are, "I do everything around here and he does nothing." Because in reality, he does do quite a lot -- he pays for more than half the expenses, but is only 1/3 of the household. If she looked at it that way, with gratitude, instead of with a sense of entitlement and resentment, she'd be a happier person.

Not every problem has a "good" solution, some just have "less bad" ones... in an ideal world she would have made better choices in her past and not be in this situation now. But in reality, she is a single mom who doesn't make enough to support herself and her daughter, is unlikely to find a better relationship than the one she's in now, and doesn't have much bargaining power to improve her current relationship. She herself acknowledges that it would be a petty thing to break up over, but she's afraid that her anger will drive her to it. So I pointed out that maybe she shouldn't be so angry.

Twirlypen sort of mocked me when he/she wrote, "and then a spreadsheet would be made up with a formula that tells you whether or not the relationship works." But seriously, if you visualize a decision tree with all the possible outcomes and assigned them values and probabilities, I think the most +EV move for her would be to stay in this relationship and adjust her attitude about doing all the housework.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:31 PM on November 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


THIS MAKES ME SO MAD I CAN'T WAIT TO GET MY HANDS ON A BALL PEEN HAMMER
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:35 PM on November 14, 2009


my mother is a saint :(

Okay, okay, it wasn't your mom. (I might still use those titles though...gotta keep the money coming in before Jacqueline advises my husband to get rid of a scam artist pair of leeches like me and my goldfish.)
posted by anniecat at 10:42 PM on November 14, 2009


If you would've posted that in the original thread it would've been way cooler than the comments you made, which had a flavor of "who else would take in a POOR, SINGLE MOTHER!! Did you know that you're not that attractive a package to most guys? This guy is doing you a favor because you're a POOR, SINGLE, UNMARRIED, NOT RICH, SINGLE, WOMAN WITH A CHILD!!"

"Here's how you can have a happier attitude," well, yeah, that is good without all the weird put-downs you wedged in there.
posted by kathrineg at 10:43 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


AskMetaTalk: You're answers are all bullshit.
posted by kathrineg at 10:44 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk: You're answers are all bullshit.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:45 PM on November 14, 2009


Oh, hell.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:45 PM on November 14, 2009


heh.
posted by scody at 10:45 PM on November 14, 2009


"Your" I hate it when i do that.
posted by dead cousin ted at 10:46 PM on November 14, 2009


I think you'res is better though
posted by kathrineg at 10:46 PM on November 14, 2009


It's cool, no one here would be superficial enough to judge you based on your writing technique.
posted by kathrineg at 10:47 PM on November 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


MetaTalk: You're a'postrophe usage's are bullshit.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:51 PM on November 14, 2009


Oh snap, katherineg.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:51 PM on November 14, 2009


If she came home to a pile of chores and thought, "My hourly rate for doing these chores is twice what I make at my job" (or whatever the ratio is) she'll have a better attitude than if her thoughts are, "I do everything around here and he does nothing." Because in reality, he does do quite a lot -- he pays for more than half the expenses, but is only 1/3 of the household. If she looked at it that way, with gratitude, instead of with a sense of entitlement and resentment, she'd be a happier person.

Right. So how much should she put down for having sex with him? If she gives him a daily blowjob, then that's like half the rent, right?
posted by anniecat at 10:52 PM on November 14, 2009


dead cousin ted wrote: Jacqueline: "I sure hope your boyfriend treats you like a fucking maid since you seem to so into that. You're answers are all bullshit. Maybe you can show this to your boyfriend so you can both laugh at it while you bring him his drink."

You can go eat a bucket of cocks. Jacqueline has been pretty straightforward in being called out to the gray for a comment that the mods thought was kosher. And if you'd gotten past your righteous indignation you'd have noticed that her BF does most of the housework.

It's usually a bad idea to judge other people's relationships, but hey, the original poster was asking for advice and she got some.
posted by bardic at 10:54 PM on November 14, 2009 [14 favorites]


"a flavor of "who else would take in a POOR, SINGLE MOTHER!! Did you know that you're not that attractive a package to most guys? This guy is doing you a favor because you're a POOR, SINGLE, UNMARRIED, NOT RICH, SINGLE, WOMAN WITH A CHILD!!""

I offer advice based on reality, not on the way I wish the world would be. Reality is that single mothers have a very hard time in the world, romantically and economically. If her biggest problems are that her boyfriend won't do housework/yardwork and doesn't speak to her when she yells at him, then she's doing a lot better than most single moms.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:54 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


If she gives him a daily blowjob, then that's like half the rent, right?

Wait. That must be six times the rent because when a poster asked what she could do for her boyfriend who'd had a bad day, the answer was overwhelmingly "blowjob." So that must be worth a ton of money. So he actually owes her...
posted by anniecat at 10:55 PM on November 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


"So how much should she put down for having sex with him? If she gives him a daily blowjob, then that's like half the rent, right?"

Her question wasn't about a perceived inequity in sex, it was about a perceived inequity in housework/yardwork.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:55 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Effugas, I thought I'd answer your question over here, since it probably won't add to weesha's question:

If you're a guy on this thread, and you live alone, would you please post how long it's been since you've thoroughly cleaned your own toilet?


So, just a data point, no preponderance of evidence, but Mr. Anitanita just shared that when he had his own bathroom, he cleaned it about once every 11 months. In medical school, when he lived with 3 other male students, they cleaned it once every 3 months.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to once again go and block out the icky memories of using those toilets when visiting him. This requires alcohol, which I understand can also be used as a disinfectant against common, everyday germs. Even retroactively.

Night, all. Sleep well!
posted by anitanita at 10:56 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, anniecat, actually, I've been meaning to talk to you about your, um, "goldfish?"
posted by salvia at 10:56 PM on November 14, 2009


No, anniecat. Twenty bucks, same as in town.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:57 PM on November 14, 2009


"Jacqueline has been pretty straightforward in being called out to the gray for a comment that the mods thought was kosher."

I'm just excited to be here! I think this is my first MetaTalk callout! (Not that I was trolling for this or anything, but I've never felt like more a "real" MeFite before tonight.)

"And if you'd gotten past your righteous indignation you'd have noticed that her BF does most of the housework."

As long as you're ragging on people for their lack of attentiveness to my comment, he's my husband, not my boyfriend. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 10:58 PM on November 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Aw, floam, you're right, citron was addressing The Gooch. (But you backed up his focus on the financial situation as being the OPs primary motivation for staying in the relationship, yes?)
posted by desuetude at 10:59 PM on November 14, 2009


I wrote a long answer which echoed paisley's comments above, then in a fit of good manners, deleted it, which I sort of regret now. What set me off was the OP's phrase "So why don't I just kick the guy to the curb?" which, apart from its violent undertones (I guess it could be a regionalism but if a man wrote "why dont I kick her to the curb" I think it would raise eyebrows) reveals the latent disconnect at the heart of the question: she can't kick him to the curb because he pays the rent. And she is unwilling to leave because she doesn't want to take the financial hit. And then, close reading reveals that the yelling part of the discontent only happens every few months, and that the guy is a pretty great guy otherwise. I mean, like the OP, I would love to be both independent and dependent, but reality is usually a compromise.

The marriage thing is a derail and so is the sex thing, though. We don't have the man's perspective in the question: for all we know he adores the OP and the daughter and busts his ass to provide for them and he may even think of them as his family and her as a common-law wife, but like a lot of guys has a high tolerance for clutter and doesn't care for yard work and thinks a bit of yelling every few months is not too bad, all things considered. In fact, that sounds pretty likely.

I totally understand how one person in a family of three doing more than 1/3 of the housework is a source of friction. In all seriousness, the single most helpful answer was "hire a maid". If hiring a maid saves the relationship, its the best money you'll ever spend and likely the guy himself would agree. Offer to split the cost of the maid 50:50.
posted by Rumple at 11:01 PM on November 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


And I sure hope the 16 year old is pulling her weight in all of this. Can we all agree that kids these days have it way too easy?
posted by Rumple at 11:02 PM on November 14, 2009


Her question wasn't about a perceived inequity in sex, it was about a perceived inequity in housework/yardwork.

Your response was about taking her income and adding in the money she could be making if she were a professional maid, so she could feel better about her contributions since her salary isn't equal to his. Why not add in her consulting fees for going grocery shopping and everything else too? Maybe then she wouldn't have to do a lick of housework and they'd be back to square one.

Also, I think most people here think your so-called reality is...well your so-called reality which is just your perspective, which you're peddling as "reality." Sorry life's been depressing and hard on you, but you have to realize that that's your life, not "the way the world is."
posted by anniecat at 11:02 PM on November 14, 2009


Well shit, since you're married I guess none of this applies to you. I think he needs a scotch about now.
posted by dead cousin ted at 11:03 PM on November 14, 2009


@anniecat: Because the housework/yardwork was the area in which she felt that she was contributing more than her fair share. She did not indicate that she felt she was contributing more than her fair share to sex or anything else, and actually said that they both went grocery shopping as needed.

Upon questioning, it was revealed that he contributed more than his fair share to the finances. So I suggested that she look at her unequal contribution towards housework/yardwork as an exchange for his unequal contribution towards finances (and I suspect that he probably already perceives it this way). Calculating an hourly rate would help her further put this into perspective as either a good or bad deal for her (and I suspect there's a good chance that she'd find that she was getting a good deal).
posted by Jacqueline at 11:07 PM on November 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


"And I sure hope the 16 year old is pulling her weight in all of this."

I appreciate your joke, but even the OP seems to recognize that she might be "dragging" her through a lot of inappropriate bullshit. If that's how the mom feels in phrasing her own question I don't see why we shouldn't take her at her own word.

No doubt a non-conventional, unmarried group can function like a family (FWIW, everybody in my family older than my sister has been divorced). But there seems to be some major dysfunction going on here.
posted by bardic at 11:08 PM on November 14, 2009


Jacqueline, your homework is calling and wants you to finish it. I hope to hell you're not going for a marriage counseling degree.
posted by anniecat at 11:09 PM on November 14, 2009


You mean you can trade blowjobs for rent?
posted by Sailormom at 11:11 PM on November 14, 2009


"your homework is calling and wants you to finish it. I hope to hell you're not going for a marriage counseling degree."

Funny and disturbing to see how quickly somebody who thinks they're a true feminist becomes condescending towards another woman.
posted by bardic at 11:11 PM on November 14, 2009 [14 favorites]


Hold on there anniecat. People who are not married deserve as much counseling as those who aren't.
posted by ODiV at 11:12 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoops, "those who are"...
posted by ODiV at 11:13 PM on November 14, 2009


Indeed, Jacqueline has entered the wondrous and perfect realm of the legally married. I'm legally married too, so I would know.

We have to be nice to each other. We have to buy each other food that is at least school-lunch grade. We can tell each other about it if one of us whacks somebody and there is no snitching. We have to pretend not to think each other's relatives are hot. It's THE LAW. None of this wishy-washy boyfriend/girlfriend milk-for-free stuff for me. I have the entire force of THE LAW behind me, which means my I have the right to complain. No one else has the right to complain because marriage rules and cohabitation drools. And if I want to make $20 a week* and never do housework, it's okay. Because of THE LAW.


*same as in town? Do I have this meme backword? An emem.
posted by kathrineg at 11:14 PM on November 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


I estimate my GFE at a value of about $10,000 per annum. I mean, damn that's horribly, pitifully low, but it still makes it so I don't have to wash dishes. That's the way the world is! Sex economy is a reality!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:19 PM on November 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Funny and disturbing to see how quickly somebody who thinks they're a true feminist becomes condescending towards another woman.

I have no idea what the fuck you're talking about. You can barely see outside your own bullshit. How are you a reliable judge of who someone you've never seen is or isn't?
posted by anniecat at 11:20 PM on November 14, 2009


I don't see what's offensive about Jacqueline's reasoning. I don't really agree with all the importance placed on marriage, but I see where she's coming from.

