Wednesday, November 12, 2008

“Partners” in Marriage

To me marriage is seen as a partnership between husband and wife. Where both husband and wife are equal, and none plays “Mommy” or “Daddy” to the other. But yet by one family I babysit by, it continues to surprise me how the wife is always bossing the husband around and treating him inferiorly. If one would rule over the other I would expect it to be the husband. For some reason I feel it’s more acceptable for the husband to boss the wife around, than the other way around.

The first time I discovered such a case where the wife rules the husband made me feel bad for the husband. They were both going out and the wife had a hard time zipping up her boots. So she orders her husband to get down on the floor and zip up her boots. When he couldn’t do it because her foot was obviously too big for the boots. She yelled at him “just do it”. So he painstakingly tried zipping it up, and he finally got it up. I thought perhaps she was just in a mood or worked up for some reason. But then it seemed to happen again and again.

The wife bought a cozy coup car for her little girl and asked her husband to build it. He was following the instructions and putting it to together. He seemed to be working very hard on it. I commented asking if the instructions were hard to figure out, since he had mixed up parts a few times. So then his wife said “No, it’s not hard a 3 year old could do it”. That made me feel bad for the husband again, that he got embarrassed in such a way. So I told him that I’m sure it was confusing instructions.

Then last night I was babysitting by them again, and the husbands mother had been hit by a car and was in the hospital. So they were going to visit her. The wife had made vegetable soup that she was bringing a long with her. So she put it in a bag and told her husband to hold it. When he took the bag by the handles, she said “no, from the bottom”. So he holds it from the bottom. Then she asked me to taste some of the soup, I said “no, thanks, I don’t want to taste it”. So then she asks her husband to taste the soup. So she holds a spoon out to him and he tastes it. So then she said “how was it?” and he said “it’s fine”. So then she said “You’re supposed to say it’s great, that it’s better than your mothers soup”. So then the husband said “lets please not talk about my mother right now”. So then he said “let’s get going”, then she said “You’re supposed to say thanks for making the food and for coming”. So then he said “you know that already” and she said “You just want to go so you can get home already to go to sleep”. The wife had told me a bunch of times that she doesn’t get along well with her in laws, and that her kids never see them. Anyways, I thought it was insensitive of her to talk about his mother that way, when she was in the hospital and he was worried about her.

But then I’m thinking perhaps it’s just her personality to be like that. She called me up yesterday morning asking me to come over and babysit while she brings her son to school since there was no bus transportation. I had just woken up. So she says to me “You can come over in your pj’s”. I’m thinking to myself, does she actually think that I would come over in my pj’s? I was thinking that she just says that as if to make herself feel better for calling me last minute.

Beforehand, we had arranged that I was going to babysit there last night, so she said she was going to call me when she wants me to come over exactly. So then when she calls and asks me if I can come over, I said ok and that I was coming. Then I go over to her house and I find her not dressed yet. Ended up being I had to wait a half hour with them till they were ready to leave, so I was wondering why she had called me over so soon. She had been wearing a shell, and at first I felt that it wasn’t tznius, that I shouldn’t look. So I stayed in the living room while she was in the kitchen. But then she called me over into the kitchen to ask me to taste some of the soup. Then I realized perhaps she was serious about me coming over in Pj’s, that she thought it was perfectly ok.

So then she orders her husband to go get her sweater. So he takes one from the chair and gives it to her, and she says “no, not that one, the one upstairs”. So he goes upstairs and gets her sweater and brings it down to her. Now I don’t understand why she couldn’t just get her sweater herself, why does she make her husband into her servant?


  1. Any chance she's pregnant? Those hormones can really get to ya... :-P
    If not, I doubt that the relationship has always been this way. She's probably just gotten used to taking the role of boss, while her husband has gotten used to taking the role of servant.

  2. You really do get emotionally involved in the lives of the people for whom you babysit. I feel bad for the husband.

  3. what's a shell? whatever it is, why is not tzniusdik for you to see her in it?

    i think it's natural for one person to be more dominant in a relationship, but within reason. this seems excessive.

    as a babysitter you must be privy to interesting family dynamics and what goes on behind closed doors. you can use this to your advanage. i know you don't charge enough and i'm sure you didn't charge extra for that last minute call. so instead you could make up for lost $ by using your info to blackmail them.


    "I feel bad for the husband."

    and the kids

  4. Jessica: Good point, I would understand that better if she's pregnant. But nope, she's not pregnant.

    Could be that it didn't start out this way. But she actually told me a little personal story. She was aware that I noticed how she treats her husband, and there were even rumors going around that they were having trouble and might get divorced. But no matter how the relationship is, I know it's not divorce material. So anyways, she told me how her husband wasn't her first choice, that really she had a bf beforehand for a while and then broke up, so I guess she was upset about that and married her husband as a second resort kind of thing. So ever since then she held a little grudge against him and felt that she had done him a favor in marrying him, so she feels like he has to do everything for her. I'm impressed with him, that he barely ever complains or argues back with her, he seems very devoted.

