Years ago, at some neighborhood gathering of married women (block party? birthday party? potluck?), one of the wives started bragging about her husband: he was helpful and considerate, a great cook and cleaner, and his fathering skills put her mothering skills to shame. We waited for the good stuff: character assassination, laziness bashing, and dirty-socks-on-the-floor cliches, but they didn't come.
The group got quiet. Our brows furrowed.
A wife actually saying good things about her husband? Who was this freak?
Despite the fact that I had one of those husbands, too, I kept my mouth shut. Why rock the boat? Or, as one of the women there put it when she elbowed me afterwards:
"Why would she tell us how great her husband is? You'd think she'd want to fit in!"
Complaining about The Husband has been a sport and a pastime since husbands were invented. It's fun, free, and won't cause cancer or weight gain! Women don't go to reading groups because they want to talk about a book they said they read! They don't volunteer to set up or clean up after school events because they really want to be help! They go because they want a box of wine and an audience for their latest Annoying Husband Stories. Didn't I regale my friends last winter with the story of how my husband opened the bathroom window at midnight and started poking and bashing a giant ice dam with a broom stick? While his skilled attempt at ice removal didn't cause a chunk of the roof to fall off (or make a dent in the ice dam), it did inspire a short-lived segment on "Hash Hags," the NPR radio show I do with authors Ann Leary and Julie Klam, and a corresponding contest on our Facebook page: "When Husbands Try." Proving (with actual photographic evidence) that maybe husbands shouldn't try (to put together furniture, repair a door, install a new shower) after all.
Husbands can't win.
And neither can wives.
I'm still in the doghouse for the crack I made on a national morning show nobody watches -- about how my husband once told me he sometimes only emptied half the dishwasher because he "got bored" mid-task. To me, this was one of the most hilarious things he'd ever said, and when I shared it I assumed he'd be thrilled that I mentioned him on television, but shockingly, that wasn't the case! We haven't had an argument since that hasn't included me apologizing profusely for misleading people into thinking he's A Husband Who Doesn't Help. Since he does help. A lot.
And so it's with this disclaimer that I share a short pre-Thanksgiving Xtranormal.com video I made -- #21 in my "Annoying Conversations" series -- "We' Should Get Ready for Thanksgiving" ("By Which You Mean 'Me'). It's about the never-ending division-of-labor argument couples (especially couples with children) have every day. It's proof that you're not the only one fighting about what you think your spouse meant when you heard them say something they didn't say. And why you should really step away from the computer right now and go pick up those back-up meds before things really get ugly...