Why Splitting Responsibilities in Marriage Isn’t Necessarily About Equality

I had a fascinating discussion with a friend recently about an article she reposted. While it purports to be about how men and women are still not doing the same amount of housework, etc., the part that really stood out to me was this:

A dad in San Francisco said that many of the tasks of parenting weren’t important enough to remember: “I just don’t think these things are worth attending to. A certain percentage of parental involvement that my wife does, I would see as valuable but unnecessary. A lot of disparity in our participation is that.”

It caught my eye because it immediately made me think of another quote that I had on my fridge for the longest time:

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

That quote is by Peter Drucker, a well-known author and educator on the subject of time and energy management in professional spheres. Now, this is not to say that mainstream management philosophies necessarily apply when creating a happy home life, but also don’t necessarily not apply. Plenty of the strategies we use to combat overwhelm and focus on the key tasks/priorities at work can be equally valuable at home.

In this specific case, I feel like these two quotes beg some fascinating questions.

  • What kinds of work/tasks are women doing and men avoiding because they have different ideas about the value associated with it/them?
  • Where do the differences in perspective come from? Are they personality-based? Are they societally-based? (e.g.
    “you’re a bad wife/mother if x isn’t happening in your house” where no similar judgement sits on men)
  • How many couples experiencing these disparities have ever sat down and talked through them? Not argued or thrown blame, but genuinely discussed what matters to them and why a given task doesn’t matter equally.

I’d love to know more about this because I suspect that there’s a lot of blame being tossed around for what really comes down to:

  • Spouses being raised with different expectations that they’ve never really sat down and made their own decisions about
  • Spouses simply having different personal priorities (such as the fact that my husband is very diligent about dusting and, while I have no problem cleaning in general, dusting simply doesn’t occur to me)
  • Men and women being held to different societal standards without any real understanding of how those standards differ and the lived experience of shouldering those expectations

It makes me infinitely sad that most mainstream media discussions of this topic default to casting blame and wailing about inequality instead of prompting people to ask these kinds of questions and have these discussions within their marriages.

How much good could we accomplish and how much quality of life could we gain if, instead of casting blame and teaching people to expect strife around division of labor, we taught them to make informed, cohesive decisions about what matters to them? How much stronger would marriages be if we taught people to expect these kinds of situations and how to productively address them?

At base, the important point every time we see an article like this is to take what we read with a bucket or so of salt and try to ask useful, productive questions of ourselves and within our own relationships — because that is where real and valuable change happens, when it needs to.

What Happens When We Don’t Teach Economics Correctly

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was a business major. As a business major, I took Macroeconomics and Microeconomics and a whole bunch of other related business classes. Now, this is more than all of the rest of my peers, who largely had to take no economics at all. Yet even with all of those classes, I learned mostly nothing that was ACTUALLY useful or relevant to how real-world economics work.

Fast forward to now, when I am an adult with Real Life Experience who is once again browsing for a new job and hyper-aware that the modern employment system is a train wreck. (We won’t discuss the lunacy of making people have resumés and ALSO making them enter the exact same information line-by-line in an online form because then we’d be here forever.) It boggles my mind that 98% of jobs have pay rates that literally make it more costly to work than to not work.

At a bare minimum, working requires:

  • Transportation
  • Work-appropriate clothing
  • Paying taxes

If you pay someone $9 an hour, it practically costs their entire salary to pay all of those things – and that’s without accounting for the fact that they probably need to spend more on food they can get/eat on break, some people have kids or other family members that need watching while they are at work, etc. Is it any wonder that people choose to just drop out of the workforce so often? It’s literally not worth it, even if they were being treated well which they almost never are. And then employers whine and complain about how there’s no one to hire! No one wants to work! WAH!

Case in point, this article that a friend of mine reblogged recently:

This is not emotional intelligence. This is basic economics. The kind we’ve stopped teaching in schools and writing about and modeling in the workplace because modern corporations don’t want to sacrifice a tiny portion of their profits to be socially responsible. This is modern corporations throwing social safety net programs (and society as a whole) under the bus so they can scrape a few extra bucks out of their workers and give themselves the room to be lazy.

While I could rant about this, I would like to take a more productive approach and use this as an opportunity to recommend the book Invisible Women. In addition to a host of other brilliant information, it has one of the best write-ups I have ever seen on how:

  • So much of our modern social structure is built on the idea of a Social Contact between workers and employers
  • Employers (and the government agents they’ve bought out) have been progressively eroding that contract for decades
  • That broken contract is at the heart of why so many individuals and families are struggling financially, social safety net programs are overwhelmed, and so many employers are crying about lack of labor

It literally provides the kind of education that I and every other student should have gotten on economics and didn’t.

