Men Aren’t Defective Women. They’re Men.

Read carefully, and you’ll note that almost every article on the struggles couples face blame men. It’s as if women are flawless, while the men in their lives are Neanderthals who need to get with the program.

The saddest part of this bogus narrative, aside from the obvious damage it creates, is that it’s so far from the truth it’s ridiculous. Men have changed. Fathers today spend triple the amount of time on childcare than they did in 1965 and roughly six hours more per week on household chores.

The reason for the relentless husband bashing is that women today don’t understand men. They’ve been taught to believe the sexes are the same and, as a result, believe that when men don’t act the way women do, men are somehow misbehaving.

Take this recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Fairness in Housework Doesn’t Mean 50/50.” At first glance, it appears more even-handed than many other articles on the topic of how housework and childcare is divvied up between husbands and wives. But you can tell where the blame is headed at the opening of the essay, when the author, Eve Rodsky, recounts a story from a recent Saturday outing she took with her friends, all of whom are married with kids.

Apparently, these women (the author included) all received a text or a phone call from their husbands (although actually, some of the calls were from mothers-in-law or actual babysitters, thus negating Rodsky’s argument about fathers) who were calling to get their wives’ input on whatever it was they were trying to manage at home.

” Why doesn’t ‘equal’ ever seem to work when it comes to sharing family duties in our household?” asks Rodsky.

“Women would feel less overwhelmed by doing the majority of domestic duties if men fully ‘owned’ those tasks they do take on.

Or here’s another article, this time about research that shows the more wives earn, the rockier their marriages tend to be. Rather than study the complex reasons for this, the author makes numerous references to men’s “egos” and the idea that society’s backwards attitudes are to blame.

“When wives earn more than their husbands, some men just can’t handle it.”

“Even in 2019, old-fashioned views on marriage prevail.”

“Oh, how fragile is the ego of a man. We must never let him feel like a bonsai in a grove of California redwoods—no, he must always see himself as a towering tree, magnificent in comparison with his female partner.”

This bitter condescension toward men is not only wrong but counterproductive. How can any relationship flourish when men are viewed in this way?

Here’s what these articles should have addressed but didn’t:

  1. Men and women do not parent the same way because they’re not interchangeable beings. If your husband needs help managing the home front, it’s not because he’s not “owning” the task. Most men are not as invested as most women in the details of what goes on at home. Women take ownership of their homes in a unique way, even if they work outside of it. It is “their” domain, so managing what goes on inside it is important to them. Men don’t view the home in the same way. Moreover, men’s brains are more linear, or single-focused, so they’re not going to multitask as well as women. And it’s unfair to expect them to.
  2. Men do a crap ton of housework (or kid related tasks) that rarely, if ever, gets mentioned. Why is it that outdoor household tasks are conveniently left out of the equation when there’s a conversation about who’s doing what on the home front? It is mostly husbands who take care of the yard work, the gutters, the basement cleaning and leaks, car maintenance, the driveway, the roof, and the running the kids around to their sporting events. And none of that even touches upon the Honey Do lists wives give their husbands: fixing all house repairs, hanging TVs, changing the filter, picking up the dead mice or other vermin, putting up Halloween and Christmas decorations, fireplace cleaning, assembling new furniture, and painting the house.
  3. Men don’t complain the way women do. Ever notice that husbands rarely complain about the things their wives do and don’t do? That’s hardly because women don’t do anything “wrong.” It’s because men don’t tend to point out their wives’ flaws or condescend to them by telling them how to do better. Wouldn’t it be nice for a change if women did the same in return?
  4. The soul of a man is a hero. There’s a reason relationships suffer when women are the breadwinners. A man’s identity is inextricably linked to his ability to provide and protect, whether it’s 1919 or 2019. When a wife out-earns her husband, it’s not the man’s ego—which suggests self-importance—that gets damaged but his pride and his sense of purpose. Pride comes from a sense of accomplishment that’s concerned with others rather than with the self, and providing is a man’s best means to do that. If women have the babies, raise the babies, and provide for the babies, what’s left for him to do?

