Those Formerly Wifely Chores

My husband recently took a large bag to the dry cleaner on the main floor of his office building. Inside the bag was a bath towel that needed its hang strap resewed, an overcoat missing a button, dress pants with a seam pulling apart. He handed each item to the older, reserved Asian woman who owns the shop. She appeared amused, an emotion my husband had never seen her display before.

"You got no wife?' she asked, as she burst out laughing.

"My wife is busy," my husband explained.

This made her laugh even harder.

One of the perks of being a working wife is that I have a legitimate excuse to refuse life's details that were once considered the wife's -- grocery shopping, sewing, mending, running errands for my husband, cooking homemade meals (although I can make a mean set of chocolate chip cookies). I hate household chores -- and I love the work I'm paid to do. My job spares me from feeling like Edith Bunker, mistreated and taken for granted by Archie.

I'm surprised by how many moms, working and non-working, accept the mother load of household, husband, and kid responsibilities. My friend, Ann, who has an MBA from Harvard, two kids, and a string of impressive full-time jobs on her resume, argues that a working mom has to let go of household chores to have the time and energy to succeed at work. Her "bucket theory" goes like this: one bucket for what she has to or wants to do herself; another bucket for stuff her husband can do; and a third for tasks for their babysitter or other paid service providers like Peapod or Amazon.com. Simple, and it works. I'm just not sure I could ever explain it to my husband's dry cleaner. She would probably just keep laughing.

Do you grocery shop? Do you pick up most of the household and childcare chores? Do you enjoy or resent your at-home responsibilities? Do you have equality at home? What do you consider a "fair" distribution of chores, and does it matter?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  April 4, 2006; 9:11 AM ET  | Category:  Division of Labor
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I get upset a lot that my husband isn't doing his fair share of the daily chores. But then I think about it. Yes, I do the laundry (mine, the kids, and the household, but not his). Yes, I buy the groceries (he will do it, but tends to buy nothing but candy and ice cream). Yes, I cook most of the meals (probably 80%). But his projects are usually a lot more involved than mine....he does all the heavy-lifting, he maintains our not-small yard, he does anything involving a ladder or electricity or a hammer or the plumbing or my car. I figure we're even.

Posted by: VA Mom | April 4, 2006 9:19 AM

I do chores I like - cooking, organzing certain areas. I'm a SAHM and my husband works full time, but the dishes are still his duty. I do the ones durring the day, but the last load at night after a home-cooked meal, those are his.

I think after a certain time in a relationship we fall into the chores we want to do and those we can stand, as does our partner. The real problem is if there is one that both can't stand...

Posted by: MayasMama | April 4, 2006 9:30 AM

"I'm surprised by how many moms, working and non-working, accept the mother load of household, husband, and kid responsibilities."

What? This comes a week after posting about reluctantly finally coming clean to her husband about how she does almost all of the child care related stuff and does all the stay at home when the kid is sick responsibility stuff?

Posted by: Liz | April 4, 2006 9:33 AM

It's not that my husband doesn't do things around the house; he does. It's that I have to *tell* him exactly what to do. He never just cleans the bathroom because it's dirty, or empties the dishwasher because it's full. And when I do tell him to clean the bathroom, I also have to re-explain which cleaner is used on which surface (otherwise, he'll just spray some windex in the tub and call it a day). By the time all of that is done, I could have done the chore myself.

Posted by: Becky | April 4, 2006 9:33 AM

I know a lot of moms out there hate to do "wifely chores" because they feel "mistreated and taken for granted" but I am not one of them. I love staying home with the kids; and while I don't adore doing laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, bills, etc... I do love the feeling of completeness my work adds to our life.

I love the fact that I put homemade meals on the table at 6pm and that we eat together as a family every night. I love that our nights and weekends are spent doing things together and not running around trying to catch up on all the errands that needed to be done during the week.

I love that our kids know that I will be home when they get home and that I'll be there for them.

My husband supports my decision to stay home and while we have had to sacrifice certain material items, we work together as a team. I control all the money; nothing like Lucy's "allowance" from decades past. I pay all the bills; my husband just does the taxes and that's it. He does, as VA mom says, the "manly" chores, but I do all the rest.

I take pride in running a smooth household. My mom was able to stay home with me and it was something I treasured from an early age and I love being there for my school-age kids and my infant as well.

Posted by: mom of 3 | April 4, 2006 9:39 AM

Why does everyone have to have to have their resume' listed before moving to the point , it's always my friend X , with a degree from X , with a job with X . What is the point ? Are their stories or thoughts somehow more valid because of their resume ? This should be called the upper income white people blog, filled with hand wringing over what choices have been made and apparently just as important , what everyone else thinks of said choices . I am fortunate enough to have said choice, and i am grateful. Please remember when hand wringing or blasting someone else ( a regular occurence here ) how ridiculous this blog looks to the non white , lower income people of the area . We look to them like fools , whining about what the neighbors think of our 5 year old Lexus as opposed to a new one , then feeling the need to explain that it's for the kids sake. life has been kind to most posters here , let's remember that .

Posted by: shoreman | April 4, 2006 9:43 AM

"My husband recently took a large bag to the dry cleaner on the main floor of his office building. Inside the bag was a bath towel that needed its hang strap resewed, an overcoat missing a button, dress pants with a seam pulling apart. He handed each item to the older, reserved Asian woman who owns the shop. She appeared amused, an emotion my husband had never seen her display before.

"You got no wife?' she asked, as she burst out laughing.

"My wife is busy," my husband explained."

Did you husband ever live alone or did he go from his mother's house to marriage? While some sewing needs professional work (the dress pants), the towel and the button are basically 5 minute work (and who doesn't "waste" five minutes in front of the TV?). My daughter ripped her dress the other day and that night while watching TV, I sewed it up. Perfect - no. Good enough for us - yup. Good enough for a 3-year old - absolutely.

Sewing is a basic skill everybody should have. One day in the office, I ripped my pants by catching the pocket on the arm of a chair when sitting. Ripped the seam about 3 inches. I went to my office, closed the door, took of my pants, and sewed them up. Not perfect but good enough to get through the day. Took them to the tailor and he was impressed with the job I did in the office.

Nobody is too busy to sew on a button.

Posted by: Father of 2 | April 4, 2006 9:50 AM

I'd love to hear from the dry cleaner. Why do you suppose she laughed? She's a working woman - what is it about the way we live that seems silly to her? Is it that we're willing to pay someone else to do something so simple? Is it that we're so busy that we don't have - or make - time for that sort of task (I'm assuming that as a small business person, she's working pretty long hours herself)? Or does it have something to do with the husband/wife roles? If asked, she could have offered the perspective of a working woman from both a different culture and a different generation.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 9:54 AM

I have checked this blog frequently over the past two weeks. And yet again, the question Ms. Stiener is asking comes framed in a divisive manner. I have come to believe that her goal in this blog is not to bring people to a better understanding of each other or to have a thoughtful discussion of topics relevant to all kinds of moms but to pit "working" mothers against "stay at home" mothers so that her "war" theory has legs. She can just point to her blog and say "See, I told you so!". Her question today boils down to working moms have no time to do simple mending because well, being paid for something is worth more than sewing on a button for free. Her question really has nothing to do with husbands and their role, it is all about WOHM and SAHM fighting, again.

Posted by: LB | April 4, 2006 9:57 AM

My husband and I have a pretty fair approach to "chores" - we live like single 20-something guys. Neither of us cares enough to agonize over it. We work long hours, love our jobs, and don't feel like sacrificing what free time we have to the endless parade of dusting-vaccuuming-cleaning, only to have to start over by the time we're finished because dust? It happens. I certainly don't assume the burden of doing the chores when he fails to, because that's not fair to me, and I'd resent him for it. We just live in a slightly more messy household than we might if I devoted myself to cleaning up. So what? If we have company, we spend a Saturday scrubbing down every surface (and dreaming of the day we make enough money to hire a maid!) I guess it would be "better" if one of us had the obsessive clean-up gene, but I'm not sure for whom. Then the one who didn't would be free-loading off the one who did, and there'd be resentment all around. Clean houses are a lovely ideal, but not at the expense of my sanity or our relationship.

Posted by: all's fair | April 4, 2006 9:59 AM

My husband and I split chores fairly evenly, and usually according to our preferences. I cook and grocery shop because I like to browse before deciding what we'll eat that week, he loads the dishwasher because he likes the dishes stacked just so. We both do laundry, I pay bills, he does the taxes. I clean the cat litter, he changes lightbulbs. He does toilets, I clean the rest of the bathroom. Since I'm at home and we're on a budget, we don't tend to pay anyone to do stuff for us.

I really like the way our division works. There's rarely discussion or negotiation; except to the extent that one of us has a task that requires the other to look after the baby for a while. We just do our things, and the house runs smoothly. It's all part of the idea that we're a team.

Posted by: NewSAHM | April 4, 2006 10:02 AM

My husband and I have a pretty good arrangement. We share the cooking, we share the washing and I do most of the cleaning unless I need a hand and he does most of the outdoors work, unless I need a hand. Compromise is the secret to success .. but it helps that neither one of us is obsessive about the dust or the glass ring on the coffee table because we both work and are too tired to deal with it tonight. Wives who work who settle for less involvement of their husbands/fathers in the family are short changing themselves and have to ask themselves: Do you like being a martyr? If so, stop whinning about his lack of help in the chores!!. If not, ask for help!

