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Author Topic: S/O Helping clean after holidays  (Read 6959 times)

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Tea Drinker

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Re: S/O Helping clean after holidays
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2013, 11:03:52 AM »
I would be tempted to ask "does your family really think it's weird for us to be helping clear and do the dishes? We could stop if you'd rather." And make clear that it's "we" can stop, not that you're going to do his mother's dishes while he and the rest of her male relatives sit still.

I wouldn't insist on doing, or not doing, the dishes while visiting someone. I would insist that if my husband was exempt without having cooked, so was I: I'm not going to take on extra cleaning because I have one more X chromosome than he does. Maybe the hypothetical MIL, or OP's actual MIL, has a household where she does more of the traditionally female tasks, and her husband does more of the traditionally male tasks, and they're both happy with that. But since OP's husband isn't doing those tasks at his parents' house for Thanksgiving or Christmas--things like mowing the lawn or changing the oil aren't part of holiday dinner prep and clean-up--she shouldn't be expected to do her MIL's set while visiting for the holidays. Division of labor is one thing, and there are lots of ways to divide things, but "watching the football game" is not a job to be balanced against washing the dishes.
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perpetua

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Re: S/O Helping clean after holidays
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2013, 11:17:01 AM »
If this is happening in his family's home (not altogether clear from the OP) then I actually think you're the one in the wrong, OP. They have their own ways and traditions of doing things and trying to impose another way on them just because that's how your family does it and you think his family is wrong is rude.

If on the other hand this is happening in your house, you've got every right to expect your DH to do his fair share. But telling him how to behave in his own family home? No.

EllenS

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Re: S/O Helping clean after holidays
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2013, 07:53:26 PM »
If this is happening in his family's home (not altogether clear from the OP) then I actually think you're the one in the wrong, OP. They have their own ways and traditions of doing things and trying to impose another way on them just because that's how your family does it and you think his family is wrong is rude.

If on the other hand this is happening in your house, you've got every right to expect your DH to do his fair share. But telling him how to behave in his own family home? No.

I strongly disagree. This may be the home he grew up in, but she is part of the family, she is not a friend/acquantance/outside guest.  She is not telling her hostess (MIL) how to do things, and I think if MIL did not want any help she would have made that clear on her own.

It seems obvious to me that DH's family's comments are about what "women's work" and "men's work" are supposed to be, hence that he looks "girly" wiping down the counters.

Personally, I find that as insulting as if OP were another race and they were saying the [racial slur] was supposed to clean up.

If OP is bothered by the fact that DH's family is openly disrespectful and contemptuous towards her and her MIL, I think helping clean up and calling on DH to support her, is a very positive way to turn it around.

Margo

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Re: S/O Helping clean after holidays
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2013, 03:00:44 PM »
I agree with positive rather than negative responses, and that you and DH need to be on the same page.

I notice however that you say when you first started to attend you automatically helped out. Does MIL want you to? I think if she prefers to do it herself, then you and DH should allow her to treat you as guests (which doesn't not in any way prevent you from expecting family members to pitch in if you are hosting an event)

I agree strongly with tea drinker that you as a couple can help, or not help. You set a good example to your children by showing them that you respect other people's preferences in those people's homes.

If you are asked to help out then your husband sets a good example by either helping out or taking on the task, as appropriate (e.g if it is something which only takes one person, then he could do it around half the time, or if you've done the first thing he could automatically do the second.

I'd be inclined to treat the comment as a [not very good] joke "hey, [name] all this pretending we still live in the 1950s was funny once, but it's getting pretty old" or just go with a blank " what a bizarre idea! - anyway, MIL, would you prefer us to wash up, or to dry and put away?"

CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: S/O Helping clean after holidays
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2013, 12:35:13 PM »
When someone makes a snarky remark about hubby helping, I suggest giving him a kiss in front of everyone and telling him he's a wonderful husband.  Then smile like you're the luckiest person in the world.

