Points to Ponder

I admit I am intrigued by the differences in the thinking patterns of men and women. I find it fascinating that two people can look at the same situation and see things in a completely different way.

I would like to present two scenarios for the readers to ponder. I hope to get a few opinions; I would especially like to get the male viewpoint since I am already pretty sure what most of the women would say.

Family A

Man and a woman with two children. Currently the woman is staying at home with the children, but due to monetary concerns would like to get back into the workforce. The only problem is that the money that she would earn would pretty much just go to pay for childcare. She could work a second shift job, but the husband would have to watch the kids while she was at work. He is not in favor of that option because after work he would like to have some time to just relax at home, maybe play some games or watch TV.

I believe men and women alike, anyone that has ever had a job, can relate and understand the need to relax after work.

Family B

Man and a woman with one child. Both husband and wife work full time jobs and the wife has an additional class that she attends one night a week. Wife is bothered by the fact that when she gets home late at night, husband has not provided any dinner for the child. She would like to relax once she gets home, but instead must make dinner and clean up.

Information on how he has spent his time while she was at class was not provided.

So if we apply the same reasoning as family A above, assuming no bias or double standard between the working husband in family A and the working wife from family B, the response to this situation would be

  1. It is understandable that the wife would like to relax after work and class and the husband is equally responsible for caring for his child and making sure that the child is fed.
  2. It is not understandable that the wife would like to relax after work and regardless of how much time the husband had to fix dinner while she was at class, she should do it.
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10 Responses to Points to Ponder

  1. KY Dave says:

    Of course, I’m assuming neither scenario is anyone I know, but it doesn’t really matter…

    I don’t think either the wife or husband can automatically come home and relax. Being a parent doesn’t have an ‘end of shift’ time. You don’t clock out. It’s a full time 24/7/365 type of job for both.

    In most scenarios, the husband will have jobs that only he will want to do, and the wife will have jobs that only she will want done.

    IMO – Balancing those tasks equally will work best. Demanding or automatically having a ‘rest period’ right after work doesn’t fair to well. Kids will have activities and want to eat during those times. They also will want some quality time before bedtime. Usually, after the kid(s) are put to bed is when a parent can rest a little bit.

  2. Beth says:

    Interesting…I would have to say I agree with Dave, but I would have one huge question to ask that would supersede all guesses I might make and that would be: Have these people not discussed this situation and made arrangements ahead of time, or at least as soon as one or the other realized it was not working well?
    I agree with Dave that “balancing” all the tasks or, in other words, compromising to achieve balance is the best solution. Compromise takes communication. To take a lesson from Supper Nanny; for a household to run smoothly, parents need to be communicating each day to make sure everyone is on the same page, as well as communicating to plan ahead for situations that might arise, and communicating once a problem has already occurred. I would like to know that these parents could sit down and talk to work out a win/win solution to this problem.
    To address Pauline’s inquiry about how Men and Women think differently; I believe there are many factors which can influence how a person sees a situation. Gender is a big one. So are education, experience, age, culture, and many others. Even just the variances of how interested a person is in a situation can alter how they will react or opinions they will have. I don’t think we could isolate gender as the big decider here because there is no way to control all the other factors that might influence a reaction.
    Having said that, I will give my own personal opinion, with all my influencing factors included. I believe that any reasonable, intelligent person who cares about their partner’s joy and his or her family’s well-being would be understanding in their partner’s need for relaxation time after a stressful day (of work, or class, or whatever) and would be willing to compromise to find a way to ease that stress if it were possible. AND that the other partner would be just as willing to do the same for them, if possible. Sometimes it isn’t possible, but they would both try. That is what counts.
    Thanks for the question Sis, now that I am out of class I need brain stimulating things like this 🙂

  3. pauline says:

    Thanks to both of you for your replies.
    Dave, you have came up with an alternate viewpoint that was not one of the options given. I am reminded of the kobioshi maru (sp) test in star trek. Please forgive the star trek reference. For those of you not farmiliar with the star trek movies, the above mentioned test is one in which the given situation allows for no way to win. In the movie, Kirk changes the scenerio. Your viewpoint, although correct, is not the situation here. I presented the situation and some people in the hypothetical situation ARE relaxing.
    So, if neither parent can automatically come home and relax, then the parents that are relaxing should get up and help by watching the kids while one parent goes to work and/or fixing dinner while the other parent is at class, correct?
    Beth, you say that parents should communicate and then agree with me about how people are going to see things differently for a multitude of reasons. These two statements clash terribly. How well do people communicate when each is speaking a completely different language? I myself have had disagreements with Brent where we are just going to see things differently. I have had disagreements with you where we are just going to see things differently. Communication doesn’t work until as women we learn to understand the male language, which is why I wrote the post, to get the male viewpoint.