As a bonus, I will also recommend Fed Up, which offers a look into how bad monetary policy is exacerbating all of the above problems. Both books are beautifully written and require no background in business, monetary policy, or other such subjects to grasp and appreciate.

While I have no illusions that fixing the mess we’re in will ever be easy, the first step is understanding how we got here. That requires getting real information instead of the nonsense that fills most of the news media. If you find yourself with spare reading time this summer, maybe give one or both of them a try?

Sunday Round Up

Since I’m organizing my life tonight, I thought I’d take a minute to do a quick round up of miscellaneous things I’ve meant to post.

First up, Keto Mug Cake. I don’t think I posted this yet? Super easy, keto/paleo and a really nice , fast treat when you want something sweet but not too much.

Second, I went to yoga one night this week and when I turned off the main road into our neighborhood I immediately saw police lights. Getting right near our house, I discovered that someone had driven a red car through the fence of the daycare across the street and then through the inner fence, too. There were people everywhere, the car was sitting open in the middle of the playground area, it was wild. Eventually a tow truck came and hauled the car away and they got temp repairs done on the fence on Friday morning.

Weirdly, I cannot find any mention of this anywhere in the news or online. ??? Not sure what that’s about but here’s a photo I took of the damage.

Third, I ran across this online and it really made me stop and think because it perfectly describes a friend I had in/just after college. I didn’t understand why the friendship crashed and burned at the time, but in retrospect I think it was this: I changed and she couldn’t acknowledge it.

Fourth, I recently broke one of my measuring cups. It is stainless steel and I’ve had the set forever and the handle just came off. I spent some time looking at replacements online before my Prince informed me he could fix it. (It’s so nice that he’s talented!) While I was browsing, I figured I’d go with the Marie Kondo approach and look for some that ‘sparked joy’. Do you know what (so ironically) does not spark joy? Shopping for things that spark joy. Seriously. There are so many ugly measuring cup sets in the world. It’s unreal. And the pretty ones? $60. No joke. Who on earth has $60 to spend on a single set of measuring cups?! And why do so many sets look like they were designed by someone who has never used a set in their lives? Who intentionally makes daily use kitchen items hard to clean? Important questions for which there are no answers…

Anyway, there’s laundry waiting to be folded and puppies who need love, so that’s all for the moment, I think.

Quiverfull of Insanity

Most of the time I rely on my husband to tell me if there’s anything important in the news because checking it myself tends to make me want to stab people or set things on fire. As you can imagine that’s not really constructive and is very bad for my blood pressure. Occasionally, though, I do either skim the headlines or run across news somewhat accidentally. That was how I heard about the Josh Duggar scandal.

Now normally, I would have just moved on since I’m not into celebrity/reality TV gossip. The blurb that I saw, however, caught my attention because it mentioned Debbi Pearl. Once upon a time, a long time ago, when I was a new bride, I did what I assume all Type A brides do: I picked up a whole bunch of books on how to be the Best Wife Ever. Naturally.

Having been raised in the church, I of course gravitated to marriage books targeted at the Christian market. One of that early handful of books was by Debbi Pearl. To say that my husband was not amused when I mentioned some of the book’s suggestions would be a gross understatement. That was fine with me, since I was figuring out pretty quickly that that woman wouldn’t know a healthy marriage if someone smacked her over the head with one.

Fast forward to now. Intrigued by the previously unconsidered link between Debbi Pearl’s weirdness and the Duggar thing, I picked up a copy of the book recommended by the blurb I’d seen, which promised to explain things: Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement.

The best analogy I have for the experience of reading this book is that it was like picking up a newspaper and discovering that half the people in the town you used to live in are serial killers, kidnappers, and psychos… and you just didn’t realize it at the time. I was horrified by the sheer number of names, books, and blogs I recognized and what they’ve all apparently been up to since I stopped reading/engaging with their material. It was easy to trace what I remembered of their material to what the overall movement has become, but that did nothing to make it all less infuriating.

Long story short, young me used to read their stuff and make this face: 🤨 … which roughly translates into “I don’t think that works the way you think it does.

Older, more experienced me read this book and made a range of faces: 😱😬🤬… which roughly translate into what the %^^$%$ are you lunatics on??

Anyway. All that is to say that this was a superb read and I three million percent recommend it.

It’s Time to Redesign Shopping

The last two times I have stopped in my preferred grocery store to pick something up, they have had teams tearing chunks of aisles apart and radically reorganizing them.

