Fitness Testing: Fail To Comply With The Request

Had a question in comments somewhere about handling Fitness Tests and figuring out what is a test or not.
Very simply, reasonable requests made in a reasonable tone of voice aren’t Fitness Tests. I generally advise you to comply with the request. “Can you take the trash out please?”  It is very important that you don’t turn into an angry ogre refusing to do basic “husbandly” tasks that are reasonable.
Reasonable requests made in an unreasonable tone of voice, are of the whining/nagging variety of Fitness Testing. I generally advise to draw attention to the reasonable nature of the request, and the unreasonable tone. “When are you going to take the trash out, I’m so tired of having to ask you over and over blah blah blah, whiny whiny whiny….”  After that, fail to comply with the request, until it is framed politely.
Unreasonable requests made in a reasonable tone of voice are the sneaky and true Fitness Tests. “We really need to upgrade the kitchen don’t you think? (cuddle) I could do so much more if it was better.” (When the kitchen is perfectly fine lol. Seriously, she doesn’t even cook anything other than macaroni and cheese from a box anyway.)  Compliance with this means you are trying to please her in a way that benefits her at a cost to you. After her $15,000 kitchen upgrade that had you working over time for seven months to pay for it all, she mentions how uncomfortable she is in her “old” car…
Reframe to explain the unreasonable nature of the request, deflect, or ignore it. This is also fine to play back the cock and funny thing and escalate sexually – “I think you don’t really want a new kitchen, I think this is all just a play for attention.”
Unreasonable requests made in an unreasonable tone of voice, are just verbal abuse. “When the fuck are you going to fix this shithole of a kitchen you lazy ass cocksucker?!? I cannot do anything in his place, how do you expect me to cook anything here?!?! Seriously, what is your problem with acting like this all the fucking time?”  Say that it’s completely unacceptable behavior to act this way, fail to comply with the request quite plainly. Reduce her importance to you with each occurrence and start forming an exit plan as necessary. I.e., start the MAP up
You don’t have to yell or scream to pass a Fitness Test, you simply have to fail to comply with the request. You can pass most light testing with a simply but direct smile and a “no thank you, you are quite capable of doing that.”
Of course sometimes you get stunlocked into having to complete a task set by a Fitness Test, because it’s too mission critical to be left undone. Something like paying the mortgage, or picking a kid up from school, comes to mind. Sometimes you just have to do it. But don’t let that go unsaid, and don’t establish that as your plan forever.



    "John dry my legs you idiot"

    Ouch. Where are his friends screaming "Dude, don't marry her!!"??

  2. "Say that it's completely unacceptable behavior to act this way, fail to comply with the request quite plainly."

    I am reading a fascinating book of negotiation, and one of the points in there is that if you open a negotiation with a totally unreasonable position, the other side will respond with a "chilling" motif where they regard you as negotiating in bad faith and stop trying to work cooperatively. That is a rational response to the above scenario.

    I read on a divorce-advice blog post that a guy's wife came at him with a totally ridiculous settlement proposal. He warned the readers that you can't negotiate such a proposal, lest you legitimize the position by bargaining away from it. Instead he/his lawyer told her "this is ridiculous, come back when you have something we can work with." This went on three or four times until she finally proposed something in the ballpark, from which he negotiated a halway decent deal.

    I've found that even though fitness testing is fundamentally passive aggressive, a man can't win by being P-A back, like saying "yeah I'll do that" and then intentionally not doing it. Part of managing your frame as the male mate is clearly dictating what tasks you will and won't be doing.

    Not a fitness test really, but my last girlfriend's roommate was watching Eat Pray Love, and gf asked if I wanted to watch with them. I told her plainly, "I'm not watching that movie." The two of us did something else instead, don't recall what it was but it wasn't watching a divorce fantasy movie.

  3. ISTM another form of a fitness test is when the wife doesn't do something she ought to be doing (like the dishes) and expects you to do them for her.

    I'm not saying women should always do the dishes, and I completely endorse Athol's "hit the L spot" theory, but no matter how chores are divided in a house, some of them will fall to the wife, and sometimes she won't do her chores and will expect you to do them for her — because you're such a nice guy.