Posted by: Horse lover | April 4, 2006 10:06 AM

This isn't a SAH and WOH issue, this is gender issue. Specifically, that many, not all, but many men were raised with the expectation that women are the ones who cook and clean and take care of the house. I find it incredibly frustrating to have to work and do 80% of the chores at home. He will "help" but I have to tell him what to do - he just won't do very much without asking. And yes, I do all the yard work, bills, etc. His big solution to my frustration is to hire people to do it all which we really can't afford. I hope all the SAH and WOH moms raise their boys to know how to take care of a house and not to expect women to do it. I think a lot of men still think their only job is to work.

Posted by: not a mom | April 4, 2006 10:10 AM

One other suggestion - several people have noted that having a spotless house is not important to them. If something is much more important to you than it is to your spouse, you need to take care of it. I speak from experience - fussing at your spouse for not doing something that they didn't think needed done in the first place is just asking for resentment.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 10:12 AM

My wife's commute is about 4 times longer than mine, and her job has much more variable hours as well. As a result, I do the cooking on weekdays, cleaning and putting away the clothes, while she handles the weekend cooking and clothes washing. I also do the yardwork and other 'manly' stuff, and do my best to give her a "me day" every week where she can do whatever she likes, while I handle grocery shopping, errands, whatever myself. Even though we've no children (yet), we've already discussed baby-care duties and have agreed to split them as well. I see no problem with this arrangement.

Posted by: John | April 4, 2006 10:13 AM

I think that today's topic is very interesting and at all not contrived or divisive. Maybe today is the day Leslie gets cut some slack....
I do think that a basic problem in marriages tends to be division of labor. I think that we males often get judged unfairly regarding how much/little housework we do. Why is it that the traditional 50's definition of "women's" housework (mopping, dusting, vacuuming, etc) is still applied today, and those tasks must be split 50/50? What about painting, lawn care, plumbing, cleaning gutters etc. -- things that are normally the stuff the men would do? Can we split those 50/50 also? My wife is a working mom and I am extremely proud of how successful and bright she is, as well as how much she loves and nourishes our son. Having said that, I've tended to lose a little patience when presented with the notion that we should split the traditional "mommy" tasks 50/50, but I get to keep doing all the traditional "daddy" tasks on my own.

Posted by: Reads But Never Posts | April 4, 2006 10:14 AM

My husband and I have been married for nearly 20 years with six children. Looking at marraige from an equity standpoint is the worst way to approach a relationship. You become like children arguing over who got the biggest piece. It's childish and immature.

Better to learn to serve your spouse and meet the need whether it be for the moment or long term. I am continually amazed, the more I am willing to put my husband's needs above my own, the more he is willing to do the same.

And after 20 years and 6 children he still considers me his bride. The honeymoon hasn't ended yet.

www.spunkyhomeschool.blogspot.com

Posted by: Spunky | April 4, 2006 10:16 AM

I work full time but have been able to obtain very flexible working hours (home by the time school is out) plus two days to work at home. My husband and I share cooking fairly evenly, he does a lot of laundry, I do alot of vacuuming. I see more dirt than he does so I believe I clean more dirt. I also, run the children to their activities (1 per child) each week. I'm in bed no later than 10 and up at 4:50 three days a week. I am happy to do what I do. I love my family and I love what my work also gives me and gives my family, a happy, confident and satisfied mom. I wish people would hang up their wet towels though!

Posted by: Works and works | April 4, 2006 10:19 AM

An additional question is: how many chores do we expect our children to do? How many were you asked to do as a child? I wonder if kids are being asked to do less around the house than their parents were asked to do.

I think my parents' stress level was higher because we were not asked to do anything-- beyond our laundry-- the entire time we were growing up. I wish they had, since they would probably have been happier, and I wouldn't have had a painful crash course in life skills once I was on my own.

Posted by: Ms L | April 4, 2006 10:25 AM

"Why does everyone have to have to have their resume' listed before moving to the point, it's always my friend X , with a degree from X , with a job with X . What is the point ? Are their stories or thoughts somehow more valid because of their resume ?"

Because this blog seem to be pretty Washington, D.C.-centric, and here in Washington your importance and legitimacy as a person are defined by what your job is and where you went to school. Ivy League + a fancy title = this person makes valid points. Smaller state school + a "job" not a "career" = this person did something wrong with their life and you should discount their opinions and lifestyle.

Leslie probably doesn't even notice that she's doing this. And I can guarantee that her first question upon meeting someone at a party is "What do you do?..."

Welcome to Washington... (Now what do you do?)

Posted by: Kid Free in Alexandria | April 4, 2006 10:28 AM

Interesting. I'm married, one kid, pregnant, and my husband and I both work full time. I don't understand why this topic is about moms accepting too much responsibility, or a fair distribution of chores. If I had not gotten married, I would still need to get the oil changed, grocery shop, clean house, pay bills, go to the dry cleaner. That stuff doesn't change whether you are married, single, childless, etc. The degree of work needing to be done might change, but is it more work to drop off my husband's shirts at the cleaners when I am taking my own suits in? While he might be mailing some packages for me since he was already going to the post office to buy stamps? I just don't think the household chores are an issue, and if they are, then do something about it, or stop and think about the things you USED to have to do when you were single, that you haven't done for years, and consider who is doing that- probably your spouse. Everyone in the world who doesn't have a personal assistant has to do chores. Sure, I end up always unloading the dishwasher, but it's a small price to pay for when my hubby does stuff like catching mice and disposing of the evidence before I have to look at it or cleaning up baby vomit which I detest. I read this blog all the time, and sometimes I wonder if it's really mommy wars. Seems to me like it's more, household wars, or maybe mommy vs. daddy wars, because who cares about the supposed conflict between SAHM's and work outside the home moms or whatever you want to call it- it's really about making your own household work, and a lot of these people seem to have a spouse who doesn't carry his weight, or at least the perception that he doesn't! Shoreman makes a VERY good point above about the choices we make and the hand wringing over these choices. I would only add that I never would have gotten married and had a kid with someone who I thought was going to stick me with all the kiddie care and household tasks. I am fortunate to be in a position where I was able to make a choice like that, rather than have it forced on me...

Posted by: MCM | April 4, 2006 10:28 AM

Spunky says "Looking at marraige from an equity standpoint is the worst way to approach a relationship. You become like children arguing over who got the biggest piece. It's childish and immature.

Better to learn to serve your spouse and meet the need whether it be for the moment or long term."

Good advice.

This week my wife will finalize our divorce. We tried the "equity" route and found it didn't work. I think the traditional approach - with defined "man's" and "womans "roles - has a lot more merit than most will admit.

Interestingly a recent study by sociologists at UVA found that stay at home spouses reported higher level of happiness than those who were trying to juggle workplace and home responsibilities.

Posted by: Hindsight | April 4, 2006 10:30 AM

In response to Reads But Never Posts, who said
"Having said that, I've tended to lose a little patience when presented with the notion that we should split the traditional "mommy" tasks 50/50, but I get to keep doing all the traditional "daddy" tasks on my own. "

I agree with you in general. If the "mommy" tasks are split 50/50, then so should the "daddy" tasks.

But in your hypothetical list of "daddy" tasks above (painting, lawn care, plumbing, cleaning gutters etc.), with the exception of lawn care during the warm months, those "daddy" tasks are occasional task, not daily/week chores. The traditional "mommy" tasks are things that need to be done daily or weekly (cleaning, childcare, grocery shopping, laundry, etc.).

So even if all chores are split 50/50, you will be helping with the "mommy" chores far more often that she helps with the "daddy" chores. For instance, if you split grocery shopping and your household normally gets groceries once a week, then each of you would end up doing it every other week for a total of 26 times each a year. But if you split gutter cleaning equally, perhaps you would do it in the spring and she in the fall.

To summarize, it seems like the traditional "mommy" tasks are things that occur every day or every week, whereas the traditional "daddy" tasks happen sporadically or at most seasonally.

Posted by: Karen | April 4, 2006 10:31 AM

Both my husband and I work and we have two kids. LUCKILY FOR ME my husband's mom worked and he knows how to take care of a home as well as, maybe better, than me. We both cook, do laundry, manage kids, etc. We have a plan that works well:
If it's important to you but not me, you do it (gardening or ironing)
If I have time to do it but you don't, I'll do it and vice versa.
If I have energy to do it and you're worn out, I'll do it and vice versa.
If no one has time or energy to do it, it will have to wait. If "it" is dinner, we get takeout.
Basically we are on the same team and we look out for the teammate. Sometimes a week or several weeks will go by with one of us carrying the majority of the work, but it's never the same person all of the time.

Posted by: Angela | April 4, 2006 10:31 AM

We split as best as we can. Obviously a SAHM (as is my wife) has much more opportunity to do many things: She's available during business hours, for example. And while I could leave work early, or take a long lunch to handle things, the reality is that this would simply mean I'd have to make up the time elsewhere. So she does a lot of these tasks.

As in many families, there's a choice to be made. We both would like me to do more on the home front, and her to do less. OTOH, we both would ALSO like me to be home more with her and the kids, and available more for 'dad time' when I'm not at work. Those are conflicting interests, and it's not an easy balance.

I agree, though, that trying to keep track of these things is a speedy way to a nasty marriage. There IS NO "objective" equality. You either are, or are not, happy with your life, and it doesn't make it any more or less pleasant if you're objectively doing more (or less) than 50% of "the work around here".

Mutual happiness--not some overblown concept of "work equality"--should the goal.

Posted by: Erik H | April 4, 2006 10:33 AM

We split chores based on convenience and preference. I cook because I like to do it and my wife does not. Because I cook, I do the shopping. I also do the laundry for all of us, because I am a "night owl" and it is easy to do while watching TV late at night. I hate to clean, and my wife doesn't mind, so she does that. And so on.

