breaking generational chains

A Husband Admits He Used To Think He Was The "Main Character" In His Marriage

"I had to unlearn it because it never was okay."

In a viral TikTok, a husband explains why he never helped his wife as well as how he's changed.
Joao Inacio/Getty

Time and time again, you see story after story of a mom who is taking on way too much of the emotional, physical, and invisible labor that comes with being a parent and running a household, even if they have a partner. From “married single moms” to wives who literally make their husbands second dinners because they didn’t like the first one, women are too often seen as maids and cooks and basically robots who are just working for the happiness of the rest of their family.

One husband on TikTok is trying to do the work and send the message that it’s important we, as a society, break those gender stereotypes that typically coincide with heteronormative marriages. And that cishet men, as a group, step up and start carrying an equal part of the load.

In his TikTok series, “Chronicles Of A Clueless Husband,” TikTok user J Fisher admits that he used to think that he was the “main character” in his marriage and was once a clueless husband who just didn’t understand why his wife was always frustrated.

“One of the things I really try to process now as a middle-aged man is the full extent to which I really thought that I was the main character,” he begins.

Fisher goes on to give an example of what that “main character” energy looked like in the early days of his marriage.

He explained, “Say we'd be going on a trip, my partner at that point in time would be doing the laundry, vacuuming the house, making sure the dishes were done. I would think, I would literally think like, ‘Well, yeah, we don't have to do that. That's you wanting to do that. It's not what I want to do.’”

He goes on to say that once his wife had quite literally done everything for the trip, he would then pack his little backpack or suitcase and that’d be it. “Looking back, like... how could I possibly think that was okay?” he asked.

He admitted his behavior became even worse when he and his wife had kids. “When we had kids, I didn't stop, right? My partner would do all the work to get all of them ready to make sure they were bathed, snacks packed, and I would get myself ready,” he said.

Once Fisher realized his behavior was not right in any way, he searched for the “why” and, unsurprisingly, came to the conclusion that his behavior was a mirror of what his dad used to do (and teach) when he was a child.

“I saw my own father do this quite a bit where he would take care of his own needs. So, I know I didn't learn it from nowhere. But I also had to unlearn it because it never was okay. I thought that my role was to do all these things outside of the home and that the home was women's domain. I saw that modeled and even taught as the way it should be, but, oh my gosh, is that not partnership? And that sucks,” he said.

Fisher then shares a message to any husband, dad, or man in general watching his vulnerable and honest video.

“So if you are a person, especially if you're a man, and you think that division of labor is okay, you shouldn't be married, you shouldn't be in a relationship, and I shouldn't have been at that point in time. Now, it would have made me so so very mad because I would think like, ‘What more do you want from me?’” Fisher said. “Turns out quite a lot!”

Fisher’s video went viral, gaining 3.1 million views in just 24 hours, with thousands of comments from users thanking him for being so honest about his mistakes as a husband and for the archaic gender roles he perpetuated in his marriage.

“😳 I never knew someone could realize this or admit this. Thank you for your vulnerability,” one user wrote.

“For a long time, too long honestly, I didn’t either. 💔 I was too focused on getting societal gold ⭐️s to see what was possible & where I was failing,” Fisher replied.

Another wrote, “Every time I told my ex my needs — he would respond with why he couldn’t meet my needs because it was all about how he felt about everything.”

Fisher admitted, “👆🏼Yes 😔 This is a red flag and I wore this one like a necklace.”

Another wife wrote, “I need this realization from my husband. We’ve been married 20 yrs and he doesn’t know me at all. I keep the real me to myself.”

“My partner would say this to me in the past but rather than leaning in with curiosity and gentle questions I would argue that I did 🤦🏽‍♂️💔,” Fisher replied.

One woman challenged Fisher and commented, “Cool. You have the introspection. What actually changed in your actions long-term? What keeps you from falling into old patterns?”

“I still have relapses for sure. Clear boundaries, therapy, working on finding my own joy, getting connected back to community/friends and nature,” he wrote back.

Fisher’s epiphany is just one small step forward in a much bigger issue plaguing so many moms in the world. Even in 2023, recent data revealed that most mothers still feel like they need to “do it all.”

Fifty-eight percent of moms surveyed reported they are the primary parent, responsible for the duties of running a household and family management. That result is up 2% from 2022.

To add insult to injury, 51% of those who say they manage most of the household chores are also working full-time. Even when moms are the ones bringing home the bacon, they still do more chores than their husbands.

Now, how do we convince TikTok’s algorithm to put Fisher’s video on every single For You page of husbands not pulling their weight?