Housework: Does Your Husband Do His Share?

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At a party a few weeks ago, I witnessed a blood-boiling example of inequality. Through the entire three courses of dinner – for which the women had put together salads and baked desserts, organized decorations and gifts for the birthday boy – the majority of the men remained glued to their seats as the women milled amongst them, collecting plates, serving food and effectively waited on them, hand and foot.

 

According to Oliver Burkeman’s article in The Guardian, Dirty Secret: Why is there still a housework gender gap? I am fortunate to be in a minority of women who has a husband more anal than I am about germs. Not that either of us cares that much, but we all know that there’s a fine line between pretending not to care and hoarding empty “Pods” bags under the bed.

 

According to recent statistics in the UK, Burkeman says, ‘the “housework gap” largely stopped narrowing in the 1980s. Men, it seems, conceded that they should be doing more than before – but then, having half-heartedly vacuumed the living room and passed a dampened cloth over the dining table, concluded that it was time for a nice sit-down.’

 

I can believe it.

 

For it appears that some men, (and middle-aged men seem to be among the biggest culprits), believe that they are the character of Don Draper in Mad Men, still living in the fifties, at a time when housework was the responsibility of their wives because they didn’t work in a professional capacity – even though, (seventy years on), women now work full-time, as well as doing sixty percent more housework than they do. Yes, I did say sixty percent. And that gender imbalance is behind Tanya Plibersek’s commitment to a new survey into the value of unpaid and domestic work, to gauge the true value of gender inequity in this sensitive area.

 

As Tanya has stated, ‘Women, for the most part, do not begrudge unpaid work because of the “joy in caring for those you love” but it leads to lower pay at work, more time off and a tendency to work part-time, all of which add to the gender pay gap.’

 

Please understand that I employ the verb ‘waiting’ with tongue firmly in cheek because what in fact my band of friends and I were really doing was coming to the aid of a sister – even if that’s how it felt. While most men managed to prise their privileged asses off their chairs to refill their glasses and collect their food, and one, (upon receiving the look from his wife), scuttled to the kitchen to carve the meat, (hunted and gathered by my friend from the butcher that afternoon), the male contribution overall was disconcertingly negligible.

 

Why?

 

Well… my husband’s argument is that it takes time for a culture to change – although he has been known to employ that excuse a little too often for my liking. I noticed his look of discomfort when I ribbed the group of men (stuck to their chairs around the table) about the blatant lack of equality as I piled their plates together, noisily, in the face of such blatant injustice. ‘You just sit there,’ I said sarcastically. A couple of them had the sense to look away, while the rest happily passed me their plates.

 

This is not unusual, nor as Burkeman points out, is it entirely the fault of the men. While many men are happy to get into the kitchen to cook, the concept of clearing up afterwards needs some further education. His suggestion, that perhaps we women need to step back, (even if men make a pig’s ear out of a simple task), makes sense.  If we don’t, we are guilty of empowering their housework privilege; enabling their ineffectiveness to do simple domestic chores.

 

When I rewash those Bolognese-encrusted fry pans, am I feeding my husband’s genuine belief (I fear) that if he does a job badly enough, he won’t be asked to do it again? Surely, in a modern society where the majority of women work outside of the home as well, these chores should be divided?

 

‘But you do it so much better than me,’ he argues if I ask him to do something out of his comfort zone, such as clean the bathroom. And we all know how much easier it is to cave in when three sets of eye rolls are lobbed in your direction at the suggestion of help to clear the dinner table.

 

I’m fortunate, I suppose, that my husband does such a better job than me at putting the bins out on the street of a Tuesday night.

 

But what are men role-modeling to our sons with their half-assed approach to housework? In a modern world, and one in which we continue to fight for equality, what does it say to our boys when their fathers don’t clear the plates or load the dishwasher? What is the message from mothers to daughters when they assume control in the kitchen?

 

It’s time for a change. No-one’s arguing that it isn’t easier for us to do these chores ourselves. Have you ever watched a man put on a doona cover? Managing household chores avoids arguments, shoddy workmanship and the likelihood of a deadly bacteria cultivating on our bench tops, and yet, that’s not the point. It’s simply not the right thing to do.

 

 

27 thoughts on “Housework: Does Your Husband Do His Share?

  1. Interesting post! I have a clean freak partner so I’m happy that he does most of the hoovering/cleaning. However I do 90 percent of the work involved with dog. And apart from breakfast. He makes his own, 💯 of the cooking even though he is “now” a peskytarian and the little one who stays weekends is also a bit beige for food choices as well. This can mean I’m cooking three separate meals some nights. I also do the ironing.thought provoking post! ❤️

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    1. The thing is, each house works in different ways. Because I’m not earning a huge amount at the moment, I’m doing the bulk of the housework because I have more time. If I was working full-time, I’d expect us to share the chores.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “women, for the most part, do not begrudge unpaid work because of the “joy in caring for those you love” but it leads to lower pay at work, more time off and a tendency to work part-time, all of which add to the gender pay gap.” – I totally see this point. And I see the roots of it in all the stuff we tell little girls about how being ‘nice’ and ‘loving’ is everything, but never tell that to boys. Then you get mum memes and so forth that basically say the same thing. That one gender does the practical caring and the other is loved/looked after.
    The saddest thing is that when I see posts on social media about family activities, you get women proudly saying they don’t do them so they can clean. If they are spending that much time cleaning, then someone (ie partner) needs to help them!

