My husband is at home 24 X 7 because of the lockdown and is constantly criticising and instructing me about homemaking, kitchen work and interfering between me and the kids. He was always travelling for work, but now he is around all the time. His interference is getting overbearing for me and I am angry. This has affected our sexual intimacy and distanced me from him. How should I deal with this disruption at home?
Ans: Disgruntlement catalyses so much in our homes and societies. You need not fear it but you need not embrace it fully either. The truth must be separated from the fiction. While I understand that you feel demeaned due to his nit picking and pedantic explanations about homemaking and kitchen work, learn to sieve through that criticism and pick out only the feedback (if any) that applies to you.
If there is even a grain of truth in what he is saying, then you could think about it, talk to him about it when you'll have some time to spare and figure out how you would like to proceed accordingly. If his complains are just his perfectionistic tendencies coming to the fore or him trying to alleviate his own boredom or his tendency to bully you into compliance, then that must be dealt with firmly.
You will first have to gently remind your husband that you neither work for him, nor report to him and that the home you'll share - is a place where everyone must contribute in their own unique ways to the best of their abilities. If he feels so strongly about the way you do things, perhaps he should do them instead? Everyone cannot be an expert at everything in this world. A division of labour is necessary so that people play to their strengths. If you husband is better at homemaking and cooking than you are - then - in all fairness - he should take over those responsibilities and you could opt to lend him any support in those endeavours.
You could propose this to him if the finger pointing continues. Then again...how does an ideal home run? Does this question have a definite answer? That's a question for the ages - as everyone may have a very different or specific idea of how a home must run. Your husband's interferences could stem from him wanting to be in command or for him to feel relevant.
Your sexual intimacy is bound to be affected by the emotional strain that's blindsiding your relationship currently. You must also be realistic about this situation. Your displeasure with your husband's behaviour need not translate into him changing his behaviour to meet your specifications. This is where assertiveness becomes an important skill to master and demonstrate.
Many people are conditioned to accept being ill-treated or pushed around when in fact it makes them miserable. You're going to have to learn to put your foot down and let your husband know that if he wants to ideate and help, he is most welcome to do so but if he's simply going to point fingers without offering solutions, you're not going to accept such poor treatment. However, if you say this to him in an angry manner, he may retaliate in a similarly angry way which in turn would jeopardize any possibilities of negotiating with your husband.
This needs to be an ongoing discussion with your husband that you'll have to initiate with or without the participation of mediator - such as a relationship counsellor. Couples struggle to be heard with each other in many marriages. This is due to a lack of empathy and patience. It is quite possible that your husband isn't fully versed with the nuances of running your home since he would frequently travel for work.
Could your husband's comments be coming from a place of restlessness rather than malice? Or could his comments be coming from a place of ignorance rather than criticism? These are questions you could find answers to in order to understand his intentions better. Sometimes people criticize someone's work to get their attention and remind others that they need folks to look their way.
The disruption due to the lockdown and the disruption due to complicated interpersonal dynamics due to changed stress factors is commonplace in many homes these days. As with most situations that are terse, sometime and understanding must be devoted before any name calling occurs. He is your husband and he has a stake in understanding you better.
If it is proven, over time that your husband doesn't in fact care about you and deliberately wants to hurt you or cause you grief, then you have to ask yourself some very difficult questions about why you would like to stay in this marriage - at all.
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