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Old 02-01-2016, 09:00 AM
FemmePoly FemmePoly is offline
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Question Avoiding the Nuclear Family Option

Hello everyone! I've been thinking about my situation a lot and wanted to get some advice, but I don't really want to talk to the poly people I know because they know my partner and I figure that there are a great variety of opinions and advice on the internet, so here I am.

I have been with my male partner, B, for 5 years. He has always wanted kids and I've generally been less than thrilled about the idea. I think he would be a great dad, I just have had depression and anxiety for most of my life (since elementary/middle school) and the thought of adding children into my list of responsibilities and stressors seems like a terrible idea. As some hetero/bisexual women can attest, and a great deal of research supports, when a man and a woman move in together, no matter how feminist-leaning they are, they tend to fall into more "traditionally gendered" roles, including house cleaning and financial decisions. He makes a significant amount more than I do and I still don't have a steady job (working on my medication with my therapist right now towards that goal.) Since he's working normal-ish hours and I'm at home a lot more, it's expected that I will do a lot more of the housework, which I do and I don't mind too much.

It's just... the situation takes such a mental toll on me. Whenever he does do housework, it's like he expects a fricken medal. He also just leaves things around the house: his clothes go on the floor and may stay there for days if I don't pick them up. He *might* fill up an empty soap container then then he'll leave the empty refill bottle out on the counter (doesn't think, oh gee, this is empty, maybe I should put it in the recycling bin?). He'll open mail then leave the stack there on the table without recycling or throwing it away. I asked him to go through a bunch of boxes (you know, ones you may throw in the garage in case you need to return something or it may move better if it's in the original box) so that we can free up some space, and I have to stand next to him and ask "What about those boxes in the back? What about this one in the office?" It's like he just doesn't SEE the clutter, the mess, the things he takes out but doesn't put away, the consumed groceries that should be put on the grocery list. It doesn't occur to him that, "Oh, I used the last paper towel, I should put another role on" or "I just used the last of the juice, maybe I should look ALL THE WAY in the back of the pantry to see if we have more." I already kind of feel like I'm picking up after a child managing a household mostly by myself.

I'm partially mad and resentful about this, but I'm also conscious of the way society influences our expected gender roles and can't be too mad at him for the way we were socialized. Young women are conditioned to look for (and clean) messes and young men are conditioned to complete action items on a list (but not to care too much about cleaning up after themselves or other people.) Most of the chores he does, I have to ask him to do. I've put up a goddamned chore list because I'm sick of having to verbally ask him to do everything. I'm resentful because I have to nag and hound a grown-ass adult to take care of a house that is HIS TOO, that he should share in the responsibilities of maintaining it. He tells me not to think of it as nagging, but I still feel angry when I don't say anything and he doesn't take the initiative, angry when I have to write a chore list, angry when I have to tell him "Hey, you left this out and I'm not picking it up. You need to pick up after yourself." It's an emotional stressor that follows me around everywhere.

We've talked about marriage and he doesn't want to get legally married unless I agree to bear his children. It's important to him to have that legal connection to the mother of his children. Since we are poly, we have discussed the option of him having children with another woman who would be in a poly family with us (this hypothetical woman would not need to have a sexual or romantic relationship with me.) In the mean time, we are planning a commitment ceremony because I've always dreamed of having a wedding and he's also excited about celebrating our relationship.

I've decided that if this is going to work, if I'm going to consider bearing children or taking care of our household's potential children, I need help. Specifically, I would need another woman to help share the childcare responsibilities, the chores, the errands. For the reasons I've outlined above, it would have to be another woman and I don't trust that another man would lessen the stress. Ideally this woman would be a poly partner, next best would be a trusted friend who wanted to share a household and these responsibilities (without a sexual or romantic connection), and third best would be to hire a nanny. Au pairs have their advantages but they are not expected to be with a family for more than a couple of years and that's not something I want to invest in, knowing that the au pair's tenure would likely end in a couple years and I'd be back to square one.

So, here are some questions:

1) How could I maybe arrange to have another female household member who doesn't feel like a live-in babysitter? In the case of a nanny, how would one manage the working relationship while creating a familial feel? I've known multiple poly couples who have a third partner move in with them and the third ends up feeling like a live-in babysitter, the odd person out, a less valued member of the household. How can this be done equitably so that the additional woman would feel valued and honored?

I do realize that I would be somewhat hypocritical if I expected another woman to contribute to my household without leaving room for the possibility that she may also want to bear children, to have a ceremony or marriage of her own, her own room/space, to share in the responsibilities and decision making of the household, etc, so I'm starting with these ideas.

If you are/have been in a similar situation, how do/did you make it work?

