How can I convince a friend that we're not living in the 1950s?

An extremely good mate of mine and his wife (both in their late 20s) have been going through some difficulties in their marriage of late, and due to a bizarre series of events my wife and I have been spending a large amount of our spare time helping them work these difficulties out and keep their marriage from disintegrating.

One of the big issues that my mate has is that he’s stuck firmly in the 1950s when it comes to relationships. In other words, he expects that he will come home from work and dinner will be on the table, the kids will be bathed and changed, they’ll have an hour or so of family time before the kids are sent to bed, then he can watch a movie or something before he and his wife retire for the evening where sex will be available if he wants it.

He has a full-time job and she works part-time, but he wants to be the Man Of The House and cannot accept that (unless his pay suddenly skyrockets to something in the $100k p.a. range) his attitude is completely unreasonable in this day and age, and that he needs to pull his head out of his arse and help around the house more and not expect things to be like an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

I’ve tried numerous variations on “You’re fucking kidding me, right?” ranging from “Your wife works very hard at her job and does a marvellous job of looking after the kids as well, and you can’t expect her to be your personal maid as well” to “I’m having trouble hearing what you’re saying since your head is so far up your arse”, all without success. And yes, I’m aware of the irony of someone with a keen interest in Yesteryear (i.e. your humble narrator) trying to encourage someone else to modernise their thinking, but nonetheless I’m open to ideas that might help me bring him out of Pleasantville and into the 21st Century…

He’s twentysomething and thinks this way? And yet she married him? Iiiiiiinteresting. But stupid.

I have two questions… 1. What does *she * think? and 2. Why is this *your * problem?

There’s nothing you can do. It’s on them. I strongly suspect that his head will be forcibly removed from his ass when she leaves him, and he realizes that he drove away the only woman alive inclined to do anything but point and laugh at his sorry ass when he expected to be treated like king of a castle she pays half the mortgage for.

This is relevant to my post in the “pit the D/s woman” thread. Lots of people live this way. There is only a problem if one party doesn’t like the arrangement. And if one party doesn’t like it, it’s the couple’s problem and no one else’s. They’re adults. Let them work it out. You can lend an ear or a shoulder, but I think you know that they are the only ones who can decide what kind of household they’ll live in. If she doesn’t like it, she needs to bail. If she’s financially bound to him, she needs to get a better job.

Is it that he wants his wife to do these things, specifically, or is it that there are things that he really wants done that he doesn’t want to do? In other words, does he need his wife to do these things because he thinks that’s what love from a woman looks like, or does he just like the comforts of home?

If it’s the former, it’s a really difficult situation. If it’s the later, they might look at getting a housekeeper in once a week. It’s expensive, yes, but cheaper than a therapist. A good house cleaning each week isn’t everything, but it leaves more time for the other stuff, and lowers resentments.

The other thing that might help is sitting him down and have him right down all the things he thinks she should be doing each day of the week, and then go back and estimate how long each one will take. He may need some help with the estimates, but if he can get them in the ballpark, he will have figured out for himself that there aren’t enough hours in the day for what he expects of her. He may also see how much she DOES do, if he looks at the list and checks off all the things on there that she actually does.

I never understood why anyone would want dinner waiting on the table when they come home from work. I hate being rushed to eat on arriving home.

Yes, forget him and start talking to her. Maybe she’ll dump him, marry you, and then your meals will be set for life.

I agree with the others in that it’s not your problem. Honestly, if they want their marriage to work, they will find a way. Nothing you say will change how he views his little piece of the world. The simple fact is, if he cannot afford for her to be a FT stay-at-home wife/mother, he’s just an asshole for expecting that kind of life from her.

While I tend to be pretty traditional when it comes to gender roles, my husband doesn’t make enough for me to be a stay-at-home mother, so I work a 30-hour/week job. Our house is rarely clean, but it’s liveable. I always make a family dinner (except the rare-ish occasiion when we go out to eat) and I mostly do what needs done with the kids. That’s just my mentality. I expect him to take out the trash and do all the man’s work around here, too – so we’re both on the same page and there’s only a problem when I have to lug the garbage out to the bin, ugh!

Manda JO if the man can’t afford the stay-at-home wife, I am guessing he cn’t afford to hire a maid to do what he expects from his wife, either.

Plus if he hired a maid to get what he expects from his wife ("…sex will be available if he wants it.") that probably wouldn’t play out that well either.

Maybe he should trade her in for that 24/7 slave wife in the other thread.

I read the OP as it is his problem -an extremely good friend is having problems with his marriage and through a “bizarre series of events” ME is acting as a marriage counselor - which happens. If I thought a friend could help me in this situation, and the response was “sorry mate, not my problem” I wouldn’t think they were much of a friend. It doesn’t sound like he is sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong, it sounds like he is being asked.

One thing that may be worth doing is to help them budget their time and money as a couple. Start by having them both journal their day. If he sees that she gets up early, gets the kids ready, picks up the house a little, gets off to her part time job, picks up groceries on the way home, meets the kids on the way home from school, throws and load of laundry in, picks up a little more, works on getting dinner on the table, cleans up after dinner, puts the kids to bed, folds the laundry from earlier, picks up a little more…while he goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, watches TV and goes to bed - where he gets sex on demand - that the situation isn’t fair to someone.

Another thing they could try - if he is serious about saving the marriage - is a weekend worth of role switching. He takes on all the childcare and keeps the house clean while she gets a weekend off - maybe she could go visiting someone that involves an overnight. She gets a break (that sounds like it may be a point of tension) and he may start to understand how much work it is to keep up with kids and home to his standard. And she gets a break, which it sounds like she needs.

