Packing Your Husband's Suitcase

The nitty gritty details of people's lives fascinate me.

Like this one: I had coffee last week with a friend who has one daughter. For the first four years of her daughter's life, her husband was a stay-at-home dad. My friend, a smart, feisty design and manufacturing entrepreneur, worked 14 hour days and traveled for two weeks at a time to Asia to visit her clients and manufacturing plants. I say all this just to establish that my friend is not a traditional stay-at-home mom (whatever that is), although now her husband works and she stays home.

Over coffee, she casually mentioned that she had to pack her husband's suitcase that night because he was going on a four-day trip. She said it as if all good wives pack their husbands' suitcases. I experienced that horrible sinking feeling of: Here's another reason I am and will forever be a lousy spouse. Because it has never occurred to me to pack my darling husband's suitcase.

I can't stop thinking about this factoid of her life. The question that haunts me is why she packs his suitcase. Does she understand the wifely arts better than I? Did they agree, in a division of labor scheme, that the stay-at-home spouse gets packing detail? (Maybe this tradition started when she worked and he stayed home.) Or perhaps she's just nice?

So the topic today is: Do you pack your husband's suitcase when he goes on trips? Does he pack yours? Is this good or bad? Do you feel guilty or resentful about chores you do or don't perform? What are the odd little favors you do for each other to help balance your collective work and family lives?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  January 24, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Division of Labor
Previous: Finding Balance While Making a Difference | Next: Family Leave: Back on Congress' Radar?


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Comments

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Wow, you're struggling for material. Whew.

Posted by: Kevin in AK | January 24, 2007 7:14 AM

almost first!

Leslie, don't be so hard on yourself.

I am laughing so hard about someone packing their spouse's suitcase that I can't come up with a decent response.

Posted by: experienced mom | January 24, 2007 7:18 AM

If my husband ever asked me to pack his suitcase I'd laugh in his face! How the heck do I know what he wants to wear? He also does all his own ironing, but I handle the day to day laundry.

Posted by: cmac | January 24, 2007 7:25 AM

Heck, no! My husband has hands and a brain, he's perfectly capable of packing himself. Not to say I wouldn't help him out if he were super swamped and honestly didn't have time, but in the normal course of business, nope.

One thing I've been doing for my husband that drives me nuts because it's so traditionally wifely is buying presents and cards for his family's birthdays and sending them thank you notes for all the presents they send me, him, or the baby. I'd resolved never to be that woman, and in fact made him do his own thank-yous to his family after our wedding. About a third of the guests never got thanked, which still makes me writhe with shame 8 years later. So I write the notes -- I figure manners are more important that this particular division of labor.

Overall, though, my husband and I have a pretty good balance. We both do little (and big) things to make each others' lives easier.

Posted by: NewSAHM | January 24, 2007 7:27 AM

I will pack my husband's suitcase particularily if he's got to do a lot of preparation for the trip -- i.e. give a presentation. It just makes life a little easier for him.

He has packed mine before but I prefer to do it myself mostly because I'm picky.

Posted by: Danielle | January 24, 2007 7:35 AM

Are you his mommy or his wife? Is he an adult or a child?

I think that pretty much sums up my opinion of packing a suitcase for a husband.

Posted by: I can't believe this topic. | January 24, 2007 7:38 AM

If its something that she likes doing I think its nice. Sometimes it is just really nice to be taken care of - I think a lot of the problems we have in marriages today is that so many people are unwilling to give one iota more than their 50%. I don't pack for my dh because I don't know what he'd want to wear, but I'd do it if I could. Be kind to each other.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 24, 2007 7:43 AM

What happened to her company? Why did she decide to stay home?

These are way better issues than whether she packs his suit case.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 7:49 AM

WHy did she stay at home?

If we have to tackle that topic again, I will gouge my eyes out.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 24, 2007 8:05 AM

My mother finds it odd that I don't do my husband's laundry. We each do our own. We both work. I never wanted him doing mine, and I feel like between work, exercise, and casual clothes I have more than enough of my own. I know I will have a harsh dose of laundry hell when we have kids, and maybe then one of us will take on the whole family's dirty stuff. But for now this works great. My mom isn't even super old-fashioned or anything, so her laundry comments always shock me.

Posted by: NoVaWife | January 24, 2007 8:12 AM

Don't beat yourself up, Leslie. It would never occur to me to pack my husband's suitcase -- or that not doing so would somehow make me a "bad wife." What WOULD be bad is if I tried to do it and ended up sending him off to some big meeting with the pants that don't fit and the shirt with the big ol' baby goober on it (attention to detail not being my strong suit).

Posted by: Laura | January 24, 2007 8:14 AM

I have helped my husband pack his suitcase but only when we visit his family. One time all he packed were stained t-shirts and shorts with holes in them. Of course his mother was like "My poor son, his wife doesn't buy him any decent clothes." Most of the time I could care less what he wears, but when you are around old fashion people who think it is the wife's duty to buy clothes for and dress their husbands, I cave in and do his packing. I know it sounds dumb but it helps being around my in-laws tolerable. I won't even go into how his mother waits on him and give him whisky in the early afternoon because "he deserves it." It my guess is because he puts up with me and our children.

Posted by: Not Busy | January 24, 2007 8:16 AM

My MIL & SIL (SAHMs) pack their husbands' suitcases, so my husband assumed I would do the same. Wrong, bongo!!

It's not a matter of "giving", it's a matter of breaking a pattern of female servitute to males. If I can pack my own suitcase, why can't my husband pack his? Are his trips somehow more important than mine? What kind of message does this send to my kids about the status of men and women?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 8:18 AM

"My poor son, his wife doesn't buy him any decent clothes."

Ha, ha! My husband lived at home until we were married. I later found out that except for a leather motorcycle jacket, my MIL had selected my husband's clothes for his entire life!! He had no idea of his clothing sizes and a vague idea of his own shoe size! Talk about a hovering parent!

The Y chromosome gets you godlike status in my husband's family. The women are second class all the way.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 8:27 AM

I laugh at this story because I packed my husband's suitcase one time for a vacation we were taking the day after a trial he was working on ended (thus, he didn't really have time to pack for himself, as we went straight from court to the airport after days of pulling all-niters at work). When we reached our destination, he started going through his suitcase for something to change into for dinner and started laughing so hard he couldn't stop. I had inadvertently packed all of his work-around-the-house clothes, so that he didn't really have a nice button down for dinner or a show. He was such a great sport about it, but he said that forever after, he'd find the time to pack for himself, or plan on buying clothes where we vacation. :-)

Posted by: Haha! | January 24, 2007 8:27 AM

I cannot imagine packing my husband's suitcase and don't believe he'd ever even want me to, nor would I ever want him to pack for me. I know this because I once unexpectedly ended up in the hospital. He packed a bag for me with toiletries and an outfit to wear home and it was the worst combination of stuff I could have dreamed up.

Posted by: STLMom | January 24, 2007 8:30 AM

I pack some percentage of my husband's suitcase when we're traveling together (though never when he travels for business). Mostly because he doesn't really pay attention to clothes, but I do. Nothing like having to run to find some random store in a city we don't know on the way to a family wedding so he'll be wearing an acceptable (read: matching) tie. When we go on family trips, we split up the packing and I do the kids' clothes and he does gear we inevitably need. I don't consider this a sexist thing or that I'm taking care of him as I would a child. I would let him pack for me, but I'd have to give a very specific list first because I'm picky (like Danielle who posted above).

So I guess it's a control issue with me.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 24, 2007 8:32 AM

I'm one of those lucky husbands that has never, ever, had to buy my own underware.

The man that doesn't know his own waiste size is the true hallmark of a great wife!

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 24, 2007 8:35 AM

While I think it is 'nice' of her to pack her husband's clothes, it isn't something my husband would want me to do for him. It takes him all of 5 minutes to pack his suitcase. There is no thought involved. Let me see, in the last 3 weeks, he's gone on 3 business trips of 4 days each and we've gone on a ski holiday for 3 days. That is a lot of packing/unpacking. He knows what he wants to wear and what he wants to bring, and I don't. Which is why I put 'nice' in quotes above...it is always nice to do something for someone but not if they don't want you to do it in the first place.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 8:38 AM

Actually, my great husband knows his waist size and is happy right now because he went down a size. He's into his skinny jeans too.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 8:40 AM

WHy did she stay at home?

If we have to tackle that topic again, I will gouge my eyes out.

Anything is better than discussing whether or not a wife packs a suitcase.

Posted by: to moxie mom | January 24, 2007 8:41 AM

Why in God's name would anyone be attacked by doubt when confronted with a woman who packs her husband's suitcase?

I do things for my husband because I love him and want to make life easier for him. He does the same for me. Packing one another's suitcases is not among those things because we're both insufferably picky about what we bring on trips.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 24, 2007 8:43 AM

I pack my husband's lunches. Is that the same?

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 8:44 AM

My husband travels a lot for business and I work from home.

The *only* times I have helped him pack his suitcase is when we have a personal trip back-to-back with one of his professional trips, and then it's a matter of expediency. I pull out what I think he's going to want to bring and stack it up for him, because it helps our turnaround time - he certainly doesn't expect me to do it. And he usually adds or subtracts from the pile, depending upon what has become his favorite t-shirt of the month.

Other than that, it would never occur to me to pack his suitcase, though I usually do unpack for him...but only after he brings his bags upstairs. Otherwise, our dog only tries to "help" unpack by dragging his clothes around the house. So he plays with her, I get the laundry sorted without his clothes getting covered in Bulldog slobber, and then he puts the bags away after she's run herself ragged. Works for everyone.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | January 24, 2007 8:46 AM

I absolutely do not pack for my husband. He rarely has to go on a trip without me so when we're all going, I'm packing for myself and now three kids. I think that's enough. He usually forgets something, i.e. nice pants or pajamas or something. Oh well, most places we go still have stores.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | January 24, 2007 8:46 AM

I'd no more ask my wife to pack my suitcase than I would try and pack her's. We're both adults and know what the trip is for, and what clothes will be needed.

If we're taking a trip together my wife will put the clothes I select in the suitcase(s) because she's more efficient at it than I am, but that's it.

As far as "odd little favors" we do for each other, it varies depending on how busy she or I are at any particular time. There's no "her tasks" and "my tasks", there are just "tasks" that need to be done and if someone isn't busy, then they take care of them.

Posted by: John | January 24, 2007 8:47 AM

Pack my husband's suitcase? Why in the heck would I do that? Are his arms broken?
He always packs his own. I always pack my own. We're grownups who can manage to get our own clean underpants and toothbrushes ready, thank you very much.
Plus, we each know what we want to wear, what clothes fit us best, and what we're really going to need when we get where we're going.
Plus we have such different styles or packing. He likes to overpack and I travel light and don't like to check my luggage. They always lose it and I can feel I always pick up some Woolite at a drugstore when I run out of clean things.

Posted by: preggers | January 24, 2007 8:47 AM

I am going to Houston today and Fredia certainly did not pack my suitcase.

Sometimes she packs some of my stuff when we are going on vacation. But I have to finish packing because she will not pack my "good clothes." You know, the clothes that women throw away when men are not looking!

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 8:52 AM

I love it when DW packs my lunches -- it's rare these days -- and I always thank her when she does. But I never ask her to do this, nor do I expect it at all.

She wouldn't think of packing my suitcase, since when I do travel it's just w. a carryon and she can't believe how little I take w. me.

For her sake, I generally try to make sure she has coffee waiting for her when she gets up (she's the at home spouse).

Posted by: ViennaDad | January 24, 2007 8:52 AM

The only time I heard of the wife packing the husband's suitcase was when Mary Chapin Carpenter sang:

"She packs his suitcase
She sits and waits
with no expression upon her face
when she was 36
she met him at the door
she said 'I'm sorry,
I don't love you anymore.'"

I'm not letting my wife anywhere near my suitcase.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 24, 2007 8:53 AM

When men start worrying about whether doing or not doing something makes them 'a bad husband', then can we take this thread seriously.

Posted by: Denver | January 24, 2007 8:55 AM

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. It seems to me that Leslie has a lot of self-doubt.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 8:56 AM

This is kind of related, but a bit funny and a bit sad.

There's a guy who works with me who is super 1950s traditional. He reminds me of the guys who never had to do anything for themselves.

I'm a graphic designer and have been preparing for an important person coming to our facility tomorrow. So my space is littered with posters in various parts of the framing process. Yesterday, this guy comes in to get something (I work in a glorified hallway with two printers and storage). He stops and looks at a few posters I have leaning against a wall.

He: "They're really nice."
Me: "Thanks."
He: "Is this for ... that thing this week?"
Me: "Yup."
He: "Don't you think it's a bit unethical to put everything up right before this meeting and make it look like we do more than we really do?"
Me: "No. That's how things happen everywhere. Don't you clean your house when someone comes over?"
He: "No. (pause) Well, the house gets cleaned, but I don't do it. Must be a little fairy who does it or something."
Me: "Well, you're lucky you have fairies in your house. My husband and I clean our house together."
He: "Well, my wife doesn't work so she probably doesn't have anything better to do." (sounded like a joke, maybe, I couldn't discern)
Me: "I hear that childrearing is pretty hard." (he has two kids under four)
He: "Yeah, I hear that, too."

I felt so bad for his wife. It's no problem if your wife doesn't work, but you gotta understand her side of things, and I felt like he was minimizing her role down to something easy and something that's just done. I was almost shocked, despite the fact that I've dealt with his rather rigid view of life in other circumstances. Glad I didn't marry him. :)

Posted by: dasher | January 24, 2007 8:57 AM

He packs for his business trips. I do not know the events and what he needs. To be nice (and more efficient) I tell him to pick out what he wants to take on family trips and I put them into the suitcase(s). This makes sense since I am usually packing the kids stuff also. He does all the unpacking and sorting for laundry. But that is our division. I think the lady in Leslie's story, like most of us has established what she wants to do. She was matter of fact because she must like it. My husband buys his own clothes, but asks my opinion and I do the same.

Posted by: Sunniday | January 24, 2007 8:59 AM

Ha Arlington dad that is an awesome song.

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 9:00 AM

There are a lot of women who do buy their spouse's underwear, socks and sometimes shirts and pants. Maybe they care about holes in clothing more than us? :)

I suspect that Fredia will throw away some of my clothes but I have never caught her.

On the other hand, she always thanks me for putting gas in her car (she HATES doing this) and washing it.

So as Moxiemom said "so many people are unwilling to give one iota more than their 50%."

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 9:01 AM

I do my laundry, he does his. My theory is if I don't make it dirty, I don't make it clean. I do the sheets, etc.
I would never let him...or expect him... to pack my suitcase.
If he expected me to pack his suitcase for a trip, the plane would leave and he would not be anywhere near the airport.
If he ASKED me for assistance, not a problem.

We are scraping the bottom of the barrel on "balance" here....

Posted by: Wow | January 24, 2007 9:03 AM

I have a confession to make... my husband and I each pack our own suitcases, but he invariably packs a few things for me that he thinks I will forget. He is almost always right. It's very strange.

My mother and I used to travel together and she used to overpack hugely... so now I'm in the habit of underpacking

Posted by: Neighbor | January 24, 2007 9:04 AM

chamasaur,
my flat-coat likes to do the same thing with clothes. She likes to take out dirty socks and underwear and fling them around the house. I once found a dirty sock on top of a floor lamp! I found it when I turned the light on. I have to admit my boys aid and abet the dog in this 'crime.'

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 9:04 AM

My husband and I pack our own suitcases when we travel separately.

When we travel somewhere together, I pick out the clothes I'm bringing and set them by the suitcase. If I tried to pack, he would take it all out. So I indulge him and let him pack the suitcase. He also insists on packing the car. He also insists on getting the directions and driving. Can you say control freak?

But I let him because I know it makes him happy. I only beg to help when I'm feeling particularly useless, and then he gets to indulge me.

It works the other way with making dinner and doing the shopping. I'm obsessive about clipping coupons, setting the week's menu, and making the shopping list (by ailse, by food category... can you say OCD?). So I usually handle that and cooking. But when my husband is feeling a little worthless, he asks to make dinner and to come grocery shopping.

It seems to work out.

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 9:05 AM

My wife does pack my suitcase. I honestly don't know why. I never asked her to. When we first got married, she didn't. Sometime, gradually, over the 20+ years of marriage, she started doing it. I don't remember exactly when. As best I remember, she first did it when we were headed out on a family trip and she was packing for herself and the kids while I was at work. When I got home she'd packed for me too.

Does she have to do it? Of course not. It's a nice thing to do for me, though, and I do appreciate it. (It may also give her a bit more control over what I wear - sometimes she despairs over my "casual" attitude towards my appearance.)

Maybe it's like husbands opening doors for their wives. They're perfectly capable of opening a door without assistance, but it's a small way of showing concern and appreciation.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 9:06 AM

I am going to admit that I have dressed my husband since I met him eleven years ago. He has no sense of style. If I say it once a week I say it a 100 time, that does not go together.

He has gotten better, but I still pick out most of his clothes. With his approval of course, we mainly shop together.

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 9:06 AM

to wow at 9:03:
I don't agree with this 'scraping the bottom of the barrel' thought. How much of perceived unbalance is due to perhaps totally unneccesary activities? Like packing your husband's suitcase. How much of unbalance is brought on by ourselves? That is how today's column speaks to me.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 9:07 AM

What's a grocery list?

Posted by: to Meesh | January 24, 2007 9:08 AM

Am I the only female with a male clothes horse spouse? He was on that teen-board department store thing back in high school even. His shoe collection is amazing.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 9:10 AM

Scarry -- you are not the only one who dresses / shops / provides wardrobe approval for her husband. I have to tell you though, I look so much better now that I'm married than when I was dating.

Posted by: Arington Dad | January 24, 2007 9:12 AM

"When men start worrying about whether doing or not doing something makes them 'a bad husband', then can we take this thread seriously"

Well, my husband does worry. That's when he'll offer to help with the groceries. We both worry that we don't do enough for each other, but I guess that's the first couple years of marriage.

Father of 4, my husband buys my underwear, but it's nothing I can really use, so I have to buy my own as well.

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 9:12 AM

Just once, Ms. Steiner, I wish your blog would take a larger world view. Everyone doesn't live in male/female relationships. In posing your original question,is your query about the differences between men and women or about division of duties in a household or the way adults care and negotiate relationships? If you were able to acknowledge a world where relationships are possible in confgurations other than male and female, how would you pose the question? Is there a question? If there is still a queston, perhaps it would be phrased, do you pack your partner's suitcase? Why/why not?

Posted by: ccc | January 24, 2007 9:15 AM

I don't pack my husband's suitcase. I agree with others on this post... he's an adult. I definitly don't feel guilty about it. Its nice that your friend packs her husband's suitcase. If my husband needed me to, I would, but I don't know what he would want to pack for a trip. I'd like to find out how the others on this post were able to have their husband do their own laundry. I'd really like that, seeing as how I do a load of laundry a night after the little ones are in bed.

Posted by: Workingmomof2 | January 24, 2007 9:15 AM

To "dotted," my husband is a total clothes horse. We make a good match in that sense. All our spare cash goes to clothing. He's gotten the "metro" comment more than once.

To "to meesh," a shopping list; a list of things to buy at the store? I can't tell if you're being facetious.

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 9:17 AM

partner's suitcase

This would offend me, it might imply that I am not married.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 9:18 AM

Dotted,

Yes, I think that you are one of the few with a clothes horse husband.

Shoes, oh yeah, I actually bought 2 new pairs in the last year! Though only becasue of tragic circumstances. I am still wearing my Army boots that I have had since 1972.

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 9:18 AM

My mil still buys my husband underwear and lots of clothes - as far as I'm concerned that's more money for us!

Posted by: nina | January 24, 2007 9:18 AM

"When men start worrying about whether doing or not doing something makes them 'a bad husband', then can we take this thread seriously"

Well, my husband does worry. That's when he'll offer to help with the groceries. We both worry that we don't do enough for each other, but I guess that's the first couple years of marriage.

* * *
It's not (or should not be) just "the first couple of years of marriage". As you figure out each other's strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and as your situations change (e.g. add kids to the mix), who does what for whom constantly changes. Older Dad's wife didn't wake up one day as a 1950s housewife and start packing his suitcase, it just evolved into something nice she did for him. My wife never ate breakfast, but once she was pregnant, I started bring her breakfast and delivering it to our room. If we are paying attention, we have to continuously reasses what we do for each other -- and do what matters most to our spouse.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 24, 2007 9:19 AM

Meesh, I'm interpreting your 9:12 as:

My husband bought me a thong.

ow sweet! :-)

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 24, 2007 9:19 AM

"How much of perceived unbalance is due to perhaps totally unneccesary activities?"

I think this is an interesting question. Of course, part of the problem sometimes is that people don't always agree on what is "unnecessary." For instance, I don't think it's neccessary to edge your lawn along the sidewalk. It may look a little neater but I figure if the grass is cut, we're good. But this is something my husband does. However, I don't believe he thinks it's necessary to cook anything that takes longer than 15 minutes. But I want to eat things that taste better (and are better for you) than frozen pizza so there are times I cook meals that take an hour or two.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | January 24, 2007 9:19 AM

Agree Arlington dad - I'd never trade the daily kindness from my husband. I don't need a big anniversary dinner or big birthday gift because he treats me so nicely ever day which is worth its weight in gold. I'm the coffee getter in the morning in my house.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 24, 2007 9:21 AM

Did you all ever read a fantastic book called "Wifework" by Susan Maushart? She's a British academic -- and the packing the suitcase is a perfect example of what she talks about in her work (which is both wonderfully accurate and horribly depressing at the same time.)

Essentially, she says that in marriage, men tend to get a lot more "psychic caretaking" than women do. Women tend to empathize when their husbands complain about their bosses, anticipate their needs and so forth in ways that men rarely do for women. Not because of some form of vast, evil conspiracy -- but mostly because it's semi-unconscious. Women are socialized to take care of others, and to some degree, men are socialized to be taken care of. (She actually goes on to argue that THIS is why men live longer when they're married and women live longer when they're single -- that this unconscious burden is kind of exhausting for women, and freeing for men.)

Having someone else pack your suitcase is ultimately about being waited on. It's more like having a butler than being mommied. And if you also pick up your husband's dirty clothes off the floor and put them in the hamper for him, notice when he's running low on socks or the family is running low on milk and so forth -- then it may be draining you in ways you don't realize.

FWIW, at some point I stopped packing my husband's suitcase, and his mother still buys him underwear, wraps it up and mails it to him for Christmas! Talk about weird! (She does it for all his brothers too. We wives tend to get together and laugh about it.)

Posted by: Armchair Mom | January 24, 2007 9:21 AM

My mil still buys my husband underwear and lots of clothes - as far as I'm concerned that's more money for us!

This does not surprise me.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 9:22 AM

Oh my gosh. Today's topic is bleh!

Are you trying to lighten things up after the abortion/god debate?? :)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 9:22 AM

I am a stay at home mom and I pack at least half of my husbands suitcase. He has never asked me too, and at times has told me I don't need to but I do it anyways. I usually make sure all the toiletries, socks, undershirts, underwear and stuff like that is in and then I let him do the work attire.

I do it because I have the time and I want to help him out, I don't see anything wrong with that. I think I actually started doing it because I'm the one who does all the laundry and since I don't stay on top of it, I usually have to finish washing things immediately before the trip. So I guess you could say it's a direct result of my "don't do it until you absolutely have to" mentality.

Posted by: Centreville SAHM | January 24, 2007 9:25 AM

I'm surprised people are so annoyed by this question. I pack my husband's suitcase once in a while, just to help him out. He does a lot of nice things for me. This says nothing about our balance of power, or whether one is pampering the other too much. I think it shows we have love and respect for each other.

Posted by: anonymous | January 24, 2007 9:25 AM

In my first marriage (20 years)I did it all, including the packing, and never, ever once did I question the propriety of doing so. There followed 11 years of blissful singlehood. Married again (11 years) I do hardly any of those things that I once did (including packing) and never, ever do I question the propriety of not doing them. Our division of labors includes him doing the grocery shopping and me doing the laundry and the rest is pretty much give and take as the mood strikes. Life is great!

Posted by: Ginny Cunningham | January 24, 2007 9:26 AM

"How much of perceived unbalance is due to perhaps totally unneccesary activities? Like packing your husband's suitcase. How much of unbalance is brought on by ourselves? That is how today's column speaks to me."

It's morally wrong for one spouse to intentionally "take advantage" of another. That being said, I'm uncomfortable with the implicit idea that marriage is a 50/50 business partnership - particularly with the implicatin that it's a contract where I in essence agree to do a, b & c in exchange for Mrs. Older Dad agreeing to do x, y & z.

A better (or at least more durable and satisfying) model is that marriage should be a 100% commitment on both sides. I may be hit by a truck when I walk to lunch this afternoon, and permanently disabled. This would undermine the basis of a 50/50 marriage, because I could no longer contribute. A 100/100 marriage would survive. Mrs. Older Dad could have a recurrance of heart problems, and this time it could permanently impair her. Same thing - a 50/50 marriage would be undermined, but a 100/100 marriage would survive. (No, I'm not a Pollyanna - this sort of thing would be serious strain on any marriage. But some approaches will make a marriage more resiliant than others.)

Why is this relavent to today's discussion? No one forced the woman Leslie mentioned to pack for her husband. There's no indication that he demanded it, or that she views it as an imposition.

But Leslie and many of the posters bring it back to a question of "balance," as if it's being placed on a scale to see whether the marriage is 50/50, 60/40, or 40/60.

I suspect she is, as Leslie puts it, a woman who's "just nice" and has a 100 commitment to her husband. Given that she talks about it so matter of factly, he's probably 100 percent commited to her in return. "Nice" all around.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 9:26 AM

Oh, wait...we're talking about dressing our husbands???
Okay, I do that. But left to his own devices, my husband dresses like Apollo Mission Control. Nothing wrong with it, per se, but it's just he's a handsome guy and doesn't have to look that geeky.
That and shopping with him is torture. It takes HOURS and he can never decide.
So I do it for him and get rid of his old clothes. He used to care, but when his female coworkers complimented him he stopped.

Posted by: preggers | January 24, 2007 9:27 AM

I think the point is that spouses do things for each other, because, well, they're a family. In my house, we do what the other loathes to do. I don't like to iron, so my husband does my ironing as well as his. My husband doesn't really go in for dusting, so I do it -- and so on. I think in marriage there can be resentment if one spouse feels the other isn't doing their share of unpleasant household tasks, so it's really important for the division of labor to be fair -- or at least as fair as it can be. It's not always perfect, and I've certainly had my share of unpleasant conversations over what I do and what my husband doesn't, but most of the time we try to make it equitable. I work very part-time, so I do more of the household work. But if I need my husband to pitch in more (because caring for a toddler while pregnant can be exhausting), I holler!

Posted by: writing mommy | January 24, 2007 9:29 AM

I "get" why that topic fascinates; I've had the same thoughts. But I certainly don't recommend giving in to the feeling of guilt for not perpetuating an old stereotype!

We each do our own laundry, pack our own bags for trips (business and pleasure), and try to split other chores based on an equal workload that roughly fits each person's schedule at that time (renegotiating when life/job/other changes).

As we get a little older, and have been married longer, we are finding we also split chores/or offer to help out based health needs & comfort. e.g. Chores that require stairs get extra help from the person with good knees. Duties that require cutting up frozen food get help from the person's whose hands don't hurt when encountering cold items.

Are there still stereotypical roles? Yes, unfortunately. We were brought up with different skills, so it is natural as things get busy to have the person who knows the task the best tackle it quickly. Sigh.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 9:31 AM

Pack my husband's suite case? No way. My husband used to travel 3 weeks out of 4 (most times he was home on the weekends) and he could pack in about 3 minutes. It would have taken me much longer. Heck, I don't even pack my 13 year-old son's suite case when he goes to visit my brother each summer.

