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Friday, March 16, 2012

Tutorial in how NOT to make financial (or other) decisions

ProfK brings up the dirty subject of cleaning help, approving of this wife's methodology in "setting the matter". ProfK concludes her post, " we ought to take the issue of cleaning help out of the public discussion venue and put it back where it belongs--between husband and wife. To blithely put cleaning help into the category of unnecessary luxury or forbidden to those who get a tuition reduction, for instance, is to be blind to the individual circumstances that surround that cleaning help."

The individual circumstance in this case (and others) is the lack of relating as equals. Some signs that you might not be relating as equals:

1. Party one informs the other of their decision.

2. Party two person sets out to "teach a lesson".

3. Party one returns to the status quo.

If a marriage functions on such a methodology, making any change, financial or otherwise, is going to be very difficult.

I often say that something which looks like a financial issue is often just the cover for another issue and the financial aspect is only one manifestation. When it comes to thrift and developing more thrifty habits, certain approaches within a marriage may need to be modified and a more egalitarian approach might need to be implemented. The above scenario is "case in point."

I'd like to explore this issue more, but I'm running up against pushing my own limits as we continue to move from a more defined set of duties to a different model. We all come into marriage with our own 'mesorah' of how things are to function, and when we need or want to make a change, we need to understand what lies under the surface in order to actual broach the subject of change.

(Shabbat Shalom and Happy Pesach Cleaning).


been there done that said...

Marriage advice from someone older - don't ask your partner to do somethign you would never consider doing (unless bioligically impossble). This applies to so many things, cleaning help just being one of them.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the division of chores between spouses and the household budget is a matter between them, I can't say I agree that hiring household help is no one else's business if they are getting tuition assistance unless a parent has a health problem or disability or both parents are working 50 hours a week and the kids aren't old enough to help out. I do find it troublesome (and not just due to the tuition assistance issue) that cleaning and yard help has become almost a given, even for young, healthy people. It speaks to a larger sense of entitlement and lack of the old balabusts spirit and initiative.

anonymom said...

Just because you and I wouldn't run our marriages tat way, doesn't make it wrong or bad that other people do. I thought it made for a cute story and likely didn't even happen exactly that way. I bet the wife was exagerrating when she told profk- she may very well have said "ok, but realize you're going to have to do all the things the cleaning lady does" hubs said "yeah, yeah, of course!" and then when it came down to actually doing it, realized it was not as simple as he'd imagined, thus "lesson learned". But even if it really did happen the way it was described, I still don't think we have a right to wag a finger at them for running their marriage wrong. It sounds like they're a lot older than you and I- and presumably married a lot longer.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, there just aren't enough hours in the day. When you have 2 parents who work full time, a few kids who need to be taken to appointments, speech or physical therapy, dinner cooked and served, homework help, laundry, grocery shopping, preparing for shabbat and chagim, and extra work at home after the children go to bed - when exactly are the bathrooms supposed to get scrubbed? When does the lawn get mowed? Even with the children helping out, how is a family supposed to manage it all without suffering from a complete break down? Sometimes something needs to give.

Anonymous said...

I had no problems with how the couple handled this. I don't think the wife was "out to teach the husband a lesson." I viewed this more as letting him have a first hand experience so that he would have more information with which to make a decision. Sometimes its just really impossible to understand how difficult something is until you try to do it yourself no matter how empathetic or understanding you are.

Miami Al said...

I'm sure the story is embellished for effect, BUT, as presented by ProfK, this couple was not approaching things as equal but within a parent-child framework. The wife was "teaching a lesson" to her husband who was being "stubborn" and insisting upon what he knew.

I realize that ProfK is a teacher at heart, and is retelling a story that was already being told for effect, but holding that up as "proper marital behavior" is wrong.

Nothing in the story, as relayed, indicated marital partners approaching it as equals, weighing the pros and cons of domestic servants vs. other financial priorities, etc., just a cutesy story that falls into the "smart wife, dumb husband" cliche.

JS said...

It's that last part that bothered me: the "smart wife, dumb husband" cliche. Personally, I find it slightly offensive - that men are completely clueless and incapable of doing even menial tasks around the home. I'd like to think that this generalization is a thing of the past, of a bygone era. I've seen older men who claim to not even know how to operate the microwave and have their wive's heat up their dinners for them (not to mention, of course, that the wife does all the cooking for that dinner and all the cleaning after that dinner as well).

The men I know today go food shopping, cook, clean, do laundry, change diapers, etc. I'd like to think this is the norm and that the older attitudes have faded away.