How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, etc - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 12:37 PM Thread Starter
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How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, etc

Since about 2-3 years into the marriage, it has occurred to me that my wife arranges her schedule so as to minimize the time she is available to be a couple. If we're both home, she's either frantically busy doing stuff or in front of the computer doing "important catch-up". A common discussion is how can we end up finding more time to be together. Mon-Fri, there's a quick morning hug, then one more when she comes home and that's that. If we're both available, we may walk in the forest for 1-2 hour once on the weekends.

Although we both struggle to stay low on clutter, our lives are otherwise simple. We have no club memberships, we have no kids and never did, our families are relatively distant and consume little time. The house has one bedroom and one bathroom, so not a lot of regular cleaning. Floors are wood, not carpet, so a quick 10-minute dust takes care of that. She's always been highly tolerant of dirty windows, walls, dust on the tops of doors, window ledges, etc, so when those get cleaned, it's not her time that's used. We have a 4 pound dog.

Last night, she mentioned that she takes 4 hours in the morning to get ready for work. I said what takes four hours? and she said "everything". I asked if she'd ever noted what tasks she does and how long they take. She actually did part of that - listed what she did. Not how long. In one sense, it seems like "not much" but in another sense it seems like a lot of little things.

She actually listed, three times "went to the toilet". I wonder how much of that toilet time is doing toilet versus reading the piles of books and magazines she has in there.
- take vitamins - I've seen this. She heads to the utility room, extracts 4 or so bottles, selects pills from each, puts the bottles away, heads to the bathroom. I take supps too, and batch a week's worth in one of those 7-day pill things.
- Two loads of laundry. Every day? When we lived in California, I did the laundry. It was but 3 loads most weeks, plus another when we did bedsheets. For her laundry is load washer and run it. Then transfer to dryer for 5 minutes then pull out and hang on laundry line. Later she will take the hung laundry and put it back in the dryer. Seems like a lot of steps.
- In meal prep, she indicates 4 separate occasions of "tear" something - she uses fingers to tear lettuce, kale and other leafy stuff, and evidently lately she's added chicken to the dog's food and uses her fingers to tear that stuff, too. Again, were it me, I'd contemplate "tearing" or rather using a good knife to swiftly cut, a week's worth at one sitting.
- In between each thing she finger-tears, she cleans the kitchen counter...so it gets four cleanings in this process.
- Separately listed are three occasions of letting the dog lick her fingers after food prep
- "drink my own water for digestive processes" - ? Do people actually reserve time to drink water? I just have water on hand and drink throughout the day and don't even consider that it requires time.
- dishes - we do these by hand, don't own enough to come anywhere close to loading the dishwasher. Plus, since we have so few, they are re-used during the day. Her method: Wash and rinse a quantity that can be laid on a dish towel...and do that. Using second dish towel, dry those, and spread them out on the kitchen counter since they're probably not fully dry. Then run through the next batch of dishes. Eventually, they're all spread on the counter. Mind you, before I go to bed the night before, I wash any dishes that are out anywhere in the house, so this dish-washing she does is only what comes from her food prep. And that's a puzzle, since she only uses a cutting board for this finger-tearing process and deposits the torn material directly into the glass containers that she takes to work or puts in the fridge for me.
- Clean dryer screen - again, to me, this is an "every load" thing and is so quick I would expect writing it down is more time-consuming than doing it.
- Several items are "open microwave to stop beeping" but there are no line items indicating what she had placed in it.
- Lay down mat & do stretches - she's pretty good at doing some kind of exercise daily, I would certainly not discourage this!
- "Clean up and get dressed" is given 10 minutes - the only item she chose to time. She doesn't wear makeup, so she is very quick at the morning personal routine.

The only housecleaning on this list is the kitchen counter, after she's prepared food on the cutting board on it.

I have, in the past, asked her if she's evaluated what she does to see if some things really are needed or if a few things can be done all at once so she isn't repeatedly cleaning up the same space over and over and she says "I don't think like that".

She stresses out at work badly, so when she comes home from work, she's completely incapable of much of anything and I leave her be at that time. We don't need income, but she has always felt that "success" means you always have a job. Doesn't matter what it is. There's also some fear related to money - she grew up upper-middle class, but the parents kept the kids from asking for too much by constantly saying "we're poor and need to control spending so we don't end up homeless"...that old childhood model is still with her. We're approaching retirement age, and I can't see her not working even when retirement comes along. More and more often, I kind of feel that I have a college roommate, not a spouse.