2) If you are living/have lived with a partner who has/had a similar non-concern for household chores and errands, what advice can you give me for getting him to help more and lessen these burdens on me?
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:23 PM
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FallenAngelina FallenAngelina is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FemmePoly View Post
... when a man and a woman move in together, no matter how feminist-leaning they are, they tend to fall into more "traditionally gendered" roles, including house cleaning and financial decisions...... He also just leaves things around the house: his clothes go on the floor and may stay there for days if I don't pick them up...... I already kind of feel like I'm picking up after a child managing a household mostly by myself.
Bringing in a second "mom" to pick up your man's slack isn't going to be a stable, long lasting fix unless you hire someone. This is why people who can afford it have maids and nannies, especially when the children come along. That said, there are plenty of men who are responsible and aware and are fully formed grown ups about keeping the household. I wouldn't be asking how I can get another woman to be another slave in the house, but why am I so drawn to a man who is so very NOT interested in taking care of me and our shared living space? Relationships always reflect the stories we've got going about ourselves, so why are you struggling along with a partner who is so terribly disrespectful and childlike? There are gobs of men who are not this way and it is not a societal norm at all anymore that men sit around and expect their woman to pick up after them and do everything else around the house. The societal norms actually don't matter, anyway. It doesn't matter what anyone else finds tolerable or intolerable. What matters is that this is important to you and it would be fruitful for you to think more about why you've drawn this situation to yourself. "Poly" or a selfless friend or even a paid nanny won't be enough to fix why you're with someone who challenges you daily about what a happy home means to you.
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:26 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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There is a saying that poly won't fix a broken relationship. Don't invite someone else in to 'fix' issues. First of all, it won't work. Second, it's wrong to treat another human being in this way. And it's wrong to bring children into an situation where people are valued for the roles they play and not for themselves.

It reads as if that is the state of your relationship now - I imagine you are not particularly valued for yourself but for what you provide, chores, sex and maybe offspring.

Why is a more equitable chore division not on the table? Because he makes more than you currently? That's not a good enough reason.

If you truly do not want children - or know you would be raising any children effectively alone with little to no work from him (or only the 'fun' bits of parenting) - that is more than a sufficient reason not to have children, either ever, or not right now or not with him.

Address the problems in your relationship now. Poly won't fix them for you.
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Old 02-01-2016, 01:32 PM
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Your problem will not be solved by dragging another woman into this mess. Basically you're looking for av woman to come in and do the dirty work you don't want to do.

The problem isn't gender roles. Both my husbands cook and clean. Butch shoulders just as much of the parenting roles as I do. Murf cleans the majority of the house I share with him.

Poly would be about the worst thing you could bring into your life. Especially since you have self esteem, anxiety issues, metal health issues.
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Old 02-01-2016, 01:53 PM
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You're simplifying it by saying "male partner" = messy house and "extra girl" = tidy house. I'm female and have a very messy home. I honestly don't notice it until I realise there's a path through the junk again where I habitually walk to get from A to B, and you should see my empty toilet roll collection. One of my boyfriends, on the other hand, lives in what looks like a minimalist display home, with everything clean, tidy, and in its place. (edit: He lives alone and has no other partners, in case you think he has a woman cleaning up after him.)

If your partner is anything like me then if you don't point it out either verbally or in the form of a chore list he's not going to do anything about it because he simply doesn't realise it needs to be done.

Last edited by Emm; 02-01-2016 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 02-01-2016, 02:03 PM
LoveBunny LoveBunny is offline
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Ah yes, the "second shift." Part of the reason I left my own marriage....I got sick of being expected to pick up after a man, run errands for a man, etc.. Like you, I felt like I was already a mother even though we didn't have kids. We also argued over children......he wanted 'em, I did not. He controlled our finances because he made more money, which meant there often wasn't "enough" for the things I wanted.

Why would you even consider having children when you know you'll find them too stressful? Even if you can afford a live-in nanny, you still will add to your responsibilities. Listen to yourself, not what society has to say on the issue. If you do not wish to take on the traditional gender role of "wife" and "mother," you don't have to. But it may mean having a different life partner, or a different arrangement than a traditional marriage.
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Old 02-01-2016, 02:32 PM
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Honestly I am like Emm I am the female and I am the messy ones in my relationships. Both my husbands clean up after me a bit to be honest. I am one hell of a cook though. Butch is a much more compassionate parent than I am sometimes.

I try to not be messy but after working two jobs. One which requires me to wake up at 2 am often. I am just too damn tired for housework.
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Old 02-01-2016, 05:43 PM
tenK tenK is offline
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I'm another naturally messy lady, albeit one who has learnt to be a lot more tidy since living with a tidier one! The key thing is that I recognise it's completely unfair for only one of us to do the work. If your boyfriend is not of that opinion, then I can't really see what more you can do. I would be considering transitioning to a non-live-in relationship WAY before considering adding another person to the household. As other posters point out, the issue is your boyfriend and you having different core values in life, and that will not be resolved by poly.

