My Partner Says He’s “Feminist,” but He’s Not Helping with the Wedding


Is this the lack of support I can expect in my future marriage?

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

man and woman sitting on couch together

Q: My partner and I are getting married in August. I have always seen him as an ally, a feminist; he never diminishes my feelings, strives to understand my experience, and advocates for the Diva Cup to his co-workers. In our home life, we definitely have gender roles, but they are usually explicitly talked about and agreed upon until we understand what the other is comfortable with. Much of our partnership is shared on a basis other than gender.

So why, when it comes to wedding planning, does everything feel so gendered, stereotypical, and awful all of a sudden? My partner has done nothing to take the reins on this thing. We are planning a big wedding because my family is huge, but I felt we had decided that together, and he is the one who proposed. At first I let him off the hook, making excuses like, “He isn’t good at calling venues,” or “We are planning it in my home state so I know more.” I’m afraid I set the precedent for a tired and sexist wedding planning process, wherein because I have a vagina I have an innate event planning ability (I definitely don’t; I’m disorganized and I don’t know anything about decorating), and now it’s starting to hurt my feelings.

We have six months to go, and I really don’t want to feel like I’m dragging him through this. For me, it is starting to become symbolic: Does it really matter to him? Why am I trying to plan a meaningful ceremony if it will hold no meaning to him? He has given me his guest list and estimated alcohol costs, and both are things I had to “nag” him for. Ugh. I feel like it’s pushing me into an identity crisis… is this my married self? Naggy, with a dismissive and uninterested husband?

I would really like for him to get online, get some ideas of his own, even show initiative and ask me where we are in the process and what needs to be done. On the other hand, I get that he is really busy (though as the major breadwinner, so am I) and, to top it off, he is quitting nicotine. And I know that is really hard, and will be for months. So do I let him off the hook, delegate some tasks and give him a break? Accept this isn’t his forte, stop taking it to heart and interpreting it as the future of our relationship? Help!

—Ashley

A:

Dear Ashley,
It could just be a fluke. Weddings are weird! They’re complicated, intense, and most people don’t know how to plan them, never have before, and won’t need to ever again. So maybe this is just a one-off issue. But, no, you don’t let him off the hook.

Because while it may be a fluke, there’s also a chance it’s not. There’ll be plenty of other times when you guys will need to do something he’s not innately interested in doing. And when that happens, it’s all too easy to make excuses for our partners. Be real. Are you super pumped to call venues? Even if it is your home state, do you really have all that much insider knowledge about the wedding vendors there? And yet you’re still doing it! Wedding planning isn’t always fun. But it sounds like that’s the case for both of you, which means you should be sharing in this big task—and in the rest that come your way down the road.

How much should you be sharing? Well, that’s where it gets a little complicated. At bare minimum, he has to help with task completion. No arguments. Tell him I said so. But, there’s also the emotional labor of remembering what needs to be done. Put another way, there’s the actual work of making phone calls, and then there’s the emotional work of knowing that the phone calls even need to be made. If you just want his help with the first part, tell him so. Ideally, that can be fixed immediately. If you also want help with that second part, that may take a bit more time and a little practice.

In heterosexual relationships, women are typically socialized to be the rememberers, the ones who carry the emotional burden of researching, planning, and storing all of the mental info. If you find yourself falling into that pattern, it can take real effort to help your partner keep those same mental logs and take the initiative to tackle them without your delegating and prodding. If this is coming up now, it’ll probably continue to come up for a good long time. Plus, you’re the breadwinner! And still, you’re not just doing all of the legwork of wedding planning, but also the mental work, too, while he sits back. If he’ll do this now, my gut says he’ll for sure do it again and again in the future. Are you up for that?

Now that we covered that, there are a few more things I gotta say. I know it’s tough to sum up your whole life in one email, but some of what you mentioned made me pause. Advocating for diva cup doesn’t make the “super feminist!” cut for me, and would make me really uncomfortable if I was one of his coworkers. And having roles is a normal part of cohabitation, but when you call them “gender roles” it makes me wonder if they’re being assigned according to who wants to do what (which wouldn’t make them gender roles, just roles-roles) or who has which genitalia.

“Feminist” is an important word and it’s terrific if he self-describes that way. But only if he walks the walk. None of us will get it right every time, particularly guys (who haven’t personally faced the kinds of sexism we endure). But, saying you’re a feminist dude and then telling the women at work how to care for their uteruses, or assigning household roles based on gender, or letting the women around you do all the dirty work… it doesn’t add up.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTIONPLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • Amy March

    I don’t think “never diminishes my feelings, strives to understand my experience” is feminist at all. That’s just being a decent person.

    I think the answer isn’t really about the specific tasks- I dunno, maybe he’s great at other big things and the socialization against men in weddings is too much, or maybe he’s really hurting, or maybe he’s happy to have a good excuse to be lazy. I think the real issue is here: “Does it really matter to him? Why am I trying to plan a meaningful ceremony if it will hold no meaning to him? … is this my married self? Naggy, with a dismissive and uninterested husband?” Have you asked him those questions? Have you told him that to you this feels a lot bigger than “you have no thoughts about the florist selection.” I think what is important is his answers to those questions and how you talk about it. Because you can power through the wedding stuff just fine, but conveniently nearly all of the emotional labor of life is coded female, so you need to expect that this will happen again about something and be confident that you can, at least, talk about it in a way that makes you comfortable.

    And I agree with Liz. Major eek moment on any coworker enthusing to me about any menstrual product.

    • Roselyne

      THIS. Ask the question in a specific way (‘you have no thoughts about the flowers?’) and in the general (‘why are we having this wedding, do you care about what we’re doing, what are your thoughts about the division of labour, etc’).

      It’s great practice for the art of arguing in marriage. In my experience, people say way too much of the obvious on the surface (‘I’m pissed that you didn’t do the dishes’) and don’t dig into the underlying issues (‘you not doing the dishes means that you have more free time than me, which DIRECTLY affects my life and makes me feel like you don’t respect me or my free time, THIS IS A PROBLEM’. It’s not about the dishes.). Being able to dig in and have that discussion is, I’m convinced, a pretty key part of a successful marriage.