This probably sounds anal retentive, but periodically, I check my time usage during the week - I have a bad case of ADHD, or so I'm told, and if I don't take extra steps to track what I'm using time for, I may find that I'm spending 12 hours a day doing nothing but figuring out a better way to plan the day! Classically, if I think I'm spending more than an hour a day average on the inside of the house - cleaning, laundry, meal prep - then I try to figure out how to reduce it. Outside is rather different, as we have acreage...and I take care of all that.

She complains bitterly that our lives are too complicated and points to the existence of the house and land - but that list she provided seems to have nothing on it that would not also be needed if we lived in a rented apartment.

Thoughts?


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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 12:46 PM
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

How long have you been married?


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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 12:54 PM
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

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Since about 2-3 years into the marriage, it has occurred to me that my wife arranges her schedule so as to minimize the time she is available to be a couple. If we're both home, she's either frantically busy doing stuff or in front of the computer doing "important catch-up". A common discussion is how can we end up finding more time to be together. Mon-Fri, there's a quick morning hug, then one more when she comes home and that's that. If we're both available, we may walk in the forest for 1-2 hour once on the weekends.

OMG, can I just say how lucky your wife IS that her husband wants to spend more time with her? Seriously, I applaud you.

Although we both struggle to stay low on clutter, our lives are otherwise simple. We have no club memberships, we have no kids and never did, our families are relatively distant and consume little time. The house has one bedroom and one bathroom, so not a lot of regular cleaning. Floors are wood, not carpet, so a quick 10-minute dust takes care of that. She's always been highly tolerant of dirty windows, walls, dust on the tops of doors, window ledges, etc, so when those get cleaned, it's not her time that's used. We have a 4 pound dog.

Bwahahaha....10-min to clean wood floors? Ah, no. You forgot mopping and drying, and the meticulous sweeping prior to get all the dirt up first so it doesn't turn muddy. Wood floors are the bane of my existence. They take FOREVER to properly clean. I have a pretty big house (we have kids) and a dog, and my floors take the bulk of cleaning time. Maybe 2 hours total? But we have cleaners every other week. Pretty much just for the floors, as the other stuff takes far less time and I am fine doing the other stuff myself. But the wood floors? I hate them.

Last night, she mentioned that she takes 4 hours in the morning to get ready for work. I said what takes four hours? and she said "everything". I asked if she'd ever noted what tasks she does and how long they take. She actually did part of that - listed what she did. Not how long. In one sense, it seems like "not much" but in another sense it seems like a lot of little things.

She actually listed, three times "went to the toilet". I wonder how much of that toilet time is doing toilet versus reading the piles of books and magazines she has in there.
- take vitamins - I've seen this. She heads to the utility room, extracts 4 or so bottles, selects pills from each, puts the bottles away, heads to the bathroom. I take supps too, and batch a week's worth in one of those 7-day pill things.
- Two loads of laundry. Every day? When we lived in California, I did the laundry. It was but 3 loads most weeks, plus another when we did bedsheets. For her laundry is load washer and run it. Then transfer to dryer for 5 minutes then pull out and hang on laundry line. Later she will take the hung laundry and put it back in the dryer. Seems like a lot of steps.

You forgot folding. Folding takes the most time. In CA, we don't wear as many clothes. In snowy/rainy/cold climates, you have multiple layers. I spend about 30min day on laundry, but again...we have kids and we all exercise daily, so we go through 2 changes each a day (even the kids- they have sports uniforms).

- In meal prep, she indicates 4 separate occasions of "tear" something - she uses fingers to tear lettuce, kale and other leafy stuff, and evidently lately she's added chicken to the dog's food and uses her fingers to tear that stuff, too. Again, were it me, I'd contemplate "tearing" or rather using a good knife to swiftly cut, a week's worth at one sitting.

I spend 30 min- 1 hour on meal prep/cooking. But I cook from scratch.
- In between each thing she finger-tears, she cleans the kitchen counter...so it gets four cleanings in this process.
- Separately listed are three occasions of letting the dog lick her fingers after food prep
- "drink my own water for digestive processes" - ? Do people actually reserve time to drink water? I just have water on hand and drink throughout the day and don't even consider that it requires time.

I do but that's because I prep lemons for the day and add apple cider vinegar to the routine. I'm a health nut. It does take extra time, but it's minimal- maybe 10 min a day?

- dishes - we do these by hand, don't own enough to come anywhere close to loading the dishwasher. Plus, since we have so few, they are re-used during the day. Her method: Wash and rinse a quantity that can be laid on a dish towel...and do that. Using second dish towel, dry those, and spread them out on the kitchen counter since they're probably not fully dry. Then run through the next batch of dishes. Eventually, they're all spread on the counter. Mind you, before I go to bed the night before, I wash any dishes that are out anywhere in the house, so this dish-washing she does is only what comes from her food prep. And that's a puzzle, since she only uses a cutting board for this finger-tearing process and deposits the torn material directly into the glass containers that she takes to work or puts in the fridge for me.