I, too, thought Spunky had sound advice--thinking about it in terms of equity will only ultimately lead to resentment. You are partners working toward the common goal of raising a successful family (however you define success). Everyone wins, or no one wins.

Posted by: Brian | April 4, 2006 10:49 AM

Hindsight, I didn't read Spunky's post as advocating a "traditional" division of labor, necessarily. She just pointed out that as long as the two parts of a couple are looking out for each others' needs, things go better. I think she's right -- my husband and I did a lot of score-keeping in our first year of marriage, and, not coincidentally, fought more that year than we ever had or have since. Life is so much easier now that we have a flexible give-and-take situation.

As to what chores we had as kids/what we'll expect our kids to do, I had a lot of chores when I was a kid. I was one of three, two boys and a girl. My sister and I were responsible for cooking once a week each, cleaning the kitchen every night, doing the dishes, and vacuuming the house or cleaning the bathrooms once a week (we traded off). My brother mowed the lawn and took out the trash. We each weeded and raked leaves, we all did our own laundry starting when we were about 9, and we were of course responsible for keeping our rooms neat.

The division of labor in my house drove me up a wall, since I spent 5-10 hours a week, every week, doing chores, while my brother had one fun, seasonal task and one ten-minute-a-week chore.

I don't know what I'll do with my kid(s) yet. If I ever have a son, I will expect him to learn to cook, clean and do laundry, and my daughter will definitely get a turn with the lawn mower.

Posted by: NewSAHM | April 4, 2006 10:49 AM

My husband works a full time job and so do I. I have a partime job as well as an aerobic instructor. I teach 10 classes at 4 different places regularly per week, and if I sub someone else's class(es), I may teach 12 or more classes per week. I teach during my lunch hour, after work, and sometimes on Saturdays. I also run and lift weights.
My husband cooks most nights or brings home carry out. I clean up after I eat, usually way past when he's done eating and now asleep in front of the TV. I clear away his plate as well. I do the cooking on the weekends or we eat out or get Chinese carryout . I do the laundry, I have ALOT more laundry than he does. He does all the yardwork, except when I want some tomato, peppers or pretty flowers planted, I do that.
Anything to do with the vehicles, grass, weeding (yard stuff), home repairs or plumbing, he does. He pays the bills and does the taxes. I just sign whatever he says to sign.
The cleaning, we have a maid every 2 weeks.
We have no kids, we have a pool, 2 cars and a truck.
We're very happpy.

Posted by: Life is good | April 4, 2006 10:51 AM

Do we really want to evaluate our marriages the same way we would business partnerships? Is the measure of a good marriage really whether the contributions of each spouse are exactly equal (on some scale that I don't believe anyone has adequately defined - or even attempted to define)? What happens when one spouse is sick, or injured, or facing other problems that limit what they can do? Do they have to suck it up and maintain their contribution - or pay it back next month (or next year, or after they die)? How do we understand "for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse" - or do we even say those words any more?

No one should intentionally take advantage of a wife (or a husband). Having said that, a marriage is not a business deal. You should be able to completely and absolutely depend on the help and support of your spouse. But my spouse's inability to help - due to disability, injury, sickness or whatever - does not let me off the hook.

"Fair" is defined in the business world by money. Money is important in any family, but it is the least of the things that we bring to our marriages. We can't use that as a measure (if the primary value you place on your spouse is based on the money they bring in, your marriage has very serious problems). Time? Better, perhaps, but still flawed. Other demands can limit what a spouse can do, and, while time together is vital, that's not all that marriage is about.

I'd like to suggest that we all think about what's most important in our marriages. Love, commitment and mutual support would be at the top of my list. I can pay someone to cook, clean, mow and fix my car. I can't pay for the love and support I get from my spouse - if I did, it wouldn't be real.

Where should the balance be? What's really fair? That I give my spouse as much love, commitment and support as my spouse gives me. Will it be exactly the same (50/50 split of ever task)? No - what each of us needs at any given time will be different. But if we match each other in love and commitment, the details will work out.

Posted by: What's the Point? | April 4, 2006 11:02 AM

If I go without sex for too long the dishes start piling up in the sink, the trash starts overflowing all over the kitchen floor, and the empty beer cans pile up on the end table next to the couch. With 4 kids under 14, my wife pretty quickly gets the hint that the most imported chore is being neglected.

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 4, 2006 11:04 AM

My husband and I don't have children yet. We both work full time. I recent;y left a job in private law practice to take a government job, and took a 50% pay cut to do it. Because my husband (a lawyer in private practice) now makes over 2/3 of our income and has to worry about advancement, I try to take on more of the day-to-day chores. We do have housekeepers come in once every three weeks, but I do about 3/4 of the laundry, almost all of the cooking, and most of the in-between cleaning. However, my husband is very neat and very appreciative of my efforts. He also does a lot of the jobs I hate-- maintaining our finances, doing the taxes, taking the dry cleaning, paying all the bills, etc. We generally run errands together, and he's always more than willing to pitch in if I ask.

I think the difference in being happy with the division of labor is in attitude. I'm grateful that my husband is continuing to work long, hard hours in private practice so I can have a much more intereting and much lower-stress government job. That gratitude makes me want to do things to help out more around the house. My positive attitude about housework carries over to him. We're both happy.

Posted by: Happily Married | April 4, 2006 11:07 AM

A partner who will deal with the rodent problem is worth their weight in gold!

Let 'em know it!

Posted by: Diane | April 4, 2006 11:10 AM

Ms Steiner describes an elitist lifestyle, where she pays "someone else" to do the chores of daily living so she can "work" -- that is, issue pronouncements in her blog. This account demonstrates once again how elites and wannebes ascend to incompetence.

Posted by: Susan | April 4, 2006 11:13 AM

You must be pretty important and work really hard. Those tasks have nothing to do with being a wife. I have a wife that stays at home in a more traditional role and if I asked her to do all of that stuff, she would. She does most of it, but I do what I can without asking. Husbands and wives should take pride in some of things like cooking and mending and being self-sufficient. I dislike raking leaves, but I do it...or cut down the trees. Maybe that's a metaphor for how complicated and disconnected our lives have become.

Posted by: Your disconnected | April 4, 2006 11:14 AM

I am not yet married but am currently living with my girlfriend. It might be a cultural thing, or simply the fact that I've lived alone for a while, but I actually do the larger portion of household chores. I have a high stress medical profession and she works about 25 hours a week, we have no kids. However, in our case I do choose to do most of the cooking. I am good at it, she's somewhat tentative in that area. My food taste is ecclectic, her's is not. I still prefer to do the laundry but she almost always firsts me to it but I do the ironing, and I have to admit that she cleans the house a lot better than would. it was a bit awkward at first but we've learned to adjust and share the chores by simply keeping the other company while cooking or doing laundry. However I do draw the line at being anywhere near when Vaccuuming is taking place. I just hate the noise.
I don't know what it would be like with kids but I hope we can share that same level of chore distribution.

Posted by: Jean-Pierre Philippe | April 4, 2006 11:20 AM

Susan...how is it "elitist" to use online/delivery services like Amazon and Peapod? I have a feeling the folks who run both businesses aren't feeling especially marginalized by the Steiner household's purchases. Paying service providers for the services they offer isn't a per se statement that the buyer thinks her status is superior to the service provider and therefore she should be afforded superior treatment. When you order a pizza, do your actions tell the delivery person you're better than s/he is?

Posted by: Sasha | April 4, 2006 11:35 AM

I'm in my mid-twenties, no husband or kids yet. The guys I have dated either live alone or with roommates. They know how to cook, they clean their bathroom when it gets to the point where it bothers them, they do their laundry and iron their shirts. I think the fact that people in my generation are waiting longer to get married means that more men will have spent time doing these tasks and will be less likely to view them in a gendered way.

Posted by: juststartingout | April 4, 2006 11:37 AM

At the risk of provoking some folks, I'm going to say that in general, the daddy tasks are not so much regular labor of the type that doesn't "stay done," as much as they are more involved projects that require expertise and planning, in addition to execution.

My wife got a great deal on an entertainment center, but it does not vent enough heat to keep our stereo system from overheating, so I have had to locate and purchase an exhaust fan and figure out how to wire and install it in such a way that it cools the components. If a door latch does not engage, I have to decided whether to raise or lower the strike plate, or shim the hinges at top or bottom, or that the jamb is hopelessly out of square - and then fix it. If a GFCI outlet starts popping offline, I have to figure if it's the load that's plugged into it that's causing that, or a bad GFCI, and rectify. And that's just the daily stuff - never mind the framing, wiring and plumbing plans (and execution of same) for the renovations we're doing. Lots of people here talk about "painting," but you have to know which products to use, and how to prepare the surface so that it stays painted - it's not just color slapped on.

There is no question that both parties seem to undervalue the others' supposed tasks, but as a very rough, very general rule, I would say that the "mommy" tasks are repetitive and in many cases not terribly skilled - although this is not true in all cases. The "daddy" tasks are not as repetitive and do not occur as often, but they tend to be more challenging and demand more specialized, specific knowlege and ability, and require specific tools and the ability to use them.

This type of task will always be more highly-valued and -compensated in any labor market - and what we're talking about is a labor market, like it or not.

