Who wears the daddy pants?

I have always been a bit of raging feminist. I am free spirit at heart, with dreams of eco-living so being married to the military often causes clashes of perspective. When I met Hagar, I wrote passionately about retaining my independence of thought. I often say, much to Hagar’s chagrin that I only married him because of the military. The perks are better. It’s not that I don’t love him but I was never interested in getting married and to some extent by getting married I sold feminism out. I realise it now and didn’t see it coming. But hey, we live with the consequences of our choices and I don’t regret getting married (Hagar will be relieved!).

Our relationship was founded on equality and we were, at the beginning, equal partners. We have one rule, which still stands called the ‘Yes/No’ Rule. The basic premise is that before any decision is taken both parties have to say ‘yes’, a no is an instant refusal and if either party feels passionate about the choice, then it’s rock, paper, scissor. Outcome determined, end of – no debate. This is still in play and really works for us.

I noticed a change in the equality shift after the birth of The Grenade. I was on maternity leave from work and Hagar started expecting me to do things, because I was at home, that in the past we had always shared. It’s a difficult debate to have because obviously I was on maternity leave so to some extent it was fair that I picked up this workload. He started using language, such as, I was the ‘primary childcarer’. Interesting, because I thought we did this together. He was shedding the equality, like a snake sloughs it’s skin and once the skin was gone the burden of responsibility fell further onto my shoulders. Now Hagar has the best get of jail free card because he is in the military and the military is his mistress. She top trumps any gig that I can muster so once he started shedding the burden, it became mine and I knew that I could never hand it back.

As I became responsible for the domestic admin, a new war was waged between us. Who was in charge in the relationship? Once we had children and were creating our own family values, Hagar who was from a text book family began emulating the family childhood from which he was raised, I, who was not from a text book family, constantly question our roles and how they are delivered. I run a fairly tight ship because I keep many balls in the air; I have patterns, systems, everything has it’s place. It’s how I cope. Hagar who is dominated at work by his military mistress, understandably wants to let his hair down at home, but at the same time still call the shots. This is where we conflict because I am happy to do stuff for Hagar. We are a partnership but I determine the priority of my day not him. Yesterday, when Hagar was nipping my head because I hadn’t done something he asked; I snapped;

“I am not your f*cking PA. I don’t work for you. Yes, I said I would do it and I will, but right now, it’s not a priority. If it’s so f*cking important you can always do it yourself. You are not in charge!” I screamed at him.

Hagar thinks he’s in charge. As far as he’s concerned, he wears the daddy pants. At least, he has the decency to say it so that I can tell him to ‘f*ck off’ but the military is all our mistress and she top trumps everything so I am bound by the situation. It makes for continuous dinnertime debate and it keeps the passion alive, as the war is waged between us.

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36 thoughts on “Who wears the daddy pants?

  1. Ah yes I know this debate well. For me it’s about the housework. Something I feel is not my responsibility. WE all live here! It doesn’t help that I’ve had house cleaners, nannies and a gardener guy in the past. It’s a constant negotiation who does what in the house, for those married to the military and those who aren’t.

  2. Ahhhh-the age old debate.

    Got really miffed when one night hubby said something about the dishes not having been done and how I can’t expect my son to do my dishes again for me.

    I said MY DISHES????????? Get real!

    To be fair he does help.

    I keep thinking I need a fulltime job away from home.

  3. What a great post. I know exactly how you feel. I have given up an “equal” career to stay at home with my boys, and it took me a long time to be okay with what that brought to our relationship. To be frank, i always did all the cleaning, ironing etc, but at least before i could complain freely about it. Now it’s more difficult to argue that it isn’t my “job” seeing as i seem to have taken on the housewife role.
    I have to admit to using this to my advantage on some occassions when i want my husband to take out the bins, or my son to ask daddy to fix something because i can’t be bothered (though i tell him it’s because i don’t know how to). talk about perpetuating the stereotype myself!

    http://marketingtomilk.wordpress.com

    • I know – it’s such a quandry! It’s not so much the changing role but being told what to do. It annoys me when he thinks I should do what he says, when he says it should be done. I choose what I do and when.

  4. I think most men think they are in chagre (even when it is clear they are not!)

    I do enjoy your writing – it has a gung ho, let’s get at it quality as well as such perspective.

    So…where’s your place today? 😉

  5. I’m with you on this one! Once upon a time we were equal. Actually, he did most of the housework. I only had to do the dishes once a month! Then I had Little Butt and decided to stay home and raise her instead of bring in money and the gears shifted. It’s interesting how they think they can come in and tell us how to do our jobs. Last night The Hubble and I had a similar argument that ended in me telling him “don’t you dare criticize the way I do things until you have done what I do.” I feel ya sister!!

    BTW, I left a little something for you over on my blog. I hope you like it!

  6. What a great post! I struggled with roles when I became a mom, and now that I’m embarking on my new journey going back to work, I often wonder how the roles will change again. I warn my husband that responsibilities will have to be shared, and I’ve warned the kids that life is going to be different because Mommy won’t be home all day. Let’s hope everyone agrees once I start working!

    I also tell my husband all the time: Don’t confuse your rank with my authority.” Love that quote. 😉

    • Thanks. Good luck with going back to work. If worse comes to it you can always hire help to do the house chores with the money you earn from going back to work. Great quote – I love it. But it’s not just about the role confusion it’s about him saying ‘jump’ and expecting me to say ‘yes, sir.’ But more to the point complaining if it’s not done to his timeframe – how about you do it yourself then!