  4. Athol – this helps a good bit, so thanks. I'm still trying to figure this out (as I've said elsewhere on this blog) and it is very difficult. In the past, I generally took women at face value when it came to such demands, and it never occurred to me I was being tested. Now that I know, I'm overly suspicious and am probably analyzing everything WAY too much.

    It doesn't help that my current SO likes to poke fun a lot. We go back and forth all the time, but lately I find myself replaying her comments to see if they may have a kernel of truth I should be worried about. Its very unsettling, and frankly its throwing me off.

    Here is a good example of what I mean. I came home from work one day, and she was all upset because the cable company screwed up our bill, again. I looked at it and got PO'd because they were WAY overcharging after we made some changes to our plan. So I grabbed my phone and started to dial. She said (and this is not a direct quote, I suck at remembering details of our conversations…) "I'm glad you are calling. I'm always the one that has to call and bitch."

    The comment set me off. I felt like it was a jab at me, because she tends to be very confrontational when she feels like she has been treated unfairly, and I rarely ever get into verbal arguments with sales or support people. I got it all straitened out and never even raised my voice. When I got off the phone, she seemed a little disappointed. So, I asked her if she really expected me to start yelling. She said she knows that we approach these situations differently, but that we both tend to get what we want. I've told her before, I worked on several computer help desks in my early 20s and have a greater appreciation for what phone support people go through. Generally the situation they are dealing with is never their fault, yet they are the ones that get yelled at. Anyway, I feel like she sees my lack of throwing temper tantrums in these situations as "less than manly behavior".

    And being that my ex-wife made several comments about how I didn't "lead the family", I'm pretty sensitive on the subject. I can't imagine having to become a raving lunatic to prove I'm manly, so not sure what the solution is.

    So, was that comment a test of sorts?

  5. "I'm glad you are calling. I'm always the one that has to call and bitch."

    She wasn't actually thanking you. She's actually complaining about you not doing something, while you were in the act of actually doing it.

    "Do you want me to call, or do you want me to be pissed off at you for telling me I don't handle things when I am obviously in the middle of handling something?"

  6. "When the fuck are you going to fix this shithole of a kitchen you lazy ass cocksucker?!? I cannot do anything in his place, how do you expect me to cook anything here?!?! Seriously, what is your problem with acting like this all the fucking time?"

    Do people really talk to their spouses like that??? It's one thing to get upset or angry – that happens, but to talk with such disrespect is mind boggling to me.

    Interesting examples. :) We are almost done with our kitchen renovation here. I'm hoping it will be done by year 4. LOL Although for us it was a necessity (mouse infestation/foreclosure).

    I know that if I wanted some big ticket item that I didn't need and we shouldn't buy, my honey would move the earth to try to get it for me, but he also knows I'm not like that. For example, I drive the nicer of our 3 vehicles because I cart kids around all day. I found a great deal on a newer car, and asked him about it. He wanted to buy it for me. I said I wanted it for him. He didn't want it. I certainly didn't need it, so that was the end of that. Still, it makes me feel loved to know that he wants to please me and bestow gifts on me (it's a good thing I'm not into stuff). Is that beta? I don't know. I do know that if I started taking advantage and bankrupting the family he'd definitely balk. LOL

    I still cannot see where I fitness test, but then I'm the one always trying to keep everyone happy. I grew up with drama, and I hate it. Maybe fitness testing is more common with the dramatic type? Relationships are hard enough without adding turmoil to the mix. Or maybe it happens more when people are bored in the relationship?

  7. I'm with Ted – trying to parse what is a shit-test and what's simply being female continues to baffle me.

    My wife needs surgery for endometriosis. The surgery is for future fertility, not for pain or anything life-threatening. She talked to the doctor on Monday, who said it needed to be done prior to ovulation – either this one or next. She'll probably ovulate on Sunday.

    Anyway, that doctor was not able to fit her in, so she was going to check with another one – that was the last I heard of it.

    So yesterday afternoon, she calls me saying that the surgery has been scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday). She had not checked with me first, and just assumed I would be able to get off work to take her to the hospital and watch our daughter while she recovers.

    Naturally, I was a bit annoyed at the fact she would do that without checking with me first. I calmly explained to her that I need more warning (I recently got a promotion which is requiring a lot more of my time, plus we're currently short-staffed), and that she needs to check with me before volunteering my time, especially for elective surgery. (She took great offense at that – yeah, it involves our future children, but it's "elective" in every sense of the term.)