My experience with Serious Relationships is that they involve a lot of unromantic bargaining to make them work beyond, oh, a few months. There's a reason for this, you know. I've had a few relationships where I got absolutely turned into a doormat because of my romantic notions. I suspect most people have. It takes a lot of "unromantic" work that you don't see in shitty movies to make it long-term.

I think a guy providing twice the capital for a single mom and her child (that is not his) absolutely has a right to bargain for less housework, without it being "unromantic" or sexist. I feel the same applies if the genders are reversed. And I have known many men that did housework and babysitting at some point in their life to make up for their lack of bread-earning, including myself. That women are more likely to be in this position is a separate issue entirely -- is worthy of discussion in itself -- but does not obligate this guy to do more than he is already doing.

Is it a great way to keep his relationship? No, obviously not. It's a good way to not turn into a doormat, though. Yeah, the OP mentioned a few other things beyond the financial aspect and how breaking up with him would effect her life, but that was the primary thrust of her concerns. You know, because it was the first thing she mentioned, and the only reason she gave for not leaving him. Her reason for sticking this out wasn't "because I really love him" so bringing "romance" into this is, sorry, absurd.

Honestly I think people are bringing their more broad (legitimate) concerns about sexism/gender equality into this because the issue is about housework which pushes people's buttons.
posted by cj_ at 11:22 PM on November 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


So her realistic view on exactly how well single mothers are treated in an economic sense is tantamount to prostitution? That's how it's starting to come across. There are plenty of women who know that leaving a relationship, particularly if you become the sole parent again, means a dip in your income. An income that is already pretty damn low because you had the 'misfortune' to not 'invest' in your human capital (tell me Jacqueline, do I pass the test because I did 7 years training to my husband's none AND I work more hours even though he earns more?) - yet another thing held against you. If only you'd applied yourself more, worked harder, not cared about mistreatment so much!

I think the simultaneous idiocy of 'well, you should have invested in your human capital' and 'just think of how much you'd earn if you were PAID for this second shift' is obnoxious. And I can tell you there's no fucking way thinking about how much my partner is 'paying' me for doing housework would actually make the situation less fraught. Because then he's going to have to face negotiations on pay and holidays, not to mention OH&S issues!
posted by geek anachronism at 11:24 PM on November 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


People who are not married deserve as much counseling as those who aren't.

Yeah, but she would start each session with, "Aw, y'all aren't married. Now Boyfriend, what is it about Girlfriend that is so horrible that you don't want to marry her? You can say it out loud because your relationship isn't really legitimate. Now Girlfriend, you know, your mistake is cohabitating with a Real Man because Real Men don't buy the cow when they're getting free milk. See my sparkly wedding ring?!!! I'm MARRIED, Y'ALL!!!" And unmarried couples wouldn't want to see her, but the smug married would be thrilled.
posted by anniecat at 11:26 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I have no idea what the fuck you're talking about. You can barely see outside your own bullshit. How are you a reliable judge of who someone you've never seen is or isn't?"

I'm sorry, I didn't realize this was a peer-reviewed journal. Should we me-mail our CV's to one another?
posted by bardic at 11:27 PM on November 14, 2009


"your homework is calling and wants you to finish it. I hope to hell you're not going for a marriage counseling degree."

Helpful.

Jacqueline's been remarkably calm in defending her position, I don't think there's any need to attack her. Yes, I disagree with the phrasing of it as some kind of balance sheet, but her answer was, essentially, 'Maybe if you think of the housework as something you do more of to balance out the finance which he does more of'. She never suggested women are owned by men, that an unmarried woman in a relationship is essentially a prostitute, or that women ought to do more housework, yet that's the kind of stuff she's being attacked for. Calm down.
posted by twirlypen at 11:28 PM on November 14, 2009 [25 favorites]


And I have known many men that did housework and babysitting at some point in their life to make up for their lack of bread-earning, including myself.

Babysitting as in going to someone's house and looking after their children? Or are you talking about parenting? Because the two are markedly different things.
posted by geek anachronism at 11:31 PM on November 14, 2009 [9 favorites]


"I don't really agree with all the importance placed on marriage"

IMO it isn't so much "get married to solidify your relationship and have more bargaining capital" as it is "don't, for the second time in your life, wind up in a dysfunctional situation where you are dependent on someone." And I realize that's hard, especially with a kid, but it doesn't change the fact that this is a situation the OP should be trying to remove herself from.
posted by bardic at 11:31 PM on November 14, 2009


You mean you can trade blowjobs for rent?

If you've gotten to the point where you're trading housework for rent, then you might as well. Put it on the balance sheets. Hell, you might even be able to send an invoice for payment for services.
posted by anniecat at 11:31 PM on November 14, 2009


The stupid is strong in here.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:34 PM on November 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


/me pulls anniecat and Jacqueline into the group hug.
posted by bigmusic at 11:35 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


The AskMe thread itself is getting pretty derailed, despite this MeTa.
posted by desuetude at 11:35 PM on November 14, 2009


Awwwww (((bigmusic)))
posted by Jacqueline at 11:37 PM on November 14, 2009


Okay, bigmusic won me over. Done now. Night night.
posted by anniecat at 11:37 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Awwwwww (((anniecat)))
posted by Jacqueline at 11:37 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


People keep bringing in these hugely sexist strawmen involving bringing beers and performing sex acts but I'm still not seeing the sexism in the balance-sheet thing, when we're talking about things like grocery shopping and earning money and doing housework. There was that distraction about wage disparity, I'm guessing she's earning much less than $husbands_income - $disparity_fraction*$husbands_income.
posted by floam at 11:38 PM on November 14, 2009


@floam: Boyfriend's income.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:39 PM on November 14, 2009


That's what I meant! =(
posted by floam at 11:41 PM on November 14, 2009


floam: "I'm still not seeing the sexism in the balance-sheet thing, when we're talking about things like grocery shopping and earning money and doing housework."

One should hope that one's partner values us and values our time without regard for our hourly wage.

"My partner had to take a huge salary cut in March. I'm psyched, because now he has to clean the bathroom to make up for it!"

What a shitty attitude to take.
posted by kathrineg at 11:53 PM on November 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


Shitty? I dunno. But quite pragmatic. Imagine the arguments I could avoid if there was simply a formula nobody could argue with for everything.

Anyways, I don't actually think she was proposing a strict calculation be used to determine who does what; instead I think it was more along the lines of "most people balance work/earning on their own to make things fair for everyone somehow, maybe you should look at this from the perspective of what he's doing for the household before you get too angry".
posted by floam at 12:16 AM on November 15, 2009


OK, husband and I seem to be role-playing xkcd now, so I gotta go. See y'all tomorrow. Hugs!
posted by Jacqueline at 12:21 AM on November 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


OP here...here is the post I just did in response to Jacqueline. Missed the fine print that there was a thread here, otherwise I would've posted it here in the first place.

Jacqueline, where on earth did you get this idea that I think he owes me financial support? You seem to have projected your own very materialistic values on to me. He absolutely doesn't have to do anything, but the fact is he and I both chose of our own volition to get together and pool our resources. I make about X$, he makes about 2X$ ...together we have 3X$ and live in a place that's affordable on that income. He did not "take me in" like I was some kind of helpless waif that showed up on his doorstep. Now, if we were to break up, we both go back to our former living standards, which doesn't bother me really...I would just feel bad having disrupted my daughter's home life by having to move, most likely to a different area since there's a big difference in where you can live on $90K than on $30K. So it could require a school change, which is rough on a high school kid who wants to graduate with her friends. Not to mention the emotional toll of losing a person she had become close to. That's just the kind of stuff a mom has to think about when she breaks up with a guy and her kid will have to suffer the repercussions. Yeah, maybe I shouldn't have moved in with him in the first place, especially after making the same mistake before, so yeah I'll take whatever lumps you want to dole out for that, but I did it because I truly love him and think he's a great guy, not out of some desire to upgrade my lifestyle.

I think the issue may have gotten confused because when I wrote my question I was upset and imagining the worst, that we were going to break up, or ought to break up, and I was imagining the implications for my daughter. And when I said I financial hardship I probably should have qualified that with "if I stay where I currently live." I don't want to stay with someone just for the money, but at the same time don't want to hurt my kid either. It was a natural dilemma, I think. If I truly was cold-hearted enough to stay with the guy just to take advantage of him financially, I wouldn't bitch about it on Mefi, I would just quietly do all the work, then on graduation day....sayonara sucka!

Someone else said I'd made it clear that I'd ditch him if not for the money, but I really don't see where I did that...I mentioned that there were good sides to the relationship. I really don't understand why bringing up a fear about a very real financial consequence of ending the relationship (this happens in all relationships where people combine finances, and it is a factor in whether people work it out or walk away, whether that's for good or ill...), a consequence about which my only real concern was how it would affect my child, not how many Coach handbags I could buy per week, somehow makes me a gold-digging wench. Goodness!
posted by weesha at 12:48 AM on November 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


Thus I think the root problem is that OP sees their relationship as a marriage when her boyfriend does not.

Whether your original comment is right or wrong, your observation that they are not communicating to each other their expectations about the relationship they have is entirely on the money, no pun intended.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:46 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's a sexist, weird relationship, and it's a sexist, weird answer, and I basically agree with you, but, you know, you can just be uncomfortable with a stranger's weird relationship and another stranger's weird answer and go on with your life.

Plz to be stop trying to rob me of my weekend's entertainment.

kthxbye
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:45 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


That must be six times the rent because when a poster asked what she could do for her boyfriend who'd had a bad day, the answer was overwhelmingly "blowjob." So that must be worth a ton of money.

Twenty bucks, same as in town.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:57 AM on November 15, 2009


I think the entire premise of "I'm not really into my boyfriend, and I'd leave him but his money is giving me a really nice lifestyle" is pretty mysogynistic. Who does the most housework seems to be a totally seperate issue to that one, to me.

She uses his for his money, he uses her for housework, it all kind of evens out in the worst possible way.
posted by Admira at 3:15 AM on November 15, 2009


skimming the askme makes me very sad. i kept thinking, 'who is this jacqueline person?' so i clicked her profile. which says she's 31 years old. i might expect such 'advice' out of someone in their ... 80s, maybe? ... but not from someone so young.

it's not the i'm surprised people think like this. i'm just surprised they actually articulate it in a forum like this.

and yes, i *should* read the whole thing before commenting. but i've got to go to work in 10 minutes & don't have time to digest the whole thing.
posted by msconduct at 3:19 AM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Someone else said I'd made it clear that I'd ditch him if not for the money, but I really don't see where I did that"

From the original question:

"So why don't I just kick the guy to the curb? ... us breaking up would entail some pretty serious financial hardships for me"

The power of editing through my own bias (since I've been the guy in this situation (though hopefully not as lazy)).

I do think the question might have been better without the housework and money angle seeing as (upon rereading it) its core seems to be about argument style and disagreement resolution.
posted by Admira at 3:21 AM on November 15, 2009


I feel like there's one less person wrong on the internet.
posted by fleacircus at 3:53 AM on November 15, 2009


one fewer person...
posted by logicpunk at 4:39 AM on November 15, 2009


'one person fewer' *pedant dance*
posted by Abiezer at 4:51 AM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Of course, now I go to check, I actually have no idea which is preferred. *poor pedant slink*
posted by Abiezer at 4:53 AM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Please refer to the research that women earn 80 percent of what men earn for doing the exact same job.

Which research would that be?
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:37 AM on November 15, 2009


Good luck, weesha.
posted by cashman at 5:39 AM on November 15, 2009


What set me off was the OP's phrase "So why don't I just kick the guy to the curb?" which, apart from its violent undertones (I guess it could be a regionalism but if a man wrote "why dont I kick her to the curb" I think it would raise eyebrows) reveals the latent disconnect at the heart of the question: she can't kick him to the curb because he pays the rent.

it's an expression i've heard in the great lakes area, and yeah, you've made a good point here
posted by pyramid termite at 6:04 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The nastiness of some of the insults here were really uncalled for. Sex, housework, and gender relations are hot buttons for most of us, but there's still some basic civility that's called for. I'm glad to see the hugging a few posts up, but the harshness above went too far.