    Leora: yea, also, this is the reason why I started this blog to begin with. I was finding out these troubling things that were disturbing me, and I couldn't let it bottle up inside me. I couldn't tell my family cause then it would be L"H. So I decided to start a blog and vent that way. But then I was afraid it was still L"H, and I was afraid that the person might eventually read it, or someone might tell them about it, and I didn't want them to think that I thought bad of them. So I had deleted a bunch of posts where I spoke negatively of the mothers I babysat for. But now it started haunting me again, so I decided to write about it, and get it out of my system.

  5. Lion Of Zion: a shell is like a under shirt. It's sleeveless. I used to walk around my house that way, but then my father said that I can't, and I have to cover myself up. So I guess I became used to putting on a robe or something on top so that I shouldn't be sleeveless. So I felt that I shouldn't intrude on her privacy, but obviously if she was walking around like that, she didn't mind. But still for my sake, I don't know why, I feel I shouldn't be looking at things that I know I wouldn't want other people to see. To answer your question, it probably is tzniusdik for me to see, so long as I'm not davening or making a bracha or something. So perhaps that wasn't the right word. More like I wanted to give her, her privacy.

    Also, she walks around her house with her hair uncovered, that I was able to get used to, because after all it's just hair, and that's uncovered when your single, so it doesn't seem as wrong as bare skin.

    I agree that it's natural for one to be more the leader role, and one more the follower. I can imagine myself not being the leading role which is probably why I think it's more okay for a husband to be that way. But yea, too much is no good. I think no matter who's more bossy, there should be mutual respect for the other one. Both their feelings should be understand, and one shouldn't have to constantly give up for the other.

    Yea, I've learned a lot from the different families I've been by. I used to keep track a bit of what I would like to emulate for my future home, and what I for sure won't do.

    I started typing up a money post, just haven't gotten around to finishing it yet.

    I would no way black mail them! I take it you were being sarcastic? Plus what's so strange is, that no matter what she does, I still like her and don't mind her company and get along well with her.

    It's actually very interesting that you mention the kids, because it's so strange...perhaps I should leave that for another post.

  6. Espes: yea, sorta reminds me of the post you wrote about the couple at the table, and one was embarrassing the other.

    I'm sure he's getting lot's of schar for all that he has to deal with, and for maintaining the shalom bayis in his house.

  7. I am sorry, but pregnancy is NOT an excuse for such a constant stream of verbal abuse.
    Abusers can be women as well as men.

  8. Ricki's Mom: I was never pregnant, so I can't really say for myself if it's an excuse or not. But yea, people should take responsibility for how they act. I don't think here that she's necessarily abusing her husband, he doesn't seem to suffer from it at least.

    MikeInMidwood: your right, that women are starting to come out on top now that they started working are are many times earning more than the husband. But here that's not even the case, the wife barely works, and the husband is a way all day working from like 5 in the morning till 11 at night. Which I myself think is crazy, and would never want such a lifestyle.

  9. babysitter - whoa. that's messed up.

    rickismom - I was joking. Hence the :-P at the end of the sentence.

  10. That's not divorce material until he snaps.

    We have a guy in shul who got divorced after having 2 kids, I think. The kids don't want much to do with the mother either. I met her in a store once, the way she was talking to the counter guy, it's like he was some kind of an animal or her slave.

  11. Even after these comments I still think there's something worth my commenting on, which is a subject I actually started thinking about a little while ago. You said "I’m thinking perhaps it’s just her personality to be like that". Thats the way I see it; it seems people act with almost everyone (whom they're comfortable with) in almost the same way. It's almost as if other people are just a backdrop in a persons mind and personality, and the person themself is an neverchanging constant.'s hard to articulate at the moment, but from the example you brought I can imagine it's understood..

  12. The mother sounds like a severe control freak and you seem to be included in her controlling sphere. Don't let her do that.

    On another note, some men actually like being told what to do too, believe it or not. My husband's best friend is married to a woman who really loves ordering him around. But he seems to take it very good naturedly. But she doesn't sound as mean as this woman.

  13. That's because at night she's the one wearing the blindfold and handcuffs. ;-)

  14. Some people are just in bad marriages. That woman sounds horrible.

  15. Jessica: Yea, it is.

    Moshe: right, and from the look of things doesn't look like he's going to snap anytime soon.

    Yea, that doesn't sound to kid, but here with her kids it's different. Also, to show the regretful side of her, there's this old lady on our block that is starting to loose her memory. So she used to always say good shabbos to my neighbor and ask her if she just mooved in, so my neighbor would say, no we moved in over a year ago, and every shabbos the old lady would ask her the same question. So then one shabbos for some reason, when the old lady asked her if she's knew on the block, my neighbor said "You ask me that every week!". The old ladies husband was with her, and he has a fine memory. So then after my neighbor felt bad for what she had said, so she apologized to the husband.