Posted by: Claire | January 24, 2007 9:32 AM

Dotted,

My brothers are clothes horses. I remember one time we were going to a movie. My sister-in-law and I had to wait a good half hour while my brothers tried on all of each other's clothes and checked out everything in the mirror. My sister-in-law and I had gotten dressed in 5 minutes.

Posted by: kep | January 24, 2007 9:32 AM

"But Leslie and many of the posters bring it back to a question of "balance," as if it's being placed on a scale to see whether the marriage is 50/50, 60/40, or 40/60."

When we're talking about balance, I don't think we're always referring to the balance of chore-doing between husband and wife although that can be a big part of it. There's also the balance of having enough time to get the chores done, go to work, spend time with kids, spend time with spouse, etc. So if you spend more of your time doing "unnecessary" things, you have less time for more important things.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | January 24, 2007 9:32 AM

LOL, Scarry, about saying it 100 times a week. What are all the ways we tell our husbands to change their clothes? If I'm feeling snarky, I say

"What made you think that matched?"

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 24, 2007 9:35 AM

My husband would never ask me to pack his suitcase and if he did, I'd make it interesting for him! He would look pretty funny wearing a dress to his business meeting!

Posted by: Donna | January 24, 2007 9:36 AM

NEVER! Mr. PunditMom is a big boy and knows what he's going to need, be it business travel or family vacation. My sister-in-law, however, always packs for her husband and insists he would not be able to match clothes without her (I've suggested Garanimals -- she wasn't amused).

But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy doing little things to make my husband's life easier and vice versa -- and some of them are stereotypical. He knows I hate to take out the trash and I know he hates laundry. But he also knows that it makes me happy if he cooks me breakfast every now and then and I know it's a load off his mind if I deal with home repairs once in a while. So it all balances out!

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | January 24, 2007 9:36 AM

Well one day he had on a yellow V neck sweater with a blue under shirt underneath it, and it looked really bad.

I said that is wrong on so many levels.

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 9:37 AM

I'm also a man who worries if he's being a good husband/father. My wife and I both work (she even makes more money and has a more stressful job), but invariably, she still does more of the work around the house and with baby (although certainly doesn't pack my suitcase).

I feel guilty about this and try to help out more and do little things, but it's difficult since we have different expectations about housework (I could care less, she's a neat freak). Anyway, we're trying to work it out, but please know that men struggle with this question too, particularly when both spouses are working...

Posted by: JDS | January 24, 2007 9:39 AM

Leslie,

Here's another topic, slightly related to this: how do you deal with in-laws who have differet/old fashioned views on spouses' roles?

I was thinking about this last night. When my in-laws come to visit my FIL never helps with dinner/clearing the table/dishes. I have decided that next time they come, I will make a point to say that it's my house and I insist everyone helps out. We'll see how that goes. I should note that my husband is great around the house and it would never occur to him or me to pack his suitcase. Although his mother definitely packs his fathers'.

Posted by: DC | January 24, 2007 9:41 AM

working momX I am glad I am not the only snarky one. Sometimes I feel bad asking him if he got dressed in the closet in the dark.

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 9:42 AM

"Essentially, she says that in marriage, men tend to get a lot more "psychic caretaking" than women do."

I get this point, but I also think that women can discourage men from taking care of this kind of thing via gatekeeping. My mom, God love her, is a gatekeeper extraordinaire. If you don't do something EXACTLY THE WAY SHE WOULD, then you're doing it wrong. I don't blame my dad for giving up and not trying anymore.

I will admit to being that way myself when we first got married. Then I saw how damaging and stupid it was and worked really hard on not caring how something got done, as long as it got done. This had the added benefit of pretty much eliminating my mental scorekeeping.

These days, I do most of the stuff around the house because I enjoy it and my husband is in grad school and isn't home all that much. Except for clothes. He is the most OCD gatekeeper in the universe when it comes to his clothes, so I don't touch them. He does all my laundry, though, and I haven't cleaned a bathroom since I got married.

He picked up most of the load when I was finishing my dissertation. We both figure that long-term, it all evens out.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 24, 2007 9:43 AM

Grocery shopping, just go down the isles and throw in what is needed!

And my mom never bought me underwear once I moved out of the house ;)

Posted by: to Meesh | January 24, 2007 9:43 AM

Practically, how does that work, each spouse doing his/her own laundry? Do you have separate hampers, sort it out later on? Isn't it also inefficient to run, say, two loads when you could have squeezed everything in as one?

I also don't see how it adds to my workload if I wash my husband's clothes, along with mine. I mean, it's a matter of pushing a few buttons. I'm not going down to the river to pound his underwear on a board.

Folding, I can see how each should do his/her own.

Posted by: Ajax | January 24, 2007 9:43 AM

I'm with Claire - my husband has packing down. I find it to be really hard. I always have too much stuff.

I can't keep straight which trips are overnighers where he just wants to carry on and travel with an extra shirt and which are longer and need more stuff. If he packs himself then he's got what he wants and whatever is forgotten isn't my fault.

That said, he does seem to come home with jackets from WalMart so I think maybe he forgets that a lot.

He also takes and picks up his shirts at the laundry.

It's worth it to keep your wifely impulses out of it. Both my sons can pack in a second. The other day the 18 year-old came home and I watched him take shirts out of the car. He was going someplace and took them to the laundry himself!

One motherly thing I'll note, and I may have passed this along before. When kids start doing their own laundry it's a good idea to hide the bleach. They don't realize until they've ruined something that it's dangerous, and they can ruin a lot of your stuff before they ruin something of theirs and figure that out!

Posted by: RoseG | January 24, 2007 9:44 AM

I've never packed my husband's suitcase, at least meaning I've never picked out what he's going to wear. At times I've actually placed it into his suitcase since I'm a better packer and can fit more in a suitcase than he can. But we each pick out what we're going to wear (with input from the other sometimes) and generally pack our own suitcase. He's only packed mine a few times when I've been running around, though all items were preselected. Anyway, I can't even reach his clothes in the closet since he's way taller than I am and the top shelves are his b/c I can't reach.

Posted by: Bored at work | January 24, 2007 9:45 AM

I remember my MIL laughing when, prior to getting married, DH and I traveled to a family event using one suitcase. It was a 3 day trip! There was no need for 2 half empty bags. DH mostly packs his own clothes, although sometimes I'll do it with his consultation. (He's doing dishes or watching Discovery and I'm yelling out "Do you want the green shirt or the grey one?"). He packs all of our toiletries except my makeup.
I do all of our clothing laundry and he does all the towels and sheets. Why? Because my stuff is most likely to have special instructions, and he's likely to miss them. We pay per load, and it's not any harder to also throw in his clothes.
On the other hand, I haven't had to pump gas or get an oil change in almost two years :)
I don't get the emphasis on each taking care of yourself entirely. Why be married then? DH and I balance each other out. I take care of the bills he'd let sit for a week, and he takes care of cooking us dinner and making sure we have money in savings. If I feel put-upon I ask for help, and vice versa. Seems like the "balance" always talked about with work and kids should have some place in handling life between spouses. Different for each couple, but still important.

Posted by: Newlywed in MD | January 24, 2007 9:45 AM

Lizzie,

He washes clothes and cleans bathrooms! Wow! You have the perfect husband. Now, if he would just work on that Cooperstown thing.

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 9:45 AM

I don't pack my husband's suitcase- he's actually much more well-traveled than I am and probably does a better job with his own stuff, particularly when he's traveling for business. It's not that I WOULDN'T, it's just that he's happy to pack his own suitcase. I do, however, help him rattle off the checklist when he's trying to figure out if he forgot anything. He usually forgets the toiletries and I usually remember them.

If we travel together, we often just pack one bag for the two of us. While I'm packing my stuff, I'll set out underwear, socks, and t-shirts for him so he doesn't have to go hunting for them when he packs his stuff. It would probably be different if he just expected me to pack his bag for him, but since he doesn't and is perfectly happy to do it himself, my taking a few extra minutes to help is really just a nice thing that I'm doing, with no sexist/subservient baggage (no pun intended) attached.

Posted by: Tiffany | January 24, 2007 9:46 AM

DC -- What did they say about that old dog? Think twice before you assisgn you FIL chores. It might not be worth the battle and hard feelings. And eventually, your in-laws will go back home.

What does you husband think of your plan?

It stresses me out, but I don't live with you (although our in-laws sound similar).

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 24, 2007 9:49 AM

"Wifework" sounds interesting, I'm going to check that out, thank you!

DH did at one point early on try to get me to pack for him but I adamantly refused.

The balance between "taking care of" and "being taken care of" is in constant flux in our marriage. It's always the little things. DH and I each give 100% on the big things (love, money, etc.)

But the little things: DH likes me to bring him a glass of water or a beer, no matter what I am doing at the time. This is perhaps the biggest thing I can think of where we are out of balance. I never ask him to get me stuff (or rarely).

I think a lot of this is the socialization that someone mentioned earlier. Women are socialized to take care of others, and men are socialized to be taken care of. This is the trend, and I'm hoping it is lessening now for us and our children than during our parent's time.

Posted by: Rebecca | January 24, 2007 9:49 AM

"When my in-laws come to visit my FIL never helps with dinner/clearing the table/dishes. I have decided that next time they come, I will make a point to say that it's my house and I insist everyone helps out."

My grandmother came to my parents' house for 35 years' worth of Sunday dinners, Christmas dinners, Thanksgiving dinners, et al and never once lifted a finger to help. Her philosophy was that she was a guest and guests didn't help.

If you really want your FIL to help, I can't see how an annoucement of "At my house, everyone pitches in" would do anything but put him on the offensive. "FIL, would you mind setting out the dessert plates and the ice cream forks? Thanks so much!" is more specific and more likely to meet with success, I think.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 24, 2007 9:49 AM

Stop the enabling!

We want balance and equity and then we do stuff like pack our husband's suitcase for him??

This is our fault as women if we are doing this stuff for men and then demanding they do their fair share of domestic chores.

I think it's time for this women to go back to her professional career. Then lets see if her husband packs for her!

Posted by: CO | January 24, 2007 9:50 AM

DC that is an interesting topic about in laws. My husband's sister in law seems to think that when I come home for a vacation that I can do all the work, that is, clean up the table after we eat, clean up after the kids or run and get stuff from the store. I have no problem doing my fair share, but just because I am there doesn't mean she is on vacation. It is really annoying.

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 9:50 AM

CO, I didn't know that equality meant not doing nice things for each other. You don't know what goes on in their house. Maybe he rubs her feet every night. One of the worst things that feminists can do is try to be like men in every way. Let's be glad that we are more nurturing in general what's up with all the hostility?

Posted by: moxiemom | January 24, 2007 9:53 AM

If I packed my husband's suitcase, it would definitely not be a gift to him. I would actually risk offending him, even if my intentions were to do something loving. For my husband, a loving gesture would be more like not overpacking my own or the kids' stuff. He likes things simple and unpretentious. He packs a small fraction of what I would choose for him. Same goes for buying his clothes - I would love to buy nice things to dress him up, but his first thought if I came home with even new socks for him would be 'What - you don't think I'm capable of knowing when I need new socks?'. I'd have to preface the gift with an explanation that I of course know he is capable.

And to clarify something that Older Dad posted earlier about the 50:50 vs 40:60 vs 60:40 marriage, I think that the real message of equality can get lost in the idea that a 50:50 marriage is some kind of business contract where neither party will budge one inch to help the other if it means straying from 50:50. That kind of arrangement would definitely make for a dull and lifeless marriage! Equal sharing in reality means something completely different. It means that both partners are equally invested in the family, and spend approximately equivalent time sharing the family breadwinning, housework and childraising tasks. It is but one of many parenting lifestyles. I find that it brings great intimacy to my own marriage, as I have a true partner who knows firsthand what it takes to run our family, and my husband is happy that we share in earning the family's money. we do lots of loving things for each other - such as the other day when my husband and daughter packed me a dinner to take to my suppertime hair appointment...there I sat under the dryer reading the little love note that was enclosed!

Anyway, what would make a great suitcase-packing-type gift that others might not like but your spouse would adore?

Posted by: equal | January 24, 2007 9:54 AM

I pack my fiance's bag for vacations but he packs it for business trips. For me, it's not a matter of doing something nice for him; it's making my vacation more enjoyable because we don't have to waste time buying those items he forgot to pack (e.g. swim trunks on beach vacation, goggles for ski trip, poles for another ski trip, suit pants for wedding, passport on flight to Canada - that was a fun one...).

So if I pack for him, I know that he will have the jacket for dinner and both sandals, and we won't spend hours running around before we can have fun.

On business trips, he's on his own! ...or his poor secretary is stuck tracking down cufflinks for him.

On the flip side, he packs my lunch most days and takes care of all the dry cleaning. Please tell me this won't change after we get married!


Posted by: A bit type-A | January 24, 2007 9:54 AM

Lizzie writes:

"I do things for my husband because I love him and want to make life easier for him. He does the same for me. Packing one another's suitcases is not among those things because we're both insufferably picky about what we bring on trips."

My wife never packs my suitcase, whether I'm going on a business trip or we are all going on a pleasure trip together. How would she know what I want to pack?

And Scarry asks:

"I pack my husband's lunches. Is that the same?"

If you do it because you love your husband and want the best for him -- yes, it is the same.

When we lived so close to work that I could come home at lunchtime, we had the "lunch committee." Namely, my wife would pack a lunch in a brown bag, hand it to the younger boy, who would hand it to his big brother, who would hand it to me to take back to work and eat there.

Ever since we moved too far away from my workplace for me to come home for lunch, my wife has always made my lunch for me in the morning, before I drive my 44 miles to work.

Someone who is ashamed to post her name and does not know how to spell "servitude" writes:

"It's not a matter of 'giving', it's a matter of breaking a pattern of female servitute to males. If I can pack my own suitcase, why can't my husband pack his? Are his trips somehow more important than mine? What kind of message does this send to my kids about the status of men and women?"

I will tell you what kind of message the "lunch committee" sent to the next generation. The little boy who used to hand the brown bag to me at lunchtime got married a month ago. His wife saw what he packed for his own lunch: a candy bar and a bag of potato chips. Now she gets up and makes a lunch for him every morning before she goes to teach school.

The message is this: If you love your spouse, you want what is best for him and what will keep him healthy so that you will have him around a long time. If that means packing a healthy lunch for him, so be it.

Doing things for one another works both ways. Once, in between her morning and afternoon teaching jobs, my daughter-in-law cut her finger so badly that she required four stitches. My son took the whole afternoon off from work so that he could drive his wife to and from her afternoon teaching job. If he were an ideologue, he might have said, "Too bad. I'm not missing work for you. Is my job less important than yours?"

In the regular pattern of things, spouses do things for each other out of love and care. I feel sorry for anyone who lets ideologies like "breaking a pattern of female servitute to males" influence her relationship with her husband. (I feel even sorrier for her husband.)

Spouses are supposed to serve one another, out of love. Lucifer's sin -- what got him thrown out of Heaven and fired down into Hell -- was his refusal to serve ("non serviam," in the words of the Vulgate Bible's version of Jeremiah 2:20). If you are single and looking for a prospective husband or wife, find out whether he or she subscribes to ideologies that imply, "non serviam." If so, keep looking until you find someone who will take care of you.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 24, 2007 9:55 AM

When we travel, or one of us travels, the bed is a staging ground, and then my husband packs the bags. He is great at it; nothing is wrinkled, everything gets in, the bags are easy to carry or roll because they're balanced.

Then, when we come home, he actually does the whole process in reverse, including packing the dirty clothes in one place and the clean ones in another.

When we first got married, we'd get into bed and night and I'd say "did you lock up?" and he'd say "no," and I'd sigh and get up and do it. It took us a while to figure out that each of us expected the other to do the locking up.... after a while we evolved our relationship. He vacuums, I garden; I cook; he cleans up; I drove the kids; he earned the money... We divided by preference and inclination, not by sex roles.

Posted by: Diana | January 24, 2007 9:56 AM

I don't get running his-and-hers laundry. It seems wasteful, and petty. Someone said "if I didn't get it dirty, I'm not washing it". There's someone who shouldn't be married. This is what marriage is. You do what has to be done, period. You don't keep a tally of who's done more laundry this month, or who's washed more dishes. It's juevenile. (We do laundry according to temperature and color. When the dryer buzzes, we both get up at the same time, dump it all on the bed, and take THREE minutes out of our busy day to fold.)

As for packing, no. I don't think I've ever packed my husband's suitcase. I might run out to the store to pick up travel-sized saline and shaving cream for him while he packs. But then, he's been known to drive 25 miles away to get me a european-compatible hair dryer.

Hey Fred, any verdict on the anniversary gift?

Posted by: WDC | January 24, 2007 9:56 AM

I understand your advice re: the FIL but the fact is that when they come, it's usually for about a week and they make themselves very much at home - to the point where sometimes I feel like the guest! I really don't like that so maybe me wanting him to help out is me trying get back some control over my own household! While I don't want them to feel uncomfortable, I also want them to know that it is our home and they need to abide by our customs.

Posted by: DC | January 24, 2007 9:57 AM

"Pack my husband's suitcase? Why in the heck would I do that? Are his arms broken?
He always packs his own. I always pack my own. We're grownups who can manage to get our own clean underpants and toothbrushes ready, thank you very much."

Wow - so much baggage attached to packing suitcases. I've always packed my husband's suitcase and it doesn't have a darn thing to do with either of our genders, that I am wasting my time on unimportant things, that he's not a grownup, that his limbs are non-functioning, and certainly not because he ever asked me to. He is lousy at it. It's easy for me. It just makes sense in our partnership that if something's a no-brainer for one of us and difficult as advanced physics for the other, the person for whom it's a gimme handles it. When I don't get around to it, he does it.

I never realized that female-suitcase-packing was such a hot-button issue. The kids each pack their own suitcases because they get to spend the next several years figuring out what they're lousy or good at and maybe they'll both be good at it. My husband was 27 when we met and his skills and problem areas were pretty well entrenched - as was his good nature and non-gender-specific expectations.

The collective angst from most folks - excluding Arlington Dad and Older Dad - almost makes me want to ask which partner/spouse packs the trunk for road trips / family vacations. Ha!

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 9:57 AM

I think this is a good, lighthearted topic. Sometimes, I would like to pack my husband's suitcase, because I just don't think he packs enough. He likes to travel light. He thinks 3 sets of underwear and socks, a couple pairs of shorts, and a couple tee shirts are enough for a two week beach vacation. What if we want to go somewhere nice? Plus, I hate to do laundry every other day. But that's my issue, not his. He would be happy to pack his own stuff with absolutely no input from me.

About a year ago, we went to a family wedding in Miami right after a beach vacation in New Jersey. It was a very hectic weekend. We had driven back from the beach on a Friday, and our flight to Miami left very early on Saturday, and we were flying back on Sunday because school started the next day for our son. So my husband told me he would help me out and pack our wedding clothes. I had left my stuff and my son's clothes hanging on the door before we went to the beach. His suit was in the closet. When we arrived in Miami, we realized that he had forgotten to pack his own suit, and the only other clothes he had were shorts and a tee shirt. Yikes. We ended up having to go shopping that afternoon and begged the department store to do the alterations on the spot since the wedding was that evening. It worked out (in a very expensive way), but the stress levels that Saturday afternoon were through the roof. So now, if we are going to an event that requires some kind of dress code, I always check to make sure he has appropriate clothes. If it's just a shorts and tee shirt kind of trip, I let him recycle the couple of outfits that he takes along.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 9:58 AM

When my brother got married my SIL didn't iron his shirts or put his clothes away after they were washed (she did wash, dry and fold them)- this was a mortal sin according to MY mother. I told her she was being silly - he was an adult for God's sake. That was almost 20 years ago. Today after almost 50 years of marriage and laundry my mother is wondering why she ever did it all for my dad.

I am afraid at this point it is too late to change. If my mom didn't do my dad's laundry, iron, fold and put away everything he'd wear the same clothes everyday - or buy 7 new outfits each week.

Posted by: cmac | January 24, 2007 10:00 AM

Ok, who makes the bed in the morning?

BTW, no updates on the anniversary gift but I need to think fast, only 1 week away!

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 10:01 AM

Oh please don't do that to your FIL! It likely won't help and will make you look bad, not him. Trust me, it won't be worth it. Just treat him like a dinner guest, whom I would hope you would not enjoin to do chores. If you husband is helping, and especially if your MIL is helping, too, just let it be.

Posted by: to DC | January 24, 2007 10:01 AM

"There's also the balance of having enough time to get the chores done, go to work, spend time with kids, spend time with spouse, etc. So if you spend more of your time doing "unnecessary" things, you have less time for more important things."

Absolutely. And sometimes it makes sense to simply let some things go, to allow more time for family.

I just find the focus on whether the "balance of chore-doing" is 50/50 a bit disconcerting. For one reason, it's very unlikely that both spouses will see it the same way (just how many loads of laundry is washing the car worth? and how many hot breakfasts is a new crown molding in the dining room worth?). But more fundamentally, it seems that we slip into viewing marriage as a mechanism for sharing chores. Yes, we should share chores - but that's not what marriage is all about. It's a like viewing an exercise bike as a very expensive clothes rack - technically correct, but completely missing the point.

;-)

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 10:03 AM

make the bed????

Posted by: VAtoddlerMom | January 24, 2007 10:05 AM

My husband makes the bed in the morning. It's one of those things where I seem to "be the guy" - I just don't see that it needs to be made. Also don't see why - you go right back in at night!

Posted by: Ajax | January 24, 2007 10:06 AM

"I also want them to know that it is our home and they need to abide by our customs."

Well, they're guests, and it's reasonable to expect a good host to do what he can to make guests comfortable. If they're strewing garbage all over your floors and flooding the bathroom, then your husband should speak to them, but I wouldn't insist that your FIL do chores. As to DC said, it'll only make you look bad. Also as to DC said, if your husband is helping out, just let it be. (If he's not, have a talk.)

Letting in-law annoyances go is another thing we try to do for one another. I know my parents can be a pain in the ass sometimes and I'm grateful when Husband doesn't complain. He knows his parents can be pains in the ass, too, and he is very grateful that I don't fuss or take it personally. Easing a spouse's relationship with their parents - or at least not making it any more difficult - is one of the kindest things you can do for one another.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 24, 2007 10:07 AM

"almost makes me want to ask which partner/spouse packs the trunk for road trips / family vacations. Ha!"

I pack the trunk. I'm better at visualizing how all the pieces of luggage will fit.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 10:08 AM

to DC:
I have to agree with 'to dc' at 10:01. It is a lose-lose situation for you. One way to perhaps 'win,' is to ask your MIL privately if your FIL could help too, saying 'many hands make light jobs.' If she says something along the lines of 'oh, he wouldn't know how to help,' then just let it go. However, she might just tell him to get up and help. That way you aren't the bad guy.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 10:08 AM

Is this "on balance" or "on demand." It's hard for me to think of a more innane issue to focus a blog on.

Why not something like the profound moment last evening when the President said "Madam Speaker" for the first time in history.

Leslie -- this is simply trivia. Signing off. Maybe I'll start my own blog.

Posted by: Anon X | January 24, 2007 10:09 AM

I was a SAHM who was proud to be a "domestic engineer". I did his laundry, ironing, AND packed his suitcase each week. Just like he put gas in my car, cut the grass, and did home maintenance items as well as many other things on the weekends so I could have some space from home and children.

Posted by: Ann | January 24, 2007 10:09 AM

NC - I don't think it is angst - if you and your husband have it worked out that you pack for him - great! More power to you! It won't work here in our house - I do most of the house work and don't need any more work. My husband has to pack 2 changes of clothes every day he works - gym clothes and a uniform - he is very capable of packing.

I have NO idea what he wants to wear on vacation - just like he has no idea what to pack for me. When we go on vacation we are both going 100 miles an hour to get everything in the car, house cleaned, dog dropped off, cats taken care of, kids packed - last thing I need is to pack his bags.

To me it comes down to personal choice and responsibility.

Posted by: cmac | January 24, 2007 10:10 AM

I make the bed. I agree that trying to change the FIL is a losing game and only likely to result in more angst and unhappiness for everyone. Just be glad that he's not yours every day and consider it a gift of serenity to your dh and mil.

Posted by: nina | January 24, 2007 10:13 AM

"how many hot breakfasts is a new crown molding in the dining room worth?"

Oh my God, at least 50 hot breakfasts. And custom-built wall-to-wall bookcases in the living room are worth a lifetime of steak béarnaise dinners.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 24, 2007 10:14 AM

"Equal sharing in reality means something completely different. It means that both partners are equally invested in the family, and spend approximately equivalent time sharing the family breadwinning, housework and childraising tasks. It is but one of many parenting lifestyles. I find that it brings great intimacy to my own marriage, as I have a true partner who knows firsthand what it takes to run our family, and my husband is happy that we share in earning the family's money. we do lots of loving things for each other - such as the other day when my husband and daughter packed me a dinner to take to my suppertime hair appointment...there I sat under the dryer reading the little love note that was enclosed!"

This sounds like a very good marriage. I suspect that most families find it difficult to make equal contributions in all of the areas you mention: breadwinning, child-raising and household chores. What needs to be done, and who's able to do it, changes over time. Mrs. Older Dad was better with toddlers than I was. I was better with an angry 17-year old boy (I'd been there myself). She's better at pinching pennies (you can hear them scream). I'm better at dealing with mortgages and investments.

If you can create an equal partnership in all of those areas, it's a wonderful thing. I just don't want people to think that it's necessary for a happy, successful marriage, or that some other arrangement is somehow unfair or inappropriate. As long as people love each other and take care of what needs doing, they'll be fine.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 10:17 AM

Well la de f****** dah! Aren't we business travelers high and mighty. Packing and catching planes for oh so important business trips. Both my grandfathers and father worked in the blue collar industry. (A meat-packing plant, a steel mill, and a wool mill.) My mother and grandmothers routinely packed their LUNCHES in metal lunch boxes. Sandwiches, a Hostess fruit pie, and coffee in a thermos. When was the last time you had to pack a lunch for your expense-account credit card husband? My father often brought home candy bars in that lunch box at the end of his shift and we'd race to see what he brought us, after a greeting hug, when he got home.

Get over yourselves and try to think of something really important to discuss, for Pete's sake.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 10:19 AM

My husband and I each do our own packing for business trips and pack together for ourselves and the kids for vacations.

But one thing really struck me about the woman- her child is 4 years old not a baby or toddler and she is a stay at home mom. Maybe she should be packing his suitcase (presuming he doesn't want to do it himself). Babies and toddler are a lot of work, but a preschooler is generaly at school at least part of the day and is fairly independant at home. If he is working all day and their child is at school, packing might be her way of pulling her weight around the house.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | January 24, 2007 10:19 AM

I meant to add that my spouse and I are both employeed full time out of the home.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | January 24, 2007 10:20 AM

I help my husband pack-- he consults me on how many things he needs. He'll pick the stuff out and then I might pack it in the suitcase (and I've also determined which suitcases all of us should use) or I might do it. I'm good at organizing, and I enjoy organizing, so I do the organizing!

What perplexes me is a few women I know who, when they go out of town, they actually prepare and freeze meals for the family.

Posted by: green mtns | January 24, 2007 10:20 AM

Coming from a hispanic family were traditionally, women do all of the cooking, cleaning, childraising and serving their husbands, I can truly understand some of the bloggers who refuse to pack their husband's suitcases or do other "wifely" duties as a matter of principle.

