You should’ve asked

Here is the english version of my now famous “Fallait demander” !

Thanks Una from unadtranslation.com for the translation 🙂

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1,103 thoughts on “You should’ve asked

  1. In totally relate to this so I love it, but also makes me depressed as I know my husband would be defensive if he read this!
    We have 3 kids and so I have been working on and off since they were born. Whether I am working part-time, full time or not at all one thing remains the same… I carry all the mental load at home.
    I have many examples but one springs to mind: I was going with the kids to my parents for 2 nights, my husband stayed home as he needed to work. Knowing the bin collection happens Thursday morning when I would be away and that all our rubbish was over flowing, knowing he would never remember himself i reminded him firmly before I left that he must remember to put bins/ recycling out. Knowing he would probably still forget I put 2 post-it notes in places he couldn’t miss saying “BINS”! I then also text him from my parents at 6:30am Thursday saying “remember bins”….
    He then left the house, walked past all neighbours’ bins out and… forgot to put our bins out!
    It’s just the mental load of this sort of thing everyday; the fact that I know I am the only person who ever remembers it is bin day, that he never just remembers and does it on his own. The fact that if I want him to put them out at least half the time, I have to ask. And because I ask half the time for him to do chores, it becomes that I am nagging. So usually I just do everything myself…
    I could go on strike and not do anything but we would live in utter chaos.
    It’s hard!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If your husband was distracted thinking about beer and football, then he was being a selfish douche.
      If he was thinking about work, or family, or a different household issue, or someone’s health, then he clearly has is own equally legitimate mental load, and you’re being self-centered.
      Until you know which it is, it seems like it would be good to withhold judgment.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. She didn’t call him a selfish douche, Rob. You did. You’re being defensive and and she’s not even talking about you. Your response is actually pathetic.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s honestly the entire point of the comic, Rob. A high (and, it seems, ever-increasing) number of households require both parents to work in order to make ends meet. My own household is that way; my husband and I both have full time jobs (doing, actually, the exact same job, just with different employers, and I have to spend a much greater amount of time traveling).

        Do I think about work any less than he does just because I’m a woman? Am I less likely to have an ill family member? No, of course not. However, I still find myself the household manager. My husband is a good man, always willing to help when I ask him, but I literally cannot delegate every task that has to be done. Even if I could, I would STILL be in charge of remembering the literally hundreds of weekly tasks to delegate!

        There is a good reason that being a manager is a completely separate position. Keeping track of what needs to be done when and in what order and for whom and what’s on the horizon and what you have to plan for and everything else that keeps a group (whether it be a household or a team of employees) running smoothly is literally a full time task. Is it really fair to push that full time job onto one person (in a supposedly equal relationship) and then also ask them to perform at least 50% of the work involved as well?

        If you have a genuinely open mind about this and are interested in learning more, here’s another good article about it. If you’re just commenting to argue, well… you may want to ask your significant other whether or not she/he thinks you’re actually doing your half of the household mental load.

        http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a12063822/emotional-labor-gender-equality/

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    2. Uhhm I´m sorry for you. But is it so bad to ask? He can not read in your mind how, you want to have everything be done. If he is not participating by himself, it is perhaps, that he do not know what he can do. Just leave some jobs for him, or even better make things together. We used to tidy up all together until everything is tidy up…and everybody chose what he wants to do….

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      1. Having to ask is the problem here. Why should he have to “read her mind” to know that these things need to be done. Its not HER garbage its everyones. So he could do it without having to be asked.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. yes, he would have made it surely if he knew that the garbage had to be brought down. Everyone has his / her areas in the household, which he / she can better control. If the woman always carry down the garbage, the man never saw an overflowing trash can. If he is a week alone at home he will learn it. The other way round , the same thing counts. If the woman always has a full tank in the car, she may not even know how to refuel …

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      3. She didn’t expect him to read her mind. She told him. “i reminded him firmly before I left that he must remember to put bins/ recycling out. Knowing he would probably still forget I put 2 post-it notes in places he couldn’t miss saying “BINS”! I then also text him from my parents at 6:30am Thursday saying “remember bins”.

        How much more should she have done?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Marvel, Yes, it is so bad to ask. Why? Because if we don’t, it doesn’t get done. But even when we do, sometimes repeatedly, things still don’t get done and then we become the hated ‘nagger”. So we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The point is, there should be no NEED to ask. Why does she remember that it’s garbage day, even with her own, probably much larger, mental load, yet when the man is “thinking about work, or family or a different household issue” as Rob put it, then he’s excused. This is the whole crux of this issue. This is what I run into in my household. My husband DOES remember the garbage days, but his memory extends ONLY to doing the main bin in the kitchen and the one in the upstairs bathroom. There are also other garbage bins throughout the house and if I don’t remind him or collect them myself, I get the “oh, I didn’t know there was garbage there!”. Really? Because you haven’t literally lived in this same house for the past 65 years????