That aside, I found the original question so problematic that I chose not to answer, or even to read all of the responses. People are free to make whatever compromises and choices they want to in a relationship -- but it can still be kind of awful to watch a slow motion train wreck in action.
posted by Forktine at 6:23 AM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've now read the entire thread. Kudos to Jacqueline for the way she handled this call-out.
posted by gman at 6:47 AM on November 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


The nastiness of some of the insults here were really uncalled for.

That's my general feeling. Now that mathowie's out of the weeds I'm back on my game again but I'd just like to point out that how people choose to be married and how people choose to be in a relationship are highly subjective things and the only thing that really surprises me with this whole thread is how judgey a lot of people seem to be about something that is clearly culturally and even personally relative. Usually we're all for being married the way you want to be, being in a relationship the way you want to be and advocating for the sort of sex and love you want. It would seem to me, then, that it's clear that different relationships are... different. So why so bitchy?

Jacqueline I see your perspective, but it's clearly one among many. Same with everyone's. I skipped the whole mess because my non-traditional perspective on a lot of these things [where non-traditional is sort of the standard rather than the exception here on MeFi] love and relationship-wise meant that I have nothing to add. Other people are living lives all around us that annoy and probably offend us (and I'm sure mine does the same for other peoples' sensibilities). Most of the time we do a decent job ignoring them. I'm going to go back to doing that now.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:55 AM on November 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


I thought the expression was 'out of the woods?' 'In the weeds' is what chefs say when they are buried by orders.
posted by fixedgear at 7:09 AM on November 15, 2009


Any woman who uses +/-EV based utility calculations to make life choices is essentially my dream girl. Jackie, holler at me if that husband of yours ever starts acting like a boyfriend.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:34 AM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


The more I read the comments and the more I think about this, I wonder if this debate is not so much about gender inequality but blended family issues. I wonder...if my bf and I were married in the traditional way, and my daughter were our daughter, would my concerns about the practical implications of our breaking up and how it would affect my kid's life have been found so offensive?
posted by weesha at 7:34 AM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Probably not. I think a number of us aren't offended at all by the question. I'm more offended at the general idea that if your partner gets a job making x amount more money than you, that you thus have to make it up somewhere else, like you are intentionally trying to make less money. Also, that women get paid less in this (American) society, then get told to basically suck it up and do more housework to make up for it. Like "oops, oh well!" Bogus, to me. As was said, cultural norms vary, but from what I'd seen the expectation was that if you are a cohabitating couple, married or no, you are supposed to split everything 50/50 as much as possible. It's not like a person takes a low salaried position on purpose most times, and actually the higher salaried person might be doing a lot less work. The whole thing just stinks to me. The guy needs to act like an adult and talk. Kudos to you for analyzing the situation and getting the weekly talk. Everybody has their issues - if he doesn't change and you can't take it, bounce. Because it's only going to drive you batty, and probably lead to more issues and frustrations. In a recession its not so easy to do that, so I understand the conundrum. You feel a certain way but know the heartache that will come with it - not for you, for your kid. It's one thing to have to deal with financial hardship yourself, it's another to know you're dragging a kid through it.
posted by cashman at 7:56 AM on November 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


'In the weeds' is what chefs say when they are buried by orders.

Well, waitstaff say it too, and then when things calm down you're "out of the weeds." I thought this was an apt use of the phrase and expresses well the kind of experience mathowie was having.

In the Weeds

"A colloquial expression used when persons are near or beyond their capacity to handle a situation or cannot catch up. Struggling. Very busy."
posted by Miko at 8:01 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who am I supposed to be judging harshly, Jacqueline or weesha !? Or does it matter, if the point is to have another discussion about sexism? And if it's the latter, can't we wait until Thanksgiving day, like a decent family?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:02 AM on November 15, 2009


Speaking as someone currently debating whether to get married, get unionized, or stay permanently affianced in sin, this thread (and especially pointed corrections like that) has pretty much sold me on the latter.

On Jacqueline's "boyfriend / husband" correction: Marriage comes with entitlements. You don't need to treat it like one.
posted by puckish at 8:03 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


While I don't necessarily agree with everything Jacqueline wrote here (I got the distinct impression that like many people do when they feel they're being attacked from all angles, she started to cling to her position even more stubbornly as the thread wore on), I was put off by the way she was treated by many people in this thread

The way Jacqueline was treated here seems to me to be indicative of the worst aspects of Metafilter including relentless piling-on (as if the 51st person telling her that they disagree with her viewpoint will suddenly make her see the light in a way that the previous 50 couldn't), being completely dismissive of ideas that differ from the majority (in this case, the "a ring is just a thing" crowd) and the tendency to willfully misread and wildly exaggerate the opposing viewpoint so as to make it easier to poke fun at and criticize (the "how much is a blowjob worth?", "your husband is waiting for his servant to bring him his scotch"-type comments)
posted by The Gooch at 8:24 AM on November 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


The fact that the OP and her boyfriend COULD get married but DON'T indicates that at least one of them (probably him) is not seriously committed to the relationship.

This is just an utterly, completely bizarre point of view, to me. Because the (heterosexual) couples I know who COULD get married but DON'T (and all the gay couples who, back 2004 & 2008 in California, COULD have gotten married but DIDN'T) aren't married because of various philosophical and political objections to the institutions of marriage, not because of a lack of serious commitment to the relationship.
posted by rtha at 8:29 AM on November 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


Speaking as someone currently debating whether to get married, get unionized, or stay permanently affianced in sin, this thread (and especially pointed corrections like that) has pretty much sold me on the latter.

Perhaps this thread isn't the best guide point to making making marriage decisions by.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:35 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


as if the 51st person telling her that they disagree with her viewpoint will suddenly make her see the light in a way that the previous 50 couldn't

Without endorsing the rudeness against Jacqueline here, I do think it ought to be OK in MetaTalk for people to make clear their position on the issue under discussion even if it's the same as other people's. It does make a difference, surely, that many, many people, rather than just one or two, find Jacqueline's views on marriage bizarrely deaf to the reality of thousands of people's non-married relationships.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:46 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Very interesting perspectives in here. I'm surprised. All I know is that if anyone ever told me that I had to take on a greater share of the housework because my partner made more money, I'd probably explode into incandescent rage. Surely the time and effort we spend on contributing to a home are to be valued independently of a financial balance sheet. I'd have no problem whatsoever with being told I ought to take on more housework if I had no job or wasn't working as many hours however. In this situation, I'd heartily agree with the "get a maid" advice above. I tell you, just when I think I've got MetaFilter somewhat figured out it goes all 1950's on me.
posted by Go Banana at 9:01 AM on November 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


The way Jacqueline was treated here seems to me to be indicative of the worst aspects of Metafilter including relentless piling-on (as if the 51st person telling her that they disagree with her viewpoint will suddenly make her see the light in a way that the previous 50 couldn't), being completely dismissive of ideas that differ from the majority (in this case, the "a ring is just a thing" crowd) and the tendency to willfully misread and wildly exaggerate the opposing viewpoint so as to make it easier to poke fun at and criticize (the "how much is a blowjob worth?", "your husband is waiting for his servant to bring him his scotch"-type comments)

And all of us engaging in a less-hyberbolic way are...what, less interesting to you on a Saturday night, so you have those bits set on IGNORE?

Reading weesha's question as primarily concern about the financial implication of her leaving her SO is itself a willful misreading.
posted by desuetude at 9:04 AM on November 15, 2009


I didn't agree with Jacqueline's assessment because it seemed more appropriate for roommates than couples. I did recognize there was a bit of truth in it, though, even if it seemed a few degrees off kilter and was presented oddly. It was a valid opinion I didn't share. It seemed offered as a genuine answer and attempt to help.

I didn't favorite it. I didn't flag it.

I clicked "Meh" and moved on.
posted by rokusan at 9:06 AM on November 15, 2009


If the OP's boyfriend wanted them to be a family, he would marry her. By not marrying her he's made it clear that he DOESN'T want to commit to that.

I love it when I click a thread and find myself in the year 1800:

"Mr. Darcy, prithee tell me, are your intentions honorable? For I fear that they are not, and you are merely dallying, sir!"

"Why, I must confess, Miss Bennett, 'tis true that I would never dream of coming to an understanding with a personage so beneath my station. My esteemed aunt, the Lady Catherine de Bourgh, should be well within her rights to disown and disinherit me were I ever to make such an unsuitable match."
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:22 AM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love it when I click a thread and find myself in the year 1800:

heh
posted by pyramid termite at 9:30 AM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I admit that I got really defensive towards Jacqueline and probably wasn't polite enough.

I took her comments personally. She was devaluing the hard work that I do because I make less than my husband, and implying that he should devalue it as well. And that makes me feel sad, because I work very hard at my job to contribute to my little family, as humble as my contribution might be.
posted by kathrineg at 9:49 AM on November 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


I actually thought the callout was totally appropriate, and I was surprised more people did not find the statements sexist.

Jacqueline's first comment in that thread was telling the OP to get used to gender inequality and dismissing her for expecting anything different. To me, that's a classic definition of an ~ism. The OP is an individual and her frustrations in the relationship is not some gender-based oppression. But whatever other people added to the discussion, Jacqueline framed her comments around "men get this, women get that," and then turned to blaming the woman in the situation.

It was either ironic, or even more sexist, to justify the inequality in the OP's situation in the name of pay differences, which is something that often results from ongoing or still-lingering sexism. (Fathers get paid more than mothers, because...? Either the women have to do more childcare and housework, or even when they don't the employer assumes they will?)

The balance sheet revision was focused on the individual, and intended to be more helpful, so it did step away from a sexist framing on the matter, though in the thread it was still pretty blameful, and it was only here that it became phrased in a really nice way. Plus she commented six times -- over 10% of the comments in that fairly long thread were hers.
posted by salvia at 9:52 AM on November 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


I do think some of the attacks here did get a bit personal.
posted by salvia at 9:53 AM on November 15, 2009


I took her comments personally. She was devaluing the hard work that I do because I make less than my husband, and implying that he should devalue it as well.

Internet commenters are not capable of devaluing anyone's hard work. If you are getting that worked up over the opinions of someone you disagree with, it really is time to go have a cup of tea or something.

I don't agree with Jacqueline's point of view about marriage, particularly what the offer means or doesn't. However, people here seemed to take the unpopularity of her point of view as a reason to get personally offensive. That's crappy. It's piling on, and it is really unfortunate. I hate to see people I generally agree with getting caught up in stuff like that.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:17 AM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


She was devaluing the hard work that I do because I make less than my husband, and implying that he should devalue it as well.

It's ok to look at someone's opinion on the internet and say "Huh, what an odd opinion, but it really has nothing to do with me. I wonder what I should eat for lunch?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:19 AM on November 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


oneirodynia: "Internet commenters are not capable of devaluing anyone's hard work. If you are getting that worked up over the opinions of someone you disagree with, it really is time to go have a cup of tea or something."

If you're suggesting that people on the internet are not capable of affecting me, you are incorrect.

If you are suggesting that they should not be capable of affecting me, I disagree.

If you're suggesting that when people piss me off I should think twice before responding in kind, I agree wholeheartedly.
posted by kathrineg at 10:34 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't agree with Jacqueline's point of view about marriage, particularly what the offer means or doesn't. However, people here seemed to take the unpopularity of her point of view as a reason to get personally offensive.

I would imagine that's because some people found her viewpoint personally offensive, either specifically because it devalued their experiences/situation, or just generally because it seemed like reactionary bullshit, and then responded in kind.

