Who Does What..?

In the comments section of House of Peanut’s post about planning weekend fun, someone mentioned that she has to do all the planning in her household — the husband is just not the planner type.  That is such a common statement among married women that I’m wondering if anyone out there has the opposite experience? It seems that 100% of women I know online or in real life is the CEO of household logistics, whether both spouses work or not.  If the women is the only one working or the one with the full-time/ less flexible job, that does change the dynamics. But all things being equal, who does the majority of the planning (childcare, doctor appointments)? Who does the gift buying? Who does the travel planning (hotels, airfare, research)?  Who does the meal planning, if that’s done at all? Who plans the fun weekends??

Most women justify this by saying that they’re just better at planning and research (which I’m not saying isn’t true).  Yet if men can plan wars and proposals, so why can’t they plan household-related things and daily life?  I’ve also known very disorganized, flaky women who somehow end up being the planners in their households, simply because they worked on this skill.  In those cases, the husband is usually also bad at planning and once kids come along (or the woman just gets tired of boring weekends), the woman takes up the organizing mantle and reads a lot of magazine articles for tips.  Hell,the January 2013 issue of Real simple is all about organizing your life year-round. I doubt men’s magazines focus on that.  When men do focus on time-saving (like the 4 day work week), it’s to escape the corporate rat race and free up time to do things like travel the world or bungee jump…

In my household, it would definitely fall on me to plan travel and weekend fun (with kids).  My husband does more of the doctor appointment planning due to his flexible schedule though.  He’s also more prone to plan fun without kids. We both suck at meal planning… However I think if we both worked 9 to 5, I’m more likely to do the research/planning for the majority of things. 

So, question 1, who is the planner and why in your household?

On another slightly related note, who does the apologizing? I keep reading articles, or seeing comic bits, where the man is told to say he’s sorry even if he thinks he’s right in order to keep the peace with the wife (who is also implied to be illogical yet probably right anyway). Apparently my husband has not gotten that message. 

So I always end up apologizing or drag a half-hearted apology from him after months of discussion. Like the stereotypical man in a relationship, it would be easier if I just said I’m sorry and be done with it even if in my heart of hearts, I don’t think I’m wrong. So should I just “man up” and do that for relationship peace?? I never seem to get the apology I want anyway.  I wonder if men take that advice and if so, how do they not get angry at always having to apologize?

Question 2: Who does most of the apologizing in your household?  

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26 responses to “Who Does What..?

  1. Planning…..me
    Apologizing….me
    This also goes for everywoman I know tooo.
    See, doesn’t matter what side of the globe we live, I am from OZ,we are all sisters!

  2. We divide up the planning, although I suspect I do more of it. He does dentist, I do doctor, for instance. Weekend plans are made together over beers on Friday night. Vacation plans are divided up- he’ll often do the bookings while I do the research on possible activities. If I end up taking on more, we usually explicitly balance that with him doing more of some other chore. Household maintenance task planning is split up, but he does more.

    I am the process person, though- if we need a new process (like, for instance, a better family calendar system), I invent that.

    Apologizing- we typically resolve the problem, and then I may apologize if I think I was in the wrong. Or I may apologize for what I see as my part of the problem. He rarely apologizes, but he does what is more important to me: changes whatever was causing the problem.

    • I guess I thought most men apologize but I’m seeing that it’s not the case. Admitting wrong is hard. I’m like you in that I don’t mind admitting my wrong in part of the problem, but it’s hard for me to say I’m 100% wrong. I guess I should look at what’s really important, actions rather than words.

  3. We don’t have children, so we each plan our own appointments. (Initially, his mom nagged ME to schedule him a dentist appointment. I gradually made it clear that she was talking to the wrong person regarding his teeth!) We each buy gifts for our immediate family or friends. I generally have to nag at him to take care of his part in a timely fashion. I do our travel planning, because I’m passionate and particular about it. He plans any backpacking trips for us, but that is limited 1-2/year. I meal plan, or sometimes no one does. I plan most fun weekend events, though he’s more apt to oranize a simple dinner at a restaurant.

    Apologizing… hmm… This isn’t necessary often enough for me to determine a real pattern here. It probably isn’t me, though. I can’t hold grudges, so I’ll make efforts at making peace first, but I’m (unfortunately) reluctant to admit when I’m wrong.

    He totally wishes I would pick up responsibility for buying all the gifts and making his appointments, but I don’t let that happen!

    I’ve never looked with gender in mind, so it is interesting to realize that it is common for women to be the planners. We both lived alone for good portions of our early 20s. I look at how he did things when he lived alone (no meal plans, mostly relied on friends to plan fun weekend events, didn’t plan little vacations unless required, last-minute gifts). I didn’t expect him to change drastically from that. When I lived alone, I planned my own meals, sought out fun weekend activities, tracked budgets, and loved travel planning. I’m happy to do those things for both of us.

    Once we have kids, I expect I would “assign” some things to him now and then (i.e. “can you pick out the hotel for this trip?” or “can you plan something for this weekend?”), but I still would retain overall responsiblity. Perhaps that is gendered.