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    1. True. When I took that quote I was conscious of the ‘joy in caring’ part, and the stereotype it promotes. But I’m not ashamed to like caring and you’re right, rather than pretending we’re tough to compete with men, they need to stop feeling ashamed of showing emotion.

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    1. Ha Ha! I know it takes real discipline not say anything because then you’re accused of nagging. However, there is such a thing as a job performance review and I’ve certainly been in plenty of those after I’ve made dinner.

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      1. Good on you girls keep living in your little echo chamber patting yourselves on the backs with your warped sense of self worth and inability to understand what men themselves go through. My missus does do the look after guest thing more often than I, but I can guarantee I do the lions share of everything else.

        Wake up

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  3. Couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately a lot of these men are raised in households where their mothers do all the work, so by the time we take over they’re not really looking for ways to help, alas, they don’t even see clutter (as actual studies have found). Its sad that we have to break the cycle but someone’s gotta do it, so that our sons see both parents dish-washing and grow up to be useful & equal partners. I’ve started doing my part by relaxing my standards and leaving things undone until the husband finally finishes a task. He had his family over last weekend and I refused to do anything for dinner (although I DID mow the lawn and do all the man-jobs, which I prefer). To my surprise he did everything (hungover too!) – cooked, set the table, cleaned the chairs before their arrival, washed up. He didn’t do it all to my standards, but I let go of the fact that we had zero drinks to offer our guests and just enjoyed the fact that he stepped up. Although he was showered with praise from his mother which I liken to someone congratulating a father for ‘daddy dutying’ his own child. But baby steps hey!

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    1. Thanks for your comments. Couldn’t agree with you more on the last one and I love the idea of relaxing our standards to effect change. I think the only reason my husband changed was because he became more anal with middle age. Still plenty of work to do with my son, but I have to pick my battles there.

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  4. My husband mostly does all the housework, because, unlike him, I’m retired and am too busy for housework. I do the washing because I can manage button pressing, and hanging washing on the line because it is very meditative and I need my Vitamin D.

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  5. Oh lordy… When I was married my husband did literally nothing- which is probably why I am divorced now. Lol. Never again. Ever.

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  6. I was lucky to be raised in a home where my dad did stuff. No, probably not nearly as much as my mom, but I saw him wash dishes and fold laundry. And I was lucky to marry a man who grew up in a house full of women who made him clean the bathroom and do laundry. We’ve had some bumps along the way. My first attempt at returning to work resulting in a lot of nights of me coming home at 11pm to find a sink still full of dirty dishes, and trust me, no one wants to be on the receiving end of that tirade, lol. By the time I made my second attempt at returning to work, things were better. Honestly, he probably does more than I do at home now.

    Our thinking is, if you live in this house, you help out. That includes adults and children.

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  7. Look at it from the average mans view. The men were probably trying to enjoy their first day off in 5 or 6 days and I can nearly guarantee its the women who organise these annoying shindigs. That’s the situation at my house anyhow.

    Whilst we are at it then, lets talk about how many women YOU know that get up at 5am to go to work building these fancy houses they all want or to make / repair the roads so their range rovers (their husband paid for) has a smooth ride. P. lease Spare me.

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  8. I do not understand why people don’t simply outsource their house cleaning and ironing etc. In comparison to people’s incomes these days and the value of their houses, the cost of hiring a cleaner is minimal (also provides work for someone worse off then themselves). My mother worked full-time from the mid-fifties and hardly did any housework again except minimal everyday stuff. She was a great cook and also was quite artistic so spent her spare time doing things she liked to do. I think the real problem is that women see outsourcing housework as a waste of money.

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  9. Men generally don’t do housework because we don’t give a shit. Women generally have this bee in their bonnet about cleanliness and domestic order. It’s biology dear, get over it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Men through generations of labor, sacrifice, bleeding and dying constructed the most elevated, prosperous, affluent, safe and secure civilisation history has yet seen. Gifted their women with more privilege and ease than any other race of men. Shared these hard won lessons and knowledge freely with other societies that have no capacity to ever rise above a semi-feral state of nature. No race of women has ever had it so good and so easy being securely sheltered from the brutal and harsh realities of the world we live in, and it’s owed all to the love of men for their women. Yet women take every possible opportunity to gleefully hate and undermine their men. If their not metaphorically kicking their hard working and self-sacrificing men in the nuts then they’re stabbing them in the back.

    Just stop and ponder on that, there’s a lesson there for those with eyes to see it. Would a sane man continue to feed or pet a dog that repeatedly bites and mauls him?

    Liked by 1 person

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