As an unmarried male who has cleaned the toilet in the past week (with disinfectant and everything), I couldn't possibly comment.
posted by Sparx at 10:38 AM on November 15, 2009


That comic Jacqueline linked to is hilarious. It should me on a Mefi tee shirt: Everybody is wrong on the internet sometimes.

Sorry for chasing this last night. The whole idea of thinking about relationships that way grossed me out. Also, I get so intense after 2 am. I'm going to write myself a note that says, "Do not take sleeping pills, operate heavy machinery, or post on Metafilter after 2 am" and tape it to my laptop.
posted by anniecat at 10:40 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


now I picture you internetting doped up on a backhoe.
posted by boo_radley at 10:43 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also (and this is probably more of a factor than I'd like to admit) us breaking up would entail some pretty serious financial hardships for me.

When the poster wrote this line, Jacqueline's answer was spot on. The poster wants it both ways. She is staying with the guy partially for financial reasons, then gets upset he treats her like a business deal. It is a business deal.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:51 AM on November 15, 2009


now I picture you internetting doped up on a backhoe.

Jesus, that was you with the camera out in the fields last night! show me where in the laws it says that I don't have a right to dope up, surf the net and operate a backhoe at the same time. It's the only talent I have.
posted by anniecat at 11:00 AM on November 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


And then there are those who think Jacqueline is spot-on, and potentially very helpful to the asker, if she could only see it.

I am a single mother, I was in a relationship very much like the OP describes, and felt the same pseudo-feminist entitlement she seems to feel. That relationship ended, and only then did I realize how much mistaken I had been in feeling put-upon and taken-advantage-of -- the relationship imbalance had been all the other way, for the simple reason that I did not not "count" the things he did for my children. In the OP's case, her boyfriend contributes (among other, unnamed, things) the home that allows her daughter to go to school with her friends. I think the OP would be better served by putting all of those kinds of things on her mental balance sheet, then looking at her own contributions. I am guessing that "OMG all the housework" would not be so very disproportionate, in context.
posted by Methylviolet at 11:04 AM on November 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


If you're suggesting that people on the internet are not capable of affecting me, you are incorrect.

If you are suggesting that they should not be capable of affecting me, I disagree.


Get off of your little soapbox. This isn't EmoFilter here, and if you don't develop a thicker skin you're going to continually annoy everyone here with your rapid fire reactions.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:08 AM on November 15, 2009


That was a little harsh, Burhanistan.
posted by Hildegarde at 11:25 AM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am guessing that "OMG all the housework" would not be so very disproportionate, in context.

The housework isn't the problem. The housework is an example of the problem. The problem is that they have very different conflict and negotiation styles, which is one of the key things that leads to breakups and unhappy relationships.

Deciding what to do about the housework won't fix the larger problem.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:26 AM on November 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


The way Jacqueline was treated here seems to me to be indicative of the worst aspects of Metafilter

I agree completely.

And honestly, Jessamyn's juxtaposition of (1) "the only thing that really surprises me with this whole thread is how judgey a lot of people seem to be... So why so bitchy?" with (2) "Jacqueline I see your perspective, but it's clearly one among many" seemed odd to me. The worst aspects of MetaFilter—rudeness and uncivility, regardless of viewpoint—were exhibited repeatedly in this thread, but not by Jacqueline. I agree with Gman: She handled her callout well.
posted by cribcage at 11:27 AM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah sorry I didn't mean to point to Jacquline, merely to start with her. She had an unpopular opinion that she could have been less strident about in AskMe, other people piled on responding [it seems to me, based on this thread] as much to the stridency as to the actual content. Her responses here have been totally reasonable (unlike some people) and I didn't mean at all to find fault with any of that.

Basically this is another "bla bla presentation matters. The more you acknowledge that other people who don't share your opinions can also be correct in their own lives the better your answers will be received"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:32 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Hello, welcome to RelationshipFilter. We are up-to-date with the latest accessibility standards, so you don't need to worry about finding your way around; all of our brochures are in braille, and the stoplight out front has a speaker to let you know when it's okay to cross. Please hold on for a moment, your tour guide and their seeing-eye dog will be right with you."
posted by Afroblanco at 11:40 AM on November 15, 2009


Her responses here have been totally reasonable

The "if he wanted to be a family, he'd marry her" not so much.

That said, I don't see the point of piling on rudely about that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:42 AM on November 15, 2009


Presentation does matter. Bitchy is a sexually-loaded term. If anyone else lobbed bitchy at a poster, Jessamyn, I would think you'd delete the comment.
posted by Methylviolet at 11:45 AM on November 15, 2009


If anyone else lobbed bitchy at a poster, Jessamyn, I would think you'd delete the comment.

I'm sorry, you'd be wrong. Bitchy is one of the generally allowable not-great-but-not-insta-delete things that people sometimes say in AskMe. Ask me again when my boss isn't just out of the hospital and maybe I'll say something different, but that's how I feel about it this afternoon.

I didn't particularly love Jacqueline's answer but it didn't really get near the "omg must remove immediately" flag threshold before it hit MetaTalk. And, as I hope people know, once things hit MetaTalk, they usually aren't deleted (unless they're horrible) because everyone is talking about them
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:51 AM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


The fact that the OP and her boyfriend COULD get married but DON'T indicates that at least one of them (probably him) is not seriously committed to the relationship.

Jacqueline, if I read your posts correctly, you are confusing a few different things. I don't blame you, because those things are all called "marriage" and our culture tends to be confused about them in general. Often, that confusion is for the best, because keeping the term "marriage" fuzzy allows people with different definitions to get along -- as long as no one tries to probe behind the fuzziness.

Particularly, you are confusing marriage as a legal contract with marriage as an agreement to form a family.

I'd like to discuss the latter, because it's the form of "marriage" that I know best -- although, as you'll see below, even that definition doesn't really work for me.

First of all, I've been in several relationships that I think of as family. You might not call all of them families, but I don't care. What matters is that they were families to me.

Here's how I define "family," though it feels odd to express it in words, because it's more of a feeling than a definable state. I'm in a family when I feel as if the whole group is, in some sense, one being -- and when I have reason to believe that other members of the group feel the same way.

I've been in several of these groups, and, for me, it's never been through an agreement. It just happened. I got attracted to people, started hanging out with them, and some time later realized that I was in a family.

I won't count the family I was born into here, because that's a special case. My next major family was my group of friends in high school. Then I had another family in college. You might not think of these as families, but they were PROFOUNDLY families for me. Even though I no longer am in them, I look back at them from twenty-some years later and still vividly connect with the feeling that I was in families back then.

I was then part of a "marriage" with another man. I am straight. He is gay. So we didn't have sex with each other. But we lived together for several years, we were best friends, we shared chores and even, to some extend, finances.

Then I met the woman I've been married to for thirteen years. She and I were a family before we got married. Getting married didn't make us any more of a family (by my definition) than we were before we got married.

We also didn't get married for financial reasons. Though we're legally married, we have separate finances. She buys what she wants. I buy what I want. We do share a few expenses, like rent, and I'm sure there would be ramifications if we got divorces. But since neither of us is even remotely thinking of divorce, that's not on the table.

(If I feel that my pre-marriage families were just as much families as my marriage one, why did I bother getting married? Because I'm in love with the symbolism of it -- the trading rings, etc. And I like the vows and feel bound by them. But our vows had nothing to do with money or housework. I don't feel that I owe my wife housework or she me. That's a detail we hammer out as we go. I feel I owe her love and care and that's all I expect from her -- it's all I feel I have the right to expect from her.)

I feel VERY strongly that my version of marriage and family is legitimate. I don't know if most people feel the way I do, but I know that I'm far from alone. I also know that my definitions are personal to me. I don't push them on anyone else or expect anyone else to agree with them.

What I don't get is why you talk in such absolute terms about YOUR versions of marriage and family.
posted by grumblebee at 11:58 AM on November 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


The best advice I ever received about relationships: if they're a live-in, get a maid. Split the cost of the maid.

The reasoning is that it is very easy to ( maid cost / 2 ) and it is incredibly difficult to ( housework / 2 ). I'm sure there's some NP-completeness to this that someone with a better grasp of such concepts can explain how one thing is so simple and the other that is very similar, but slightly different, ends up being incredibly difficult. In any case it is great advice, really. Don't view getting maid as lazy or as some sort of ultimate luxury, it is part of the expense of having a live in partner.
posted by geoff. at 11:59 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm more offended at the general idea that if your partner gets a job making x amount more money than you, that you thus have to make it up somewhere else, like you are intentionally trying to make less money.

Cause that never happens. Wait, that's my situation.

We're both professionals. She chose to leave her high-pay, high-stress, long-hours job for one that doesn't have (any of) those things. We joke that the same option is open to me, and if so, how low can I go? Can I schlep coffee at the local cafe? People make those kinds of choices all the time. The fact that we (currently) have separate finances means that it doesn't matter, because what gets contributed *is* equal. Were we to pool everything, then of course, it matters what you're putting in, because less by you means more by me (or the same choice not being open to me; ie: you want the lifestyle but you don't want the job that gets it).

I find it fascinating that income is this huge taboo that, when romance is involved, is supposed to become this untouchable item. I mean, I know the economy is bad, but most of us make choices that affect income (and happiness, and it's often a trade-off).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:09 PM on November 15, 2009


mathowie is the boss of all meefs
posted by Rumple at 12:10 PM on November 15, 2009


OK. Having slept on it, I want to thank cooler heads (including Jacqueline) for explaining a bit more where some of these different takes on the situation are coming from. I do recognize that not everyone will see the world the way that I do.

That said, I still think the idea that the person who makes less money in a relationship "owes" their partner housework (or anything, really) is outdated, incompatible with my concept of a loving relationship, insulting, and so on. And I think that Jacqueline's comments came off as endorsing a sexist status quo (though she may have meant them as mere reminders of "how things really are" or whatever).

I know that's just my take, and different people have different ways of approaching finances and housework and conflict resolution. I also see that some people read the question pretty differently from me.

I hope this MeTa didn't ruin anyone's day. I am trying not to be inflammatory or shit-stirry. I do feel very strongly that Jacqueline is wrong (as very distinct from "is a bad person") and I guess I now... feel heard? So... thank you?
posted by prefpara at 12:10 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Data point. I've been married, and I've been in a long-term relationship-based co-habitation program activity. The legal framework of the marriage did nothing for the relationship end of things and the relationship ultimately failed. Finances were always strained, and while housework wasn't ever a particular "issue"... it didn't necessarily get done either.

The relationship that I'm in now functions more like a marriage than my actual marriage did. There are concrete long term goals for us as a family. We are totally accountable to each other around the house and in our jobs. I may bring in less financially, but my contributions are seen as equal since I work more actual hours per week and keep my bills paid and maintain my own health and happiness - which are essential to keeping a relationship healthy and happy.

We probably will get legally married at some point to solidify the actual legality of the relationship, but in terms of functional family units - the legal framework of marriage did nothing to improve a relationship that was uneven in terms of expectations and the absence of it doesn't bother me a bit in a relationship where commitments and expectations have been discussed and agreed upon.

The paperwork is, from my experience, just paperwork. You're committed equally, or you're not. Marriage isn't what creates that commitment - it's the partners involved. If marriage really could solidify relationships, there'd be a lot fewer divorces. (Which is definitely ironic in the Alanis Morrissette sense of the word.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:21 PM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


OK, I'm wrong. I think bitch is inherently sexist, like slut, but then, the internet and I do not agree on every point.

The housework is an example of the problem. The problem is that they have very different conflict and negotiation styles, which is one of the key things that leads to breakups and unhappy relationships. Deciding what to do about the housework won't fix the larger problem.

