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Flyladies and Flybabies
A Testimonial that rubbed me the wrong way 
14th-Jan-2011 10:08 am

Hi guys, I wanted to get your take on something I read today that is really bugging me.  A testimonial was sent out this morning describing a woman who used to do great with Flylady until she had to go back to work because her husband lost his job.  She talks about how difficult it was to fit it back in with ten hours less in the day, and then talks about how she managed to fit in cleaning up in the morning before she goes to work and then picking up after her husband and son after she gets home.  She gets kudos for not having a martyred attitude.

I can't help thinking, whoa, wait a second, hold on!  Her husband is home all day and does NOTHING?  And she works full-time and does EVERYTHING?  There is something seriously wrong with this picture and I don't feel like its something to be celebrated.  There is a vast difference between having a martyred attitude and being a doormat.  Not to mention the impression that is being made on the young son who is at home with Dad.  What is he learning? 

Anyway, I just wanted to get your thoughts. 


ETA -- I posted on the official BigTent forums my dislike of the testimonial and my post and the response to it was locked down and set to private.  That rubs me even MORE the wrong way. 

14th-Jan-2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
I know that the whole flylady attitude is basically that women should do everything and not complain if their husband's don't, because it's at least better than no one doing it - and that attitude has always bothered me.

This ... this is beyond the pale. If her husband is out of work and at home, there's NO WAY he shouldn't be doing -something-, at least. How frustrating!
14th-Jan-2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I just know if I was in that situation it would drive me nuts and no amount of "don't be a martyr" would change it.
14th-Jan-2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
^^ beat me to it
14th-Jan-2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
All of this.

I like a lot of things about the Flylady system, but this attitude is not one of them. Last time I checked, I was married - not a slave.

We both work full time. He can do his share or GTFO. If one of us wasn't working, I'd expect that person to do the lion's share.
14th-Jan-2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
If he is home and not disabled, he should be doing the housework.
14th-Jan-2011 06:19 pm (UTC)
I agree with you.

I'm home all day and have some trouble with getting the housework done (hence my membership here), but when I was working and my husband wasn't, I would ask him to try to accomplish a few specific tasks during the day - usually a short list like do the dishes, clean the bathroom, and move the laundry I just started when the machine stops. He would usually get about half the things done, which was better than nothing since I would get home and have to cook dinner! When we were both working, I would ask him to do the same sorts of things on the weekends when I went out to run errands and buy groceries.

Apparently men do better with tasks that don't need to be done at a specific time, which I totally understand - things like taking out the garbage are more up their alley than things like doing the dishes or sweeping every day - but there's nothing that says they are incapable of following some kind of a cleaning schedule!
14th-Jan-2011 07:45 pm (UTC)
I agree that her husband and son are useless eaters, but it's not going to improve the situation any for her to start feeling sorry for herself and angry at them. Losing your shit at your family members is a luxury that not everyone can afford. Communicating your feelings in a reasonable adult lowkey way? That's even less possible in extreme circumstances. Sometimes it's more important to keep your spirits up and create a tight tight focus on what you can control, and not let anything else in.
14th-Jan-2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
I don't think she should hit him over the head with a frying pan or anything (although I might be inclined to!) but some serious conversations need to happen in that household. I don't think a situation like that can go on for long before something does snap.
14th-Jan-2011 08:04 pm (UTC)
OK, you don't think that, but maybe you're wrong. It's not pleasant to contemplate but my experience is that the wife pulling 85% of the weight in a marriage is totally sustainable and even normal. If anything snaps, it might be the husband's selfcentered assiness when presented with the good behavior of his wife. If she tells him to get off his lazy behind and clean something, when he's already assuredly feeling like dirt because of his failure to provide for his family, what is very likely to snap is the marriage. Life's not fair.
14th-Jan-2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
I don't think that really is normal anymore. I think there is very much an expectation nowadays for everyone to pull their own weight. And if I was presented with that situation I think I'd be okay with the marriage snapping.
14th-Jan-2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
I'd be okay with the marriage snapping

That's easy to say from inside a good marriage. I also see from your profile that you are professionally educated and gainfully employed. This makes you somewhat unqualified to comment on this woman's situation.
14th-Jan-2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
I've been in a shitty marriage. I didn't tolerate it. I think that does qualify me.
14th-Jan-2011 08:35 pm (UTC)
With kids? Were you going to be single parenting and dealing with coparenting with your ex if you split? Were you financially entangled - did you own property together, was one of you on the other's insurance? Did you have outside support? How old were you - were you young enough to be reasonably assured of repartnering?
14th-Jan-2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
Yes, Yes, Yes, emotional but not financial, 27. And regardless, I have the right to comment on any situation I wish. Just as you have the right to disagree with me.
21st-Jan-2011 11:37 pm (UTC)
I have been in that situation. Married, kid, full-time job, looking at being single at 30. And I still left. I could no longer stand being treated like a maid, and I didn't want to continue to set that example for my little one.
14th-Jan-2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
It shouldn't be normal. That's pandering to bullshit male privilege and it sucks and once again I am glad I am going to be single forever, so I'm not playing into this crap.