This is a very general statement (and is changing with the diminishing ability of more modern daddies to do these things, more's the pity), but I submit that it's operative here.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 11:40 AM

I did the same chores when I was working full-time as I do now that I am home. I am more efficient than my husband, and cannot proscrastinate anything. Our agreement is that he takes the children from the second he walks in the door. I clean up dinner, we go for a walk, come home, he gets me a glass of wine, runs my bath, picks what he thinks will be a song I like on my IPOD and I take my "transition bath". The kids love the time with their dad, I read and relax. I am so much nicer by the time I am done. I have done the nasty chores while the kids are at school and he is at work. There are no chores to do on the weekend, we travel as a family, go to movies, have fun. Chores can be great exercise: mow your own lawn, wear weights while your clean, walk to the cleaners. I volunteer 20 hours a week and write a column for a newspaper. It is a much nicer life than the 60 hour weeks on Wall Street I left behind.

Posted by: Karen | April 4, 2006 11:42 AM

I'm fascinated by the folks who say "marriage isn't a business deal." Do you think they would still say this if a husband and wife both work, she gets pregnant, and they know they want a family primary caregiver for a child - but what if SHE wants to work? Could she argue her husband should stay home, even if he makes more $, because "marriage isn't a business deal?"

Posted by: Interesting | April 4, 2006 11:47 AM

"Looking at marraige from an equity standpoint is the worst way to approach a relationship."

Ah, but equity != 50/50. Or 60/40, for that matter. It equals whatever works for that particular couple. Having a partner to feels undervalued, even if the work is divided 50/50, defeats the purpose. Equity should be about what is "fair" for them, not what ther rest of us think :-)

Posted by: not a mom yet | April 4, 2006 11:52 AM

Reads But Never Posts, your post was interesting because I find I basically have to do 100% of the "male" tasks and 80% of the "female." I am female; my boyfriend remains (deliberately?) clueless about basically everything around the house. He'll do laundry, but all he can manage to do is pull the "on" knob. If the setting is Large/Hot, he'll keep it that way, even if he's just throwing in a single clothing item that should be washed delicate (has shrunken many of his own clothes that way, but never changes his approach). I do all the plumbing/repair type tasks. He wouldn't know one type of screwdriver from another if his life depended on it, and his solution to a running toilet? Shut the door so you don't hear it.
He wants to marry me, but I'm not sure I have the energy to do almost 200% of everything for the rest of my life. We're both lawyers, for what it's worth....We've discussed this issue, but things haven't really changed.

Posted by: Resident Handywoman | April 4, 2006 11:57 AM

Interesting, this is the situation with our family. My husband and I wanted to have a parent home with the children, but I didn't want to fully give up my career. I was the SAHM for the first 3.5 years of my first daughter's life, and then my husband quit his job so that I could go back to work, even though his job pays 2x as much. (Actually, though, he worked about 60 hours a week and I work 30, so the hourly rate is about the same). He plans to go back to work part-time when our younger daughter begins to go to preschool this fall. This way both kids have had both parents as the primary caregiver, and neither of us had to take too long a break from work. We both have switched to the "mommy track" in our careers, I guess. But we're happy this way.

Posted by: Ms L | April 4, 2006 12:03 PM

oh how I'd love to 'let go of the household chores' like Leslie's friend Ann to 'have the time and energy to succeed at work.' Unfortunately, most single moms lack the resources to pay someone else to do a lot of things.Leslie, as an executive, perhaps you'll tell us blog-fans sometime about all the workplace improvements you have implemented to help the moms and dads of washingtonpost.com who must balance their lives and jobs?

Posted by: Rita | April 4, 2006 12:06 PM

I --- the wife --- used a drill, hammer, and screwdriver to put together a bookcase; fixed the vacuum cleaner; programmed the garage door opener; and replaced the smoke alarm batteries this past weekend while my husband took the kids outside to play. So much for "mommy" and "daddy" jobs. For 14 of out 15 years of marriage, I made more money than my husband. However, now that my husband has finished a degree he needed to get his current job, I am loosening up a bit at work and taking off more of my vacation time to spend with my children.

Posted by: Opposite of my mother | April 4, 2006 12:08 PM

We are both working parents, we divide the tasks in a simple way: each of us does what we dislike less. I cook, make the beds, clean kitchen and bathrooms. He does laundry, vacuums, pays the bills. We try to take things easy and avoid arguing about household chores. While one is doing chores the other looks after our son.
Easy and simple.

Posted by: ML | April 4, 2006 12:11 PM

"I'm fascinated by the folks who say "marriage isn't a business deal." Do you think they would still say this if a husband and wife both work, she gets pregnant, and they know they want a family primary caregiver for a child - but what if SHE wants to work? Could she argue her husband should stay home, even if he makes more $, because "marriage isn't a business deal?""

Yes - if it made sense for the family, of course. Marriage is not about power, it's not about money, and sometimes it's not about what I want - it's about love and commitment. In many, if not most, cases it will make sense for the spouse with the highest earnings potential to be the primary earner, and the spouse with the lower earnings potential to stay home if it's necessary for someone to stay home. But that's a pragmatic decision - not a reflection of either spouse' "worth" or the value of their contribution to the marriage. (Imagine that it were a measure of their value in the marriage - would that imply that being laid-off or disabled reduces a spouse' value, and if not corrected is grounds for divorce?)

I'll say it again - if you primarily view your marriage as an economic enterprise, you're almost guaranteed to run into problems down the road.

Posted by: Not a Business Deal | April 4, 2006 12:12 PM

I would laugh, too, if someone was willing to pay (probably) over $30 for a button to sew (among the other small items). I do these things (my mother taught me), and I'm 27. My husband doesn't know how to do stuff like that but that's fine, because I enjoy being able to take care of basics (I mean really, a hang strap?). Instead of saying "I just don't have time to do these "wifely" chores," (and being derisive and insulting), why don't you just say you don't know how to do them, or you just don't like it? "Father of 2" is absolutely right about the time it takes (and, incidentally, ruining your point that it's a woman's job), and he must know the satisfaction of being able to take care of yourself sometimes.
But this is not to say that I do everything; my husband does a lot of the chores at home, even getting on me to pick stuff up on occasion, but it never has come down to "You do this because you're the woman, and I do this because I'm the man." And perhaps it is because of our age; we're just not oriented to think in those terms. We also don't have kids, but he's more than willing to stay home if we ever do (again, it may be an age thing, but we (and particularly he) just can't see loving any job enough that it beats staying home).

Posted by: Amused | April 4, 2006 12:24 PM

I think the equity thing is much more how you were raised. I grew up with a widowed mother, so while she worked I did a lot of the household chores (we both did the men's stuff, thank you.) Now that I live with my DH, he grew up with a mother that did EVERYTHING for him, no real respnosiblity in the house. Therefore, if he sees an overflowing trashcan it doesn't even cross his mind that if you see something that needs doing, just do it. its a personal responsibility thing, if you're unwilling or not used to looking around your environment and taking care of stuff, it ends up with nagging.

So Mothers/Fathers/Guardians/etc encourage personal responsiblity, that the kids, yourself, your SO, just takes care of a problem--dishes overflowing in the sink, just do them, or better, keep them from getting that way. After kindergarten your kids should be able to wash plates, or empty cabinets and get stuff stacked ready to go for Mom or Dad to put away. If i see scrap paper on the floor, I don't wait to figure out who dropped it, I just grab it, throw it out, and move on.

For reoccuring tasks, if they're in teh same room we do them together, him pots and pans and counters, me dishes and anything else that needs doing, and we'll prep dinner stuff together so it gets done quickly and together.

I find that most people become resentful of chores if they're stuck doing them alone. Involve the kids, and each other, and a lot of times the many hands makes light work principle helps.

The primary reason I see people being asked to leave, is the "Not my job" mentality that we need to get out of.

Posted by: ljb | April 4, 2006 12:31 PM

You are setting up a straw man here - of course if you "primarily" view your marriage as an economic enterprise, you're going to have problems. But this is just turning into an exercise in sophistry. I reread my posting, and it was probably unnecessarily snarky. But what I meant to broadly imply is that I often hear the "marriage isn't a business proposition" coming from a spouse implicitly expects their (usually wife) partner who makes a smaller income to do more than their share of household chores, while simultaneously would never consider staying home with a child, even if they made more money. I hope this makes sense, it's somewhat jumbled in my head.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 12:36 PM

For the past six months I have been a WAHD; my wife is a school teacher. My position gives me time during the day to take care of a lot of things that I might do on the weekend, but it has become an excuse for my wife to have me make every doctor/dentist/dog groomer appointment and to take care of things like managing her eBay purchases and sales by getting packages ready for the UPS guy.

I do about 90% of the cooking (otherwise, we would have pasta or something frozen every night) and 80% of the grocery shopping. She 'cleans', but that mostly means pushing the dust around, so I try to get that done sometime during the week. I am not a compulsive clean freak, but either pick up the curios and knick-knacks (sp?) or just leave them there. It would be great to have a housekeeper every week or two, but our place is too messy to turn it over to someone else.

On the weekends, I do nearly all of the yard work and household chores while she takes off looking for discounts on more clutter for our house. Is it a 'fair' division of labor? Probably not, but it is really not worth arguing about either since she is not going to turn into a domestic diva/goddess overnight.

Posted by: mitel2006 | April 4, 2006 12:41 PM

I frankly prefer to do my own work at home. I also like to choose my meat and produce myself...not have Peapod, etc. do it for me. I resent by job taking my time and energy away from my home (husband, family). I will soon retire after 38 years of this craziness. I cannot wait to have a whole clean house (not just keep up with two or three rooms every week) and to be able to cook a full meal from scratch.

Posted by: Washington, DC | April 4, 2006 12:42 PM

For all you who don't have kids reading this blog, let me tell you from experience that entering a marriage and having kids suddenly becomes a partnership of responsibility management. I findly figured it out after I took all the Hallmark garbage the marketeers sold me on Valentines Day out with the next load of trash. So whether you spend long hours at work to pay others to raise your kids, or you prefer the hands-on approach, it will take a lot of effort to raise respectable kids. Don't expect the public schools to do it for you. However, if you don't have kids and you're happy without stepping up to the ultimate challange, enjoy your chocolate hearts.