About 15 min after each meal.
- Clean dryer screen - again, to me, this is an "every load" thing and is so quick I would expect writing it down is more time-consuming than doing it.
- Several items are "open microwave to stop beeping" but there are no line items indicating what she had placed in it.
- Lay down mat & do stretches - she's pretty good at doing some kind of exercise daily, I would certainly not discourage this!

I workout for an hour a day. But then I usually have to shower and change too.
- "Clean up and get dressed" is given 10 minutes - the only item she chose to time. She doesn't wear makeup, so she is very quick at the morning personal routine.

Same here, unless we're going out to dinner. I do feel the need to do my hair after working out though. But this is usually minimal. It can take an extra 10 min?

The only housecleaning on this list is the kitchen counter, after she's prepared food on the cutting board on it.

Well, I consider laundry, floors, and dishes housecleaning too.
I have, in the past, asked her if she's evaluated what she does to see if some things really are needed or if a few things can be done all at once so she isn't repeatedly cleaning up the same space over and over and she says "I don't think like that".

She stresses out at work badly, so when she comes home from work, she's completely incapable of much of anything and I leave her be at that time. We don't need income, but she has always felt that "success" means you always have a job. Doesn't matter what it is. There's also some fear related to money - she grew up upper-middle class, but the parents kept the kids from asking for too much by constantly saying "we're poor and need to control spending so we don't end up homeless"...that old childhood model is still with her. We're approaching retirement age, and I can't see her not working even when retirement comes along. More and more often, I kind of feel that I have a college roommate, not a spouse.

This might be the bigger issue. She's stressed. Bottom line.


This probably sounds anal retentive, but periodically, I check my time usage during the week - I have a bad case of ADHD, or so I'm told, and if I don't take extra steps to track what I'm using time for, I may find that I'm spending 12 hours a day doing nothing but figuring out a better way to plan the day! Classically, if I think I'm spending more than an hour a day average on the inside of the house - cleaning, laundry, meal prep - then I try to figure out how to reduce it. Outside is rather different, as we have acreage...and I take care of all that.

I do not think there is anything wrong with wanting to agree to how your spouse spends their time. In marriage, we should agree to how our spouse spends their time. It sounds to me like you two have a VERY strong marriage and are good at communicating. What does she say when you tell her you think she's too stressed? Can you come from a place of wanting to brainstorm ideas with her? Personally, I think the fact that you want to make her issues your issues too shows a lot of care in the marriage. Good for you.

She complains bitterly that our lives are too complicated and points to the existence of the house and land - but that list she provided seems to have nothing on it that would not also be needed if we lived in a rented apartment.

Thoughts?
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 01:10 PM
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

She doesn't seem that she spends that much time on things that she has absolutely no time for you. I think that's more a BS excuse than anything else. The amount of time you have together is based on how much of a priority it is for both of you. You can make time for the things you want to do and avoid those you don't. Maybe you should ask her why being a couple isn't a priority for her.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 01:12 PM
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

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We don't need income, but she has always felt that "success" means you always have a job.
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But we have cleaners every other week.
This. We've always had cleaners precisely because we didn't want housekeep encroaching on our couples time. But I'll add at some point we agreed she would reduce her working hours to allow her more time for laundry and food shopping (living in the city we only had one car so this was huge).

We cook together, so meal prep is actually our main form of quality time together.



Sigh, my wife gives me the speaking treatment.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 02:31 PM
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I'm a single mom to two teenage boys. I work full-time in a fast paced job. I own my own home. I cook (healthy meals from scratch), I clean, I do laundry, I do the yardwork, bills, car maintenance, repairs, and I'm an excellent mom... love and attention, help w homework, on top of scheduling/appts... and I still have a couple of hours every weeknight I could devote to a partner. That's doing all of this stuff myself.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

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This. We've always had cleaners precisely because we didn't want housekeep encroaching on our couples time. But I'll add at some point we agreed she would reduce her working hours to allow her more time for laundry and food shopping (living in the city we only had one car so this was huge).

We cook together, so meal prep is actually our main form of quality time together.
I'm quite good at reducing workloads and coming to efficient processes. I've never owned a house that I could not clean end-to-end in 4 hours and that's a THOROUGH cleaning, including touch-up painting exterior wall corners if they got nicked. Weekly dusting and such, never more than an hour. I'm not counting laundry in this.

Part of my technique is to do something every morning, so there's never an entire house that's been not cleaned in a week.

There are three kinds of business. Your business, my business and God's business. Whose business are you in? -Byron Katie
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 02:52 PM
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

Is she dramatizing it? 2 loads of laundry each day, for 2 people? That's insane. Any OCD going on (listing out drinking water as a chore is strange)? Expectations of being perfect?