Bottom line: Men are not defective women. But that’s exactly what the culture teaches—via films, television (even commercials!) and articles. Sadly, this belief system has seeped into women’s souls, causing them to have a knee-jerk reaction that men are weak or lazy when they don’t do things the way women do them or when they don’t react the way women react.

Women who harbor this mindset will never be successful in love. Only those who don’t view men as equal but flawed versions of themselves, who don’t blame men whenever something goes wrong, who have compassion rather than resentment toward men, and who are able to bring out the best in men will ultimately win at love.

The rest will get frustrated and write articles about it.

Suzanne Venker

Suzanne Venker is an author, columnist and radio host known as The Feminist Fixer. She helps free women from feminism so they can find lasting love with men. Suzanne's newest book, WOMEN WHO WIN at Love: How to Build a Relationship That Lasts, will be published October 2019.

Reader Interactions


  1. Ed says

    No wonder you are successfull in your marriage when so many other marriages are falling apart.

    Your writing is refreshing and honest — but more than that, it speaks truth about men and women — truth that young people have been brainwashed to believe as lies until they get too old to recognize that the lie is what pop culture has taught them and raised them to believe — not what they can see with their own eyes and the benefits that come with the wisdom of age.

    I wish I had heard the things you say when I was a young man – I’d likely have chosen not to propose to a liberal woman and would have a life with family and fulfillment rather than a life attempting to please a liberal woman that ultimately left me because my “everything” was not enough for her.

  2. Anonomous says

    My wife works at the local elementary school and was telling me about a certain family’s kids (boy and girl) in school, nothing bad. I guess the boy is a handful, very restless, but not to the point of being disruptive, just has lots of energy. You know what they say to this poor kid? “Why can’t you be like your sister?” Both male and female teachers have said this to him. I replied to my wife “Well, he’s not a girl, so…” She scoffed, and interrupted “So use the excuse boys with be boys?!”

    I could tell this was going to cause an argument so I just dropped it. But it did make me think back to my childhood, I have an older sister who I always got along with, even as kids we hardly ever fought with each other. I do remember being told the same thing back then 70’s and 80’s “Why can’t you be like your sister?” But yet when I got on the baseball field and soccer field they didn’t ever say “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”

    I agree where most women don’t understand men, and most men don’t understand women either. I will here both complain about it from time to time, but what I notice is that most men will say something about it, laugh it off, and then it’s water under the bridge. Women will say something and then complain about it, and hold on to it like a dog on your pants leg, they don’t let it go. A few hours, days, weeks, months, years go by and all of sudden it gets thrown in your face again.

    The house work / chores thing blows my mind. Most guys I know help their wives with the house hold chores, cooking, cleaning, laundry, child care, some weeks I do considerably more than my wife, I work from home. Between calls I do loads of laundry, and clean the bathrooms, vacuum. Then after I’m done with work I head out to do the yard work (some days 4 hours), cut grass, pull weeds, etc. I go in the house, my wife is on the couch binge watching a NetFlix series. My wife doesn’t cut grass, weed wack, pick up the dog shit, clean out litter boxes, collect / take out the garbage, do any maintenance on cars / lawn equipment / generator / snowblower.

    I notice other guys, like my next door neighbor, the poor bastard, he has it worse. His wife works part time, they have a cleaning service that comes to the house, and every time I see him he looks like a chicken with his head cut off trying to get everything done. He is trying to do yard work / cut grass, sometimes even had the kids on the lawn tractor with him, she is nowhere to be found. One day I saw him in 80 degree heat working on the landscaping by their pool, she made him stop what he was doing to get her a raft out of the shed so she could float around the pool. It made me laugh because I saw him go in the shed, muttering under his breath, and all of sudden I see a raft come flying out of the shed door way.

    “When wives earn more than their husbands, some men just can’t handle it.” I could see that, where it would be a shot to a man’s ego, we are always expected to be the bread winners no matter what. I don’t give a shit what anyone says male or female, you will be looked down upon.