One thing that's always bugged me about hostesses left to do the cleanup alone, is that not only is the work dumped on them, but they're isolated from social interaction.  Even if the hostess doesn't want help, they may appreciate having someone to talk to.  I'm pretty sure that every hostess feels better and less stressed if they're acknowledged as a human being, not just a work horse.
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sweetonsno

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Re: S/O Helping clean after holidays
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2013, 01:53:39 PM »
I can see a number of ways of looking at this. In my family, guests do not help with the clean-up, beyond perhaps clearing their plates (and then only if they are family or close friends). I would be very uncomfortable if a guest came into the kitchen and started cleaning up.

However, it does sound like the husband's family is more about traditional gender roles and less about the host taking care of hosting duties like food prep and cleanup. I think Tea Drinker's approach is a good one, as it shows that you don't accept the "boys don't do dishes" thing without being confrontational. I think that if anyone criticizes or teases your hubby for helping out, you should make it clear that you find it charming.

Maybe you should send the wives some copies of Porn for Women* (or Porn for Women of a Certain Age, as required) for Christmas.

*For those unfamiliar, they aren't actually inappropriate. It's just handsome men happily doing housework, cheerfully carrying boxes during a shoe shopping excursion, or assuring the reader that they look fabulous in sweats and that they deserve another chocolate. They're pretty cute.
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miranova

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Re: S/O Helping clean after holidays
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2013, 07:38:44 PM »
When Dh and I were first married and both cooking and cleaning in our OWN home, we got the same types of comments from  his mother.  In her case, I chalked it up to jealousy.  I'm fairly certain my father in law has never washed a dish in his life, so it is more a case of sour grapes when my mother in law sees that I'm not doing all the work myself like she has to do in her home.  Or, maybe she likes doing it but in that case I'm not sure why she would make those comments.  She will say things like "boy I've never seen him do dishes before!  How did you get him to do that?"  etc which makes ZERO sense to me.  She raised him, she could have made him do dishes growing up, and she didn't.  His ex-wife never asked him to either.  All I had to do was ask once that we work together since we both have jobs, and that's all I've ever had to say.  No drama, we just work together to do what needs to be done.  If his family wants to make their little comments, they can.  My husband usually handles it by saying "we enjoy cooking together"(which is the truth) or "the dishes get done faster when we work together". 

In her house, I do help some, but she doesn't expect help from her husband or son so I have a very hard time telling myself I should go out of my way to help her.  It's sexist and I don't like to support that.  Like I said I do help some because I do believe in picking up after myself, but I resent being the only one she will allow to help so I don't go out of my way or go overboard. 

EllenS

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Re: S/O Helping clean after holidays
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2013, 07:58:12 PM »
All I had to do was ask once that we work together since we both have jobs, and that's all I've ever had to say.  No drama, we just work together to do what needs to be done.  If his family wants to make their little comments, they can.  My husband usually handles it by saying "we enjoy cooking together"(which is the truth) or "the dishes get done faster when we work together". 


Your DH sounds like a peach.  Maybe if OP's DH is willing, he could steal some of those lines.

aussie_chick

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Re: S/O Helping clean after holidays
« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2013, 12:06:04 AM »
When I was a late teen and dating a boy and we would have dinner at his parents house, all the women and girls (his mother, 2 sisters) would get up and help clean up after the meal. I remember the first time I was invited to his house for dinner, his sister said to me "aussie_chick, there's another dish cloth over there if you want one". To which I replied "sure no worries, is there one for aussie_boy too?"
They were shocked. I was more shocked that the visitor who had been invited for dinner had been asked to help but the son who lived there all the time was allowed to sit on his butt and be waited on.
Sure, in hindsight I should probably have offered to help without being asked but I didn't know the habits in their home. At my parents home, dishes were shoved in the kitchen and dealt with after guests left.

Op I really like the others who suggest dealing with this situation with positives. Or double checking that your MIL wants help. Are the aunts and other women at the event helping too? If not, perhaps it's not just a male/female thing but a host/guest thing. Although the comments about helping being "girly" suggest male/female.  But I would also be careful about not treading on their traditions in their home. The positive slant avoids this I think.