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

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Bwahahaha....10-min to clean wood floors? Ah, no. You forgot mopping and drying, and the meticulous sweeping prior to get all the dirt up first so it doesn't turn muddy. Wood floors are the bane of my existence. They take FOREVER to properly clean. I have a pretty big house (we have kids) and a dog, and my floors take the bulk of cleaning time. Maybe 2 hours total? But we have cleaners every other week. Pretty much just for the floors, as the other stuff takes far less time and I am fine doing the other stuff myself. But the wood floors? I hate them.
Sorry to hear you have a bad relationship with the wood floors. My allergies thank me daily for them. It is not possible to get carpet truly clean, but wood floors can get much closer.

The house is small – as I already noted the lack of room quantity, there’s also a shortage of square feet. Bathroom and kitchen floors are cheap vinyl, leaving 550 square feet of plank oak. We have both timed the work to “clean” it on a daily basis – it’s just a dust mopping, no more. Ten minutes, every time.

Once a month, I do a wet-clean of the floor with de-ionized water and no other cleaners. This is the potion recommended by the company that manufactured the clear finish on the floor. This is a finished-in-place floor, not parquet or anything like that. For “stubborn soil”, they say it’s OK to occasionally use Naptha or an oil soap. One time, after I did my wet-clean with just water, I went ahead and made a weak solution of oil soap water, and used a white sponge. After cleaning the entire floor, the sponge was barely off-white...so I've found no need to use any sort of cleaner except when I know there's been an event to cause more than normal dirt - such as when we used to host every-fourth-month potlucks. For just the water clean, I'm done in typically 30 minutes.

Maybe twice a year, I “do it all up” and move furniture away from the walls. That comprehensive cleaning takes less than an hour. Twice a year perhaps? Doesn’t sound like a problem to me.

The only wood floor cleaning she does is the dust mopping. She wet-cleans the kitchen floor every few days and says it’s only a few minutes work…you can squat and reach the entire floor from one spot. Mostly she does this because when the dog eats, she first takes the food out of the bowl and dumps it on the floor…so it’s got dog food and dog slobber on it routinely. Those two things plus the constant wiping of the kitchen counter are pretty much all the house cleaning she does – I do the rest. And happily so. Yes, I know, I've not included laundry in this list.

We both attempt to do things to reduce how dirty things get in the first place. There’s a boot tray at each of the two entry doors. We have indoor shoes and outdoor shoes and that helps a lot. The only family member who doesn’t change footwear from inside to outside is the dog. And she’s a southern California girl, so if it’s under 80 outside, she won’t go outside…thankfully, she behaves herself indoors and uses the puppy pad placed for her in her favorite “cage”. Before other pet owners get outraged, this dog LIKES being in cages, and none of the ones we supply have doors.

So, indeed, our wood floors consume far less maintenance than when we had carpet in the previous home.

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You forgot folding. Folding takes the most time. In CA, we don't wear as many clothes. In snowy/rainy/cold climates, you have multiple layers. I spend about 30min day on laundry, but again...we have kids and we all exercise daily, so we go through 2 changes each a day (even the kids- they have sports uniforms).
She doesn’t fold anything. Hanging stuff gets put on hangars and back onto the laundry line. Things that go into drawers she dumps onto the bed and I fold it. We haven’t changed what we wear since we left California other than replacing worn-out things and adding some rugged outerwear for dealing with the invasive blackberries. We’re near Portland Oregon, which gets the same annual rainfall as Sonoma County, where we lived. The only added outer wear in winter are winter coats, which are not washable in a machine anyway, so I don’t see any extra burden there. I’m sure that having kids adds a lot…we don’t have kids.

She actually does some surprising things, IMO, that no woman I knew before her did, that probably come across to some people as being not very clean - she owns two bras and wears one for 3-5 days, then it goes into the laundry and she wears the other. A pair of slacks is also a 3-4 day item for her. Shirts get worn once only before washing. Me? I guess since much of what I spend my time doing creates sawdust, or I’m digging in dirt, everything I wear gets worn once only. But it’s not a high quantity…given my propensity to run hot, I don’t wear undershirts until it’s below about 40 degrees outside, so it’s just one shirt. My exercise is running, and that clothing is pretty danged small/light, and hardly noticed in a laundry load. I dump that in the washer, then look for other stuff to define as "dirty" and do a load every day - then she feels the need for two more.

