Husbands are equally responsible in home management
Some wives, and husbands, just don’t get it — that it is not the husband’s role to help his wife with housework. They are equally responsible with their partner to do everything in managing the home.
Many husbands still believe that when they wash the dishes or clean the house they are actually helping their wives. That is far from the truth. This concept is based on a patriarchal model of marriage where the husband is lord and ruler and the wife is the submissive servant. When a husband washes the dishes, he is actually helping himself. In many cases it is the father, and the children, that would have caused most of the disorder and dirt in the home.
The husband’s full participation in home management is crucial to marital peace and happiness. I am not suggesting that there must be a legalistic approach that literally divides chores by actual count. This might not be so because of health reasons, ability, or availability.
In principle, both partners are equally responsible for the full management of the home. This includes total cleaning of the home, paying of utility bills, managing of children, etc. Both partners are to have an attitude of involvement and a willingness to do so. Both partners are not to take for granted who will do which chores. Instead, they should have a verbal understanding and/or create a schedule of chores for the entire family. Even when one partner does not have the skill to do a chore, like cooking, that partner is to have a willing attitude. Both partner’s full participation is fair, and reduces stress and tension.
Myth: One reason men are raised not to participate in home management is because they have been taught that wives have a God-given role as homemakers.
The first instruction to work was given to both Adam and Eve at the same time. They were to manage their home. Genesis 1:28 New Living Translation states: Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
Myth: Men believe women are to do home chores because women are better at doing chores.
The truth is we have raised boys to not cultivate the skill of doing household chores.
A mother and father to three teenage sons and one daughter raised the boys to believe household chores were the responsibility of females. Thus, the cleaning of the house was the total responsibility of the two females in the home — the mother and daughter. Four people made dirt, and two cleaned it up.
The mother actually believed asking her sons to clean the dishes and floors would make them soft and turn them in to homosexuals. After the family completed a meal together around the dining table, the daughter was taught to gather the dishes, and place them in the sink.
I shared with the mother that she was creating monsters out of her sons. She was actually teaching them to take advantage of women, thus creating and increasing the chances that her loving sons would become abusers of women.
She was also raising her daughter to become subservient to men, increasing the possibility that she would be abused my men.
The mother, toward the end of the discussion, was in tears. She did not realize that what she was doing was wrong. She vowed to make changes in her home.
Many men believe they are right in their view of non-participation in the home. They are not seeking to cause intentional discomfort or pain.
Margaret Wente in an online Globe and the Mail article entitled, “Why men (still) don’t do dishes” shared from a wife: “My husband likes to leave his cereal bowl on the kitchen counter, where it can develop a nice, hard crust. I used to believe he was trying to drive me insane. Now, I know that’s not true. He simply doesn’t see the point of rinsing it out and putting it in the dishwasher. He has better things to do.” Wente said it’s true that men do far more of the cooking and child care than they used to, and they even seem to enjoy it, but when it comes to the fundamentals — to our deepest feelings about hygiene, cleanliness, order, dust bunnies and a nicely made bed — men just don’t get it.
The right attitude
Husbands, cultivate the right attitude and willingness about household chores. Seek to avoid making you partner feel life a slave. Surprise you wife today. Sit with her to discuss the topic about your total involvement in household chores. Together, create a chart of household chores for the entire family to complete and place it on a wall or refrigerator in the home. Be fair with each other regarding the home workload as it relates to each persons talents. In many cases, even if one partner still ends up at times doing more chores than the other, the right attitude still gives a sense of equity and affects total involvement. Husbands, if you come home earlier than you wife from work, get busy cleaning, putting things in order, cooking (or at least get initial cooking or preparation done if that is not your skill), etc.
Let me remind you of this fact — the happiest homes are where leadership and household management are shared. Get involved. Husbands, stop helping your wives. Just do it.
- Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist. Send your questions or comments to [email protected] or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit: www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980.