You Deserve a Grown-Up Spouse: Let’s Talk Weaponized Incompetence

by | Jan 23, 2023 | Marriage, Resolving Conflict | 38 comments

Merchandise is Here!

What if a lot of entitlement comes from a desire to not have to grow up? 

It’s Rebecca on the blog today, and I’m expanding on what I sent in a newsletter back last week. But I want to start with a story of a time when I was refusing to be a grown up, and it caused me to be really entitled towards Connor. 

I have been very open about the fact that I struggled deeply with panic attacks and severe anxiety while in college, which also happened to be when Connor and I were dating. And one of the parts I loved about having a boyfriend was that when I was having a really hard time, I had someone I could just lean on who would be there for me no matter what, who loved me unconditionally, who I could trust. 

The problem? I started relying on him to do my emotional work for me. 

Instead of going to him to vent and just get it off my chest, I used his willingness to support me as a way to soothe the anxiety enough that I could just push through the rest of the day. I wasn’t getting better, in fact, I was getting worse, but I was using Connor and his willingness to do my emotional work for me to make my life easier. 

And it was tearing Connor apart. He knew he was in love with me. He knew we were meant to be partners for life. And so you know what he did? He sat me down one day and said, “I can’t keep doing this anymore. You need to work on handling your mental health yourself because you’re putting me in a position I am not meant to fill, and it’s not healthy for me or for you. I’m not helping you get better, you’re not improving, and frankly this is not what I want for our  marriage down the line. So we need to deal with this now.” 

And he was absolutely right. 

I was engaging in something called “weaponized incompetence,” where I knew that if I didn’t do my share of the work, my partner would pick up the slack.

I wasn’t doing it consciously–I was seriously struggling, and was just trying to get through the week! But he correctly noticed what was happening subconsciously and when he called me out on it, it clicked and I was horrified. 

I then started seeing a counselor, freed up more free time in my calendar, and started to actually do the hard work of treating my mental health on my own two feet while, yes, Connor supported me–but he didn’t do the work for me. 

Weaponized incompetence is a form of entitlement that says, “Even though I could do this myself, I’m going to do less than my capabilities because I know that my partner will pick up my slack.” It’s why it’s so infuriating when your spouse asks you “where are the scissors” when they’ve been in the same place for all 17 years you’ve been at the house–they could take the 4 seconds of brainpower to find the scissors. But instead, they make you do it. It’s selfish. 

And it’s not how grown ups act. 

We have been flooded with tons of emails asking about “Is this a healthy expectation or is it unreasonable?” and, frankly, the answer is usually the same–depends. Is your spouse acting like a grown-up? Or are they engaging in weaponized incompetence?
 

So let’s look at a few scenarios to explain the difference. 

“I need you to affirm me as a lover”

Said by a man who IS a good lover, whose wife seriously enjoys sex but just doesn’t tell him what she’s thinking

Said by a man who complains about having to do foreplay and rarely brings her to orgasm

“I don’t appreciate you correcting my parenting in front of the kids”

Said by a parent who is involved, competent, has taken initiative to research and learn parenting strategies, but whose spouse nit–picks the way he plays (e.g., “You’re supposed to do the craft this way…”)

Said by a parent who was engaging in an unsafe behaviour that his spouse pointed out in the moment because it was necessary (e.g., leaving kids alone in the bath, giving children choking hazards, etc)

“I need you to take your health more seriously because it’s affecting our family”

Said to a partner who has basic physio exercises they can do to help their back and joints work enough to be an equal partner, but chooses TV/video games instead and as a result their spouse is having to work double

Said to a partner with chronic health conditions that they are already doing everything they can to maintain, but there is no “easy fix.”

“You need to have more realistic expectations for the house”

Said in a household that is generally clean and tidy, maintained by both spouses, where the fights are about very miniscule things such as how towels are folded, which throw pillows are on the couch, etc.