  7. A grizzled NCO with a low tolerance threshhold was given a list of “little somethings to do” by a fresh-faced rupert who boasted an IQ that exceeded his collar size – but not by much. Said NCO had had a crappy day so far and felt it only fair to share this with the young officer. He outlined in exhaustive detail precisely how many duties he had to fulfil that day and, bringing his lined and leathery face to within an inch or two of the rupert’s he bawled at the top of his voice, “SO WHICH OF THOSE THINGS DO YOU WANT ME TO STOP DOING IN ORDER TO DO THIS LOAD OF F***ING RUBBISH…….SAH?

    Learnt a lot that day.

    • But you see I am not in the military and I don’t work for Hagar so he can shove it up his hoop. By the way even though he is an officer – Hagar isn’t a Rupert – he was state educated and is Scottish but he can still be a pain the arse but just not in the same way as a Rupert. I can’t imagine what it’s like working for Ruperts – you absolutely have my greatest empathy. Thanks for coming back – welcome aboard the fun bus.

  8. Understood. Absolutely – but the tactic can be adapted for the terrain!

    P.S. I didn’t work for the rupert either but I managed to catch him as he fell over in the blast of halitosis.

    • Hi Lizzie, thanks for stopping by. I hope many women can empathise with dilemma. When did we become mothers to our husbands! That is another favourite expression of mine ‘I am not your f*cking mother.’

  9. Well, I completely agree with the shedding of responsibility as the stakes change (i.e. the arrival of wee people). However, I went back to the “equal” career and those things still seem to be my responsibility despite the fact that I work full time. This seems to be because, as has been stated, the military trumps anything I could possibly need or want to do instead. So as war called again, and now some stupid extended course elsewhere, I must pick up ALL the pieces and carry on without complaining, because someone else has far too much work to do in a finite time span. Ah, how I know that feeling.

    • Are you feeling the feminist rage yet? What you need is a wife. Maybe it’s time to outsource more – I have come to terms with the fact that I just need an army of staff on hand to help pick up the burden. But it’s not just about the burden of responsibility – who is calling the shots Dr H or Homer? Now that is the question. Who is the boss?

      • I would love to outsource more, but getting someone to come and work “behind the wire” for a fee that doesn’t make me angry is nigh impossible. I could really do with a wife – but that sort of blatantly unpaid labour doesn’t come cheap…. I would say no one is particularly the “boss” in our house, but that Homer is away almost constantly and comes home with armfuls of work at the weekend – with a stressed face and attitude. In order not to make his already palpable tension worse (he is not used to the essay type of deadline, unlike me, or you!) I allow him to do what he feels he needs to. This is perhaps my failing here, in that I have not insisted he do more, or explained what I have to do in my finite time span. I sometimes find it easier, in a masochistic sense, to just do it all and take him a cup of tea to ease his laptop/book induced worry. Am I wrong? I wonder if I am doing myself out of my right to moan because I allow it….

      • Your standards are higher – he would leave it to rot and crumble. The perfectionist in you would freak out and you would end up doing it all anyway. You are not wrong – you are super woman. Hopefully, he’ll imortalise you and appreciate your greatness. Just make him tell you often how lucky he is and how blessed he is to have you. Appreciation is free and he can manage that I am sure. You need to work on that outsourcing there must be a solution! Catch up soon. xx

  10. It’s not just the military that does this. It’s much the same living with a farmer/fisherman whose life is dictated by the weather and seasons, the fishing/farming comes first and has to be done immediately no questions asked, no ‘wait but it’s your turn’ or anything like that. And it’s *real* work. not like all my faffing about at home, raising kids etc.

    Grrrr.

    • But who is in charge? Does he tell you what to do and expect you to do it? What happens if you don’t do as you are told. Does he challenge how you do what you do and tell you to do it better. Do you work for him?

  11. Yesterday my husband kindly moved some garden toys out of the way, so “you can bring in your washing”. I do not work (at least not financially outside the home)which has made his climb up the military ladder a lot easier, willing to move at a drop of a hat, but I seem to be turning into an unpaid PA and skivvy. Can you make sure there is petrol in the car, have you rung school, have you done this …No I bl***y haven’t. I have spent all day on my backside letting the baby play with knives and scissors, what do you think I have done?

    Oh that feels good to moan, I try not to as we are relatively comfortable financially, we have 4 healthy children but we all have off days.

    A good friend of mine who is a serving military person says that I seem to be the one that has compromised the most in the family and that hubby is very lucky to have me! And yes he jolly well is!

    • Appreciation, thanks, courtesy, respect and sharing the load. It’s not too much to ask is it – plus the freedom to choose what you do, in what order and in your timeframe. I remember a friend of mine saying ‘my hubby doesn’t mind me not working because it would cost £30k to get a nanny to replace me’ and the rest – a military husband, who deploys or ever nightstops away would need 3 nannies at £30k a pop to run a 365×24 x7 childcare and that is just to look after his children, another £25k for a PA and another £250 per week for a housekeeper – that’s a £126,150 PA to replace you and that before he has fed, clothed, housed, hetaed or schooled. Plus they will need to have their NI paid, min 20 days per year leave and a pension.

  12. You don’t have to be in the military to have such ‘discussions’.

    My wife, who comes from a miltary family thinks she’s in charge….whereas I know that I am.

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