        Liked by 1 person

      5. yes, yes, there should be no need, you are right, if you can stay most of time together, this can be easily be practised…because you just make all things together. But in reality, I think it is always a sharing, I will use the toilettpaper, which my husband bought, and he will lay in the bed where I put new bedsheets on. I really do not understand the whole discussion. I DO NOT COUNT what I´m doing and what he is doing, because there will always be well-adjusted. If you respect and love each other you are always in a mood to do a little bit more, than the other. The same in friendship, it is a pleasure to give, to make presents as long as you do not feel exploited and you feel something is coming back.

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      6. I totally agree there should be giving in a relationship and it should be a pleasure to do so. And there should be no “counting” of what one does and what the other does. But that is true only when both parties give more or less equally. Guess what, when you give, give give, give and give and then give some more, at some point you are gonna come up empty and eventually burn out.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. o.k. you are absolutely right if it is just one side who cares it´s depressing and not good. Than it depends what the one who does not care doing the whole day ( job, other liabilities) ?

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    3. You should delegate this task completly to him. He might forget the first time while bringen responsible, but then never again. 😉 Doing all yourself will not solve the main problem.

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    4. Those anecdotes have counterexamples. For our entire married life of 23 years so far I’ve always put out all 3 refuse containers the night before pickup day with very few exceptions. About a year ago we moved back into my house which had been rented out for years, (her house is now being rented out). Now I keep getting instructions on when and which cans should go out. It’s driving me nuts. I can’t please her by doing it my way. Is she being slightly controlling? Or am I waiting for her to micromanage?

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  2. *Crying with laughter so hard because I know if I get slammed by any man on this post it will only make the point stronger*

    Almost every man who’s commented has said some variation of “Not ALL men – especially not me” instead of accepting that this is a reflection of our society at large – not a personal affront to any one person. Even my husband thinks this is true and tries to be present and thoughtful about as much as he can for the days when I get sick or need to be away, as I do the same for him. What I don’t understand is why everything comment needs to make it personal when it’s clearly a discussion on the Post-modern paradox.

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    1. oh, that is certainly true that this problem is an education thing and anchored in society. But this is getting better from generation to generation, I think. My grandpa has never helped anything and asked my grandma to serve him. My father helps, but rather the “men’s work” like to empty the bin, going to shop the beverage … I believe that this problem will solve itself soon, since the men also want to participate in everyday life at home. They notice that it is also an enrichment with children to clean the dishwasher, to cook etc.

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      1. “They notice that it is also an enrichment with children to clean the dishwasher, to cook etc.”

        Yes, as long as the child is all bubbly and happy, but as soon as the babies are stubborn, frustrated, throwing a tantrum or are smelly, it’s all mamas baby again.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. This is somewhat insightful and relatable, I am doing the “2h cleaning of the table” much more often in my household. I managed grocery for a long time, but my girlfriend didn’t like having food for a month ahead, so I just pay now and we skipped the planning, which saves some time, but some things fall through the cracks. I would say the trash/car/flat/repairs/commodity costs vs. cooking part to be in balance. I cannot cook and my girlfriend can’t service the car/household, it’s an obvious deal.

      *if I get slammed [..] on this post it will only make the point stronger* is called solipsism.

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      1. To be honest, I do not understand the whole discussion here. Two loving people will probably get a household together? Is the problem the discussion essentially? Argue for such trifles, which are self-evident? Probably. Just do not ask but simply make … hmmm?

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    3. I just feel depleted if I begin to buy into these accusations and feel empathy and guilt. Have at it. If you really want to reach men think about inviting them to join you rather than belittling them for their lack of management skills.

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  3. I recognize this problem in my relationship. I’ve tried to fix it. But literally every time I’ve ever offered to take some of the load off my wife’s back, it’s been met with one of two responses:

    1.) It’s fine
    2.) I don’t have time to show you so it’s easier for me to just do it

    And every time I’ve ever done something that was “hers” to do, I get met with:

    1.) You did it wrong
    2.) Her fixing it when I’m not looking

    I don’t intentionally do a bad or half assed job of things to get out of doing chores. I’m a competent human being. But when I can never do right in my wife’s eyes or she doesn’t “trust me” to do things, what can I do? I don’t want my wife to resent me (I’m sure she does though she’d never admit it). I don’t think it’s fair that she does way more of the work than me. I just don’t know what I can do to get her to give up control of these things and treat me like an actual partner.