  • Eenie

    To specifically address the ceremony part – you read all over apw that the ceremony is the most meaningful part of a wedding and the couple crafted it together painstakingly over several weeks. It doesn’t have to be. I wrote ours in about 30 minutes after getting so effing frustrated with my fiance at the time because he just couldn’t CARE. Am I a little sad he couldn’t work with me on it? Yes. But he read it. Gave me feedback. I rewrote it and we were done. So you both don’t have to care about the ceremony (it was a damn good ceremony that he thanked me for crafting) for it to be meaningful.

    Good luck with the planning. Maybe ask him what he wants? I was upfront about how I wasn’t planning this wedding by myself. But I didn’t ask my husband to do things if he didn’t see the end goal or point (so yes, I made and designed the guest book). So maybe he doesn’t understand the why behind the tasks, and that’s kind of important when you’re tackling a to do list. (Or creating the to do list.)

    • Totch

      On the flip side, it has sometimes been helpful to us when my fiance doesn’t have a good idea of the point/stakes/big picture but executes things anyway. We’ve accepted that emotional labor is something I’m gonna do more than him, so that informs which jobs we do.

      My fiance will be the one figuring out our guest book. Neither of us care all that much, but if I do it I’m more likely to accidentally spin out about symbolism or if that photo will offend a grandparent or whatever.

  • Kayjayoh

    What Amy and Liz have said. It is important to bring these things up with him, and you also have a very easy in as far as framing language goes, because you already have it based in “I feel” statements.

    In my own relationships, I find it very helpful to give myself a little bit of time to sort out the crux of my discomfort and then bring it to the other person in an “I feel” context. I know from my own side of things that I’ve been hurt deeply when someone has been unhappy about/because of something I have done or failed to do, and I discovered late in the game that they hadn’t told me. You can’t fix what no one tells you is broken. Not even fix/broken. You can’t improve a thing if you don’t get the data that its performance is sub-optimal.

    I also agree that being a decent human is a baseline, and that while it is good for a man to claim he is feminist, that is more than just being a decent person and holding the label “feminist.”

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    This is my wedding planning LIFE right now. Even when my dude is willing to help me with tasks, the fact of the matter is, he never thinks of tasks before I do…and that’s because I’m a woman and I’ve been socialized to think about, and agonize over, wedding planning tasks. What’s most frustrating about this fact is that it’s neither his fault nor mine; I feel like I have to sublimate my frustration because there’s no one for me to blame.

    The only thing I can do is draw his attention to all the things I’m thinking about, all the things I stress about before they’ve even crossed his mind at all. He is not, and probably never will be, the one who downloads the venue floor plan to strategize decorating or who worries about whether it’ll rain while we’re taking photos or who has wedding planning stress dreams. But at least I can share all these worries with him and he can help me get through it.

    • sofar

      Same here! I eventually started copying him on all my emails with the vendors and day-of coordinator. Dozens and dozens of emails. His phone was constantly pinging and he finally said, “Wow! This is a lot of work!”

    • Perhaps not, but he can be the one who deals with the caterer and handle his mother’s overly-restrictive dietary obstacles. Off-load some of that emotional labor!

      …I also just assigned him vendor communication and/or decisions (where necessary). DJ, caterer, baker, venue…I think I’ve got linens, flowers, hair/makeup, registry, and day-of coordinator…plus the overall timeline. Invites are a combined effort, run on my schedule. We’ll see what happens with the website.

  • Greta

    I agree with what everyone has said so far; in terms of specific wedding planning tasks it might help to break down everything into a big master list and go through it all together and divide up the major tasks/etc. Like, photography, venues, food, alcohol, audio, etc. Then say to your partner, “ok, which of these major goals do you want to take on, and which ones should I take?” and then let him go with it. You could even include some due dates in there, if you’re very nervous, so that he knows when things need to be done by, and then you can save yourself unnecessary reminders.

    It’s still plenty of work for you, and it is endlessly frustrating to have a partner who says “I don’t care what X looks like/feels like/etc” you can counter with “I don’t care either, but we still have to have X, so let’s make a decision.” This is what many of our Friday night take out dinners look like – we both don’t care what we eat, but we have to eat, so someone has to make a decision. It shouldn’t always be you!

    • Eenie

      THIS – People assume because you are doing something you care about it. Nope, I’m doing it because it needs to be done. Welcome to being an adult.

      I would add a column to said spreadsheet with rankings for how much you care about each as well. It helps when deciding how much time, energy, and money should be spent (more doesn’t always go to the high priorities). Also, you may find you care about different things.

      • Meg Keene

        RIGHT? I spend my days doing things I don’t care about much (laundry), because it needs to get done. That’s LIFE, better get used to it now.

        • Roselyne

          Hah. OMG, the first time my husband tried to tell me he didn’t do dishes because, and I quote, “but I don’t LIKE doing dishes”… Oh, MAN.

          I was like, WHAT, you think I enjoy it? That I dream about dishes? That I feel PERSONALLY FUCKING FULFILLED??! NO! I like eating of plates that haven’t been mouldy! Shape the fuck up! (Erm… more or less direct quote).

          He still doesn’t do dishes, but I haven’t cleaned a toilet, scrubbed a bathroom, emptied a litter box, or ironed a single one of my work shirts in 5 years, so I’ll take it. :)

          • Eenie

            This is us and folding laundry. I folded what was left of four weeks of laundry the other day and my husband acted like I had sacrificed a huge part of my soul for him. He yelled at me for trying to clean any dirty dishes for three days straight!

        • lfar

          Yes! Excerpts from a recent fight about chores: “you don’t get to call yourself a feminist but expect your girlfriend to do your laundry” and after he explained that he just doesn’t like doing laundry, I said, “that’s all the patriarchy is, is each man convincing himself that their girlfriend just happens to like doing laundry”

          • Jessica
          • Danielle

            Can I just burn up my husband’s car the next time I do laundry?