Said by a partner who does not carry their weight in terms of household work but actually makes more work, who needs to be reminded multiple times to complete household tasks, and who often does them not to the regular standard (e.g., “cleans the toilet” but doesn’t lift the lid and wipe the seat, so urine stains are left)

SDB Coming Soon
SDB Coming Soon Desktop

What all of this really comes down to is this: You are in a relationship with an adult. You get to expect that your spouse acts like one. 

There are certain things that make some “adulting” tasks more difficult. However, that’s not an excuse to simply not try and feel entitled to your spouse taking care of them for you. It might mean that as a family you change what your base standards are (e.g., instead of having Kon Mari folded clothing you might have a “no fold” laundry system, KC Davis has tons of great suggestions), it might mean you split up chores based on what is most realistic, but it does not mean you cannot expect your spouse to contribute consistently.

I want to be careful here, though, because of a dynamic that we see so often that can be really harmful for women in particular. Typically, women who have struggles that make it hard for them to take care of the house still do it anyway. They just struggle while they do it. Men, on the other hand, from what we have seen, tend to see their struggles as a reason why their wife should handle the housework they find so difficult. Additionally, for example, many marriages among our readers where both spouses have ADHD the woman is still carrying all of the mental load. So if you’re struggling to feel like you’re doing “enough” because what seems so easy for others takes all of your mental energy, but you are the one doing it–even if imperfectly–let me be clear: you’re doing fine. The focus should probably be on finding some systems to make things easier for you, not put more on your plate (seriously, check out KC Davis).

But if you’re someone who doesn’t do much housework at all or only do it when you’re reminded, haven’t researched and taken full initiative to learn how to be consistent in this area, and your spouse ends up picking up after you all of the time, you need to start to do some research so that you can start to do grown-up responsibilities in the house.

There are many couples, of course, where the man is carrying more of the burden than his wife. But because of how our society operates, it is far more likely to be the woman who is taking on more than her share, so it’s only prudent to check if that bias is present in your marriage, too. In essence, what wouldn’t be an excuse for a woman cannot be an excuse for a man.  

Put it this way: if you were living alone, what would you have to do? Each spouse should be able to do all those things, and do them consistently. That is not too much to ask. And if it is, they need to seek help, medication, or find systems that work for them (for the millionth time, KC Davis from Struggle Care is fantastic). 

Marriage is a gift because we have someone to share the load with. 

Think about the picture of equally yoked oxen–side-by-side, they plow the field, able to do more together than they could have done apart. They work hard, but the load is lightened because it is shared. 

If one ox was to just lie down, it would be impossible to get the job done. You’d actually get LESS done than you would if you only had one ox! Each ox needs to carry its own load, and by doing so together, the burden is lighter overall. 

That’s how it should work in marriage, too. 

Weaponized incompetence is often done unconsciously. But that doesn’t mean it’s innocent, or isn’t destructive to a marriage. 

So how do you actually start to work against weaponized incompetence when it’s crept into your marriage? Well, here are a few “rules” that might help differentiate between what is and isn’t your spouse’s responsibility: 

How to Tell If You Should Be Responsible for Something Yourself

  • The “Google” rule: you don’t ask your spouse something that would take you as much time to google 
  • The “Babysitter” rule: if it’s the kind of thing a 14-year-old babysitter could figure out, you can figure it out 
  • The “Work” rule: If you could figure this out if your boss asked you to do it, you can figure it out without your spouse’s help.
  • The “Use your eyes” rule. If you’re trying to find something or get something done, actually look around first and try to do it yourself before asking your spouse. I.e., don’t ask “where are the scissors” when you haven’t even looked in the drawer where the scissors live. 

And then, after you’ve discussed these “rules” together, stick by them. Spouse asks you how to make up a bottle? You say, “Babysitter rule.” And then you do not do it for them, you know why? Because the answer is right on the formula tin, and they can do this. 

(Now, if you couldn’t do this because your spouse is the kind of person who would purposely harm your baby to prove a point, that’s incredibly problematic and abusive and you likely need to check out Natalie Hoffman or Sarah McDugal’s materials.) 

