How Does Your Husband Treat You? Respect Issue

Updated on November 17, 2011
C.O. asks from Reston, VA
28 answers

Okay Ladies and Gents: Please bear with me as I try to get this out and organized so that you have enough information to answer either from experience or what you can see from my posting.

I'm on the phone today with one of my dear girlfriend's. She is sick and her husband is being a jerk. This isn't something new. My husband has known him for over 25 years - they worked together in Dayton, Ohio. He was VERY hard on her son, but in hindsight, even the son says it was a good thing because it drove him to prove him wrong and now he's got a full scholarship to Old Dominion University and is a freshman there.

They've been married for 8 years and have twin boys who will be 3 in January (they were born at 26 weeks!!). She is a SAHM and he works to take care of the family. He's always been a little bit of a jerk - I like him but don't "love" him. We have fun when we are together but I get irritated when he gets condescending and just rude.

So he comes home from work last night and is pissed - yes pissed - that dinner is not on the table.
Since she's sick, she wasn't going to sleep in their bed because her coughing would keep him so he got pissy with her for not sleeping in their bed.

He does NOT understand what she does all day - taking care of two boys under the age of 3, cleaning, shopping, etc.

Today she admitted that he does not respect her - that much is obvious - now my question is - how would you get through to a man like this? he DOES have a some great attributes. However, I think a lot of this is a learned trait as this is how his father treats his the past when I saw him getting rude to her, I would tell him to back off (I know surprised, right?) or tell him that he needs to talk to a counselor about his issues...he doesn't think he has any...

So mama's - short of divorcing him - how would you get him to change his mind/demeanor and respect her?

She admits she's not perfect. No one is. But really she does deserve better than this!!!

Any advice?

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So What Happened?

thanks for far! Looking forward to more input so I can show her.

To answer some others:
1. he was NOT like this at first. Seriously - treated her like a queen.
2. he didn't change one day - it was over time - and he became VERY angry with some problems that came up with "her son" - that is when the change in him really happened...thanks for helping me see it wasn't always like this.
3. She hasn't ALLOWED it. She tells him to back off or to defends herself.

Rachel - will tell her the Do unto others!! that might help him!!!

I've tried to get her to come out with me on Friday night - girls night out - but he's usually coming home from traveling and has an excuse or something why it wouldn't be good for her to leave for a little while....I'm thinking she can just TELL him what she is going to do?

@Donna - talking to a friend who has seen the behavior isn't gossiping. I don't see her as PLAYING a victim role. It's not like she does things to instigate his rudeness...she takes care of TWO boys during the dinner wasn't on the table - that gives him the right to say mean and nasty things to her? I don't think so.

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answers from Dallas on

If I were her, I'd go on a week long vacation with my girlfriends and let him see firsthand how a home is taken care of. He can cook and clean and take care of the boys and learn a big lesson in the process.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Sorry, I wouldn't put up with it for myself, but I especially wouldn't put up with that kind of treatment it in front of my kids. Maybe she can use that angle to get him to change, but I doubt it. Aside from long term therapy, I don't see men who do this changing easily.

That kind of treatment from someone who does't think that they have a problem and therefore are not likely to change is a deal breaker for me. I know you said "aside from divorcing him", but that would be one consideration for me. If she knows that he is this way because of learned behavior from his family why would she want to continue this pattern with her own children?

And you're right... she does deserve better.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Well, a leopard doesn't change his spots--that much, right?

Maybe if she stops doing what she does it will become obvious to him what she DOES DO?

IF he speaks to her in a disrespectful tone all of the time--videotape him and show him--that would be a real wake up call.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from St. Louis on

Is she married to my husband?

Not kidding.

And, people are SO naive to think/say "well, she should've known" or, "shouldn't have married someone like that" - no one acts like this until WELL into the marriage. By then, it is too late. My husband USED to be nice.

The thing is, I don't think she can change someone like him without doing something drastic. Is she willing to leave for a while, a trial separation, to show him what he's missing? I really think that is the only way to ge through to people like him, unfortunately.