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 4, 2006 12:56 PM

A line that I picked up in a parent/toddler class long ago comes to mind here: "What's fair may not be equal, and what's equal may not be fair." Works with sibling issues and works in marriage.

My husband does 90% of the cooking (he's pickier about food than I am, and is a better cook); he is happy to do 90% of the shopping, too. He cleans the stove (a task I hate!). We split the dishwasher duties; the kids bring down laundry, sort and take baskets back upstairs; I wash and fold. I do the dry cleaners. I sew, but DH has been known to sew a button on occasion. The kids take out the trash, recycling and cleaning the bathrooms.

I'm the one who paints, finishes furniture, does minor repairs and does gardening. Now that my kids are old enough, they mow the lawn and till the flower bed. The annual &*%$# raking of the leaves is a family project (68 bags this spring and counting...).

When we go on vacation, I research, DH makes the arrangements (even his coworkers ask him for travel advice) and I pack and organize. (each to his/her own skill set!)

Financial stuff is always a joint project. I'm not signing anything I haven't checked myself! Quicken is great for transparent financial recordkeeping.

DH gets kids up and lunches packed in the mornings; I get the afternoon shift. We both help with homework; who does it at any given time depends on the subject and the kid involved. This has turned into terrific one-on-one time for my husband and the kids as the conversation inevitably devolves to politics, colleges, history, ethics, etc.

Overall, I tend to do more chores, but I am better at multitasking. I am also more bothered by clutter and chaos. As I delegate more daily tasks to my kids, I take a deep breath and let them find their own methods of doing things -- and try not to expect perfection.

Do I get annoyed about the division of labor sometimes? Sure. So does my DH. We both feel like we're shouldering too much of the burden at times. The best "system" I've found for managing family life and all that comes with it is flexibility.

Posted by: DerwoodMom | April 4, 2006 12:57 PM

Mitel 2006, you and I should've married an Asian woman. I'm in the same boat as you when it comes to household chores, BUT I work full time out of the house. I feel like a serf becuse I have to handle all the mundane chores (yard work, auto servicing, trash removal, etc) in addition to all the cooking and cleaning. What a gyp!
What's funny is that she gets FURIOUS when our two sons tell her to ease up on me because I do all the work.

Posted by: DS | April 4, 2006 1:01 PM

The best money spent at our house is the weekly cleaning lady. We pay, she cleans, we don't argue over who is or isn't doing what. If you think you need marriage thearpy I advise getting cleaning help first. It doesn't cost much more AND you get a clean house.

I like peapod. I still go to the store occasionally, but not the 10 bags kind of trip that used to chew up a Saturday afternoon. It helps me plan our meals, and I think I come out ahead money-wise, even after the delivery charge, because there isn't any impulse purchasing.

Could we afford these things if I didn't work? I don't know, probably. I don't think I'd like cleaning the bathrooms any better if I weren't employed, that's part of the reason I am employed. I'd rather do my work than clean bathrooms. I know my husband prefers hiring someone to clean over doing it himself. So what's wrong with that?

Posted by: FlowerLover | April 4, 2006 1:01 PM

We have a weekly cleaning person too, but in the interim, laundry/dishes still pile up that need washing, etc. And my boyfriend leaves open food out on the counter and all over, attracting ants, and throws his clothes/other items on the floor randomly without, apparently, giving any thought to what might happen to them after that.
Whenever I bring up these things he doesn't want to hear me - he tells me to stop nagging him. Meanwhile I resent him putting me in a position where I either am 'nagging' or I have a complete messy wreck of a house. (It's my house; he stays over about half the time or more, but doesn't pay any of the bills or anything.)
(Other than this we have a lot of fun together. Really!)

Posted by: Resident Handywoman | April 4, 2006 1:11 PM

First, I have to say that I have a wonderful husband who does most of the house work. He is a neat freak and I am so happy he is. I like to cook and bake, but i don't like to do much else.

Second, to shoreman:

I am an Irish coal miner's daughter from a depressed area of Ohio. I am not privileged; I worked my way through school working in a factory. That is of course, after I put my husband through. Race has nothing to do with being poor; there are plenty of poor white people out there too. Anyone with a little bit of drive can do what I did. Get a job, go to school, and bust your ass at work. Please do not make assumptions about people you don't know. And, for God’s sake don’t reply that I am a republican!

“We look to them like fools, whining about what the neighbors think of our 5 year old Lexus as opposed to a new one, then feeling the need to explain that it's for the kids sake. life has been kind to most posters here , let's remember that.”

Posted by: Scarry | April 4, 2006 1:21 PM

FlowerLover,
Not to be judgemental here, but hiring someone to clean up after your messes does say something about your character.

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 4, 2006 1:23 PM

Resident Handywoman, these issues don't go away after you get married -- work them out now. Karen, you're right, I happened to select seasonal tasks as the "daddy" tasks, but the general handyman/repair stuff is much more frequent than that. Light bulbs go out on 10' fixtures. Neighbor kids' baseballs come bouncing through a window. "I pushed the button, but the garage door won't open!" I think that many spouses don't miss these things until they stop getting fixed. My larger point is that many of us traditional dads fix these things in silence, as fast as we can get to them and are okay with that. But I don't like feeling bad if my spouses "to-do" list has backed up and I have not mind-read fast enough to get to a few of those things as well.

To be honest, I would much prefer a system where we prioritize what is left to do around the house and just do it. Obviously, the kids-related stuff is the highest priority. The stuff that we can't agree on a standard for ("clean enough") gets outsourced. I grew up in a single family household (dad and son) and have no issues taking on any tasks. But I don't like all the hand-wringing about doing the state of the stuff on the "her" list. Tell me what the problem is (NOT the detailed solution you require) and I'll address it. Do I sound irritable? It was my turn to get up with the baby last night :-)

Posted by: Reads But Never Posts | April 4, 2006 1:25 PM

Yes Father of 4...it says that she doesn't like cleaning. Were you smart enough to make that observation?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 1:26 PM

father of 4, my mother is a cleaning lady, she gets paid to do it, it's her job. Give flower lover a break many people depend on the money that comes from cleaning.

"FlowerLover,
Not to be judgemental here, but hiring someone to clean up after your messes does say something about your character."

Posted by: Scarry | April 4, 2006 1:32 PM

I have also observed that the families with the messiest houses are also the most charitable people I know.

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 4, 2006 1:37 PM

What's wrong with hiring someone to clean my house? Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean that I have to like cleaning.

I consider myself effective because I got my problem solved and everybody is happy -- including my cleaning lady who is as close to sainthood as you can humanly get!

Posted by: FlowerLover | April 4, 2006 1:41 PM

As far as chores go, we've learned to say "Pardon our squalor".

Posted by: Squeegie | April 4, 2006 1:44 PM

If you have kids then, if at all possible, try to raise those kids by being at home and let the husband be the breadwinner. Don't let someone else raise them, do it yourself. Do the cooking, cleaning, etc. Many people in this society don't want to pay the price, put in the hard work, or they want too much or make everything too perfect.

Housework may not be fun all the time (it's also depends on your state of mind) but it's a necessity. People who don't want to do this need to realize it's a fact of life. Going out making money is not wine and roses, either let me assure you - full of stresses, commutes, etc. Let the husband do that.

It just doesn't make sense to me when married women want to be too "manly" (must have job, must have job), have kids and let others do their domestic jobs, and lose all kinds of motherly love and instincts.

Work should not define a woman, but being motherly should. Yes, she should do most if not all of the housework. The man should earn the money, do the bills, and ocassionally help out do domestic duties.

If you don't have kids, then fine, work. But if you have kids, take care of them, stop working if possible (you may need to adjust your lifestyle), but do the right thing - be a wife and a mother.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 1:52 PM

Interesting, I may have come across as snarky also. But I am genuinely disturbed by the focus I'm seeing on getting "percentages" right. I'm absolutely convinced that this is the wrong way to look at a marriage. I also believe too many couples are beginning to measure their respective contributions in much the same way they would evaluate any other partnership - by the time and money each puts into it. In my mind the problem is that a marriage is not like any other partnership - family relationships are unique (or, at the very least, they can only be compared to other relationships based on love, rather than economics, such as some particularly deep friendships).

I'm not trying to set up a straw man, but to illustrate a fundamental point. My spouse has a heart condition - one that has been successfully treated and controlled so far. But if, in the future, my spouse were to be disabled and no longer able to do whatever - cook, or work, or clean, or mow, or take care of kids - nothing about our marriage should change.

If the way I evaluate our relationship - and what my spouse puts into it - is based on a percentage of work done or money earned, then we will have problems in the future.

Now, does that mean that a lazy, inconsiderate or simply clueless spouse isn't a serious annoyance? Of course not. But it really, really helps to think about our marriages in a way that keeps these things in the category of "annoyances" rather than central issues in our relationships.

Posted by: Not a Business Deal | April 4, 2006 1:53 PM

I don't think that last post was serious. Please disregard it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 1:54 PM

Wow, I am quite the mutli-tasker! I clean my toilets and take out the trash! As a single mother, I have no choice in the matter...I do it all. No child support, so no extra cash to hire a housekeeper (I spend it instead on music lesson for my daughter). I am the tutor for my daughter's homework. I cook because it's cheaper than take-out (and I tend to cook healthier meals than pizza and KFC). No one to hand the "Honey-do" list to, so it's up to me to take care of the yard work, paint the walls, do small repairs, etc.