When I ventured into a mall this week looking for something specific, I was similarly appalled to find that half the stores are at least 1/3 empty and what stuff they do have is largely pointless/useless. Considering the amount of space wasted by sprawling shopping complexes and their equally ginormous parking lots, the fact that they are hard to navigate, hard to find what you want in, and consistently unsatisfactory has me more aware than ever that we are overdue for a radical redesign of the way we shop. It shouldn’t have to be this hard, guys.

Online shopping only goes so far. It’s hard to buy clothes when sizes are bizarrely inconsistent (which is its own rant) and when you can’t touch the fabric or see its actual color or how it fits when not subtly taped/pinned to a model or even on someone just standing normally. (We won’t even get into the Photoshop debate.) Ordering groceries online is even dicier because the average person has NO understanding of food intolerances, much less how to read complex product labels, and if you get the wrong thing you can’t just shrug it off and eat it anyway. By the time you’ve carved out time and gas money and whatever to go return it, you’ve lost any benefits of ordering online to begin with.

I refuse to believe that a society that put people on the moon can’t do any better than this nonsense. There are other methods! Other options! We can make better choices that are good for everyone!!

I’m telling you, this kind of thing is why people snap and become Sith — they just want things to run efficiently and if no one else will make it happen then, well, what other choice do they have except to do it themselves?

Anyway, all that to say if I turn to the dark side sometime soon consider this one of the many, many factors involved. 😛

I’m Doing More Than Reading, I Swear

To judge by my blogging since the end of March, one could be forgiven for thinking that I’ve done nothing but lay around and read. This is not actually the case at all. I’ve been more than busy, so I backtracked to figure out why I apparently haven’t seen fit to blog about anything. 

The simple conclusion was that most of what I’m doing is important but not particularly interesting. 🤷‍♀️

First, I did a lot of thinking and math-ing about my job situation in March and April, and finally determined that I can no longer put off a change. But in order to make those changes, I needed to wrap up some existing commitments. So I’ve dumped a bunch of time and energy into that situation. 

Second, I’ve been working very hard to drill down on controlling/managing my histamine intolerance. I’ve got all the tools I need now to track in more detail, (my Oura ring is amazing) so I’ve been purposely testing small things to see what moves the needle for better or worse. This is energy-intensive and tedious, but paying big dividends, which is why I feel busy but haven’t recorded it here on the blog. 

Third, my article-writing job is crazy busy. They’re constantly running promos and begging people to pick up extra work, so I’ve been stuffing spare work on that front into open hours. 

Fourth, lots of yoga. While there seems to be a thriving market for kidneys, I can’t find anyone paying for degenerate hamstrings, which means the only way to improve my flexibility, stave off stiffness, and try to improve coordination is to go to class a bunch. This is not interesting to blab about, but definitely takes a solid chunk of time. 

I have also done some fun social kinds of things! A friend has started regularly bringing her two (big) dogs over to play with my fur babies, which has been nice for us humans and wonderful for Bran’s socialization! He loves having dogs fairly close to his age (with similarly long legs and high energy levels) to play with! It’s definitely helping him get more confident, which is a joy. Arthas and Nenya enjoy supervising and the extra love, which works out well, too.

It’s a lot of work being this cute!

Another friend came over to help me figure out how to make origami bats. (Like this one. Warning: youtube link.) I have a grand goal of a making a bunch before Halloween and handing them out at the yoga studio (where lots of people LOVE Halloween) but given how badly I suck at it right now, I guess we’ll see, lol. 

Then, of course, because it’s spring and on its way into summer, there’s yard work and endless sweeping up of the dirt and goats head briars the dogs perpetually track in. 

I have also discovered that I should not watch historical food videos on youtube. Me: I could totally do that!! … if I had like 12 spare hours… and invested a couple hundred dollars in specialty equipment… and could eat any of those things … *sigh*

Speaking of food, though, spent $12 and bought myself a set of ramekins.

I used to have a set of lovely little wooden bowls, but after years of hard use they finally all cracked and split and had to be discarded. I kept finding myself reaching for them and remembering they weren’t there. At the same time, I’ve been despairing over finding a muffin tin that wasn’t junk or stupidly expensive… and then it occurred to me that I could solve both those problems (and try a couple other recipes on my list) if I just bought a nice set of durable ramekins! Voila!

While we’re on the topic of food, I found a low-histamine/keto mug cake recipe that makes me extremely happy. I skip the cocoa powder (not LH) and make a cinnamon coffee cake style version instead, but I love that it has oven instructions and still only takes 10 minutes to bake off. (And only takes 6 tbsp of almond flour per serving!!) It’s amazing when I need something small and fast or am craving something sweet, so hooray for small wins!