But I have been very lucky in my marriage, because I have a husband who does not expect me to take on the wifely duties. He takes care of our drycleaning, and does a pretty much equal share of cooking and cleaning. Plus, he does all the husbandly duties like fixing things and taking care of the car etc. So the things I do for him are out of love, not obligation. I cook breakfast during the weekends and bring him coffee in bed on Sundays. He loves that. I match his socks for him, but I don't think he notices. I buy him underwear and make him go shopping with me when I think he needs clothes. I buy his shoes. On the other hand, I have not had to shovel a driveway or clean snow off a car since we were married. I never have to pump gas or worry about oil changes either. But we do all this for each other because we want to, not because we think we have to.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 10:23 AM

"What perplexes me is a few women I know who, when they go out of town, they actually prepare and freeze meals for the family."

If there's a Little Caesar's in your town, this is completely unnecessary. I've found that when Mrs. Older Dad is out of town, I can pick up the two pizza deal on Friday night and live off it until Monday, when I can pick up breakfast on the way to work.

Posted by: Demos | January 24, 2007 10:24 AM

"But I have been very lucky in my marriage, because I have a husband who does not expect me to take on the wifely duties. He takes care of our drycleaning, and does a pretty much equal share of cooking and cleaning. Plus, he does all the husbandly duties like fixing things and taking care of the car etc."

How do we fit this into our "equal partnership" worldview?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 10:25 AM

"If he is working all day and their child is at school, packing might be her way of pulling her weight around the house."

Yeah, you know those lazy SAHMs who struggle to come up with enough tasks to do so they can be characterized as pulling sufficient weight while that hard-working white-collar middle manager brings home the bacon . . . Sheesh.

new crown mold in the dining room is worth many, many meals and other rewards, depending on the preference of the crown mold installer. for built-in bookcases the sky's the limit on the reward.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 10:25 AM

My take on making the bed. Fredia always makes the bed. Not that I am not capable but I have a hugh aversion to it. After 3 years in making my bed in the Army, I cannot stand it!

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 10:26 AM

Sorry, that was me. I was responding to Demos on another blog, and got dyslexia of the fingers.

Gotta stop blogging - to confusing.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 10:27 AM

Yeah, I pack my husband's clothes when we go on a trip ... and he lugs the suitcases out, packs the trunk and then unloads it when we arrive. I make him dinner ... he washes the dishes and takes out the trash. We divide the labor so neither is resentful. And guess what - we're both happy!

It's not about "wifely duty," it's about finding ways to take care of each other. What's so wrong with doing nice things to make your spouse's life easier - even if they do fall into the "traditional" category?

Posted by: EHeston | January 24, 2007 10:28 AM

"What are the odd little favors you do for each other to help balance your collective work and family lives?"

Maybe, just maybe, she packs his suitcase cause she loves him and it makes his life a little easier.

It doesn't always have to be about balance or work or "equity." It can be about love, generosity and affection too.

Posted by: PettyGreedyandSelfMan | January 24, 2007 10:30 AM

I really think that there's no such thing as an equal partnership. Women who try to force men to do things they "should" do and vice versa -- whether it be laundry, cooking, fixing the car, etc -- are kidding themselves if they think they're in an equal partnership. Equal partnership is an urban myth. No one gives a rat's a** about this stuff outside of the big cities.

Posted by: Righto | January 24, 2007 10:30 AM

Today's "la-dee-dah" business traveler is the exact equivalent of your factory working grandfather, anonymous jerk at 10:19. Do you think no one looked at your grandad heading off to the factory in his nice uniform with his name on the pocket, and his shiny lunchbox, and said "Aren't you *special* heading off to the factory. MY grandfather worked on the farm! He didn't get to come home after 10 hours, he had to stay out in the fields til the work was done!"

Those of us who need to get on a plane at 6am to go to corporate headquarters have no more special elitist fulfillment than your grandad had. We provide for our families. We maximize our time doing things we like. People with college degrees and business-casual jobs are the norm now, so take your luddite reverse-elitism and go play with Ann Coulter.

Posted by: WDC | January 24, 2007 10:34 AM

I don't pack for my husband anymore, because I pack everything but the kitchen sink. I think he's gotten tired of having to go thru the suitcase to unpack the items he doesn't need. If I get the hang of packing just right I attempt it again. I don't see it as a bad thing to pack for him because it's a nice thing to do that he appreciated until he realized that the entire closet would be taken on the trip.

As for shopping, I pick up things for him when I'm shopping for myself. He sometimes picks up stuff for me, he's got a good sense of style.

Posted by: caroldc | January 24, 2007 10:36 AM

I pack my partner's suitcase, with her assistance. She picks out the 'clothes she likes', and I handle the mundane (underwear, socks, toothbrushes, etc.). She handles the maps, I make sure we have snacks and water. It's a natural division of labor, based on the talents we both have, and what interests us.

I will agree that this blog does tend to be a bit heterosexist - but then, so's the rest of the world. As long as there are no strenuous objections to me 'tailoring' the questions to fit my family, I don't mind too much having to do so.

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | January 24, 2007 10:37 AM

"In the regular pattern of things, spouses do things for each other out of love and care. I feel sorry for anyone who lets ideologies like "breaking a pattern of female servitute to males" influence her relationship with her husband. (I feel even sorrier for her husband.)"

It absolutely influences mine, and we don't want your pity! The influence has lead me to teach my husband how to cook and clean so I don't have to all the time. It has also influenced me to learn how to change the oil and put up a light fixture. Now we can both do everything, and sharing chores is simpler than ever. Love and care is what led me to want to make things easier--otherwise we would have fought a lot more.

"I don't get running his-and-hers laundry. It seems wasteful, and petty."

Your mom is wasteful and petty! (sorry, I couldn't let a "your mom" joke go to waste). Anyway, it would be wasteful if the loads weren't full. And it would be petty if either person did it to spite the other. But in our house, our clothes usually require special instructions, so it's best to leave it to the person who wears them. And we have so many piles of laundry that no load is ever half-full!

"It just makes sense in our partnership that if something's a no-brainer for one of us and difficult as advanced physics for the other, the person for whom it's a gimme handles it."

It makes sense in our relationship to grow and learn from each other. We both want to do everything we can, so I'm trying to learn how to budget, and he's trying to learn to cook. That way neither of us can say "But you have to do it because I can't." After my husband tried that with toilet cleaning (not rocket science to most people), I showed him how. Now, some things he is better at, like complaining to the credit card company. But with things like chores that any trained monkey can do, there is no reason why we both can't learn to do them all. That way nothing gets left behind if one person is sick or out of town.

I have to say that all the comments along the lines of "Any marriage that is based on a 50/50 chore division is crazy" are pretty judgemental. These are married adults. They have their own personalities. What it they love making lists and assigning chores so that they know they get done? Or what if they like the challenge of figuring out the most equal way to do things? In my opinion, one of the best ways to show respect is to offer to make things equal. You can't assume that all people are happy-go-lucky, "I'll do what ever my wife doesn't" types and that your system works best.

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 10:39 AM

Rebecca in AR - what's up with your partner's job search and has her being home full-time changed any of your prior divisions of labor? I'm curious because we had a 15 - 18 period a few years back when my spouse was unemployed and the job search process was more time-intensive (and more anxiety-producing, of course) than mundane employment.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 10:41 AM

"The man that doesn't know his own waiste size is the true hallmark of a great wife!"

Are you kidding me?

And me, pack my boyfriend's suitcase? Hahaha...I'm sure I'd do it all wrong. The man is very meticulous, detail-oriented, and probably sees packing as a Tetris game. I'm quite sure I'd put the toothpaste in the wrong pocket or something. No way. I wouldn't mind doing it, especially if he was a terrible packer and I could help him out, but he's perfectly capable, likes doing things his way, and certainly doesn't pack my bags, so forget it.

Unlike many posters, we're not married or living together, so all I have to go on are the trips we've taken together. Both of us were responsible for our own stuff, though I have to admit, he has insisted on helping me carry my bags.

Posted by: Mona | January 24, 2007 10:42 AM

How is there an entire discussion about packing suitcases? Are there that few issues about work/life balance? If they are really that short on ideas, I have a few. What a waste.

Incidentally, I would NEVER let my husband pack MY suitcase.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 10:43 AM

Meesh, I didn't know you knew my mom! She IS petty. (Not wasteful, though. Tightwad.)

Kudos on a good your mom joke. My husband and I spent yesterday's commute cracking each other up with "you so ugly" jokes. Like, You so ugly your mom had to tie a pork chop around your neck to get the dog to play with you."

You'd think we're 12, but really, we're not.

Posted by: WDC | January 24, 2007 10:43 AM

"If that means packing a healthy lunch for him, so be it"

Why can't this grown man figure out what is a healthy lunch? Why does it fall to a woman(his wife) to do it? Does a woman automatically know what is healthy?

Why didn't someone teach this guy about healthy foods when he was a kid? This isn't a very good endorsement for the "lunch committee". It's just another spin on women serving men. Who needs it?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 10:44 AM

My husband travels frequently for his job (otherwise he works from a home office) and I work full time. I have never packed his suitcase in the six years that he has been traveling. He knows what kind of clothes he needs better than I do. I help pick out ties or shirts - if he asks. We both do laundry, but he knows I am not responsible for washing clothes that he hasn't bothered to unpack. I'll wash and hang up whatever is in the basket. Or he does the laundry himself, including my things.

But Leslie I understand your thoughts. I had a friend who was smart and capable and had worked for many years. But she got up and made her husband coffee and packed his lunch every day at 5 a.m. - when she was working and when she was home with the kids. It's not something I would do, but then again she was also expected to make dinner every night and do the dishes. She accepted this, whereas I wouldn't. To each his own.

Posted by: Susan | January 24, 2007 10:44 AM

though I have to admit, he has insisted on helping me carry my bags.

I hope that you did not accept. The foundation of feminism would crack if you did.

Posted by: to Mona | January 24, 2007 10:45 AM

When we go on a personal trip, I add the clothes that are my favorites, i.e. the ones that I find attractive,to his suitcase.

Otherwise, not packing my husband's suitcase is my #1 rule for our marriage being successful. Absolutely no business trip packing. Not because I think it is wrong for someone to pack her husband's (or his partner's) suitcase, but I see it as the best way to ensure that my husband is self-sufficient.

My husband's mother was buying him underwear through age 30! He said, "why should he stop her and create work for himself?," when I called him on it. Fair point. But he stopped her when I told him I could not date a person whose mother bought his underwear!

Posted by: Chicago | January 24, 2007 10:47 AM

I don't pack my man's things. But I do help him with a check list - and he helps me with my check list. I inherited my father's flakyness...and honestly if my mother didn't do his suitcases, he'd forget important little things (like meds) that don't cross his mind when he's counting socks and and underwear.

I used to have a problem with my own packing, but I've broken the habit by creating extensive check lists the day before I pack and leaving them at the door or other places that'll force me to pack everything and not depend on someone else to do it for me...

Posted by: Xrys | January 24, 2007 10:47 AM

Go WDC! I totally agree. Great response.

My grandfather was a milkman. He would have loved a factory job. It's all relative, people.

Posted by: Rebecca | January 24, 2007 10:47 AM

It's just another spin on women serving men. Who needs it?

I hope that you don't plan to marry. Who needs a man if he is so needy? Enjoy your cats.

Posted by: the original anon | January 24, 2007 10:47 AM

Punditmom and others who said "no way!!! would I ever do that - he's a big boy and he can do it himself" and then proceeded to say that it's good for spouses to do things for each other, especially the chores the other one loathes....

What if your husband *loathed* packing for a trip? Would you do it for him? Because I could say the same thing about cleaning the toilet - he's a big boy, he made most of the mess ;o), he can do it himself. But if he loathes cleaning toilets and I do it for him, am I being submissive and setting back feminism 40 years? Am I being submissive when I order the pizza for my pizza-ordering-shy husband?

Re: packing - he usually does his own, because I'm busy packing for myself and four kids. I have occasionally packed for him when he's especially busy.

Posted by: momof4 | January 24, 2007 10:48 AM

"But in our house, our clothes usually require special instructions" - o, la la, Meesh, what do you wear??

Seriously, you trying to tell us MOST of your stuff requires special instructions??

Posted by: to meesh | January 24, 2007 10:48 AM

I pack my husband's lunch because I want to. I don't like to do some things around the house, like, um, clean, so we trade off chores. What's the big deal, he's packed mine before too.

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 10:48 AM

Dotted, you're lucky that your husband is a clothes horse. My husband is Italian and imagine my surprise when I found out that he did not have their sense of style :-) He has this sweater that I'm just itching to throw away....he has been warned about this, and to his credit has not worn it in a while.

Back to the topic at hand....we both back our own suitcases and share laundry responsibilities. Although when my husband does the laundry he always asks me what's ok to wash together and what water temp. should be used.

Posted by: MV | January 24, 2007 10:48 AM

Wow, sorry about the novel. I was cutting and pasting and didn't realize that it had gotten out of control.

The gist is that my family is better than yours and your way of doing things is wrong (joke). Feel free to ignore.

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 10:49 AM

What does Ann Coulter have to do with feeling that some of the people on this blog are detached from the reality of everyday people. FYI-factory workers often worked long hours too, as did most blue collar workers and sometimes under horrible conditions. Maybe the factory worker looked longingly at your granddad who was out in the fresh air and could take a break and go up to the house for lunch or a drink. I agree that it is all relative, but I think there is a bigger issue at hand here.

I do think that the anonymous poster was a bit gruff, but I too find that some of the topics are skewed towards only one type of people and I can see where it might grate on someone's nerves.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 10:50 AM

I work fulltime (in an office) as does my husband and I pack his bags. He is a great guy - but he has to leave himself reminders to wear a coat! When he packs for a 2 day trip he takes 10 t-shirts, 10 underwear, 5 socks, no pants. Then complains that he needs a bigger suitcase. In order to avoid the disruption of him packing himself then listening to him on the phone lament the lack of pants, I take 10 minutes and pack the bag. Yes - I tried the tough love thing and make him do it himself, but it still happens. And he does cover for me on the things I don't do well, I might as well help him out with his suitcase.

Posted by: Burke Mom | January 24, 2007 10:51 AM

To dotted and Meesh: My boyf is not exactly a clothing horse, but he dresses really well and always looks immaculate. I feel like a total slob standing next to him. Me: gym clothes. Him: three-piece suit.

As for little things we do for each other (and this is very little in the grand scheme of things, considering we have no children and are not married), when we visit each other, we try to have the other person's favorite foods and drinks, meet at the airport with flowers or cards, have certain special activities planned, clean our apartments before the other comes to visit, etc. Just stuff to make the other person feel at home while they're visiting.

I used to balk at the idea of doing things for a man. But then I realized that any small nice thing I do for him will be returned in kind. He never forgets. Once, on our trip back from Vegas, he stuck his cell charger in my bag, and when I unpacked, I plugged in his phone. He asked me for the charger later and I told him his phone was already on it. Such a small thing, no effort on my part, and he's so grateful for it. I guess the way I see it, as long as no one's getting shafted or being taken for granted, the small things we do for each other to make our partner's days a little better can improve a relationship.

But what do I know? I'm just a kid, more or less.

Posted by: Mona | January 24, 2007 10:52 AM

To think that I got up at 5:30 am to pack when I could have had my wife do it! I will know better next time.

Posted by: Billy | January 24, 2007 10:53 AM

My wife also trims my toenails and cleans the wax out of my ears with Q-Tips.

There's a good reason I grace my wife with my presence at the dinner table every night, which I think is doing better than 50% of fathers nowadays.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 24, 2007 10:53 AM

I do the laundry because my most of my things need to be hung to dry and my other quite often forgets to do that. I am quite tall and there is nothing more irritating than finally finding a long enough pair of jeans only to have them shrunk the first time they are washed. Grrrr!

Posted by: s | January 24, 2007 10:54 AM

Older Dad

How are you an "older dad"? Do you think you are older than most of the posters? Did you have children later in life. What's the scoop?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 10:55 AM

i'm not a regular poster but a fairly regular reader on this blog. just a few observations i feel compelled to make:

to those who feel this post is nonsensical. for people who spend their lives weighing and pondering the balance they believe they should have, this is not a nonsense post. every little thing affects the act of weighing and balancing. a feather at the wrong spot could make all the difference on the scales. their thought process says, "this is who i am, this is what i should do to be whole and complete. the other should do what he/she wants and that's fine with me." so let's allow those who wish to weigh and balance all the time the freedom to do so.

to those who reacted with horror at packing a husband's suitcase. many believe that marriage is not something that can be treated like a business arrangement, where parties do only what is assigned them and nothing else. to them, marriage is about love, caring and sharing. being with someone you love is living through the whole spectrum of 0-100. from their point of view, there are days when the husband gives 100 and days when the wife gives 100 and days when both give in varying degrees and no shame in things going either way. that thought process says maybe if we stopped thinking about "i, me and mine" and let go a little in the one relationship in your life that you will probably ever be able to, the balance may come about on its own, without such contrived thinking and without the sense of self taking up so much room.

that said... does it strike anyone that we tend to overthink life and situations? is it really that hard to be and let others be? and respect that and not attack it?

Posted by: not yet sahm | January 24, 2007 10:56 AM

When my husband's best friend and wife visited, I was stunned when she packed his suitcase to leave. Packing to go on a trip I think there are a lot of factors that go in to who should pack. But packing up to leave?!?! There was NO reason for him not to pack up his own stuff. It is just throwing your stuff in a suitcase.

I mentioned that I felt bad for the wife to my husband. His response was that he also felt really bad for her and he was disappointed in his best friend for treating his wife that way. Oh, was I happy with my Southern boy!

Posted by: Michelle | January 24, 2007 10:56 AM

To "to meesh", seriously, I'm telling you that. I'm tall but not fat. So when I find clothes that are long but not wide (the usual being the size XL will have sleeves that don't reach my wrists but is like a 42 around my chest), I can't dry them or else they'll shrink and be too short. So I line dry all my jeans, pants, and long-sleeve shirts. I also use fabric softener, which my husband would forget. The list is actually longer, but you get the gist.

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 10:57 AM

I pack my husband's suitcase for the following reasons:
(1) He travels a lot and often has to leave on short notice - so my packing helps save time
(2) He would pack himself - except I DON'T like him going to meetings without ironed shirts/pants. So, If I have the time, I help pack ironed clothes
(3) He often forgets to take his medication - it doesn't bother him, but I want him to stay healthy so I make sure they are packed...
A lot of reasons why I pack his suitcase stems from the fact that it helps me in some way!

Posted by: Leslie | January 24, 2007 10:58 AM

This 50/50 crap is hugely overrated. I was married a long time ago to another man. We did the 50/50 thing. We both knew how to cook and clean. I learned to change the oil and put air in the tires and run a lawn mower and some other stuff. It's really not rocket science after all. And he knew how to sew a button on a shirt and some other stuff that is not rocket science either. And we were careful to always respect each other by doing our "equal" shares without regard to gender roles. We were divorced within 3 years.

With my current husband (married 10 years) we don't worry about equal shares, but we actively try to do things that make the other person happy. On Monday morning after it snowed, my little boy and husband got up early to clean my car off and warm it up before I went to work. It was an act of love. My first husband would not have done this for me because I am an adult with two hands and perfectly capable of scraping the ice of my own car. Look how far that got us. So when I bring my husband his weekly coffee in bed, or when I match his socks or buy him underwear, I don't see it as a wifely duty. I see it as taking care of someone I love. What's wrong with that.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 10:59 AM

I pack my husband's suitcase because I'm more travel experienced than him, and I can do it faster and more efficiently. He's better at loading the dishwasher and vacuuming, so those are his chores. I can't imagine what packing his suitcase has to do with female servitude. When we travel, I'd like to get out the door before he runs out of vacation time!

Posted by: Kristy | January 24, 2007 10:59 AM

It would get so hot in the wool mill the sprinkler system would go off. The steel mill worker had burn scars on his arms and hands from molten metal. Would you like to hear about the conditions in the meat packing plant? I don't think so. Just go back to your chilled martini and soap operas, rich people.

Posted by: Anon at 10:19 | January 24, 2007 11:01 AM

Meesh, that is pretty much my situation as well. Why can't you buy clothing that is just long without going to a specialty shop? I have difficulty finding dress shirts because for them to be long enough in the sleeves and overall length, I swim in the torso... a good dress shirt is my holy grail!

Posted by: s | January 24, 2007 11:01 AM

s, I feel your pain.

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 11:01 AM

NC Laywer wrote "Rebecca in AR - what's up with your partner's job search and has her being home full-time changed any of your prior divisions of labor? I'm curious because we had a 15 - 18 period a few years back when my spouse was unemployed and the job search process was more time-intensive (and more anxiety-producing, of course) than mundane employment."

Right now, I'm giving her some space - this wasn't just a job but a big part of our lives, and we're both still in mourning for the whole thing. Starting Thursday or Friday she's going to start looking - but being over 55 and obviously queer (short hair, men's glasses and clothes, passes for a guy accidentally a lot) in Arkansas, she's going to have a really hard time finding something, or so she fears.

I'm hoping that it'll actually help shift things back to where they were when we first got together. The last eight months she's been recovering from four broken ribs (and don't think that I haven't considered that they were contributing to why she was fired!) and I've picked up most of the household chores (even trash duty, which DD handles when she's home and I swore I wasn't ever going to do unless an emergency). I'm doing ALL the shopping, laundry, cooking, cleaning, feeding the animals, checking the mail, etc, etc right now, and I miss having a little free time once in a while. LOL

Thanks for checking in with me, though - sometimes it feels like I'm talking into the gale and waiting for a response that never comes on this thing!

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | January 24, 2007 11:01 AM

"I have to say that all the comments along the lines of "Any marriage that is based on a 50/50 chore division is crazy" are pretty judgemental. These are married adults. They have their own personalities. What it they love making lists and assigning chores so that they know they get done? Or what if they like the challenge of figuring out the most equal way to do things? In my opinion, one of the best ways to show respect is to offer to make things equal. You can't assume that all people are happy-go-lucky, "I'll do what ever my wife doesn't" types and that your system works best."

Meesh,

I suspect this was directed at me. I never characterized anyone as "crazy." There's certainly nothing wrong with making lists, or working out ahead of time who's going to cover what.

I've never had any problem with people who share chores - or even share them equally. I apologize if I've given that impression.

My concern all along has been the implication that any arrangement other than a 50/50 division of housework is somehow unfair or inappropriate. That's driven by my very deep belief that marriage is not, fundamentally, an arragement for getting the household work done. Since that's not the purpose of marriage (although getting the chores done is important), it should not be the standard for defining how a marriage is structured, or whether a particular marriage works well or not.

But many times that's the key idea behind the discussion on this blog. Something's "wrong" with the marriage, with what the wife is doing, or with what the husband's doing if it's not 50/50.

I could have a heart attack this evening and be bedridden for the next six months, without anything being "wrong" with my marriage. Conversely, I could religiously do half the chores while my marriage to Mrs. Older Dad slowly died. If we lose track of those realities, then we're missing the boat.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 11:02 AM

He's better at loading the dishwasher...


Another champion dishwasher loader! I had to reload the dishwasher last night. Freida had started it but left out some stuff that fit in nicely.

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 11:02 AM

"It makes sense in our relationship to grow and learn from each other. We both want to do everything we can, so I'm trying to learn how to budget, and he's trying to learn to cook. That way neither of us can say "But you have to do it because I can't."

Meesh, with all due respect because your comments rarely strike me this way, I find the above comment to be fairly judgmental as well. My husband and I grow and learn from each other as well and neither of us is tempted to claim that we are unable to do a task or that there's, frankly, any task that either of us is required to do. My husband knows how to pack. I'm not Queen - he doesn't have to "learn" to do it my way. If I have an extra 20 minutes and he hasn't done it yet, and it's easy for me, I fail to see how the growth in our relationship is implicated. Plus, it's another excuse for me not to empty the dishwasher which, you may recall, is one of my top 10 dreaded household tasks. Sometimes it's about love. Sometimes a task just needs to get done for the collective partnership. Sometimes there's something else that needs to get done that I am actively avoiding while still being useful. He laughs - he knows I love him and hate unloading the full dishwasher. He'd rather unpack the car full of groceries than generate the download of transactions into our checking account.

We've been together for 14 years. At this point, we grow and learn primarily about abilities and interests that are not on the family-chore-list. To each his own.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 11:02 AM

Hey, Fo4! Do you also make sure you make a mess during dinner, just so she can whip out that brand new mop after each meal?

Posted by: to Fo4 | January 24, 2007 11:03 AM

Meesh

I have clothes that never go in the dryer and must be hung or flat dryed right out of the asher.

I have a lot of clothes that I dry for a few minutes and then hang or flat dry. I can't trust my husband to handle this chore because it is not an exact science.

Posted by: DZ | January 24, 2007 11:04 AM

"Why can't this grown man figure out what is a healthy lunch? Why does it fall to a woman(his wife) to do it? Does a woman automatically know what is healthy?"

Maybe he doesn't care - he'd rather eat junk. Maybe she'd prefer that he not die and leave her a widow. (Maybe this is a passive-aggressive way to make him eat the way he wants?)

She wants to make sure that a man she loves eats well and healthily - what's wrong with that! Would you be equally torqued if her husband insisted on checking the mechanical condition of her car once a month, just because he loved her and wanted her safe?

Families take care of each other. If you can't deal with that, you don't deserve a family.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:05 AM

Anon at 10:19

I think you misread the post.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:05 AM

My husband (he works full-time outside of the home and I work part-time outside of the home) would love it if I would pack his suitcase for his trips. In fact, he always asks-- and I always say no. I am all for doing nice things for your spouse but I do not want to be responsible for forgetting something crucial, not packing the proper attire, etc.

If I had a business trip, I would not want my husband to pack my bags. I pack my own bags for our vacations and I pack all of our child's things.

I don't think my DH is being sexist but I find that in the European country where we live that women tend to baby the men in their lives. Not what I want to do for my DH and not an example I want to set for my son.

Posted by: American mom abroad | January 24, 2007 11:08 AM

this doesn't have to be about gender roles or anything like that. my mom has always packed my dad's bag because he's pretty helpless in that department (matching, organization, efficiency). he's never really learned to match tops and bottoms or accessories. they get to tropical/arctic destination and a light goes on in his head and he says, oh no, i forgot to pack my trunks/parka, but thanks to my mom, the item is in the bag.

Posted by: cap hill girl | January 24, 2007 11:09 AM

"It would get so hot in the wool mill the sprinkler system would go off. The steel mill worker had burn scars on his arms and hands from molten metal. Would you like to hear about the conditions in the meat packing plant?"

So what? My family had similar jobs in similar conditions. You know what? I still have to go on business trips for my much-better job that I was able to get, in part, thanks to their sacrifice. They'd be the first ones to tell me it's stupid to feel guilty for having a better life than they did. Their kids and grandkids having better lives was the whole reason they did that kind of work.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 24, 2007 11:10 AM

"How are you an "older dad"? Do you think you are older than most of the posters? Did you have children later in life. What's the scoop?"

I'm not all that old - late 40's. I picked the name in some earlier discussions, when people were talking about pre-school, babysitters, nursing, etc. That's ancient history in our house. We're dealing with college now (and looking forward to grandkids - but not too soon!). Basically, it was a way of signaling that I'd already done all that little kid/elementary school stuff.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 11:10 AM

Rebecca, I feel your partner's pain on the ribs. It is hell when you cannot even breath without pain.

NC Lawyer, Have another kid whose sole function in life is to unload the dishwasher! TIC :) Unloading is one of the assigned tasks for our 15 yr old.

DZ, good thing you are not with me. I do laundry the male way!

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 11:10 AM

How funny. I grappled with this when I got married seven years ago. I remembered my mother always packed my dad's suitcase (still does). They have been married nearly 50 years. It was just another thing she heaped upon herself when trying to ready the two of them and five young daughters to go on a summer vacation.

So when I married, I remembered all the work my mother did to get the family out the door. While a newlywed with no children I vowed never, ever to pack my husband's suitcase. I knew that down the road, after we had a family, I would not have time to deal with that and setting a precedent early would turn it into a lifetime chore.