    I think the problem could also be that some women also like to gloat when they out earn their SO. Nothing like having equality shoved down your throat since birth only to be emasculated by your SO because now she is the breadwinner, not you, and she will let everyone know it too because it’s so empowering.

    I’ve read in several different places, as here as well, where women coming out of college expect to marry men who make considerable more money that they will. Colleges are 60% female and 40% male, and I expect in the next 5 years their will even be a wider gap, but no one will bat an eye, and it will be something to be celebrated. 70% female 30% male, we are doing it ladies! But yet when it was 70% male 30% female it was considered horrible.

    “Men don’t complain the way women do. Ever notice that husbands rarely complain about the things their wives do and don’t do? That’s hardly because women don’t do anything “wrong.” It’s because men don’t tend to point out their wives’ flaws or condescend to them by telling them how to do better. Wouldn’t it be nice for a change if women did the same in return?”

    Back to the housework chores thing. I could spend 5 hours doing house chores, my wife will walk in the door and not notice the things the got done / are done, she notices the things that aren’t done, or will criticize the way I folded laundry / towels.

    Yet I come in sweating my ass off to get a drink after spending hours doing yard work, my wife is on the couch binge watching a Netflix series and the house is a mess dare I say anything? Oh hell no.

    This is what kills me, the constant remarks, shots taken, criticisms, jokes, pointing out every flaw, yet you dare complain or point out something about her? I am an asshole.

  3. SgtFraggleRock says

    An yet, in the NY Post, women are complaining they can’t find “economically attractive men”. AKA “men who make more than me”.

    • Titania says

      Who also put up with their moods, their addictive spending habits, their odd diets, their toxic soaps and romance novels, their toxic cosmetics, their….

      There was a time when women AND men were raised to be good spouses. That time has passed, largely, for most women, and quite a few men. Marriage, no matter how good, comes with some stresses. Maturity, the ability to stay calm under stress, advice from relatives, all helps.

  4. Stan says

    A couple more key points: 1) Women aren’t attracted to men who make less money. The relationship suffers because she doesn’t feel like having sex with him. 2) re: cleaning — why is it that no one ever looks at the housework issue with a benefit/cost analysis? Men are generally happy with far less cleaning than women. Essentially, women bitch because men aren’t doing work that only makes women happy. She demands that ‘extra’ cleaning be done because she wants it. He gets no perceived benefit from it, but he damn sure better do his ‘fair’ share of the extra work. Instead of looking only at the costs (i.e. work), why not also look at the benefit side of the question?

    • Luther says

      Women aren’t just not attracted to men who make less than they do, for marriage. They loathe and despise them. Unless they are bad boys, suitable for a wild night, or two, of course. I’ve seen couples where the wife made more. Neither partner was happy. The only time i’ve seen this work is where the guy had major medical problems- and the woman actually stayed with him, instead of dumping him.

    • Luther says

      She: I heard a noise. Go down and check it out.
      He: mmmmmmm.
      He: ubbb, ok.
      [stumbles downstairs to be sure it’s not a burglar. Returns.]
      He: there’s nothing.
      She: I know I heard something! Why didn’t you go around the entire house?
      He: Because there’s nothing there.
      She: While you’re up, could you get me a glass of milk?
      He: ok.
      She: We need to buy a whole new bedroom suite.
      He: (silently) Why did I ever think this woman would be anything other than a major energy drain?

  5. Bob Inverness says


    My ex would make lists of things to do, and then critique and complain because they were not done the way SHE wanted them done–even when it came to corners on a bed or how every dish was inside the dish washer. Nearly everything is subjective and can be done 100 different ways, as our marriage counselor tried to explain to her. My ex-s reply was along the lines of, “But he’s not doing it the RIGHT way.”

  6. grayswindir says

    Something you left out about men and chores and ‘ownership’.
    Tell them what you want done, they’ll get it done. Don’t criticize them for not doing it ‘your way’, as if ‘your way’ is the only right way. The typical male reaction is – ok, you do it your way, I’m out. Don’t focus on the details of how it is getting done, if the goal is being achieved. (This is the root of ‘mansplaining’, why a particular method is required to achieve the desired result. The rationale behind it.)
    If your husband isn’t doing some of the chores, it could simply be your criticizing his method so— fine, you do it. You wanted ownership more than you wanted him getting the job done. You own it.
    If he’s calling you over petty details, it could be you’ve been criticizing him and giving him a lot crap over petty details. Don’t calls about how/what he’s feeding the kids when you’re out? Don’t come home from a ladies night and interrogate him over how/what he fed the kids.