Sure, but feeling put-upon and taken-advantage-of, feeling that one's contributions were disproportionate, as the OP clearly did, is harder on a relationship than differing negotiation styles. Realizing that you may possibly not be seeing things objectively can help more than learning to present your (possibly) wrong-headed views more productively. Look at this guy -- he suspects that he may be all wrong, but if not, wants to know how to be better negotiate the issue. The answers that he (er, and/or his girlfriend!) found most helpful tended toward the you're-wrong-and-here's-why variety.
posted by Methylviolet at 12:21 PM on November 15, 2009


I think that "the person who makes less money should do more housework" is kind of an odd and probably counterproductive way to do relationships.

However, "the person who works fewer and/or less stressful hours, if there is a significant disparity, might want to do more housework" is certaily a choice that many people make, including me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:22 PM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cause that never happens. Wait, that's my situation.

No, what I'm saying is, nobody says "I'd like to do this job, and while I know I can make $50 an hour doing it, I'd like to be paid $30 an hour." Perhaps there's that one case in $10,000, but the vast majority of us are going to be making as much money as we can as fits with our lifestyles. Yes, I knew of situations like yours - I totally get the concept of one person taking a lower paying job to spend time with the kids, or to have a different schedule so that there is more "couple time". I get that. But then taking that and making it some kind of "well I make $70 an hour and you make $35 an hour, so you should be doing twice as much to make it up" thing is silly, and outdated.

To me, relationships are a 50/50 commitment, period. You strive for that in every area, and don't try to parlay imbalances in some areas over to others, because it is 50/50 over the lifetime of the relationship. 2 years from now Mr. Weesha may hurt his back and be unable to work. Then Weesha may land a job to support them both. That's how it should work, in my opinion.
posted by cashman at 12:24 PM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sure, but feeling put-upon and taken-advantage-of, feeling that one's contributions were disproportionate, as the OP clearly did, is harder on a relationship than differing negotiation styles.

I disagree. If they had a good way of talking about these issues, she might well not feel so put-upon and taken-advantage-of, because they would have negotiated a solution that works well for both of them.

Conflict and negotiation style is a meta-issue that colors almost every specific issue in a relationship, from money to sex to chores to what to have for dinner.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:24 PM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Huh, I thought our way -- each partner has a roughly equal amount of personal time, meaning time when you're not fulfilling a family-benefitting obligation like work or housework or childcare -- was totally common, but I haven't seen it endorsed yet. And by "endorsed," I of course mean "stated as an absolute moral good from which no decent person would deviate."
posted by palliser at 12:30 PM on November 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


relationships are a 50/50 commitment, period. You strive for that in every area, and don't try to parlay imbalances in some areas over to others, because it is 50/50 over the lifetime of the relationship.

This. But I think it's important to note that relationships are rarely perfectly 50/50 at any given point in time. There are too many other aspects of life and just, stuff that happens to make it possible. The problem arises, as many people in this thread seem to have pointed out, when one party to a relationship (married, or co-habitating, or whatever) reaches the 50% point and says, "Okay, I'm done- you get the rest." Or conversely, when one party perceives that the other has done so.

The bad thing is that there may be a fundamental disagreement about what 100% entails, much less whose 50% is whose. I suspect that my wife and I, for instance, disagree on some details. There's some stuff that I will probably always do, because it never occurs to her. And, you know, she pretty much told me point-blank when we got married, "You will always mow the lawn. I will never mow the lawn." And that's fine. There's plenty of stuff that she always does and that I never do. Somehow, the important stuff gets done most of the time. She changes a lot more diapers than I do, for one thing.

On another note, let me agree that Jacqueline did a great job in her responses in this thread. and I never thought her response in the original AskMe was particularly off-base, either.
posted by Shohn at 12:40 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I totally get the concept of one person taking a lower paying job to spend time with the kids, or to have a different schedule so that there is more "couple time". I get that. But then taking that and making it some kind of "well I make $70 an hour and you make $35 an hour, so you should be doing twice as much to make it up" thing is silly, and outdated.

The stumbling block here seems to be, again, that money itself is taboo. As long as it's a tradeoff of *time* then everyone's ok. Oh sure, I work 9-5 and you work 9-9, so I have more time to do the dishes. But if someone trades a higher-paying job for a lower-paying one, with similar hours, and thus brings less that gets shared and used for necessities and for luxuries, why shouldn't this be taken into account? (If it is in fact a choice)

If I had $ to spare I'd probably go back to school. She could pay the rent. For many couples I think this would indicate some vague state of "debt" -- like someday I work and she goes back to school. Or something. Not a balance sheet, but not a black hole financing system, either, where what goes in is stripped of information and only comes out as Hawking radiation and utilities payments.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:50 PM on November 15, 2009


What I don't get is why you talk in such absolute terms about YOUR versions of marriage and family.

on average, it's a lot easier to walk out of a cohabitation situation than it is a marriage - lawyers aren't often involved with the former, and just about always are with the latter - and one can say that a cohabitor is just as committed as a spouse all one wants - but the fact remains that the cohabitor knows they can get out a lot easier than they could if they were married

let's face it - when gay people say they want the right to be married, they are in fact talking in the SAME absolute kind of terms about marriage and family - they see cohabitation as being a lesser level of commitment than that of marriage, with lesser legal rights and privileges

cohabitation is not marriage - if it was, we wouldn't be having this huge controversy about gay marriage in this country

it DOES matter - and i'd like to see the day when everyone is free to make that choice for themselves
posted by pyramid termite at 1:01 PM on November 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've started to write three times now, and I've decided I have to at least make one point.

Jacquline: Not every problem has a "good" solution, some just have "less bad" ones... in an ideal world she would have made better choices in her past and not be in this situation now.

What do we know about the OP's choices? What does it mean to say "choice"?

There is a much larger context here about the disproportionate burden placed upon women for the cost of social reproduction.

There is the societal backdrop that limit the "choices" available.

There is another biological parent whose choices must be equally judged, if choices are to be judged in this manner.

While the comment above did not appear in the original post, I am not surprised that they come the same poster. The belief in personal responsibility at the expense of any analysis of the context in which that responsibility is created or assigned is an issue that is similar to the issue I had with the original post as well.
posted by girlpublisher at 1:09 PM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Burhanistan: "This isn't EmoFilter here"

What am I going to do with my eyeliner

:(
posted by kathrineg at 1:11 PM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


cohabitation is not marriage

No. But romantic partners living together are not just roommates.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:36 PM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Internet commenters are not capable of devaluing anyone's hard work. If you are getting that worked up over the opinions of someone you disagree with, it really is time to go have a cup of tea or something."

If you're suggesting that people on the internet are not capable of affecting me, you are incorrect.


Nope, didn't say that. I said that they are incapable of devaluing anyone's hard work. Words on a screen might affect ones state of mind, but they don't change anything about how real life contributions affect the people around you.

How does one internet stranger's opinion change the way your work is perceived and appreciated by the people around you? Most people care more about the real-life implications of the efforts of people close to them than they do about the thoughts of a random person they've never met.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:41 PM on November 15, 2009


Sidhedevil: The housework isn't the problem. The housework is an example of the problem. The problem is that they have very different conflict and negotiation styles, which is one of the key things that leads to breakups and unhappy relationships.

Deciding what to do about the housework won't fix the larger problem.




Exactly, but yet we have had not one but two threads debating about how much housework I do and whether or not I'm a poor put-upon Cinderella or a despicable slut who deserves to do it all and get a good spanking too!

And now I'm reminded of why it's really not a good idea to put one's personal problems out on the internet for strangers to dissect. I didn't even have the good sense to do it anonymously. :-/
posted by weesha at 1:50 PM on November 15, 2009


I don't agree with Jacqueline's point of view about marriage, particularly what the offer means or doesn't. However, people here seemed to take the unpopularity of her point of view as a reason to get personally offensive.

I would imagine that's because some people found her viewpoint personally offensive, either specifically because it devalued their experiences/situation, or just generally because it seemed like reactionary bullshit, and then responded in kind.


It's not that hard to explain to people why you disagree and why you their words are personally offensive without being offensive back, no? There's nothing wrong with saying "I think what you are saying is bullshit, and it hurts my feelings" or whatever, but saying childish stuff like "I sure hope your boyfriend treats you like a fucking maid" is unnecessary.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:56 PM on November 15, 2009


Exactly, but yet we have had not one but two threads debating about how much housework I do and whether or not I'm a poor put-upon Cinderella or a despicable slut who deserves to do it all and get a good spanking too!

To be fair, you started one of those threads and the extremities of the positions you stated seems like overkill.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:01 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, what really bothered me about Jacqueline's answers was thinking about someone reading them who's in a similar position to the OP but feeling more tentative and self-doubting about how they deserve to be treated in a romantic relationship with someone who supposedly loves them. Because it certainly comes off as sounding like saying that it is an acceptable part of a healthy relationship to value what you each bring to the partnership in terms of dollars and cents rather than in terms of two people who love each other trying to set up an arrangement rooted in their desire for the other person's happiness and well-being.

At least the OP clearly has her own sense of how she deserves to be treated in a relationship. I just imagine someone reading who makes less than their partner and is always being expected to do X, Y, Z, and anything else their partner chooses because he/she makes more money-- someone who maybe doesn't have a lot of experience in healthy, loving relationships-- trying to figure out whether they have the right to stand up for themselves (or leave to find something better) or whether they should just shut up and feel lucky, like their partner keeps telling them, and reading: "You are not his wife and your daughter is not his kid -- he doesn't have any legal or moral obligation to support you. Yet he is anyway, and you're picking fights with him over the yardwork? Do the yardwork yourself and be grateful that you have such a generous boyfriend!"

That's just so far off from what I believe love and relationships are about that it's kind of mind-boggling that other people could think it's appropriate. Where does that end? "Do his laundry and his errands, and be grateful that you have such a generous boyfriend?" "Suck it up when he gets angry and yells at you, and be grateful that you have such a generous boyfriend?" "Give him blow jobs whenever he asks for them, and be grateful that you have such a generous boyfriend?" I'm not saying Jacqueline believes all those things, just that I can't wrap my mind around where/why the line gets drawn between them.

As someone in a long-term relationship living with a boyfriend who I very much love and who makes less money than I do-- I could not imagine just assuming that he ought to be "grateful" that I am so "generous" as to pay more than half of our living expenses, that he's always in my debt and constantly needs to make it up to me. And if I did start acting that way, I would hope he'd have enough self-respect to get out and find someone better. I really can't understand how a person could carry around that kind of entitlement and simultaneously really love and respect their partner.

Look, I totally get that there are real, valid issues with making financial sacrifices when you're not sure how long-term the relationship is. My boyfriend didn't have the right to assume that I would pay more than my share, and he didn't-- we talked about it and he offered to pay his full half and I said "no, I love you, and I want you to be happy and do the work you love best even though it happens to pay less than what I do, so let's split expenses X-Y which seems fair to me." And he said, "thanks, I really appreciate that," and then we moved on, and I think it would be incredibly rude and inappropriate for me to expect him to always pick up my slack on the household front just because I agreed to pay more. Yeah, it's a sacrifice, but love is about sacrifice, and it's not about always carrying around a ledger book tracking who sacrificed what and who's in the other's debt.

I would have had no problem whatsoever if Jacqueline had said something more along the lines of "I'm not sure if you're fully considering his financial sacrifices; it's all well and good to say you think you should be full partners despite not being married, but it's a risk and maybe he feels like you doing the housework is an appropriate way to compensate him for that risk, so you two should talk about it. You don't have the right to automatically expect that he will pay more than half of the expenses and that all the rest of the household tasks will be split 50-50. I encourage the two of you to evaluate what you both think is fair and right for your relationship." It's a fair issue, and I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with a couple agreeing that housework should be split in a way to help compensate for different financial contributions. But the blanket statement that if you're not married and your partner earns more money than you, they have the right to expect you to make it up to them, and you should just shut up and be grateful that they are making sacrifices on your behalf? Still really troubling to me.