My husband is the same way. I work 45 plus hours per week at a demanding corporate job, yet I am still expected to do most of the child rearing and housework. Now, while my husband won't get pissy if dinner isn't on the table, I can tell you if I didn't work outside the home and he came home to no dinner EVEN if I was sick, he would be irritated too, depending on his day.

Let's put it in perspective. FROM HIS VIEW - if he is sick, he still has to go to work and still has to perform, right? He views this as her job, making the house run smoothly, and it is TO AN EXTENT, but even he must admit that if he were sick he would either CALL OFF work or he would perform at LESS THAN FULL CAPACITY due to his illness. He needs to cut her a break, and maybe presenting it to him in this way may help him understand.

Now, I have yet to meet a man who doesn't harbor a little bit of resentment toward the mom who gets to stay home with the kids while he is at work all day, away from the children. I am NOT saying that there aren't men who are happy to have a partner who performs the household duties to help the family and I do know these men view their wives as their EQUAL. But, it doesn't change the fact that some small part of them wishes they could be home with the kids and in their own home RATHER THAN dealing with a boss, angry customers and idiot coworkers. NOT Saying the SAHM's job is not difficult, even my husband admits that, it is just DIFFERENT. This issue, if he does have a little resentment, needs to be addressed. He probably thinks she doesn't do as much as he does or work as hard. Something needs to happen where he sees how hard she works. I left my husband alone with the kids for about 5 hours once and it worked like a charm.

So, bottom line, after all of my rambling, nothing she says will have much of an impact unless something drastic happens. This is coming from experience of dealing with someone VERY similar to her husband. EERILY similar.......When I am sick (which I am RIGHT NOW), I still go home after working 9 hours, cook dinner, bathe the baby, clean up, etc.

Also, maybe start small with regarding to the "see what he is missing" idea - she needs to go out more and have her own life. The second I show my husband I don't "need" him as much as he thinks I do, he panics and is nicer. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE W.!! =)

**ETA - And regarding your "learned" theory, hubby comes from a home where the dad waits on the mother. She literally sits her butt at the table and hands him her plate and says "I will take some pie" and he gets it for her. This could also explain her morbid obesity. Maybe that is why he wouldn't wait on me if I were on my death bed. Maybe he worries my little size 2 as* would become obese.

Sandy - did you read my post or just skim it? I said "hubby could call off work or perform at less than full capacity"

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answers from Portland on

I kept thinking that I could win my first husband's respect "if only" I could meet his demands and domestic expectations with more grace, be more forgiving and loving, and respect him as I wished to be respected. But his expectations kept shifting; if it wasn't having a hot meal on the table, it was making sure that all baby things were picked up and put away when he arrived home from anywhere at any unpredictable time (he didn't always have a job with regular hours). If it wasn't keeping his wardrobe immaculate, it was helping him cheat a W. who had gotten a small-claims judgment against him.

He was quite a case, and it took me 13 years before I finally realized I'd had enough. He was the spoiled first son, from a patriacal culture in which at least some first sons were treated like little gods. I began to notice how his behavior was tearing down our 8yo daughter's sense of self-worth. I left.

Years later, I hear (through my daughter and other former in-laws) that he expresses deep respect for me, and speaks well of me to others. I would never have guessed it at the time, but neither would he.

I don't know if there's any cure for a guy like this. I had a few temporary separations with my ex during our 13 years, but he always begged me back and swore he'd change. Changes lasted 2 weeks at most. I have heard a couple of stories from seemingly happy couples who worked out the respect thing in counseling. But it took lots of dedicated work on both sides.

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answers from Houston on

I would not have married a man like this to begin with. This is not the 40s, a man should appreciate and not expect the things a wife does

and vice versa.

we all have our issues but this much blatant disrespect would not fly, even for a little while.