            Because, #goals

          • I’m confused by this…did these partners/SOs not do their laundry/dishes/etc. pre-partnering? And were just waiting around for a girlfriend to come around and do it instead?

  • Spot

    Good lord, I’m glad I’m not the only one who would be wildly uncomfortable with a cis dude coworker “advocating” for menstrual cups in the office. He should dial that back like, 110%. Cups have a weirdly intense following as it is.

    I’ve noticed a trend of mediocre people adapting the language and “right” public behavior of a movement that isn’t for them as a way to cover for their mediocrity. I’ve particularly noticed this in cishet dudes who are very loud about “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” brand feminism, but don’t actually critique or modify their own behavior in ways that might be inconvenient or uncomfortable. LW gives her boyfriend a gold star, and yet here she is performing the bulk of the feminized labor here.

    I really like Liz’s advice. LW, stop fretting about transforming from Cool Girlfriend to Nagging Wife. You’re not either, and never were. You’re a person and you gotta get shit done. I know nicotine withdrawl is a doozy (my fiance quit cold turkey a few years ago) but it doesn’t inhibit daily functions–and daily functions right now include calling florists and shopping for linen rentals. You’re both in this together, and it’s time for him to put his money (and emotional labor) where his mouth is.

    • Meg Keene

      I feel like I just want men to walk the feminist walk. Telling me how feminist they are feels like the old days when guys would tell you what a great guy they were. It took me awhile to learn that was a major red flag. Mostly because actual good guys don’t go around telling people they’re good guys. Because that’s gross.

      I mean, sure, I want men to use the word feminist. But not like, to mansplain it to me.

      • Lawyerette510

        Along the same lines, my mom always told my sister and I “Be very skeptical of someone who tells you to trust them, trustworthy people don’t have to tell you to trust them.” Feminist men need to show people they are feminist, not tell them.

        • Violet

          Yep. Anytime someone says, “You won’t regret it!” I think, “Ohhhhhh… better not, I’ll regret it.”

        • Kelsey

          I just read the gift of fear and he talks about unsolicited promises and how you’re internal response should be, “you’re right, I am feeling uncomfortable about this situation”

      • Megan
      • joanna b.n.

        And yet, when we first started dating, my hubby told me repeatedly that he was an asshole. Spoiler alert from 11 years later, he’s really not. :)

      • TeaforTwo

        Thisthisthis. Except I only want them to use the word feminist if they’re actually applying a woman-centric lens to something. If they’re just doing the bare minimum of not being a douche, we can just call it that.

        We took our prenatal birth classes a few weeks ago, and out of eight couples, there were two dads who made sure to introduce themselves as feminists right at the outset.

        They also proceeded to talk over their wives and every other pregnant woman in the room, ALL WEEKEND LONG, and one even had the gall to say “I want this birth to be an experience I can be really proud of, and I need my wife’s help with that.”

        My husband does not use the word feminist to describe himself, but at the break when he said “those guys are douches, I’m pretty sure the support is supposed to go in the other direction during childbirth, and I wish he would stop interrupting his wife,” I knew I’d married the better guy.

        • AP

          “one even had the gall to say “I want this birth to be an experience I can be really proud of, and I need my wife’s help with that.”

          I. Can’t. Even.

    • Danielle

      On this topic: There was a great article in the NYT Magazine a few weeks ago about white people using the word “woke,” or wanting to be described as “woke.” Basically it’s like, shut up: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/24/magazine/earning-the-woke-badge.html

      Off topic: I tried the Diva Cup a few years ago after hearing about how wonderful it is, and it just doesn’t work for my body! It was too big/uncomfortable/rigid for my lady parts. Do I need a man to tell me how great it is? Do I want to tell him why it doesn’t work for me? NOPE.

      • Cleo

        Love that article! Thanks for sharing!

      • Eenie

        Just on the diva cup topic… There are other brands that are shaped differently if it’s something that you wanted to try again. I love mine but realize it’s not for everyone, especially people who don’t have a vagina.

        • Danielle

          I know there are other brands, but maybe that one experience made me hesitant to try. The material just seems too rigid.

          (Perhaps TMI, but I don’t wear tampons either. I just hate shoving things up there! My lady bits are pretty sensitive.)

          • Eenie

            Yeah, totally your call obviously. I would never have discovered them if my random HS friend hadn’t had a post on FB about it. I wanted to spread the knowledge in case anyone else had no idea these options existed. As someone who’s period can last up to seven days, I seriously save money and the environment.

          • Roselyne

            Same. And it’s not the mess factor – I’ve used washable pads, and just think they’re kinda bulky.

            I really wanna try Thinx, because just pulling on a pair of panties and going on with your day seems fantastic, but they’re expensive!

          • Danielle

            Thinx sound cool!

            TBH on the later days of my period I just wear old underwear and bleed on them, then throw them out. Perhaps it’s not good for the environment, but I hate the feeling of most period products.

          • toomanybooks

            I’ve enjoyed Thinx because I don’t like insertable menstrual products and after a point pads can chafe. They work and they are comfy and cute! You do suuuuper have to wash them as soon as you’re done wearing them, though. Now that I’ve moved to a place with my own laundry machines it’s easier to do. I have a couple pairs to alternate and I think it’s pretty easy to find discount codes online.

          • Alanna Cartier

            I bought three pairs of Thinx a few months ago, and I am so in love with them!

          • jan

            For anyone else experiencing this who wants to try again, I found it more flexible and MUCH easier to insert when it’s warm. I just run warm water over it when I clean it, and it is much more comfortable to put in. Don’t dry it, either, the little drops of water seem to help lubricate it. My two cents. :)

          • Not Sarah

            Also, for anyone who can’t seem to get out their menstrual cup out: lube is SO helpful for getting it out when it seems stuck.