I don't know. Jacqueline is right that a non-marriage relationship is (usually) not like a marriage. But it is also (usually) not like a roommate situation either, and I think people deserve more than that from their partners who supposedly love them.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 2:06 PM on November 15, 2009 [37 favorites]


As someone in a long-term relationship living with a boyfriend who I very much love and who makes less money than I do-- I could not imagine just assuming that he ought to be "grateful" that I am so "generous" as to pay more than half of our living expenses, that he's always in my debt and constantly needs to make it up to me. And if I did start acting that way, I would hope he'd have enough self-respect to get out and find someone better.

Me too. And amen.
posted by scody at 2:09 PM on November 15, 2009


I think that "the person who makes less money should do more housework" is kind of an odd and probably counterproductive way to do relationships.

However, "the person who works fewer and/or less stressful hours, if there is a significant disparity, might want to do more housework" is certainly a choice that many people make, including me.


QFT.

Except I'm the one who works longer and more stressful hours and makes more money. And like scody and EmilyClimbs, can't imagine parsing my relationship in terms of being owed.
posted by desuetude at 2:30 PM on November 15, 2009


Exactly, but yet we have had not one but two threads debating about how much housework I do and whether or not I'm a poor put-upon Cinderella or a despicable slut who deserves to do it all and get a good spanking too!

To be fair, you started one of those threads and the extremities of the positions you stated seems like overkill.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:01 PM on November 15 [+] [!]


The thread I started mentioned housework as something we were having a conflict about, it was not meant to provoke a debate about my worth as a human being vs how much money I make or how much housework I do or ought to do. Other people seized on those topics and turned it into a big judge-fest, whether to judge me or Jacqueline, it doesn't matter, because it's mostly unhelpful.

And with that, I'm out. Thanks all.
posted by weesha at 2:40 PM on November 15, 2009


An example of a person who works harder than I do but makes less than half of my salary: my mother. Well, she's recently retired, but my mother worked longer and more stressful hours than I do now, and she pulled out all the stops every day. She was always early to work and always late coming home. She got less holiday time, fewer benefits, and radically less take home than I currently do.

If my husband had my mother's job, I can't imagine expecting him to do more housework than me because he'd be making so much less.

The world places value on our work not necessarily based on how valuable our contribution is. I don't deserve my salary because I'm that much awesomer than my mother or because I work that much harder; I just happen to be in a more lucrative profession than she was. I'm not sure I'd want to bring that kind of value system into my home and judge any member of my family based on it.

Making decisions about who does what around the house based on time makes more sense to me because it takes out the arbitrary financial value element.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:58 PM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


You'll be back.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:58 PM on November 15, 2009


If you think your romantic unmarried relationship is the same as marriage, go try and get half your boy/girlfriend's money and property from a judge when you split up.

I'll wait.

It's not the same thing in the eyes of the law, it's not the same thing in society. I don't think I would marry someone who does not carry their weight, it's just something I would have to evaluate when I look for a partner to spend my life with.

Bottom line though, that is just me, if you don't like the situation dump him or try and marry him, AskMe can't help you.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:04 PM on November 15, 2009


but the fact remains that the cohabitor knows they can get out a lot easier than they could if they were married

It really am stunned by people's readiness to claim they know what goes on inside other people's heads.

Other than in the most literal (and not useful/interesting) way, that completely fails to describe my mindset, and I'm atypical at worst. I know there are others like me, because I'm spoken to them at length.

Yes if I had really thought about it, I would have realized (back when my wife and I were "just dating") that it would have been SLIGHTLY easier to get out of the relationship than it is now that we're married. But I didn't really "know" that because really knowing something is more than just having it lodged somewhere in your memory backs. It's thinking about it, at least occasionally. I only knew it in the sense that I know it's true of people in general. I don't think I ever applied it to myself until just now.

Back when I was dating my wife, I knew that if I left her I'd be lonely, about to date other people, sad, unable to use her stuff, free and confused. Now that we're married, I know that if I left her, I'd be in exactly the same state.

I will admit that I'm able to think this way -- in purely emotional terms -- because I'm a member of the (upper?) middle class and I don't have kids. And my wife is the same. We are both able to support ourselves independently. I know not everyone is in my boat, but I also know I'm not alone in my boat.

You can say all you want the EVERYONE knows it's easier to get out of a dating situation than a marriage, but I'll scream just as loud that I don't know that. Both are equally easy/hard for me in every way that I care about.

The ONLY difference for me pre-marriage and post marriage is that I'm now living under certain self-imposed vows (which have nothing to do with finances). And even that is not a big difference, because I was basically living under those vows before I got married. The marriage ceremony just made them explicit.
posted by grumblebee at 3:11 PM on November 15, 2009


if you don't like the situation dump him or try and marry him

This doesn't even make any sense.

The issue weeha was talking about was that their conflict and negotiation styles didn't mesh, and they argued in unproductive ways.

How does "try and marry him" relate to that in the slightest?
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:12 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you think your romantic unmarried relationship is the same as marriage, go try and get half your boy/girlfriend's money and property from a judge when you split up.

I'll wait.


This is only a factor if you CARE about your partner's money. I don't and my partner doesn't care about mine. I'm clueless about the state of her bank account. If we got divorced and a lawyer suggested I take some of her money, I'd fire him. It's HER money. She earned it. I'd be amazed if my wife acted differently.

It's like you're saying there's a big difference between a stage play and a radio play. Not to a blind person. IT DEPENDS ON ONES MINDSET and what one cares about.


It's not the same thing in the eyes of the law,


Interesting if you care.

it's not the same thing in society.

Ditto.
posted by grumblebee at 3:15 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thread I started mentioned housework as something we were having a conflict about, it was not meant to provoke a debate about my worth as a human being vs how much money I make or how much housework I do or ought to do.

Fair point, AskMe has a sad tendency to get judgement at times. It's an ugly side effect that I wish didn't happen.

That said, it's probably helpful to think carefully when posting to AskMe and not do it in an angry frame of mind.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:19 PM on November 15, 2009


If you think your romantic unmarried relationship is the same as marriage, go try and get half your boy/girlfriend's money and property from a judge when you split up.

I'll wait.

It's not the same thing in the eyes of the law


Actually, it is, as long as you've been cohabiting for two years or more. It's known as a de facto relationship, and carries exactly the same legal status, rights & obligations as a formal marriage.

IANYL, YJurisdictionMV
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:21 PM on November 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


on average, it's a lot easier to walk out of a cohabitation situation than it is a marriage - lawyers aren't often involved with the former, and just about always are with the latter - and one can say that a cohabitor is just as committed as a spouse all one wants - but the fact remains that the cohabitor knows they can get out a lot easier than they could if they were married

On average, yes. But not always.

F'rinstance: When I was married, my spouse and I split the bills. So, when he left, things were financially kinda iffy for a bit, but getting a roommate took care of the half of the rent that my spouse had paid.

Now, my partner owns the home we live in outright. No one pays rent. However, I pay just as much to buy health insurance (LITERALLY.) as I used to pay in rent. If I also had to pay rent, I would be screwed in a major, major way. If this co-habitation didn't work out, lack of lawyers wouldn't make it any easier to extricate myself from the situation since I would have to get a new place (I couldn't be the one to stay here since I'm not the one who owns it) and forfeit my health insurance since I wouldn't be able to afford it anymore.

Yes, my partner and I are both aware that I'm "dependent" in this way, which is one of the reasons why I say that this is more like a marriage than my actual marriage - which was actually much more the "roommate you have sex and share a bank account with." Divorce BLOWS, but the fall out that would occur if I were to be suddenly on my own right now would be much more financially staggering than my divorce was.

(My partner and I are both fine with this situation as being free of paying rent allows me to choose my work based on the family I connect with the best rather than who is paying more - also choosing to buy health insurance as opposed to working a retail job or something that provides benefits - which I've done - means that I can continue working in childcare. This makes me much happier and much saner than I was when I was more financially independent, though I'm working on trying to save money and such to be in a position where I could be on my own just because I think it would be a good thing, not because I doubt the solidity of my relationship.)

My boyfriend didn't have the right to assume that I would pay more than my share, and he didn't-- we talked about it and he offered to pay his full half and I said "no, I love you, and I want you to be happy and do the work you love best even though it happens to pay less than what I do, so let's split expenses X-Y which seems fair to me." And he said, "thanks, I really appreciate that," and then we moved on,

Yes, this is the situation I'm in exactly - substituting me for the boyfriend.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:41 PM on November 15, 2009


Bottom line though, that is just me, if you don't like the situation dump him or try and marry him, AskMe can't help you

Actually, based on the fact that she's already selected several as best answers, yes, AskMe can and did help her. So no need to get judge-y on that account.
posted by librarylis at 5:34 PM on November 15, 2009


It really am stunned by people's readiness to claim they know what goes on inside other people's heads.

i'm stunned by your refusal to recognize that there are legal issues involved in marriage that aren't involved in cohabitation that do, in most cases, make it harder to exit

they exist and most people know this

i've lost track of how many times i've heard people discuss cohabitation vs marriage in exactly these terms - it's a common way of thinking about it

what was to you a "claim that i know what goes on inside other people's heads" was a mere willingness to recognize that most people have some common knowledge and common sense

hopefully, you'll get over the shock
posted by pyramid termite at 5:43 PM on November 15, 2009


I do recognize that for many people there are legal issues involved in marriage that aren't involved in cohabitation.

What shocked me was the universalism in this bit of your post: "one can say that a cohabitor is just as committed as a spouse all one wants - but the fact remains that the cohabitor knows they can get out a lot easier than they could if they were married"

I am willing to accept the possibility that I am misinterpreting what you wrote, but your phrase "the cohabitor knows..." suggests that I (a cohabitor) know something that I, in fact, don't know.

It sounds like back when I was single, and contemplating marriage, I thought, "Hmm. I do want to get married. On the other hand, what if I discover that it was a mistake. It will be so much easier to get out now that it will be to get out after I'm married!"

I am sure that many people do think that way. I'm aware of that thought process from movies and stories. But it wasn't my thought process even for a second. I never have wanted out, but it would just as easy for me to get out now than it was then. And I knew that back then as well as I do now.

I am also way willing to accept that I'm atypical. But I don't accept that I'm the only atypical person when it comes to marriage. To me, it's really odd to make blanket (or even close-to-blanket) assertions about something as fuzzy as marriage or people's attitudes towards it.
posted by grumblebee at 6:01 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just want to say that I thought Weesha handled a really attacking and judging thread in a very gracious way. She repeatedly clarified the facts and her position without getting defensive or attacking those she was responding to. Sure, her original question was not worded well, which she has said several times herself. I have not heard any of those who attacked her acknowledge that (given XYZ additional facts, or upon reconsideration) they had criticized her unfairly.
posted by salvia at 6:15 PM on November 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


I am willing to accept the possibility that I am misinterpreting what you wrote, but your phrase "the cohabitor knows..." suggests that I (a cohabitor) know something that I, in fact, don't know.

but, in fact, you do - i didn't say you agreed with it - or that you give it any consideration - or that you should agree or give it consideration - (or that you, precisely, were ANYTHING) - but you obviously understand the concept and you've already admitted that i wasn't the one who introduced you to it

whatever
posted by pyramid termite at 6:35 PM on November 15, 2009


If you think your romantic unmarried relationship is the same as marriage, go try and get half your boy/girlfriend's money and property from a judge when you split up.

I'll wait.


2 years and that's the law here in Oz - I rarely see it put into practice though, it's usually done sans courtcase. Hell, you carry on an extramarital affair that involves the same sort of support type issues and you're liable for continuing support there as well.

