My live-in partner and I met through our jobs as essential workers. Fortunately, we have both been kept on by the same company during the pandemic.
We outwardly appear ideally suited as a couple. We’re the same age (30) and have the same training, skills and energy. We’re equally valued by our employer and paid the same amount. Even at home, we have figured out how to share all our chores. And we love each other.
Our only visible difference is that I’m a woman and he’s a man.
Yet, for some reason, at work my partner acts like he’s my boss. He’ll often walk slightly ahead of me, pointing out what needs to be done - which I spot as quickly as he does.
So far, I’ve kept my resentment to myself, but I’m clenching my teeth to not shout back at him.
How can I get through to him that his manner with me at work is a put-down I can’t accept any longer?
Not Equal Enough
Your partner carries an old record in his head. Maybe when he was young, someone told him he was ”perfect” (but no one is). Maybe someone said that a man always has to help a woman (which sounds nice, but isn’t when it’s unnecessary and imposed on you).
As a couple in life, you’re close to achieving the ideal of gender equality as measured by access to education, employment and equal pay for equal work.
You know that he loves you, yet this apparent show of alpha-male bossiness is demeaning, especially if seen by other co-workers with whom you are equal.
Gritting your teeth silently has avoided the conversation that is absolutely necessary between you two.
It needn’t be long or complicated, as in: “There’s no need whatsoever for either one of us to tell the other what to do unless a question’s been asked.”
If he doesn’t get it, a longer discussion is needed. And both of you need to speak your mind.
With so much going for you two, I believe you can resolve this by speaking up instead of holding back.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman whose husband never visited her in the hospital when she’d suffered a painful burst appendix (Aug. 26):
Reader – “The woman says her husband’s explanation for not visiting was his “crazy busy" office job.
“However, what really got me to write, was her wondering if she should divorce him over it.
“This shocks me. Although she must have been terribly hurt, and he is in the wrong, how does she even consider ending a marriage over this?
“I have been married for 60 years and believe me, there are many hurdles and roadblocks that we have had to maneuver to make our marriage work.
“They just need to discuss this, she to tell him how awful his absence hurt and disappointed her, and he to explain and heartily apologize.
“Then they need to kiss and make up and move on with their lives. Marriage requires work and I don't understand why people don't get this.”
Ellie - I’m with you on this - that a conversation is sorely needed, but the making up must wait until he acknowledges whatever underlying reason kept him from thinking that his wife’s symptoms of pain/vomiting bile weren’t his priority.
Sixty years of marriage proves your wisdom and patience. If the couple can have this conversation, she’d likely forgive him to avoid the finality of a divorce.
But she won’t forget . . . until he “gets it.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the close friend’s letter expressing worry about the “silent breakup” of a woman whose boyfriend of two years ghosted her (Aug. 27):
Reader – “I think the right answer might be: Your friend is a grownup and - believe it or not - has the right not to tell prying gossips about the whys and wherefores of her breakup.
“If you are really her friend, you won’t pry, won’t demand explanations and won’t offer unsolicited advice.”
Ellie - It’s obvious from the original letter to this column that the friend didn’t have to pry, she couldn’t have known all the details without being told directly.
Also, even “grownups,” when hurt, find comfort in reaching out to a friend.
Where I do find some agreement with you, it’s really up to the ghosted woman herself to decide whether to ask her boyfriend why he went silent a short time ago.
Tip of the day:
Equality between partners is not a sometime thing.