Numerous women get enraged when their husbands fail to do their due part of household chores.
Not only do women do far more unpaid emotional work than the majority of males, but they also bear the brunt of household duties.
What is the reason behind this? Why is there still such an imbalance when it comes to household tasks and labor in our current period of gender equality (or at least, we think it is equal at this point)?
Consider a few major reasons why your spouse may be unwilling to assist you in any way, and what you can do about it.
Domestic tasks were regarded as "women's jobs" for thousands of years. Because men worked outside the home, the wife's realm included the hearth and household. Typically, she was in charge of cooking, cleaning, and the majority of child-raising.
This dynamic occurs globally and continues to have influence in a number of locations. Bear in mind that women working outside the house became widespread barely 50 years ago.
Additionally, depending on one's cultural background, many families retain a partnership in which the woman serves as the primary housekeeper.
If your spouse was raised in a household where his mother handled domestic responsibilities, this may explain why he sits back and lets you do the housekeeping.
After all, if he was not reared with domestic tasks and obligations, he may believe that these things will take care of him. This is particularly true if he is cohabiting for the first time with someone other than his mother.
He may simply cast you in the mother/housekeeper role based on his prior experience.
He Is Probably Unaware of What He Is Doing (Or Not Doing)
For a moment, consider the preceding point.
If someone has been raised in a particular familial structure and has only ever witnessed that dynamic firsthand, they will have a difficult time conceiving of anything other than their own life experience.
This could be compared to someone who was raised in a particularly religious household with no exposure to people of other faiths. They would not have been exposed to other faiths and would be unaware of the existence of other religions. As a result, their minds are blown when they learn that other cultures hold different beliefs than their own.
It causes them to experience a mild short circuit, as they must consciously rewire everything they've ever known and been taught.
Consider a man who grew up in a home where mama did all the cooking and cleaning. Her husband and son(s) may have never been involved in meal preparation; they may have simply sat down to dinner when it was ready.
Laundry was thrown in a hamper and folded neatly in their closets. Carpets were consistently clean, and beds were consistently made. Even if one of the family's men offered assistance, they may have been ushered into the living room with coffee and a biscuit while mama kept the kitchen sparkling just the way she liked it.
While you may be enraged by this situation, attempt to maintain a sense of perspective and rationality.
It's natural to become enraged or passive-aggressive, but these responses rarely produce positive results.
Rather than that, exercise foresight and rationality. Nagging and whining will only serve to irritate your husband, whereas a rational problem-solving approach is far more likely to result in positive change.
Now, let's look at some of the ways you can achieve a more equitable household dynamic.
Many men prefer visual cues to abstract concepts, so create a list.
Divide a single sheet of plain lined paper in half. In the first column, list all of the household chores that require attention, and I mean ALL OF THEM. Prepare meals, wash dishes, do laundry, make beds... the list goes on.
In the second column, include the name of the person who is typically responsible for those chores.
Then sit down with your husband/partner and demonstrate how much work each of you has been doing and why more balance is necessary.
Prepare yourself to face immediate hostility and retaliation. From his viewpoint, he could be accomplishing a lot, as he presumably performs considerably more housekeeping than his father ever did. To him, he’s being proactive and a tremendous help around the home.
Try to be patient with him throughout this process, and express your perspective without being harsh or over-emotional about it. If you’ve ever been in a managerial role at work, approach this discussion as you would with a coworker.
After all, the two of you are life partners, right? So treat this as a collaboration of equals, with respect and efficiency.
Men who have grown up in the aforementioned sort of environment could be extremely proud of themselves for “helping out” with the housekeeping.
They perceive it as the woman’s job, and that they’re being proactive, fantastic partners by doing what they believe is assisting her with her burden.
You’ll come across anything similar in regard to kid care/rearing. Men could proudly boast about how they’re “babysitting” the kids that night while mom is out with her pals.
No, it isn’t babysitting; it’s parenting. It isn’t the mother’s role to take care of the kids on her alone, thus the other parent is stepping up and doing his bit, not gallantly shouldering some of the mom’s responsibilities here.
The same goes for chores. If a person lives in a home, then it’s their job to assist in care for it. Do they wear clothes? Then they need to wash them. Do they eat? Then they may do their fair part of the cooking and dishwashing.
It’s up to the two of you how you want to split home tasks, as long as you both end up taking care of things.
For example, one home could have specified duties, in which the woman performs most of the cooking, washing, and vacuuming, while the husband takes care of the dishes, dusting, and trash.