and it is crap.
14th-Jan-2011 08:22 pm (UTC)
It's a big pile of steaming crap, and blaming women for it and telling them they're wrong for not "standing up" to their asshole husbands who are usually refusing to seek mental health care for depression (because they're selfish assholes) is so totally not the solution. Nor is kicking the legs out from under a very psychologically comforting and effective piece of self-delusion. Women in this situation get it from all sides and it sucks.
14th-Jan-2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
While I think she should stand up for herself, my main point was that this shouldn't be held up as a positive thing and celebrated. If I was a new member and that sucker landed in my inbox I would run screaming in the other direction.
14th-Jan-2011 08:32 pm (UTC)
OK, but do you see that other people who are saddled with moping do-nothing family members - which I want to reiterate is not a problem you appear to have - might find the idea that you can get control of the house in the face of their uselessness, plus just cut them out of your thinking and have inner peace instead of being constantly pissed off, extremely extremely comforting and encouraging?

It doesn't have to be spouses, either. People have older relatives living with them, they have adult children and stepchildren, and there can be very good reasons you can't shift some layabout slob out of your household, at least not in the immediate future.
14th-Jan-2011 08:40 pm (UTC)
Yes, I can appreciate that. It doesn't make it sit any better with me, but I can see what you are saying.
14th-Jan-2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
My DH has never been one to leave any job undone, and if he wants it done, he'll do it without my even asking. There are very few jobs that he prefers me to do, and that's either because he doesn't know how I do it or he simply doesn't know how period.

That said, when he was out of work himself for several weeks last fall, most of his time was taken up with trying to GET work. He spent hours online filling out applications, driving around to put in applications, and going out to interviews or taking phone interviews. He actually had less time to help than he did when he was working a regular schedule. So we don't know for a fact that this lady's husband is sitting around the house doing nothing. He may be very busy trying to get work.
14th-Jan-2011 07:55 pm (UTC)
I hope that's the case. I still think it wouldn't kill him to put his lunch dishes in the dishwasher.
14th-Jan-2011 08:18 pm (UTC)
I think that this lady's husband and child should have already had experience in managing a domestic routine, because it sure sounds like they don't.
14th-Jan-2011 08:02 pm (UTC)
I haven't read the testimonial (I got tired of them a number of years ago) but from your description I agree with you. It sounds like she is "modern" at work and then stuck in the 50s when she gets home. There might be other circumstances, such as the husband has physical reasons for not doing much, but on the whole, it would seem they are all so accustomed to her doing everything that they don't think to change it. Too bad FL isn't like Ann Landers where you can write in and respond to letters.

And really, writing in to say, oh I manage to do *everything* despite all the odds - well, that DOES sound like a martyr to me.
14th-Jan-2011 08:09 pm (UTC)
lol -- Good point! You can respond to the testimonials on the Big Tent site. Someone there said they found the testimonial "inspirational." Yikes. It would inspire me to run the other direction.
14th-Jan-2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
And this is what I really hate about flylady - the fact that it's pretty much sexist all the way down to its purple lace up shoes.

I live alone, so I don't have any resentment about whatever it is I'm cleaning up. It's my stuff, my mess, and my space, so I'm responsible for it. That would change in a hurry if I was living with someone else, though.
14th-Jan-2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
It's not sexist, it's realistic. This is marriage. If you look for them, there are plenty of testimonials from women with untreated mental health issues whose husbands put up with unbelievable amounts of crap. It's just harder to see because we don't blame men for the condition of their house and marriage like we blame women.
8th-Feb-2011 11:30 pm (UTC)
This is a really old thread, but I just had to comment on this:

It's not sexist, it's realistic.

I hate to break it to you, but reality is sexist. Accepting that sexism as something that should be allowed to continue simply because that's the way it is is also sexist, whether it's a woman or a man doing it.

Yes, occasionally men have to do more in the marriage, but research shows again and again that that only happens a tiny percentage of the time - small enough that you really can't hold it up and say "but these few men don't get it so easy, therefore, this system isn't sexist!"
8th-Feb-2011 11:38 pm (UTC)
show me your research, baby!
14th-Jan-2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
I actually quit reading all the email messages for this very reason...well besides that they were cluttering up my in box! *smile* I am very tired of the June Cleaver attitude. I wish there was a system like FL that kept to organization and left off with the counseling.
14th-Jan-2011 08:37 pm (UTC)
Serious question - why not just not read that part? There's a lot of flylady that doesn't apply to me or hasn't applied at various times in my life. She assumes that people have a car, live in a pretty large space, don't have small children (her system doesn't work as written if you have babies AT ALL) - but it's not I'm being graded.
14th-Jan-2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
I would subscribe to the emails again if I could just get the daily reminders, missions and those sorts of messages. All of the testimonials, advertisements for products and promotions for her friends projects are over the top. It was more junk than usefulness. I'm not going to sift through all of that clutter to find the bits that apply to me or that I find helpful.
14th-Jan-2011 09:06 pm (UTC)
" I'm not going to sift through all of that clutter " -- ironic, eh?
14th-Jan-2011 09:11 pm (UTC)
LOL Yes, but so very true.
19th-Jan-2011 09:13 pm (UTC)
And the web page!? I've been reading for a few years and...wow, the homepage has gotten busy. I can't even go to it anymore because our office PCs are antiquated and the flash stuff freezes mine!
19th-Jan-2011 09:16 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I think she needs to scrap it all and start over from scratch.
14th-Jan-2011 09:18 pm (UTC)
I just get the daily digest. Each email is listed at the top so you can just click on the daily flight plan and skip all the clutter. (I get it in HTML format.) So much less annoying!
14th-Jan-2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
I didn't think of doing this, just went in and changed it! Thank you!
15th-Jan-2011 12:14 pm (UTC)
Check how to use filters in your mail program/site. You can send the testimonials straight to the trash.