HOWEVER, I cringe when I watch my husband pack for himself. I have evolved into the wife that "goes over" what he packed with him after he packs it. The man would never bring enough clean underwear if I didn't suggest he count it, and then count the days he will be gone.

Posted by: nonpacker | January 24, 2007 11:11 AM

"In fact, he always asks-- and I always say no."

Whether or not the request is to pack a suitcase or to paint a cave wall sage green, there's more going on in this relationship then any division of labor related to packing a suitcase.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:14 AM

I just want to make sure that an equal marriage is not being confused with a cold or business-like or chores-oriented or union-of-two-stubborn-people marriage.

Equal is not the only way. It is ONE way, however, and I'm living proof that it truly can be a wonderful way. I just wouldn't want a couple to avoid moving toward equality because they fear their marriages will turn into business arrangements. We all do the very best to make our partnerships fulfilling and loving, I assume, and no one philosophy can be foisted on everyone. Just don't throw out true equality by naming it something it isn't!

Oh, and I totally believe that we cannot guilt husbands into equal sharing. Equal sharing, when it is the wish of both partners, benefits men as just as it does women. But both have to really want it!

Today's original post is not really about equal or unequal. It is primarlyn about doing loving things for each other.

Posted by: equal | January 24, 2007 11:15 AM

Hey, cave assignments and the colors of those caves is the bailiwick of NC Lawyer and me!

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 11:17 AM

to Anon at 10:19:
My dad was a blue collar worker who sacrificed so much so I could have more than he did. He is disabled and dying now. He frequently tells me how happy he is that I was able to go to university and have the family and job that I have. My life is a direct result of his hard work and sacrifice. Consequently, I don't think discussions like these (as inconsequential as they may seem), as they pertain to my life, are meaningless. They speak directly about my dad.

Posted by: s | January 24, 2007 11:17 AM

"It's just another spin on women serving men. Who needs it?"

No woman does . . . except the ones who're interested in finding a man to serve and love them in return.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:17 AM

Oh--another nice thing. I bought bacon. Small thing? Yes. But it's also huge. I've been vegetarian for ten years. I know how weird this is going to sound, but seeing all that meat in the grocer's cases nauseated me. But he wanted a hot breakfast when he visits me next, so I bought bacon. And salami. I hated standing there trying to figure out what was what (really--what's the difference between bologna and salami?), seeing and smelling things that I would never put in my mouth. I had to ask where the meat section was in a supermarket I'd shopped for over a year. It was a big deal to me, but to him, it's just bacon. I could have (and maybe should have) stuck to my principles and refused to buy it, but I thought it would be nice to go out of my way for once. After all, he went to three different organic food stores before he could find me the Morningstar stuff I wanted. I won't cook it, though. For one thing, it grosses me out, and for another, it would be dangerous as I don't know how to cook meat. I probably won't buy meat when we end up married and living together, and I certainly won't cook it, but every once in awhile, going out of my way to make him happy is a small sacrifice in exchange for all the great things he does for me.

Posted by: Mona | January 24, 2007 11:18 AM

I don't pack my husband's suitcase, and I would probably have apoplexy if he even attempted to pack mine. My husband is from the "wad and shove" school, while I am from a "lay flat" school. My thoughts on packing suitcases come from growing up in a family with a pilot for a Dad. My mother never packed his clothing, and she probably learned a thing or two about packing from him. I'm still amazed how my father can fit two weeks worth of clothes into a small in-cabin roll-on. (He is, of course, like many men and doesn't necessarily have a completely matching wardrobe when he arrives, unless he's on business.)

I have been tempted after last trip to take over the "packing" job. While the "wad & shove" is functional, it's hardly practical. And as our family grows, it would be nice if we were able to consolidate into one suitcase (we already have more stuff to carry on with a dog, I can barely imagine all the paraphernalia we'll have to take with us when we have a baby!). I think the act of packing for a spouse (or not packing) is neither good nor bad, it just brings out how anal retentive you are! (Which I admit freely, I am.)

I have, however, been faced with many "wifely" duties that I have refused and then felt guilty about. My husband's family is very traditional -- the woman cooks, cleans, etc. for her husband entirely. I simply cannot roll out of bed a hour and a half early just so my husband can have a full home-cooked breakfast... he's lucky if I make coffee in the morning! And because of many after-work activities, we rarely have a full course home-cooked meal on the table. We're eat and run people. And I've gotten a lot of flack from my in-laws (both parents AND siblings) that I'm not taking care of my husband the way I should. I took that guilt for the first year of our marriage. Feeling sure that I was the worst wife in the world. Until I realized that it's not about what everyone else in the world thinks is a good wife. It's about what your husband thinks is a good wife. If your husband thinks that you should make his coffee every morning and is severely offended when you don't... thinks that you don't love him, then maybe you should make the effort. BUT, if your husband likes his morning routine of running to 7-Eleven before he starts his work day to pick up a cup-o-joe and chat with the locals... then maybe your oversight to the coffee making duties isn't so bad.

It's what works for you. No one else. If someone packs her husband's suitcase, it doesn't mean that you're a bad wife because you don't. Unless your husband needs that from you!

Posted by: Whitney | January 24, 2007 11:19 AM

"What does Ann Coulter have to do with..."

Her schtick is to be hateful and inflammatory. The anonymous jerk at 10:19 clearly enjoys that kind of rhetoric, to start his/her post that way.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:19 AM

what kind of salami? There is a hugh diff betwen salamis and bologna certainly is not even in the same catagory!

Posted by: to mona | January 24, 2007 11:20 AM

Older Dad, I agree with you. I didn't mean to attack. I certainly don't think that an arrangement other than 50/50 is wrong. The point was that no system is wrong, which I think you agree with.

I think that the reason we talk about this stuff is because it's easy and people have different opinions. The important stuff that REALLY make the marriage does not need discussion. I think we've all got that covered.

NC Lawyer, darn, I came off sounding judgemental. I do that sometimes. I was trying to state the difference, not make my marriage seem better. The big difference is that I'm a crazy feminist with only 1 year of marriage under my belt. I am still trying to make things fit with how I think a marriage should be. To be fair, so is my husband. So I wanted to emphasize the learning aspect. But you are the hands-down winner in the experience department. You are definitely in the position to give advice. And I look forward to when my husband and I can work like clockwork with the chores and I start learning about his photography and he learns about my writing.

And, not to put too fine a point on it: "to each his or her own."

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 11:21 AM

11:20, I bought the most expensive kind assuming it would be the best. Something about Hebrew kosher something something.

Posted by: Mona | January 24, 2007 11:22 AM

Outstanding!

Posted by: to mona | January 24, 2007 11:23 AM

"I just want to make sure that an equal marriage is not being confused with a cold or business-like or chores-oriented or union-of-two-stubborn-people marriage."

That's a legitimate point. The key may be why a couple comes to a particular arrangment. Regardless of the split (50/50, or "I make all the money and you take care of the house"), if it's viewed primarily as a business deal then I think there's a potential problem. What pushes my hot button is when people act shocked at anything that's not 50/50 because it's not "fair." Marriage is about love, not coming out ahead in an exchange of services.

"Today's original post is not really about equal or unequal. It is primarlyn about doing loving things for each other."

Amen. We should all be so lucky.

Equal, I did not intend to insult either your marriage or your motives. I just don't want people poisoning their relationships by keeping books on them.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 11:24 AM

"Would you like to hear about the conditions in the meat packing plant?"

Again, so what? My grandmother pulled a plow in Poland when the horse died and she didn't expect my life to be the same in the U.S. as hers.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:25 AM

"And salami. I hated standing there trying to figure out what was what (really--what's the difference between bologna and salami?), seeing and smelling things that I would never put in my mouth."

Mona, you're an angel. As an aside, if you really want to blow his mind, I'd recommend lebanese bologna. It's basically salami made with beef rather than pork. Excellent choice with mustard on whole wheat.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:26 AM

In fairness my DH does not leave all household things to me and we both do things for each other and our family.

For example, I do most of the grocery shopping (works better with my work schedule and the shopping hours here) and he cooks most of our dinners. I do our family's laundry and my husband deals with most business/bureaucratic things (I would value this in my home country but I value it even more since I live in a country where I am not a native speaker of the language-- so it is easier for my husband to do something like talk to the phone company about a billing error.)

Posted by: American mom abroad | January 24, 2007 11:27 AM

I pack my husbands suitcase when we travel for pleasure so that I know he's wearing my favorite outfits. When he travels for business he packs himself and I don't worry about what he's wearing. He does always pack my tootbrush though and toothpaste and I always pack the shampoo. Weird how that division came up. We rely on our strengths and help each other whenever we need it. There is no division of duites on a list, it's just whoever does it best does it. Works for us but we haven'e been married that long and have no kids.

Posted by: just married | January 24, 2007 11:29 AM

Maybe he is just annoyed with the fact that we are talking about packing suitcases for business trips, while working class people are worried about health care, food, etc.

I am not sticking up for him, but even I get annoyed sometimes on this blog and I like the people and the blog. Sometimes you have to admit that at first glance some of the things we talk about seem unimportant to someone who is barely scraping by. I also think that when someone says so what, it is really condescending. Everyone wants their children's life to be better than theirs, but that doesn't mean that we should just say "so what" to people's hardships.

Just another perspective on the Ann Coulter jerk, now someone call him fat!

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 11:31 AM

"Mona, you're an angel. As an aside, if you really want to blow his mind, I'd recommend lebanese bologna. It's basically salami made with beef rather than pork. Excellent choice with mustard on whole wheat."

Why, thank you! I did read the label out of curiosity, and it's all beef. But no mustard or whole wheat--that's more like my tastes. I bought him Wonder bread and ketchup (eeeyuck!), which is what he likes.

Posted by: Mona | January 24, 2007 11:31 AM

"The important stuff that REALLY make the marriage does not need discussion. I think we've all got that covered."

I wish I thought that was true. A couple down the street, who we've been friends with for about ten years, are divorcing. He decided that he didn't love her any more. Kids in high school, college, and on their own. No obvious problems: gambling, substance abuse, violence. Apparantly no other woman. Somehow he just drifted away while they were living their lives. Came as a complete surprise to her.

I'm convinced that we all really, really need to spend more time and effort on the important stuff - more than we think. Too many marriages fail that don't have to.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 11:31 AM

We pack our own suitcases. My husband used to repack mine so that it would be up to his standards of efficiency and neatness, but he finally gave up on that. He does pack our daughter's stuff, though, to keep me from doing it (badly).
We also cook our own meals. That's the big one for us - I don't know anyone who packs their spouse's suitcase (outside of my mother-in-law, who's the type who's PROUD that neither of her sons could do the first thing as a self-sufficient human being when they went out into the world), but I have gotten down-the-nose looks for not cooking family meals. We don't eat anything in common, and this has worked for us for fourteen years - why should they care?

Posted by: bd | January 24, 2007 11:32 AM

'Apparently no other woman' that you know about, but he either has one or is looking for one, I guarantee it!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:34 AM

We went on vacation to my home state one time and somehow something brought this up - my now 75 yr old aunt's jaw dropped to the floor when I looked at her like she was crazy for thinking I should pack hubby's suitcase. I don't work, but there is no way I would pack the whole thing for him. I will do things like socks and underwear, maybe jeans, but for the most part, HE does it. The funny thing is, he asks me what he should pack - i have not problem telling him! Actually, its more like, well, we're going to x place, so you'll need y.
Aunt packed for Uncle all the time - she also thinks it crazy that we don't have kids and I don't work. She managed to get in some snide remark about it at Christmas when we were talking about the possibility of hubby going back to school - i just ignored her and moved on - what she was looking for was a reaction and its really not any of her business why I don't work.
Anyway - I wouldn't expect him to pack for me and get it right, so how can he expect me to? The reality is, however, that he couldn't care less what is in the suitcase. Have had to work pretty hard at getting him to 'dress up' a little when we are on vacation. And he doesn't shave every day, which drives me crazy. The funny thing is that he had a beard when we met and he was the only person I have ever seen who looked good in one, or so I thought at the time.

Posted by: WAMC | January 24, 2007 11:36 AM

"You are definitely in the position to give advice. " Oh, gosh, no, but thanks, Meesh. We just have more years of crap to laugh at.

Probably, if my husband expected me to do anything and everything traditional, I'd be defensive as all get it out and treat it like a suggestion that I purchase and don a pink teddy -- as laughable (TIC). But because he doesn't expect it and is generally grateful -- as I am when he does nice things that make my life easier -- it's easy. Honestly, though, if there's a big disconnect on this sort of stuff, doesn't it make you wonder why some couples marry?

Laura/Mona's cell phone story probably sounds the most like the way we show our love for each other.

Fred, I'm working on grooming the next generation of dishwasher emptiers, but they're still too short and I am not motivated to store all the dishes in the lower cupboards.

Rebecca in AR, I'm sorry to hear that, all things considered, this transition sounds as though it's at least semi-permanent and it's putting a great deal of pressure on you and your relationship. Ow, those ribs must hurt. I'm doubting that becoming a powerseller on ebay is her cup of tea, either. Keep us posted.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 11:36 AM

"2) He would pack himself - except I DON'T like him going to meetings without ironed shirts/pants. So, If I have the time, I help pack ironed clothes"

Why do you care? Or better question, why doesn't he care enough about his appearance to look professional?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:37 AM

In Girl Scouts we say (starting in Kindergarten) "a girl who packs her own bag knows what she has and where it is". I don't think it's ever ocurred to my husband or me to do this for each other. Through almost 25 years, we just sort of get done what needs to be done without any job assignments at home. I do iron shirts because he thinks the wrinkles are fine...

Posted by: Kirsten | January 24, 2007 11:39 AM

"'Apparently no other woman' that you know about, but he either has one or is looking for one, I guarantee it!"

His wife can't, of course, know for sure. But not all marriages end due to adultery. There've been times when I've started feeling distant from Mrs. Older Dad. That disturbed me, we talked about it, and made very conscious efforts to reconnect. But sometimes people leave their marriages, rather than being drawn away.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 11:39 AM

You have no kids and you don't work? Don't you feel bad letting your husband take care of you?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:39 AM

"Why do you care?"

Of course she cares - how could she care about him and not?

"Or better question, why doesn't he care enough about his appearance to look professional?"

Some men are . . . what's the word I'm looking for? "Clueless" . . . yes, that's it . . . "sartorially clueless."

Some men are colorblind, others are clueless. Sad, really - but with adequate support systems in place, most can function adequately.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:42 AM

"Why do you care? Or better question, why doesn't he care enough about his appearance to look professional?"

I will answer for me and on behalf of many men. It is just off our radar screen!


Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 11:44 AM

" that doesn't mean that we should just say "so what" to people's hardships"

I wasn't saying "so what" to his hardships; I was saying "so what" to his attempt to use his family's hardships - not his own - as a club to whack people over the head with. It was absolutely meant to be condescending, as were his comments.

Look, I'm the one who says, "Hey, it could be worse! You could have been born in Krakow in 1920!" when my husband starts complaining about his day. I don't need anyone to tell me that I've got it pretty good. But it's totally unreasonable to expect people in any situation to compare every circumstance of their lives with their had-no-indoor-plumbing-until-age-8 mother, or their forced-to-quit-school-and-be-a-maid-at-age-12 grandma, or their killed-by-Germans-in-World-War-2 Polish relatives. We all take off from where we stand, and there's nothing wrong with being annoyed at an annoyance, regardless of how chush it looks to others.

A friend of mine has a summer house and sometimes complains about the upkeep. I'd love a summer house! I'm sure the annoyance does not outweigh the benefit! But I'm also sure that the annoyances can be pretty annoying and as long as she doesn't spend all her time complaining about it, I don't see anything wrong with her complaining about it sometimes.

Finally, almost everyone in this country - even the working class - has it pretty good. A friend of mine started an NGO to work on AIDS issues in Africa. She has seen things over there that she can't even describe.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 24, 2007 11:45 AM

I at the very least pull the covers up because our dog likes to get into the waterbed when we're not home -- need I say more about that?

My husband doesn't go on business trips - but for vacation he likes to pack himself. If I had the time to be so inclined to do it for him, I would finally be able to go somewhere with a husband who was actually wearing something that was without a beer logo or showing any sport team preference.

He does the laundry - not the way I like - however, I'm thankful he does it at all.

Leslie - I too am fascinated with the nitty gritty details of life and it seems very boring to some, but always having to appear to be interested in the heavier subjects of our time is just too much everyday.

Posted by: cj | January 24, 2007 11:46 AM

When my husband travels for business, I fold and pack his shirts because he's not very good at that but needs crisp shirts. He is so appreciative of this that it's just sweet. In fact, he's appreciative of all the domestic touches that I bring to this marriage (his third, my second), while I am appreciative of his financial acumen and his intelligence. We both work full time and we have a total of five children. Neither one of us has a single thing to "prove" to the outside world about how self-sufficient we are; we both maintained households as single parents. Our somewhat traditional division not only works for us, but is an actual source of pleasure.

Posted by: editor | January 24, 2007 11:46 AM

"...Some men are colorblind, others are clueless"

It is a genetic fact that men tend to be more colorblind than women. I am color blind to many shades of red and brown. I know several men who are red/green color blind, brown/green, etc.

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 11:47 AM

No way do I pack my husband's suitcase - are you kidding me???

I don't do his laundry either, and I don't iron his clothes. (Frankly, I don't iron, period, but I do my own laundry, my 2 year old's, and any "household" laundry).

When we go on a trip, I do all the planning for it - decide where to go, make reservations, buy guide books, get maps, make lists, and pack for myself and aforementioned 2 year old. He packs his own things and is responsible for charging up and packing anything remotely "electronic" - camera, DVD player, etc.

I don't feel guilty for the suitcase nonsense - it all comes out in the wash but that is where I draw the line. I would never expect him to guess what I feel like wearing (heck, I don't even know myself most of the time) and similarly I have no desire to be his personal valet in this way.

Posted by: Vienna Mom | January 24, 2007 11:47 AM

I used to know an elderly couple (ex in-laws) that had been married about 40 years. They had a very traditional relationship, but it seemed to work for them. Still, there were some things that made my blood boil.

During the holiday season, the wife would cook for her family (husband and 3 sons) from dawn until nightfall. All very good food. She always did all the cleaning up also (with the help of the daughters in law), but the work fell mostly on her because we did not know how to cook her recipes. One holiday, I mentioned to my then husband that it bothered me that his mother worked like a slave during the holidays. He responded that she "liked" doing all the work. He seriously did think that she got some joy out of it. Now I am sure that she liked having her sons at home, but I always wondered if she really liked doing all of the work.

On another oocasion, because of my worries that she never got a break over the holidays, my then husband and I offered to take the family out to dinner one night during our visit. My FIL did not want to go. His reasoning was "Why should we go out and pay for dinner when we can get better food and better service for free at home?" I could have screamed.

But then again, he wasn't a jerk either. He obviously loved her, and took care of her in his own way. He just didn't cook or clean. It was just so ingrained in their marriage that this was her job that it never seemed to occur to either of them that once in a while, she deserved a break from the work. Cooking and cleaning are relentless tasks. They constantly pile up and there is always something to be done. It amazes me that some women seem to accept these tasks as solely their own, without complaint or question.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 11:53 AM

Fred,

an interesting topic would be: Male Cluelessness - Nature or Nurture?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:53 AM

Being that my sainted mother was a Marine in WWII, I would think nuture.

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 11:56 AM

that would be "nurture" My fingers are all giddy about my business trip this afternoon!

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 11:57 AM

MV writes:

"Dotted, you're lucky that your husband is a clothes horse. My husband is Italian and imagine my surprise when I found out that he did not have their sense of style :-) He has this sweater that I'm just itching to throw away....he has been warned about this, and to his credit has not worn it in a while."


Ha! In college, we used to put our wastebaskets outside the dormitory room door for the student porters to empty. One morning, before leaving for class, I picked up my wastebasket to put outside the door, and noticed that it was much heavier than I expected. So I looked inside.

It seems my girlfriend did not like the idea of my wearing solid-color shirts. She said I should wear only white shirts. She used to come from her college and visit me. What was making my wastebasket so heavy was all my solid-color shirts, which my girlfriend, on her most recent visit, had placed in the wastebasket and concealed beneath the usual rubbish.

This girl has been happily married for over 38 years. To someone else. As George Wither wrote:

"Be she with that goodness blest
Which may gain her name of best
If she be not such to me,
What care I, how good she be?"

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 24, 2007 11:57 AM

Lizzie I see your point that you can't linger in the past and blame it for all your hardships. My point was that many people in this country still face these hardships and sometimes our topics may seem trivial to what they face on a daily basis

As far as the argument about "most Americans" have it good and we should look at Africa, that is weak. There are lots of people here who can't buy medicine, food, pay utilities, are homeless, disabled, etc.

The list goes on and on, I know people without running water and/or bad water that they can't drink. I am in no way diminishing the pain that people in Africa suffer, I was just trying to point out that sometimes it is good to try and understand why people lash out instead of just saying "they are a jerk or so what." Arguing over who packs a suitcase seems pretty trivial to someone who has a rough life.

There I will come down off the blue collar soap box for now.

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 11:58 AM

"Arguing over who packs a suitcase seems pretty trivial to someone who has a rough life."

That's because it is trivial.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 12:01 PM

No beach house. I feel so bad for you.

Posted by: Mr. Elitism | January 24, 2007 12:01 PM

just thought i'd throw in my two cents...

my husband and I have been married almost a year and have no children yet. Both work full-time. We've only been on a couple of trips in the past year (including honeymoon and we both packed our own suitcases for that a few nights before the wedding because we knew we'd be exhausted and inevitably forget important things).
I've been on one business trip this year; him, none. But if he needed some help packing I would gladly help because I know he'd help me if I asked. But generally, I think we can pack our own bags because, as many have already posted, I think we each know better what we want to wear and bring with us on a trip, whether vacation or business.

We each do our own laundry but only because it is easier. I have offered many times to wash his when I'm washing mine but he hasn't taken me up on it yet, which is fine. We have different laundry schedules and when each of us needs to wash something, it is usually a full load or two so I don't see it as wasteful of energy/water. We both wash towels and sheets and fold and put away as necessary.

We do our own ironing also... I hate ironing so I avoid it as much as possible by hanging up my clothes immediately out of the dryer.

Husband does make up the bed every day, which amazes and humbles me. I am from the "what's the point, you'll just get right back into it" camp but I will admit that it is nice to turn down the sheets at night. I don't know why he does it and I've never asked him to, but I make sure to let him know how much I appreciate it.

He used to pack my lunch everyday when he made his but started coming home for lunch everyday when we got our puppy a few months ago. He would still make mine if I asked, though.

I usually cook dinner and try to clean up as I go but many times he'll do the cooking to give me a break and we both wash and put away dishes.

As many have already said, I think marriage shouldn't be drawn down this 50/50 line of who does what and always keeping score. We help each other out in anyway we can. We do the chores we prefer, which fortunately are not all the same ones, but we also just do what we see needs to be done around the house.

I know I am blessed to have a husband who cleans up after himself and doesn't expect me to do anything for him just because I'm the wife. I don't expect him to do things because he's the husband. We do things for each other because we love each other and made a commitment to take care of each other, no matter what.

Posted by: ap | January 24, 2007 12:02 PM

Older Dad: I'm where you are in the stages of life: married kids, worried about becoming grands, kids still in high and middle school.

Fred: sorry, but my husband realizes the importance of his appearance. His job sortof depends on it. And he likes to look good. He always has and he always will. No sage green sweaters though.

And to the poster screaming about elitist business travelers: Like all other business travelers, he is severely limited in what he can charge per diem. He loses money each day when traveling. And my husband's father worked in a steel mill.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 12:03 PM

"As far as the argument about "most Americans" have it good and we should look at Africa, that is weak."

No weaker than someone whapping me over the head with their steelworker grandfather and expecting me to feel bad about my comparatively easy life. I'm sorry, but I have no problem assuming that anyone who does that is indeed a jerk.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 24, 2007 12:03 PM

As someone who is unfortunately preparing to leave a psychologically abusive marriage, I'd say that this topic is *not* unimportant! As another writer indicated, the "balance in the little things" is the essence of partnership. When I left my professional position and became a SAHM, I was expected to do pretty much ALL of the little things. Now that I'm back in my professional position, I still am. Keep an eye on your friend, Leslie. If she is happy and content with her situation, then packing the suitcase is just a nice favor. (I note that you quote her as saying that is "she HAD to pack her husband's suitcase," however.) If she is not, you may wish to inquire more deeply.

Posted by: Jill | January 24, 2007 12:06 PM

"'If that means packing a healthy lunch for him, so be it'"

"Why can't this grown man figure out what is a healthy lunch? Why does it fall to a woman(his wife) to do it? Does a woman automatically know what is healthy?"

Not necessarily. Maybe she just cares more than he does that he should eat a healthy diet. He certainly did not ask her to pack his lunches.

"Why didn't someone teach this guy about healthy foods when he was a kid?"

Who taught his wife to look out for her husband's health? Maybe it was her mother, the Manhattan lawyer, who has always looked after *her* husband's health.

"This isn't a very good endorsement for the 'lunch committee'. It's just another spin on women serving men. Who needs it?"

And if he packed her lunches in the morning, would that be "just another spin on men serving women"? Isn't this disdain for the "lunch committee" just another spin on "non serviam" -- "I will not serve, because if I do, I will be perpetuating the age-old subordination of women to men." We see where "non serviam" got Lucifer.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 24, 2007 12:06 PM

emily, cooking is fun for some folks. My wife loves to be the kitchen hero, and she gets all the compliments. As for me, I get the drudge work, cleaning up, and my wife uses every pot, pan, and measuring cup & spoon we own when she cooks for special occasions.

I don't get any credit, but so what.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 24, 2007 12:06 PM

"He used to pack my lunch everyday when he made his but started coming home for lunch everyday when we got our puppy a few months ago."

Awwwww. That is one of the sweetest things I have ever heard.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 12:08 PM

I packed all of my husband's belongings and moved them into public storage when I discovered the trip he went on was not to visit a family friend, but rather to visit a woman he met on the Internet. When he called in from his road trip, I informed him he no longer had a home to return to. That was the first and only time I packed my now ex-husband's suitcase.

Posted by: single western mom | January 24, 2007 12:09 PM

"As another writer indicated, the "balance in the little things" is the essence of partnership."

Yes, and it's the core concept behind the business contract.

The essence of love is very different. Too many forget this.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 12:09 PM

I've been married 32 years (married at age 2 - just kidding, but I've worked the whole time except for brief periods of involuntary unemployment) and have never packed my husband's suitcase for a vacation or business trip, nor has he packed mine.

I have however sometimes 'suggested' what he should or shouldn't be taking for a vacation trip. For work he does just fine, but all T-shirts doesn't cut it even on vacation.

I do however pack the shared toothpaste-shampoo-pharmaceuticals stuff, because he'd never get it right enough to suit me. He's responsible for his own shaver, although he once forgot it and I now check to see it's packed. And he still manages to NOT put his toothbrush into the case sitting on the counter and end up without one on a trip. He's also been known to forget a belt (work trip where he traveled the night before dressed casually) or a tie (vacation).

Posted by: Iris | January 24, 2007 12:10 PM

Regarding elitist business travelers -- I don't know anyone who travels on a regular basis in first class at company expense. Road warriors maybe -- but because they suffered 100K+ miles a year in an airline seat and continue to suffer year in and year out. Like dotted's husband I usually lost money traveling and more importantly I lost my own TIME. (I loved it (tongue in cheek) when my old company told me how much to spend at each meal!)

And for the record -- I pack my own suitcase. :-)

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | January 24, 2007 12:11 PM

When I was a kid, my stepfather would try to get us to eat our vegetables (or other despised food) by telling us about his difficult childhood or the starving children in Africa. My brother once responded that it was not our fault that he was poor when he was a kid, and that we would gladly donate our vegetables (or other despised foods) to the starving kids in Africa. Immature responses of course, but they do have a point.