Of course, both these mean he’ll have to be willing to see her side. And he may not be able to.

Yeah, this is the part I don’t get. How did they get to the point of being married with kids before this issue came up? If he misled her about what he expected, then he’s definitely a jerk, but if she married him without having discussed what they both expected of married life, she has nobody to blame but herself.

I think what I’d say to him is: If you want your wife to take 100% of the responsibility for being a homemaker, you’d better take 100% of the responsibility for being the breadwinner, so it’s time for you to take on a second job so she can quit hers.
Then if he decides not to do that, then he really has no basis for bitching about her not doing extra household work.
And if he’s really so obtuse that he can’t understand his wife’s view on this (considering how unrealistic it is to expect those things nowadays), then I guess the best thing you can probably do si let his wife know she can stay with you for a while until she gets herself sorted out after she leaves him. Really, if he’s that much of a demanding and stubborn jerk, why is she sticking around?

Hmm. So what were all the responsibilities that a 1950 husband had to do? Is he fulfilling that aspect? No, because she works. How about all the maintenance of the house, handwashing the cars every Saturday, mowing the lawn, household accounting, church deacon, breadwinner, etc? I’m sure he’s not keeping his end of the bargain, either.

Listen, life, marriage, and kids are tough. The golden rule is this-if you’re not doing it yourself, you can’t complain.

Yeah, Grandpa brought home all the bacon, mowed the yard, washed the car, handled the bills, was a big man in the union and in the church, looked after his widowed sister’s family…

and when the union went on strike for a year Grandma had to get get a job and they had to get government cheese and he was humiliated. :slight_smile:

$300/month to have a house cleaner come in is not the same as hiring a full time maid. If she’s only making that much working part time, maybe she should stay home.

Again, it really matters if for him this is symbolic ("She’s my WIFE, damnit, it’s her job) or if it’s practical (“I can’t stand living in this chaos-filled shithole and I don’t have the energy to do anything about it after working 10 hours a day. She only works a little, so she should take care of it”) If it’s symbolic, not much can be done. In his world, by not acting like his mom, she’s showing she doesn’t love him. I have no idea how you fix that. If it’s practical, though, if he just really values a smoothly running household and thinks somehow she should be able to accomplish that, then finding a way for the household to run more smoothly may well help. Mess isn’t all of it–there is still the dinner issue and such–but it does free up more time for the other things. He’s still got to realize that she doesn’t have time to keep it like he likes it, but as long as there’s not a lot of emotional baggage attached to what is basically a practical problem, it’s solvable.

I have seen this kind of situation play out: I have a friend (female) who has horrible anxiety problems, and a messy house is probably her biggest trigger–she can’t relax at all if the place is a mess, but since she and her husband both work full time, it’s not really feasible to keep it the way her own stay-at-home mother did. This drives her crazy. I hear every day about the state of the house the night before. It’s responsible for probably 75% of their fights, but when I suggest they just have someone come in even every other week, she rejects it–she uses expense as a reason, but I really think it comes down to the idea that she’s supposed to keep her house clean and that her mother never needed help. It is, and I am not exaggerating, ruining their lives.

What I am trying to say here is that there may be two problems–one, and the most obvious, is his unrealistic expectations about his wife. However, a second problem may be his very real need for a clean, orderly home. His wife may not share or understand that need–hell, I don’t, I am a major slob–but she needs to accept that it is real and they need to find some way to get it for him that doesn’t involve her being Superwoman. If only the first problem is addressed–him being unrealistic–and the second is ignored, he basically will, at best, come out of this grudgingly accepting that she’s right, he’s an asshole, and when he continues to feel miserable in his home, he will think he’s an asshole for thinking that way.

What does it mean that she has no one to blame? That she has to suck it up and take a miserable marriage for the next 60 years because she was unwise in her early 20s?

I don’t think he’s acting like a 50’s family man, but more like television’s version of a 50’s family man. Ward Cleaver, Ozzie Nelson, Henry Mitchell, Jeff Stone and the previously mentioned Rob Petrie are the behavioral models we’re looking at here, I think.

Hey, I am married to a 1950’s guy. His parents were the prototype for this kind of marriage. He’s waxed poetic about how his father would come home, have a few drinks in the den until supper was called. Why can’t he have this life?

You didn’t marry your mother, #1. Expectations on child rearing, housekeeping, and lifestyles have changed, #2.

Ya know, there are plenty of reasons to go to work other than the paycheck. Maybe the wife would want to work even if the hubby made enough money that it wasn’t strictly necessary. You all wouldn’t want her to feel obliged to stay home and pick up the socks then, would you??

I got nothing for the OP. Sorry.

No. I just meant that, rather than blaming her husband for having these views, she should accept that she is the one who got herself into this mess if she married the guy without really knowing him and his plans for marriage well enough to know he had views like this.
Of course I don’t think she should stick it out with him if she’s unhappy since I then went on to say that Martini could help her out in getting out of the situation if she’s really not getting anywhere with him. I would leave him if I somehow discovered that my partner had such views.
I’ve discussed topics like this with my boyfriend and plan to discuss it a lot more before we actually start thinking about marriage, so part of me is just curious about how this could happen. How do you date a guy, marry him, have kids with him, and only then be blindsided by the discovery that he has very traditional views about sex roles and wants a 1950s marriage? Assuming that he wasn’t purposely hiding it, of course.

I had a long post last time, but edited it out.

The short version-after 15 years of marriage, running our own business, and 5 kids, we have completely changed our roles. I run the business, and he stays home and runs the house, kids. It’s been a hell of a transition, but you do what it takes. We’ve done pretty well for ourselves so far.