    This shit weighs on us. It affects our relationship, our love life, our day to day interactions. But she has an iron grip on the house- and baby-related work that she refuses to loosen. I’d love to get some honest answers as to how we fix this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ohh, yes, I know this behavior, too. Especially if it is to go quickly, women want to do things by their own. This is a big mistake. They should let the children (and also the men) work in household and only “help” them, if they ask for. They have to accept, that things may be not so perfect, because they have to learn, but it does not matter. Also women should not only let them do “stupid” work, which are boring but also cook, bakery … that is fun and they learn something. Yes and how do you teach this to women, who want to do all by themselves? You do not ask, can I help something, but tell them that you want to cook, clean up … and asked what can be done … you have to make it clear that you want to do so, so that there is more time together afterwords.

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      1. (disclaimer: Old white male speaking).
        Before individuals get personally upset about particular points I feel that the broad truth of this article should not be disputed and both men and women would be happier if we could work together to balance things better.

        While my parents were more ‘modern’ than some I experienced basically this situation in my childhood. Fortunately my mother raised my brother and I to cook, clean and look after ourselves so that by the time I was a young man I was completely self-sufficient.

        My relationship with my wife has evolved steadily, from dating, to living together, to marriage, to parenting and ‘work’ was pretty equally divided (spider catching excepted) until kids turned up. Things have been much harder since then.

        What I need to do more of:
        – Do more regardless of whether I ‘get it wrong’. (If I feel unjustly convicted then we need to discuss it to agree on what the ‘right’ way of doing something is.)
        – Do not allow her to ‘fix’ things I have done, (either I ‘fix’ it or we agree it is not broken)
        – Try first but be prepared to make an effort to seek advice or help in case there is a better way of doing things.
        – Be prepared to explain without being defensive

        What she needs to do more of:
        – Delegate without judgement
        – Accept that ‘different’ is not wrong (aka, how is less important than what)
        – Accept that not everything than can be done must be done
        – Let me kill the really big spiders rather than try to catch them

        Liked by 2 people

      2. hahaha … this is a well thought-out plan. But I think it is good, except for the matter of the spider, which I would,as a woman rather take over before there is murder and manslaughter …; )

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    2. I can understand some people like things done a “certain way”. She may be feeling judged by friends/family/even herself because women have been ingrained that the household is her responsibility. Many start to feel resentment toward husbands or partners because they don’t know how to fix this for themselves. Start with smaller things, if she’s folding the laundry join her. Match up socks, hold the other end of the bed sheet to be folded, watch how she folds shirts and fold a shirt or two. If she doesn’t object continue doing this every time laundry comes around, and start doing more. Turn on music or talk while you’re doing what ever task it is. If she does object explain that you want to do your share, that you don’t feel it’s fair she does it all. Ask her why it bothers her that you are there doing the same thing she is. If she’s adamant that you NOT do whatever small chore you’re trying to do, then tell her you’ll be making diner tonight. Plan something you know you can make and know you will have time to clean up after. (That’s a personal hot topic in my house, clean it up!!)
      I think the real key to this whole thing is talking to your partner. Every relationship has a different dynamic so it’s hard to say what is or isn’t going to work. If kids are involved they need to be assigned chores suitable for their age, mine currently rotate through dish duty and pet duty. It lasts a week with a grouping of chores that take approx. 10 to 30 minutes a day depending on how slow they want to move.
      Some people ultimately just need to have control of every aspect of their life, and that may never change. If this i effecting your life in so many ways you may want to seek counselling together. It may help her realize why she needs to be in control, and might help her verbalize how you can help her with all the things she does daily.
      Good luck to you and don’t give up trying to do your part in the family and in the household.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, this has got people upset. This comic nails how some people are happy to dump the weight of running a household on others, and pretend the jobs are shared fairly. Some of the comments showing outrage are so funny because whilst they talk about equality, they mention ‘helping’ women with their tasks, clearly showing that in their head, cleaning up is women’s work. Obviously the world isn’t made up of only men who dump on women, and only women who do more than men, but a lot of it is going on, and as this comic shows, women are taking on a role that has in many cases been taught to them since infancy. You only have to look at cleaning product ads to see who in the main is doing the cleaning, aimed at women, cos they in the main are doing the shopping.