    Look up the ditty ‘Moose Turd Pie’ on youtube and listen to it.

  7. MalcolmN says

    Oddly – years ago – there was a survey done in Canada of women of the household- with regards to what qualified as housework. The results showed very clearly that the tasks she saw as her job- were housework, things that she saw as his job were not. While there was variance in what tasks between households it was clear, that if she perceived it as his work, it was not housework. Garden, lawn, driveway- were not housework in most homes, where she saw garden as hers it became housework. It is in effect – the minute he owns the task – it is no longer housework – and yet the argument is constantly – that he is not pulling his weight unless he is doing 50% of the “housework” where inevitably – that is defined by her. That is, he could be doing 90% of all work; but because of the way it is being approached – he will never be pulling his weight in terms of how this is presented.

    It has also been shown in the surveys of women – that when he has the kids – she sees this as his recreation time, when she has them, it is seen as work. Hence, she is doing more work.

    Virtually all social surveys of this nature are asking women, how they feel about this, and what “housework” or “parenting work” or “emotional labor” she does. Oddly – she cannot see his perspective. The few studies done that actually track time – show it is either in total – when work, commuting and all tasks around the home are counted – men doing about the same, very slightly less or more frequently slightly more. Yet – well, because the discussion is always based on surveys of her opinion – he is always the issue

    Strangely this is a choice to whip women up and make them unhappy. Women feel unsafe – and feminists assert it is a male privilege to “feel safe alone at night” except men are 3-4 times more likely to be victims of violent crimes. Men “feel safe” because nobody really asks them, nobody offers to walk them home, and nobody is constantly telling them they should feel unsafe. It is normal (Canadian Women’s foundation) to make a point of discussing the 22% of murders of women – as was done this year on the CBC where the 146 murders of women in Canada was a huge issue – but of course – the nearly 500 men killed – well, not worth a mention. It is that frankly – women are hearing about their issues being asked about how they feel, and never really looking at his feelings or reality. It is that – his time with the kids in the park, or coaching is “recreation” when he does it “parenting” and “work” when she does – because it is her that is being asked. It is also her that is being encouraged to feel put upon. “Emotional labor” for instance is a “women’s issue” because women worry about keeping it all together… however, usually balancing the bank, saying no, figuring out how the mortgage will get paid, is his problem – but of course – that is not worrying.

    The reality of women being encouraged to be endlessly angry and blame men – is also the cause of nagging- which is quite literally killing men. It is that nobody cares when men are unhappy; however, that is beginning to be understood. It is that while media and advocates are ignoring men, young men are paying attention.

    It is not just that we are failing in the education of boys (we are) but it is also that we have removed reasons why “being economically attractive” is a worthwhile pursuit. It has been made clear that men are not only disposable in women’s eyes, there is 0 appreciation ever, even when son could see dad killing himself to be the best parent, father, and provider.

    Women who harbor this mindset – are not just hurting their own happiness, they are having a real impact on the views of men – regarding all women and marriage. It is that “happy wife happy life” has become a directive- that he should pander, and her stupidest whim – becomes his obligation – and we do not see only sort of social pressure on her in return. It is that she is encouraged to behave in ways – that would be seen as abuse the other way. Note the “benefits of marriage” that are often listed for men “less time with friends” “more time working” etc – that is – losing the pleasures is life – is painted as a benefit – to him.