    I was able to get the time off (I'm coming off of working 10 days straight and had some comp time coming to me), so it's not the end of the world. I was just surprised that she would so cavalierly do that without checking with me first.

    So was this old-fashioned female flakery, or a shit-test? Did I pass?

  8. Lainey, my impression is that shit-tests come more from women who are looking to reassure themselves that they're with a 'worthy' mate. A woman who is with a man who displays the right combination of alpha/beta probably doesn't test him much, if at all. But a woman who is with a total "nice guy" is prone to testing him all the time, nagging him to do things, making unreasonable requests and loading him up with things that she could easily be doing… and probably SHOULD be doing.

    I recently (several months ago) found myself asking my husband if we could hire a maid to come in and clean our house because keeping up with our toddler and keeping the house clean was proving to be too much for me, and I was tired of trying to get him to help out. He responded with, "If you want to hire a maid, you're going to have to find a nanny or a daycare, and then you're going to have to get a job that will cover both the costs of the child care and the costs of having a maid, as well as having money left over to put towards the grocery bill." When I complained that that wasn't fair, he then said, "Well, then I suggest you shut off your fucking computer and start cleaning the house."

    That is the most memorable shit test that my husband has passed. And you know what? I haven't complained since that I can't keep up with the housework and the kid. Every time I think about complaining about it, I remember the options he presented, and I decide again and again that I'd rather be at home raising my children than off at some job trying desperately to come up with enough money for somebody else to clean my house while my kid sits in the care of a stranger. I've also been much better at keeping the house picked up. Funny, that. :)

  9. Anon at 5:33 – Maybe it's neither. Scheduling and getting ready for surgery is kind of stressful – maybe she was just totally focused on getting the procedure scheduled and wasn't thinking it all the way through. Not the best way to approach it, but sometimes that happens when you're under stress.

  10. GC –

    A good point. Which gets back to Ted's lament that discerning what's a shit test and what's not can be a major exercise in frustration.

  11. Lainey, my impression is that shit-tests come more from women who are looking to reassure themselves that they're with a 'worthy' mate. A woman who is with a man who displays the right combination of alpha/beta probably doesn't test him much, if at all.

    I agree. I'm seeing that a lot more lately, where in the past I've shit-tested out the wazoo and for the most part the man has utterly failed, I can't see myself getting away with that currently, so I highly doubt I'd bother and would likely think better of it beforehand. It just seems to be unnecessary with the right alpha/beta combination, as Rachel says.

    I also think it comes from wanting to feel secure within boundaries. If a man can be manipulated with shit-tests, a woman feels less secure with him than if he tells her to "get off the fucking computer and clean the house." (I lol'd at that).

  12. Surgical dates are typically on the surgeons availablity and not much else. Elective surgery also doesn't happen outside of normal business hours, so if she was going to get it done this cycle, it was always going to happen in a way to affect your day.

    I think the medical health of your wifes sexual organs ranks really high up the list of what's really important. Especially if you want access to them.

    Suggest you apologize on this one.

    Also there seems to be a little sense of urgency here. Why does it have to be done this cycle or the next one? Why the hurry to get a replacement surgeon?

    So, hmmm…

  13. Women usually make reasonable requests in a unreasonable tone of voice after their reasonable request and reasonable tone has been ignored repeatedly. Most people don't start there. I suspect that a lot of so called"shit testing" is just women who are tired of putting up with someone else's shit.

    Rachel – I am a SAHM who has a maid come in once a week. My husband is messy and I am unwilling to either live with the mess or clean up after him constantly. I said you can clean or you can pay for cleaning, pick one but I'm done playing maid and won't live with a mess. He picked cleaning, didn't really clean and I called Merry Maids the next week. Help cleaning the house is not an unreasonable request, unless of course you are married to someone who can't afford it.

  14. Anon – Doesn't endometriosis also cause pain and irregular bleeding? It may be "elective" but it's not like she's scheduled a face peel or boob job without consulting you first. I can see why she'd think that treating that was urgent. Any normal woman would take offense to your reaction, and most reasonable husbands wouldn't go there.

  15. It's not an unreasonable expectation that the stay-at-home spouse keeps the house clean. It's not like you have to walk to the river to get water or collect wood for the fire.