Life is filled with trivial stuff, and it is all relative. So the fact that someone else's life circumstances are much more difficult does not necessarily mean that your trivial annoyances are any less annoying. Knowing the big picture can help put things in perspective, but it is not going to change the fact that as humans, we are generally self-absorbed with our own big or trivial problems. It's just part of being human.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 12:11 PM

"'As another writer indicated, the "balance in the little things" is the essence of partnership.'"

"'Yes, and it's the core concept behind the business contract.'"

"'The essence of love is very different. Too many forget this.'"

Not really. It's a pretty clear indicator of love's absence when there is no such balance.

Posted by: Jill | January 24, 2007 12:12 PM

"Maybe he is just annoyed with the fact that we are talking about packing suitcases for business trips, while working class people are worried about health care, food, etc."

Scarry, I didn't see this discussion as necessarily so narrow, but I respect that we all have different triggers. For us it's not a business trip discussion - it's family-related travel. Neither my husband nor I travel for work, except on rare occasion, but we have to travel to see family and we try to see them alot. We're rushing to get out the door as early as possible on a Friday -- which is always stressful - because neither drive is short or easy. We come back as late as we can on Sunday to maximize family time, and head off, tired and disorganized into the next week. We're traveling together and anyone who hasn't packed yet is holding up the departure time.

Some of our conversations certainly indicate a certain economic homogeneity, e.g., remember the "what's wrong with buying my teenager a BMW if that's what I want to do with my money?" conversation. Not sure I think this is one of them. IMHO, declaring that any mother who really loves her kids meets her children at the schoolbus every day is much more a trigger to me about how nice it must be to be affluent.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 12:15 PM

My husband is a much better packer than I am. He's also better at folding laundry (these things are related). Usually, he packs for his work trips himself, but for weekend trips to see family, I just ask him to make a pile somewhere of what he wants to bring and I pack all our stuff at once, something I can do easily enough. But, he also does the same thing for me sometimes, so I would say we split the packing pretty well. Who does it is just a function of who has more time when it needs to be done. That actually pretty well sums up our chore division. I do what I can during the day while caring for our daughter and doing a little work, he does the rest in the evenings and on the weekends while I'm working.

Posted by: VAMom | January 24, 2007 12:15 PM

"emily, cooking is fun for some folks."

Yes, I realize that. I loved to cook too, for special occasions, when I have time. I love to figure out what to prepare, buy the ingredients, and spend all day being chef. I also love the compliments and tha fact that I don't have to clean up the mess I make.

But doing it for four days straight, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with no reprieve would be too much.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 12:15 PM

How about this??? I GENTLY and KINDLY packed up my now-ex husband's stuff (clothes and misc stuff) AFTER he divorced me (I tried to stop divorce all the way to the end) for another woman and AFTER he announced his engagement to this woman (immediately upon signing divorce papers). He hadn't even moved all the way out of the house, before being engaged to someone else or divorcing me. (And why didn't she question this type of behavior?)

Most people would have thrown the stuff in the driveway and burned it. I took the high road.

Before the divorce though - he packed his own suitcase as he was a better packer - but I did help make sure he had clean clothes, etc.

Older Dad - you are right about your friends that are divorcing - that man is a jerk - he should try to reignite the marriage he has now. I agree - he probably is at least pursuing another woman. I doubt he can stand on his own two feet. Maybe he needs someone to pack his suitcase. and the STBX should pack her suitcase - and go have a fun time in the Carribean!

Posted by: crazy woman | January 24, 2007 12:16 PM

My wife packs for me despite the fact(s) that she is supremely smart, talented, capable and far from submissive. I took care of myself for a long time and can still do it. We both work at home, so no special logistical reason for her effort. She also likes to buy me clothing. One of the things that attracted her to me (her words) was my sense of style...so no t-shirts with holes here.

Here's my theory: she likes me. Even if I start a task myself she is there to help. And likewise I am there for her. Packing is a small thing (and I do not expect it), but it's the thousand small acts that count.

First time I've ever seen this column but it sounds like this is a foreign concept to many voices here. My advice: stop thinking of your relationships as power plays. The drama is just not worth the result.

And for what it's worth: I do a lot of dishes.

Posted by: Patrick | January 24, 2007 12:16 PM

"Keep an eye on your friend, Leslie. If she is happy and content with her situation, then packing the suitcase is just a nice favor. (I note that you quote her as saying that is "she HAD to pack her husband's suitcase," however.) If she is not, you may wish to inquire more deeply."

Are we really at the point where we're suggesting that someone second-guess the state of a friend's marriage just because we don't like the way they split household chores? Without any hint of problem other than packing a suitcase?

And more than second guess, but intervene? ("Interfere?")

Let's listen to ourselves! We are not talking alcohol addiction or physical abuse here. Traveling down this road we can easily become the "friend from hell" - or the "friend" that starts driving a wedge between wife and husband.

You should be d--n sure what you're doing before you risk that.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 12:17 PM

Not only do I not pack my husbands suitcase, I barely pack my kids (10 & 13)and this is the way its been for a few years now. I give them a laundry basket, tell them what they need (ex. 2 days of clothes, swimsuit etc). I actually pack the kids clothes in the suitcase so there is room for everything and I get veto power.

Posted by: kgva | January 24, 2007 12:19 PM

My husband packs for himself, but he wants me to sit on the bed and watch to make sure he doesn't forget anything. He does it at the last minute before going on a business trip - and it's kind of our way of spending the last bit of time alone together before he leaves. It's really pretty sweet.

Posted by: SF | January 24, 2007 12:19 PM

Older Dad

You friend is probably pursuing another woman or a man. Men rarely leave a marriage without someone waiting in the wings.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 12:21 PM

"Older Dad - you are right about your friends that are divorcing - that man is a jerk - he should try to reignite the marriage he has now. I agree - he probably is at least pursuing another woman. I doubt he can stand on his own two feet. Maybe he needs someone to pack his suitcase. and the STBX should pack her suitcase - and go have a fun time in the Carribean!"

Crazy Woman,

don't assume too much. This marriage lasted over 20 years. The man is capable of completely remodeling a house, finishing a military academy, rebuilding a car, cooking, doing laundry on occassion and keeping his wife happy for two decades. She still doesn't want him to go.

Love can die if we don't feed and nurture it.

When we see marriages fail, it's easy to assume that there's another woman to blame, or that the man (or woman) is an irresponsible jerk. The truth is that people just like you and me end up getting divorced, simply because we let our marriages die.

That thought scares me. I hope it also motivates me (and you, too).

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 12:23 PM

Older Dad,
I enjoy your posts and definitely don't feel you are insulting my choice of an equal marriage. Thanks for your opinions and wisdom. Here's to great marriages for all of us!

Posted by: equal | January 24, 2007 12:25 PM

"Let's listen to ourselves! We are not talking alcohol addiction or physical abuse here. Traveling down this road we can easily become the "friend from hell" - or the "friend" that starts driving a wedge between wife and husband.

You should be d--n sure what you're doing before you risk that."

Hmm, seems a hot button has been pushed. "You may wish to inquire more deeply" certainly does not imply contacting the Domestic Violence hotline. And of course merely feeling inclined to help with packing does not suggest any problems - duh. But it caught Leslie's ear, so "we" are discussing it. And how the heck DO you know what "we" are talking about here? Do you think "we" are somehow immune? With that, I prefer to avoid taking a hostile tone myself and admit humbly that my own buttons are quite firmly pushed.

Posted by: Jill | January 24, 2007 12:27 PM

"You friend is probably pursuing another woman or a man. Men rarely leave a marriage without someone waiting in the wings."

Either way, it doesn't really matter. Stepping back, even if there is another woman, why would he go outside the marriage in the first place? The marriage wasn't kept alive, and it's ending now.

This wasn't necessary, and many people are being hurt by it. It's making me think harder about my own marriage. We really should focus on the important stuff - that's why we call it "important" to begin with.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 12:27 PM

I didn't say you had to feel bad, I think you are missing the point of my posts.

I feel bad on a regular basis when I go home to visit my family and see poor people. It makes me feel that a lot of my problems are trivial. It makes no difference to me that I worked really hard to get to where I am, I still feel bad that they are having a hard time. I guess maybe I just have more sympathy for people because I am not far removed from the plight of the working poor in the country. Therefore, I tend to understand when people lash out. He did act jerky, but sometimes you have to see beyond the jerkiness and look at the underlying issue.

NYC lawyer, you are right, we all have our own triggers and this is one of mine.

Emily-My husband has tried the starving kid in Africa thing to and I told him not to do it. It does no good to make a small child feel bad about things she cannot control. She will be well aware that she is very fortunate to live in this country by the time she is an adult. She will also be aware that other people's lives are not as easy as hers.

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 12:27 PM

whhooooaaaa. Whenever a marriage splits up, the participants do not owe the onlookers a cup of bitter explanation, and as often as not, there's no third party involved. People grow apart. Their conversation becomes more and more about the kids until there's nothing left. Be sad for them both, but don't accuse a guy you don't know of adultery on nothing more than your experience states away with -- ta da - other guys. That's just wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 12:27 PM

I'm a road warrior who can pack with my eyes closed for the most part. I would never want my wife to pack for me and vice versa.
How would I know which pair of shoes to select from the 100 odd pair that she has crammed in the closet?

Posted by: at8man | January 24, 2007 12:28 PM

Leslie cannot stop thinking about the factoid that someone packs her husband's suitcase. Even after 15 years I cannot stop reminiscing about this factoid:
When I lived in Japan, there was a newspaper survey about division of housework between husbands and wives. One of the questions for the husbands was, "Do you know where your underwear is kept?"
By about 2000, many young women were saying they would "never get married" and some mothers were training their sons to do housework "so they would be able to get married."

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | January 24, 2007 12:29 PM

My husband used to travel frequently at the same time I traveled occasionally. I got started then packing his suitcase. Not always, and not always today, but when I think about it. I used to order special travel coffee and still include a snack. I feel the same way about this as I always have about packing lunches for the kids -- it is a simple act of love. I hope they see it, but it's OK if they don't.

Does being independent mean that we can't do these simple little things for one another? I often get simple little acts of love sent my way from my husband. My kids, not so much.

Posted by: soccermom | January 24, 2007 12:29 PM

"Hmm, seems a hot button has been pushed. "You may wish to inquire more deeply" certainly does not imply contacting the Domestic Violence hotline. And of course merely feeling inclined to help with packing does not suggest any problems - duh. But it caught Leslie's ear, so "we" are discussing it. And how the heck DO you know what "we" are talking about here? Do you think "we" are somehow immune? With that, I prefer to avoid taking a hostile tone myself and admit humbly that my own buttons are quite firmly pushed."

Yes, a hot button is pushed. Marriage is hard enough as it is, without having to deal with being second-guessed by pushy friends. If two people can work it out in a modern world, we should all give them a great round of applause and leave them alone.

If a friend comes to you with problems, you should give comfort, support, and the best advice you can (if they're looking for advice).

Why would you assume a problem here?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 12:31 PM

I can't believe how many posts there are on this topic! Regardless, for some reason, I feel inclined to give my 2 cents.

My husband and I are both working parents and HE is the one who normally packs for us and our DS. And he does the grocery shopping and dry cleaning and cook dinner and do the dishes. I tend to do the laundry, but not always.

I wonder if it makes any difference that I usually have to work later and so have less time to do such things. Then again, I also the major breadwinner...

I think we both just do whatever we can to make it work. Isn't that what marriage is all about?

Posted by: londonmom | January 24, 2007 12:34 PM

I'm with the first commenter: this is a non-issue. If one's marriage is mutually respectful, then doing things for one another comes naturally. I'd just as easily pack my husband's suitcase as he would buy feminine products or fold laundry for me. This one isn't worth a whole gender and equality tirade.

Posted by: Dupont, DC | January 24, 2007 12:35 PM

"Who does it is just a function of who has more time when it needs to be done."

That is exactly what is the crux of our division of labor. My husband and I don't have kids, so there is plenty of time to get stuff done. But my husband will be there in front of a pile of wet jeans five minutes before we have to leave for vacation because "he forgot" to finish his laundry that has been in the wash for a week.

I have the time to do all the chores (almost), and I would have to if I didn't ask for hubby's help. I have the time for chores because I make time. That's how I was raised. He never has time fore chores because there is other important stuff to do (including updating the checkbook but also including playing video games). So in situations like this, we need to talk about chores just so I don't end up doing everything and resenting him.

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 12:35 PM

My husband and I pack our own suitcases. But my MIL has packed her husband's suitcases for 50 years, and washed all his clothes, and made all his meals, etc. Their division of labor is that he had the career and she handled the house (though he does all the gardening). Anyway what happened when he retired? Most of his jobs stopped but hers went right on as before. It has caused a lot of tension. Also, they talk about friends of their (several examples) where the wife passed away first and the husband remarried immediately. This bothers my MIL no end, but my FIL thinks there's nothing wrong with it. And why should he -- if it happened to him, he'd need someone to go on doing all his cooking and cleaning!!

Posted by: think twice | January 24, 2007 12:35 PM

I'm the one who travels a lot. I would HATE it if my partner wanted to pack my suitcase, because then I would have to explain all the thinking I do into which outfits I want to bring. No thanks--I'll do it. It's much faster and I can change my mind in the middle. My partner did, however, buy me new luggage and cool little shirt-holders for Christmas--very thoughful.

(This elitist business traveler, BTW , travels about 75K miles a year and flies coach. One person at my company flies business class sometimes, and it's not one of the managing directors, it's the invaluable guy who is constantly on the road and misses a lot of weekends at home.)

I let her pack the car and put the Christmas ornaments into storage, because she has her own ways she wants it done and I just get in the way. I vacuum and cook more than she does. It all works out.

Posted by: Historian | January 24, 2007 12:36 PM

A man doesn't need to have a woman waiting in the wings in order to divorce. Sometimes, as was the case with my first wife, she never worked but she managed to spend what I made and more. It got to the point where I couldn't keep up with the credit card payments. I gave her an ultimatum, stop spending or I'm outta here. Even though I still loved her, I couldn't stand the prospects of being material poor.

Posted by: ron | January 24, 2007 12:36 PM

Here's the situation at our house as it relates to travel prep:

SO picks out his clothes and assorted accessories himself. I do the same. I pack the suitcases or suitcase, if it's just him travelling, because I want to. I am an obsessive-compulsive packer and space orgainzer with control-freak tendencies. It makes me feel better to do it myself and he always says thank you.
Who can argue with that?

On the laundry front. I do the sorting and washing and pre-drying sort. SO folds and puts away. I cut him off from washing and drying after several of my things made it into the washer or dryer that did not belong. It works for us.

Posted by: FMB | January 24, 2007 12:37 PM

Scarry

"Sometimes you have to admit that at first glance some of the things we talk about seem unimportant to someone who is barely scraping by."

Who draws the line? The people barely scraping by or the homeless and destitute?Where is the line drawn? I have zero interest in b'feeding, so can I cancel that topic?

I have no interest in the size of your boobs, but yesterday you felt compelled to tell us (it may explain the cheerleader thing). Wasn't that a pretty trivial fact? You seem to pretty lonely/isolated (even before your move), judging by all the personal details you share. You also seem to be looking for some kind of attention/validation for your choices.

Actually, you have something to say on almost every topic (even to tell us that you don't know anything about a topic).

And I'm sure you have something to say in response to this posting!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 12:37 PM

I'll fold my roommate's clothes if they're in the dryer when I need it, but she doesn't fold mine. It's not something we planned, that's just the way it works for us. I don't have to fold hers, I just do because it bugs her to have wrinkles from clothes sitting in a basket, much more than it bugs me. And she always thanks me when I do it. Sometimes you give a little here, get a little there, and everyone goes to bed at night with a smile on their face.

Posted by: popcorngirl | January 24, 2007 12:41 PM

Scarry -- I think you are a-ok!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 24, 2007 12:42 PM

Anonymous poster, please review:
"User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed."

Posted by: Jill | January 24, 2007 12:43 PM

Sometimes you have to admit that at first glance some of the things we talk about seem unimportant to someone who is barely scraping by."

Yeah I said WE, not Lizzie or the rest of the board. I am not lonely and I don't need to feel validation for my choices. My comments on boobs and cheerleading were in context to the off topics we were discussing.

I didn't attack anyone or make unkind remarks, but if you feel the need to try and make me feel bad to make yourself feel better good for you.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 12:44 PM

Scarry:
I don't agree with anon at 12:37. I like your posts. I don't have to agree with them. Anon's post was judgemental and I hope/suggest you ignore it. It isn't worth your time.
I'm with you! By the way, the boob size thing was fine. Anon took it way out of context.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 12:44 PM

I have started packing my husband's suitcase for vacations by my own choice, he didn't ask me to. He doesn't travel for business, and we often vacation separately visiting out of state family. Although I do it now when we vacation together, too.

Quite frankly, the reason I started doing it is he will just throw anything in the suitcase, which sometimes means his rattiest clothes! I make sure he has some of his nicer casual clothes. He doesn't seem to care either way, he just never thinks much about what he wears, and will grab whatever is on top in his drawer.

Posted by: CJB | January 24, 2007 12:45 PM

That was my post if you didn't know from the boobs and cheerleading comment.

Thanks Arlington dad I actually your validation. ha

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 12:45 PM

"If one's marriage is mutually respectful, then doing things for one another comes naturally... This one isn't worth a whole gender and equality tirade."

I guess it depends how you feel. You think it has to do with how stable a marrige is. I think it has to do with personality types. Having a great marriage does not mean that you automatically rid yourselves of annoying quirks and old ideas. I have my issues with doing all of the woman's work. He has his issues with me nagging him like his mom. The happiest marriage in the world would not make those disappear. So we have to work those out, and that includes deciding who does what so (1) I can have help cleaning and (2) he doesn't have me nagging him. This, of course, will lead to a good marriage.

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 12:46 PM

"I didn't attack anyone or make unkind remarks"

um, yea you did.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 24, 2007 12:46 PM

Think twice - as for remarrying after 50 years of marriage - men who were happily married (and taken care of) usually do remarry right away. My parents have a couple friends where the husband has remarried within a year or 2. Women who loose a spouse usually have a harder time, mainly because the pool of available senior men is lower - they die earlier. Competition among the elderly.

What a horrid topic! Had to chime in though - as my parents are approaching 70 and have a very traditional marriage too.

Posted by: CMAC | January 24, 2007 12:46 PM

If my husband packed on his own, it would be a disaster. So, he packs first and then I ask him if he remembered x, y and z. It balances me being "oppressed," him being and becoming more self-sufficient, and avoiding disaster.

Posted by: Michelle | January 24, 2007 12:48 PM

Scarry -- it wasn't validation as much as... because what's the blog called... BALANCE! Anonymous crisicism balanced by a signed compliment!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 24, 2007 12:49 PM

Scarry -- it wasn't validation as much as... because what's the blog called... BALANCE! Anonymous crisicism balanced by a signed compliment!

I know I was being sarcastic.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 12:50 PM

"Regarding elitist business travelers -- I don't know anyone who travels on a regular basis in first class at company expense."

World Bank and International Monetary Fund staff do, for example.

Posted by: Wolfie | January 24, 2007 12:51 PM

"I didn't attack anyone or make unkind remarks"
um, yea you did

Who? She didn't call anyone a jerk or say they were lonely?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 12:52 PM

"I know I was being sarcastic." I know! You are funny too!

I wonder if ANON is enjoying the lovefest.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 24, 2007 12:53 PM

Not only do I not pack my husband's suitcase, but I insist that our boys, ages 4 and 6, pitch in when it's time to pack for a trip. I tell them to pick out five shirts, five shorts, etc. Of course, I edit their choices before they make it into the suitcase. They love getting ready, and I'm raising boys who won't have to rely on someone else to pack their bags.

Posted by: CapHill Mom | January 24, 2007 12:53 PM

DH travels a fair bit. I make sure there's clean clothes, but he insists on packing for himself. He knows what he wants to take and is good at packing a lot into a carry-on bag. I always hang around while he does it, and sometimes remind him to bring X or Y -- we chat and it's become a nice ritual before he leaves.

My kids are now teenagers and I make them pack their own stuff when we travel. It reinforces the need to get one's laundry clean before it's time to leave -- and if they forget something, I can respond with "did you make a list?" and "it's your responsibility, not mine."

They will take every piece of electronic equipment in the house to use in the car on our trip, but forget a toothbrush. (Maybe I should get them the toothbrushes with a computer chip!)

But once we get back, Guess Who unpacks.

Posted by: Derwood Mom | January 24, 2007 12:55 PM

i iron my husbands shirts and often pack lunch, but we pack together. Since we've married he hasn't gone anywhere without me (awwww!)

Regarding ironing-- can someone recommend shirts that aren't so difficult to iron? My husband just has the inexpensive shirts bought at Ross, etc.-- are shirts from Nordstrom or Pink easier to iron? Are they worth the extra money? I'd like to buy him some new shirts-- any suggestions out there?

to JDS-- just ASK your wife "Honey, is there anything you would like me to do?" Man it bugs me when I am working on something and my husband is oblivious and then I have to ask him "honey, could you please . . ." He of course jumps to it, but I find it so annoying that i have to ask/nag to get it done. You are half way there to having a GREAT marriage since at least you are picking up on the unequality in our relationship-- if you would just follow through on that thought and ask for directions rather than waiting for her to tell you (I'm assuming that's what is going on-- maybe it isn't-- I obviously have my baggage) I guarantee you will be rewarded with a blessed marriage! (And possibly more chores.)

To ccc, what is the problem exactly? i know lots of gay and lesbian coulpes and they use the term "wife" or "husband" to discribe their spouse (yeah, i know, not every state marries gay couples but there are people who have gone through it or a similar committment ceremony and far be it from me to say "hey, you can't use wife/husband to describe the person you love and packs your suitcase!") I think you should give Leslie and the rest of us heteros a break. If she had rephrased it to reflect the fact that homosexuals cannot become married (most places) then she would be attaked for treating homosexuals differently than hetrosexuals.

Posted by: LSR | January 24, 2007 12:57 PM

"So we have to work those out, and that includes deciding who does what so (1) I can have help cleaning and (2) he doesn't have me nagging him. This, of course, will lead to a good marriage."

Working it out is key! Taking turns putting up with or adapting to some "annoying quirks and old ideas" is part of any marriage. Figuring out how you can manage to live with each other, as well as love each other, is tough for all of us. Sometimes it's hard for us to avoid getting so caught up in the "managing to live with" issues that we forget the "love each other" part that should be driving it all.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 12:59 PM

Who draws the line? The people barely scraping by or the homeless and destitute?Where is the line drawn? I have zero interest in b'feeding, so can I cancel that topic?

She didn't try to cancel the topic. She was just pointing out why the anonymous poster might think it was trivial.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 1:00 PM

"I have zero interest in b'feeding, so can I cancel that topic?"


Noooooooooooooooooo! don't do that to me!

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 1:02 PM

Sticking to Leslie's question of what are the little things that you do for your spouse/what your spouse does for you to help find some balance: I plan the meal and make the list while my husband shops for the items on the list and then cooks the meal. In return, I clean up and then pack the leftovers up for lunches. Also, I hate washing the baby bottles each night, so he takes that on and then I mix the formula and make them up for the next day. I still remember the original concept from Sesame Street e.g. "cooperation." ;-) Or, as my mother always reminded us, "we are all in this family together/live in this house together, so we all must pitch in."

Posted by: Introvertster | January 24, 2007 1:03 PM

Yeah and I obviously like to talk about boobs, so no we can't cancel the BF blogs.

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 1:03 PM

"are shirts from Nordstrom or Pink easier to iron? Are they worth the extra money? I'd like to buy him some new shirts-- any suggestions out there?"

Husband sends his shirts out, so I can't speak to ironing, but I will say that he won't wear any shirt that is not Brooks Brothers or, less frequently, Polo. He says the quality is worth it. He has one Pink shirt that is incredibly gorgeous that he got on sale.

He has a permanent inventory of something like 2 white shirts, 2 blue shirts, 1 yellow shirt, 1 pale green shirt, and 1 striped shirt. When a shirt wears out, he replaces it with one just like it; that probably happens once a year or so. Saves a lot of time and energy and thought. I now apply that principle to my own wardrobe.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 24, 2007 1:07 PM

ProductWorkingMom - my husband is an 'elitist road warrior'. He's the one in the jacket from WalMart and the pocket protector typing away on his laptop while the stewardess tells him for the third time that they are landing he's supposed to turn it off. It is my impression that most of the passengers in first class are using upgrades and miles to get there.

Most companies won't pay for first class. The airlines have this complicated set-up to suck you into always traveling on the same airline, and first class upgrades are a part of it.

My road warrior is in need of a diet and I'm considering packing his lunch to help. It just makes sense. I've spent years learning what's the right thing to eat. If I hand him a brown bag he'll eat that and benefit from what I've spent years learning.

Posted by: RoseG | January 24, 2007 1:07 PM

I don't imagine anyone is going to read through 280 plus posts but here goes -

I am directly involved in packing my husband's suitcase simply because I am better at it than he is. he gives little to no thought about what is happening when we reach our desitination and he is easily distracted. A wedding? he needs a tie and a nice belt to go with the suit. A morning event with an evening reception? One suit with two shirts is perfectly fine (and so much lighter than the two suits he would pack without me).

Frustrating? a little, but its so much easier on both of us if I help him plan a bit on the front end than it is to deal with the forgotten socks once we get where we are going.

Posted by: Mall Employee | January 24, 2007 1:08 PM

I have never packed a suitcase for my husband, first or second, but I have picked out clothes. My first husband had no sense of what clothes went with what. He spent his first 15 years of work in a job where it was acceptable to wear jeans and a tee shirt. After he got his first jacket-and-tie job and he showed up on Day 1 in a tan blazer that did not match the tan slacks he was wearing, I started picking out clothes for him for work.

Posted by: lawyermom | January 24, 2007 1:08 PM

LSR -- at the risk of sounding like one of those rich folks who get blasted for VLIs...

I've got to recommend the Brooks Brothers No-Iron dress shirts. They are awesome -- you really just pull them out of the dryer, but them on a hanger, and wear them without ironing them. I'm in a buttoned-up office, and these do the trick. There's ususally a buy-3 sale at the Brooks Brother Outlet stores.

And to continue thread from earlier -- yes, my wife buys these for me.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 24, 2007 1:08 PM

For formal business wear, I like Lands' End button down oxford cloth. A bit staid, but always a safe choice.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 1:09 PM

When we went to Hawaii for a week, my wife packed everything we'd need in two suitcases. They were so full they popped open when the latches were released!

What didn't occur to either one of us was all those clothes turn into dirty clothes at the end of the vacation, and we didn't want to mix them with the remaining clean ones. Solution: buy another suitcase for the dirty clothes (the other suitcases had souvenirs and other junk we'd picked up over there)!

I've been married over 22 years now to the same woman, and there are things she still does that bug the fire out of me. It's impossible to get her out of the house on time, for example, without using dynamite, and she is a notorious procrastinator for other things too.

I tend to leave clothes I wore the day before (or the week before for that matter) in a pile on the floor if I intend to wear them again, which bugs her.

After so long together, though, we've accepted the rough edges in favor of the good things we have discovered about each other, which far outweigh the negatives.

Posted by: John | January 24, 2007 1:09 PM

Hey now leave Scarry alone!!

I also always appreciate Scarry's posts: she blogs here everyday and when you are a regular on a blog it gets to be a community and you do reveal some personal stuff, but I like getting to know people, even virtually. If you dont like her posts, ignore them.

Its like (as someone mentioned above) seeing the locals at 7-11 in the am for coffee and shooting the breeze (or seeing the regulars every morning for breakfast at Jimmy T's.)