          • Megan

            If you don’t like tampons then a cup probably isn’t for you. I love it as an alternative to tampons that dont leak and i dont have to think about for 12 hours…

          • Not Sarah

            That’s totally fair! I never used tampons and thought they were crazy. I use a Lunette and have been really happy with it. One of my friends thought the reusable ones were too rigid, so she uses Softcups which are disposable. (And you can have sex while using Softcups!) My friend who waxed poetically about menstrual cups to me said it would take one period to adjust, but I actually found it took about four periods for me to fully adjust to it. (I was really in love with the idea of no longer needing to deal with my period at work, so I was willing to keep trying…) I needed to cut the stem off of mine for it to be comfortable.

          • Meg

            I’m in the same boat! I just am not a fan. I always FEEL the thing all the time and it distracts me too much. Am thinking about switching to re-usable cloth pads though, just to save money/be more environmentally friendly.

          • Lisa

            These were my main reasons for switching to the cup. I hated spending money on disposable things that end up in landfills. Oddly for me, I always disliked and could feel tampons, but I don’t have the same issues with the cup once it’s in place. (Sometimes this takes a few minutes of having it in and allowing my muscles to relax.) I always used pads prior and would probably have looked into reusable ones/Thinx if I didn’t already have the cup.

          • Alanna Cartier

            I’m the same way, so I bought period panties! THEY ARE SOOOOO GOOOOOD.

          • Danielle

            What does that mean? Is it a special kind of underwear, or just old pairs you use specifically for that?

          • Alanna Cartier

            They’re called Thinx, and they are special underpants with magic absorption abilities. They’re so good I literally forget I’m on my period.

            You can check them out here and save $10 if you use my referral link :)

            http://fbuy.me/dT0u1

    • stephanie

      “I’ve noticed a trend of mediocre people adapting the language and “right” public behavior of a movement that isn’t for them as a way to cover for their mediocrity. I’ve particularly noticed this in cishet dudes who are very loud about “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” brand feminism, but don’t actually critique or modify their own behavior in ways that might be inconvenient or uncomfortable.”

      You are everything.

      • Roselyne

        It’s right up there with guys who are like ‘But I’m a nice guy!!’ Like, yeah, dude, that’s the BARE MINIMUM. What else are you bringing to the table. In actions, not in theory.

    • toomanybooks

      Yeah, the part that was a red flag to me was when she was making excuses for him, the nicotine thing came out of nowhere in the letter and seemed like a reach to justify why he wasn’t doing more.

  • SLG

    One more thought: If you’re feeling tension about Doing The Tasks, who decided those tasks should be done in the first place? Have you had a talk about what kind of wedding you *both* want to have, what’s important to you both, and what it will take to have the wedding you both want? It could be that he feels like this is your thing because so far it’s been … your thing.

    For example, you mentioned calling around to find a venue. That implies there was a decision somewhere along the line that you’re having the sort of wedding that needs a venue (as opposed to at someone’s house, flashmob in a park, etc.). Is that a decision you both made? “We’re planning a big wedding” is a little different from “We’re planning a big wedding that requires XYZ kind of venue because we definitely care about making ____ happen at the reception.”

    (If you have talked about what’s important to both of you and what it will take to get there, then things are different, obvs.)

  • Orangie

    One thing that was missing from the letter is, “when we’ve talked about it, he says…” which makes me wonder if Ashley has ever discussed this with her fiance. There’s a good chance he doesn’t know how much work is being done, especially if phone call are made during lunch hours, or that he thinks there’s still time, or that he thinks she’s enjoying the planning, or a hundred other reasons. I’d say talk to him before deciding that this spells doom for equality within your marriage for the rest of your life.

    • emmers

      That was my big question, too. If you haven’t talked about it, he may not realize how you feel (or that you feel like this one sided wedding planning is portending one sided, non-feminist post-marriage life).
      With my partner, there have been when we’ve defaulted to me being expected to do typically “female” role things, like cooking dinner. It’s taken multiple conversations, and honestly the change has been slow but incremental, but it’s helped a lot to keep addressing this through conversations, and explain that some of my worries are that I’ll be really overwhelmed if we have kids, and this continues as the expectation. So I’m going to plug talking with him about a) what specific behaviors or non behaviors you’re concerned about, and b) why you’re concerned– both for your life now, but how this spills into worries for the future.

    • Jess

      Cosigned.

      It’s ok to ask for the things we want. We can’t fix the problem together if we’re not both aware the problem exists.

    • emilyg25

      Yes yes yes.

      DUDE. TALK TO HIM.

      You’re gonna get married. You need to be able to talk about stuff. Life only gets more complicated from here.

      • Rachel

        Ok I get what you are saying and I thought so too. Yes in most cases your statement is true. HOWEVER planning weddings does something freaky to everyone. I thought it was going to be easy; we had been through so many hard “divorce” situations. We are project managers by profession. I mean I’ve started a business with my fiancee ( 4 years and running good! ) I’ve purchased a home and are still in the process of DIYing it together. It’s an extensive renovation with us doing the work ourselves (2+ years + in NYC area = not cheap a bit stressful) Even through all of that, we are still functioning like a relationship should. I mean we are mastering all are things that supposedly supposed to break a couple up. Then we decided to plan this wedding and all of a sudden things got weird with what we as well as other people expected to happen. We are handling it; however I know after this wedding things will go back to normal. I’ve decided to treat this experience as a social experiment. I’m going to just get the damn thing done with as little drama as possible. This is because I know after this wonderful day is done, we can get back to real life and our relationship. Because honestly that’s a whole lot more fun then just this one day. Granted it’s a meaningful day, but honestly it’s just a day. I can’t imagine doing the drama of planning wedding when we were just starting our relationship. God I would have left him. However with 9+ years I know that he’s awesome as a partner; he’s just a crappy party planner.

    • clarkesara

      Totally cosigning this, as someone who has mentioned major aspects of wedding planning to my (also totally feminist!) fiance, only to hear him say, “The wedding isn’t for like a year…” You need to sit him down and explain the timeframe and what needs to be done when. Most people I’ve talked to who haven’t planned a wedding have NO IDEA how long it takes or what kind of lead time is involved. If you internalize all this stuff, you’re protecting him from it and resigning yourself to do it all yourself. Talk to him about this stuff!