    And yes, I've been that role with two toddlers. SAHD was the easist job I ever had.

  16. Being a stay at home parent is easy if you know how to A. cook… B.clean…C. entertain preschoolers in the winter without resorting to 16 hours a day of TV.
    I am probably not the only one who doesn't necessarily know how to do these things. My mother didn't teach me since she preferred to do it herself. I asked a friend with a toddler and a very neat house to give me some advice but she couldn't since it was so second nature to her. The best she could come up with was "have the toddler follow you around with a little duster". I have read books from Don Aslett to Fly Lady to the Organizing from the Inside Out lady and I have concluded that you either have it or you don't. It is a mix of skill and art and I have neither. I also don't have a cleaning lady so you can imagine…

  17. I agree that it was totally reasonable of my husband to shut me down on the maid thing. Our son IS a handful, but the reality was I just don't like cleaning all the time and was trying to get out of it. :D The agreement was, when I became the SAHM, that I care for the baby and I keep the house presentable. He's never asked that I scrub the floor with a tooth brush or that I keep his toilet bowl clean enough to lick. Its more of a, "Vacuum when its dirty, don't let the dirty dishes grow mold, and please make sure I always have clean underwear."

    And he had a fair point… I am on the computer far too often in my downtime, when I could be organizing/cleaning/scrubbing something. :D

    @ Polly – your friend actually had good advice. ;) That's how I manage my son when we're stuck inside. He has his own little set of cleaning items… a broom, a dustpan, a toy vacuum, etc, and I just have him imitate me while I clean. It slows down the cleaning process sometimes, but it does kill two birds with one stone and I've been finding it to be very effective. Plus he loves being involved in what mommy is doing! :)

  18. Oh, and Anon w/ the maid – I agree with you in that there is only so much cleaning up after a spouse that you should have to do. I have drawn my own lines where I've made it pretty clear that I won't be doing it and if he wants it done, he can either be less messy about it or do it himself. Without going into too much detail… I won't even set foot into his bathroom, much less go in there and clean it… because of some of his nasty habits. I kindly informed him that cleaning up THAT sort of mess was NOT a part of my SAHM cleaning duty agreement, and he agreed and hasn't asked that I clean in there since. That's the only room in the house I won't clean, and for the most part, our house is pretty tidy (less so lately, as I am 7 months pregnant and having crippling pain in my pelvis from loose ligaments. Per orders from my doctor, I'm not allowed to vacuum or lift heavy objects, and he's advised me to take a 10-15 minute sitting break every 20 minutes. Hard to keep a perfect house with those limitations!)

  19. "Hard to keep a perfect house with those limitations!"

    This is a classic "beg the question" that assumes a "perfect house" is a forgone necessity. From what I've read on marriage forums, the standard of cleanliness of marital houses is way too high, and everyone would benefit from chilling out about clean and tidy.

  20. I think the best response to a fitness test is isgnoring it if you can. The office in my house has a bed for guests. I put up a small no frills bed. My wife wanted me to put up the "nicer" bed. She kept pestering me about it; I ignored it. I don't get asked about it anymore.


  21. I've tried to do the ignore thing, but with my personality my responses are more along the lines of Athol's 4:55 response. Reading what to do at first I wasn't sure I was doing the right thing, but I think any form of not folding to it works. I will call my wife on those things she asks for in an unreasonable tone, and she usually agrees that she was being unreasonable. My usual response to something like that is a cold look, and the question,"you want to try asking that again without the attitude?" or some variation thereof.

  22. Athol – If being a stay at home parent was the easiest job that you ever had then you probably weren't very good at it. Did you actually educate your children or did you just feed them bathe them and keep them alive?

    I don't think that it is unreasonable to expect a stay at home spouse to keep the house clean either, assuming of course that there aren't a lot of children or one very messy adult. I also don't think that it is unreasonable to hire someone to help with cleaning. If you can afford it and it makes your life easier then why not? Do you have any good reasons?

  23. Badger – the whole "perfect house" thing is another reason why I think that a maid is a good idea when the couple has different standards for cleanliness. The messier person is free to be messy, the person who wants clean can have it without having to resort to nagging or resenting having to constantly clean up behind the messier person. The problem isn't usually that someone truly wants a perfect house, but that the two people in the marriage have different ideas about what an acceptable amount of mess looks like.