Because I work from home, I’m able to arrange my exercise first thing in the morning – so I don’t have to take a second shower just because I ran.
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I spend 30 min- 1 hour on meal prep/cooking. But I cook from scratch.
Yes, we are a fully from-scratch household. But dirt simple. She has many food intolerances, so our cupboards contain no seasonings, no sauces, no salad dressing, etc. A meal is quite literally rice, kale, maybe potatoes, some kind of starchy high-fiber bean (all cooked, usually together in the microwave) and always a chilled simple side salad of romaine and baby carrots. I do steel-cut oats in the morning, but she can’t digest oats, so her breakfast and lunch are the same.
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This might be the bigger issue. She's stressed. Bottom line.
Possibly – this is how she chooses to approach life. Anything she takes on seems to create massive stress. She seems to add lots and lots of tasks to work that nobody asked her to do, can’t get it done in 40 hours, puts in free overtime and then says the job stresses her out. A year ago, I worked 55-70 hours/week and she didn’t work for income. She fostered rescue dogs – no more than two at a time, little ones. She called that a “high stress job”, too…and complained that it didn’t’ pay enough (it paid nothing as it was volunteer work). So, it just seems to be her natural way of responding to the world and the responsibilities she voluntarily takes on.
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I do not think there is anything wrong with wanting to agree to how your spouse spends their time. In marriage, we should agree to how our spouse spends their time. It sounds to me like you two have a VERY strong marriage and are good at communicating. What does she say when you tell her you think she's too stressed? Can you come from a place of wanting to brainstorm ideas with her? Personally, I think the fact that you want to make her issues your issues too shows a lot of care in the marriage. Good for you.
I wish that were true. Given what appears to be an attempt on her part to spend minimal time with me, there is no opportunity to communicate. Further, when she talks, it’s always in third-person – she’ll tell me a story of someone at work and her relationship with her boyfriend and somehow I’m supposed to gather from this what it is that’s important to her. I have not found a way to ask her what I’m supposed to learn from the story without her replying as if she was an injured kitten. And then any conversation is over, she goes non-responsive, what John Gottman refers to as “Stonewalling”. If I don't ask her anything about these monologues, then it'll come up perhaps six months later "I told you and nothing has changed!" with red face and tears. "Darling, what did you tell me? I seem to have forgotten" and she re-tells the story about the co-worker. And even at this point, if I say "I'm not sure what that story is supposed to tell me, can you explain it", things get worse.

This 6-page listing of what she did in 4 hours is an absolute first in nearly 20 years of marriage. And…given the style in which it is written, and based on past conversations (the last one in which she actually engaged was over 10 years ago), it is probably not open to inspection, or discussion, it is purely a defense…she’ll never say it (I cannot recall the last time she ever expressed a desire for anything from me), as she probably wants the subject to never come up again.

When I have suggested that she consider how to reduce stress, she says “I’m sorry I’m an inadequate human being, maybe I need to leave so you can find someone more suitable.” I have found no way to bring up the topic of her making slight changes in anything without her responding as if I've just told her she's the most worthless human on this planet. I’m actually very good at doing all this quite gently – it was my stock in trade as a group manager at work, and our MC advises me that I seem to be good at it, but is puzzled at what it will take to get the wife to accept inquiries.

Both myself and the MC have noted that in all the conversing my wife does (she gets into talkative modes from time to time, and it’s almost run-on sentences that don’t’ seem to be connected to each other, and always about third parties such as co-workers), neither of us have ever heard her express an emotion. The only time words like “angry” and “pissed” and “sad” and “love” come out of her is when she is assigning those emotions to other people. In particular, any discussion about work contains multiple instances of "everybody's pissed at me". If I ask for help on a project - even one she asked me to do - she'll say things like "I'll probably make you angry, but ok."

So…I dunno. I’m weary, somewhat sad, somewhat disappointed…not angry, I only get angry at myself and it’s always because I made a blunder that I’d made before and knew full well how to avoid. The MC once told me that I’m probably the one who has to make a decision.

There are three kinds of business. Your business, my business and God's business. Whose business are you in? -Byron Katie
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 02:55 PM
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

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I'm quite good at reducing workloads and coming to efficient processes. I've never owned a house that I could not clean end-to-end in 4 hours and that's a THOROUGH cleaning, including touch-up painting exterior wall corners if they got nicked. Weekly dusting and such, never more than an hour. I'm not counting laundry in this.

Part of my technique is to do something every morning, so there's never an entire house that's been not cleaned in a week.
You live in a one bedroom house,no kids.How dirty can it get?

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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 03:59 PM
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

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Sorry to hear you have a bad relationship with the wood floors. My allergies thank me daily for them. It is not possible to get carpet truly clean, but wood floors can get much closer.