    I look forward to the day when this problem is not as linked to gender as it is now, meanwhile, well done Emma for so clearly showing an issue that people are struggling with in such a clear way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It has never been my choice that the housework hasn’t been been done to my wife’s standards. Its not that I expect her to do more, it is more that I expect less and because everything isn’t to her satisfaction is annoying. Just what standard is she trying to achieve? because it isn’t mine. Why should I have to share a workload at home that I find excessive after a full work day? She certainly isn’t doing these extra things for me or an expectation I have. Don’t blame gender, blame your own insecurities and expectations and perhaps consider your partners needs and expectations in all this. And don’t blame us for your excesive workload for trying to meet some fictional expectations of yourself. I doubt we put this on you. blame your parents. Perhaps its the idea that children need a safe environment to grow up in but a sterile environment has its own detriments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The point seems to be that everyone likes to make something “extra” for the other. If I know that my partner likes it more neat and tidier, then I will like to do this work, so that he also feels well and the other way around. If there is a reason or important for me that it is in another way than my partner want it to be, I have to talk with him an d find a way….

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  6. Re “Why don’t you do it?”
    a) I’m not a cartoonist, and
    b) I’m not the one who put an over-general piece out into the world purporting to describe “How Things Are”.
    I attempted to explain my problems with the comic in words, which are a medium I can work in, above. Does that suffice?

    Re #NOTALLMEN:
    If someone says “this is a problem for me”, and someone responds with #NOTALLMEN, that is absolutely a non-sequitur, and some man is needlessly making things about himself.
    If someone presents an issue in absolutes (as this comic repeatedly does), then #NOTALLMEN is very relevant.
    Pointing out significant, relevant aspects that are missing from a piece that purports to show “What Is” isn’t NOTALLMEN-ing, it’s adding perspective to the conversation.

    Bottom line, people (including me) are responding out of their own lived experience. The difference between me and the OP (and various commenters here) is that I don’t presume my experience is universal or representative. I contend merely that it is a relevant, legitimate experience that calls into question the incompleteness and the absolutist tone of the comic. From the comments of some others on this thread, it’s an experience/perspective shared by a number of other men as well.

    A couple other issues:
    1. I have a big problem with the “he should just know” aspect of this conversation.

    In response to a man stating that his wife insists on being the manager, one commenter said, “…if you don’t care how she likes things done then you don’t care about her. It’s that simple.” That’s not a relationship, that’s a dictatorship. People should mutually care about how the other person wants things done.

    This is a common problem in relationships stemming from different traditional communication styles. Women are sometimes dumbfounded by how “obtuse” their men are; men OTOH are often puzzled and frustrated by how indirect and unclear women seem about what they want – there is often a presumption that “he must know” something that he simply doesn’t, because that’s not how men tend to communicate and work collaboratively.

    The world is full of problems because of assumptions and poor communication; surely we’re not going to argue *against* clear, authentic dialog? Please tell me we’re not advocating for “More Hints, Fewer Requests”, when communication is such a challenge anyway. If you’re assuming that the reason your partner doesn’t know is that he doesn’t love you or doesn’t care, and if you take the position that for you to speak your needs is just too much of a burden, you’re simply doing it wrong. If you want to date men, I suggest making at least some effort to communicate in a way men understand, rather than expecting them to magically learn to be you, as if your way is “correct” and his way is “wrong”. Your problem might be your husband’s narcissism – men do consistently demonstrate higher levels of narcissism than women. But also you might be surprised how much emotional energy and investment your guy puts into trying to divine your desires and intentions – which you may feel are crystal clear, but to him are confusing or unclear.

    2. There’s an inherent problem in keeping score in a relationship, especially if you don’t make a big effort toward clear communication with your partner.
    We all have the option to keep a little (metaphorical) scorebook, where we put a gold star in the appropriate column every time someone does something generous for their partner or to help the household/relationship. The problem is that we know *everything* we do, but we only know *some* of the things our partner does. So our column is going to be accurate and up to date, and our partner’s column is always going to be short.
    Our partner has a book, too, and his/her book is skewed the other way.
    Waving our books of stars at each other is stupid; it’s a counterproductive and inherently inaccurate way to evaluate the relationship.