And as a data point, I'm in a relationship where money is pooled and housework is shared equitably. Making sure each of us gets a fair distribution of time is our concern, and that our needs as a couple are met. Not a complex formula about money and who contributes more of it because that isn't a fair reflection of work. My husband earns more, even though I have more 'human capital' simply because I'm part of a feminised career path while he is not. Yet I work the same hours as him, occasionally more (I work the occasional weekend, he doesn't). I have a burden of continual education and at one point, dealing with a middling difficult pregnancy. How fair is it to insist on more housework being done simply because of a social fuck up that insists a penis makes my husband a better worker? Fairness, in spirit not letter, has a place in a relationship. Yes, my husband can't just quit his job and play games all day, or sling burgers, or drive trucks. Just like I can't just up and walk out leaving our daughter alone, or go back to work, or get a job across country. It's nothing to do with 'what about my lifestyle' - it's about communication and our needs as a family unit.

Our family unit only has a few true goals, the rest is ephemeral. We had a lot of discussion working out what those goals are, how important they are and how they impact our individual goals. One of us shutting down, insisting their monetary contribution means they don't have to give a fuck, would be a bad thing for the relationship. Even if it wasn't that they don't care, but that they cannot actually emotionally have that conversation - relationships can't just survive with one person making all the decisions and doing all the emotional work.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:49 PM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pyramid termite, the fact that there no apparently no legal issues with co-habitation where you live does not make a universal truth. I am so used to the fact that common-law marriages are the legal equivlent to "real" marriages here that I personally do not consider them different from one another. I have also known cases to go through the family court system from the breakup of common-law marriages. Perhaps your "common sense" is different in your limited sphere.

As to the comment in the original thread that the OP should be grateful that her partner was supporting a non-biological child, he presumably was aware of the child before they moved in and made his choice at that time to support the child. Many non-biological parents I know love their children with all their hearts; why was there a default assumption that he was begrudgingly generous to tolerate the child?
posted by saucysault at 8:23 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk: THIS MAKES ME SO MAD I CAN'T WAIT TO GET MY HANDS ON A BALL PEEN HAMMER
posted by davejay at 12:27 AM on November 16, 2009


I used to go out with someone who expected me to contribute housework as I earned less. Note that word, 'expected'. When I moved out but we stayed together, he expected me to do the same on visiting, as I used his hot water, and electricity (I usually brought food with me as he never stocked up.)

So now me and my SO are planning to move in, I'm nervous. I am very messy. He's quite neat. I, currently, earn more money than he does (though living in London means I see little difference). However, I'm happy in our relationship and know we can work these things out. Now, I'm quite staggered at the idea that because my SO doesn't want to marry me (well, we have no plans to do so right now), we aren't committed. We will be sharing rental agreements, and maybe further down the line, a mortgage. I have a serious chronic health condition, which means he may need to take time off work in the future if things go bad, and he is named as my emergency contact when one is needed. We share some financial commitments already - I have my mobile phone on his contract and pay him for this, and he is looking after my savings for me so I can't touch these. We're about as committed as we can be at this stage and with these circumstances.

If I had a child, and moved in with him with my child, why would I presume he wasn't 'committed' because he didn't want to adopt the child and/or marry me? Maybe it wouldn't be right for me, maybe it wouldn't be right for him, and maybe not for the child, who is a human being and not a chattel.

Mind you, in the UK we have the idea of the 'common-law wife' where living as partners offers a great number of legal benefits.
posted by mippy at 5:04 AM on November 16, 2009


Mind you, in the UK we have the idea of the 'common-law wife' where living as partners offers a great number of legal benefits.

While the idea does exist, people are wrong to believe that such legal benefits exist. We don't, I'm afraid, have such a concept enshrined in law - see here.
posted by altolinguistic at 8:11 AM on November 16, 2009


If the OP's boyfriend wanted them to be a family, he would marry her. By not marrying her he's made it clear that he DOESN'T want to commit to that.

A few people in here have suggested this, but I find it so bizarre that people today still view this as the man's choice alone, as if people don't discuss marriage and family (and the many ways of forming a family, whether there's a legal agreement made or not) like adults and reach a consensus together.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:35 AM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


i'm stunned by your refusal to recognize that there are legal issues involved in marriage that aren't involved in cohabitation that do, in most cases, make it harder to exit

Harder to exit? Well, more paperwork. I don't know that it's any more or less difficult, though.

If you mean "harder to exit without financial ramifications," well, it comes down to your stuff, and how much of it you have, and whether you want it. As you've pointed out, in a divorce, there is generally greater legal oversight to the dividing of the stuff. I would argue that this makes it easier to exit with your stuff, though it'll be a slower process.
posted by desuetude at 8:47 AM on November 16, 2009


By not marrying her he's made it clear that he DOESN'T want to commit to that.

It's this kind of thing that makes me want to burn the institution of marriage down. You know why some people get married? Because they were drunk and in Vegas. Because she was pregnant and her dad said "You better, or else." Because they really really really want to have sex, and being married is the only way to do that. Because of immigration issues. There are a million reasons why people get married that have nothing to do with "commitment."

And a million reasons why people don't get married, and an awful lot of them have nothing to do with commitment, or lack of it.
posted by rtha at 9:00 AM on November 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


If the money issues were the real giant problem (and from the repeated clarification of the AskMe's OP, they aren't), i'm surprised no one suggested offering equal percentages of income as a fair split. If the bills all get paid and both partner contribute 33% of their income, who cares what the relative sizes of their paychecks are? I don't see any reason to bring the housework (or blowjobs, which I feel should be pro bono work, personally...) into it as a balancing factor...

Maybe some people are in relationships where being right is more important than addressing your SO's concerns, but in my life, (so far) the Op's feeling of not being heard would cause any minor issue to explode into a giant problem. Regardless of if the situation is fair or not, whether someone is wrong or not, etc... you still have to feel like your stupid, probably wrong, unfair, jackass feelings are going to get listened to and addressed by the people who love you. Even if you're not married.

I think it's funny that Jacqueline and weesha both seem like the voices of reason, here. So kudos to them for not taking the opportunity to flame out spectacularly.
posted by ServSci at 9:08 AM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


> It's this kind of thing that makes me want to burn the institution of marriage down.

I feel that way too, but also pity. I wouldn't revel in my accession to a traditional rite and reify it as a foregone conclusion, or swear fealty to its magical protection against capitalist injustices if I were you, myopic marrieds. It doesn't present marriage as something critical thinkers might do.

/8 years hetero cohabitation. No legal "union" until equal secular unions are legal for all.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:11 AM on November 16, 2009


My two big problems with Jacqueline's comments: The implication that, as a single mother, the OP is "damaged goods" and should take whatever relationship she can get, and feel grateful; and the assumption that the only reason she's not married to her boyfriend is that HE does not want to be. Believe it or not, sometimes men want to marry women -- even women in poorly-paying jobs with dependent children! -- who do not want to marry them. Plus, the boyfriend may actually ENJOY having her child around. Some men like kids, even teenage ones! Imagine!

And weesha has said already that she is fine with doing all of the housework (which is above and beyond what is fair, in my opinion), but that she would like him to do the outside yard work, which is a much smaller job (as in, doesn't need doing every day) than the housework, so he's already getting a good deal. By not doing any work at all, her boyfriend is showing a lack of respect for her time. Yes, her yelling at him is not helping, but neither is his silence. If he has decided, secretly, that she should do all of the work in and outside of the house in exchange for his larger financial contribution, HE NEEDS TO TELL HER ABOUT IT.
posted by chowflap at 10:35 AM on November 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


omg great thread. Jacky you are the perfect American, with such a genuine understanding of marriage (and real marriage at that, fuck that common law shit). Together with your faith in your intellect being just a little bit better then those around you, makes you just... perfect.

Wanna hook up?
posted by carfilhiot at 8:24 PM on November 16, 2009


^Douchebag comes out of the weeds for that?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:27 PM on November 16, 2009


go back into the weeds please!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:36 PM on November 16, 2009


Lulz that's pretty rich when considering the rest of your comments in this thread Mr B.

At least I was dragging you down very far when I dragged you down to my level dumbfuck.
posted by carfilhiot at 8:41 PM on November 16, 2009


Out of the weeds? This fellow is a bartender? Then I call him my friend! and companion!
posted by kathrineg at 8:45 PM on November 16, 2009


At least I was dragging you down very far when I dragged you down to my level dumbfuck.

i don't think 12 steps into your mom's basement is THAT far
posted by pyramid termite at 9:17 PM on November 16, 2009


So, you dragged Burhanistan down very far to your level?

That's nice to know, but I'm not entirely sure what your point is.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:42 PM on November 16, 2009


Did someone say 12 steps?


*backs away from the higher power*
posted by kathrineg at 9:48 PM on November 16, 2009


beats me, uburoivas - but while we're all in his mom's basement, i think i should point out that the scooby-doo wallpaper he's done the walls with is, well, unique ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:49 PM on November 16, 2009


my concern with the original question is that either you (OP) don't leave an unhappy relationship because of the financial burden or this is something you say when you're mad.

whichever it is, it's a terrible example to give to a 16 year old girl who is at a very vulnerable age with regards to romantic relationships. she might also get the idea (no matter how true or untrue) that you're trading your happiness for her well being and that if she weren't around you'd be free to find a satisfying relationship.

i hope you're finding ways to fix your communication issues with your partner, but no matter what happens there, your daughter should be in counseling and you and her might benefit from parent/child counseling.
posted by nadawi at 10:54 PM on November 16, 2009


Honestly. nadawi, how patronising and condescending. Haven't you read weesha 's follow-ups?

Imagine someone being mad enough with their partner/boyfriend/husband/whatever-but-it-involves-a-romantic-attachment to say something about leaving? And then not doing it because it would be really goddamn difficult oh and also she actually really cares for the man and just wants him to help out without her having to feel like she's asking him for too much. Tsk, really. How awfully damaging to the 16 year old child to realise that her mother is human!

Recommendations for counselling for the 16 year old in this situation seems like hyperbole to the extreme.
posted by h00py at 5:08 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


he might also get the idea (no matter how true or untrue) that you're trading your happiness for her well being

This is sort of a fundamental concept in parenting? Not trading happiness per se, but trading being "free" do do whatever you want for prioritizing your child's well-being.
posted by desuetude at 7:35 AM on November 17, 2009


h00py - i have read her followups. i also had a mother who would yell when she wasn't be heard and who said things she didn't mean in anger. i have seen friends go through second, third, and fourth homes learn lessons about relationships their parents didn't mean to teach.

as for her followups, i'm with the other people who think she doth protest too much and that she said exactly what she meant in her original question and then realized it made her look like a terrible person.

and before you to accuse someone of being patronizing, you might want to unmount that high horse you're sitting on.
posted by nadawi at 12:22 PM on November 17, 2009


as for her followups, i'm with the other people who think she doth protest too much and that she said exactly what she meant in her original question and then realized it made her look like a terrible person.

But her original question didn't make her look like a terrible person at all.

Gah, if only relationshipfilter questions could all get a little "remember, it's not about your relationships" in the note.
posted by desuetude at 2:31 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's a particularly high horse that I'm sitting on.

I guess I just don't believe all sixteen year olds are sponges who are soaking up other people's experiences without some kind of self-devised filter.

Your comment about all these homes that your friend's have learnt their lessons from seems to be yet another dig at the single mother in question.

And when she tries to defend herself against all these people accusing her of being a demanding gold-digger she's protesting too much? So she's not allowed to get angry, she's not allowed to want help from her partner and she's never, ever allowed to mention her financial situation because all these things will cause her teenage daughter to be screwed up?

Seems harsh to me.
posted by h00py at 3:38 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


you have your reading of it, i have mine. i respect the hell out of single mothers. i respect them even more if they don't get to where they feel trapped in a relationship because of monetary reasons. her 16 year old would too.
posted by nadawi at 4:00 PM on November 17, 2009


her 16 year old would too.

