Good book, surprised it was selected for Reese (Witherspoon)’s Hello Sunshine book club. It is not a book that would appeal to everyone. Fair Play is a book with a very specific audience and that audience is mother’s who are married and/or in a committed relationship.
Fair Play is the type of book that I really had to think on before I could write about it. I listened to it on audiobook and it really brought me back to a more stressful time in my life as a mother and wife.
As a mother, and a wife, who works outside the home it was rough for a long time… for me. I felt like I was the only one doing the work around the house. I understood that my husband did do work around the house but it work that was done once a week, or every few weeks. All of the indoor work was being done by me every day/night. Even now, it is hard for me to write about this. It was and sometimes still is, a hard time for me.
When I finally told my husband about my frustrations he would tell me to tell him what I needed him to do and even that was hard for me. Why do I need to tell you what needs to be done?! No one is telling me what to do. If there are dishes in the sink, they need to go in the dishwasher. If there is mud on the floor, it needs to be cleaned up. When people insist on walking through the house with shoes on, the garbage that is tracked in needs to be cleaned up. And the overflowing basket of dirty towels will not wash themselves. Add to all of that to having two small children. It was such a stressful time in my life and I thought I was the only mother/wife that was feeling this way.
Turns out that is not the case.
This book is exactly for those people. Those people who feel unbalanced in their relationships.
You can’t value what you don’t see
There was one example in the book that struck a specific cord for me. The author was talking about how her husband texted her earlier in the day/evening about some trash that was left on the property by someone who was drunk walking by. When the author returns home that evening she finds the item still on the front lawn and her husband relaxing. I felt all the anger for the author at that point.
I cannot tell you how many times I came from work to find a pile of dishes in the sink and my husband sitting on the couch on his phone. His response would always be that he was going to do them when he got up. On those nights though, when he would put off doing what obviously needed to be done, he would fall asleep. Leaving me ultimately to do the dishes before I went to bed or first thing in the morning before I did what I had to do for the day.
Rodsky then timed how long it took her to pick up the mess in the front yard. 12-minutes. It took her 12-minutes to clean it up. I remember timing how long it took me to unload the dishwasher once, and even clean up the kitchen.
Honestly, I can say that now things are much more balanced. The kids are older and my husband has picked up on what I have been trying to tell him for years about helping clean up. Mostly because as much as it would bother me, I would have to ask him to do things. He never complained or told me he was unwilling, I just had to ask him.
Fair Play is about just that – how to achieve balance in your relationship. Whether you are a working parent/mother or not. Work in the home is just as important as the work done outside the home. And if both parents or partners are working the household work needs to be spread evenly.
The the beginning of the book, the author talks about writing out on cards everything that you (the reader does) and eventually doling out the cards. The idea is that no one person is holding most or all of the cards. I did not like this concept at all. Maybe for me it was because it would point out exactly everything that I was doing. I know if I did that when I was in the midst of the struggle it would just add to my frustrations seeing myself with all the cards. Also, if you were holding a card that you were no longer able to do – you had to balance it with your partner.
Rodsky made this a game. And this is not a game. Relationships and life is not a game. You cannot simply swap cards with your partner when you are no longer able to pick up your child from an activity. I don’t know, maybe you can. But I cannot.
My husband and I found our balance. I got out of my own way and started asking him for what I needed. That does not mean that things are always balanced. There are still days, like tonight, when we got home from dinner where I cleaned up the kitchen, put a load of laundry in, vacuumed and steam mopped the floor while he played on his phone. We are both up at the same time every morning and both work during the day. In the past this would have annoyed me to no end. It was still a little annoying, but I knew when I was done doing what needed to be done I was going to crawl into bed and work on this post. And I know the furniture that is coming he is responsible for putting together. I also know that the person who is supposed to come and pick up our old furniture we getting rid on Facebook will be his responsibility.
Even while writing this, I am not sure how to rate or even recommend this book. As I mentioned before, this is not a book for everyone. There were parts I could nod my head in agreeance with and then there were parts that sounded a little bit to fictious to actually work. I know for myself, the moment I realized that my husband could not actually read my mind. And that his mind did not work the same as mine is when I started noticing changes in both of us for the positive.
I think he realizes that I maybe do not always want to be the one cleaning up but now I think he understands why I do. And I also think he can appreciate it and knows when he does step up without me asking goes a long way – I am a happier person. To come from work, or from a long day out running errands to not have a pile of shit waiting for me. And even if there is, he apologizes for leaving something undone which I can appreciate as well.
If you are in that stage of your life where you feel unbalanced with kids and home and partner this is for you.