Posted by: single mom | April 4, 2006 1:57 PM

I'm not married and have no kids, so maybe I'm not getting something here, but this post seems ridiculous to me. Because Leslie's a "working wife" she can legitimately refuse to do basic survival/maintenance tasks? I don't think that's because you're a working wife, I think it's because you can afford to pay someone else to do these things for you. Look, I work full time, I live on one salary (mine), I do my household budget, I cook, clean, and sew for myself, I do my own grocery shopping, and I still have time to have a social life. What's the big deal? Maybe if I had kids the "social life" time would be taken up with kid time, yet I still think I would somehow manage to have enough hours in the day to do laundry.

When a button falls off my jacket I don't run to the dry cleaners - I get out the needle and thread and sew it back on, like another poster said, in five minutes or less. Doesn't everyone do these things? What did you do before you were married or had kids? Did you really not sew buttons on yourself? Or were you thinking, "can't wait til I'm a working wife and I can go around moaning about how I'm too tiiired to sew buttons"?

I'm sure it's hard to juggle work and family and I will get slammed because I "just don't understand," but I really think working parents overdramatize their problems sometimes.

Posted by: not married, but can sew a button | April 4, 2006 2:00 PM

FlowerLover,
I've often considered hiring a cleaning person myself. My wife and I would really appreciate the service. However, this responsibility complex thats been ingrain in my work ethic from my parents prevents me from doing so. I've got 4 kids in my house that need to be taught responsibility and I'm afraid that hiring a cleaning person to do the work they should be doing is actually teaching them to be lazy. If it works for you, great! There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 4, 2006 2:06 PM

father of 4 if your wife stays home she should clean the house.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 2:11 PM

"If you don't have kids, then fine, work. But if you have kids, take care of them, stop working if possible (you may need to adjust your lifestyle), but do the right thing - be a wife and a mother."

LOL! You are so new here...

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 2:17 PM

I agree with so many of the posts above, especially Mother of 3 and Washington, DC. So many people have found the truth about household chores, that it's what you and your spouse agree to do or decide is more important to each individual. Usually the way you are before marriage is the way you'll be after marriage, and you should certainly DISCUSS the division of work and chores before marriage. Most men are no longer stuck in the thought of "women's work". My father was 24 years older than my mom in the late '70s and they had a great division of labor and a very "equal" marriage. It's really the two people involved. The answer isn't the percentages or the gender divide, it's finding a solution that works. If you can't work it out to your satisfaction, there's usually a bigger problem in the relationship.

"I hate household chores -- and I love the work I'm paid to do."

That's the crux of this "war" that Leslie is trying to keep going. Some of us, me included, hate the work world and LOVE being a "wife and mother". I went to an all-women's college in the early '80s and it was in no way acceptable for me to say I wanted a healthy and happy marital relationship and a family to be my main goal for the future. I had to ASPIRE to a CAREER! I wanted to be a writer and make films -- I never looked at it as a career but as a personal desire. I was fairly successful, but what I most wanted was the husband and family. It's sad that the feminism I encountered wouldn't "allow" me -- an upper-middle class white woman -- to "choose" to be a SAHM. I was considered a traitor to the cause of liberated women.

But then I noticed as the years went by and my classmates had children that many of them, especially those married to high-earning men, gave up their "careers" to be SAHMs. Hmmm. Turned out they were often glad to leave all the high pressure drudgery they'd found in the work world in order to give their best energy to their homes and kids. Now some of them have told me that they felt like "lesser women" for staying home only because society judged them so strongly for not being out there in some big career.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 2:19 PM

There's honor in doing one's own housekeeping.

I live in an affluent community where many women (regardless of marital and parental status) hire household help. A status symbol? I think so, at least in part.

I feel a deep discomfort with the idea of hiring someone to clean my house although I could probably afford it. Does anyone else feel this way?

Posted by: Friend | April 4, 2006 2:21 PM

"Do I get annoyed about the division of labor sometimes? Sure. So does my DH. We both feel like we're shouldering too much of the burden at times."

I think this poster quoted above hit the nail on the head. A lot of times with both parents (1) working; (2) taking care of the kids; and (3) taking care of all the household responsibilities, both parents can simultaneously feel that they are required to do too much and are carrying too much of a burden.

The question is -- how does your family handle that? Many, it appears, hire outside help for some of these tasks. However, what about the people, like myself, who cannot afford to outsource chores. My family, unlike Leslie and her friend, has to carry all of the burden ourselves. There are several ways I try to handle this. First, I have our kids help out with chores. My kids are 4 and 1, so we are still more in a learning phase for certain chores, and I admit it takes more time than doing it myself for this training. However, it teaches the children both self sufficiency and in the long run I am now starting to see the results of my efforts and how it will make my load a little lighter, with the four year old at least, right now. I think we as a society are too worried about giving our children the perfect childhood, and then they have a shock when they enter the real world and have to work for a living, and are not handed things on a silver platter. In addition, I think you just have to be realistic about what you can get done within the time you have, and make priorities. The name of this blog is "on balance" and that what this issue, like many Leslie has discussed, is about. However, it is really not an issue of stay at home versus working moms as it is about each family finding their way.

Posted by: Working Mother of 2 | April 4, 2006 2:24 PM

To add one note to my long post above, I never considered myself just a "wife and mother" but an individual who uses my time to be part of a large extended family and a member of the community. This was the example set for me by my happy and satisfied SAHM, so that's the path I also chose.

Of those women who actually have a CHOICE, I believe there are many moms who are happier working and letting others clean their home, shop for their groceries, and raise their kids. That's their choice. The situation is that so many women don't have that choice and the ones who do end up feeling like failures if they stay at home when the working women take an attitude that being an "at home" parent is somehow less than being a "career" woman.

Posted by: Tess | April 4, 2006 2:25 PM

[father of 4 if your wife stays home she should clean the house]
I'm happy when she just cleans up her own stuff. Do you know how long it takes to clean up those 2 magazines called Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens? It takes 15 seconds to throw them in the trash, but it takes an entire day to read the articles. When she says she has been cleaning all day, I have to laugh.

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 4, 2006 2:25 PM

Scarry, Of course you are , you are the exception that proves the rule . Notice no one else on this blog is rushing to plead poverty? As one man said , welcome to Washington ( now what do you do , how much do you make , what do you think of my job , and my family situation ? ) I'll be waiting with baited breath for the onslaught of poor white posters telling their tales of woe . Please . It's okay to discuss fluff issues , but all i am saying is , a little persective on what true hardship is . I may not know either , but i don't take it for granted.

Posted by: shoreman | April 4, 2006 2:27 PM

We have better than equality at home! We both work full-time, but hubby does ALL the vacuuming (loves our Dyson vac), always cleans the litter boxes. I love to cook, so he cleans up or vice versa some nights. He bathes our two small kids, I like doing the laundry. He washes the floors, I do the grocery shopping. Also--proud to cut corners by ordering stuff online (saves time at the store) party platters and bakery cakes instead of making it myself (saves time). It works for us. We are a team. Life is GREAT!

Posted by: 21704 mom | April 4, 2006 2:45 PM

My ex-husband dumped me, among other reasons, for insisting that the do his share of house work. I worked full time, I was putting myself through college and took care of our son. Whenever I would say that I was exhausted and asked him to help, he would say "that what you get for working." I am now married to somebody who does his part, and much happier.

I think my current marriage is the best way to educate my son about equality, about being self-sufficient and not expecting a woman to pick up after him. I hope whoever marries him appreciates that!

Posted by: tiziana | April 4, 2006 2:57 PM

To Not A Business Deal - good way of looking at it! I think you're right. I also think you phrase/frame it perfectly when you were talking about how you view your relationship "is based on a percentage of work done or money earned." You included both instead of just the percentage breakdown of work - something I was overlooking.
So many thanks, I actually learned something from today's discussion! And thanks for not being overly snarky to my original post - didn't mean to offend, but sometimes the tone of these posts gets to me.

Posted by: Interesting | April 4, 2006 2:58 PM

I don't see anything wrong with hiring someone to clean your house, provided you pay them well, pay their social security, etc. It's a job like any other, and I'm kind of disturbed that so many (apparently) affluent people here look down on it and view it as degrading work. Growing up, my mother cleaned houses to give us extra income when my father was out of work, and none of us ever looked down on her for it. Why would we - she was providing money to feed and clothe us. Housecleaning can be hard physical work, and it's dirty, but a lot of jobs meet those criteria. Do you think working construction is degrading? Is it because mostly women do housecleaning that it's looked on as menial and degrading? Or is this a view held by people who grew up having "the maid" to pick up after them?

I'm not arguing that housecleaning is intellectually challenging or spiritually fulfilling, but neither is customer service, and personally I think I'd rather clean houses than be a telemarketer. Fact is, most jobs do not fulfill people's hopes and dreams, provide them with constant fascinating challenges, etc. If you have a job that does all these things, you're one of the lucky few.

I'm not sure if I would hire a housekeeper if I could afford it, because I really don't hate the occasional floor mopping all that much - then again, my apartment isn't a gleaming spotless showcase either. Nothing wrong with cleaning your own toilet, even if you are an oh-so-important busy DC executive, but if you really don't have time to do it, nothing wrong with hiring someone to do it for you.

Posted by: dupontcircle | April 4, 2006 3:00 PM

To "There's honor in doing one's own housekeeping"

There used to be "honor" in washing dishes by hand, cooking all meals from scratch, washing the car by hand, making clothes, etc. Blech!

Staying home "to raise kids" does not necessarily turn a person into housekeeper!

