The complaint is really nothing new. Wife bakes a carrot cake. The oven timer goes off. She asks her husband to take the cake out of the oven, along with the directive to check it with a toothpick. Later, when the wife goes to cut into it, she discovers the inside of the cake is raw.
The husband’s an ass for not following basic instructions, right?
Not. So. Fast.
While the wife, NessaDee, was no doubt expecting unqualified agreement when she posted her tale of male cluelessness on Who’s the Ass, what she did next is likely what prompted more than 65 per cent of our voters to say the self-proclaimed “supermom” is actually the one wearing the donkey’s tail. “I’m like, WTF,” she said, “and then (I) proceed to bitch him out in front of our friends.”
Hold on, she what?
I'm not going to defend the husband for being ignorant of the toothpick test, and I don’t want to start a battle of the sexes over chores. I’ve tried that at home (my wife’s on mat leave – she’s got more time than I do for chores) and I never win. One study I read in researching this piece said that after the birth of a first child, women’s domestic workload typically increases 91 per cent to an average of nearly 56 hours a week. And men’s? On average, not by one extra minute.
We get it. We suck.
But NessaDee’s chewing her husband out in front of the company? Not cool. “I am glad that you are a supermom,” said one commenter, “but you are kind of a mediocre wife. Dude was trying to follow instructions and you humiliated him in front of a crowd."
There are all kinds of behaviour manuals out there that suggest women should “train” their men like dolphins or dancing monkeys. I’m not going to say sometimes we don’t deserve those comparisons, or that animal training techniques don’t work, because often they do. But a central lesson from that Shamu essay is to reward good behaviour and ignore the undesirable stuff. Take baby steps. Give us clear instructions. (Who wants to debate whether she actually told him to check the cake with a toothpick or assumed the husband knew how to do this? From my experience, women’s instructions are like an onion. So many layers to peel back before we understand what it is you actually want.)
But to yell at us in front of company? That’s just awkward for everyone – and you’ll notice she says the friends made a hasty retreat. Public marital strife is only fun when we’re watching it on reality TV.
We already get that it’s in everyone’s benefit for us to pitch in at home. You’re less stressed, and we get more sex. Everybody wins. But you need to give us points for trying. And whatever you do, keep all the ways we did it wrong the first time to a constructive conversation between the two of us.
Eventually, we just might learn. On the flip side, as one wise commenter cautioned: “If you treat him that way, he may stop poking his stick in your baked goods altogether."
And that's not a recipe for anyone’s happiness.
Shane Coblin is a founder of WhosTheAss.com, the website that lets the masses decide who the ass is for any situation.