    Rachel – If you are 7 months pregnant and can't clean then you should either get the maid or have your husband clean up. I'm sure that you don't want to bring a baby home to a messy house. I also wouldn't want to juggle a newborn, a toddler and all of the household cleaning. I'm 8 months pregnant now, and when the baby comes I'll have the maid come in twice a week instead of once for a few months.

  24. "Athol – If being a stay at home parent was the easiest job that you ever had then you probably weren't very good at it. Did you actually educate your children or did you just feed them bathe them and keep them alive"

    Whoa! Low blow! I was a SAHM for 14 years. Before that I managed a busy medical office (sick, cranky people, snooty doctors, etc.); currently I am busting my ass at a low wage job to help pay the bills. I come home soaked with sweat most days – exhausted. Was SAHM the easiest job I ever had? Absofreakinlutely!

  25. Badger – I agree that a lot of people have the standard of a perfect house way too high. I would loooove to live in a perfectly clean, perfectly organized, things-are-always-where-you-put-it house, but considering my husband's non-habits of picking up after himself, I am quite happy to just keep things mostly picked up. Our house is almost at the embarrassingly messy right now.

    I do have one good reason for not hiring the maid… it makes life too easy. If the SAHP is doing other things, like volunteering lots of their time, running a small business, or even doing excessive amounts of gardening in their back yard, that's one thing, and having help with the cleaning would probably be OK. In my case, there is very little else for me to do other than childcare in that scenario. My husband wouldn't have to worry that I'd be volunteering my spare time to men naked in bed, but I have an expensive hobby (fish tanks) that would probably suddenly get a lot of time invested in it, and I can already tell you EXACTLY where I would put the 200 gallon aquarium of my dreams.

    Anon 10:19 – My husband has been helping a bit more since the doctor scolded me at my last appointment, but I am thinking about hiring a cleaning service just before Christmas to come in and deep clean our carpets, and – if there is people who'll do it – wash the walls. It would be lovely if our house could feel really nice and clean for Christmas, and I really don't know if its realistic to think that I could do it myself by then, even though I'm due a couple weeks before Christmas. I've been thinking of asking my husband if that's what I can have as his Christmas gift to me actually, since there's nothing I want and it would be a thing I would really, really appreciate. :) Considering my circumstances and the timing of the baby's due date, I don't feel that this is unreasonable, and will likely be a cheaper gift than what he usually gets me, so actually saves us money (but maybe that is me rationalizing?)

  26. As for SAH-parenting being the easiest job ever… it really does vary by person. The easiest job I ever had required me to sit at a desk and punch numbers into a computer twice a day. 12 hour days, and the actual 'work' part of my job took a total of maybe an hour. The rest of the time, I just had to make sure the employees under me did their job. I read more books during that job than I've read since high school. And got paid for it. It just doesn't get much easier than that!

    If you've only worked physically/emotionally demanding jobs… I can see being a SAHM/SAHD being the easiest job ever.

  27. Thanks for explaining the fitness tests better, ladies. I get it now. :)

    I wish we wouldn't bash each other. Do we really want to start a SAHM vs. at work mom war here?

    I was going to list all the things I do, but I don't need to. I am a SAHM because it is the best thing for my kids and husband. Yes, I have struggled having a clean house when the kids were little. I would've loved having a weekly maid to help me with the deep cleaning.

    I've had a demanding job, crazy hours, unrealistic deadlines, with an abusive boss. Being a SAHM is still a harder job. It's not for the lazy. If you need a lot of praise then this job is not for you.

    I'd love to write more, but I have to go drive kids.

  28. Rachel, you sound like one of your love languages is "acts of service." Mine is as well. Talk to your honey about what a gift this would be. It wouldn't take too much extra help to get it done in November would it?

    Every Mother's Day I get a yard work day from the family. It is wonderful. They clean up the lawn, and beds. The kids don't care for doing this, but dh loves it, too.

    I'm so excited for you, Rachel. I always had my babies between Mar-June. Having a Christmas baby would be so sweet.

  29. Is there a list of common acronysms anywhere.
    I haven't figured out, "start the MAP up."

    I'm sure it is easy…

  30. Unknown – the key terms are defined in the toolbar across the top of the blog right under the header.

    The MAP stands for Male Action Plan.