Posted by: Diane | April 4, 2006 3:03 PM

FlowerLover-
Don't listen to Father of 4. Every time I see his name on this blog, I immediately discount whatever he's said, and it's probably best if you do too. :)
I enjoy some cleaning, my husband enjoys some too, but during the week we get exhausted and many of the chores get left till the weekend. Ugh. So, we are looking forward to when I've finally finished law school and will be able to afford hiring a maid to come in, as well. I'm with you!

Posted by: Always a Reader, Rarely a Poster | April 4, 2006 3:05 PM

Hi,
I am interested in all the talk about "mommy tasks" being about cleaning, driving the kids, etc. I tend to think about household tasks as decision making or execution. Decision making tasks involve things like "Why is my child having problems in school and what can I do to fix it", "What activities would benefit my child", "Where are such activities available" and "how will I coordinate 5 activities among three kids a week". These are not easy problems and require much thought, research, and follow-through. I think this is part of the problem-- that the complicated and problem solving nature of being a parent is often dismissed and relegated to women, and the mental energy it takes to do these things takes away from the mental energy to work a job.

And, if I have to do these higher-level management functions myself (my husband simply does not think of them) and the lower level execution job, then I get resentful.

Posted by: mom of 3 | April 4, 2006 3:11 PM

Re: Friend --

We too have had the discussion many times about whether to hire someone to clean twice a month. The concept is so foreign to both of us -- and frankly, makes us uncomfortable. We both grew up in families that barely squeaked by economically. Even though my husband and I could afford it, the concept sticks in my craw (his, too). Even though I am home on disability now, we both continue to resist the idea.

Ironically, though, I am upset with my parents for not hiring someone to come in and help with cleaning and/or home health care (my mother and grandmother are bedridden at home and my father is caring for both of them). Even though there's a screaming need, and Medicare will pay for the home health care, they won't do it. It's frustrating to watch their quality of life suffer as a result, and I'm 650 miles away, so my influence is limited.

Guess the apple didn't fall far from the tree on this issue!

Posted by: To Hire or Not to Hire | April 4, 2006 3:11 PM

Guess I should also mention, that my husband and I seem to work well together with the chores we have to do, though. Like other posters here, we do what the other dislikes- I do laundry and clean the bathroom b/c I don't mind them, and he cleans the kitchen and irons b/c I don't enjoy them. We split other things. But b/c of the long hours he works, and my work and school, we end up trying to do just bits during the week and then everything big on the w/e's. What a time-sucker that becomes when we'd rather enjoy our time together. So, bring on the cleaning person- we'll have more time to do the things together we enjoy.

Posted by: Always a Reader, Rarely a Poster | | April 4, 2006 3:12 PM

Doing your own housecleaning does not make you more or less honorable than someone who hires a housecleaner. What makes a person honorable is kindness, honesty, integrity, a work ethic, a sense of humor, a sense of justice, the ability to forgive. Housecleaning is a chore. There are plenty of chores that we hire out, including yardwork and childcare. It is dishonorable to mistreat or underpay those that work for you, but otherwise, paying for it or doing it yourself says nothing about your character.

Posted by: CG | April 4, 2006 3:15 PM

I don't go the cleaning lady route because I would clean before she came because I would feel horrible about her looking at my mess!! But I have lots of time to do this stuff. If a mom works, she should never hesitate to hire a cleaning woman. When I was working full-time, I found I obsessed too much about cleaning and laundry, and it took time away from my children. Some people are by nature clean, others might be into cooking, still others might be mechanical. The idea that one size fits all is nuts!!! Marriage can be lots of fun and filled with happiness. It is also a great time in history to be monogamous!!! I worked for 15 years non-stop, so being with my kids now is my "retirement" and when they go off to college, I will go back to work, and work until I die. Why wait to have time off until they are gone and too busy with their own lives?

Posted by: karen | April 4, 2006 3:18 PM

"Doing your own housecleaning does not make you more or less honorable than someone who hires a housecleaner."

I assume that everyone who thinks that hiring a housecleaner is less honorable than cleaning themselves has not...

1. Ordered takeout instead of cooking a meal from scratch...and learning how to cook their families favorite meals just like the restaurant.

2. Hired a repairman instead of learning how to fix everything in the house themselves.

3. Taken their car to Jiffy Lube instead of changing the oil themselves...and rotating the tires.

4. Gone to the barber instead of having their spouse cut their hair.

Its all a personal preference. Why do what you don't want to do if you don't have to.

Posted by: LC | April 4, 2006 3:27 PM

My husband does lots of household stuff, but it wasn't always thus. Each new task was quietly added on weeks or months after the last one (like the transitioning stuff they claim helps one diet). He feeds the animals, does the dishes without fail and (I'm not kidding) handles all of the laundry.

I know, he's a miracle, but we still have issues with the distribution of labor. I pay the bills, do all the major research projects (house, car, etc.), handle nearly all urgent/emergency issues, do all the holidays (w/gifts & cards) and in exchange I guess he cuts the lawn.

He says whenever he does something I say he did it wrong. He has two modes when he has to, say, have the air conditioner fixed - either he calls one guy and has him do it, whatever the price or he asks me dozens of questions at every stage which is so time-consuming I may as well do it myself.

We actually had a tiff this week because he kind of expected me to use my day off to take his car to the shop and figure out how to get around by myself. When I got mad at him he really did not understand how this expectation was unfair. But I love him anyway.

Posted by: Laura | April 4, 2006 3:55 PM

I would think that most of us agree that grunt work builds character, unless of coarse, you never get embarrassed in front of others when your child throws a tantrum and demands that everything be given to him on a silver spoon; not that there's anything wrong with raising a spoiled brat that demands everything to be handed to him on a silver spoon.) So when I hear people who whine and complain about all the grunt work they have to do, it says something about their character. On the other hand, for those who accept their tasks and responsibilities with cheerfullness, it also says a lot about their character too.

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 4, 2006 3:55 PM

"Grunt work builds character".........

So, the folks who do the most grunt work have the most character?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 4:02 PM

This works in reverse also. I make good money at my job, but I wasted a whole afternoon fixing a toilet, because it was the "manly " thing to do.

Posted by: Jon | April 4, 2006 4:03 PM

No, but people who never do the grunt work tend to have no character. Unless, of course, willingness to exploit others is a sign of character.

Posted by: Dave Bob | April 4, 2006 4:04 PM

Regarding this comment in Leslie's blog today: "I hate household chores -- and I love the work I'm paid to do. My job spares me from feeling like Edith Bunker, mistreated and taken for granted by Archie."

I may not love household chores, but I do love my husband and son, and I don't feel in any way mistreated by my husband for his expectation that I do the lion's share of the homemaking in our family. My husband contributes to our family in a number of ways, and he does certainly help out in the household (with honey-do tasks, dishwashing, and the odd diaper change or baby bath). For him, though, these are discrete, disconnected chores, where for me, housework is part of the implementation of an overall plan to make our house a home, a place of rest and refuge from the world. I may not maintain a perfect, Martha Stewart-esque home, but I see creating and keeping order in our home as part of an overall effort to demonstrate and instill into our son the values we hope to pass along during the precious few years we get to parent him.

Homemaking is a way to serve my family and thus communicate love to my husband and son (just as my husband's two-hour-one-way commute and working in a stressful job are his acts of service for our family). Real love is inevitably sacrificial.

So, no, homemaking does not make me feel oppressed, and my so-called real job, though financially rewarding, is no longer where I feel my greatest contribution or my greatest satisfaction.

(Incidentally, my opinion must matter according to other posts in this blog today - I'm a multiply-Ivy-league-degreed professional with a "string of impressive full time positions" on my resume. LOL.)

Posted by: FairfaxWorkingMom | April 4, 2006 4:10 PM

Dave Bob
People who judge others on how they manage their lives also tend to have no character. Have fun with your grunt work. I'm going to have fun.

Posted by: LC | April 4, 2006 4:10 PM

First, you said "Grunt work builds character".

Then, you said "people who never do the grunt work tend to have no character".

What's the difference?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 4:13 PM

What a prime example of the self-centered attitude I was addressing, LC. But hey, as long as you have “fun” you must be a good person right?

Posted by: Dave Bob | April 4, 2006 4:18 PM

Fairfax Working Mom,
"Homemaking is a way to serve my family and thus communicate love to my husband and son (just as my husband's two-hour-one-way commute and working in a stressful job are his acts of service for our family). Real love is inevitably sacrificial."

Keep repeating it and soon you will actually believe it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 4:18 PM

It's 2006 the last time I looked at the Calendar. It's embarrassing to see that there are "cavemen" still out there. What are the modern day roles of men and women?.. and why are we clinging to traditional roles? Are we afraid that we (men) would expose ourselves as incompetent if put in a situation where we have to assume domestic responsibilities ... or are we just so insecure that we insist in projecting our "manliness" through outdated roles. It all boils down to repect and the realization that both men and women are capable of the same responsibilities. It seems that most men don't want to look at that fact and are more comfortable marrying a maid or nanny than adapting to modern life. If women can empower themselves and hold down a career and rise a child, why can't men find empowerment in being able to cook dinner or drive the kids to the soccer game. If I can do it, there's no reason why any other guy who calls himself a "man" can't.

Posted by: Jack | April 4, 2006 4:22 PM

"'Real love is inevitably sacrificial.'

Keep repeating it and soon you will actually believe it."

What's your disagreement with that statement? The idea that real love should expect to make sacrifices? The idea that real love should be willing to make sacrifices when necessary? Or the idea that someone should ever be allowed to make sacrifices for the people they love?