    • Luther says

      while media and advocates are ignoring men, young men are paying attention….. as you say. Yes, they are. Very close attention. Something about being hunted brings out awareness. Listen to them talk about how they will never get married, because of all the casualties they’ve seen, of divorce court…

  8. Johnny Lumber says

    One of the few times I’ve seen the other work around the house mentioned. I always get a laugh when I see those articles that put a dollar amount on the value of the work around the house that women do but never do the same for men. I would love to see what my work would be valued at: Gardener, Landscaper, Painter, Electrician, Plumber, Auto Mechanic, Roofer…and the list goes on. Not only am I supposed to do all of that but 50% of the other crap also.

    And if we do call our wives when they are having one of their nights out its because I don’t want to listen to a crap load when she gets home as to what I didn’t do right or the same as her.

  9. Bret says

    Under “Men do a crap ton of housework,” you didn’t mention my favorite: after one of the kids noticed the toilet didn’t flush after using it at 2am, getting up to snake out sewer lines on a cold night so the females of the household could have their morning showers without inconvenience. In this case, it’s literally a “crap” ton of housework. 🙂

  10. John says

    I started my first longterm relationship of 3 years when I was 22 with a woman that out-earned me significantly.

    That woman was strong and independent according to today’s feminist terms. In laymen terms she was a witch with a capital B.

    She out-earned me at the time and made sure I knew it. She lorded it over me all the time. Her favourite saying was “I’m a B*tch; deal with it”. She even wanted to take control over the money that I earned.

    Eventually, I dealt with it by breaking up with her.

    Another woman who wanted me for a long term relationship was also a b*tch to me. She was insufferable, which was weird for a woman wanting to start a relationship.

    Funnily enough, few years later I started my own business and became successful and lo and behold both these women became so submissive to me after that.

    Women don’t respect a man that earns less than they do and they make sure that he knows it and knows his place. That’s never a recipe for a good relationship.

  11. DD says

    I would say the most common reason that men may call their partner when doing “baby sitting” (a *terrible* term to use when they’re looking after their own children!) is because they fear the wrath that they will incur when their wife finds out that he didn’t make the same choice she would have made, and then berated him while saying “WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST CALL?!?!”.

    Also, although taking ownership is nearly always the best way of doing things if you do not allot training time for someone else then you can’t expect someone else to be up to speed with your standard operating procedures.

  12. Jerry Bowes says

    Like minds and perspectives with Alison Armstrong’s “Queen’s Code” series. I attended her co-ed course and it was life changing. My S.O. attended her series and it was hugely relationship enriching. Thank you for respecting men.

  13. Gloriana says

    Only those who don’t view men as equal but flawed versions of themselves, who don’t blame men whenever something goes wrong, who have compassion rather than resentment toward men, and who are able to bring out the best in men will ultimately win at love.

    Uhhhh…. you mean that only women who treat their men with love- without blame, resentment, with praise and compassion, who bring out the best in men, will win in love. Yes. Love begets love.

    There is an easy way for a man to deal with a woman who makes more than he does. Leave. She will never respect him, she is not attracted to him, the relationship is heading down to the ground with smoke coming out of the aircraft- just leave. And when their biology kicks in, overtime, they’ll feel the baby equivalent of having to go to the bathroom, with no bathroom in sight.

    Men who are good at the trades, tend to make more than women with PhD’s in liberal arts. I mean, I’m just saying.

    I do housework, yes. I also get the car fixed, and the other male jobs. I do it- my way. If it needs to be done her way, the expert- her- can do it her way.

    A little respect goes a long way. And all men understand the concept of having to put far more into a marriage, than they get out of it- because so many of them are in that position. A little courtesy does help them deal with it. If it’s so great to be a man, why do 4 times the number of men commit suicide, as do women?

    Women tend to spend a lot of time complaining. Men understand nobody is listening, so they get the job done.

    Women also do not understand that men have a breaking point. At some point, the addition of all the disrespect, bitching, laziness, and so on, add up, and he just wants out. The laws don’t make that easy, so he may opt out at an energetic level, only.

  14. Bob says

    The proof that women see a home differently from men, is that when a woman sees an insect in the house, she goes as nuts as she would if the insect had just crawled out of her left nostril. A man sees an insect, and calmly asks for the fly swatter. For a woman, the home is an extension of her body. For a man, the home is a place to crash, eat, maybe watch some football.