Edited at 2011-01-15 12:15 pm (UTC)
14th-Jan-2011 08:38 pm (UTC)
sorry, should say "not read that part"
14th-Jan-2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
I stopped reading the testimonials ages ago because they drove me crazy. This is one of the reasons why. I would be having a serious talk with my husband and son.

I like flylady a lot more when I just stick to the schedules and skip the testimonials and god breezes.
14th-Jan-2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
Over the years, I've observed that different people have different comfort levels with housekeeping/cleaning. For example, DH is an absolute nut over the laundry -- both in terms of level of separating things out, and in how often he does it. Me, I have a lot of clothes and am perfectly happy letting the dirty ones accumulate in the hamper until I'm pretty much out of my favorites.

I, on the other hand, am far more anti-dust than he is. He's perfectly happy going without dusting for ... well, indefinitely. For me, on the other hand, it's something that I like to tackle weekly (or, at worst, once every two weeks). While I could ask him to dust while I'm working, he almost undoubtedly wouldn't do it because, to him it's not a priority; just like, to me, doing laundry before it's really necessary isn't a priority.

And then there are the vision issues. DH and I use separate bathrooms because I get squicked about a dirty shower. I don't think it's that he likes a shower being dirty, I think it's just the he physically is unable to see hair and grime at the level I can (he wears glasses all the time). Same with roasting pans and pots/pans I've used for cooking -- he just can't see stuck-on food as well as I can. So, even if he tries washing them, he'll think those kinds of things are clean when they're really not. To me, "cleaning" them to that level isn't doing me any favors.

So ... while I agree with you entirely in principle, personal experience has taught me that the situation isn't necessarily as straightforward as it seems!
14th-Jan-2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
I just went to the BigTent web site and read the testimonial in question.

The woman says that she had to go back to work because her husband sustained an injury at work, not that he lost his job. For all we know, he physically cannot do any housework. It would still be annoying, but a little more understandable, that he doesn't clean up while she's at work. Not that this excuses the son from not cleaning up after himself unless he's, you know, under the age of about 2 and a half (children learn to clean up their toys and stuff at preschool when they are three, and hopefully they have learned to do it at home before then). She also doesn't say how long this has been going on, just that she had to go back to work "a few years ago."

I do think that comments should be left public, though. That's just rude and kind of overdoing the control thing.
14th-Jan-2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
Guess I missed how he lost his job, I was skimming and didn't really latch on til later on in the email. I would still maintain though that if he's "okay" enough to be left alone with a young son he's probably "okay" to do the dishes.
15th-Jan-2011 12:15 am (UTC)
It did't bother me. Partly what Karalianne said, and partly that FlyLady has always been very quick to say that you can only change yourself, so her replies tend to be in that vein. She has never - to my knowledge anyway - given relationship advice. I actually think she's very careful not to do so.
15th-Jan-2011 01:58 am (UTC)
Mustn't forget her daughter, too. (Unless that's another testimonial that's similar to the one you're posting about, but out of 5 comments, only 2 are visible, so I'm thinking it's the correct one.)

And, really, I'm another one who feels bad that the family's situation changed so suddenly, but honestly. If he can stay home and take care of two young kids, as she was saying that he did, I dare say that he could do the lighter stuff at least.
16th-Jan-2011 01:57 am (UTC)
The only person you can change is yourself, as someone mentioned above. It didn't say she didn't try to ask her husband for help, but realistically, if it matters to HER, she should take care of it. My husband would live in a complete pig sty and not be bothered by it (he DID live in one for 30 years-where he grew up), so me asking him to dust and mop would be totally useless. Never mind his version of 'cleaning up the kitchen' is stacking the dishes neatly on top of the dishwasher. So, if i want something done, I do it. I work at home, with my three children, taking care of them. The house is not my full time job. Parenting is. So, when hubby comes home, I turn to housework. Yes, it's very 1950's, but you know what? It works for us. Hubby sits and watches sports on tv while talking to his kids occasionally and breaking up fights while I do everything else except trash and specific tasks I ask him to do. He doesn't do it like I like it, so I've asked him not to do the tasks. Maybe this woman feels the same way. If she would just have to do it all over again after her husband, why have him do it in the first place?
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