    This comic is like that, but with Women vs Men instead of individuals, and with the context of the book limited to The Household, and with a very common experience presented as The Experience. I question how much it does to better the lives of humans. I wish Emma had applied her excellent talent to teaching people how to communicate, or to be empathetic, or at least had presented a more balanced analysis instead of such a man-shaming complaint.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Jesus, Rob. You are so sensitive. This is a comic. The author shouldn’t have to describe every nuance of society to you to get her message across. You’re a big boy. You can figure out the nuances for yourself. If you want to complain about my tone too, that’s fine. but from one man to another, I want to make it clear that I think you’re an idiot.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I agree with you in most points. And Emma could of course have drawn a “catalog of behavior”. But this is a comic, a very special point of view, it should provoke and stimulate thought. Nobody should feel personally attacked and everyone should be objective and friendly. If somebody can´t stay calm,it shows that he does have his problems in this regard. And with such problems it is like argueing. At least you need 2 person to argue. Of course, this problem can also occur gender-unspecifically, just as it can not only brown-haired women happen. I think Emma did a great job.

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  7. To elaborate a bit on deferring, it’s quite common in households consisting of families, couples and roommates (both single and mixed gender) for one person to take on the primary role essentially running the household and making most “decisions” and plans. An individual who assumes this role in one household may later defer such responsibilities to another individual in a different household. It’s a dynamic that goes far beyond the limited scope that it’s been presented as in this article, and is not specific to one gender or to couples. Unfortunately we can by myopic and quick to point blame all around us, rather than recognizing this is a universal human experience, and that we are responsible for how we manage our own stress and decision making. The next time your out with a group of friends or family besides your household, see if you can recognize who is taking charge or stressing about the time or plans etc., and who is deferring to them. You may see some interesting patterns if you do this on a regular basis, though please don’t get stressed about having one more thing to think about 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. All so true.I was raised in the ’50’s and it was expected that a housewife did it all.
    Then, when I married, it became apparent that I also needed a full time, out of the home job to help with expenses. So much to deal with.
    I am divorced now and only responsible for my self, loving it 😉

    I remember a time my ex-husband called me when he had to extend a business trip. His question? ‘What size underwear do I wear? I need to buy more.”
    Aman in his 40’s and he had no idea what size clothing he wore 😉

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  9. I can see the point in the comic very well. Because I’m the one who is taking care of most of the things at our household – but with the little difference that I’m a HETEROSEXUAL MAN.

    I do not know how it has happened but the everyday life has turned that way that I’m the project manager of the household and my wife is the underling. We both equally go to work to save the capitalism and are parents to our kids and fund our living.

    But what makes me really sad is that though I do the most of the running I’m still categorized as a sidekick for the woman, the lady in the house and the mother of the children. I’m thought as the men described in the comic – unable to understand the daily life and do any useful stuff for the household.

    And this perception comes from everywhere, no matter how well people know myself and our family. It comes from our friends, from nurses of the day care, you name it.

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  10. This reminds me when our kids were younger. When going on vacation my husband would always complain that we never left on time and always run late. It never occurred to him that all he had to do was throw his toiletries bag, a couple of towels, few shirts and pants in his luggage and be ready to go. I had to think of my clothing, toiletries, any special toiletries for the kids, diapers, special food, toys, extra clothing because you know kids, they get into everything and get dirty, etc etc. You bet I was always running behind!

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  11. This may be true for some. But reading this, I realize that I hardly ever have to ask.

    I also realize that it seems strange that this post only mentions the traditional “household chores” that WOMEN typically do. What about the chores that MEN traditionally do? I must say that my husband definitely carries the mental load for our finances, the bills, the car, the bikes, yes the trash, the tools, the electronics, maintaining the house, improving the house (a million projects), the weeds, the garden shed, clearing the snow, the chimney, the grass, the leaves…

    And when the man goes to work, he’s just going to “save capitalism”? He’s probably going to work to provide for his family. I’m all for non-traditional gender roles. We’re just not there yet because there’s no way I can fix the washing machine like my husband. And there’s no way he can – wait, he can do pretty much everything that I can do. Huh. Maybe he’s not so useless after all.

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  12. I was so excited to show this to my husband because I finally had words for the problem. He read it and said “I empty the dishwasher!!” Sigh.

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  13. The trouble with this analysis is it assumes that they both want the same things done and that it only what she notices that is important. Maybe he works 10 hour days and needs to zone out. Without those days the mortgage will fall into arrears, and it will be rental accommodation that they are having a disagreement about.

    It also assumes that she will be happy with the way he does things. He may have given up trying some of those chores because when he did them, she objected, and took over.

    I don’t think the answers here are simple. He should be able to operate in a way that minimises her work, though this picture does not correspond with the marriages I have known. She should also be aware of what matters to him. For some reason that doesn’t enter her mind here. As if the house is fine for him when she is finished. Sometime the woman is so intense on how she wants things done round the house that he doesn’t feel quite at home in his own place.

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