html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Please don't be scared off, potential guy. I'm better now.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Please don't be scared off, potential guy. I'm better now.

Oh yeah this work ethic is a problem in relationships. There is the standard problem of division of housework; my willingness to do housework falls in with traditional gender roles (although, I will add that I got it from my Dad (and should say that my Mom is no slouch either)). On one hand, a guy who dates me gets some benefit of my willingness to work; the first hour of chores is just background noise to me. I won’t notice it isn’t even until it is pretty skewed. But even allowing for that lag, the amount of work I expect us to do is outside most people’s tolerances.

One of the consistent problems in my last relationship was quantity of work. In the end, we did a lot of setting expectations. I’d wake up and if we didn’t have plans, assume we would do some project. He’d assume we would lounge. I like lounging, when I know that is what we’re going to do. We learned to make our choice of work or lounging explicit, which helped a lot. I also learned that I couldn’t take on projects that required work from both of us without consulting him. Turns out not everyone dismisses all considerations of quantity of work. Weird. But I learned to adjust to the person I’m with, and I learned to appreciate not working.

I don’t count capacity for work as one of the ways I’ll evaluate the man I’m looking for. There’s a lot of good in being with someone who will help me ease off. But, I think I would also like being with someone who matched that side of me. The day after a huge party, some guy I once played a sport with, whose pretty, pretty arms and shoulders I barely remember, who might have had hops, but who thinks about such things, helped clean in the morning (No. He slept on the couch.). For three hours we cranked hard. We didn’t work side by side, but knowing there was someone helping me, that we would get to a clean house twice as fast, that every bottle he picked up was one I didn’t have to get later, that he didn’t resent me for that labor because he loves work too (raised on a farm), that we were pulling equally hard in the traces, oh, that felt great. It felt like home and love and realized potential and help. Then he went home and I cleaned for another five hours by myself.

11 Comments:

Anonymous I don't pay said...

My capacity for work varies. I'd be tempted to say it depended on mood, but I've often felt much better after working for a while when I didn't feel like it. Wendell Berry says somewhere that in forty years of daily chores on a subsistence farm, it's never gotten any easier. So starting work, regardless, is probably what "being raised on a farm" does for you, and why such people get so much done. Or so I keep trying to teach myself.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Oooh, interesting thought. It was the biggest thing I noticed about the people that I went to ag school with. They could work so much more than all my friends from home. They were better at physical work too, alone or in groups.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Amelia said...

I actually do count capacity for work as one of the ways I evaluate potential boyfriends. I quickly lose respect for people I perceive as lazy. Someone with a 9-to-5 mentality and a "let others do it" mindset always annoys me, but I have heightened standards for my boyfriend. Not only do I tend to find it almost ethically wrong not to work hard but I also end up doing all chores and resent him for it (although I understand it's not his fault). It's great to have a guy loosen you up (they're often adorable and so much fun to hang out with) -for a summer affair, that is. Not for a serious relationship. But that's just me.

4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must not be the only one who finds this a little bizarre. Chores are necessary evils, they're not something to order your time around. And I certainly wouldn't judge a friend or partner by their capacity to do chores for hours on end. What you're describing is a peasant husband with a plow horse and a drinking problem.

7:31 AM  
Blogger jens said...

> Chores are necessary evils

But how necessary ARE they? I find that a lot of work discrepancies are really standards discrepancies.

I'm perfectly willing to do some cleaning if it utterly MUST be done, but something generally triggers my wife to do it before it gets to that point (there've been a few cases where she got distracted and went to bed leaving me to cope with a sink full of filthy dishes, but this is VERY RARE).

Since we've met, I started wearing a different underwear item every day regardless of need, generating extra laundry. Before that I waited until perspiration or sloppiness left some kind of sign that they had actually been used.

I am pretty tolerant about items on the floor...in fact, I used to ORGANIZE things into floor piles that would have driven my wife to distraction. She would merge the piles into some out-of-sight location, destroying the organization but improving the look.

The activity that I considered a useful chore, my wife considered vandalism, and vice-versa. (We have since arranged our territories into sections where I leave no piles, and sections where she touches no piles)

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, how much of your work ethic do you think comes from having been an athlete? i know that for me, i have to get things done or i feel like a slug. i can't credit my parents, so i chalk it up to years and years of sports practice that filled up all my free time in high school/college.
-sarah

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Classic Myers-Briggs!
J vs. P
-Mel (for Dave)

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there anything intrinsically different between home-work and out-of-home-work? We are less likely to see the connection between our work and tangible results in out-of-home-work, but is one more pure and holy than the other?

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a lazy slob. (Although I would like to note, after Jens remarkable comment, that I never reached the point of not changing my underwear daily). This can definitely be an issue in relationships. I find myself having to have to keep an eye on this tendency and ask myself if I've done enough to keep my partner happy. I imagine this kind of thing gets really critical after kids.

Usually the best course of action is to very clearly define duties I am responsible for, as I'm unlikely to spontaneously get the inspiration to do household chores. That might happen once a year when I'm left to my own devices.

I do think this is something to think about early on in matching up with a partner. Of course, there are lots of qualities that have to match up. I put the neatnik/slob thing in the "nice but not 100% necessary" column. It's manageable if there is genuine mutual committment and enough other compatibilities.

Marcus

P.S. Mel's comment is cool too...I've always like Myers-Briggs. I'm right in the middle between ENFP and ENTP.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm unlikely to spontaneously get the inspiration to do household chores"

Love it!

3:50 PM  
Blogger jens said...

Note that, while I am undeniably a slob, the underwear issue was not slobbiness-related: underwear were worn again only when they could not be distinguished from underwear that had not yet been worn.

My Myers-Briggs was unconventional, I suppose the only way to describe it would be to call me a T. My T versus F number was enormous, but on the other 3 dimensions the numbers were so low as to be meaningless. While I think of myself as a P, that is really only because the wife is so much a J!

4:10 PM  

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