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Chores for Two

I just came across an interesting article, entitled “Chores for two: Why men don’t pitch in,” that explores the role that men and women play in household chores and child rearing.

I’ll give you some time to go browse the article, so we can have a little Friday afternoon discussion.

I’m not trying to complain, mind you, because I feel like I’ve been doing too much of that lately. I’m not trying to cast blame, either.  I’m really trying to be optimistic, believe it or not! But, let me tell you, I was SO SO SO relieved after reading this article.

I am not alone.  My situation is not unique. Hallelujah!  Just knowing that gives me some hope.

Of course, the article is a bit extreme and generalized and it doesn’t apply 100% of the time.  For instance, I know my dad and my step-dad both partake in what are often considered more wives’ chores (my step-dad cleans, helps with the laundry, and washes all the dishes, my dad has always helped cook the meals). Tony, to his credit, shops with me WAY more than any other man has ever been willing to.

One of my favorite lines:

Left to his own devices, he would doubtless park himself in front of the TV like some sitcom male-chauvinist couch potato while I did all the work.

I have always found it puzzling why women have this innate need to always be cleaning, organizing, tending to the never-ending to-do list, and being generally productive whenever we have a spare moment, and men, well — they just relax in their spare time! What a novel concept.

But what REALLY, REALLY hits home is the following line:

What I don’t understand is why my insistence on some approximation of equality is unusual.

I thought I was the only one insisting on some approximation of equality?  I was under the impression that I was some sort of TYRANT for requesting help.  That I should be able to be superwoman and HANDLE IT ALL and smile while doing it!  That maybe my situation, with a fairly demanding career with sometimes long-ish hours, was unique. That my expectations were set too high. That perhaps I’m just projecting my feelings onto my partner because I feel like some sort of failure because in reality I am NOT Martha Stewart and I can’t balance a successful career and keep a sparkling house all on my own??!?! {oh, wait, she has gobs of money and probably has paid help}. OH, and if I can barely handle all this now, how would I ever handle all this AND kids AND maintain my sanity? Something’s totally gotta give.

I would love to hear feedback on this one, guys and gals. Tell me how you divy up the chores at home, and if this is just a male/female stereotype that will always be true.  Is equality of chores a pipedream?  Should I stop my bitching and moaning and just accept my allotted role in life? Does it ever get any easier?

Follow up – Here’s a man’s take on the whole housework issue that I found very insightful and gives good advice for approaching this topic.  It rings true with what Tony’s always told me — men simply don’t care about a clean, orderly house as much as women, so why would they want put effort towards it? Is making your partner happy not a good enough reason? Le sigh.

Admittedly, I definitely need to work on my approach. Most importantly, the housework is the problem; not the partner. Never attack, and be friendly and low-key when negotiating household chores. No one responds well to negativity or blame or being shamed into doing something.  But how to get someone to do something they don’t care about??? Is that even possible?

6 Responses to “Chores for Two”

  1. Janelle says:

    This is all my opinion….

    One day you accept the fact that you can’t have it all: the successful career, clean household, home cooked meals, quality time with your family, etc.. and you need to prioritize. No one person can achieve all this and be HAPPY; it’s just too much. You gotta let go of the little things and hold on to the things that really matter. I’ve given up on trying to keep my house clean, because that is lower on my priority list then spending time with family and cooking healthy meals. My career has also had to take a backseat. I’ve recently accepted the fact that I can’t have it all.

    Regarding chores… at some point you learn boundaries in your relationship. You learn it’s a give and take and things do need to be fair someway or how. In our household, I do take care of alot of the cleaning, cooking and laundry, but Budd does all the yardwork, car repair, household repair, among other things. We finally have settled in on a balanced household, but it took time (7 years of marriage!)

    I hope this helps. You may not achieve exactly what you are looking for, but my guess is someday you will decide it just doesn’t matter. When kids come along, your life turns completely upside down and the things you used to think matter, just don’t anymore.

  2. Jacob says:

    The problem isn’t that Guys don’t do Chores its that we don’t do them as often as you want.
    Most guys I know didn’t get married right after high school and are used to living alone, meaning they do all the Chores or it doesn’t get done.

    So the problem is the difference in what is acceptable between males and Females

    Guys are fine going weeks without cleaning, Girls want to clean up the second they see a spec. Any thing less and they do it themselves, so since the females are cleaning up everything instantly the guys never see a need to clean.

    The exception is big projects, like installing a new sink, repairing a drywall, ect… this is why these are guy tasks since they are big and noticeable and we get to play with cool tools.

    So if you can wait to clean things and let them get dirtier I assure you guys will chip in.

  3. Heather says:

    Appreciate the feedback, guys — so quick! You’re both right, I need to prioritize and realize what is important and go from there.

    Also, thanks for hearing me out and taking the time to respond. I know I have issues and that I’m uptight, and I need to get over it :) But at the same time, the ever elusive balanced household seems so impossible to obtain. Fairness should hopefully come with time. Thanks for giving me hope!

    Haha, and Jacob, as always, I appreciate your male perspective, it’s pretty much dead-on. The urgency between men and women is definitely different.

  4. Janelle says:

    What worked for us was to sit down and list all the chores that we both agreed need to be done on a daily and weekly basis. Then divvyed them up, so we are each responsible for the chores we are assigned. Of course there’s flexibility and circumstances where it doesn’t always work. Budd likes to negotiate, so from time to time we will trade chores or just do favors for each other. It seems to work well for us.

  5. Tom says:

    Heather, it is true that much of what people do later in their life is the direct result of their upbringing and the traditions and protocols that existed before they were even borne.

    I must point out that much of what you are experiencing with Tony, and i hate to admit it, is the direct result of the Moore traditions that also affected me, Tony’s Grandfather and Great Grandfather. The Moore males were always taught to chop the wood, fix the house, keep the cars (or horse buggies) operational, paint the fences and any other male stereotypical tasks. They were also taught not to wash dishes, vacuum, cook, clean windows, or mop floors. At the time, that is how the Moore women wanted it too. However, the world changed somewhere along the way but us Moore’s did not embrace the change as fast as other families. This doesn’t make it right, but at least you know with respect to Tony, this was a “learned” trait that needs to be broken among the Moore males. In fact, my mother (Tony’s grandmother) always claimed that my dad didn’t even know how to boil water! It was that bad.

    Tony may not even recognize that this was “learned” from the generations before him and consequently may not know that he must exercise great discipline and courage to change it.

    I am sure this will all come out at some point, but for now, i can confidently say that this aspect of the Moore tradition needs to change. I hope you now understand where Tony got these notions to begin with but that doesn’t make it right. It is time for us to change and i am hoping you will assume the roll of “Primary Architect” leading to the successful transformation of the Moore males from now to eternity. When we get together again, i propose that you have Tony and I cook the dinner and clean up while you ladies relax and play music! That will send a strong message to us both. Looking forward to your strong leadership in this area in the future! You will persevere! Sincerely, Tom (Unfortunately the one that kept this tradition moving! Shame on me!)

  6. Heather says:

    Thanks for being so open and honest, Tom. Very much appreciated :)

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