Judgy and projecting much? So psychic you can read the mind of this 16-year-old? You don't know anything about this kid, or her mom, or their relationship, so stop presuming that you do.
posted by rtha at 4:09 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


a woman moved in with a man that she can't even have a civil conversation about housework with. she drug her 16 year old into this relationship and when she thinks she might want out of it she admits that she is loath to actually consider it because she isn't strong enough or financially stable enough to support them in the lifestyle she feels her child deserves (for the second time in the kid's life). i merely suggest that might fuck up a 16 year old who has enough shit to deal with by just being 16 and female. because of all that, i suggest the mother look into counseling for her child so at least the kid can learn to communicate her feelings in healthy ways. i further suggested that the mother might want to look into mother/daughter counseling so they didn't have the same communication problems the mom and her boyfriend have. i'm sorry if that rubs some of you the wrong way.

if you can't discuss these issues without personally attacking me, i have no wish to converse with you.
posted by nadawi at 4:30 PM on November 17, 2009


I think the call out title here is really unhelpful. It doesn't foster anything constructive.
posted by bystander at 5:51 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I haven't personally attacked you. Your attitude is judgemental, and you are making statements of fact about this woman, her kid, and the relationship she's in that cannot possibly be known from what she's written here.
posted by rtha at 6:01 PM on November 17, 2009


i merely suggest that might fuck up a 16 year old who has enough shit to deal with by just being 16 and female

I have to agree with others that you're reaching here. You don't know anything at all about the girl in the situation. There are so many other things that could be happening. Imagine a mother as confused as you portray; it could very well be that the daughter is quite thankful for the stability and security that the home with her boyfriend provides. My best friend in high school had an alcoholic father who left when she was about 11; her mother was single for a while and dated some really unpleasant men. Her life, for a while, was unpredictable and uncomfortable. When she was about sixteen her mother met a man who was in all ways much healthier and good for her. Within the space of a year or so as her mother and this man got together and then moved in, my best friend and her sisters came home more and more often to find the lights on, food in the refrigerator, two adults at home, people planning for their future and college educations. Even though "16 and female," she considered the man, who later became her mother's husband, a godsend and a point of stability coming late on in a troubled adolescence.

There are lot of ways people can interact. The data we have in this situation is a lot less than the data you'd need to talk the way you're doing, nadawi. No one's attacking you, but you are making negative judgments in the absence of information.
posted by Miko at 6:19 PM on November 17, 2009


it's obvious that we're all reading what we want to read. nothing constructive is happening here.
posted by nadawi at 6:35 PM on November 17, 2009


I disagree. I am finding that this is reinforcing the need not to judge in AskMe answers, and reinforcing the idea that relationships take a lot of forms.
posted by Miko at 6:36 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


of course you disagree.
posted by nadawi at 6:40 PM on November 17, 2009


folks, maybe we can stop last-wordism here?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:48 PM on November 17, 2009


this is the last i'll say on the matter, and i should have done this in the beginning. these are the things the OP said that set of red flags for me

Also (and this is probably more of a factor than I'd like to admit) us breaking up would entail some pretty serious financial hardships for me.

I have in the past dragged my daughter through a failed relationship with another person who was not her father (same scenario: lived with the guy, it didn't work out, we broke up and I was out in the cold with a little kid and little money...it ain't pretty but it's the truth)

he kinda has the upper hand

And I am completely powerless to do anything about it

it just fills me with rage and frustration that I can't cope with.

That's just the kind of stuff a mom has to think about when she breaks up with a guy and her kid will have to suffer the repercussions.

I don't want to stay with someone just for the money, but at the same time don't want to hurt my kid either.


these are the things that made me wonder if the 16 year old is possibly confused about love and money and respect and relationships due to the lessons her mother is teaching, purposefully or not. as weesha well knows, when you get into a relationship when you already have a kid you can't just think about yourself and your partner. you have to consider your child (which it's obvious she's doing) - i think that some counseling for the 16 year old alone and possibly some mother/daughter counseling could be helpful to make sure the 16 year old doesn't feel guilty for her mother's position (as sometimes in her responses meesha takes a falling on the sword approach) and doesn't feel like she needs a man to support her. funnily enough, i thought some of the more vocal feminists would be supportive of this idea, but when hackles are raised and subjects are touchy, everyone reads the bits and pieces that raise their own red flags. you all see me as attacking a poor single mother and i see you all as wearing rose colored shades with regards to how confusing being a teenage female is especially when your mom is having relationship issues that are wrapped up in money and respect. this is why i say we're not getting anywhere and the conversation is useless at this point. we've already decided how we feel and what we thinks is "right" here.
posted by nadawi at 6:55 PM on November 17, 2009


and i see you all as wearing rose colored shades with regards to how confusing being a teenage female is especially when your mom is having relationship issues that are wrapped up in money and respect.

I have been that teenage girl, which is why I find your reading of the situation so off, and your apparent insistence that the reality must match your interpretation of it is actually kind of offensive.

But anyway. I also like pie. If I could have any kind of pie right now, I would have blueberry, made with fresh wild blueberries from Maine.
posted by rtha at 7:37 PM on November 17, 2009


There's a slice of some kind of hybrid black forest cake/tiramisu thingy from a local Taiwanese cake shop within arm's length right now. It's damn good.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:45 PM on November 17, 2009


i thought some of the more vocal feminists would be supportive of this idea

What idea - the idea that the daughter needs counseling? I'm just not sure we have enough information to know that. The daughter may be the most well-adjusted person in the scenario. There's an absence of information about the daughter.

I'm generally supportive of counseling for anyone struggling with life issues, but in this question it seems like the mom, who asked, would be the one who might benefit from counseling. Could some of the issues you mentioned be present? They might. Are they? We just really don't know, and in real life, things don't always play out in that predictable a fashion. I think we're safest just...answering the question as best we can.
posted by Miko at 7:50 PM on November 17, 2009


That sounds delicious, Burhanistan. Maybe I'll have a piece after I finish my imaginary slice of blueberry pie.
posted by rtha at 7:54 PM on November 17, 2009


as long as i'm posting unpopular opinions - unless there's pudding or meringue, i don't really like pie.
posted by nadawi at 8:01 PM on November 17, 2009


Don't like pie! The hell you say!
posted by Miko at 8:19 PM on November 17, 2009


I'm not a huge fan of meringue, but I love a good Boston cream pie. Or chocolate cream pie. Or banana cream pie.

Hmm. Could one make a mango cream pie? Persimmon?

*imagines more pie*
posted by rtha at 8:22 PM on November 17, 2009


Could one make a mango cream pie?

I had some kind of tasty mango custard in Bandung. Slap that into a crust and bang! Mango Pie!
posted by Burhanistan at 8:24 PM on November 17, 2009


Pecan for me. Or apple, with cheddar cheese melted on top.
posted by Miko at 8:29 PM on November 17, 2009


What's the secret to a good apple pie filling? Assume I am starting with fresh apples.
posted by Rumple at 9:51 PM on November 17, 2009


You want Granny Smith apples, sugar, a little nutmeg and a little cinnamon (or allspice in place of both for a subtler taste) and then a few drops of lemon juice. The lemon juice keeps the apples from turning brown, and is nice and lemony. Lemon (zest) is also the secret to good blueberry muffins.

No cheddar cheese! That's like having sex and skiing at the same time.
posted by Methylviolet at 11:15 PM on November 17, 2009


Godwin's law of metafilter: whoever posts anything resembling a recipe loses.
posted by gjc at 5:46 AM on November 18, 2009


What the heck do you mean, no cheddar? I won't say that whenever we make an apple pie we make sure we're stocked up on cheddar, but it is a delicious combination. A piece of apple pie with some cheddar (I like mine not-melted-on-the-slice-of-pie, but just kind of hanging around next to it on the plate, and it should be a good sharp cheddar) - well, that's a good breakfast right there.
posted by rtha at 6:01 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


No cheddar cheese! That's like having sex and skiing at the same time.

This is far and away the wrongest thing in this thread.
posted by Perplexity at 8:52 AM on November 18, 2009


How do you get a sort of slightly sticky yet smooth sweet matrix between the individual chunks of apple? Do you have to cook the apples before you put them in the pie?
posted by Rumple at 9:05 AM on November 18, 2009


Can we just close a thread instead of this forced dinner table subject changing?
posted by Space Coyote at 9:17 AM on November 18, 2009


Can we just close a thread instead of this forced dinner table subject changing?

I'm very sorry that no one offered you any pie.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:22 AM on November 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


i think that some counseling for the 16 year old alone and possibly some mother/daughter counseling could be helpful to make sure the 16 year old doesn't feel guilty for her mother's position (as sometimes in her responses meesha takes a falling on the sword approach) and doesn't feel like she needs a man to support her. funnily enough, i thought some of the more vocal feminists would be supportive of this idea, but when hackles are raised and subjects are touchy, everyone reads the bits and pieces that raise their own red flags. you all see me as attacking a poor single mother and i see you all as wearing rose colored shades with regards to how confusing being a teenage female is especially when your mom is having relationship issues that are wrapped up in money and respect.

Dragging a teenager to counseling to make sure she won't be damaged by her mom making pretty normal mom-decisions won't guarantee any such thing. But considering that the only piece of information about the daughter's current reality is that she gets along great with her de facto step-dad, "therapy-up" seems like overkill in the advice department. I'm happy to promote counseling, but not to pathologize teenagerhood. And the many years that this kid lived with her single mom and got fed and clothed may have given her the idea that her mom doesn't need a man to support her. A sixteen-year-old is generally old enough to understand that money is needed to pay for stuff and that relationships are not pie-in-the sky happy every moment.

Speaking of pie. The sticky-smooth matrix is sugar, flour, and using one harder, underripe apple in the mix (ripe apples contain less pectin). You can cheat in a bit of cornstarch if you like, too. And nope, you don't need to cook the apples before you bake the pie.

I made two different pear pies this year that were utterly revelatory. I think I actually prefer a berry crumble, though.
posted by desuetude at 10:40 AM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cornstarch is the last resort of scoundrels!

I have been in their ranks a few times.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:51 AM on November 18, 2009


We use tapioca to prevent excess juiciness in pies.
posted by rtha at 4:25 PM on November 18, 2009


I'd be happy with a custard tart with lots of nutmeg on the top, thanks very much.
posted by h00py at 6:41 AM on November 19, 2009


Ew, custard.
posted by palliser at 6:43 AM on November 19, 2009


I won't apologise!
posted by h00py at 7:40 AM on November 19, 2009


The fantastic thing about people who don't like the kind of pie you like is: more pie for you! Wooo!
posted by rtha at 1:49 PM on November 19, 2009


Unless they're responsible for bring the pie. In which case it finding a compromise pie is important.

Dessert is the most game theoretical part of a meal.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:54 PM on November 19, 2009


Everyone must bring a pie, but they cannot eat their own pie.
posted by kathrineg at 1:58 PM on November 19, 2009


cortex, do you have arecipe you like for compromise pie? Maybe that's what we'll make for the Thanksgiving we're going to.
posted by rtha at 4:12 PM on November 19, 2009


You start with the ingredients for an apple pie and a pumpkin pie, and then you argue for a while but then apologize and make two pumpkinapples and nobody really likes it all that much but everybody gets to eat.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:17 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


This one has pumpkin and apple butter, but I made it and it's gross.

I mean, if you like custard, maybe you'll like it, who knows.
posted by palliser at 4:47 PM on November 19, 2009


A good compromise pie would be one that nobody liked.
posted by Rumple at 5:25 PM on November 19, 2009


I would compromise on some peanut butter pie right now.
posted by salvia at 3:49 PM on November 21, 2009


I got married 10 days ago. I like it. No longer am I charged with remembering birthdays. Dishes and yardwork? Why give a fuck?
Everyone should be able to join a team. (Especially Sarah Vowell, but I think I have to accede to Russel Crowe first - I'll have to recheck the prenup.)
posted by vapidave at 9:40 AM on November 22, 2009


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