OT alert: Meesh and S, I feel your pain, I am tall too and not big, I find a few brands that work and stick with them (Theory for shirts, Habitual for jeans (36 inseam), BCBG for work pants (I buy them on Ebay or sale). If one more person tells me, oh they make all the clothes for tall skinny people...uh, no they dont.

On topic: I used to hate making and bringing my husband coffee all the time (he is English and apparently all the women there are always fetching beer, tea, etc.) but I found it better in the long run to stop resenting it. Our division of labor isnt always equal, but it does work out that the person who cares the most/does it best ends up with the task.

Posted by: jessker3 | January 24, 2007 1:16 PM

my, oh, my scarry. looks like someone too insecure to post with a name failed to take his or her medication. You didn't deserve this nastiness and I know you don't need my validation, but I too appreciated your comments.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 1:18 PM

Jcrew has great tall chinos... even better when you can get them on sale...

Posted by: s | January 24, 2007 1:19 PM

So yesterday this blog had trouble keeping a conversation going about a woman who has been devoting her life to helping other women. The discussion devolved into trivial tangents.

Today, there are 243 (so far) comments on packing a spouse's suitcase. And the audience here is supposed to be people seeking balance in their lives?

I've concluded that you're really a bunch of lonely people looking for someone to talk to in your dreary lives -- since most of you obviously don't can't talk with your spouses, friends or family.

Blogdom (at least this blog) -- is the home of the boring, self-absorbed, cynical losers.

And Leslie -- why in the world would anyone pay you (a self-described elite MBA, presumably with some skills) to put out pabulum like this. Thank goodness I haven't had to pay for it!


Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 1:20 PM

It never would have occurred to me to pack my husband's suitcase. Maybe because we had both been living on our own for years before we got married? I assume (as does he) that either of us can do anything normal, and normal includes packing your own suitcase. Besides that, my husband brings EVERYTHING on a trip. He's always amazed that I can bring exactly what I need to wear, and nothing more.
We both do laundry, but generally he washes/dries (and even hangs up my clothes that shouldn't get dried), and I fold and put away everything but his clothes. I fold those, and they go into a basket. He's free to put them away, or use out of the basket. It's not a petty thing... I just don't understand how he sorts his clothes (he has 2 underwear drawers, and 2 sock drawers for instance).
I feel lucky I'm married to a "giver" now... because it feels awfully good for a giver (me) to be taken care of too! I was married to a "taker" before... and eventually gave out.

Posted by: Mary2again | January 24, 2007 1:20 PM

Ditto on the Land's End shirts. And avoid pure cotton broadcloth!

"Balance" is what this column is all about - so encouraging to hear that many here have achieved some satisfying measure of it. It is indeed a continuous process - a little negotiating, perhaps, but mostly just respecting and caring for each other. My parents have managed it for over 40 years, and my grandparents must have worked it out somehow for 63 years. I know my mother and my grandmother have had some constant underlying frustrations in their "traditional" roles, but wouldn't trade a year of their marriages for anything.

I also know that most of the "modern" men I've met are far better cooks than I am and take care of themselves pretty well! I just happened to marry someone who is not a "modern" man at all (culturally speaking), and I did not realize the full impact of that when I did so.

Posted by: Jill | January 24, 2007 1:20 PM

ANON, the question is loudly begged:
why are you here?

You are violating the basic rules of civility enjoyable blogs must observe, and you know this. And apparently enjoy it.

Posted by: Jill | January 24, 2007 1:24 PM

"So yesterday this blog had trouble keeping a conversation going about a woman who has been devoting her life to helping other women. The discussion devolved into trivial tangents."

Maybe it was because we all were in basic agreement about the guest author yesterday but (and I am suprised)about how much baggage is attached to baggage.

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 1:26 PM

So yesterday this blog had trouble keeping a conversation going about a woman who has been devoting her life to helping other women. The discussion devolved into trivial tangents.

Today, there are 243 (so far) comments on packing a spouse's suitcase. And the audience here is supposed to be people seeking balance in their lives?

I've concluded that you're really a bunch of lonely people looking for someone to talk to in your dreary lives -- since most of you obviously don't can't talk with your spouses, friends or family.

Blogdom (at least this blog) -- is the home of the boring, self-absorbed, cynical losers.

And Leslie -- why in the world would anyone pay you (a self-described elite MBA, presumably with some skills) to put out pabulum like this. Thank goodness I haven't had to pay for it!

Posted by: | January 24, 2007 01:20 PM

I'll take, Whining and Nastiness, Alex, for $2000.

Answer: 12 minutes.

Question: How long does it take to tell other folks that you're too discerning and holy to waste your precious time on a blog, and to combine it with insulting the blog host?

The woman who devoted her life to helping other women said nothing to generate a conversation about work-life balance. Leslie did. That's the way it works, bozo.

Posted by: to anon at 1:20 | January 24, 2007 1:26 PM

Thanks to everyone! I am not lonely, but I do like to talk or type! I also didn't mean that some people were condescending, I just meant that it could be perceived that way.

Also, the anonymous poster always gets mad when the blog doesn't jump on the needy, lonely scarry bandwagon, so you can be sure that we will all see a rant or two before the day is out.

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 1:28 PM

I second that Fred. How many times can people comment on how wonderful/good etc somthing is before it moves onto something else...

Posted by: s | January 24, 2007 1:28 PM

"...bunch of lonely people looking for someone to talk to in your dreary lives."

And yes, I am going on a business trip today and I will miss Fredia. Just hope she will miss me as much! (She won't!)

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 1:29 PM

"To ccc, what is the problem exactly? i know lots of gay and lesbian coulpes and they use the term "wife" or "husband" to discribe their spouse (yeah, i know, not every state marries gay couples but there are people who have gone through it or a similar committment ceremony and far be it from me to say "hey, you can't use wife/husband to describe the person you love and packs your suitcase!") I think you should give Leslie and the rest of us heteros a break. If she had rephrased it to reflect the fact that homosexuals cannot become married (most places) then she would be attaked for treating homosexuals differently than hetrosexuals."

LSR, one issue might be the headline. I call my partner my wife although our relationship has no legal standing (not only does "not every state" permit us to marry, only one does, for legal residents only), but I am not her husband. We are wives. Frankly, I think the headline is sexist as well, assuming as it does that the blog is written solely for women. "Spouse" would have worked better. But it's not a real issue.

Like Rebecca, I mostly ignore the heterocentric slant (that's life outside of queer circles, and I know no offense is intended) and frame the question in a way that makes sense if I feel like answering. However, you asked, so I'm answering.

Posted by: Historian | January 24, 2007 1:30 PM

My husband travels all the time and I never pack or unpack his bags, though I do make sure he's got clean clothes. I have a friend who packs her husband's bags for business trips. He says he likes the way she folds his shirts so they don't get creased.

My 2 cents about balance: my husband is in the military, and is gone a lot, so most household things fall to me. I can't imagine greeting him at the door after he gets back from the Middle East with a list of things to do or a rant about the dishes. I'm just grateful to get him back in one piece. I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

Posted by: Austin, TX | January 24, 2007 1:31 PM

"Fred: sorry, but my husband realizes the importance of his appearance"

"He says he likes the way she folds his shirts so they don't get creased."

Certainly, in the military, appearence is of the upmost importance and I kept my uniforms in the appropiate manner.

I understand why Austin's husband appreciated her packing for him!


Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 1:41 PM

I'm cracking up at this topic - and the expression I can picture on my husband's face if I ever tried to pack his suitcase for him. Absolutely not going to happen, maybe ever. Plus, we both do our own laundry and are totally disorganized about it, so while I know which of my piles is clean underwear/pants/etc. and which isn't, I have no idea which of his piles is clean.

I have purchased clothes for him, though, particularly when I wanted him to wear slightly more trendy shoes or jackets or whatever. Or if we were leaving early the next day and he needed a new fill-in-the-blank and I was going to be at the mall anyway.

Posted by: KateinSS | January 24, 2007 1:42 PM

My husband and I both work, no kids yet, and we have a pretty even division of labor. With packing, I'm very organized (he is not) and love to make lists, so I'll usually make him a packing list with general items -- shirts (2); pants (1); nice belt. He's responsible for getting the items in the suitcase. I do it because I love him, and it's a small thing I can do to make his life easier. He doesn't expect it and is always very appreciative.

Just as in the mornings, he gets the coffee ready and into travel mugs and packs the lunches because I take a little longer to get ready. That's a small thing he does to make my life easier.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 1:43 PM

"I have no idea which of his piles is clean."

Smell 'em.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 1:46 PM

RoseG - You're right about the upgrades/miles routine -- consultant road warriors get free upgrades up the yin-yang from their elite status. But 100K miles per year is a lot of seat time in airplane. (yuck).

It occurred to me that I did the whole clothing purchase thing in my last long-term relationship (probably guilty of picking up where his mother left off). Now I drop gentle hints of what I like and make occasional purchases (I am on tie replacement kick lately). Much easier!

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | January 24, 2007 1:50 PM

Amen to the J Crew chinos! Now if only their tall dress pants were cheaper!

Fred, it's funny because my husband does not miss me when I'm on business. He will survive on mini corn dogs and tater tots (I wish I were making that up) not because he can't cook but because it's like a mini vacation from me, the healthy food nazi. So he spends every waking minute eating corn dogs, drinking soda, and playing video games. It's like every man's dream. When he tells me he misses me over the phone, I can just see his fingers crossed behind his back.

But I don't really miss him when he's gone because I rent chick flicks and cry and drink beer all night!

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 1:50 PM

Older Dad - I was married for over 20 years too. Yes, the marriage was dying, but it takes two to revive it - not just one. That is why little problems need to be resolved as we go along. That is why RESPECT goes a long way. That is why marriage is a commitment..sometimes things fizzle and you have to revive them. What a difference it could have made if my now-ex had offered and planned for us to go away on an exotic romantic vacation. How nice it would have been if he'd even fixed dinner once a week since he got home three hours before me. It is the little gestures that keep the marriage going. My ex said he loved me and he wanted to stay with me.. but he was looking for his contingency plan along the way and found one..... that is called low self-esteem and not being able to stand on your own two feet. At least in my case.

So, if packing a suitcase for your husband is an act of love for your spouse and he doesn't mind - then go for it. But just because you don't pack his suitcase doesn't make you a bad spouse - you can show your love in other ways. And keep the marriage love flame going. Your children are worth it. Our society is worth it. YOU are worth it.. and so is your spouse!

Posted by: Crazy Woman | January 24, 2007 1:51 PM

"Frankly, I think the headline is sexist as well, assuming as it does that the blog is written solely for women. "Spouse" would have worked better."

Who freakin' cares? Given the context - a woman talking about a comment made by another woman about her relationship with her husband - it's neither surprising nor inappropriate. But either way - why are we parsing this stuff for hidden biases? It's hard enough to really hear what people are actually trying to say - life's to short to get caught up in talmudic exegesis of their subconcious assumptions and motivations. (If yours isn't too short for this, then you need to "get a life.")

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 1:52 PM

312 posts on this topic -- before 2:00?

Why?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 1:52 PM

Off topic:

NC Lawyer: The undoing of the ACC continues. VA Tech beat MD -- the boyfriend's favorite team!

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | January 24, 2007 1:53 PM

Meesh,

I think that I was being a bit facetious! After (almost) 31 years, a day off from each other is practically necessary.

Tater tots, yummy!

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 1:54 PM

to anon at 1:52, because it's a topic common to all of us - regardless of whether one is straight, gay, married, single, a parent or non-parent, and male or female. We can relate. We also can relate on the side tangients like the divorce occurring down the street from Older Dad. This is the stuff the crosses boundaries.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 1:54 PM

to all the tall/thin people:

The Limited and The Gap both have Longs in their dress pants sizes. Granted both tend towards the trendy side but particularly The Gap has their "basic chino" in longs that are not low rise. I actually found a pair of longs there that were too long - I almost fell over in the dressing room.

FYI - I like the medium rise myself - they are just more comfortable.

Posted by: cmac | January 24, 2007 1:56 PM

i like cheese

Posted by: dc | January 24, 2007 1:56 PM

off topic:

NC lawyer: Which game are watching tonight? and what beer? We can do this virtually.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 1:57 PM

Leslie, you should devote a day to a column where we all write in about one or two things our SO's do to make our day-to-day lives more pleasant. I've seen a lot of examples today and they are very sweet. In my house whichever of us brushes teeth first puts toothpaste on the other's brush. We do other little things for each other to show we care (or try to), but in the daily ratrace we probably don't think about these things enough.

And hey, Valentine's day is approaching!

Posted by: idea? | January 24, 2007 1:57 PM

Meesh,

it's a matter of degree. Mrs. Older Dad typically takes the kids out to see her folks for a week or two each summer. That kind of relatively short, very ocassional separation can be kind of fun. I get to watch my war movies, exist on cold pizza like a college student, etc.

She had to be out of town for an extended period earlier this year to deal with a relative who was seriously ill (including Valentine's day, believe it or not). The relative eventually died. She had to make several fairly long trips to handle the aftermath. She was gone way too long, and for some of the trips we didn't know how long it would be before she could come back.

It can be fun to play bachelor for a few days. Anything more, and yeah - we miss our wives badly.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 1:57 PM


Our marriage partnership extends to work. I know DH's department head was pleasantly surprised when my DH had his first big grant proposal due, to find me there editing budgets and triaging at the Xerox machine. When either of us has an extreme deadline, the other deploys to help (though since kids, often the best non-weekday help we can offer each other is to get the kids out from underfoot, and give the other focused time to work). We'll proofread each others' grant proposals --- many errors and incoherences are catchable by a smart but nonspecialist reader, and unlike our colleagues, we'll drop everything to read on a moment's notice, 24/7, as a deadline looms. We'll even edit each other's files to get that urgent checklist done --- you know, that list of these changes to 6 different files must occur before everything can get out the door.

My DH is and always has been my tech support. My departments have always had poor tech support for unix/linux users and DH has always been more expert than they. We use many of the same computational programs and tools --- in fact, I do all my teaching documents on a template that he developed.

At home . . . packing . . . we each do our own for work-related trips, though the other will usually check whether a triage load of laundry will be needed, and get that going, if time is short. Packing for family trips usually takes us both packing for 6 hours --- I always thought it would get shorter once we outgrew the specialty baby gear, kids are 6 and 9, but it hasn't yet . . . of course we usually start in the hole and have to do laundry first . . . division of labor is pretty fair (we both end up equally exhausted :-) ) and we each are responsible for our own personal stuff. Though when I pull out and restock everyone's bath kits, I do his as well . . . when I go foraging through the clean laundry for my own socks and underwear, I'll pull his out as well . . .

We're a team. I also like seeing these little microcosm glimpses into how couples structure their lives, the nitty gritty as Leslie says, it captures life more vividly than any abstract characterization . . .

Posted by: KB | January 24, 2007 1:59 PM

When my husband takes the kids camping, etc. I get to make and eat food that no one else likes. Tuna and macaroni casserole with crushed potato chips on top! Yum!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 2:02 PM

"Yes, the marriage was dying, but it takes two to revive it - not just one. That is why little problems need to be resolved as we go along. "

Absolutely. Nothing this man's wife can do will save their marriage unless he's willing to help. Unfortunatly, it seems that he's completely checked out at this point.

I don't know anything about your situation (or any of the other posters', for that matter). I've just become increasing convinced that the people in our families are more important than all the day to day "stuff" we get sucked into. If there's any life lesson I'd like to pass on, it's that people are more important than things, and that if you lose your family (in any sense), the chores don't matter.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 2:03 PM

I wonder why this question is relevant.

We all do things for the other within our marriage. My husband would not want me to pack his suitcase. He shops for his own clothing, and would wonder why I was interested in packing for him, too.

(For one thing, he wouldn't like my method of packing and would consider his way superior).

By the time we married, he had been away from home for 12 years, and around the world to boot.

He had packing his own luggage quite well without me.

I do however iron his shirts. He also does his shirts sometimes (doesn't like them drycleaned).

I do it better!

Posted by: Kate | January 24, 2007 2:04 PM

We have discussed a wife packing her husband's suitcase, but I think another layer in Leslie's article is why do we compare ourselves and our relationships to other peoples'?

Many of us get on this blog and say "it works for my family" with the implication that we don't need to bow society or tradition or feminism or whatever your proiority is. But then something happens that makes you question your role and even feel a little insecure. For Leslie, it was her friend packing a suitcase. For me, it was last night when my wife told me she's taking care of the taxes again. So then I start thinking, "Wait, should I be taking care of that? Is that man's work? Is it my turn? Am I failing my wife... a kid is calling for me so I can't complete this thought."

We have a lot of options in this day and age, and as Brain pointed out recently, we don't have as many role models (I know my marriage is very different from my parents'). So we watch our respected friends and we compare. Sure, we learn from them, but do we compare ourselves too much? Or is it just me (well, and Leslie too)?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 24, 2007 2:05 PM

idea? How thoughtful. I truly believe that marriages are made or broken over the cumulative effect of tiny things. While I don't pack for my husband, I do like to slip little notes in his shoes or take silly pictures of the kids and I to hide in his suitcase so he will know that he is missed when he is away. I really like the toothpaste bit.
Scarry - I don't always agree with you but I wholly disagree with the anon poster. You are a funny gal.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 24, 2007 2:05 PM

Thanks moxiemom and if everyone did agree with me the blog would be pretty boring. I mean really, there is only room on this blog for one Irish, Catholic coal miner's daughter. :)

On nice things: My husband is taking my car to get inspected right now and he is picking me up a burger on the way back. He also has the kid, so today he is my hero.

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 2:08 PM

To "idea?," that's a great idea! I could learn something!

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 2:10 PM

I gotta go in a few minutes, I know that y'all will miss me tomorrow! :) See you on Friday!

Posted by: Fred | January 24, 2007 2:11 PM

"So we watch our respected friends and we compare. Sure, we learn from them, but do we compare ourselves too much? Or is it just me (well, and Leslie too)?"

Think about clothes. We notice what other people wear, so we can be dressed appropriately at work, school, etc. We notice so we have some sense of what's currently in style.

Most people do this naturally, and don't let it worry them. But it can be taken too far, and we can start worrying about whether we're fashionable enough, or if our clothes are too cheap, or if we simply don't look good enough. That's damaging, and can undermine our confidence and self image.

So sure - learn from other people's failures and successes, so you can avoid the former and replicate the later. But don't let it undermine your confidence, create self-doubt or cause you to do things that simply do not feel right for you and your spouse.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 24, 2007 2:11 PM

Arlington dad- Amen - we were talking about this at ballet re: kids. We make well thougth out choices for our children and then when we hear that someone is doing something else we think "should I have signed him up for lacrosse, had him tested for the gifted program". At least with parenting in the burbs there is a constant fear of "dropping the ball" with the kids. New moms lament that they didn't get on the preschool list when their children were conceived and now feel like less than, because their kid isn't in the best preschool. What's with all this second guessing and are women more prone to it? Good topic idea.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 24, 2007 2:11 PM

there is only room on this blog for one Irish, Catholic coal miner's daughter. :)

Is that you Loretta?

Posted by: moxiemom | January 24, 2007 2:13 PM

"Leslie, you should devote a day to a column where we all write in about one or two things our SO's do to make our day-to-day lives more pleasant."

Why do you need Leslie to make that decision to get a discussion started? This blog gets off topic all the time. I would argue every day. Just enter as one of the first 10 posts of the day with your comments, and you'll be queen for a day and find lots of nice new friends to chat with. How sweet.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 2:14 PM

Thanks for all the advice regarding shirts and thanks for advising heteros on proper termonology. I agree that in this context "spouse" would have been preferrable on at least a couple levels to "husband." But I think I will stick with "how's you wife/husband?" rather than "how's your spouse?" "Spouse" just seems to clinical between friends and family.

Posted by: LSR | January 24, 2007 2:15 PM

there is only room on this blog for one Irish, Catholic coal miner's daughter. :)

Is that you Loretta?

ha, I love her! Have you heard her song about the pill--awesome.

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 2:16 PM

"I mean really, there is only room on this blog for one Irish, Catholic coal miner's daughter. :)"

Who votes the straight Democratic ticket...

Posted by: DZ | January 24, 2007 2:16 PM

Have you heard her song about the pill--awesome.

I have not, please clue me in.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 24, 2007 2:17 PM

Off-topic alert:

Dotted, Fortunately, the gods of scheduling have smiled upon us and we have no conflict at 7 unless UNC/WFU goes into overtime -- the chances of that occurring are about as likely as Virginia Tech beating UNC in January (Drat - that example used to work.) So it's your boys at 7, and my boys at 9. Georgia Tech/Maryland's probably going to be a better match-up, but in the absence of a bet to mess with one's loyalties, who selects games to watch objectively? I say dinner tonight will be microwaved Pace medium salsa and velveeta dip with Tostitos tonight, and elitist beer. What's your menu and beverage?

Fred, it won't be the same without you.

On-topic. Women are not more prone to second-guessing. We may be, on average, more willing to disclose our second-guessing, and information is a dangerous thing to provide to the judgmental.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 2:19 PM

She basically sings about how happy she was to get birth control pills. A lot of radio stations wouldn't play it. I am young, but I saw it on an awards show honoring her. They called her an accidental feminist.

I do vote straight ticket!

Posted by: scarry | January 24, 2007 2:23 PM

It's funny, growing up, I always remember when my dad was going to take a trip out of town (which happened often in his job), because my mom would pack his suitcase. I don't think he ever did it for himself. Once I married, however, it never crossed my mind to pack for my husband. Maybe parts of this are generational. I have tucked notes into my husband's suitcase once he is packed, but never put the clothes in.

Posted by: Fomer NoVa Mom | January 24, 2007 2:26 PM

Having never been married - it would have never occured to me to even try packing my husband to be (in the far away future) suitcase. Probably because I am a terrible packer, and care barely handle mine (I always forget something very important). It is good to learn these things though. I would pack their lunch if I was doing mine and a childs... healthy eating is for the whole family!

How many wives shop for their husbands clothes?

Anyone catch the state of the union last night?

Posted by: single mom | January 24, 2007 2:28 PM

My husband and I each pack our own suitcases and each do our own laundry. It just worked out this way for us, mostly at my husband's insistence. We both work. My mom hated packing my dad's suitcase, but she did not work. I have to admit that as a child, I did not understand why she resented helping with packing. Dad was the sole breadwinner and she had the time and energy to do this for him, especially once both of us kids were in high school and then out of the house in college. Dad had a very stressful job with a very long commute and lots of travel and it seemed to me that it was mean and spiteful of her to expect him to pack at 9 pm at night for a trip at 6 am the next day after having already put in a 12 hour day. Being a homemaker is hard work, but you have a lot of control over your time and your environment. Money is what puts food on the table and a roof over your head.

Posted by: happily married | January 24, 2007 2:28 PM

My wife laughed so hard when she read your column that I thought she would pass out. I pack my own suitcase, get our kids off to school, grocery shop, cook dinner everyday, pack the kids lunches, do the laundry, feed the dog, make repairs to the house, fix the cars, and anything else except vacumn and clean the bathrooms which she does. We both work outside of the home. Just yesterday though a lady offered to pack my suitcase and cook me dinner. After reading all this I think I'll give her a call.

Posted by: Desperate Husband | January 24, 2007 2:31 PM

off topic alert:
I'll follow your lead on this one. Next time, I'll choose the menu (what was the nut thing someone posted that sounded yummy?) anyone else on tonight's virtual tostitos/cheese/beer tour?

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 2:33 PM

Arlington Dad, great post. I call those the "oh, sh--" moment, where you stop and go, "oh, sh--, am I supposed to be doing that??"

I have them more with kids than my husband. My sister-in-law just naturally takes to a lot of the traditional "mom" stuff that I sure never learned from my mom -- it's like she has some sort of mom gene that intuitively tells her all sorts of projects and things to entertain the kids. So, for ex., I go over to her house, and she's got a package of pre-cut cookie dough and tubes of frosting and sprinkles, and she sets the girls (5 and 6) to making a giant happy fun mess. And I'm like, "Oh. THAT's a good idea." But then if that hits on an insecurity, it's easy to go from there to "gee, that's so simple and easy, I must be a bad mom not to have thought about that before."

Of course, sometimes a cookie is just a cookie.

Fred, safe travels!

Posted by: Laura | January 24, 2007 2:34 PM

LSR, if I know there is a spouse of whatever gender and orientation, I try to ask "How's SPOUSE NAME HERE"? :) IME, it's potentially an issue for unmarried couples of any orientation, since not everyone does use the wife/husband terminology when they're not married. Asking by name at least means that I've been paying attention when they mentioned their spouse/partner. Just a politeness thing.

The bit about being blind to certain things is interesting to me. On average, I dress up more than my wife does--she likes her comfortable clothes. OTOH, she's a LOT pickier about things being ironed than I am. Worse, she transmitted this to me. Wench got me ironing. It's a pain. :)

Regarding the person who asked "who freakin' cares" about spouse vs husband, as I said at the time I was answering a direct question and for me it wasn't a real issue in this context. Reading a litle more carefully would have saved you a few minutes. As you imply, life is too short to worry about this stuff unnecessarily.

Posted by: Historian | January 24, 2007 2:35 PM

Wolfie, did you really think you'd get away with this comment?

""Regarding elitist business travelers -- I don't know anyone who travels on a regular basis in first class at company expense."

World Bank and International Monetary Fund staff do, for example."

This is the WASHINGTON Post! If there's no one on this board who actually works for those institutions, you can be darn sure a bunch of us know people who do. Perhaps the higher-ups travel in style, but the majority of people who keep the World Bank running are just like the rest of us: all the way back in Cattle Class, living on insufficient per diems.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 2:41 PM

I pack my husband's suitcase. I'm not a SAHM, I'm a WOHM. However, though my husband is quite capable of packing his own suitcase, he's likely to wait until about 30 minutes prior to leaving the house, and I can't stand looking at that damn empty suitcase for all that ime. So I get it started for him. By getting it started I mean I mostly get the thing fully packed with the occasional warning to him that he should check things out before fully trusting what I did. Another reason why I do it? I'm just nice like that.

Posted by: theRose | January 24, 2007 2:47 PM

I am a lucky man, if these comments are illustrative of current societal feelings on the subject. My wife packs my suitcase, she unpacks it as well. And, yes she does the laundry. I travel every week and she does this to help me and make my week easier. It is the same reason why I always fill her car with gas, see that it is serviced on time, and see that it is kept clean. She's happy; I'm happy.

Posted by: John | January 24, 2007 2:47 PM

Laura and Arlington Dad, I think you have illustrated this topic best, for me at least - there are many "nice" things I absolutely WOULD do (for a spouse who doesn't exist at the moment, or for my child) that simply don't occur to me. And when I see someone else do them, I immediately have a "why didn't I think of that?" moment. If I had a husband who was a bad packer or dresser, I think I would be happy to pack his suitcase. Ditto for lunches, since I am usually making mine anyway. I don't know that I've ever worried about feeling put upon to do "traditional" female tasks - as has been mentioned LOTS today, caring and thoughtfulness are gender-neutral.

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 24, 2007 2:47 PM

I used to work for a partner in a law firm. He flew first class all the time, and had a driver to boot. The other lawyers and paralegals mostly flew business class but could be upgraded if they had enough miles. They all stayed in very nice hotels during travel, and had very nice meals also. But they also pretty much worked all the time when they were traveling. I have been to Paris, Munich, and London, and Sydney a few times for work, but hardly got a chance to see anything other than the hotel and the office.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 2:47 PM

I have to agree with anon at 2:41. My dad was a big deal at the World Bank, and he travelled in coach all the time. I think he was just happy that you could some on those international flights. When we travelled with him, he had to pay for our tickets and hotel rooms and use points to upgrade to first class. I still remember my dad giving us kids the first-class seats while he and my mom sat in coach on the 14-hour flight to China.

