September 10, 2010

I'm the only man in Germany...

Recently Ralf and I had a minor argument about the division of household duties. We both work - although he works more - and we both have evening calls with California. He generally takes the kids to childcare and I pick them up, drive them to gymnastics, play with them, finish up any homework, feed them and put them to bed. I do all the shopping and most of the cooking and regular doctor's appointments.

I also supervise our maid, which Ralf never helps out with.

Ralf handles all 'projects', such as the garden, garage and bathroom fixtures, as well as interfacing with any Bavarian handymen. He also bathes the kids about once a week, files our taxes and insurance claims and plans our vacations.

Our kids aren't very clean.

Some of the things I used to do in the US now fall to him because they either require more boyish charm or knowledge of German bureacracy than I have or more patience than I can muster without my head exploding.

Things recently came to a head when it was time to buy K's school supplies. We got a list from the teacher and you know how the Eskimos have 13 words for snow? Well, those wacky seal-fur wearing nomads with their frozen water obsession don't have a patch on the Germans, who have about 51 words for 'notebook.'

To make a long story short, I delegated the procurement of school supplies to Ralf.

I suppose as a married man with a wife known not to be in a wheelchair or hospital, Ralf may have lost some face doing women's work like buying school supplies. Which he then grumbled about at home.

Ralf: I'm pretty sure I'm the only man in Germany who isn't divorced or widowed that has to go buy school supplies for their kids.

Me: Really? That's probably why most of the German men we know are divorced.

Actually, that's not fair. Although there are a number of single dads at our Kindergarten, two are widowed, and none of our married friends are divorced yet.

Then we had our recurring, 'You want me to buy school supplies, let's move back to California' discussion while I was making dinner.

Now, of course, I can make fun of Ralf for just about anything. For example:

"I'm the only man in Germany who has to put the toilet seat down!"

"I'm the only man in Germany who has to put dirty clothes in the laundry basket!"

"I'm the only man in Germany who has to carry his dishes to the kitchen!"

You get the idea.


  1. Good for you! Now you can tease him for anything... And anyway, why is buying notebooks a woman's job anyway!!!?

  2. Yeah, what ladyfi said! :)

    I need to delegate to the hubby more - but then again, when I do it causes extra work for me. ;)

  3. Hmmm. You're not painting a very rosy picture of German men....

  4. Yeah, but they're tall and gorgeous.

  5. I think you need to bring in David Hasselhoff to the conversation somehow.

  6. Kristina you are so right - I hadn't even considered the Hoff angle.

  7. I have totally given up on delegating my husband. I am just to crazy and end up having to do it my way. I really have to work on that. Have a great weekend!
    Visiting and trying to follow from Over 40..hope you will stop by when you have a chance..

  8. I can introduce Ralf to my cousin's husband (they live near M├╝hldorf), who not only is the one who works outside the house, but also does a good bit of the "woman's work" like buying school supplies, doing laundry, etc. Of course, he's not tall and gorgeous either. But he is Bavarian.

  9. Oh yeah. Poor Ralph. It's not like you asked him to get you some tampons.

    Hee Hee.

  10. I had the same problem, of course. I solved it by going to McPaper and handing the woman the paper and asking her to help me with all the items. W grabbed a basket and I chose at each stop what color/cover/type of the correct item I wanted. I did the same last year for T1.
    In other ways though, I've had the "if you want me to handle that, let's move to any anglophone country and I would be delighted to" several times.
    And it does seem that recently the majority of women that I know that have been married to German men are separated/divorced/ seeking counseling. I find it a bit frightening (and that's with a husband who has no issues with picking up tampons or giving kids baths - and is better at brushing their teeth than I am.)

  11. Actually you have done so many good things over their...Thanks for sharing....

  12. American women everywhere salute the only man in Germany. :-)


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