Like any other couple, Kay and I share the responsibility for maintaining our household together. We usually consult each other before making decisions regarding travel, large household purchases or social events, but aside from that we trust each other to get shit done.
Since we have switched to German during the week and because we live in Switzerland, much of this coordination is done in German. I am still by no means fluent, but we talk about things so regularly in German that sometimes I struggle with the English expressions for some things.
Still, sometimes it seems SO difficult to organize things here, either because of the German miscommunication or because of the traditional husband-wife stereotypes still prevalent here. Sometimes I wonder if more of my problem results from the latter…
One morning while Kay was in the army I had a surprise ring at the doorbell in the morning while I was finishing up to leave for work. I was caught off guard and didn’t have a lot of time, but I invited the guy up to answer the door and his questions.
Kay had emailed the bathroom guys (per their request) to cancel the appointment that day because they had already fixed our grout and delivered the extra bathroom tiles, so I had completely forgotten about it and was wondering why they came. Apparently they had a double delivery of extra tile scheduled and wanted to know where to put it.
Fine. I can deal with that. Extra, extra tile is never bad.
But the guy also pressed the grout issue. I told him it was fine, it was fixed, but he wanted to go to the bathroom to make sure. I humored him.
I showed him to the master bath and explained that the problem with the grout was beneath the towel hooks, which I had already remounted by myself in Kay’s absence. You couldn’t see any difference when they were remounted. The guy seemed a little unsure about my explanation, but I assured him it was fine and that was the last thing for the bathroom portion of the house to be “done”. But he didn’t trust me. He actually asked me,
Yep. He was questioning this poor housewife’s ability to know what flaws we outlined during our home inspection and which ones are repaired. Considering that I am the one that found out about both grout problems and complained, I am confident that I am perfectly capable of signing off the agreement slip without phoning my husband for permission.
So I told him, “No, I don’t need to call my husband. Everything is fine. And anyway he is in the military so even if I wanted to call him, he is unavailable. Where do I sign? Are we done now? I have to go to work!”
But I was still so annoyed that once again someone thinks that I’m helpless or inferior to my male counterpart, when usually Kay is the one asking me if all the mistakes are fixed or if we are missing any details.
Later, the same week, Kay messaged me asking me to call and coordinate with the window people to come fix the window issues in the flat. After playing phone tag while the company sorted out why I was calling in the first place, I was speaking with a woman about a time when the guy could come take a look at the windows.
I told her that it needs to be early in the morning or late in the evening because I work during the day, so she asked me, “How about 10am?”
Well, no. Because I work 40 minutes from home so I cannot leave for a 10am appointment without taking a half day. I told her that doesn’t work since I work from 8-5 and asked her if I can have an appointment after 5pm.
“How about 5pm on Tuesday?” she responded.
I don’t think she really put two and two together with the working 40 minutes away and working 8-5. I asked her if we could push it later, at least until 5:30pm, which is a stretch for me but I could do it.
“Sure, 5:30 is great! We’ll see you on Tuesday at half past five!”
Only I totally forgot about the appointment because I missed my ical reminder and Kay was gone so I went to work a little later at 8:30am and came home at 6:00pm, thirty minutes too late. Oops.
But the worst part is that I rescheduled the appointment for 7:30am the next week and the window guy surprised me at home the night before, at 6:10pm. 6:10pm! He gave me a whole schpiel about how 7:30am was sooo early in the morning for him and me and wouldn’t it be better to just do it now if I had time. It was bizarre.
If 6ish was a better time for the guy anyway, why didn’t the lady on the bloody phone just work with me when I told her my working hours were 8-5?! Was she trying to make life as a DINK harder?
I might not be able to express myself fully or completely naturally in German, but I know enough that I hope I can get my point across without terribly offending all of Switzerland. I know it’s awful that I’m not at home all day cleaning the house and letting workers in and calling Kay to ask if everything is OK, but I could use a little more faith from these people.
My mother raised me to be a strong, independent woman and I am perfectly capable of taking care of things by myself while Kay is gone.
Do you ever feel like people treat you like the smaller half of your marriage?