If your spouse asks you where the spatula is, “Use your eyes”. 

If it’s your spouse’s turn to cook dinner and they ask you what to make with the ingredients in the fridge, “Google rule.” 

If your highly competent spouse says they “just don’t see” the mess when they’re at home, “Work rule.” 

Become a part of the movement

Join 40,00 others and let's change the evangelical conversation about sex

Weaponized incompetence is good for no one–it’s not good for the spouse picking up the slack, and it’s not good for the spouse engaging in it because it limits their growth as a person.

But it can only continue as long as it gets the required outcome. And a good-hearted spouse, when they recognize what they are doing, will change and grow so that they are not entitled. 

What if you’re in a marriage where, like with Connor and me this past summer, one of you is going through a time of stress? Of course, take over a lot more of the household stuff to lighten their load at home so that their stress doesn’t consume them. If your spouse is struggling with chronic pain that comes and goes, you’re also likely to go through periods where you carry more than your “fair” share to compensate, and that’s to be expected! It’s not “fair” that your spouse has chronic pain. Life isn’t fair! We are human beings, not robots, so we have to be willing to pick up the slack when our partners are struggling. 

But that also means that we can expect that our partner will do as much as they are capable of doing. 

We are not owed someone doing the hard work of healing, of cleaning, of relationship-building, or of parenting for us. Having a partner means that the load should be lighter, not transferred onto someone else’s shoulders. 

And I hope this post helps spark conversation that leads to change that leads to true equality in your marriage! 

What are some tricks you’ve found help catch yourself in weaponized incompetence, or have helped you and your spouse work through weaponized incompetence together? What are some easy questions to ask to assess if something is weaponized incompetence or is just genuinely someone struggling who needs help? Let’s chat in the comments! 

Rebecca Lindenbach

Author at Bare Marriage

Rebecca Lindenbach is a psychology graduate, Sheila’s daughter, co-author of The Great Sex Rescue, and the author of Why I Didn’t Rebel. Working alongside her husband Connor, she develops websites focusing on building Jesus-centered marriages and families. Living the work-from-home dream, they take turns bouncing their toddler son and baby daughter, and appeasing their curmudgeonly blind rescue Yorkshire terrier, Winston. ENTJ, 9w8

Related Posts

What To Do If You’re a Victim of Marital Rape

There is little more devastating to a marriage than rape. This month, on the blog, we're talking about how to recover from sexual problems in your marriage, and I want to spend this week talking about marital rape. On Monday, I talked about the dynamics in evangelical...

Comments

We welcome your comments and want this to be a place for healthy discussion. Comments that are rude, profane, or abusive will not be allowed. Comments that are unrelated to the current post may be deleted. Comments above 300 words in length are let through at the moderator’s discretion and may be shortened to the first 300 words or deleted. By commenting you are agreeing to the terms outlined in our comment and privacy policy, which you can read in full here!

38 Comments

  1. Stefanie

    Rebecca, first, you’re awesome. That was a really clear explanation. And spot on.

    Second, I saw a mom online say she charges a $5 finders fee for having to locate anyone’s stuff. Everyone in her house magically began to be able to locate everything they needed. I thought it was genius.

    Reply
  2. Codec

    “When I’m lying in my bed at night I don’t want to grow up”
    “Nothing ever seems to turn out right and I don’t want to grow up”. The Ramones

    I love on my own. I have to do chores otherwise my place becomes a mess. It can be aggravating at times, but it can also be rewarding to get something done.

    I think adulthood is seen as an aggravating burden. That childhood is when we were free, but we did not have the experience to know it. I think that is silly. There is no rule that says adults can not have fun.

    Reply
  3. Bri

    Thank you for this. I was in a period of trauma when I met my ex-spouse at 17 and I put a lot of emotional labor on him. It ended with him walking away 7 years later without ever confronting me about taking my share of the load which was trauma all over again. I resent that he just walked away without ever giving me a chance to address the issues I had (which I was doing, but slowly)… but in the end, I get it. This article is very different than I thought it would be and I am so grateful for it!

