• August 16, 2007

House Denied

...and other power struggles

TV & Movies,

David and I have been having the House Cleaning War. We aren’t very traditional when it comes to gender roles and usually share the cleaning responsibilities equally. But, lately David has been very busy with work and freelance projects. I have been less busy with work, so David felt I should be picking up more of the cleaning duties.

On the surface, this sounds perfectly reasonable. What I found objectionable was his approach, the way he expected me to clean. I don’t like being bossed around and decided not to not clean…at all…for the past 3 weeks. My decision has not been well recieved.

David would do a little cleaning here and there, getting angrier and angrier every step of the way. This made me want to clean even less, although, there really isn’t much less than nothing at all.

This impass may have continued indefinately except for a business card with “Please call regarding possible filming for TV show” written on the back, left on our front door by a location scout yesterday afternoon. I called the number on the card and set up a time for the production crew to do a walk through of our house today. Of course, I cleaned the house before they came. But, and here is the important thing, I did NOT clean because David ordered me to.

The production crew felt the scale of our house is wrong for their scene and they are looking for bedrooms on the ground floor. They took several pictures of our front door and may want to use it for a different scene. I felt a little sad that our house wasn’t picked. They are going to be filming in two houses on our street.

All minor power struggles in my marriage aside, thank God this TV thing came along. The mess was really starting to get to me.

Comments { 21 }
  1. jolynna

    Wow, that is exciting that your house was considered. Even having your door featured week after week is fame. Especially considering that that door was handcrafted to your specifications.

    It is great to see you back posting.

  2. Carol

    I don’t understand why you would not clean your house, when you really wanted to. Just to not do what your husband asks??? To me, that doesn’t even make sense. You’re doing something that is making you miserable and him miserable, for what? Just to make a point? OK. You make a point but you’re both unhappy about it. LOL. Weird. How does that benefit YOU? Seems to me a better solution would be to do what he says, not necessarily because he says to, but do it for yourself because you like a clean house, and in doing it, it makes him happy too. So life is much better for BOTH of you.

    Just my opinion. Take it or leave it!

    Love your house.

  3. Bethy

    I totally get what you are saying about the house cleaning expectation. My husband and I disagree on this all the time. The issue really isn’t about the cleaning, it is the way my husband assumes I will clean because I am the woman. It makes me not want to clean either! LOL.

  4. Anna

    Love your site! The work you have done on your house is such an inspiration. We don’t fight over cleaning the house but we do this exact same thing over washing the cars. I know it is weird for people to understand. I even think it is crazy myself sometimes! We will go several MONTHS before washing our car because we expect the other one to do it.

    You are right when you said it is a power struggle. I’d rather drive around in a dirty car then to be the one to give in and wash the car again or when it is my boyfriend’s “turn” to do it.

  5. redrobin

    My first thoughts were in complete agreement with Carol, the you are only hurting yourself type of reasoning. But, after giving this further thought, I think we all tend to do this in one way or another.

    Maybe it is not being as productive at work because of resentment towards your boss or feeling unappreciated. Maybe it is not being as available to friends or family, saying you are busy when you really aren’t. I think we all withhold time, sex, money, support or even house cleaning at different times in our lives becuase of resentment, the weight of someone else’s expectations or feeling taken for granted.

  6. Carol

    RedRobin, I don’t see how agreeing with me would change your last statements. I agree with what I said AND with what you said. I certainly wasn’t putting the author down. I am guilty of doing the same thing sometimes, but I still think it’s weird and doesn’t benefit me in the long run. I was just making a suggestion that would be to her benefit, I think. But maybe I’m wrong. It just seems to work better in MY marriage. Maybe being resentful and spiteful makes her happier. Heck, I don’t know! LOL.

  7. leah

    Heather – I totally get what you’re saying. I am the same way about cleaning the house. Especially now as a stay-at-home-mom, it’s expected that I will take on the majority of the house cleaning since I’m in it all day. Regardless of how much time and energy it takes chasing after a crawling baby all day. I love it when company comes over, because then – FINALLY then – I have the motivation to clean and I’m so happy after it’s done…but not while I’m being asked, “So, what did you DO all day?”

  8. MichaelK

    hehe…as a member of the opposite sex situated in near-similar circumstances (and also being of the artistly trained/employed…both of us), I could quite relate to your tale. It was remarkably refreshing to hear the “other side” of this story…especially being someone else’s “other side”. I know my wife has relayed this very same thing to me at times, however I had been less sympathetic in those cases. For that I am ashamed, but am grateful to hear it none-the-less. Thank you for sharing.

    I shall now go eat my shoe…the one I just tripped over.

  9. Mom

    In all fairness to my daughter, Heather, anyone who has been reading the story about her 1912 Bungalow knows that she willingly has worked with jackhammers, crowbars, hammers, cement, rocks, electric sanders and man-tools I (and lots of women like me) would never touch.

    It is a trade off. Heather’s time off was a three week slump which, in my opinion, should not take away from the many months she has worked full time, kept up a blog, restored the house AND did housework.

    From an impartial reader.

  10. alex

    David sure is smart. Although that was a lot of effort to go through to get you to clean the house, at least it worked. Good job David.

  11. Anonymous

    HA! I’m with Alex. I think David hired the location scout and production crew to scout your house.

    Maybe this is obvious, but why not hire a maid?

  12. Suzapalooza

    This post seems to have struck a nerve. We have the writer being called spiteful, the mother coming out of the woodwork to defend the daughter…Oh, the drama. Where is the husband in all of this? What is his side of the story? Maybe he is off hiring a different production crew to come to the house next week?