    • I think there is definitely a”gendered” /cultural component to the planning part, as in your MIL asking you to schedule his dentist appointments, which I’m pretty sure would not happen the other way around! Good you didn’t take that on! I do nag my husband to see the doctor, on occasion, but he’s pretty good at setting up his own appointments.

  4. I do almost all the planning, but he does almost all the chores, so I’m (mostly) fine with that outcome. Weekend fun type plans we do together.

    As for apologizing, he actually ends up apologizing more, but that’s usually because he freaks out over non-issues more.

    • Hmm, lemme clarify one thing though: he’s responsible for his own doc/dentist appointments–no chance I’d take that on for him. And he often does the kid’s because he’s at home.

  5. Planning is much more fun than chores!

  6. I’m CEO, COO, CFO and basically the boss in everything 😛

    I never apologise, though. I need to get better at it; he’s always the one who initiates making up.

  7. We both do both. I’m both female and lazy, that probably balances out. We don’t actually fight, but apologizing is usually one of us apologizing for dropping the ball and the other person apologizing as well because it really does take two people to drop a ball. That’s a benefit to both of us being in charge of planning, even if it’s less efficient. When something is screwed up that means we *both* screwed up.

  8. Thanks for the link! I’m definitely the planner in our house, and the appointment scheduler, but I’m a project manager by trade and I just took it on, with no resentment. I do make sure he sees it as one of my “chores” just like he takes on fixing the garbage disposal or mows the lawn. Either of us is likely to actually TAKE the kid to the appointments, lessons, etc. We have a shared Google calendar.

    If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ll ask him to take on specific tasks re: planning and he does. But it’s definitely not his thing, esp organizing fun stuff for us to do, or making travel plans. I think he dislikes doing it.

    We both apologize equally, I’d say, but it’s a rare occurrence because we tend to have very few disagreements.

  9. I do admit that planning travel is more fun for me than a chore!

  10. To be fair….hubby arranges everything to do with cars, his own doctors etc and he does the majority of the outside chores. I organise the kids, myself, all finances, holidays etc. I am happy to as well! Like the sounds of most of you….it is sort of in my blood!

  11. I have the opposite of a traditional marriage: my husband does a lot more work in the home than I do, even though he works longer hours than me and makes more money than I do. Why? I chose my spouse well. My husband is way more Type A than I am, and he just has that planner personality on steroids. He does the majority of the planning tasks (like doctor appointments), but I end up communicating more with childcare people because I run my businesses from home where I tend to see them more frequently. I’m also pulling more of the weight right now in terms of school choice, research, and classroom visits for our firstborn.

    We both do the gift buying. (Buy my own presents? See me in hell!) He does the travel planning (hotels, airfare, research). He just booked us a trip to Mexico in Feb and Italy in May – he loves doing trip research, including calling people who’ve been there, and we always have amazing trips.

    He does the meal planning, food shopping, and all of the cooking because he was raised by chefs and is super fast and excellent at cooking. He and I both plan the fun weekends, but mostly him.

    We both do the apologizing – an/or actually just lots of checking in “did that get on your nerves?” – “are you cool with this?” – and praising, lots and lots of heartfelt praise of each others’ efforts. WHY? Because we’ve been to great marriage counseling, and we were both raised by parents with less than stellar marriages, so we see the need for keeping the lines of communication running smoothly probably more than a lot of folks from healthier families of origin.

    • You have an interesting arrangement (and lucky!). I do think some people enjoy that planning aspect more, or are better at it. I just wonder if at times it’s too much falling on one person. I think marriage counseling can benefit most people even those from “healthier families” as communications styles often don’t mesh, or what is acceptable communication in one family doesn’t work with the other person.

  12. Pingback: link love « Grumpy rumblings of the half-tenured

  13. We split planning based on aptitude, degree of introversion, and interests: my husband plans social events, excursions, and shared travel; I plan house upkeep and meals, insofar as they are ever planned. But since the grocery shopping is mainly his province, I like it when he just brings home stuff and then I figure out what to make based on what I find in the fridge. I enjoy the creativity of responding to that sort of challenge more than I enjoy planning a menu for which he acquires the ingredients. I think we both apologize. Sometimes I feel like that’s more on me, but I think if I really kept track, I’d find that it’s even.

    Interesting questions! I came over from nicoleandmaggie’s link.

  14. Planning–me mostly. I work significantly less hours and thus have the time for planning that he doesn’t. When I was working more than him, he took over most of the planning. But when it comes to trips though, it’s better that I look at maps, etc, because I’m so much better at understanding how to get us around and how things are connected. (I got us around NYC for example.) But the trade off–he’ll drive, which I appreciate, I hate driving in new places, I’d rather help with the directions.