    Reply
  4. Bill

    Thank for this very affirming and balanced post. I struggle a lot with the balance between being a caring and attentive partner and being sucked into the vortex of constant neediness.

    Reply
  5. Learning to be beloved

    Thank you, Rebecca! The practical examples you chose are so relatable to situations and conversations in my home. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing a deeper, personal example of weaponized incompetence and how you worked through it. Your gracious handling of this gives me permission to reexamine myself without shame.
    My 5 children have watched this dynamic of exploitation their whole lives. I’ve worked to teach them to be responsible for themselves as they watch their father refuse to grow up. I’ve wondered if my “good” example would be enough to overcome the “bad” example. Just recently, I realized that I don’t have to tolerate the unrepentant sin of abuse. After 20 years, I’m just starting to figure out how to get free, start over, and heal. Thank you for being one of the voices speaking truth to combat the lies I learned in churchianity.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad we could help you on this really difficult journey. I’m sorry you’ve had to live this!

      Reply
    • Freedom seeker

      Dear Learning…
      We are in the same place. My husband last night admitted “I have so much emotional growing to do…” As he was wanting me to reassure him that it was okay for him to immature. I didn’t. I haven’t been joining in. And it’s really getting to him.

      I have shifted the nightly task of dinner over to my husband, as I was picking up the emotional slack of 3 teenagers, each with high intensity needs (two are autistic). Ever since I started working again, I realized I was working and still doing everything else too and I’ve been overwhelmed for the last year.

      Working on some of the realizations that we have had recently:

      My husband’s immaturity…

      His refusal to ever be corrected about anything…

      His sense of entitlement…

      And my anxiety due to stress and overload…

      I’ve decided whether or not my husband joins me, I’m going give myself permission to grow, to learn, to change.

      I am the spouse with chronic illness, so it makes it difficult to just “pick up and do”physically. But I’m no longer going to hold myself back mentally and emotionally because I’m concerned I’m leaving my husband behind.

      I just signed up for school… Starts in a week…

      I’m planning my freedom. Whether he decides to mature and join me in that, well, that’s on him.

      Reply
      • Learning to be beloved

        Freedom seeker, I’m so proud of you for going back to school and doing the hard work you’ve committed yourself to do! And I’m so sorry for the hurt and frustration of your situation.
        I’m feeling overwhelmed about the process of completing my education after a 16 year pause to raise & homeschool children. I don’t think I can manage anything else at the moment, but I will not be able to get out until I can partially support myself and children. It is so encouraging to read your story as you move forward.

        Reply
  6. Anonymous

    For those that need it directly stated, if your spouse would harm/punish YOU for saying anything like, “work rule,” “google rule,” or “use your eyes,” -not just harming your kid- Natalie Hoffman and Sarah McDugall should be good resources, too, correct?

    Sorry, I just know some wives/moms (and husbands/dads) would protect their kids but not themselves, so wanted to add this.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, excellent clarification!

      Reply
  7. Blue

    This was very helpful! We especially struggle in this area because my husband has ADHD that wasn’t diagnosed until we had been married for years. I would want him to be more competent, responsible, and remember things and he just couldn’t (while his symptoms were unmanaged). Now that we both understand that he thinks differently, things have been getting much better. Example, (similar to Rebecca’s scissors scenario) he could never find asprin, even though it has been in the same place for years. I would get so frustrated whenever he would ask me and reply, “Where do you think it is?” This caused a fight and made him feel like a failure. Finally, we had a calm conversation when he told me he really didn’t know where to look, he actually could not remember where I had decided to store it. His solution was to move the asprin to his shelf in the bathroom where it made sense to him. Now he never has to ask me. KC Davis has been a huge help for us as we think through systems that work for both of us.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love your solution!

      When I just can’t find something, I ask myself, “If I were to put it away right now, where would I put it?” And chances are that’s where I put it! Sounds like your husband is doing the same thing.