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answers from Fargo on

This breaks my heart. I am very, very sick today and do you know what my husband is doing? He is taking care of our kids, he did school work with them in the morning, cared for their diabetic needs, got them ready for the day, fed them lunch, took them to work with him (he's self employed), drove over 100 miles, all told, to get a doctor's note to excuse me from jury duty due to my severe tonsillitis, ear infection and bronchitis, and before he left today he held me while I bawled and bawled from the pain and then he prayed for me. WHAT. A. MAN!!!!!!!

I don't have any advice for your friend, but I do know that her husband can change his behavior. I am not perfect but my husband treats me so beautifully. He comes from a home where his dad was verbally and mentally abusive and he COULD have followed in his footsteps, but he made a conscious choice not to. I hope your friend's husband gets a clue, and FAST!!!!

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answers from New York on

I suspect that men who can't figure out what a W. with small children DO all day have never spent more than a few hours taking care of their own kids - alone. I'd be getting away for a long weekend with a friend and making sure that the grandmas aren't available.

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answers from Houston on

Counseling or a neutral third party to discuss this with her husband and them together would be good. For your friend's part she needs to stop engaging his negative behavior. She can't change him but she can certainly change what she's doing or not doing. If she wants to do something, then she needs to stop asking permission. It can be all too easy to set a subservient tone while all you really want is to keep the peace. For his part he needs to be way more involved with their kids which will make him more sympathetic to how much darn work that represents. She didn't have them by herself and she shouldn't raise them by herself either. She probably needs to consider ignoring his blatantly negative attitude and when asked why she's ignoring him, she can tell him she can't hear pissy/-sshole/negative, etc. That’s what I tell my husband when he tries to be a jerk and he does the same with me. Our household phrase – I can’t hear pissy. We all have bad days but we should never lose respect for our spouses. Both of them at the end of each day should ask themselves what did they did unasked for the other person. It’s a silent reminder to embody the love, honour and respect we feel for our spouse.

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answers from San Francisco on

Well, this is kind of complicated, I guess. Yes, he should treat her with respect. No question. Is he being abusive? I don't know enough about the situation to say one way or the other, but it doesn't really sound like he is being abusive. I mean, my husband gets pissed off about weird stuff from time to time (but then, so do I!). We all have our moments.

However, no matter what a bad day a person is having, there should still be respect for one's spouse. If he wasn't always like this, what has changed? Something has. There's trouble in paradise here somewhere... is he having an affair, maybe? Does he feel, deep down, like she is not pulling her weight around the house (not when she's sick, but other times)? Is he concerned about his job/his ability to provide for his family, and he is wishing his wife brought in an income to reduce the financial stress? I'm not saying his reasoning is correct, but clearly he has some pretty strong feelings he's keeping bottled up, and they're escaping through these weird, passive aggressive interactions.

She should remember that you can't control other people, but you CAN control your reaction to them, and how much power you're going to let them have over you. If he is not willing to go to counseling, then she should go by herself to figure out some coping strategies and to figure out where she wants to go from here.

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answers from Richmond on

'Do unto others, as you wish others to do unto you'.

ETA: I didn't mean it negatively towards your friend, I mean maybe if she kills him with kindness, I bet she'd see an improvement on his attitude towards her... sent you a PM, LOL ;)

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answers from Salinas on

You teach people how to treat you. You cannot help your friend with this type of problem other than being a good listener and supporting her choices. No one can consistently treat someone disrespectfully without thier permission. By allowing it she is perpetuating it and my guess is it will not stop without a huge shift in their realtionship. This doesn't sound like an easy fix.

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answers from Spartanburg on

Since you are good friends with him, why don't you and your husband take him on the side and really picture what his life would be without his wife? No W. (except the previous poster, Jaimee, apparently) should put up with a disrispectful behavior as she was born to satisfy his needs and preferences. What the hell? Convince him to swap places for a week so he can do all his wife does while he's taking a break from children and house chores at work, and see if his perspective changes. I think he needs to grow up and face the reality of a stay at home mom (with twins, oh my God!), he does not have a clue or he would not act like that, or would he? If I were in you I would take my husband and go meet him, alone, somewhere to the have a serious "talk" on how his poor, immature, behavior is hurting his wife and possibly, their relationship. Any long term relationship must be based on honoring the other one not by "serving" them (she is not his slave or maid!) but by helping them be the best they can be through emotional support and teamwork. Go talk to the man, someone has to!