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 2:49 PM

That should be "smoke" on those international flights.

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 2:51 PM

Emily, dang, I want to work for your firm! I'm a partner in a law firm, and I fly Southwest. :-) And I STILL usually don't see much beyond the hotel and office! But that's my own fault -- if I'm away from the family, I'm going to get as much work done while I can, so I have more time once I get home.

Posted by: Laura | January 24, 2007 2:52 PM

Laura,
Yes, there were a lot of perks to the "Big DC Law Firm with Offices All Over the World." It was a great place to work while I was young and single, but frankly, I wouldn't go back for all the tea in China (well maybe...) Quality of life sucked. The hours were awful. The pressure was worse. London, Paris, Munich and Sydney were hardly worth the trouble.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 2:57 PM

"Women are not more prone to second-guessing. We may be, on average, more willing to disclose our second-guessing, and information is a dangerous thing to provide to the judgmental."

Uh, just how exactly would we know this? I don't have any real axe to grind here, but this seems as close to a naked assertion as you can get. We all have our personal experiences of who, in our circle of acquaintances, talks the most about second guessing. But how do we know what's going on internally, behind that?

Or are we just operating off of an assumption that men and women are basically just alike psychologically, so they have to have equal "second-guessing-rates"?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 2:58 PM

"That should be "smoke" on those international flights."

Oops, I thought you meant "get some" on the international flights.

Posted by: DZ | January 24, 2007 2:58 PM

I actually work at the World Bank, and none of the people I know travel coach. One once opted for coach voluntarily, for the benefit of her budget. Maybe my department is not representative (but I tend to think it is), but I would disagree with the statement that "the majority of people who keep the World Bank running are just like the rest of us: all the way back in Cattle Class, living on insufficient per diems." The majority of people here, rather, live it up.

Posted by: Ajax | January 24, 2007 2:59 PM

"IME, it's potentially an issue for unmarried couples of any orientation, since not everyone does use the wife/husband terminology when they're not married."

If you're not married, then you're not - by definition - a husband or wife. Period. You may be a "significant other," "life partner," "lover," or many other things - but you're not a spouse.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 3:04 PM

"If you're not married, then you're not - by definition - a husband or wife."

This is too easy; you'll have to do better.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 3:07 PM

anon at 2:58, I was stating an opinion. You, however, are talking in the royal "we", so perhaps some opinions are more valuable, by supreme fiat, than others. You're sure you don't have an ax to grind?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 3:08 PM

I also work at the World Bank and there are people who fly coach and people who fly in business class...it all depends on the duration of the flight (there are actually mandates for this), project budgets, and units.

Posted by: MV | January 24, 2007 3:09 PM

To Anon at 2:02 - this is my first ever post and as much as I enjoy most of the topics on this blog, I can't believe I am posting a response about tuna casserole of all things. The dish you described is EXACTLY what my husband makes for himself when I'm out of town. I can't stand the smell and it's his favorite. I was really surprised to see it as someone else's spouse-out-of-town meal.

Posted by: sr | January 24, 2007 3:10 PM

Where's mcewen today? I read this, and thought of him/her (and was appalled!!) http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1580398,00.html

Posted by: SMF | January 24, 2007 3:11 PM

Emily, I'm with you -- I chose my firm specifically because it doesn't demand such a crazy lifestyle, and even lets me work an 80% schedule (i.e., normal person full time). I'm more than happy to fly Southwest and not have a globally-recognized name on my business card if it lets me have both a satisfying job and a life.

But still like to dream of that first-class lifestyle. :-)

Posted by: Laura | January 24, 2007 3:15 PM

I continue to be astounded by the things that pop up in this forum. I certainly pack (and unpack) my own bag and would have no clue what to pack in hers. Nor would I expect her to know what I need.

Occasionally, I ask her to pick up something I need ahead of a trip, if she is going to the store. If I forget, I can always get it at the destination.

She picks up the dry cleaning, or, rather, tells the kids to do it. The Korean lady knows all of my children well. They have schlepped the dry cleaning for years.

If it's not too early, she wishes me a good trip but usually I don't wake her. I don't even call when I arrive, just sometime during the day. Maybe we have been married a long time or maybe I travel a lot but these are not routines we find all that important. A good long hug upon return usually suffices all around.

On the other note, I fly first class whenever the trip is longer than 3 hours or when I spot young children on the plane. I have a close relationship with the person who approves the expenditures, so there is no problem. (He and I share the same suitcase, as it were.) I have yet to share a row with employees of the World Bank, by the way. I'm looking forward to the opportunity.

Posted by: Dave | January 24, 2007 3:21 PM

The last post by "John" was not mine; there is apparently an imposter on this board.

My wife would probably pack my suitcase if I asked her to, but I'd spend so much time answering her questions like "will you need xxx?" that it is easier for me to do it.

We shop together for my clothes; I get the urge to look for clothes maybe 1-2 times a year, so she looks at it as a reason to go out and do something together. Plus I want her opinion on how they look before I buy them.

Posted by: John | January 24, 2007 3:22 PM

Laura and Emily, Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't know that there are too many clients around any more who are willing to pay for first-class any more for their outside counsel. I think those days are gone, although the dinners and quality hotels are still a part of the life at a certain rate. On the other hand, as you note, all you get to see is the hotel room, the airport, and a conference room when you travel, so it's no way to live.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 3:24 PM

"'If you're not married, then you're not - by definition - a husband or wife.' This is too easy; you'll have to do better. "

What do you mean, "too easy" and "do better" - this is based on the clear English meanings of the words "husband," "wife" and "spouse."

From Websters:

Main Entry: 1spouse
Pronunciation: 'spaus also 'spauz
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French espus (masculine) & espuse (feminine), from Latin sponsus betrothed man, groom & sponsa betrothed woman, bride, both from sponsus, past participle of spondEre to promise, betroth; akin to Greek spendein to pour a libation, Hittite sipant-
: married person : HUSBAND, WIFE
- spou·sal /'spau-z&l, -s&l/ adjective


From Dictionary.Com:

noun, verb, spoused, spous·ing.
-noun 1. either member of a married pair in relation to the other; one's husband or wife.
-verb (used with object) 2. Obsolete. to join, give, or take in marriage.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Origin: 1150-1200; (n.) ME CHAPTER 1 > § 7 Prev | Next

§ 7. Definition of "marriage" and "spouse"


In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word "marriage" means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word "spouse" refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 3:24 PM

what if young children are in first class?
Warning: opening a potential can of worms!

Anyone have thoughts on the AirTran incident?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 3:25 PM

I'm with Air Tran. They kept 112 people waiting 15 mins. This wasn't an infant, this wasn't a special needs kid, this was a 3 year old who didn't want to sit down. The parents said "she really wasn't happy", I don't care if you are happy or not, sit down. They were kicked off because passengers over three must be belted, not because she was crying. I think all three of them need a spanking, except in California.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 24, 2007 3:29 PM

If he's old enough to travel without an 'unacommpanied minor' tag hanging around his neck, he's old enough to pack his own bags.

Good grief, this isn't 1952. Are these wives fetching their husbands slippers when they come home?

Posted by: Christine | January 24, 2007 3:31 PM

"Laura and Emily, Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't know that there are too many clients around any more who are willing to pay for first-class any more for their outside counsel."

I have no idea anymore. My guess is that at the law firm where I used to work, it probably still happens. Large corporations usually just want the lawyer that can get them out of whatever trouble they may be in, and are willing to pay for it through the nose if necessary.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 3:31 PM

SMF I did read the Time article and find that it is very sad that these men that have raised children for several years, acting as their fathers find out that one day there is not a DNA connection and decide to have nothing to do with them. It is not only about getting out of child support, but they also stop visiting with the child they bonded with and acted as father to. Poor, poor children. It must be so confusing to them. Pathetic

Posted by: single mom | January 24, 2007 3:33 PM

Amen, moxiemom. I have had to "forcefully" press my 3-year-old into his seat on a plane, buckle him in and keep him restrained at least twice on take-off. When reasoning, bribes (cookies), etc. don't work, you get down to business and don't expect 112 other people to wait until you get enough time to "reason with" your child.

Posted by: Ajax | January 24, 2007 3:33 PM

I totally agree with Air Tran on getting the family off the flight. I have read a few different places today about this and people have been overwhelming supporting Air Tran. It is not safe, nor legal to travel with a child not in a seat buckled up, after 15 minutes of the tantrum they decided it was enough and there were over 110 people on that plane that needed to get somewhere...

Does anyone let their child hit them? This is the part that amazed me, is they allowed their child to be so out of control for a tantrum. A three year old is small enough to physically put into a seat and locked in. They are crying anyhow so why not..

Posted by: single mom | January 24, 2007 3:36 PM

I often fly to a city that has a Federal Circuit court. The government lawyers fly coach; most of the lawyers representing private parties fly first-class.

It is a running joke in my office because at the first opportunity, the lawyers in first-class unbuckle and come visit the lawyers in coach and stay with us as long as possible.

Posted by: Diane | January 24, 2007 3:37 PM

Yes - yay for AirTran! Like they said, if a passenger is 3 or 30 and they are unruly and stopping the flight from leaving, they get booted.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 3:41 PM

amen single mom - who does let their kid hit them? That makes me crazy. I wonder if those kids will expect their spouses to pack for them? Probably.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 24, 2007 3:42 PM

I'm with AirTran and Moxiemom. Taking off with a child over age 2 not buckled in is a serious FAA violation, and AirTran would be subject to severe penalties had they done so. Had the flight not been delayed, they could have given the parents more time to calm the kid down, but there's no reason to delay a flight that much longer because someone's kid won't sit down. The same would have happened to a 50-year-old running amok in the plane.

I've never flown AirTran, but every other airline I've used gives parents of young children precedence when boarding, and they board at least 30 minutes before takeoff. Those parents had plenty of time to get the kid to sit down and buckle up. It's unfortunate that they had to fly the next day, but I can definitely understand AirTran's viewpoint. Kicking them off the flight was a necessary evil. Had they taken off anyway, they'd be shut down by the FAA before you could blink.

The parents say they will never fly AirTran again. That's unfortunate, but from a strictly business standpoint, it's better to anger a family of three (one with no spending capabilities) than an entire plane full of 112 (presumably) paying customers. I'm sure they'll take a financial loss from all this bad publicity, however, considering how many parents think their kids are precious angels to whom the world should cater.

Darn it, I made it through a whole post with minimal snark, and then I had to go and add that at the end.

Posted by: Mona | January 24, 2007 3:42 PM

Just for the record, my wife has never packed my suitcase. I don't even own one. The last time I flew was on my honeymoon and I borrowed my grandparents luggage.

I like to use trash bags to pack stuff in when I go on vacation, and when I get in a made bed the first thing I do is pull up the tucked in sheets. I'm 6 foot 3, and I usually sleep with my feet ganging over the edge of the bed.

Moxiemom, I'm putting you on the spot. Whose fault is it when a 3 year old can't behave. the child's or the parents?

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 24, 2007 3:44 PM

"SMF I did read the Time article and find that it is very sad that these men that have raised children for several years, acting as their fathers find out that one day there is not a DNA connection and decide to have nothing to do with them. It is not only about getting out of child support, but they also stop visiting with the child they bonded with and acted as father to. Poor, poor children. It must be so confusing to them. Pathetic"

This is bad all the way around. The husband feels justifiably betrayed. The child hasn't done anything wrong, but is caught in the crossfire.

Men should handle this more responsibly. The ultimate fault lies, however, with the wives who cheated on their husbands.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 3:46 PM

Are these wives fetching their husbands slippers when they come home?

um, no, Christine, as one of These Wives, the slippers delivery routine wouldn't make much sense at our house, and isn't that what matters? Besides he's home first, has cooked dinner, and would have retrieved his own slippers if the golden didn't do it for him, long before the time I get home. I pack for him because he sucks at it and it gets us out the door on time when we travel. He has a glass of wine poured for me when I walk in after work, not because it's on the Required Spouse Task list, but because it makes me happy. This arrangement provokes you to labels because . . . ?

One of These Happy Wives

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 3:47 PM

Father of 4 - I think its case by case but in generall its no one's fault when a 3 year old has a tantrum, it is the parent's fault for not simply forcing her into her seat. Hey, kids are kids and sometimes they freak out, sometimes mine freak out, but I would not expect 110 people to wait while I "reasoned" with my 3 year old.

Sometimes it is poor parenting, that said, the longer I am a parent, the more I realize that a lot of great behavior is just temperment and good luck and a lot of bad behavior is the same.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 24, 2007 3:51 PM

for what it's worth, I'd suggest that if the arrangement allows "NC Lawyer" to describe herself as "One of These Happy Wives" (and her husband can describe himself as "One of These Happy Husbands"), then whatever they're doing is working.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 3:52 PM

NCLawyer, yeah, my clients just don't want to pay for perks like first class -- heck, we have clients who don't want to pay 10c/page for copying (and some of them are big, successful companies). I also have a tendency to eat at Taco Cabana when I travel (infamous for my $2.38 meal receipts). But that's just me -- the clients would likely spring for TGIFriday's. :-)

In my (limited) experience, the lawyers who go first class are the white collar criminal defense lawyers. #1, they travel all the time (I worked with a guy who basically was only home on weekends for at least 45-48 weeks/yr), so that's just a nonnegotiable part of the deal for them. But it also seems like those same big companies who sqeal when our rates go up $10/hr don't tend to go over the bills quite so closely when their a$$ is on the line.

Posted by: Laura | January 24, 2007 3:52 PM

I read the Times article and couldn't help but feel really bad for the fathers. I don't blame them for not wanting to pay child support for these children, since it would limit the income that they would have if they do have children of their own. I do, however, think that they shouldn't cut off their relationship with these children....that is if the ex-wife allows them to see them. I got the impression that it was the women who decided to cut them off once the test results were in (but they still wanted the money!).

Posted by: MV | January 24, 2007 3:53 PM

I read the Time article too and find it very sad all around. It is unfair for a man to be deceived into supporting a child that is not his own biologically. I don't think women should take this too lightly. We always know our children are our own, and if we want to support a child that is not our own biologically, we do this willingly and knowingly. It is a choice.

I do feel bad for the kids though. To believe that a man is your father and then be told that nope, he's not, and he wants nothing to do with you after years of parenting you must be devastating. But frankly, I don't see the point of forcing such a man to be responsible for a child not his own and that he does not want. You cannot force a man to be a father, and it does not seem right to force a man to be responsible for a child that is not his. It does not follow that this man will love and have a relationship with the child. If the child is in need of economic support, why not pursue the biolgical father?

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 4:01 PM

I am an attorney in Minnesota. I handled Minnesota's leading case in which the DNA showed that "Dad" was not the biological donor. Dad was allowed to undo his paternity adjudication. And he should have been. Mom perjured herself and said that she had not had sex with anyone but him for over a year. Based on that, he agreed to be named as the father. Why the lie? He was employed and made a good living. The other guy? An ex-con with no prospects. Dad's fault..I do not think so. Why no contact? Once the Court said he was not dad he had no rights to see the kids.

Posted by: John | January 24, 2007 4:03 PM

I will pack my husband's suitcase if we are going on a pleasure trip together, but not for work. He's fine taking care of his work clothes, but for a casual trip, I simply don't trust him to keep track of whether or not we'll be doing nicer dinners, or particular events that need certain outfits. If I want to stand next to my husband for the whole vacation in the same baggy jeans and t's he'd prefer to wear, then so be it. But I'd prefer to have some input.

Posted by: Alison | January 24, 2007 4:04 PM

FWIW, my friend's dad was in the Korean war. When he came back, his wife had a couple extra kids (not his). He raised them knowing full well what had happened and stayed happily married to his wife. They are still married today. That's a commitment, and the children and wife are still grateful to this day.

Posted by: Meesh | January 24, 2007 4:06 PM

Sorry did not mean to be an "imposter" about the suitcase or the Minnesota DNA case. And yes, I fly first class and get a driver when I am in NYC or LA. The clients know I am worth it.

Posted by: John W | January 24, 2007 4:07 PM

"Spearheading the legislative movement is Carnell Smith, a Georgia engineer who found out shortly after he broke up with his girlfriend that she was pregnant and spent the next 11 years believing he was the girl's father. Then, in 2000, after his visitation time had been cut back around the same time that a court order nearly doubled his monthly child-support payments, he took a test that showed he was not the biological parent. Three years and about $100,000 in child support and legal fees later, Smith, 46, managed to disentangle himself from any responsibilities for the girl, and says he walked out of court "a broke but free man." He successfully lobbied his home state to pass its paternity-fraud law in 2002 and now runs a DNA-testing company. Its slogan: "If the genes don't fit, you must acquit!""

this part of the article saddened me - after 9 years of acting like the childs father and loving her as such, he finds out that the genes do not match and then dumps her... what happened to all of those years of so called paternal love???

I am all for every child paying child support, wheither they intended to father a child (biologicially) or not. My situation is that we had a kid, he did not want me to keep her, I had to fight for legal support, and he is not involved with her (only spending 3 hours in 3 years - and I have extended many invitations for visits).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 4:08 PM

I have packed my partners suitcase on occasion, but it's not an expected thing and he always has to double check because there may be specific things that I wouldn't know to pack.

Mostly it's efficiency- I'm a much quicker and organized packer than he is.

But then I do lots of things for my partner that have made women look at me like I'm crazy- but I just like serving him and making his life easier and it works for us.

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 4:11 PM

FWIW, my friend's dad was in the Korean war. When he came back, his wife had a couple extra kids (not his). He raised them knowing full well what had happened and stayed happily married to his wife. They are still married today. That's a commitment, and the children and wife are still grateful to this day.

how long was he gone?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 4:13 PM

why can't my husband pack his? Are his trips somehow more important than mine? What kind of message does this send to my kids about the status of men and women?

to 8:18 am-
It shows them that you will do whatever the heck you feel is best for your life and your partner and screw what anyone else says women and men SHOULD do.

I serve my partner because *I* choose to do so and what's best for us- not because anyone told me I SHOULD.

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 4:14 PM

Anon at 4:08, you missed the part where his visitation was cut back.

Posted by: MV | January 24, 2007 4:17 PM

"this part of the article saddened me - after 9 years of acting like the childs father and loving her as such, he finds out that the genes do not match and then dumps her... what happened to all of those years of so called paternal love???"

It should sadden us all. No one wins. Sometimes the consequences of a lie can be devastating. Should this man have been stronger, and more concerned for the girl? Absolutely. Would I have done any better? I hope so - but I really don't know. I know I would be very, very hurt and confused.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 4:17 PM

Moxiemom, great answer.

We still have the buckle up problem with our 4 year old. He is perfectly capable of unbuckling his own car seat.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 24, 2007 4:20 PM

Liz D, why do you choose to use the word "serve"?

Posted by: just wondering | January 24, 2007 4:26 PM

I don't have time to read all these response today. I am home with a sick kid. But I have NEVER had to pack DH's suitcase or lunch. But I do have to take care of all the packing for DD each day and whenever DH needs to take her anywhere. Even after fathering for 3 years, he sometimes forget to bring diapers with him. Great guy, lousy packer.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 24, 2007 4:28 PM

Just wondering:
Because that's what I consider it to be. I love serving and being of service to him. I have often taken off his shoes and socks when he comes home, undressed him and hung up his clothes, massaged his feet, had a drink waiting, the TV cued, and the paper on the couch ready- all merely for his pleasure.

I consider part of my relationship with him to serve him.

He is my Captain- pity me if you want, but I adore slipping into flannel sheets with him, seeing his smile and knowing we are happy together.

And trust me, I'm a college educated chicky who does very well for herself and would NEVER be mistaken for a pushover. I have this life because I CHOSE it for myself. That's the definition of feminism. I choose to be his servant.

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 4:33 PM

foamgnome...
I hope your DD gets better soon. We missed you the last few days!

off topic alert:
Anyone else doing ACC basketball night with tostitos/cheese/beer tonight? come on...

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 4:36 PM

"I choose to be his servant."

I'm sorry. I am all for doing things to make my husband happy. But your choosing to be his servant just makes me cringe. Eeewww!!


Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 4:37 PM

I really can't think of anything to say other than uh...okay?

Posted by: just wondering | January 24, 2007 4:38 PM

dotted - it is not march yet? there is college basketball.

I must confess that I am the accidental anon of 4:08. I pushed submit before typing in my name.

Also, as for serve. I think it is a strong word, but religous people use is when stating that they 'serve god', 'serve jesus'... I just think that it has a lot of baggage for 5 letters

Posted by: single mom | January 24, 2007 4:39 PM

Liz D is the serving reciprocal?

Posted by: MV | January 24, 2007 4:39 PM

Emily,
I guess if her captain chooses also to serve her (maybe she's the admiral), it wouldn't be offensive to me. Otherwise, it is all one way...double eeeeewwwww.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 4:39 PM

Really some of you surprise me. Who the hell cares who packs who's bag? My girlfriend packs most of my stuff when we go visit her family because she does not want me to pack things such as my faded redskins sweatshirt or the sock that soft but feels good.

At the same time I usually forget half the stuff I need since I'm thinking about a million other things. I consider it a very nice thing that she does for me as she's looking out for me. Does she have to do it? No. Do I appreciate it? Yes. Could I do it on my own? Yea, but I'll probably forget to take brown socks to wear with that brown belt and those brown shoes (however that stuff needs to be matched up).

I guess I'm trying to say that I don't see why anyone talks about 50/50 or 60/40. Why are you even counting percentages? You do what you can as much as you can for the person you love. If packing a bag is part of it then so be it. If it's something else then that's great. I'll ask her to grab something for me from the store because I know she'll go by it on the way home and she will ask of me the same.

Have an open mind people.

Posted by: BS | January 24, 2007 4:40 PM

single mom:
Of course march madness reigns supreme, but meanwhile there is that nugget of fun called wednesday night acc basketball. Nc lawyer knows it well.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 4:43 PM

She used to travel on business for weeks at a time? She could probably pack her husband's suitcase for a 4-day trip in about 30 seconds. To me it sounds like nothing more (and nothing less!) than a wonderful spouse applying her skills to a particular situation for which she is better equipped than her husband.

Posted by: DividerofLabor | January 24, 2007 4:44 PM

"I guess if her captain chooses also to serve her (maybe she's the admiral), it wouldn't be offensive to me. Otherwise, it is all one way...double "

So ask! I'm familiar with this approach to marriage - which has a lot to commend it - and I predict that the answer will be "yes, our relationship is one of mutual service - he would be willing to die for me."

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 4:48 PM

My husband is on the road approximately 15 days a month. I can't imagine trying to get involved in packing his suitcase because that would mean having to wrap my brain around his "ultimate packing system". If traveling is part of his job, so is the preparation for travel. I would never help prepare a presentation, so why would I help him pack?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 4:50 PM

"Also, as for serve. I think it is a strong word, but religous people use is when stating that they 'serve god', 'serve jesus'... I just think that it has a lot of baggage for 5 letters"

Why so touchy over a 5 letter word? We are comfortable with serving customers - why not our spouses?

They might even leave a tip (or at least not be as surly as the average D.C. customer)

;-)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 4:50 PM

"...he would be willing to die for me"

Yes, but will he do the dishes or help with the laundry? I don't want or need my husband to die for me. I would rather that he lived for me (which means helping out around the house and being a true partner, among other things).

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 4:52 PM

I alternate between packing my husband's suitcase because I get sick and tired of him showing up with nothing he needs (and an enormous bag full of nothing useful), and making him pack himself in the stupid, blind hope that he will stop being such a toddler. I routinely pack myself and three small children, and he takes longer to just pack for himself (completely inadequately) and has more luggage than the four of us combined.

I can understand packing for your husband if he is, like mine, completely retarded about such things. I get sick of him buying bathing suits, flip flops, toothbrushes and shaving cream at every location. I can see doing it if your husband is sartorially challenged. To my mind, the mysteries of ANYONE else's marriage are to be left inviolate: it never makes sense to anybody else, so why wonder?

Posted by: anonymous | January 24, 2007 4:55 PM

Come on folks -- let's get the count up to 500 on this incredibly stupid topic! Let's show Leslie what we're really all about. Yahoo!!!

I wonder if Nancy Pelosi ever packer her husband's suitcase? I just gotta know!

Posted by: Going on 500 | January 24, 2007 5:01 PM

"Yes, but will he do the dishes or help with the laundry? I don't want or need my husband to die for me. I would rather that he lived for me (which means helping out around the house and being a true partner, among other things). "

Missing the point. Yes, of course. The idea is that two people who love each other bring their own talents and abilities together to create a family that works. Who needs someone to die for them? Very few of us, except in instances of serious emergency. Do we crave that level of commitment (rather than someone who's just willing to wash the car if the price is right)? Heck, yeah.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 5:02 PM

Single mom,

Even fair-weather ACC basketball fans watch as many minutes of as many games as possible after January 1. I won't speak for dotted, but the truly addicted, like me, follow recruiting and even the non-conference games in November and December. It's a year-round safe topic of conversation that crosses all economic and gender barriers.

Also, I work in an office of a firm where you need to know what happened on Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon in order to gauge whose office to avoid, and whom to ask for a raise on Thursday and Monday, respectively. You need to hammer out the last details of an agreement at the end of a tough negotiation with a UNC grad representing the other side? Call 'em first thing in the morning after a victory over Duke to propose a solution and you've got a happy client.

Plus, how will you fill out those pools properly when March Madness rolls around if you haven't watched the teams on enough nights to have an opinion?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 5:04 PM

anon at 5:02
I think you missed Emily's point. Two-way service *is* living for each other. Nothing has been said yet that Liz D's service is anything other than one way. She serves her man. She has not yet insinuated/stated her man serves her.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 5:05 PM

Nany was a SAHM with her first 5 kids - I bet she rant that house like a war ship... I would not have wanted to cross her (I say this with the upmost respect).

If I had that many kids or that much money I would have either delegated it to a kid, or had one of my servants do it. It is in extension doing it yourself because you are managing the process :)

Posted by: single mom | January 24, 2007 5:07 PM

One of my sons works the home UNC baseketball games. It is a thrill of his lifetime.

Another one of my sons 'ran into' MJ in 2005 outside of the dean dome. Literally...he was running around a corner and blammo...right through MJ's bodyguards and into MJ.

2$ beer night at the bars too....for those who imbide cheap beer of course.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 5:08 PM

MV:
Reciprocal in that there is any expectation on my part for him to do the same for me, no.
Reciprocal in that together we work to form a strong mutually fulfilling relationship, yes.

We are both fulfilled, we are simply fulfilled in different ways which work well together.

General service issue:
People serve terms of office, they serve their community, and other things.

I understand service isn't a common word used in most intimate relationships and it does have a lot of weight to it- and I feel my service is a great and deep part of who I am.

I'm ok with people being puzzled or even squicked by my life choice, as long as you don't try to say I'm wrong for making my own choices for myself.

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 5:09 PM

"She serves her man. She has not yet insinuated/stated her man serves her."

Why are you assuming she has not? The language she's using is pretty common in protestant Christian circles, and is used to describe a relationship of mutual service.

Do you have a knee jerk reaction that makes you assume that whenever a woman says she "serves" her husband, that there's no reciprocation on his point?

Or do you have some other objection to the model of marriage her language suggests?

Your immediate assumption that she's being taken advantage of, or that she's too wimpy to stand up for herself, is condescending and offensive.

Would you react the same way if a husband bragged about all the things he does for his working wife, willingly, simply because he liked to? I certainly haven't seen it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 5:11 PM

Growing up in New England I missed the basketball and football crazes around conferences etc... something that I regret. I even attended a non-sports school. I think my advice to my child would be to, go to the best sports orientated school (preferably cheap state) that you can get into; rather than go to the best school possible... anyone else out there find out after you get out of college that where you go to school really matters???