Those are set responsibilities that need to be taken care of, and if they aren’t, then there’s a particular adult accountable for them who’s slacking off.
This is easier than merely a free-for-all in which things get done “whenever”… partly because they’ll ultimately be done by the person who’s been taking care of them forever.
Really hammer home the notion that because both of you are living in this apartment, you both need to take care of it. Together.
When it comes to defining distinct household responsibilities and norms, it’s necessary to take all labor factors into mind.
For example, if both of you work outside the home, but one works full-time and the other works part-time, then it makes sense for the part-time worker to take on more domestic responsibilities.
If you’d want to prevent things from becoming monotonous, make a task wheel, and spin it every weekend. This will generate diverse task plans on a weekly basis, so one individual isn’t stuck on vacuum or dishwashing duty forever.
Then, if any of the duties haven’t been taken care of, it’s pretty evident who hasn’t been doing their weight.
It’s also crucial to note that certain jobs require significantly more time and effort than others: not simply due to frequency, but because of physical/mental work.
For example, if just one person performs all the cooking, this is a big duty that has to be done.
In a worst-case situation, if you’ve previously attempted tactics like a chore wheel and/or assigned responsibilities and your spouse is still slacking off, a tougher reaction could be warranted.
He may not know exactly how much work goes into making a family function smoothly. As such, he doesn’t grasp what would happen if you stop taking up the slack that he continues dropping.
So go on strike.
Only clean up after yourself, cook for yourself, and do your own washing.
If he flips out because he doesn’t have any clean underwear or work shirts, point to the basket full of filthy clothes and demand that he wash them himself.
Does he grumble that there’s nothing to eat since he doesn’t know how to cook? Sorry, the “I don’t know how to cook” argument doesn’t fly for anybody over the age of 20. Heck, there are enough recipes and YouTube tutorials out there for anybody to prepare a half-decent supper.
There’s no shampoo or soap in the shower? Better go purchase some. He’ll learn to be more conscious of when toilet paper needs to be updated as well.
Yes, there is a danger that these types of severe actions may take a toll on your relationship. Hopefully, you never have to resort to them, and your spouse will step up and do his bit without you going into full-on strike mode.
If, however, you do have to resort to this, then it may be worth the risk. His attitude to this scenario may very well influence the path of the remainder of your marriage:
Either he’ll understand exactly how much you have to do on a continuous basis and step up, or he’ll throw a tantrum at having to do his fair share, and want out. If it’s the former, then great! You have a wonderful, equal spouse who loves and respects you enough to be an active member of the home.
If not, then at least you know now, and could save yourself a lifetime of enslavement, ministering to someone else’s demands and whims day and night.
Important caveat: if your spouse is violent in either a physical or emotional manner, going on strike is not a wise option. It may lead to hostility or revenge which can put your safety or well-being in danger. If this is the case, our essay on leaving a toxic relationship could be one you want to read.
The greatest approach to prevent the type of resistance to housekeeping and such that we mentioned here is to nip such expectations in the bud. Namely, don’t raise your kids the same manner that you (or your spouse) were reared.
Get them started on duties very early. Show kids that everyone takes part in all elements of house and family upkeep, so they learn that as members of the family, they’re part of everything involved.
Your child may not be able to wash dishes, but they’ll cheerfully help you put ingredients into mixing bowls (particularly if they get to lick the spoon afterward) (especially if they get to lick the spoon later). Is your pre-teen gloomy at the notion of having to perform any tidying? Give them rewards like increased allowance so they understand the worth of their time and work.
If kids grow up with the concept of personal household contribution as the norm, they’ll be far better prepared for independent adulthood once they’re out of the home.
And in turn, their spouses won’t be distressed and upset by having to be mom2.0 either.
One last, and very important note: while this essay revolves around the concept of a spouse who doesn’t do his fair share around the home, this problem surely isn’t restricted to male partners.
There are numerous scenarios in which a wife (or another spouse) doesn’t do her fair share of the housekeeping, and appears to expect others to take care of it for her. If this is the case, then the exact same procedures outlined here will apply to her.
This may also be the case for older children in mixed relationships/partnerships. If you’ve married someone who already has kids from a prior marriage, you’ll certainly meet a similar form of opposition to the one discussed previously.
You’ll get a whole lot of push-back and resistance – not to mention sullen behavior and mouthing off – if you attempt to urge the kids to take on any domestic tasks. That will be worse if your husband/partner expects you to take on all the tasks and is terrified by the notion of having his kids help around the home. If he never had to, why should they?
This is a tough region to negotiate. Yes, it’ll need patience and explanation, but also a hard hand.