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answers from St. Louis on

I think for the most part men have discovered the world is round, women are individuals and although they will cook and clean for you it is because they want to not because it is their place.

Then there are men like your friends husband, like my ex husband who will say a W.'s place is in the home. They expect everything to be like it was when they were growing up. Thing is they also pile a lot of their stuff on the wives as well, so pretty much you don't end up with how it was but their idea of how it was.

I don't think she will ever change him. What will happen is the kids will get in school and it will become easier to be perfect to him.

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answers from Des Moines on

You can't change a person. They have to want to change and work for it. Counseling is probably a good idea for him and probably couple counseling. But again, if he doesn't want it....

She could always try to talk with him about how hard it is to take care of everything all day by herself and with the kids. She can declare a Saturday a "me day" and let him see how it is to do that all day (and dinner better be ready by the time he gets home) plus she should leave him a list of what cleaning/shopping etc. she would typically also get done on that day.

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answers from Los Angeles on

She has allowed him to treat her like that for 8 getting him to change now is gonna be tough but I think if he truly loves her, he can do it. I think the only real way is for her to have a heart to heart talk with him and then she needs to call him on it every time something comes out of his mouth that is disrespectful...that way he sees exactly what it is that he s doing/saying that she feels is out of line.

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answers from Roanoke on

How has she been dealing with it for this long? I think in a situation like this one, it will be hard to make her husband change his ways. A heart-to-heart is necessary, but both of them have to sit down and listen to each other, good, bad, and ugly. Then they need to decide what is and is not acceptable, and how they are going to deal with it. I suggest that if he crosses the disrespect line,, she call him out on it RIGHT then. Don't hold it in, wait till bedtime, but let him know immediately that she feels disrespected and it is not acceptable. Hopefully after a while, he will start to come around a little. But she also has to probably give a little bit too, move the line back a bit at first.

And next time she gets sick, she can snuggle him in bed alllll snotty-hacky-coughy night long. :)

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answers from Provo on

I don't think a change is going to happen. There are some men like this and there is NOTHING anyone is going to do to make them change or make them want to change. My ex was like this the whole time we were married and I had in my simple mind that there was something I could do to make him love and respect me. I tried everything!! He was so mean to all of us and had such a way as to turn it around so where it was my fault. I believed it was my fault. I finally told him that we were going to a marriage counselor. He did not want to do this because he believed everyone else was the problem. My ex has a lot of anger issues and when we went to the counselor he (my ex) went off on him. I guess it is pretty plain to see why he is an ex. I am stubborn and was not going to stand for this. I could see no outstanding qualities in this man. That is me!!!

My aunt who is married to my dad's brother has been treated this same way from day one. She is such a wonderful person and reminds me of June Cleaver. She goes out to the driveway to hug my uncle as he comes home and he does not even acknowledge her. I often wondered, even when I was young, why she deals with this kind of behavior. My uncle is definitely the king of his castle. He does take very good care of her and the kids. I guess the good outweighs the bad to her. She has a different attitude then I do.

I think there are some men who are going to see it as a man's world no matter what. It is hard to deal with a control freak!! I think she would be beating her head against the wall when it came to trying to get him to change.

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answers from Cleveland on

I'd have her read Nonviolent Communication and see if she get can him to as well. And I'd also see if she can get him to understand this isn't good for his kids. I think people will make changes for their kids sometimes before they will for a spouse...