  • gonzalesbeach

    I tend to like reading different advice columns… and one columnist often says that they can’t give advice or tell the non-letter writer what to do, only to advise the LW. So we can’t give LW’s partner direct advice (eg. ‘tell him I said so”) because he didn’t write in. Rather as others say, LW could sit down with partner and share her concerns, and tell him why she ‘feels like she’s dragging him through this’ and her feelings about whether he’s actually invested. And ask him what’s going on for him and figure out how to more equitably share wedding planning responsibilities.

    On the last paragraph – . ‘but saying youre a feminist dude and then telling the women at work how to care for their uteruses…’ LW says she considers him to be a feminist/ an ally, but we don’t actually know if partner would label himself as such. Plus, we don’t actually know his co-workers are females. Also, LW did not say that her partner ‘lets the women around him do all the dirty work’ and well, that’s comes off as a fairly judgey assumption based off a tiny snip of email

    • Liz

      “Tell him I said so,” was meant jokingly, I’m sorry that didn’t come across to you.

      I think the entire letter is pretty clear that he’s not helping with the wedding chores, and so letting her do “all the dirty work,” no judgey assumptions necessary.

  • Kate

    I screamed internally when I read the Diva Cup thing. WHYYYYYY. That is very very high on the list of things that are not his business. You know what is his business? Planning his own goddamn wedding.

    • Meg Keene
    • Meg Keene

      GIRL.

    • stephanie

      YOU.

    • toomanybooks

      Me toooooooo I’m so glad this was brought up in the response

    • NatalieN

      yup yup yup. That’s pretty much like me telling my male coworkers they really should be wearing boxers not briefs – but, see, my coworkers private parts are non of my business

    • RMC

      I agree that if he is telling female coworkers to use the Diva Cup, that is bizarre and unacceptable. But I find it annoying that many men can’t handle talking about periods when 99.999999% of them have lived/currently live with someone who has a period. I think there are ways feminist men can be part of destigmatizing the “grossness” of periods and I can think of plenty of circumstances where he could be with a group of coworkers who are also friends and talk about the Diva Cup in a way that wouldn’t make me feel uncomfortable. Especially if he’s talking to other men!

      • Mary Gilliland

        “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr”…..!nt95etwo days ago grey MacLaren P1 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k Dollars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 Dollars…Learn. More right Here !nt95e:➽:➽:➽➽➽➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsSupportGetPay-Hour$98…. .✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸::::::!nt95e….,..

    • Anjli

      What is Diva Cup please? Though I kind of feel like I don’t want to know…

      • Samie

        Diva Cup is a menstrual cup that you can insert into your vagina / sits underneath your cervix and holds any fluids that happen to be happening. They’re normally made of silicone, and can be left in for about 8 hours at a time without any concern. A fantastic alternative to tampons and pads, if it works for you.

        • Eenie

          *12 hours at a time!

      • A single sarah

        Diva cup is a brand of menstrual cups. They’re amazing, just not something you want to learn about from your male coworker. (Questionably your male best friend. Definitely APW comments or a female friend ;)

        It’s a silicone cup that you insert during your period–so kind of like a tampon. It collects the blood and you empty it periodically (for me once in the morning and once in the evening). During my period, I rinse well before putting it in again. After my period I boil it to sterilize it.

        On the one hand it can be harder to navigate in a public toilet. But it’s amazing to not worry about whether I need to change my pad. And to actually see how light or heavy my flow is. And to have days where I think my period is coming when I put the cup in first thing in the morning and I have to check in the evening to tell if I’m right. (I chart my cycle, but it’s not always obvious which day it will start.) Love love love menstrual cup. But ewwwww to hearing about it from male coworker.

        • Anjli

          Are they not uncomfortable / hard to get in and out? I’m petite in all ways, and normally use pads or sometimes the small tampons with the inserter.

          • AHW

            There are different brands that have different sizes, etc., and I think probably you could find one that is comfortable for you. Personally I have no problem getting mine in and never feel it.

            This video is super informative, and done by a really awesome 16yr old. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G87oBd6rOw

          • Anjli

            Thank you

      • Helen

        AND, it doesn’t screw with your natural flora – I’ve had zero thrush since starting. I had to use tampons again this cycle and they hurt. So scrapy and bangy. I’d forgotten. With Diva cups you’re totally confronted by your menses, and you need to get up in your own shiz to use them, but don’t count those as negatives, necessarily

    • +100

  • Cleo

    Gonna co-sign that anyone who doesn’t have or has never had a period advising me on menstrual products would be just wildly uncomfortable, especially in an office setting.

    But wanted to point out one thing in the letter that wasn’t discussed: “We are planning a big wedding because my family is huge, but I felt we had decided that together”

    As my partner and I begin to talk more about our wedding in a concrete way, it’s come up that my family’s presence will inevitably dwarf his (our initial, must-have guest list includes maybe 10 people from his side versus 50+ from mine). He’s said multiple times that he knows this wedding will be more about me/my family than him/his family…not in a gendered way, but due to our relationships with our respective families alongside sheer numbers.

    He’s not super excited about a larger wedding — he’d rather just elope at the courthouse on a Wednesday afternoon and not tell anyone — but he knows how important my family is to me, and is willing to make this concession. As part of that, though, he’s asked that he has a minimal role in planning and I’m happy to make that compromise (he’s in charge of music and his/his groomsman’s outfits).

    Obviously, we’ve communicated very clearly about this and it works for both of us (especially because my guy is AWESOME about sharing emotional labor – he’s the reminder in the household and keeps our calendar up-to-date), but perhaps LW’s fiance’s disengagement from the planning process is in part because he doesn’t feel like the wedding is “for him” in the same way my partner doesn’t.

    In any case, I hope, LW, that you communicate your feelings to your fiance…I don’t see any evidence in your letter that you did, and if he’s as great a guy as you say, I’m sure he’ll jump at doing what needs to be done.