  15. Elena says

    Yes, Virginia, there really are differences between men and women. Otherwise stuff like this wouldn’t be funny:
    Smart man + smart woman = romance
    Smart man + dumb woman = affair
    Dumb man + smart woman = marriage
    Dumb man + dumb woman = divorce

    Smart boss + smart employee = profit
    Smart boss + dumb employee = production
    Dumb boss + smart employee = transfer
    Dumb boss + dumb employee = overtime

    A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
    A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn’t need.

    A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
    A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.
    A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can
    A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

    To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him
    a little.
    To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to
    understand her at all.

    Married men live longer than single men do, but married men are a lot
    more willing to die.

    A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn’t.
    A man marries a woman expecting that she won’t change, and she does.

    A woman has the last word in any argument.
    Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

    Old aunts used to come up to me at weddings, poking me in the ribs and
    cackling, telling me, “You’re next.” They stopped after I started doing
    the same thing to them at funerals.

  16. Luther says

    I found this posted at a website. You know, Suzanne, you might consider posting something like this, for men. I’m not kidding.

    F.U.C. C. E. R.

    The following report is to assist in the decision making process for evaluating risk for, determining a course of action for, and possibly engaging in coitus and or intimatization in any of the following ways.
    (Slot A to Peg D)
    (Peg D to slot C or Slot B)
    (Peg D to slot B then slot A)
    (Slot A to Slot B)
    (Slot A to Slot C)
    (Peg D to Slot A,B,C in no particular order)

    1.) PAP smear / Blood test results: looking for Herpa-gonor-syphil-aids, warts other infectious issues: Warning shaving bumps that appear every other year denotes stabilized herpes (break contact)
    2.) Number of marriages (3 or more break contact at full warp speed) (unless a LOTB)
    3.) Number of sex partners Slot C= (Age -10 x2-Myears) , Peg D (Age-5 x3-Myears), X/Y cross wire (Age-13 x5)
    4.) Number of fornication trophies or children and ages
    5.) Interview past husbands / wives /friends. 2+ derogatories, break contact
    a.) Review divorce settlements in court records
    b.) Denial of child visitation (for any reason) terminate immediately
    c.) Parental alienation terminate
    d.) Alimony terminate at lightspeed
    e.) Infidelity issues terminate at lightspeed
    f.) Cruel, vicious behavior terminate at lightspeed
    6.) Pull a credit report
    a. Look for mass amounts of debt (dignity siphon indicator)
    b. Are they responsible with money
    7.) Night stand and medicine cabinet inspection
    a. Psychotropic drugs ( Denotes crazy) (break contact rapidly)
    b. Sex toys of ludicrous size (STLS) Unless you match in size it’s an exercise in futility
    c. Anti viral drugs (Harpies/herpes warning)
    d. Heavy pain killers or drugs other than 420 ( break contact)
    8.) Adult children living at home and not in college (dignity siphon)
    9.) False advertising
    a. Padded bra
    b. Slimming corset
    c. Lifting bra
    d. Carpet doesn’t match the drapes
    e. heavy cosmetic use

    10.) Crazy diet restrictions
    11.) Severe allergies i.e. ( eppy pen needed at all times) other then bee stings
    12.) Excessive skin (flabby Abby)
    a. Taffy belly (BBR)
    b. Flying squirrel suit (loss of 100 lbs or more)
    c. Wing flaps (loss of 50 lbs )
    d. Pelican neck ( no chin)
    e. In need of P.R.S. (P. reconstruction surgery) beat up meat curtains
    f. Possess kankles, shankels or yankales, (chancre) or open sores that won’t heal
    g. Moose knot on back
    13.) Any involvement in a Personal protection order, restraining order, trespass order (you will be the next one she files one on, as soon as you disagree with her)
    14.) Any jail time (self defense, defense of children waiverable)
    15.) Gainfully employed, for at least four years, in one job?
    16.) On a scale of 1-10, where 10 is totally zonked out, how crazy are you? On that same scale, for the woman, rate her from 4-10, as no woman scores under 4 on this. If she’s over 6 on the scale, terminate immediately. If you are over 6 on this scale, don’t enter relationships with any women.
    17. Hepatitis. Terminate immediately.
    18. Feminist. Terminate at lightspeed.
    19. Review Facebook and other pages.
    20. If possible, get a visual on her friends, and perhaps mother. Ideally, get them talking. If they creep you out, terminate.