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answers from Norfolk on

People treat you the way you let them. If it were me I'd start telling him "I won't be spoken to like that." and be calm but firm. If it continued I'd tell him again. "I've told you once that I won't be spoken to like that. You either speak to me with the respect I deserve or don't speak at all. If this happens again I'm going to walk out the door and not come back. Do you understand me?" I think you almost have to treat him like a child with some kind of punishment and he needs to be scared. She should also take a nice long weekend and leave him with the kids so he gets a taste of what she does everyday.

My FIL speaks to my MIL, in my opinion, in a very demeaning, condescending, and disrespectful manner. When my husband and I were dating we were out with friends one night and he started speaking to me the way my FIL does to my MIL. When we got in the car at the end of the night I looked at him and very calmly, but firmly, told him that I absolutely will not be spoken to like that and I deserve and expect his respect. If he can't provide that I will leave. I told him that I have never and would never speak to him like that and I expect more from him. He apologized. I told him if he ever did it again that would be it and I would be gone. It was a pretty bad night as far as how he treated me. Let me tell you he sobered up really quickly. A couple of times he has said not to speak to him in the way that I was and I appreciated that he stuck up for himself and I apologized. I hadn't meant for things to come out the way they did. I think it's good for couples to remind each other of those things and not become resigned to it.

This is setting a really poor example for the kids. She does need to tell him she's going out PERIOD! They need to have a nice long talk about how he's treating her. What if a friend/family member of his spoke to her that way? Would he be mad or think nothing of it. Maybe he needs to see this from another angle.

Stories like this make me even more thankful that I married the man I did. Other than that one time he has never been disrespectful to me and not that it's an excuse but at the time he did it he was 23 and I was his first long term girlfriend. There were bound to be some growing pains. I hope your friend can either find a way to change her relationship with him or find a new man who is as wonderful as mine :)

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answers from Phoenix on

Yes there is hope. =) My husband was similar to this. He's a "command man" and a leader. A great leader of our home and a great leader of our family. He's organized and has a strong personality. He used to come across to me as disrespectful and putting me down. I used to get so upset and all bent out of shape when he gave me a hard time about something. He'd go on and on about something that upset him until I was about to blow up. I couldn't talk to him or reason with him at all because by the time we finished the conversation it was turned back on me. I was at my wits end. I read a bunch of books which helped but I totally changed my attitude. I told myself that I was going to do everything he asked me to do with a happy heart and a good attitude (he likes to be waited on hand and foot which I love doing most of the time.) I also decided that if he got upset with me for something, I'd respond with kindness and respect, "I'm so sorry that upset you, I'll try not to do that anymore... " etc. I had to work at it because my first response was to get angry and defend myself or lash back. I started really admiring him, honoring him and respecting him, even if I was angry with him. I tried to put in perspective where he was coming from and put myself on the back burner for awhile. This is opposite of what people would recommend. But amazing things started happening. He started being really happy. He started complimenting me, thanking me, respecting me. He rarely gives me a hard time anymore and he really seems to esteem me above all others. I never felt that way before. He really adores ME and admires ME and this totally changed our relationship. This didn't happen over night. I saw little changes at first and as I was persistent in my attitude, it started snowballing. It took more than a year of me being consistent. Now our relationship is 500% better. I read "The Total W." by Marable Morgan and "Created to be His Helpmeet" by Debi Pearl. In the second book, the chapter about "Mr. Command Man" really helped me see my husband as a leader rather than a jerk. That chapter totally described my husband to a T. And showed his personality as a good thing and a blessing and how I can encourage him in that. Once I saw the issue was with me (which is good because as hard as it was, it was definately easier to change myself than to try to change him), I was able to move forward and change myself. I truly didn't expect him to change and our relationship to move mountains. It's been an amazing few years and it has totally changed my entire family and others around us. Whew knew? I hope this helps! Good luck!

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answers from Detroit on

My husband has NEVER treated me this way. My ex? Yup. All the time.

But, she needs a get-away for a few days. He'll figure out really fast that she busts her butt.