      Reply
    • Luke Jalbert

      Blue,
      I went through the first 15 years of our mariage with undiagnosed ADD. My wife calls my ADD medicine the miracle pill because I’m a different partner when on itl

      Reply
      • Blue

        Yes! It has been a game changer!

        Reply
  8. Luke

    Great article, and I like you 4 rules for the everyday instances of weaponized incompetence. However, those 4 rules don’t really help with something on the mental health front like the wonderful example you gave of using Connor as an emotional crutch. After the initial conversation where he brought up the issue, do you have any tips on keeping the problem from relapsing?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great question! I hope to deal with that next Monday as we end the series, but I’m eager to see what others have to say.

      Reply
  9. Phil

    Hi Becca – labeling the problem is always a good first step. I would have trouble going to Grace and telling her she has weaponized incompetence. The technical name is the technical name…. Connor did a wonderful job setting a boundary and also including both of you in the equation. Recently Grace and I have been walking through some positive stuff together. Her words for it went like this. You dont know what you don’t know. This is a whole lot softer method to swallow than. “ I have a problem”. Now – you didnt say go to your spouse and tell them they have weaponized incompetence but that term is admittedly a bit rough be it technically correct or not…anyway, something that I would throw out not so much as a “trick” but maybe the word persistence and presentation. Not everyone is able to have a conversation like you and Connor had and the other person just says oh ok sure let me go fix that. Often, it is hard for people to identify the problem correctly and then also label it. Then it is hard for them to look at themselves. For example. I have been royally screwing up for the last 10 to 12 years. There has been an issue in my sex life that we together just couldnt seem to overcome. So I kept pushing that we need to fix that. What I really meant was both of us have been holding back 10% of ourselves in the relationship because of the past (mostly my part) and one area it is reflecting is in our sex life. Completely different problem. I would say that we were both projecting incompetence and then weaponizing it. Me by saying she wont fix herself for us and her by saying its his(my) problem not hers. 12ish freakin years Becca.

    Reply
    • Ngina Otiende

      This is so good, Rebecca! Love it ❤️

      Reply
  10. Sarah

    The secular feminist writer Zawn Villines has a lot to say about mental load, domestic abuse, and weaponized incompetence – she does not mince words and she’s great at cutting through the noise and getting to the heart of what’s actually happening in many relationships. She has a blog, a substack, and a Facebook page. And I love the solutions in this post!

    Reply
    • Laura

      Love her!!!

      Reply
  11. TJ

    Thanks for this one today. It’s definitely one that made me think. My wife struggles with a number of mental health issues which, despite medication and therapy, means that I’m the only one who works, while also often (feeling like) I’m doing the lion’s share of housework.

    I admittedly struggle sometimes with finding the line between being a supporting spouse and enabling. When I do encourage her to do things, I often try to focus on things that are going to be good for her: getting outdoors, working out (when she expresses that it’s something she’d like to get back into), volunteering or getting out to spend time with friends.

    I grew up in the church, being taught that marriage is sacrificial love (Eph 5:25) – giving without condition or expectation – so it’s often hard for me to express things that feel selfish to me or like an imposition on her.

    I’m also acutely aware that as the man in our marriage, I need to be particularly careful to check my motives and perspectives for biases from the decades of often unbalanced teaching in our churches that have too often blinded men to their own entitlement while devaluing or ignoring the contributions and needs of wives. Where are my blind spots? Am I “really” doing as much housework as I think? Have I fully considered the value of any emotional and social labor on her part? Those sorts of questions.

    Anyway, thanks for the article and blog. It’s always great food for thought and a challenge to examine the way of “doing marriage” that we learned in traditional, evangelical circles. I appreciate it all!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad it was helpful, TJ! It sounds like you have a difficult road, but you’re also really trying to do the right thing. That’s awesome.

      Reply
    • Bill

      Our marriage is very similar. The downside of being taught to love and give unconditionally means that it is difficult to find the boundary between supporting and enabling.

