Mrs. Hopeless just can’t…. or can she?

May 28, 2021

This is a blog repost published on cherished and successful on February 18th, 2010.

Mrs. Hopeless was busy cooking one morning whilst her baby was asleep and the other children were at school. She was excited because she was going to meet her friend for lunch at a cafe!

As she mentally checked off all her chores as she completed them, she went upstairs to iron her pretty outfit, so she could shower and leave in the next half hour – nice, fresh, and on time.

As she was about to go to the shower, Mr. Husband popped his head around the door and told her that he urgently needed her to fill in some forms so he could take them to the bank. She always filled in all his forms – ever since they got married – he never managed to fill them incorrectly, for some reason.

‘Oh dear, darling, I’m sorry, I really can’t, I’m getting ready to go out with my friend; she is expecting me.’ Mr. Husband did his best to try and persuade her, and she tried very hard to explain how important it was to her that she go out.

Unfortunately, Mr. Husband just didn’t see her perspective. He started complaining, ‘I have to work so hard, and I rely on you to do my paperwork!’

Mrs. Hopeless was miserable. Her good for nothing husband! Although she really did love him, and they hardly ever fought… why did he never have the motivation to do anything?

He always relied on her to do everything. Pay the bills, fill out the forms, fix him snacks at midnight while she was struggling with the baby. Sigh – why was life so hard?

Mrs. Hopeless decided to reason with him intellectually ‘Look, dear, I can’t do it today, I’m sorry. Why can’t you?’ to which he got very annoyed, and started to grumble about all the things he still had to do, and how she had such an 'easy life'.

Mrs. Hopeless started to get terribly upset. Her pulse started to quicken, as she felt guilty about visiting her friend, and indulging in a cafe lunch while her husband worked so hard. But hang on! She worked hard too! She started to point out all the ways that she worked equally as hard as he did, with the housework, the children, the cooking and shopping! She hasn’t been out in months! ‘I feel worn down and suffocated!’ she sobbed to him.

Mr. Husband was terribly confused. He knew his wife was perfectly capable, and he didn’t really trust himself filling in those passport forms, and besides, she had much better handwriting than he did. But why did she act so upset when he asked her to sort it out for her? She was so capable – women are incredibly good at multitasking – aren’t they? Yet here she was, sniffling away! He decided to say no more. Perhaps she really couldn’t.

Mrs. Hopeless took a deep, long sigh, and asked him where the papers were. He hesitantly handed them to her. She put the towel on the bed and started filling in the forms, which required her to set up the scanner and copy some paperwork. Half an hour later they were all complete; and as she got ready to get into the shower, her baby awoke and started to cry. She still had to change her baby’s nappy and get her ready for the journey ahead; so she decided to leave out the shower and get her baby ready instead.

She eventually left for lunch with her grubby house-clothes, taking care to concentrate on her driving whilst her mind raced. She felt miserable. Why was her life so hard?


Poor Mrs. Hopeless! All this time, she has been telling her husband that even though she says she can’t – she really can. She just needs a bit of persuasion.

Had she told him that she couldn’t, and then stayed with that statement – her husband would have started to realize that she had limitations.

Saying ‘I cant’ would have been a declaration of how she was feeling. Although she initially did make that declaration, she covered it up with a question that caused her husband to get defensive… Instead of just leaving it to ‘I can’t’ she went and added ‘why can’t you?’.

It doesn’t matter why he can’t… what matters is that she can’t!

Mrs. Hopeless would have an easier life if she stated her own limitations, rather than asking for explanations about Mr. Husbands’. What’s more, she made herself (and her husband) feel awful by focusing on how hard her life was – rather than focusing on keeping quiet and being true to her statement of ‘I can’t.

Prayers and Al Fatiha for Mrs. Hopeless.

Remember – there’s no point in saying ‘I can’t’ and then doing it anyway. And when saying ‘I can't – be sure not to throw in the ‘why can’t you?’ grenade.

You can read more about setting and upholding your boundaries and limitations in The Surrendered Wife, By Laura Doyle.

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