I agree, wood floors have their benefits and are better for our health than carpeting....but still, the maintenance required in our house is much greater than yours. Any cleaning crew we've ever had goes through the sweep/mop/dry process biweekly and it takes one person hours to do it. But if I didn't have kids and a ton of flooring, I could see how that time could be greatly reduced. And it's great that you help with this and are aware of how much time it does take.

She doesn’t fold anything.

How is this possible? Is there a youtube video I could watch? Seriously, folding is a daily chore for me.

She actually does some surprising things, IMO, that no woman I knew before her did, that probably come across to some people as being not very clean - she owns two bras and wears one for 3-5 days, then it goes into the laundry and she wears the other. A pair of slacks is also a 3-4 day item for her. Shirts get worn once only before washing. Me? I guess since much of what I spend my time doing creates sawdust, or I’m digging in dirt, everything I wear gets worn once only. But it’s not a high quantity…given my propensity to run hot, I don’t wear undershirts until it’s below about 40 degrees outside, so it’s just one shirt. My exercise is running, and that clothing is pretty danged small/light, and hardly noticed in a laundry load. I dump that in the washer, then look for other stuff to define as "dirty" and do a load every day - then she feels the need for two more.

I kinda do this too. My fancy jeans only get washed every 5 wears and I only own 2 bras that I wear regularly. I have special-occasion others but they get washed even less. I'm always clean though, as I wash my workout bra tops after each use.
Because I work from home, I’m able to arrange my exercise first thing in the morning – so I don’t have to take a second shower just because I ran.

Yes, we are a fully from-scratch household. But dirt simple. She has many food intolerances, so our cupboards contain no seasonings, no sauces, no salad dressing, etc. A meal is quite literally rice, kale, maybe potatoes, some kind of starchy high-fiber bean (all cooked, usually together in the microwave) and always a chilled simple side salad of romaine and baby carrots. I do steel-cut oats in the morning, but she can’t digest oats, so her breakfast and lunch are the same.

I'm actually a lot like your wife in some of your examples. Same dietary issues.

Possibly – this is how she chooses to approach life. Anything she takes on seems to create massive stress. She seems to add lots and lots of tasks to work that nobody asked her to do, can’t get it done in 40 hours, puts in free overtime and then says the job stresses her out. A year ago, I worked 55-70 hours/week and she didn’t work for income. She fostered rescue dogs – no more than two at a time, little ones. She called that a “high stress job”, too…and complained that it didn’t’ pay enough (it paid nothing as it was volunteer work). So, it just seems to be her natural way of responding to the world and the responsibilities she voluntarily takes on.

I'm like this too, compared to my husband. When we had kids, they became my full time job and I know I made it more stressful for myself by striving for perfection. Does your wife have anxiety? Is she perfectionistic?

I wish that were true. Given what appears to be an attempt on her part to spend minimal time with me, there is no opportunity to communicate. Further, when she talks, it’s always in third-person – she’ll tell me a story of someone at work and her relationship with her boyfriend and somehow I’m supposed to gather from this what it is that’s important to her. I have not found a way to ask her what I’m supposed to learn from the story without her replying as if she was an injured kitten. And then any conversation is over, she goes non-responsive, what John Gottman refers to as “Stonewalling”. If I don't ask her anything about these monologues, then it'll come up perhaps six months later "I told you and nothing has changed!" with red face and tears. "Darling, what did you tell me? I seem to have forgotten" and she re-tells the story about the co-worker. And even at this point, if I say "I'm not sure what that story is supposed to tell me, can you explain it", things get worse.

Ok, so another one of the 4 horsemen that Gottman writes about is criticism....and depending on how you actually say to your wife that her conversation is meaningless to you, this might be what you're doing. You both need to learn how to be better conversationalists who don't react to each other in hurtful ways (criticism is one of my husband's lovebusters that I respond to by giving him the silent treatment. We are working on this).

I’m actually very good at doing all this quite gently – it was my stock in trade as a group manager at work, and our MC advises me that I seem to be good at it, but is puzzled at what it will take to get the wife to accept inquiries.

This may be true, but your MC isn't married to you. Your wife sounds like an emotional person and you sound like you're not- at all. To the point where you might be VERY logical and maybe even critical/judgemental? Probably a case of opposites attract. The point is that your wife doesn't like your criticism and you don't like her annoying habits and independent behavior. Is this accurate?

Both myself and the MC have noted that in all the conversing my wife does (she gets into talkative modes from time to time, and it’s almost run-on sentences that don’t’ seem to be connected to each other, criticism/judgementand always about third parties such as co-workers), neither of us have ever heard her express an emotion. The only time words like “angry” and “pissed” and “sad” and “love” come out of her is when she is assigning those emotions to other people. In particular, any discussion about work contains multiple instances of "everybody's pissed at me". If I ask for help on a project - even one she asked me to do - she'll say things like "I'll probably make you angry, but ok."