  17. John says

    Suzanne: You are so very right. Another MAJOR area of relationships is dealing with drug users/drunks. A male drunk/drug user is shunned, criticized, and so on. But a female alcoholic/drug user “must be understood”. The treatment is totally different. The following is a section of an article, by a daughter of a drunk, on some of her experiences. Suzanne: could you do an article, on the different treatment of men and women with addictions?

    I call her to get the truth, but she lies, insisting that she wasn’t drunk despite the police report and two news stories. She begins to criticize me to take the attention off her. As she’s yelling I start to wonder why I’m fighting with her, why I’m bothering to try to maintain this relationship that only produces lies and heartache. (a question men often ask themselves, in a relationship with women)

    And then I remember: it’s for my stepfather, Russ. He had been the peacemaker who always stood as the buffer between my mother and me, between her abusive alcoholic rages and my fury at her actions. I’m trying because when Russ’ health started getting bad and his dementia began taking over his mind, he asked me to take care of her. But he’s been dead for months. I know that keeping my promise to him means living with the constant abuse, manipulation and lies from my mother for the rest of my life, and that’s something I don’t know that I can do without Russ.


    Russ took care of my mother through her stints in mental hospitals, her mood swings, and her alcoholism. He took me to get my driver’s license and to the doctor when she was in rehab. He went to school functions for my sister and me when Mom was asleep on the couch in such deep depression she couldn’t get up. He stepped in when I fought with my mom over her behavior or when she was belittling my sister or me. (How about that. women are capable of abuse. You’d never know this from the press.)

    He kept our family together while my mother’s mental illness threatened to tear us apart – until he had a major stroke in February 2013. It was not his first – the one that made the left side of his face droop – but it was the worst. Suddenly the tall, bright-eyed, stoic man who had cared for me since childhood couldn’t walk or hold a real conversation. He’d forgotten that he had moved to Tennessee from Kentucky almost twenty years earlier, and, most painful of all, he forgot my name, conflating me with his sister.

    At 24, I felt like I was alone with two fully-grown children; I didn’t just have to care for Russ and his failing mind, I also inherited his responsibility for my mother. Until then, I’d been able to maintain some distance from my mother’s issues, knowing that Russ would keep them from getting too bad. But after the stroke, it was all on me. My sister, Jamie, had kept her distance from my parents altogether, making the occasional phone call or visit, but never getting involved in their daily lives. Though she visited Russ in the hospital often, the burden of our parents’ care was a responsibility I carried alone.

    As the severity of the stroke became more obvious and Russ was discharged from the hospital, Mom and I debated whether he should come home with us or go to the rehabilitation facility the doctors recommended. The facility was the only way he might have learned to walk, talk and hold a pen again, so we decided that he should go, though he was angry that he wouldn’t be going home right away.

    My mother and I walked out of the facility to the car in silence, and we both broke down crying. It was clear the Russ we knew was never coming back. In that moment, it seemed we were bonded together, a team in taking care of him.

    I was managing finances and taking power of attorney over Russ. I picked up his prescriptions, and checked on them both throughout the day and night with phone calls and text messages.

    My mother seemed to be adjusting to the fact that her husband needed her help. While I worked during the day she fed him, washed several loads of laundry, took him to doctors’ appointments, and even made arrangements with his work for his retirement.

    I began to wonder if my mother’s newfound maturity was the new normal, but I couldn’t accept it. Growing up with my mother meant always waiting for the next mistake that would throw our lives into chaos. (A lot of men have just this feeling, dealing with women) While we adjusted to the new routine, I waited for it all to start again. About two months after Russ’ stroke, I called my mother late one night. Even over the phone I could hear the heaviness of her breath, the syrupy slowness of her speech, and I knew she was drunk. It had been two years since the last time I caught her drinking at night while my stepfather slept. But this time, she wasn’t just hiding it from Russ, who could manage the situation. This time she was taking advantage of the fact that he had dementia and he wasn’t in control anymore, and she thought I wouldn’t find out.