There are practical ways in which we have managed to improve our mismatch in this area. Every day we do a 10 minute blitz together - divvy up the rooms, set the timer, go! It's amazing what you can do in that amount of time, and it means Nina doesn't ever have to "nag" because it just happens at x'o'clock.
Like your partner and some of the other posters, I have also struggled to see mess until the point at which it has reached epic levels. However, like anything in life, you can learn new skills if you are of a mind to. Has this transition been easy on us? No, it's involved a lot of discussion, both before Nina moved in with me and after. She does occasionally lose her temper. She does tend to leave me lists still. I do sometimes whiny-ly seek praise for taking the initiative (pathetic, perhaps, but it does help). But overall, I think we are getting better as a team at staying on top of things. It helps that there are some chores I quite like (hoovering) that she hates, and vice versa, that we can trade off on. I did live alone for a long time, so I suppose now I am just very grateful to a) be sharing the load, and b) not living in so much chaos. If he has never lived alone, he might genuinely not realise the amount of work it takes to have a nice home.

Incidentally, I have been more motivated to do stuff unsolicited partly because every time we talk about the possibility of having kids, Nina tends to remind me that until we can handle our day to day living crap, how on earth are we expected to handle kids as well. I think you need a frank discussion where you explain clearly that one of the reasons you are not sure you want kids with him is because you worry that the care of those kids, and the maintenance of the home environment, will not be equally shared. If he can step up his act for a sustained period, and give you more head-space to get on top of your depression and make inroads in developing your career, then to me that seems like a better time to be having a discussion on your suitability to co-parent together than right now. When it comes to being a parent, it sounds like you have doubts about a) your willingness AND b) your ability to cope. If having kids is a priority to him, then it makes sense for him to be pulling out the stoppers now and showing you how he can help take care of the coping side of the equation at least. Then you are truly in a position to assess your willingness. Right now, the lack of b) seems to be muddying a).
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People tenK (bi, f, early 30's) is likely to blabber on about, and why:

Nina (bi, f, late 20's) <- life-partners with tenK; Scandi (hetero, m, early 30's) <- dating/fwb with tenK (on hiatus at the moment); Zymurgist (hetero, m, early 30's) <- dating with tenK; Aries (heteroflex, m, late 40's) <- fwb with tenK and Nina;

Adam (bi, m, early 30's) <- dating/fwb with Nina
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Old 02-01-2016, 06:11 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I think this is a bad idea on many levels.

Quote:
the thought of adding children into my list of responsibilities and stressors seems like a terrible idea.
Respect your own limitations! Not ignore them!

If he's wanting kids and you do not? He can have them with someone else. NOT you. Don't "compromise" on that. I've seen people do that and they end up dragging kids through divorce when it would have been better to just agree that it is just not something that's "compromise-able."

Quote:
If you are living/have lived with a partner who has/had a similar non-concern for household chores and errands, what advice can you give me for getting him to help more and lessen these burdens on me?
Could stop cleaning his stuff and expect him to step up and do it. And share in cleaning common areas. Like any other roomie situation.

Does not step up? Could stop living with him. Maybe even dating him if you are not deeply compatible.

You control only your behavior. Not his. He controls his behavior. You can ask his to modify his behavior, you can go on strike, but if nothing works, you can leave the house. Problem solved.

I also call bullshit. This is a sore spot with me and I will tell you why.

Quote:
I'm partially mad and resentful about this, but I'm also conscious of the way society influences our expected gender roles and can't be too mad at him for the way we were socialized.
He cannot help how he was raised. That was his parents' doing.

Quote:
He also just leaves things around the house: his clothes go on the floor and may stay there for days if I don't pick them up. He *might* fill up an empty soap container then then he'll leave the empty refill bottle out on the counter (doesn't think, oh gee, this is empty, maybe I should put it in the recycling bin?). He'll open mail then leave the stack there on the table without recycling or throwing it away.....
He is an adult and CAN help how he behaves NOW. All that is nothing but his own doing.

I am pretty sure he doesn't go to work and do all that crap there! If he can manage to control himself in other spaces, he can control himself at home. I think this behavior is inconsiderate and disrespectful to you. It also sounds like tip of the iceberg list from the way you write so frustrated with it.

Children themselves bring mess -- if he cannot keep up with his own adult mess, how's he gonna help stay on top of kid mess so they don't choke on something and kill themselves?

You are looking to be LESS burdened, right? Not more? Do not make new life changes like weddings until he shapes WAY up to meet your standard. Don't LOWER them.

Money, sex, kids, and chores are among the top things couples fight about. Square your deal up now. Because if at the time when you are the most into each other you have this much mismatch, imagine how much worse it gets when the wedding "whee!" wears off?

