I wondered about this as I read an article at John Hawkin’s The Grumpy Sloth site entitled “7 Totally Mean Things Women Do to Men.” The author of the article felt that the #1 mean thing women do is treat men like children:
1. But the meanest thing we do is treat men like children. It is also the meanest thing we do to ourselves in a relationship. Here’s a scenario.
More often than not, he leaves his dirty clothes on the floor rather than walking the ten or twelve steps it takes to reach the hamper. Day in and day out, we pick them up for him and resentfully place them in the basket, like is two years old and can’t be asked. Then we either eventually explode, which shocks him, or worse, we extrapolate the clothing data to everything else, treating him like he’s two everywhere.
Scolding him in public, telling him what he ought to be doing, complaining about him on social media like he’s a naughty dog — these are all ways of infantilizing and invalidating a person’s agency, and you would be livid if he did it to you. Adults speak TO each other. Can you imagine if he said at a party or posted online, “She was crying over a dog food commercial like a little baby”? That’s how he feels when you say, “Who puts dirty dishes on the counter when there’s a dishwasher right there? Five year olds. That’s who.”
The conversation should be happening at home, in private, at the moment of infraction. “HONEY. Dishes. Come on. We’re a team here.” And if he says the same thing to you about your stuff all over the bathroom counter, respond the way you’d want him to respond to the dish issue.