    My husband and I drove over to her house to catch her in the act. She opened the door, and her blue eyes were exactly as wide and glassy as I pictured, remembering every other time she’d been drunk. Her normally pale freckled face was a deep shade of red I had come to know and hate. Like a teenager caught breaking the rules, she lied. (oh, women lie. You’d never know that from the press)
    Now I feel the irony of the child catching my mother in some inappropriate act and wondering how to handle it, but at the time all I knew was that no matter what progress she seemed to have made, she was never going to be responsible. (many men come to this realization about their spouses)

    The weight of the fact that I was going to be stuck caring for them both crashed on me. I was angry because I wanted to be the child, and my mother had taken that from me. The unfairness of the situation built until I felt myself breaking, and then, without Russ there to calm me or intervene, I exploded. I raged at her for drinking and for how she’d hurt my sister and me. I raged about how we were scarred from having a drunk mother who lost our house and forgot to pick us up from school when she passed out in the yard. “You’re right. Your childhood was so horrible,” she mocked. “I was such a terrible mother.” “I’m done,” I said, leaving with my husband. I wanted to never speak to my mother again, to make her be the adult for once, but I knew even as I left that I couldn’t leave for good. I had to talk to her because she was taking care of Russ, and I wanted to be there for him.

    Ever since Russ died a year later, I’ve kept trying to help my mother, but I have been burned by her drinking and lies and have tried not to expect too much from her. I decided that as long as she is trying to keep her life together I will be there for her. Now, after my friend calls to tell me about her arrest, I’m listening to my mom yelling at me over the phone, deflecting the responsibility for her actions, twisting everything until she’s in the right, and everyone else, including the police and the newspaper and the news anchor on TV, is wrong. It isn’t even close to the worst thing she’s ever done, but something about the way she is willing to refute the police and journalists to save face tells me all I need to know. It’s clear to me that no matter how well she seems to be doing, she is severely ill and not getting better.

    And that’s when I know I don’t have it in me to do it anymore – to play the games I have played since childhood with my mother. I don’t have to take the insults, the lies and the manipulation anymore. (Some men come to this realization, too)

    I feel powerless and alone, because realizing Russ isn’t there to help me through it all feels like I’m losing him all over again. But this time I’m also losing what was left of my family. I realize I don’t owe it to anyone to care more about my mother keeping her life together than she does. In that moment I feel like I’m letting Russ down, but I can honestly say I did my best to do what my stepfather asked – to take care of my mom. Yet I feel liberated knowing that I can live my life without being the parent or the caretaker. For the first time since Russ’s stroke I can live just for me. The openness of my new life without being bound to my parents scares me, but I am free of the lies, abuse and manipulation I’ve spent my whole life living in, and that’s something I will never regret.

    I hang up and block her phone number because I can’t live in her world anymore.

    Suzanne, I had to divorce 2 drunks. And having to get the divorces was all my fault (Well, it was my fault for getting involved with them. Foolish me. I am remarried, to a woman who doesn’t drink or do drugs. She has some mental issues, but I deal with them using Raymon Grace’s methods, but that’s another store.) Women are put on a pedestal, in our culture. They are never wrong- even when they are horrible drunks, or addicts. These problems are all society’s fault, or men’s fault.
    My first ex is hopelessly bipolar, according to our child. My second is pushing up daisies, due to alcohol related problems. I learned much from them, albeit at the price of considerable pain. I ask also because more and more women who wanted to be “just like men” are also imitating their alcohol and drug abuse- and apparently for the same reasons- they are isolated and alone, without the company of women that used to be a safety zone, they have a media that glorifies drug and alcohol abuse, and they have abandoned spirituality. I will always remember Dr. Carl Jung’s advice, to Bill W., a founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill asked Jung for help. Jung said he had no idea what to say- but God denied becomes addictions.

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