And I think it's a great idea to secretly make a video of him being an @sshat to her and show it to him. :)

My husband gets into a mood sometimes and will nitpick though... That's when I offer to trade him places. I will go and work in the garage to work on the projects for our house, car or motorcycle [because we know I'm capable] and he can come in and cook and clean and entertain the kids and go grocery shopping and do laundry and bathe the kids after dinner........ He will stop immediately, give me a kiss and a hug and say thank you for all I do. Then decline my offer. : ) But I get rubbed on a ton by my wonderful husband.

I never cooked before my husband came along. But then again, he deserves it. ♥

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answers from Dallas on

O. Cheryl O. I feel for your friend. I've been called a retard, a teenager, a child, one that doesn't listen...he will point out my cleaning flaws....I told my husband he should have married himself. I'm not perfect - he wants someone that is.

I was on crutches and asked him to get me a glass of water - he told me I was on my way to the kitchen anyways.

I hope she has more cajones than I do. Can you get through to him? I don't know. Just let her be herself and not bow down. Sometimes when a man sees strength/fighting back is a plus. Or he will try to knock them down verbally...repeatedly. Make sure she keeps her backbone. She can go to counseling on her own. She needs a break.

I think she might be married to my husband's doppleganger.
PM me if you want. It's hard.

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answers from Des Moines on

Leave him at home, alone, with the kids for a week!

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answers from Norfolk on

After trying to change mine for over 15 years, I finally realize that he isn't going to change. If he doesn't respect her now, he never will!

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answers from Jacksonville on

Not that this is a full solution, but maybe a "starter" one....
Since she always has an excuse (he just got in from a trip, or whatever), maybe you could tell her that YOU need a girls' weekend away. We all know that 2 hours won't be enough for him to get a good idea of what she is responsible to deal with all day everyday. At a minimum, all day and past the kids' bedtimes. I have recently started doing that with an old friend. It's only happened twice (a year a part, so I guess once a year, lol)... but I choose a day that my husband is off work (he is off on Mondays) and during the summer, because my friend works as a counselor in a school and that is when she also has time... and we meet at 11:30 somewhere (we meet in the middle, she lives 75 minutes from me). We have a long leisurely lunch with wine. We shop. We talk. We have more wine somewhere. We shop for shoes. We have dinner. We shop and walk some more (this usually happens at an upscale outdoor shopping center). When we say our" good-nights we'll do this again soon"s it was 11:00 pm. When I get home the house is dark. :)

THAT is what her husband needs to deal with. Lunch. Snacks. Dinner. Baths. Bedtime. And all the hassle, stress, discipline and mess in between. All by his lonesome.

So let her blame it on YOU. :) You NEED this day with her....

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answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Cheryl:
Thanks for putting your question on line. Your question is a symptom
of the disrespect that has fallen upon our culture for some reason.

First of all, your friend is playing a victim role. Not only is she playing
the victim role, she is also a perpetrator.

When she is feeling violated, she needs to express her feeling about what is happening to her. She needs to feel empowered to be able to do that.

(Before she decided to sleep elsewhere, she could have asked her husband if her coughing would disturb him. He would have told her yes or no. Then she could have made her decision based on his answer.)

She is becoming a perpetrator of gossip and wounding her husband's reputation by talking about him behind his back. Gossip kills people.

He doesn't respect her, because she doesn't respect herself.

Just my thoughts.

Resource Information from:
Restorative Practices

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answers from Washington DC on

This kind of stuff baffles my mind. My husband doesn't dare speak to me that way - though he is far from perfect as we all are. He does like to pick u pick up a broom and complain that I don't do it enough. I HATE to sweep - I feel like I can never get it all up and I loathe it. So I ask him to do it. Sometimes I'll skip a few days and wait for him to notice how badly it needs done...then he complains and complains for the 10 minutes it takes him to do it, and then he's done. Normally he is doing this while I am cleaning or cooking...I just look at him and he knows he would be better to SHUT UP.

He is not handicapped. She is a SAHM and needs to find a way to let her husband know what it takes. Can he take a few days vacation to either follow her around OR do her job?

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