      Reply
  12. Mara R

    First, I appreciate your transparency and willingness to tell on yourself, Rebecca. It does two things. First, it let’s people know that you have been on the wrong side of this and when confronted over it, you were willing to change. And second, all the drive-by guys who want to make this about man-bashing will have a more difficult time making themselves sound half-way credible.

    I appreciate the clarification above by Anonymous.
    Back in the day, when I was still married to the low-level narcissist, he used weaponize helplessness all the time. At one point I told him that I needed for him to not be so helpless. This infuriated him and he turned his narcissistic rage at me.

    You’ve heard the Madonna/whore dichotomy?
    Well I realized something after breathing the free air far and away from his mental and emotional abuse. I realized that what he wanted was a mother/servant/scapegoat. He wanted other unreasonable and unrealistic things. But those were the three main things.
    He wanted a mother to take care of him and baby him. But he minimized all my legitimate needs.
    He wanted a servant to do all the work. I got in the habit of never sitting down while he was around. He freely used the word “lazy” against me. But he really was the lazy one. He was just projecting.
    He wanted a scapegoat to yell at when things didn’t go his way or it had just been a while since his last adrenaline fix.

    So while I do very much appreciate this much needed and well-written post, I also appreciate Anonymous’s clarification.

    I love this blog, these posts and the discussion that goes along with it.

    Reply
  13. Lisa

    I love the benchmark questions! This has been a huge struggle in our 2 decades of marriage but we’ve made so much progress in the past few years because I finally had the LANGUAGE to explain the issue.

    Reply
  14. Jo R

    “I can never remember how to…,” but he can remember every shot from his high school basketball championship game mumble-mumble years ago.

    “I can’t keep up with all these family scehdule details,” but he’s already memorized his favorite baseball team’s schedule so he can be home for every televised game to change channels at the proper time.

    “I can’t keep my time organized,” even though he schedules all his paid staff in their shiftwork.

    “I don’t know how to clean a bathroom,” but he learned how to strip down the carburetor on his classic car by watching YouTube videos.

    Things that make you go, “Hmmmm.”

    Reply
    • Angharad

      Yep! I had a friend whose brother ‘couldn’t work out’ how to use a washing machine or an iron, in spite of having a job where he was flown around the globe, trouble-shooting problems with IT systems, so his mother or sister ‘had’ to do all his laundry for him…

      Reply
  15. Cynthia

    This one has really made me think. I suspect that my husband and I both do this to some extent. Now, I’m wondering where dividing tasks by strengths and being supportive ends, and needing to do work to improve begins.

    My husband has a visual-spatial disability. Life actually got easier when we acknowledged this and I took over the visual-spatial tasks, because we ended up with less broken stuff. At some level, though, it gets exhausting if someone can never load a dishwasher without breaking stuff or figure out how to put the harness on the dog. (He isn’t trying to be bad on purpose to get out to doing things and isn’t lazy – he does lots of other stuff for us but can’t quite figure out these tasks.). He also relies on me for emotional support. I always thought that was part of my role, but now I’m wondering if it would have been appropriate to say “glad you see my as a source of support but I am not a trained therapist and maybe you could use one.”

    OTOH, I am an introvert and have far less energy than he does, so I leave keeping in touch with people to him. He is much better at it. He is also good at stuff that needs doing right away. Sometimes, though, he starts to feel like everything is on his shoulders.

    Reply
  16. Sarah R

    This is such an eye opener. I am single but realised in a recent conversation at work that I’d been weaponising incompetence towards my manager (she wanted me to take the lead more in meetings, but when she asked did I want to lead the next meeting, I’d ask if she could lead, knowing she would take that on). I am highly introverted and absolutely loathe the feeling of having everyone’s eyes on me in a meeting, but it is an expectation in my role that I will be able to do this occasionally. Just as even though I’m not good with admin or numbers, I don’t get out of occasionally completing purchase order forms. This post is a helpful conviction to stop putting on others what I’m capable of doing.