    • JLily

      This is my situation, too. For us it was: 1-he wants to elope, I want to sort of elope but have like, my verrrry favorite people there, so 2- we have to draw the invitee-list-line somewhere, but that complicates things and leaves a lot of feelings to manage, so 3- we are now having a medium to large size wedding in my home state. Most of the people there will be my people, and while the message obviously will be that they are his people now too, I know he feels like it is more “for me”. He is in charge of some stuff like beer and whisky, making signs/table numbers/other things in his dad’s metal shop, organizing things for his best man/family/self, and planning the honeymoon. I am in charge of…everything else. It is a lot to plan and organize all the things, but I know he doesn’t care about them (he says he is just excited to be married), and I really do. Like, not every single thing the world says you need, but the things that I like and think will be meaningful/fun/important.

      So although I will die on the hill of equal labor (emotional and otherwise), I am giving him (and my feminist shoulder-angel) a bit of a pass when it comes to the wedding. I am choosing to think of it as and a gift to myself, since I have so many other things to work out and adding a goal to completely share in this work equally would just add to the wedding planning list. Also, since I am doing it all, it will all be my way (which I can’t say I hate) and also think he will quite enjoy it because I am doing a great job :)

      • Cleo

        “Also, since I am doing it all, it will all be my way (which I can’t say I hate) and also think he will quite enjoy it because I am doing a great job :)”

        Truth. Being given the freedom to just DECIDE and not have to agonize over every detail together is kind of awesome. It’s done, I’m happy, and he’ll be happy to be married either way. win-win.

  • S

    Does he definitely want a wedding? The kind you’re planning? You mention that he proposed, as that’s some sort of indicator that he wants one, but all it really means is he wants to marry you. I probably want to get married one day but if you asked me what music I wanted when I walked down the aisle or what colour tablecloths I wanted I’d stare at you blankly: I don’t want a wedding, and certainly not a big one. If he does want a wedding as much as you then I think it’s simple: ask him why he thinks you should do more of the work than him. Don’t mince around or provide him excuses, don’t keep planning in the meantime: demand he answer that very simple question. His answer, I think, will tel you how to proceed from there. If he does want a wedding and you’re roughly agreed on all the elements you both want and the size and scope of it etc, and he agrees there’s no earthly reason you should be doing more of the work, write a big list of all the things that have to be done to make the bones of it happen. Then rip he list in two and give him half. Anything you care about that he doesn’t, and vice versa, goes on your individual side of the list.

  • MC

    To add another perspective on the Diva Cup line: My (het-cis) husband has totally talked about the Diva Cup to his male and female friends. I have no problem talking about menstruation and my period products and strongly feel that it’s important to break the stigma around menstruation and that men especially need to be okay talking about it instead of making faces or awkwardly leaving a conversation where it’s brought up. Totally a feminist issue for me. NOT that I would ever be okay with anyone (male or female) telling another person what products they should or should not use or asking someone about their period out of nowhere (because, boundaries) – but when Husband’s been around people that have brought the subject up, he has offered that his partner uses the Diva Cup and loves it for xyz reasons.

    Granted, our friends are generally pretty comfortable talking about periods which I know not everyone is, and the workplace is probably not the place to be having those conversations. But maybe the coworkers are also friends that hang out at happy hours? Maybe they go camping/traveling together and the topic of menstruation comes up? There are plenty of non-weird ways for dudes to talk about menstrual cups and ways to talk about them and be an ally, IMO.

    • Ashlah

      I was a little surprised at the negative reaction to that in the comments because I originally imagined your scenario too. I.e. co-workers are friendly outside of work, he only offers up information if the topic is already being discussed, and he’s not proselytizing the Diva Cup, but rather sharing his partner’s positive experience in a neutral manner. A male partner being open to talking about menstrual products, while not mansplaining said products or telling women what they should do, does seem like it could be feminist to me.

      If it’s the opposite scenario, well, then I echo others’ sentiments.

      • Eenie

        Also really good if it’s coworkers who have no need for a menstrual cup! I think it was an offhand remark in the letter and we shouldn’t read too deep into it…

    • emmers

      I also thought this, “But maybe the coworkers are also friends that hang out at happy hours? Maybe they go camping/traveling together and the topic of menstruation comes up? There are plenty of non-weird ways for dudes to talk about menstrual cups and ways to talk about them and be an ally, IMO.” From the letter, we don’t really know the context, and it seemed like people really piled on about it.

    • Natalie

      Yeah, I had this reaction too. My husband was the person who told me about the existence of Diva Cups, and I’m very glad he did.

      I can see a situation arising where a female coworker comes out of the bathroom complaining about her f*cking tampon leaking all over her underwear & pants, and he offers up that his GF loves the Diva Cup & that it can be worn 12 hours instead of tampon’s 4-8 hrs. Especially if they’re coworkers who go out to lunch or happy hour together.

    • AmandaBee

      I think the term “advocates for” the Diva cup is what makes it weird. It’s one thing for a man to be comfortable talking about periods and menstrual products, it’s another thing entirely for him to advocate for a particular product unless he also has a period. That smacks of the brand of “feminism” that some particularly mansplainy dudes use to continue to tell women what’s best for them.

      Granted, I agree that we don’t have the back story to know what that looks like, as is always the case with these posts. You can only fit so much explanation in a few paragraphs.

      • This, 100%. The word “advocates” is really what jumped out at me.

    • Lisa

      This was totally how I felt about the situation, too. Yes, it would be weird if he was going up to random co-workers or inserting himself into semi-private conversations to suggest the women change their menstrual products, but it would be significantly less weird if the co-workers are friends with him outside of work or have a pretty casual relationship with him.

  • Lisa

    Chiming in on solutions. My partner has been at the lead of wedding planning, despite his ADD and my list-making tendencies, because (in addition to talking about it regularly) we started using Trello (http://blog.trello.com/say-yes-to-less-stress-using-trello-to-plan-a-wedding/) and the SCRUM system of project management (http://www.scrumyourwedding.com/). Neither of us have used either before, and it’s working really well for us. I’m in charge of the master list and deciding what needs to be done next, and my partner is in charge of making sure those things are accomplished and running regular scheduled meetings and check-ins. Together we assign tasks and make sure the workload is even, and we can always see where things are on the board as well as verbally check-in with one another. No nagging involved. For us it’s all about finding systems that work (and remembering that if something isn’t working, it isn’t the person’s fault. We just need a different system).