My newlywed mother packed up my father's bags when they started living together right after the honeymoon because he expected her to be waiting on his butt hand and foot like his mother did. Total slob. Mom woke him up one morning and told him his bags are packed, he could go back to his mother. (And she was right to do it because when Dad was military he cleaned up his crap. When he got out and lived with his parents to reboot civilian life he got all lazy with his mother being stupid waiting on a grown man. Dad straightened up his behaviors. Their solution was he did outside chores and she did inside chores that she could, and since they both worked they both chipped in for housekeeping help for the rest. No more dumping it all on Mom.)

When my then fiancee (now husband) and I got to that moment? He took my work for granted and told me I didn't do anything but school. I went on strike. I stopped doing all the "invisible work" I did in the afternoons when I would get home from college that he did not see me doing when he was gone at the office. I did not do the bills, I did not do the chores, I did not do the shopping, I did not do the cooking, I didn't do the the laundry, I did not take out trash, I did not clean the bathrooms. And more. I did NOTHING. I did not lift a finger unless it was related to me graduating college. The place reeked with the kitchen trash and the mountains of laundry and just... CRAZY.

My mother was horrified when she came over to visit and I told her to butt out. She had her moment with her partner, I was having mine. She frowned and said "Heh. Men! Keep striking! I'll visit here when the strike is over. You just come visit me at my house instead for now."

It didn't take long before mine asked what the hell happened. I calmly said "I don't do any work. I just piddle around with school." He apologized for what he said and I said, "That's nice. I forgive you. Go deal with it. See what I do. See why I get so mad when people mess things up." He didn't last the afternoon. He asked for my help and we made some new agreements but he owned that he was taking my work for granted, did not appreciate the effort that went into it, and from that point on he didn't wreck my work carelessly.

But I was prepared to walk if he didn't step up to the plate. I sure as hell wasn't going to marry him til all that was sorted out. I could put up with a learner, TRYING, and he did turn some of my clothes pink in the wash a few times. But I couldn't put up with inconsiderate mess maker who went around undoing my work.

Our solution for that phase of our life was for me to continue like before, since I was home in the afternoons once classes were out and I'd keep doing the bulk of the chores. If I needed more help and he could not do it himself, he'd clock overtime so there was money to hire people help. And he'd maintain his small chore list without bitching and not be ADDING to my chore list through "careless and inconsiderate.' We also split the bathrooms up. It became "His/hers" rather than "ours upstairs and guests downstairs."

Even after the strike, there would be times where he slipped up. The new solution? I would bag all his crazy and throw it in his bathroom. His problem to deal with, not mine. I didn't have to be all neat about it either -- because if he leaves it around like crap, I can just bag it like crap. Don't like how I bag your stuff like crap when I vac? Don't leave it around. Over time he decided it was easier to put things away a little at a time than be dealing with bags in his shower.

I think you are having those two things here.
  • If children is a no go for you, stand firm. Don't be compromising on that.
  • If you live with a slob that takes you work for granted and makes MORE work for you? Stop cleaning his stuff. You do yours, he does his, you split the common areas. That is fair. Just like any non-lover roomies would split it.

If you are not compatible as roomies -- accept it move out. Date and maintain separate homes instead. You make it all yours. No more dealing with his OR common areas.

Because if you cannot stand to live with a slob, what makes you think some other woman is going to be all "Whee! I'll take care of his babies by some other woman who didn't really want to have them (you) and come clean his messy house because he can't be bothered to wait on himself?"

It either works or doesn't work because HE steps up to the plate to do his fair share. They don't have to be equal. It has to be fair. Mom and I had different approaches but in the end we managed to work it out with our spouses to a place where it felt "fair enough."

It does not work because you continue to do it all for him. You just use new tools (the new women) to do it with. That's swell for him but still burdensome for you. Just a new flavor of burden.

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 02-01-2016 at 10:54 PM.
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Old 02-01-2016, 07:30 PM
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Bluebird Bluebird is offline
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You don't need another wife in this situation. You need a cleaning service. I'd focus on maintaining your own mess, and have him pay for a maid business to come in and handle his part of it. If he doesn't want to pay, then he should take care of his own stuff! Period. Until you see some progress here, I definitely wouldn't want to raise children with this guy.

It isn't about male/female gender roles. If he pulled this crap at his job, I am sure he wouldn't be employed there long. My husband DarkKnight does ALL of the cooking in the household. I haven't made myself as much as bacon and eggs in over a decade. Both of my husbands do their own laundry, and vacuum their own bedrooms, and change their own sheets. I don't have to say a word to them. Why? Because they are adults.

I understand your frustration, but don't understand your anger about making a list. You only have to make it once, right? If that gets him motivated, then problem solved. If he's still ignoring it and you feel like you're nagging - time to change something. I recommend a cleaning service. And I would be super upfront and clear with him that no children are on the horizon unless this basic mismatch is under complete control.
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