    Similarly, I’ve ended up in quite a few friendships where I enabled the other person’s lack of growth by letting them weaponise incompetence towards me without challenging them on it. I eventually got fed up of being treated like their emotional Pensieve and the friendships blew up. But perhaps if i had been able to call their behaviour what it was and set some boundaries, who knows? Perhaps they would have grown and I’d have been better able to be their friend with boundaries in place.

    I also recognise that had I got married young, as I wanted to, I would have weaponised incompetence towards my spouse due to the harmful patriarchal ideas about marriage that I had absorbed. I would have abdicated to him anything I didn’t feel like handling or didn’t want to grow in and boxed myself into a very narrow role in so doing (and probably made him resentful). It’s amazing when you look back and think ‘wow! I thought God was being mean when I didn’t get married at 23 and so-and-so did, but it was actually a saving grace. God was giving me time to grow as a person. Most of the friends I know who married at 23 were ready; I wouldn’t have been.

    Reply
  17. Boone

    Sometimes it’s just a difference in styles. When looking for something I tend to treat the area being searched like a crime scene. I don’t disturb the surface layer until I’ve throughly gone over it. My wife just digs in and roots around until she finds what she’s looking for. She gets irritated with me for being so careful.
    My law office has three stacks of files and two stacks of papers. I know what’s in each of those stacks and can lay my hands on it in a few seconds.
    My wife has boxes and bins for everything. I go crazy pulling tops off to find something. Neither of us are wrong. We just do things differently.

    Reply
    • Phil

      Im a spreader. I lay it all out around me on the floor and work it off the floor lol

      Reply
  18. J

    This is a fantastic article, and. I’m so glad you used emotional labor as an example, Rebecca.

    Physical labor division has never been a problem for us, but he almost destroyed our marriage with his refusal to get emotional help. Trauma is a big deal. It leads to more than emotional blind spots – it leads to emotional craters. I repeatedly asked him to get help, and he refused. He is in therapy now and says that he truly could not see that he needed help or that he had been horribly abused as a child.

    However, let me just say that having a partner who is incapable of doing mature emotional processing -of carrying his own emotional load and contributing to the health of the relationship- is devastating. It will slowly kill you six ways to Sunday.

    Reply
  19. Julie Richards

    Wow! This nails it on the head. Thaks so much Rebecca.
    I can see myself in your scenario where your intuitive husband could see what was going on. We just haven’t had the tools or language to do so. Theres also a lot of childhood trauma responses that still play out.
    I have been trying to explain to my husband the overwhelm of this. He gets upset because I treat him like a child. I’ve just been diagnosed with ADHD both types (age 60) and was glad to see neurodiversity added to your post. He has noticed that I am less ‘bossy” and a lot happier on meds. Lots more therapy work to do on my part. But… I am not going to take responsibility for all his ‘laid backness” and other personality traits. We actually have a good relationship and he’s even read Great Sex Rescue which is amazing as he doesn’t read much. It has opened up a lot of conversation.
    This article will be a good conversation starter. Do you think I should print it out and highlight the troubling bits??? HaHa.

    Reply
  20. Tim

    Not really an issue for me as my wife is awesome, but it’s hard to imagine saying “babysitter rule” in response to a request and it not sounding passive aggressive. Have I misread your tone? (Not questioning the rule itself, just using it as a stand alone response)

    Reply
    • Nessie

      I’m sure it could be said passive-aggressively (I mean, just about anything CAN be), but I read that in a, “Hey, we talked about this- you got this,” encouraging way.

      Reply
      • Tim

        Right, I can see that now. Thanks.

        Reply
    • Jo R

      Just out of curiosity, what tone do you think a husband has when he asks for the ten thousandth time, “Where are the scissors?”

      (And no, I’m not asking with any smart aleck time. I am genuinely curious.)

      Reply
      • Tim

        Fair question. I don’t think I know anyone like that, but it seems likely that whatever tone they took would wear thin around instance 9,000! I’m not sure how I’d respond.

        Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *