I was married to my own child for 21 years. I thought I was marrying my high school sweetheart, but I was actually becoming his mother.
I was forever telling him to do things. Pick up this. Put away that. For a few years, he had a chore chart. Mowed the lawn? GOLD STAR FOR YOU! Took out the trash without being told? You’ve earned your full allowance. I would ask him to do things. He would either tell me I wasn’t his mother or that he moved out of his parent’s house for a reason.
I think the reason was so he could be mothered by someone else.
Sharing the mental load is sexy. In fact it’s the sexiest thing a man can do. Post continues below.
When we decided to have kids, I expected to take on the primary responsibility for caring for them. The clothing, feeding, appointments, and household needs always fell to me — both for him and the four children we’d eventually have together. He never made a dental or doctor appointment. He didn’t wash clothes or scrub anything or cook meals. If a child was sick, he never attended to them. He was never vomited on. He didn’t change diapers. He was never the “go to” parent if there was a broken bone or a broken heart. He never paid a bill or made a phone call when the washing machine or dishwasher broke.
When we got divorced, he didn’t even know how to write a check.
This isn’t the only reason we got divorced, but it certainly contributed to it. Twenty-one years is a long time to care for anyone, most people but even take care of their kids that long. But to care for an adult fully capable of caring for themselves? That’s a really long time. It’s a long time to have to ask someone to take out the trash. It’s a lot of swallowed anger and pent-up resentment.
Some of this was designed. It was all a bunch of very Laura Schlessinger, The Proper Care and Feeding Of Husbands bullshit. We went to a church where the righteous responsibility of the man was to run the show, and the divine skill of the wife was to manage the house — which includes her spouse. Isn’t it convenient how religion often wants men to lead the family but leaves women to do all the actual work of it? There are hundreds of books about Christian women “serving” their husbands. How to care for them. How to free them up to be the leaders they are destined to be. Being part of the church certainly didn’t help my husband learn how to pick up his dirty underwear.
But, in truth, the church wasn’t the root problem.
The root of it all was threefold:
1. He went from living with his mother to living with me (which meant he went from living with his mother to being married to her).
2. It was easy for him.
3. I allowed it.