  4. Brent says:

    I don’t think it is possible to get the male viewpoint on something that is written from the female viewpoint. Your main problem here is that you aren’t getting both sides of the story.

    Problem A:
    The man in this situation works all day and when he comes home he wants to relax. That is impossible when dealing with two kids even though he has two wonderful kids. You yourself can understand this a little because look at your friend Paula. You worry about her and stress because she never has time to do anything because she is a single parent with ONE kid. Yet you expect the man in this situation to handle two kids alone so that his wife can go out and get a small time job and make a little money. The man in this situation has also had to deal with the problem that previously when his wife has worked outside of the home (and even inside some) she has routinely COST him more money than she has brought home. None of these factors would lead him to be eager for her to go out and get another job.

    Problem B:
    Again in this situation you are only hearing the woman’s side of the story on what is going on, BUT to help you a little I know that the man will freely admit that he has never helped in the house to clean or cook. (Though he does sometimes grill meat and such for dinner). As a counter point, I am sure the woman will admit that she has never helped to keep her car running, or to purchase her car. She can also probably admit that she has never mowed the yard, or trimmed a tree. I have never seen her outside taking care of the landscaping around their house, nor have I seen her fix their son’s 4 wheeler. Her husband keeps their family happy with motorcycles and toys that they all enjoy, which she really has no part in obtaining or maintaining. I also know that when she is there (no matter if the husband is or not) her son is allowed to mess up the house however he wants. It is no thing for them to have a living room full of toys because no one makes him put them up.

    There are two sides to every discussion or story and I happen to know that in both these cases you have only listened to one of them. Interestingly though you say you are interested in the man’s point of view on it, you have only ask for the women’s side of the story. Rather than bringing this up on a website and airing the people’s lives for everyone, wouldn’t a better idea be to actually ask the men involved why they do what they do?

  5. pauline says:

    Thank you for your reply. It was nice to get a male viewpoint. I posted this as a topic for discussion to get some viewpoints from people that are not involved in the hypothetical situations so as to get some unbiased opinions. Going over and asking the man his side of the story is irrelevant for family A. If wife goes to work, someone will have to watch the kids while she is gone. No way around it. The only available option, where they don’t have to spend any money, is for the husband to watch the kids.
    Asking the man from family B for his viewpoint might start a fight. I don’t want to do that. Granted, I realize that both men and women have chores in the household that they are each typically responsible for. However, in the case of a hungry child, if the designated parent is not available, should the secondary parent not step up? If lack of time is an issue, does feeding a child not take priority over fixing a four-wheeler?
    I am kinda offended at the comment that wife from family B has no part in purchasing or obtaining items that the family enjoy. She works too. She contributes, even if she doesn’t make as much as the husband. Also, you mentioned that the child isn’t made to pick up his toys etc. From a womans point of view, this has nothing to do with the discussion topic. why did you include it?

  6. Brent says:

    She doesn’t have anything to do with getting the toys and such because the man in the situation trades for everything. Her money isn’t even involved in the situation. He uses his money to get the stuff or trades something else that he has to get it.

    I involved it because her complaint is often that he never cleans anything up and that the house is a wreck, but the problem is not really that he never cleans anything up it is that neither of them make their child pick up his stuff or at least confine it to the child’s room.

    As for problem A it isn’t if he wants to watch the kids or not, it is if he wants his wife to go out and work or not as it often ends up COSTING him money.

  7. maxx says:

    There is no such thing as an objective male viewpoint here. but i’d be happy to provide an objective financial assessment that is gender neutral and simultaneously offensive.

    if the household income is X and the man contributes the major share of it, then the responsibility to take care of the kid falls to the mother. but only if
    1. she wanted the two kids and he was neutral about it.
    2. her class has nothing to do with a realistic plan to find higher paying employment in the long run.

    As regards relaxing and feeding the kids, i think we can all agree that if the kid is hungry, you get up off the couch no matter how tired to resolve the issue. Again, economically speaking, the person who works harder to put food on the table should be the relaxer, if they are both home. a class may be tiring, but the wife could sleep through it (and is most likely in a chair) without any financial repercussions. but the work requires the man to stay awake (unless he tests beds or narcolepsy pills for a living!) and is arguably more stressful.

    communication is key, but so is setting realistic goals. if they havent set goals for their lives or kids, then the argument about how fair it is for the mans relaxation time to be valued higher than the womans is irrelevant, as is the argument about who should feed the hungry kid. they need to
    1. figure out the cost of daycare before having more kids
    2. determine which one of them has a more stable job that is required to put food on the table, and which one can go back to school to be retrained in a higher paying field, or look for a new job.
    3. calculate the difference between the two to determine a five yar plan
    4. soldier through the lack of relaxation and kid issues, and try to accomplish the plan sooner

    i do think that the kids toys, messy house, mowing the yard etc are relevant in establishing that the wife may be simplifying a complex argument by reducing it to gender inequality which gets her more sympathy. if the mans contributions are way more than financial, then she needs to woman up and deal. teaching the kid to be self reliant and get a sandwich (prepared after dinner for the next day and put in the frig) may also help the situation in the long run, as will the husband stopping off at a bar or an arcade (to watch sports or play games) for a half hour to relax before he gets home.