  16. Shlomo: I know what you mean, and I think that may be the case. Although I do think everyone has different faces they put up for different types of people. It's actually funny, the large family I babysit for is machmir on a lot of stuff, so when I go to them I make sure to not wear certain types of clothing and stuff like that.

    But yea, there are some people who just act/speak in a certain way to everybody and they don't even realize that it might not be the best way to talk. But so long as their intentions are good then I suppose it doesn't matter how it comes out sounding.

    Commenter Abbi: So yea, I'm starting to give her the hint that she can't control me like that. She realized that and when she called me up to ask me if I can babysit tonight, she said "I'm trying to get someone first, but if I can't then can you?" So then I said that I was sorry but I'm already babysitting by someone else.

    Right, I can imagine that it can be a good thing and couples can enjoy it. So long as it's not out of hand.

  17. Moshe: lol! I doubt that.

    Frum Punk: yea, she does sound horrible. But also what's very interesting is that she's also sort of a baby, and cries to her husband when she's in pain. She's not always so macho. When she had to get some of her teeth pulled out, she called her husband and put on a whining voice. She freaks out a lot of times and looks to her husband for help. So in a way I suppose she does respect him.

  18. That sounds more like a spoiled child and her husband is the father.

  19. Moshe: Your right, it does sound a bit like that, now that you mention it.

  20. Everything about the lady has already been said, so I'm going to attack on your response to LOZ on the shell:

    "So I felt that I shouldn't intrude on her privacy, but obviously if she was walking around like that, she didn't mind."

    Why would she mind, you are a girl, and there is nothing that she has that you don't. Nothing to be ashamed of. Its not like she was fully nude.

    "To answer your question, it probably is tzniusdik for me to see,"

    It *IS* perfectly tzniusdik for you to see.

    "so long as I'm not davening or making a bracha or something."

    When it comes to woman not being tznuis, and davening/bracha making, the rules apply to the guy. You can daven infront of your friend who is in short shorts and a tank-top. No issue there. The issue is for guys.

  21. FrumSkeptic: Your right, but still, I know that I myself wouldn't have people over in my house when I wasn't fully dressed. So I thought she would be the same way. Also, I've never seen her dressed that way before, so I wasn't aware that she didn't consider it under dressed a bit.

    Actually, funny story, when I was younger, one shabbos afternoon I was in my PJ's playing a board game in the living room with my twin brother. Then a knock came on the door, and before I had time to run up the steps, my older brother had opened the door and let my brothers friend into the house. So I quickly thought of the closest place to hide, it was the front closet, since he had come in through the side door. So I ran to the closet and hid. Then I suppose he saw me running in, cause he came over to the door and asked that I come out. I said I can't come out. He tried opening the door, and I held on to the doorknob tight so that he can't open it. So finally he gave up, and asked me that if he goes away if I'll come out. SO I said yea. He walked away, and went to the kitchen, and I quickly ran upstairs. I changed and then came back down. So then he said to me that what I was wearing before wasn't so bad. So then I was upset with him for having looked.

    SO you see from there what I felt about clothing and privacy.

    I never really looked into the brachos thing if it's a woman. But for some reason I remember hearing that Halacha from the sefer Oz V'Hadar Levusha that my principal read to us ever day in HS. I'll have to check back at it.

  22. thanks for visiting my blog!

    i know a few moms who behave as your "employer" mom does. It makes me so sad to hear the verbal abuse. My mom did the same with my dad, and i am trying SO hard not to be so reactive with my own husband. Life is full of choices, we can THINK before we open our mouths, or we can blather out whatever insanity comes out. It is so hard to know what to say during those moments. A wonderful woman (Chabad) that i had met recently, just had the most amazing thing to say to a woman who was screaming at her daughter. She complemented the woman on her stopped her "cold". this woman, who was acting inappropriately suddenly stopped and appreciated her daughter. I myself haven't totally figured out how to think that way, but apparently it comes. The woman i met said that you have to replace the feelings of the situation with thought...somehow that is more constructive...i am still trying to figure that one out myself...nice to meet you!!

  23. Does this family live in Long Island?

  24. To those that thought it doesn't start right after marriage: There's a couple in my class, and it's really cute, but I see the same thing happening, where the wife is controlling the husband, here I think it's not such a bad case, but she just acts like his Mommy. Every time she keeps tapping him on his knee or desk with her pen to get him to stop doing stuff. Like he would pick his face or something.

  25. Shorty: Hey, your welcome, I do plan on visiting again...!

    I think you will be better at it, because you saw an example of it with your mother, so you have a strong commitment not to be like that.

    That makes lots of sense, and is a smart thing, I always use that tactic, and it always works!

    Thanx, nice to meet you too!

    Esther Hadassah: lol, nope they don't live in Long Island. But that made me very happy to hear you ask that, because that means this isn't the only case of it, so it makes it less identifiable.

  26. I agree with Moshe, she does sound like a spoiled child.....
    But for some reason it doesn't really sound like divorce material..

  27. KT: right, I didn't think it was divorce material either. I mean not that I would know what divorce material is. But I can guess what's not.


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