    What I find interesting is that this topic would not have even been a discussion a few generations ago. In my generation women did all or most of the housework and childrearing. The men worked outside of the home. That is just the way it was. Once women started working outside of the home, they still did most of the housework.

    But, this has changed in younger generations. Men and women seem to handle the division of labor much more equally. Women use power tools and men bake cakes. It is a different world today. Until it isn’t.

    Things run smoothly until something comes along to throw off this delicate balance. All it takes is a new baby, a woman begins to work from home, a husband that picks up more hours at work or goes back to school. Then they probably will find themselves sitting right in the middle of those stereotypical gender roles they shunned.

    No wonder there is conflict. From my seat, after pursuing a higher education and career success many young women of today don’t want to step back into the roles their mothers and grandmothers filled. Why should they? They have been raised hearing they can do anything, that the world is open to them. My generation fought so hard for women of today to have more opportunities.

  13. Carol

    I wasnt calling the writer a spiteful person in general, only in this instance. And that is just my opinion, doesnt mean it IS a true statement. To me, it SEEMS a bit spiteful, but I guess I don’t have all the facts surrounding the issue, as the mother pointed out.

    I guess the post was just a venting-post, and not a looking-for-suggestions-to-make-things- better post, so I shouldn’t have said what I said. Sorry!

    Have a great day!

  14. heather

    Thanks everyone for the interesting comments. It is beneficial to hear different points of view – from what color we should paint the house, to how to have a better marriage – that is one of the great things about this blog. Please, don’t feel bad for posting an opinion that differs from mine. It is good to consider things from an alternate perspective.


  15. Jill

    Oh, how familiar all this sounds. In my humble opinion, based on almost 21 years of marriage, the “equal housework” thing is a myth. I truly believe that most men, left to their own devices, would live in squalor. If they become accustomed to a certain level of neatness, it’s because we provide it for them. My DH does almost no housework. For a number of years he worked long hours AND had a horrible commute, so to leave the house at 6 AM, get home at 8 PM, and be expected to do housework was kind of unreasonable. Now he is home before me and STILL doesn’t do any housework. HOWEVER….he doesn’t demand that I keep the house neat as a pin either. So we don’t fight.

    When he was out of work recently, he did a LOT of cleaning and decluttering, and then he started to nag me about the mess. But since he’s been working again, he’s shut up — and I’ve tried to keep up with the clutter.

    All that said, sometimes you need a push from something like the TV show possibility to get your behind in gear when otherwise you get paralyzed with “Where do I start?” I got home from vacation Friday night and two hours later was the chosen host for a house party for Elizabeth Edwards, who’s doing a book signing nearby this week. You can bet your butt I am spending every spare minute cleaning. Too bad I can’t remodel the bathroom and sheetrock the basement family room before then. I keep hoping that one of those truckloads of people from HGTV shows up to help. :)

  16. Jason

    C’mon, Jill. If left to their own devices most men would live in squalor? Man, that’s rough. Being a guy who is clearly part of the minority in the eyes of most women, I find I have an extreme aversion to clutter and overall messiness – far more so than my wife. If left to my own devices I would definitely eat more Big Macs and Chinese takeout, but my house would sparkle with freshness.

    That being said, I don’t clean showers and I have a tendency to wait far too long before I change our cat’s litter box.

    I think Heather is on to something though – namely that we can always find time to clean when we know guests are coming.

  17. teri McGilvray

    I’ve purposely left things out or untouched just to see how long or what it would take for my husband or almost 20 year old daughter to notice that they hadn’t moved. Literally they could walk past, over, by something for weeks and never either notice or care to comment that it has been there so long. After years of cleaning my butt off in the house I have determined that it really doesn’t matter to them therefore if I don’t feel like cleaning I DON’T! :)

    When it gets to me then I will clean but with all my allergies there are days that I am just not up to it. Now hiring a maid/house cleaner has crossed my mind from time to time.

    Heather I completely and utterly understand your position. Definitely if guests are coming or someone is stopping by then everyone scatters to clean up, something to be said for that I guess noone wants to let it be known that they let things slide just on a general rule.

  18. Randy Grisham

    I hope I can give you a suggestion without making you upset, I made a screen door for my home and created a design borrowed from the Gamble House, that would look better on your home than the door you now have. If you would like I can send you the pix I have taken of it and email them to you.
    I tossed the plans when I finished the door, sorry.

  19. Heather

    Hi Randy! Thanks for thinking of us. We aren’t upset. We like our screen door but know that there are other, even nicer options out there. :)

    I’d love to see your door. I am sure it is amazing. Send us photos anytime. [email protected]


  20. Anthony

    I am sure you don’t like it when he “expects you to pick up the slack (a small sacrifice for the family). I am also sure that you don’t mind him tackling those extra projects and making extra money or furthering his career (a small sacrifice for the family). Don’t let your ego ruin the relationship. You should be expected to pick up the slack just like if you were in his shoes he should be expected to do the same if you were busy. My wife doesn’t work at all and we a 3 kids. One is in school and one is 3 and one is 8 months. I know how hard it is to maintain a home but she purposely trashes the house to make me mad. Dirty diapers…food wrappers dirty cloths. One day my son came in from school and took his shoes off..I said why do your feet smell so bad..he said “I have been wearing dirty socks for two days. You see what may seem like a game to you is going to dame things between the two of you and maybe others. Don’t play the games. Communicate and work things out verbally.

  21. JBanker


    Am I the only one with an ideal husband? :)

    That’s the longest and (to my opinion) the only stupid discussion I found on this site…

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