    For a long time I did all the other household mangement–money, cleaning, etc. I’ve been asking him to take part in it more when he can (again, being mindful of work hours), because it’s occured to me that if something ever happened to me, he’d have no idea what I was doing with money, how to access online bills, etc. It’s frustrating sometimes, that it falls under me and that I have to make those decisions–sometimes he gives up on making decisions because “you always do it.” We’re making an active choice to work on communicating about these things, because when we add kids to the mix I want him to feel like he’s really a co-parent, not an observer.

    I think I apologize first most of the time, but that also means that when I don’t apologize first, husband knows it’s really bad. (I’m also fine with us going to bed angry. Sometimes trying to stay awake to sort it out just makes us more crabby instead.) He didn’t have a solid example of a good marriage growing up, and sometimes I forget the impact that has on him–things that are obvious to me aren’t to him. I also do more checking-in. Sometimes it’s exhausting,but I don’t know how else to do it.

  15. I should have said–we trade off of making dinner. We each have our own meals we’re better at making and we have some meals that we make together. He enjoys grocery shopping so if his schedule allows it he goes. I hate doing it. If one of us wants a helper in the kitchen–new recipe, trying to make everything done at the same time–then that’s what happens. He does most of the cutting of veggies because he’s worked in food service for years so he’s faster at it. 🙂

  16. Hm… I’m not sure how much difference getting married made, at least a little, but in general…
    1. A. Planning trips and going out: him. I used to love planning things in general and things to do but not that often and not that much. So he’s always been the one to a lot more over the course of our relationship. Also, I’m happy to sit around at home and putter. He likes going out more. If it’s travel, I’ll usually join in around the time decisions are made to double check deals/cost/points/rewards, they’re mostly in my name.
    B. Making appointments: We make our own medical appts mostly but he always schedules my massages and last scheduled a dental appt for both of us. I’m way better at scheduling things that don’t involve talking to people. This might be the only thing in which nosy others haven’t made comments about what they think I should be doing for him.
    C) We divide household stuff by inclination just as much as energy/strength. I like cooking and cleaning and laundry. He LOVES cleaning and poopoos my cleaning style. Fine, he can clean and I’ll just tidy. He’s way too fussy/stressy when he helps me cook though so he’s banned from experiments in the kitchen. I cook big meals, he does all the reheating and serving after. I don’t think he’s cooked a new thing in 2 yrs, but he’s prepped plenty of meals and cooked bachelor style as needed. Works for me.
    2. We apologize somewhat the same amount, depending on the circumstances. If one of us made a bigger deal out of something than it had to be, that one will be the apologizer. If we’re both just disgruntled or tired than a lot of the time it just goes by the wayside. We don’t have a huge problem with being wrong so we’ll both admit it when it’s not too personal/inflammatory. He did always apologize first and then I’d follow, before living together though… mainly we were a lot less stressed and I was a lot more evenkeeled so I had less to apologize for. 😉

  17. Interesting questions.

    I don’t think either of us apologizes much, though either of us can/will. I don’t think either of us can/will if we are convinced we are right, though.

    I’d say I’m mostly the planner even though DH does not WOH. There are ways in which I wish he’d pick up more but also ways in which I am glad. We both keep our own calendars (and have a shared one we both put things on), and he is primary childcare and basically available whenever I say, “I need you to …” for the kid because of a change in the school’s schedule or mine or whatever. And I value that hugely. Also he is 90% in charge of cleaning the house, groceries are probably 40% him/60% me, and I do most of the laundry and he does most of the outside maintenance and we both maintain our own vehicles. But when it comes to planning family activities or scheduling doctor or dentist’s appointments (except his own) or getting the kid to same, I do it. Which honestly I prefer because I am a much more assertive consumer of such services, more likely to ask questions and so on. The planning of fun family events thing I’m neutral on; I do as much as I want to and no more (which is fine with him), but whenever he asks me, “Why are we doing this and not that?” I tell him it’s because if he wants to decide what we are doing (usually this is a question of where we are camping), he can set it up. He has planned events/trips, it’s not that he never does, just rare. Returning to WOH (me)/not WOH (him) dichotomy I think it is in some ways easier for me to be the planner of trips and such since my schedule is the more constrained of our two, i.e., I can usually assume that whatever I set up will work for him, whereas the reverse would not be true.

  18. Planning – depends on the activity. For instance, when I gave my husband a gym membership for Christmas, I did the initial planning of figuring out which gym I thought was a good bet. He toured it, didn’t like it, and researched every option in the area and planned for us to visit them, and then had us join the Y. He’s figured out when the Kid Zones are open on weekends and when the different branches with water slides are open so he can take the older kids. I planned art lessons for the kindergartner; he looked into soccer. We’re planning an overnight in NYC. I emailed the sitter and booked the restaurant. He tried to book the restaurant and reported that the time we wanted was taken…the found out I had taken it. He booked the hotel. There are certain broad categories that I do more of, like booking sitters. I somewhat dislike that 95% of sitter communication goes through me, probably because of the implication that we have childcare so I can do things (work or whatever). On the other hand it’s more efficient.

    • Sharing the planning duties is probably the best way to go. Even if I do most of the planning, I like to think my spouse is equally capable of planning things, too!

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