  8. KY Dave says:

    The viability of women working has been forced on families due to increased costs of living and the unending desire to ‘have it all’ along with the lower value of wages being paid, especially to women.

    There is an intangible that might bear in this discussion. It is the woman’s feelings of ‘self worth’.

    It will play a larger role than one might expect. A lot of women work at jobs that won’t pay for their cost of working. When the price of an auto, insurance, and fuel are included along with child care costs, it becomes economically unsound for them to work. They will still work and cause the family to actually lose money in order to ‘fufill’ their desire to be a productive part of society and not JUST a ‘stay at home mom’. This has some value, not monetary in nature, but gives the woman a higher self esteem because she feels she is contributing. This will sometimes result in a better relationship because both members have a feeling of contribution. Sometimes, it will also cause the child to become more independant and ‘cut the apron strings’ from the mother.

    The reason I mentioned child care in the cost of the woman working is, if she didn’t work, the family would not need child care. So it is a factor to consider.

    It sounds as if the family being discussed has plenty of stuff already.

    So, since you asked, there is another male point of view to consider.

  9. maxx says:

    I don’t agree with the assessment that women are paid lower for reasons of gender – I do believe that they have fewer opportunities because of the very realistic fear (borne out on a regular basis) by managers that many of them choose to:
    1. Take an absence from the workforce to raise children
    2. Are less inclined to be the sort of workaholic that would put in a 20 hr day out of competitiveness.

    This is not to suggest that there are not highly motivated women – just that they make up a smaller percentage of the population when compared to men. Perhaps a part of the reason is the whole nurturing vs. hunting thing, but I’ll leave that for someone else to explore.

    In any event, as someone who has had the opportunity to do some interviewing and hiring, I can tell you that this is a real concern. If I have 100 projects for the year and a total of 4 staff, I have to try to split it up roughly evenly. If a woman on the team chose to take the time off (which I would be legally obligated to grant) to have a child, then the burden that would be placed on the other 3 staff members would result in an imbalance in the harmony of the team. Furthermore, for several of those months, others may be more likely to treat her with an extra degree of solicitousness out of compassion or chivalry, which again reduces overall efficiency and productivity.

    Most management seminars and books and all of the governmental anti-discrimination literature harps on this and says stuff like “give her other work to do that is less strenuous”. This is mostly just PC bullshit, because (at least in the field that Brent and I share) you’re constantly having to haul crap around. There isn’t much filing papers or sitting at a desk. Of course, since this is what most governmental employees do all day everyday, I’m sure it made sense to whomever it was that wrote that legal document.

    As regards working overtime and all the time, almost *all* men that I know will stay late on a repeated basis to ensure that the work gets done – even if that gets them in trouble with the wife. Their justification is simple – my job feeds us, I gotta do what I gotta do. Most women, in contrast, will put taking care of her family first (as probably makes more sense). Once again – this isn’t intended to target anyone – it is *my* experience based on the people I’ve worked with over the years. So as an employer, if I can choose between a man and a woman for the same job, I’m likely to choose the man if these were the *only* factors influencing my decision.

    In reality, many factors come into play, like the type of job. For example, marketing, sales, HR – these are fields where I *expect* to see women. When there is a guy, I automatically feel like I don’t want to buy something from him, or go talk to him about a company related problem. I don’t expect him to care about my issues, for the simple reason that I wouldn’t care about his if our roles were reversed. On the flip side, if the job involved hauling stuff, I’d prefer a guy. Then there are gender neutral areas like software engineers, lawyers, etc, where it matters very little as to whether there is a woman or man – as long as they get the end result I’m looking for.

    It makes more sense for ones’ sense of self worth to come from ones actions rather than ones employment status in the workforce – regardless of what ones gender.

  10. maxx says:

    Also, having re-read situation B from before, it looks like I missed the part where both woman and man worked (it was 3AM and I typed that up on my phone). Taken with the disclaimer that there was no data provided on what the husband was doing instead of taking care of the kid, I’d say that he needs to either pick a form of relaxation that involves cooking and cleaning around the home, or have a discussion with the wife on who has what responsibilities.

    Ideally, they should spend a week doing each others chores to see which one of them has the cushier situation. Both may find that the other is going through a great deal of trouble and realize the grass isn’t greener on the other side.

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