    • Eenie

      Your end parenthesis got eaten “)”. Put a space after links before the punctuation.

      • Lisa

        Thanks Eenie!

    • Totch

      Yes! I’m a project manager, and managing our wedding is something I was always going to do because that’s just who I am.

      But having project manager as one of my tasks when we divide workload is what makes the difference for me. Since we recognize its value, the bulk of my wedding work is the emotional labor (like your master list). I manage, he executes, and he’s always there as a sounding board just like my research assistants would be.

    • Lisa

      This sounds a lot like how we planned our wedding, too. I was working full-time while my husband was teaching part-time and applying for doctorates. I did a lot of research in my downtime and figured out what needed to happen next, and he would call vendors and set up appointments for us to meet. We then sat down and looked over contracts and made final decisions together.

    • Caitlin

      I loved your last sentence, “remembering that if something isn’t working, it isn’t the person’s fault. We just need a different system.” For us, this was really key. I felt very similarly to the letter writer, but as we’ve moved through the process, it turned out that it wasn’t the case that my fiance didn’t want to be involved. He just had a different system. In his mind, we had so much time that he thought things didn’t need to happen right away. In my mind, I like planning far in advance and have a propensity for worrying. Of course, these unspoken systems clashed!

      Another thing that worked for us was scheduling when we would work on things. So instead of me worrying about finances on my own, we had a budget planning session where we tackled it together. Similar to you, someone still has to schedule the meetings and plan the agenda, but then that should count as a task, and hopefully the other person then can take more of the action items that result from the planning session.

      My last thought is that agonizing over, “what does this mean”, in regards to the wedding planning process is not particularly helpful. Or, if it’s a big enough issue it should be tackled separately. If your guy is fully your partner in all things besides wedding, then why do you think that this one crazy, confusing, emotionally riddled event is the new standard for your relationship? Weddings are weird and scary, and symbolic meaning in the planning is largely overblown.

  • Lindsey

    I can completely relate to this! I’ve felt like I’ve been dragging the fiancé along on a leash during the entire planning process and it’s created a lot of friction. I’ve even tried giving him “assignments” down his alley, like making the website, doing some creative designs for our save the dates and invites, etc – but it’s always like pulling teeth.

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one not having fun with this planning process.

    • sofar

      It’s incredibly frustrating. I feel like a nagging mom sometimes, or as you put it, like I’ve been dragging him on a leash.

      We’ve never had to plan something this big together before. I found that I had to communicate about deadlines in a VERY different way.

      We had agreed the Save-the-Dates (which he was designing) needed to be sent to the printer on Jan. 15. If I had received that deadline, I’d think to myself, “OK, the printer needs them on Jan. 15. So I need to get them done by like Jan. 1, in case any changes need to be made and we have plenty of time to communicate with the printer and make those changes. Also, if something comes up last minute like a busy week at work or family emergency, the Save the Dates will be done.”

      This is NOT how my fiance thinks. He hears “Jan. 15” and thinks, “OK Jan. 15 is the date I will start designing the Save the Date!” When I found out around New Year’s Eve he hadn’t started, I blew up, and he said, “But you told me Jan. 15!! I blocked off that whole morning to design them!”

      So, all deadlines I give him now are actually a month early.

  • Bess

    I am so grateful to see this question and post today. My wedding planning experience was similar. He proposed. Then he dragged his feet on everything else to do with wedding planning and combining our lives. (I do mean everything.) He said he would do things, he said he and his family would pay for “things.” Meanwhile my family and I were shelling out some hefty investments in terms of money and time. And I totally went with it for about 9 months! I thought that “this was how it is,” but more aptly I thought this was my one chance to get married and so I should tough it out (cue the warning lights). To make a looong story short, we canceled our wedding (3 months out), and then in time broke off our relationship. Mic drop.

    I realized that I do want to be with a partner who is so jazzed to marry me that they’ll put in equal amounts of effort towards the endeavor (that feels bold to even type!). I decided I want to be with a partner who follows through on what they say they’ll do. I do want a partner who is willing to look at any gender baggage from family of origin and do there best to live consciously. Cause sweet jesus, when I reproduce, I want a partner who is IN IT with me. “How you do anything is how you do anything.”

    PS. although I’m donezo with wedding planning, still love the APW community. Hearts!

    • emilyg25

      I’m sorry. But high five to you for following through on your convictions.

      • Mjh

        +1

        I’m always glad to see someone voice their totally reasonable expectations without apologizing for knowing they deserve respect. Thanks for helping normalize standing up for healthy expectations!

  • Rowany

    Another thing that helped was saying to my guy that I KNOW he’s capable of planning stuff from parties we’ve planned together and how efficient he is at his own work projects. He can use whatever strategy he wants to keep track of things, and we can deprioritize things we don’t care about, but he’s an adult and I’m going to treat him like one and expect that he’ll do his part to get s$#@ done.

  • Judy

    It reminds me of the top comic strip here: http://www.corrinet.com/art/dragon/art/5962.JPG
    You have to decide if you are co-nurturing your wedding or if you are lead and your partner is helping. Even if you decide to split 50/50, a friend of mine pointed out that due to all of the invisible work, including some project management, nagging, emotional labor, etc., each partner should feel as if s/he is doing more than half of the work when the work is actually split evenly. So if someone feels that s/he is doing a fair share, in all likelihood it’s less than it should be on a general basis, not that you want to police 50/50 exactly. I’d definitely want to handle with a serious conversation, but that’s how I like to handle any type of issue.

  • Pingback: My Partner Says He’s “Feminist,” but He’s Not Helping with the Wedding - ADA Events Asia()

  • AmandaBee

    Others mentioned this, but did you ask him why he’s not pitching in? I didn’t see that in the post.