So…I dunno. I’m weary, somewhat sad, somewhat disappointed…not angry, I only get angry at myself and it’s always because I made a blunder that I’d made before and knew full well how to avoid. The MC once told me that I’m probably the one who has to make a decision.
I really think the books His Needs, Her Needs and Lovebusters will help you and your wife. Here's their plan that I think would work for you (they helped us for similar issues):

1. Tell your wife (nicely) that you want to have a better marriage with her. In order to do this, you both need to commit to spending 15 hours a week meeting each other's top 4 intimate emotional needs: conversation, affection, recreational companionship, and sex. This will help you two prioritize time together meeting needs that create feelings of love.

2. Use that time for FUN only. No criticism, no judgement, no chores. Eliminate all lovebusters during this time together.

3. Eliminate ALL lovebusters at other times too. Do not judge, criticize, or get irritated with your wife. This will change how she reacts to you- no more reason to stonewall.

4. Schedule a time once a week where you ask each other how you're doing on eliminating lovebusters. We do this via email- it keeps the emotion out of it. Your wife IS committing lovebusters too (annoying habits, including poor conversation, and independent behavior, and stonewalling. But so are you, as I pointed out above). Instead of criticizing or judging, express in your weekly email that what she did bothered you. "Honey, while I had a great time with you last night, it bothered me that we spent an hour of our time talking about your co-workers. It would mean a lot to me if we could find some mutually enjoyable topics to talk about during our time together. Here are a few things I'd prefer to spend our time discussing instead. What do you think?" You're telling her how it made you feel, not criticizing her for doing it. And you're not insulting her, you're just letting her know that her co-workers don't interest you.

I love talking about health stuff. My husband- while healthy too- does not. I love talking about political stuff. My husband-while well-read- does not. So in order to not be a bad conversationalist, I've had to learn that while I'm important to him and he loves me, he is not required to listen to me drone on about the evils of the pharmaceutical industry, for example.

Likewise, I can only handle so much baseball talk.

But get us going on our dog or kids, vacation ideas, etc. and we can talk and laugh together for hours.

Last edited by Jessica38; 04-14-2017 at 04:08 PM.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

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You live in a one bedroom house,no kids.How dirty can it get?

Exactly my point. I was responding to a collection of postings suggesting that cleaning a wood floor is a many-hours process and/or housekeeping is so time-consuming that it would be reasonable to hire a service. If the house were large and/or the people in it routinely tracked in mud, I could see that. I was raised in a family of 8 and if the kids had not been given cleaning chores from age 5 onward, the folks would have definitely had to hire a service. And my folks do now hire a service as they're in physical decline and such tasks have become actually risky.

In fact, it is that very thing - that we were assigned cleaning chores - that led us all, independently, to realize the value of not getting things dirty in the first place!

There are three kinds of business. Your business, my business and God's business. Whose business are you in? -Byron Katie
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

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I really think the books His Needs, Her Needs and Lovebusters will help you and your wife. Here's their plan that I think would work for you (they helped us for similar issues):

1. Tell your wife (nicely) that you want to have a better marriage with her. In order to do this, you both need to commit to spending 15 hours a week meeting each other's top 4 intimate emotional needs: conversation, affection, recreational companionship, and sex. This will help you two prioritize time together meeting needs that create feelings of love.
When I suggested 15 hours, her immediate response was "How needy are you, anyway? Nobody needs that!" and to the "emotional needs" she said "I can take care of my own emotions just fine and so could any mature man."

There's a plan not too far from that from Gottman, but both require the willingness of both people.

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2. Use that time for FUN only. No criticism, no judgement, no chores. Eliminate all lovebusters during this time together.
Darned straight on that one. I have found no way to get her to just spend fun time together. The walks in the forest? She brings the phone and does financial calculations with it.

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3. Eliminate ALL lovebusters at other times too. Do not judge, criticize, or get irritated with your wife. This will change how she reacts to you- no more reason to stonewall.
One of the first things she said she admired about me when we were dating is that I'm not perturbable emotionally - it was true then and it's true now. I seem to have, without being told, developed an inherent mindful approach to life.

I know full well how to not judge, criticize, etc - Gottmans list of his four horsemen goes to great lengths to explain how these manifest many different ways, and how to go about conversations without bringing them into it. Merely asking for a discussion is often all it takes for her to stonewall. And a gentle request is not a judgment.

During an MC session once, what seemed to come out is that the only measurement she makes of her goodness is that the people she's working with are 100% pleased with every single thing she does. Any request for trying it a different way is interpreted as a judgment....hence, after the first week on any new job, she is convinced that "everybody's pissed at me".