Anyway, all that to say that the blog has been fairly quiet because I’ve been spitting out reams of words on other fronts or busy elsewhere. I’ll try to do better. : )

Okay, let’s wrap this up with a few fun links I’ve run across recently-ish:

How Disney’s Frozen Helped Solve a Decades-Old Mystery 

What Ruined VeggieTales

Antique Knitting Pattern Library  (including Mrs. Beeton’s!)

Doing Your Hair Without Elastics 

Book Review: Deep Work

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book hits some of the same points as previous books that I’ve read about how modern cultural expectations around social media, internet use, etc. are at best not doing us any favors and at worst rewriting our brains in counterproductive ways.

What I appreciated about it, though, was that it was less about “omg everything is bad” and mostly about “here is a variety of proven strategies that can fit any job/lifestyle that help your reclaim your time and productivity and lower your stress despite all the cultural pressure to the commentary.” The author gets extra points for very clear, detailed, and concise examples, both historical and modern.

Whether it was the writing style or just its juxtaposition with the last (very long, dense, slow) book that I read, this felt like a light and fast read that still had a lot to offer. Even if you’re somewhat familiar with many of the ideas, they’re worth getting a refresher on. Definitely recommend!

View all my reviews

Side note: Despite feeling like I haven’t done much reading this year, Goodreads tells me I’ve read 11 books (including cookbooks and stuff I skimmed/reread). So yay for being unexpectedly ahead on something!

Book Review: Surveillance Capitalism

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up because it was recommended by the Social Dilemma documentary. As expected, the core of this book was good. It provides a tremendous amount of information I have not seen anywhere else on:
– How we got where we are
– Who all is doing the surveilling of modern society
– How they’re doing it
– How they’re using the information they take
– How they’re getting away with it
– Why we’re at such a disadvantage when it comes to trying to stop them/change things
– The costs (current and projected) of modern surveillance capitalism
– How and why we might do things differently

It’s extremely comprehensive and I give the author lots of points for her insight and creative use of examples, historical and natural-world parallels, and general ability to make her points clear and salient.

With all of that said, I quit this book at the conclusion because the audio version wasn an hour and a half long. As much as I enjoyed the core of the book, by the time I hit chapter 15 it started to feel like a positively endless slog. It just kept going forever, long after I felt like I’d seriously gotten the point and each subsequent chapter after about that point felt like it offered diminishing returns. I cannot imagine what the conclusion could possibly need to contain that it is that long but I ran out of patience to find out.

My suggestion: get a digital or hard copy of this so that you can skim when it gets repetitive or enters the less-engaging, lower-value sections. Because while the core of this is critically important information everyone deserves to be exposed to and understand, the latter chunk of it is very skippable.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Come As You Are

I am vaguely aware that if you only followed my blog you’d think the sole thing I am doing these days is reading. That is a grossly inaccurate representation of things. In reality, I am spending most of my time:

  • Working
  • Wishing I was better at yoga (stupid hip flexors)
  • Trying to keep up with the mountains of puppy fur my dogs are shedding
  • Trying to keep up with the dishes that seem to multiply every time I turn my back (how? why?)
  • Eking out very slow progress on my knitting project
  • Working some more

That said, I am very aware that tomorrow is MAY already and that if I want to have read anything approaching a respectable number of books by the end of the year I need to get my butt in gear and finish a few. Admittedly, most of my progress on that front is in audiobooks, but every little bit counts, right?

Anyway, today’s book is one that I have been reading in small chunks because it seriously makes me want to stab people or cry. But I did finally finish it and have written myself a note to reread it every year from now on because it’s just that good.

Here’s the official review, such as it is, that I put on Goodreads:

Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is phenomenal, to the point that it feels like one of those books you should reread every year. Don’t be mislead by the fact that it has “sex” in the title — it’s about so much more.

What that review doesn’t say is that this book is only incidentally about sex. It’s also deeply about neuroscience, physiology, relationships, communication, and the intersections of those things with each other and society and life. It’s very much written in an accessible style meant to attract lay people (and not just those of us who routinely geek out about physiology and neuroscience).

It’s full of breathtaking science that makes you put the book down, stare blindly at the wall, and go “omg is that why that happens?!” Like Invisible Women, this book found its way to me when I really needed the information it contained — I can’t tell you how much its discussions of the little “monitor” in our heads and how it impacts how we perceive and respond to situations where reality does not match our expectations illuminated my current work situation and made it easier to make decisions and changes I’ve been putting off.

The information it offers on the Stress Cycle alone is invaluable.

So yeah, I finished this and it was amazing and I literally want everyone I know to read it, too, because I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be better off for having done so.

(As a side note, I have promised My Prince that I will intentionally seek out a few books to read next that do not inspire me to want to stab people for any reason. In my defense, however, I didn’t know this one would be as feelings-provoking as it turned out to be…)