    Weddings are weird and it’s super easy to fall in gendered patterns of labor by accident. In our case, my fiance didn’t know what all exactly we needed to do, having only been to a couple weddings before. More of my friends have been married, so I picked up on more of that knowledge. Once we figured out that was the issue, I was able to use APW materials to explain how it all worked (seriously, the ‘checklist’ chart was a lifesaver, so he’s in the loop. And he took on some tasks that felt more like him, as well as stuff that fit his skill set (website, making tags for the invites, music). We also run any big decisions by each other, but let the person in charge of a task make the final call on details.

    Point being: sometimes the lack of involvement can signal that he just doesn’t know what needs to be done, or where he could be helpful. Or it might signal something else entirely. But the best way to find out is to stop planning and talk about it.

    • sofar

      Agreed. My fiance wanted the big wedding (I wanted to elope). So, I said, “OK we can do the big wedding with all your friends and everyone your parents have ever met. BUT! You have to help.”

      He eagerly agreed, thinking wedding planning would just involve tasting cakes and ordering glow sticks. He had ZERO idea about the expense and planning involved. I think women (as bridesmaids) are more involved in helping their bride friends than groomsmen are. So, if you wait until your 30s to get married (like we did), the bride knows how it all works and the groom is just flabbergasted when you start talking about venues and caterers and service charges. When we picked a venue, he seriously thought it was all done because he thought the VENDOR hired the caterer/photographer/etc. Because his brother had done a destination wedding at a resort that did all that.

      The other night, we put invitations in envelopes. He was so cranky afterward because, “OMG SO MUCH WORK.” And I was like, “You realize I was the one who chose the invites, collected all our guests’ addresses, created the spreadsheet of all the addresses, formatted said spreadsheet so the printing company could print all the addresses on the envelopes, and priced out all the printing companies, right?”

  • anon

    My FH isn’t what I’d call a great feminist. He isn’t a bad person, but he still makes comments about women sometimes that make me want to punch him in the face, and he pretty much entirely shuts down whenever I talk about ‘feminist issues’. But you know what he is? Pretty active in wedding planning. Because he knows it’s important and that it’s important to me.

  • Joanna

    I have less than two months until my wedding, and while I am incredibly lucky to have a partner even more obsessed with scheduling than I am, I think our method can work for anyone. We created a shared spreadsheet with all the tasks to be done, put a due date on each and assigned them. Then we checked in each week to talk about progress. I’m a procrastinator but being able to mark something “done” was satisfying enough to keep me working. No nagging was done since we had a time when we went over what we both had done and still needed to do. And the spreadsheet helped track costs too.

    • Morgan D

      I love this idea! What a natural extension of how we manage budgeting, trip planning, etc.

  • Anna

    Sorry you’re having trouble w/ planning. Firstly, no one is scoring your fiance for feminist points. I’m not going to say my fiance is an 8.5 and yours is a 7.2 what are you doing with a 7.2?! Plus, what’s this scale out of anyway? So try not to justify or compare with everyone else because score-carding your partner is really, really never a way to start a discussion. Speaking about discussions, it seems like you need to have one. If you’re not organized, then get the APW planner or a spreadsheet or something which will organize you. (Or find a family member or wedding planner b/c paying for a professional can be worth it.) Write out the tasks which need to be done. Then cross out the tasks which are optional and only for those people who love weddings and are extra special. Alternately, assign those tasks to a loved friend who is a wedding rockstar. For instance, I am not decorating b/c I’m lazy w/ wedding planning but a go-getter w/ career and grad-school. It’s ok – my wedding will look great. Agree to split the list as evenly as possible, tell him what you think the timeline for it is, and then let him fail/succeed and do it his way. If he wants to pay a higher price b/c he waited too long, let him learn that. I figured out that if I wanted the dishes done my way, I’d have to do them myself. But my fiance does dishes just fine, like an adult, and no one has died from his style yet. So stop keeping score, get organized, divide the to-do list, and let him do it his way. You got this – Best of luck!

  • Mary Gilliland

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr”…..!nt95etwo days ago grey MacLaren P1 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k Dollars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 Dollars…Learn. More right Here !nt95e:➽:➽:➽➽➽➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsSupportGetPay-Hour$98…. .✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸::::::!nt95e….,.

  • Dave Kom

    Don’t forget sunglasses if it’s sunny… We ordered 15 pair from sandysunglasses.com and it saved our pictures from squints and closed eyes!!! Cheap too…

  • TheOtherLiz

    Oh, I went through this too. And then I saw the APW article on emotional labor. I showed it to my then-fiance, and showed him the meta-thread it refers to, and said, “Read through this. It’s important to me. It’s interesting to see how this affects us so much – ways we are both socialized to behave the way things have been going. But the way things have been going is NOT okay, and we can’t continue this way. Please read these, and let’s discuss.”
    And he DID read through it all, and he took me seriously, and eventually we mostly worked out the kinks. We didn’t get to a perfect 50-50, but when the wedding was close, I was doing 70% of the work but he was doing 90% of the work arranging things with the new landlord and our new apartment. We also set aside wedding-work nights, and while it was annoying that I always scheduled them and made the to-do list and remembered the details he didn’t know even needed to happen, he helped. He tried his best. And he joined me in getting uppety whenever vendors or relatives talked about how it was “my” special day, not ours. I can’t recommed this blog post enough – http://apracticalwedding.com/2016/02/emotional-labor-women-wives/?utm_source=APW+Newsletter&utm_campaign=4770f849d7-Newsletter_2_24_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fc1d8630bd-4770f849d7-164596961 . Wishing you the very best.

    If all else fails, tell him this, which also made a big difference in shifting the balance for us: “This wedding planning process is formative for our marriage. It can be a good kind of formative, or not. We are setting a precedent for dividing work and responsibilities, and I don’t want to let gender norms dictate that. AND, I want to feel joy and satisfaction when we reach the wedding day – not resentment towards you.”

    Blessings and good luck!

  • Gregory

    Hey, look, the dude would just as soon get married at the JOP. You want the frilly wedding, you put it together. I am sure you would second guess all his decisions anyway.