Posted by: single mom | January 24, 2007 5:11 PM

So what does he do that makes it "Reciprocal in that together we work to form a strong mutually fulfilling relationship"?

Posted by: just wondering | January 24, 2007 5:13 PM

"Do we crave that level of commitment (rather than someone who's just willing to wash the car if the price is right)? "

I am not missing the point. What my husband and I do for each other is a reflection of that level of commitment. Day in and day out, we work together, help each other, do for each other..." Doing the dishes and washing the car are not isolated, meaningless acts. Through working together, we show each other that we want to enhance the other's person's life. Dying for someone is all well and good, and makes for snappy rhetoric. But it means nothing if you can't back it up by doing all the little things that make life easier on the other person.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 5:14 PM

Liz D, I'm curious: is this a D/s thing?

I'm not cut out that way but I can see why someone would be.

Posted by: Historian | January 24, 2007 5:15 PM

Liz D--
I have nothing against your way of running your marriage. I would never do it, but have seen happy marriages that worked that way. The only problem I see with that is if/when you have kids, you are setting up a very skewed model for them. The happy marriages I know of have produced incredibly bratty male children and incredibly resentful female ones. It is really hard to tell your kids it is your choice to be a subordinate in the home--what they see is the ranks, not the free will.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 5:16 PM

My wife forgets to turn the oven off, so I do it. Bugs the hell outta me!

Posted by: Tomcat | January 24, 2007 5:17 PM

My partner is Jewish, and I am not religiously affiliated at all, so my perspectives have nothing to do with tending towards ANY social pressures.

I don't do this because "women should" or "good wives should" or because I'm afraid to be myself, or because I am scared to be alone, or because my partner is helpless.

I do it because it fulfills ME to do so.

In fact, how hard is it to CHOOSE to be this way in a world which constantly tells me that I'm a doormat or being taken advantage of? Most of the world tells me that a woman SHOULD NOT do certain things that I do in my relationship.

Sorry- I'm not going to listen to what the world tells me I should do in my own relationships.

And I didn't mean to come across as bragging if I did, I just wanted to make a clear point and example of my service. My choice is no better or worse than anyone's here- we all need to choose what is right and best for who we are.

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 5:17 PM

to anon at 5:11

You are reading way too much into this. Your cultural baggage is showing, not mine. I said 'double eeewww' if it wasn't mutual. Up to that point, Liz D had only written about what she did for him, not the loving things he did for her.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 5:18 PM

Liz D in other words, you take your shoes off and pour your own drink? Not trying to be snarky...if you are both fulfilled and happy then more power to you!

Posted by: MV | January 24, 2007 5:18 PM

My partner is Jewish, and I am not religiously affiliated at all, so my perspectives have nothing to do with tending towards ANY social pressures.

I don't do this because "women should" or "good wives should" or because I'm afraid to be myself, or because I am scared to be alone, or because my partner is helpless.

I do it because it fulfills ME to do so.

In fact, how hard is it to CHOOSE to be this way in a world which constantly tells me that I'm a doormat or being taken advantage of? Most of the world tells me that a woman SHOULD NOT do certain things that I do in my relationship.

Sorry- I'm not going to listen to what the world tells me I should do in my own relationships.

And I didn't mean to come across as bragging if I did, I just wanted to make a clear point and example of my service. My choice is no better or worse than anyone's here- we all need to choose what is right and best for who we are.

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 5:18 PM

"anyone else out there find after you get out of college that where you go to school really matters?"

ABSOLUTELY. Sports are fun to talk about, but come on. Does watching your schools team prepare you (intellectually or technically) for anything other than water cooler chat? If you don't think that choice of school matters, then why go at all and incur the expense, time, etc; or worry about sending your child/ren?

Why an education? To expand your mind!

Posted by: to single mom | January 24, 2007 5:19 PM

What is a D/s thing?

Posted by: just wondering | January 24, 2007 5:19 PM

"I'm not cut out that way but I can see why someone would be."

Historian, you've got a really, really warped conception of the word "serve."

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 5:20 PM

Don't read too much into this, Leslie. Some people have a real knack for suitcase packing (my mother is one) while others (like me) do not.
Could be that your friend is such an experienced traveler that she is an exceptionally good suitcase-packer.
This packing skill becomes particularly important on camping trips or various outdoors expeditions, and sometimes there is one person who knows exactly how to pack all the items in the most efficient manner possible. Has nothing to do with gender roles.

Posted by: take a breath | January 24, 2007 5:20 PM

Liz D in other words, you take your shoes off and pour your own drink? Not trying to be snarky...if you are both fulfilled and happy then more power to you! I was just trying to understand your dynamic.

Posted by: MV | January 24, 2007 5:20 PM

to anon at 5:11

You are reading way too much into this. Your cultural baggage is showing, not mine. I said 'double eeewww' if it wasn't mutual. Up to that point, Liz D had only written about what she did for him, not the loving things he did for her.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 5:20 PM

Liz D - I have to ask. Not being snarky, just curious. How does your husband provide service to you? Or do you even consider his role as husband as being a service to you? In other words, if you both do things for each other, then I am not squeamed out by the relationship. But if your fulfillment just comes from knowing that you make him happy, then I am a little put off by that. And of course you have the right to live your life however you want.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 5:21 PM

Just wondering:
Well he's the one who put the flannel sheets on the bed! :)
Fulfilling relationships aren't really about who does what, or who gets the last word- it's that everyone is working well together on the level they need for themselves.

Historian:
Yes, but I wasn't going to throw out jargon.

5:6
A valid issue. However, how I relate to my intimate partner has NOTHING to do with how I relate to raising and holding the authority over my children. My children will be shown and taught that we have made our choices for ourselves and that they need to learn what is right and best for THEM. I serve my partner because I chose it and I do NOT serve my children.

I was taught that women should NEVER serve men- how damaging was that to me when I grew up and wanted very much to serve?

We need to teach our children to listen and be true to themselves, to be upstanding and respectful, and to never settle for less than what makes them fulfilled- even if it goes against what society says is ok.

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 5:24 PM

"I am not missing the point. What my husband and I do for each other is a reflection of that level of commitment. Day in and day out, we work together, help each other, do for each other..." Doing the dishes and washing the car are not isolated, meaningless acts. Through working together, we show each other that we want to enhance the other's person's life. Dying for someone is all well and good, and makes for snappy rhetoric. But it means nothing if you can't back it up by doing all the little things that make life easier on the other person. "

No, I think you are missing the point. When the word "serve" is used, it's a way of highlighting the commitment to do all the little things you're talking about to enhance the other person's life. It also says "I'm focusing on what I can contribute, rather than what I get" - kind of an "ask not what your . . . " declaration for a marriage.

We'd be better off if we all operated from that premise. More marriages fail from selfishness than from an excess of effort.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 5:24 PM

With the exception of our honeymoon, I have always packed my husband's suitcase. When it comes to traveling, I'm the planner and he's always in a last minute rush to get home, so it makes sense to pack for the both of us. Not to mention, I get to ensure that he doesn't wear something that makes him look ridiculous.

It's something I enjoy doing. Although, I don't think I'd like the favor done in return.

Posted by: Vanessa | January 24, 2007 5:25 PM

I pack my husband's suitcase. I work 8 hours a day, he works 14. He's often exhausted when he comes home, and moreso when he knows he has to leave for a 3 day trip. But that's not why I pack his suitcase. I do it because it makes him happy. Because I pack everything neatly and leave silly notes for him to brighten his day when he's far away from me. I'll pick out a book I think he'll like and put it in there as a surprise. Or I'll find some little snack we both like to eat and pack that so he has a taste of home while he's away. I do this about 2-3 times a month and have been since we got married.

I also do it because I remember all the things he does for me. Cooking for me when I'm tired, even though he is too. Giving me an hour long back rub at 2. a.m. even though he has to wake up in 4 hours. Taking a significant amount of time out of his day to give me advice about my work. He does all this cheerfully, happily, becaue he knows it makes me happy. For us, these are normal things, every day things. It's not about doing 'wifely' duties, really. It's just about giving something to the other person, even if it's something small, that will make his/her day.

Posted by: Maya | January 24, 2007 5:26 PM

MV:
Yes.

To allay everyone's issues- my partner is a romantic type and will do things to make me happy as well. It's simply not an expectation I have of him. It is, however, an expectation upon me.

Just wondering:
D/s is a jargon term that stands for "dominant/submissive" a type of intimate mutually fulfilling relationship in which authority over daily life is consensually transferred from the submissive to the dominant.

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 5:29 PM

I can see how use of the word "serve" is confusing. Some people see in the context of service to a community or contribution to a marriage. I was looking at in the context of master/servant, where Liz D's husband is the master and she is the servant. I am clearly uncomforable with a master/servant relationship within the context of a marriage. But I am all for the idea of service within a marriage, as long as it's a mutual thing.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 5:29 PM

"You are reading way too much into this. Your cultural baggage is showing, not mine. I said 'double eeewww' if it wasn't mutual. Up to that point, Liz D had only written about what she did for him, not the loving things he did for her. "

And you assumed that it wasn't.

Why?

I assumed that it was. Because she says she's happy and satisfied with her marriage. Because I enter these things assuming both people are reasonable, responsible adults. Because I don't automatically assume that a woman who expresses a traditional point of view is naive or being taken advantage of.

Again - why did you assume that it wasn't reciprocal? Do you really expect that whenever a woman says "I love doing things for my husband" that she should add the "and he loves doing similar or equally valuable things back for me?" Would you expect a man who says "I love helping doing X, Y or Z for my wife" should add a "and she does A, B and C for me in return"?

"But if your fulfillment just comes from knowing that you make him happy, then I am a little put off by that."

When did doing something for someone else, just for the sake of making them happy, become bad? Does everything we do have to have some sort of payback in view?

That's sad. I can't live like that.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 5:30 PM

What is a D/s thing??

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 5:31 PM

Emily- relationships must be mutually fulfilling or they will not survive in the long term.

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 5:32 PM

Wikipedia:

Domination and submission (also known as D&s, Ds or D/s) is a set of behaviors, customs and rituals relating to the giving and accepting of dominance of one individual over another in an erotic or lifestyle context.

D/s is often referred to as the "mental" side of BDSM. Physical contact is not a necessity, and can even be conducted anonymously over telephone, email or (more recently) instant messaging services. In other cases it can be intensely physical, sometimes traversing into sadomasochism. In D/s, one takes pleasure or erotic enjoyment out of either dominating or being dominated. Those who take the superior position are called Dominants, Doms (male) or Dommes (female), while those who take the subordinate position are called subs or submissives (male or female). A switch is an individual who plays in either role. Two switches together may negotiate and exchange roles several times in a session. Submissives generally outnumber Dominants, with male subs outnumbering Dommes by the widest margin, often three to one or more. "Dominatrix" is a term usually reserved for a female professional dominant who dominates others for pay.

Posted by: Ah. | January 24, 2007 5:32 PM

My husband packs his own suitcase, and I wouldn't consider our housekeeping balanced between us.

I know this was inspiration for a post but hey - if you are really worried, ask your husband if he cares. :)

Posted by: Shandra | January 24, 2007 5:33 PM

NC lawyer: Earlier you said "Wow - so much baggage attached to packing suitcases." Were you trying to be funny or does it come naturally? Hilarious.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 24, 2007 5:35 PM

Emily- relationships must be mutually fulfilling or they will not survive in the long term.

I agree. To each his own. You are totally entitled to your submissive fetish. But I would never have gotten into this had a realized it was about the D/S thing. I just can't even get my mind around that.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 5:38 PM

This reminds me of the complaints about the '50's era Home Economics textbook that advised high school girls (believe me, there were NO boys in home ec back then) that when they married (shortly after HS) they should be prepared to greet their husbands at the door looking pretty, cool drink in hand, without complaints about the wife's day & solicitous of the husband's.

Now there's undoubtedly a lot of sexist baggage there (and I think it would be downright weird if my husband tied a ribbon in his hair!) But the underlying premise that (gender-neutral) SPOUSES should be glad to see each other, perhaps have something available to help the other transition from his/her day, not being in the habit of immediate unburdening (truly horrible days & emergencies excluded) is just great!

As for my techie-genius-fashion-flop husband: no, I don't pack his suitcase, although I am available for consultations ("does this tie match this shirt?") I shop for him but that's because I enjoy shopping (for anyone) as much as he detests it. It was very funny, however, when on a rare mutual trip to the mall he had no idea that men's stores had fitting rooms, because he was so used to trying on clothes in the privacy of his own home and having his personal shopper return anything that didn't suit him!

And since he is SO happy in Best Buy, Circuit City, Radio Shack, he can do all that shopping for me.

Posted by: Lawyermom | January 24, 2007 5:39 PM

Oh god, my relationship is now being confined to a wikipedia entry!

My relationship to my partner is based on love and mutual fulfillment. Every intimate personal long term healthy relationship has this, IMO.

I simply go about it in a different way from some, I follow his authority, and I gain fulfillment partly through serving him.

I do this not because people told me it's how women should be growing up. I do this not because people told me it's NOT how women should be growing up (and trust me, I got a lot of people telling me what I do is wrong and anti-feminist), I do not do this because I'm a scared little bunny who can't take care of herself, I do not do this because my partner is a selfish meanie too helpless to be a man.

I do it for one main selfish reason- it fulfills me to do so.

Oh and it's nothing about a fetish- trust me, our sex is quite vanilla and standard for the most part, and very happy.

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 5:47 PM

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the contributions today. My other and I have been going through a rough patch and after reading the posts today, I think this is an area where we are definitely lacking. So thank you for all of the insight and great ideas... I guess it is like one of those "Why didn't I think of that" moments...

Posted by: s | January 24, 2007 5:54 PM

Liz D--
you do what makes you happy. But again, I do think it is important that if you have kids you explain to them that this is an adult choice that you and your husband have made, that you are both happy with it, and that it is not some natural consequence of being born a woman. It is not "wrong"--but it certainly is not the only "right" way for things to be, either.

Posted by: 5:06 | January 24, 2007 5:58 PM

I am sorry, your partner. I am not sure why I thought you were married.

Posted by: 5:06 | January 24, 2007 6:05 PM

To 5:06
Couldn't agree more!

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 6:06 PM

To 5:06
Couldn't agree more!

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 6:06 PM

To 5:06
Couldn't agree more!

Posted by: Liz D | January 24, 2007 6:06 PM

I made no assumptions...I qualified my response at the beginning, just to be sure. You may not be reading what I wrote. payback? Wow...you really read into things. sad.

b-ball time.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 6:10 PM

I don't see Liz D having any problem giving her kids the message that this is her own choice only. As I've said earlier here, it's not only about what she and her husband do; it's about what they make the kids do. My parents had a very traditional division of labor, but my being a girl never got me out of splitting wood, mowing the lawn, rotating the tires, or shoveling snow. If I had been a boy, I wouldn't have gotten out of cleaning the bathrooms or dusting or setting the table. What you grow up doing yourself can make more of an impression than what you watch other people doing.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 24, 2007 6:10 PM

Maybe. But can't you not see a little boy saying "why do I have to help clear the table when Dad gets to sit around watching the ball game all the time?"
I am not saying this is necessarily a logical question, just that the answer to it is not that easy.

Posted by: 5:06 | January 24, 2007 6:14 PM

I would gladly pack my wife but not her suitcase - and I can pack my own satchel, thank you.

Posted by: Benjamin Fry, LAS VEGAS | January 24, 2007 6:23 PM

That's were Dad has to take some responsibily for the way he parents. Explaining that it makes mom feel good to have dad watch the ball game is not enough. Dad has to understand that he sets an example for the child. I don't necessary agree with you, Lizzie, about your point that it's all about what the parents make the kids do. I think the way we model for our kids has a huge impact on how they behave, so the "Don't do as I do, do as I say" philosophy just don't hold water for me. What parents do in the bedroom is their own business. But how they behave in front of their children and the family dynamic this creates is not a private thing between two people. It involves the whole family, and the needs of the whole family must be closely considered in that regard.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2007 6:25 PM

That was "can't you see," not "can't you not see," obviously.

Posted by: 5:06 | January 24, 2007 6:26 PM

Had to laugh at the first post about Leslie struggling for material. 472 posts later, I bet she's laughing all the way to the bank.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 6:37 PM

Father of 4 - I may be too late but re: the seatbelts, I had a friend who did something I consider to be genius. Her 4 or 4 year old would unbuckle all the time, finally she had had it and drove him to the police station, took him in, told the front desk that she had a child who wouldn't wear a seat belt. They sent out an officer who gave him a good talking to and it hasn't been a problem since. This was in Fairfax county. I would never have thought of that and I think it was awesome that the police were so supportive. Anyway just an idea.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 24, 2007 7:02 PM

KLB: Yes. :>)

Sometimes it's fun just to see if one of my webfriends catches something. and I owe you. You've made me laugh several times in the last few days.

Besides it's fun to be a feminist that manages to annoy people on both sides of the Grand Canyon of political and social thought. at least those who don't appreciate a fine freezer and a fine pilsner.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 7:49 PM

nc lawyer:
I missed the pun until klb pointed it out...boo hooooooo.

Posted by: dotted | January 24, 2007 8:36 PM

Some people are so sexist here, it's disgusting.

Who gives a flying flip what anyone else does? Being interested in something like this is one thing, but to judge it is something altogether different.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 9:16 PM

dotted - congratulations on an utterly dominating performance. don't feel bad that silly puns sometimes elude deep thinkers who bleed carolina blue. it's an engineering thing, no doubt.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 24, 2007 10:09 PM

I'm amazed at how many people are so put out by the fact that this particular wife makes a particular gesture to her husband.

I've come to believe that those of us who are made angry by those that put in that little extra effort-such as sending flowers, calling for no reason, offering to pack a suitcase-reveal more about our own insecurity than our views on gender roles. Instead of looking for that little extra bit of energy and time to do something nice for our spouses, we look for a reason that we should not have to do so. It certainly is easier to hate Martha Stewart than to spend perhaps an extra hour a week making our homes a nicer place for our families to be, and excuses are always easy enough to find.

I humbly submit that those of you who constantly monitor your mates to be certain that they are contributing exactly 50% to your marriages and families would be much happier if you and your mates would each contribute 100% of yourselves.

Posted by: Dr. Love | January 25, 2007 10:35 AM

I'm amazed at how many people are so put out by the fact that this particular wife makes a particular gesture to her husband.

I've come to believe that those of us who are made angry by those that put in that little extra effort-such as sending flowers, calling for no reason, offering to pack a suitcase-reveal more about our own insecurity than our views on gender roles. Instead of looking for that little extra bit of energy and time to do something nice for our spouses, we look for a reason that we should not have to do so. It certainly is easier to hate Martha Stewart than to spend perhaps an extra hour a week making our homes a nicer place for our families to be, and excuses are always easy enough to find.

I humbly submit that those of you who constantly monitor your mates to be certain that they are contributing exactly 50% to your marriages and families would be much happier if you and your mates would each contribute 100% of yourselves.

Posted by: Dr. Love | January 25, 2007 10:37 AM

I have never been so glad that my husband has half a brain to remember what to pack and can match his clothes with his shoes and belt. I would hate to have to pack for him because I would be afraid to be seen with him otherwise.

Liz D., I'm almost speechless. All I can say is that I'm glad we're all so different.

And GO TERPS!!!

Posted by: Meesh | January 25, 2007 11:44 AM

I'm trying to figure out what is wrong about one spouse taking care of another. That's the whole point about being married; caring for someone you love dearly. Marriage isn't about the benefits of filing a joint tax return.

Each couple will find their own balance, and decide what works best for them. Nothing more need be read into it.

Packing a husband's suitcase is not demeaning. Perhaps he appreciates it. Perhaps this is one way his wife shows she cares about him. It's not some sort of power play; at least in healthy relationships.

For those who think that being kind, caring and loving makes you an unequal partner in a marriage, I recommend you remain single.

Posted by: jrsnotary | January 25, 2007 11:55 AM

Yes, I do pack my husband's suitcase. No, I do not let him pack mine. That comes from a trip where he packed me 1 pair of underwear and 4 pairs of slacks! Why do I pack his? Because he will pack all of his oldest, crudiest clothes. If I want to ensure that he looks good with me; I make sure that he has nice clothes.

If we're not traveling together though; he's on his own.

Posted by: rkb | January 25, 2007 1:25 PM

Perhaps SHE'S the control freak, insisting upon packing his suitcase.

Often the way people tell about their activities is not the entire story.

Posted by: TryingtobeTypeB | January 25, 2007 1:49 PM

Unloving spouse here. Have never packed for him, and have steadfastly refused to pick up his drycleaning for years. Will grudgingly sew a button back on in an emergency, and have consulted extensively on what combination of cleaning products are necessary for removing nasty stains. But I did spend days drafting and editing the memorandum he was required to prepare for consideration for partnership, since we both agree that he can't write to save his life. Have spent hours on the phone finding criminal lawyers for his civil clients' erstwhile children. And have attended enough boring partnership dinners to last a lifetime. That's how I've meted out the loving gestures.

Posted by: lifermom | January 25, 2007 2:31 PM

I've packed my boyfriend's suitcase (more frequently, our suitcase, since we were travelling together). I like doing it and he had less time than I did--he'll frequently be working frantically on a work deadline just before we leave for vacation (or he leaves for a conference), and really, should I just sit there reading a book when he's got way too much to accomplish before we need to leave? It's a partnership. We drive each other to the airport, too.

I do all the laundry, because I'm finicky about my delicates, and fold it and put it away. He cleans the bathroom and does most of the cooking. Whichever of us gets up second makes the bed--usually him on weekends. We split dishes and unloading the dishwasher and do the trash on trash night together.

Posted by: Erin | January 25, 2007 3:02 PM

Oh, and I meant to add that I offered; he didn't ask me to and would be perfectly happy to pack his own suitcase (and does sometimes)--but is very grateful for one less thing to do when I have the time to help.

Also that if we didn't combine our laundry, I'd never have clean clothes because it would take me so long to get to a full load of darks, colors or whites.

Posted by: Erin | January 25, 2007 3:26 PM

Liz D must be congratulated for introducing the wonderful word "squicked." I've not heard it before, but it will be part of my vocabulary from now on. She's obviously not some obsequious, brainless, cringing bovine. As for "serving," I've been told oh-so-many times by my Latin American in-laws that I should do that in order to make my difficult marriage a success...and I don't see it working too well for them or me (you never saw so many divorced Catholics in one place!). However, Liz D has picked the language that works for her - and she's pretty good with words.

Posted by: Jill | January 25, 2007 3:53 PM

Jill, I think we might be related, from the way you describe your divorced Catholic latin american family.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 5:00 PM

I pack my partner's suitcase because I'm a better packer than he is, and he cooks because he's better at that than I am.

Why not quit trying to separate things out so that everything is equal and balanced, and just have partners do the things that they're better at?

Posted by: subinCanada | January 25, 2007 8:22 PM

When we got married I thought I should pack his suitcase but he didn't want me to. We went through this argument three or four times until I sent him on to a business meeting with only sneakers--no dress shoes. He packs his own now. :O)

I understand that sinking feeling and I don't think it is a bad thing. Anything that makes you ask yourself are you being considerate enough of your spouse is a good thing. Doesn't mean you have to go out and do it.

Posted by: Chris1458 | January 26, 2007 9:56 AM

Although I'm a woman, I don't have a "husband" -- I have a partner. As others have noted, Leslie, there are plenty of your readers, straight and gay, who are in the same position (or who have "wives" instead of husbands). Why not use more-inclusive language?

To answer your question: I travel for work; my partner doesn't, at least not anymore. But even if she did, I'd never pack her suitcase, and I'd never ask her to pack mine -- unless the traveler (a) was somehow incapacitated or prevented from doing the packing herself, and (b) provided the non-traveler with a detailed list of every specific item that she wanted included in the suitcase. We have completely different ideas about what to bring on a trip: when we travel together for fun, I inevitably bring at least three times as much stuff as she does (and I'm not exaggerating). If I tried packing for her without a list, she'd complain that I overstuffed her bag, and if she tried packing for me without a list, I'd complain that she left out all the important stuff.

Re: laundry: when I'm putting in a load of my clothes, I check to see whether she has anything that could be part of the same load (depending on color, gentle or regular wash, etc.). When she does laundry, OTOH, she just does her own clothes, without including any of mine -- or, for that matter, any of the towels, sheets, etc., that we both use. I'm resentful about this fact, and have asked her several times to please try to think beyond her own laundry load, but so far I haven't had any success. For some reason, I regard washing the other person's clothes, and the textiles we both use, as a loving act, and view her failure to do so as demonstration of a lack of thoughtfulness. I realize that I'm being unfair to my partner, as she does plenty of other thoughtful things -- her brain simply works differently in the area of laundry. But so far that realization hasn't done much to assuage my resentment.

Anybody else dealing with the same issue? Does anyone have any suggestions?

Posted by: DMS | January 26, 2007 3:12 PM

Good God, I am so freaking tired of Leslie's 'wifely' insecurities. Oh rulers of wp.com, could we please, please, please get a more balanced On Balance blogger?

Posted by: DC | January 26, 2007 4:53 PM

The last time I packed my husband's suitcase was for our honeymoon. It was a week before Christmas. We had planned a skiing trip. Yep, in all the bustling around I brought no coats, only half his underwear, and no pants for myself except the pair I put on after the wedding. Oops.

I've become a great suitcase packer now, but he still packs his own clothes.

Posted by: goofy girl | January 26, 2007 6:06 PM

This has to many ways to be looked upon.
It might be that the home dynamics in a certain relationship is based upon the homely chores and the work and providing role.
It might be that they have a different outlook to this than the rest of the worlds relationships. They might be D/s-ing for all you know.

Me and my honey do things for each other all the time.
I grew up in a house where my stepfather was the one who saw everything that needed to be done around the house, even dishes and laundry and my mother was a bit more up and going female who was really realxed about this. Me myself I have a middleground about this.

Regarding me and my honey, we share this.
Laundry 50/50 and he does my stuf aswell as his and so do I.
Cooking : 50/50 I usually makes the most advanced dinners and worklunches while he makes breakfest and easy cooked dinners.
Any cleaning and dishes we do as one sees fit. The same with shopping food.

Regarding clothes shopping he's got absolute splendid taste. I go with him shopping to advise and approve and he does the same with me. He usually is more piccy than me on this though.

I see us as equalls in most ways, and I'm a good inbreed feminist.
But that dosen't mean I hate being treated like a woman at times. I love it when he hold the door or the chair for me, I love it when he does small cute things, just to please me.
And I do the same for him.
As for packing his suitcase, I'v not yet done the packing for him, but I'll bet it'll come to it some day.
I normally know what he'd want to wear, I have a far bigger problem sorting out my own packing, and he helps me there with suggestions. Being in a relationship is all about doign small things for each other all the time. But there are plenty of different ways to do this. At some point I wouldn't mind being a "keept wife" staying at home and such, but I wouldn't want to do that for the rest of my life. But some do, and I find it easy to accept, witch I think would brush most of you who have written here previously against the good side of the hairs, reading your earlier posts.
There are multibple choices in life and packing a suitcase is just a tiny tiny case.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 28, 2007 6:30 AM

Late to the game on this, but I love doing little (and not so little) things for my husband of three years. He reciprocates. If one of us doesn't like a chore or isn't good at it or tends to forget, the other one steps in. He's not a child and neither am I, but we're partners. We say "thank you" and "please" and genuinely appreciate the things the other does for us, especially if we do it in a sort of "surprise" manner, as in the person above who put her husband's phone on the charger when she found he'd put the charger in her luggage. It's mighty simple, and it can sure mean a lot. I have a friend who seems to "count" every thing that she does for her husband and he for her and feel it needs to "come out equal". They are not happy together and fight often.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 29, 2007 6:08 PM

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