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4. Schedule a time once a week where you ask each other how you're doing on eliminating lovebusters.
All suggestions to 'schedule' a time to do anything - whether the suggestion came from me or the counselor, have been responded to with "That's ridiculous! You can't schedule something like that, you have to wait until both of you are in the mood and I'm never in the mood."

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We do this via email- it keeps the emotions out of it.
I tried, for a while, to communicate with her via email. But her attendance to email is erratic - she'll do a burst of it on a weekend and ignore it for a month. Also, her family has a habit of abbreviating sentences to the point where you can't actually tell what they're saying...for instance, someone might write "Skipping the public dinner tonight"...which I would interpret as me being told that the writer plans to skip the dinner...then two days later I find out that the intent was to ask ME if I was skipping the dinner - the absent question mark seemed important to me. And...in person, she never says what she's feeling - in email, it's worse. No way to tell if she's writing from a position of being angry (common) or whatever. Email actually cause a substantial increase in her anger, because I was unable to tell that she was angry. In person, I can at least see her face turn red.

[quote=Jessica38;17718401]

Your wife IS committing lovebusters too (annoying habits, including poor conversation, and independent behavior, and stonewalling. But so are you, as I pointed out above).

The way I speak with her is quite different from what I wrote on here...to express something in the kindest and gentlest ways, being careful to stop frequently and ask questions to try and gauge how well it's being received - is time-consuming. I'd have written ten times as much on here if I'd used the actual phrasing I use with her.

The MC, having heard us in a dispute, told me in private session that I'm basically doing most things right, with one exception - when she stonewalls, I would begin asking what's wrong? Why won't you engage? Don't you want to work this out? Worst thing you can do with a stonewaller. So - I stopped that two years ago. MC has recommended books on how to communicate with the emotionally fragile person, or on how to handle people from broken homes (hers was not, but the resultant self-observation methods are as if she were) and so on.

I'll get Lovebusters, sounds useful. The "His needs, Her needs" book is one that I discussed with MC and she said it's so focused on relationships with infidelity risks that you guys won't find it useful, especially since your wife wouldn't read it anyway. Nonetheless, why not - I'll get that one too.

My needs really are low - a little time every day would be nice, and maybe not interpreting most of what I say as an attempt to belittle her. Even a compliment gets "I'm sure you don't mean that" as a response...at best!

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Instead of criticizing or judging, express in your weekly email that what she did bothered you. "Honey, while I had a great time with you last night, it bothered me that we spent most of our time talking about your co-workers. It would mean a lot to me if we could find some mutually enjoyable topics to talk about during our time together. Here are a few things I'd prefer to spend our time discussing instead."
Almost an exact quote of how I used to bring things up in the past, which would elicit the response "I'm sorry I'm a worthless human being, why not just throw me in the trash now." Gottman pointed out that one has to be VERY careful about using the word "but" or a phrasing that means the same, such as "while (discuss good stuff)...."...the word "while" can set up a highly emotional person to be prepared for the blow at the end of the "false compliment", which is how they interpret it. His recommendation would be more like "Honey, I really had a great time with you last night and I do enjoy our conversations. In fact, I'd enjoy even more if we can work in more conversations about (name the topics you'd prefer, making sure they are topics you have covered in the past which do not appear to cause her anxiety)" She chose to speak of co-workers, so if I implied, even a little bit, that the topic was less than wonderful for me, she interprets that as me criticizing her ability to choose conversation topics.

I busy myself with projects...if I happen to be working on one when she comes home, she tiptoes and avoids me knowing she's even gotten home because she "doesn't want to bother me when I'm working". I have said, Oh, darling, I've LOVE for you to interrupt me, you are more important than these materials things any day! Her reply? "So, I'm materialistic, you say? Why the hell do you want me around?" I know there's a way, and I read voraciously and watch interviews on Youtube with book authors and every time there's another suggestion that sounds useful, consistent with avoiding the Gottman Four Horsemen and I try it...and get no progress.

There are three kinds of business. Your business, my business and God's business. Whose business are you in? -Byron Katie
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

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When I suggested 15 hours, her immediate response was "How needy are you, anyway? Nobody needs that!" and to the "emotional needs" she said "I can take care of my own emotions just fine and so could any mature man."
Ouch, sorry. Very roommatey, and cold. What gives her pleasure?



Sigh, my wife gives me the speaking treatment.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-14-2017, 05:06 PM
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Re: How much time is used for "daily duties" aka housekeeping, food prep, grooming, e

Wow where does the 2 loads of laundry a day come from, id she is wearing the same clothes quite a few days without washing them? Are they your clothes? and why does she dry them some, hang them out only to dry some more.

It really does seem like she is trying not to spend time with you.



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