    There's also an amazing book too :-)

  31. Looking Glass says:

    Hehe, this let's me expound on a personal hobbyhorse.

    Pretty much no one in here talked about "cleaning" a house, you're talking about "organizing the stuff" in the house. Actual "cleaning", the process of removing dirt, grime and disinfecting, isn't that time consuming if done regularly. Aside from the occasional spaghetti sauce explosion, most of the "cleaning" work just takes some energy and a little time.

    What takes extensive time is actually organizing, de-cluttering and arranging the house into a immaculate display piece. That's what a lot of people (mostly women, but some men) actually want. THAT takes stupid amounts of time, which is where a Maid is useful.

    "Clean" and "Organized to Perfection" aren't the same thing. Please don't talk about them like they are, it just makes things messy! (Can you tell who spent time on a farm growing up? haha)

    @ Lainey: there's nothing wrong with hiring a Maid for a few months when the doctor told you to basically stay seated all day. Wouldn't be too different if you broke your leg. It's a compromise until you're better. :)

    @ Anon 5:33:

    You have a right to be annoyed at being volunteered for a day off. At the same time, she's trying to fit in a surgery to a doctor's schedule, so she likely wasn't thinking too much past getting it in on time. I'd go for a "light" apology, as you probably came off a bit rough for assigning you to home duty without a heads up. But, also, it's worth it to explain that you reacted that way for a valid reason.

    On the "SAH parent job is 'easy' " discussion. I think the problem is an overselling of some aspects and an underselling on others. A SAH parent has an "all consuming" job, in and of the fact that it doesn't go away. It's a 24×7 on-call type situation. That covers a chunk of stress and it can consume people.

    On the other hand, the actual physical requirements are very low. So it's a slow-motion type of work that isn't demanding to a high volume but it has a level of constant demand. So for people that have worked demanding jobs, the SAH parent thing is pretty much a breeze, as they have reference frame of much more demanding work.

    Though it is harder than a job were you just sit for 8 hours doing nothing. There are jobs that are easier than SAH parenting, lol.

  32. @ looking glass –
    Most of the time, when someone calls being a SAHP easy I find that they've half assed it.Their kids spend a lot of time watching TV, and aren't even given a basic education. They send children to preschool and kindergarten that can't even read and then consider themselves having done a good job as SAHP.

    I agree that part of the reason for the maid is a well organized home. That's part of clean! Just because there isn't dirt and grime on something doesn't mean that it's clean.

  33. Looking Glass says:

    "Making something pretty" isn't to "clean" it. It's simply making it pretty. If you want "pretty", you better state it. "Clean" isn't necessarily "Pretty" or vice versa.

    As for educating them, read to them 30 minutes to 1 hour a day, and count things out with them. There's not actually much needed past that to most effectively educate your child. Encouraging their curiosity is far more important.

  34. Anonymous says:

    @looking glass

    My oldest two children entered kindergarten capable of doing third grade level work. It took a bit more than reading the occasional book to get them there. I'm not saying that everyone's children will be capable of that but the children should at least be reading, writing and doing basic math.

    So in your opinion a disorganized mess without dirt on it is clean? LOL I feel for your wife.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Rachel, if you have been ordered to sit down every 15 to 20 minutes due to pregnancy related problems then I think that at least temporary household help is a more than reasonable request.

  36. It's clear that some people on this thread think that their standards for clean, tidy and child performance are the only ones that should matter.

    "So in your opinion a disorganized mess without dirt on it is clean? LOL I feel for your wife."

    This is quite frankly a very bitchy statement.

    Seriously, there's more to life than having an immaculately clean, perfectly-organized house.

  37. On the SAHP debate … remember what Athol's day job is. He's taking care of people who can't take care of themselves at all — think of 160 lb toddlers. Standard parenting duties are a breeze compared to that!

    And some kids are easier than others … mine were like tiny nuclear bombs dropped into the marriage. My oldest would scream to raise the dead for her first year, my youngest needed surgery shortly after birth. I was spending 18 hour days managing them, with no time for self-care or sex, let alone housework. They're in their teens now, and turned out very well.


  38. eat your weight, you’ll be skinny for awhile.


Speak Your Mind