Writing the previous post, I started thinking about how my husband likes to stay busy. All the time. I wrote:
In this case, he wanted to take off for hours of running errands and shopping (places that are located an hour’s drive away), and leave the weekly cleaning and maintenance to ‘others’. I wanted us to tackle it together, and then I’d have the peace of mind to do the shopping and errands with him tomorrow. He says he doesn’t understand why I would expect him to help, when ‘others’ here could do that.
Reality check: the collective ‘others’ will never do enough to please him. I have never seemed to do enough to please him. He likes to decide what is worth his time, and then everything else belongs to ‘others’. He’s had this same issue from the time we were newlyweds with no kids. He resented sharing chores then too. It was a control issue for him right from the start.
The irony is that he’s a busyaholic and a workaholic. Not a work-to-succeed kind of thing, just stay busy. He goes, goes, goes, and stays busy busy busy, in a way that you can see he’s driven somehow.
But there’s one huge unspoken rule: IT MUST BE ONLY WHAT HE DECIDES TO DO, NOT WHAT MIGHT BE ASKED OF HIM.
To an outsider, this busyaholic would appear only to be a hard worker. An outsider won’t know that it’s a way for him to feel good about himself, and to build resentments towards ‘others’. An outsider won’t typically see the neglect of critical things that would mean so much to his family’s welfare, or his relationship with his wife or with his kids.
A couple of my kids joked once that if they saw their dad doing some kind of outside chore, then mom must have asked him to help with something inside. Yep yep. I’d ask if he’d help me with a couple things, he’d seem to agree, then disappear. Before long, I’d look out a window and see him coming in and out of the shed, or clipping branches, or just about anything as long as it was outside.
Oh, If he’s behaved badly, he’ll typically jump in and do dishes, or run a load of laundry, or sweep the floor etc. During those times, I know that it’s going to get added to his silent running lists of why he’s a great husband and all around good guy, and I know that part of him usually also is resenting ‘others’ for not doing what he’s doing, but I just let him do it. Why? After all these years, I’ll take the practical benefits of his need to stay busy.
Projects that he can do more easily, or that he’s just better at than I am, will sit untouched. Did I tell him that what I’d like most is to have a night off from cooking? He won’t come to ‘help’ until it means that dinner will be late.
When he’s most helpful? If I get to the ground down to practically drooling stage, if I’m so emotionally exhausted and depressed that I only want to do something mindless at my computer, then it’s like he jumps into a phone booth and emerges as Super Nice Helpful Pick Up the Slack from Pathetic Wife/Mom Guy.
It’s as though when the energy drains from me, it goes into him. Energy vampire?