Or do you just not care for the particular sacrifices that Fairfax Working Mom has chosen to make?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 4:22 PM

To clarify my earlier comment: I didn't say that doing your own housekeeping is any MORE honorable than hiring someone else to do it (although perhaps that was implied). I said simply that it's honorable.

The idea of having a relationship with another human that revolves around my ability to pay her to clean up my messes brings up uncomfortable class and gender issues for me (in a way that ordering take-out or buying store-bought clothes doesn't). Also, I don't think housekeeping is inherently yukky. Repetitious, yes. But certainly not less important than the other work I do.

Posted by: Friend | April 4, 2006 4:23 PM

Oh please. Grunt work does not build character. Work build character. The fact that you know that you need to provide some service in order to make money is what builds character. The fact that you do not expect something for free is part of what having character means. Whether you are a maid or a janitor of a salesclerk or a lawyer or a doctor or an accountant, the fact that you are working is what adds to your character. Doing manual labor does not make you less of a person. Hiring someone to do your manual labor does not mean you are exploiting them. If you treat them like human beings, as you should treat all people, then you are giving them a job, which for most people, is a good thing.

Posted by: grunt | April 4, 2006 4:24 PM

Enjoying life definitely doesn't make me a good person...but walking around tired and with a chip on my shoulder doesn't either.

Posted by: LC | April 4, 2006 4:24 PM

There is honor in all honest work.

Posted by: cg | April 4, 2006 4:27 PM

I purposely took a downshift in job so that I could be there for my child, and when I did so, I assumed a lot of household duties. I pay the bills, do some of the cleaning, errand-running, etc. But those things don't really bother me. I don't mind any of it, really, and I'm not sure why. I cook dinner most every night and I don't mind it. My husband pitches in on the cleaning and will do other things if I ask. He's also good about taking care of house things that I fail to notice, like cleaning the gutters, etc. Maybe that's why I don't mind my duties; he takes initiative, too. I would like to be thanked a little more often for my role but I guess this just isn't our issue. We fight about other stuff.

Posted by: Robyn in Indiana | April 4, 2006 4:30 PM

"A bath towel that needed its hang strap resewed"? You actually care enough about such things to PAY to get them repaired?! Why?

And I like how your world consists of two extremes: "a working wife with a legitimate excuse to refuse life's details" or "Edith Bunker, mistreated and taken for granted."

I would be curious to know what you DO due with your time when you're not at work, since you don't have all those *icky* household chores to do. And I'm presuming your husband (who - as I recall - is ALSO working) must pick up the slack? Or do you hire a maid? Your homelife must be more dysfunctional than I previously thought. I imagine the three (or is it four?) of you sitting around in squalor, surrounded by take-out food (since you're too lazy/tired/proud to cook), thinking how nice it is that you can spend all this quality time together since you gave up trying to maintain any semblance of household cleanliness.

By far this is the worst of your posts!

Posted by: LB | April 4, 2006 4:35 PM

What an obvious load of crap grunt. You telling me that a lawyer that defends discriminatory employers, or executives that encourage environmentally destructive polices because they are more profitable, are upstanding persons with solid characters because they work? Under you definition, Ken Lay would be a man of character simply because he worked hard. That is insane. Furthermore, how myopic must you be to deny that there is no element of exploitation in hiring someone for 5 or 6 bucks an hour to scrub your toilets or do what other tasks you deem not worthy of you time?

Posted by: Dave Bob | April 4, 2006 4:36 PM

My husband and I are both busy with jobs and school. We pretty much do things as they need to be done. Sometimes he grocery shops, sometimes I do. Sometimes I cook, sometimes, he does. Sometimes we just do carry out. He handles the money and pays the bills. I make it. We both take care of our son, and we don't fight about who did more. When I'm busy at work, he does more. When he is in the midle of exams. I do more. And when we are both busy, we let the house go and clean later. It's not a big deal. We don't fight about chores. But we are also very suited to each other in terms of our tolerance for chaos, our likes and dislikes.

Posted by: burbs | April 4, 2006 4:37 PM

Taking a few random things to the tailor isn't anything to get all worked up about. I would be more impressed if your husband sewed the things himself. I guess learning how to manipulate a small stick of metal with a string attached is too much to expect of a man.

Posted by: Man Can Sew Too! | April 4, 2006 4:39 PM

hiring someone for 5 or 6 bucks an hour to scrub your toilets or do what other tasks you deem not worthy of you time?


Hey Bob, have you ever gone to McDonalds or 7-11? These folks are working for minimum wage? Do you boycott these kinds of establishments because of your principles against exploitation? Do you buy goods made in China? Put your money where your mouth is.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 4:41 PM

I do have to thank you for providing more jobs for the immigrant community however...

Posted by: LB | April 4, 2006 4:44 PM

Ok, in your moral universe going to McDonald's and having someone scrub your feces are equivalent. Sure glad I don't live in your world.

Posted by: Dave Bob | April 4, 2006 4:45 PM

exploitation in hiring someone for 5 or 6 bucks an hour to scrub your toilets or do what other tasks you deem not worthy of you time?


Some jobs pay more than others because they require more education or skills. That does not make people who take low paying jobs any less worthy of respect, and that does not make those who employ them exploiters, unless they pay them less than what they should be paid. I make a lot of money. It is not worth my time to clean my house. I have a housekeeper who does a fantastic job. I pay her a decent wage, including vacation and sick leave. She is happy to work for me. I have a deep and abiding respect for her. What the big deal?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 4:45 PM

Oh please. There are worse jobs than cleaning toilets. It's not like people do it with there bare hands. Plus, people who work at McDonalds also clean the toilets at McDonalds. So yes, it is pretty much equivalent. Plus, I would rather scrub toilets than smell greasy meat all day.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 4:47 PM

If anyone else says the phrase "honey-do" or "honey-do list," I think I might vomit.

Seriously, what?

I'm not married and I'm not of the baby boom generation as I'm assuming most of you are, so maybe that's why I don't get this whole presumption that "woman should run the home; man should bring home the bacon" that underlies most of these posts. Like it's the wife's responsibility to delegate household tasks to the husband, and he's being sweet and loving if he "helps out"? God help me if I end up in a marriage like that - I sure won't be staying long.

Posted by: thenextgeneration | April 4, 2006 4:47 PM

Bob,
So you must think being a plumber is degrading work that no one else should have to do, and hiring a plumber is exploitative.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 4:50 PM

To those of you who are against hireing a cleaning person....
Life is short, do you really want to spend it cleaning?
Check out my first blog by the way, at 10:51AM. I'm the happily married aerobic instructor with the fulltime job who also lifts weights and runs. Oh I forgot to say I'm also writing a Pilates manual, and taking a website class twice a week. Once my website is up I can start training instructors (instructor certifications), do master classes and workshops.......
I'm way too tired to clean.
We're so happy to have our cleaning lady. We feel like she's taking care of us.
Life is good :-)

Posted by: Life is good | April 4, 2006 4:51 PM

If anyone else says the phrase "honey-do" or "honey-do list," I think I might vomit.

Join the club. I wonder where all these people came from. I feel like I just entered a time warp and am living between Lucy Ricardo and June Cleaver.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 4:52 PM

Just tell yourself whatever you need to feel better people. No, it is not me that exploits by taking advantage of people’s situation, no not at all. I have fun and I have money so I must be good, yeah! Pathetic.

Posted by: Dave Bob | April 4, 2006 4:52 PM

"God help me if I end up in a marriage like that - I sure won't be staying long."

Then please, take the time to really get to know any prospective mate, and don't marry someone if the relationship is developing in that way. But we should all remember that making a marriage work can be tough - particularly when it's so easy to think "hey, if it doesn't work, I'm out of here." If two people can work out a relationship that works for them both, let's not second guess them.

Posted by: to thenextgeneration | April 4, 2006 4:53 PM

Dave Bob,
I am so sorry you can't afford a cleaning person. But don't take that out on the rest of us.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 4:55 PM

Shoreman,

You got me. I'm a white working mom who has had everything handed to her her whole life. Just like ever other white person in the world. thanks for pointing it out to me.

Now, maybe if you wouldn't make everything about race, you could make the world a better by improving it instead of bashing those who are already doing it.

Posted by: Scarry | April 4, 2006 4:55 PM

I am completely the same way. I detest household chores, but love my job and what I'm being paid to do. Unfortunately, compared to a lot of my female friends (I'm a professional female in her early twenties), I feel less domestic and feminine. My chosen lifestyle seems to have more in common with the confirmed bachelors of my acquaintance than my fellow women.

Posted by: Fairfax Yuppy | April 4, 2006 4:57 PM

To: Posted by: | April 4, 2006 11:40 AM

I am female. I am also perfectly capable of doing all of those things without any assistance from an all-knowing male. Perhaps that's why I'm still single. I don't need a man to come and "rescue" me from stereo-installation, electrical, or construction-related mishaps. But then again, I'm probably just an anomaly.

Posted by: LB | April 4, 2006 4:59 PM

This is an important issue -- one that is often ignored until it becomes an issue of discontent by either the man or woman in a household. In my opinion, as a young woman attorney working in private practice I expect my signifcant other, also an attorney at a private law firm, to do half of the household chores. I push for it. I wish I did not have to. If I say nothing, half of our chores are left undone, or I have to complete them. We have discussed lists/who prefers which chores, etc. and other mechanisms of staying organized between two busy schedules, however, although I know he means to, it is not until I "check in" that his tasks are actually performed. I have inquired as to why this is the case, only to be told that "it would get done eventually" or "the carpet did not need to be vacuumed" (even though we vaccum once a week). Why is this? Why is that we can have the same occupation and hours (unfortunately mine often being worse due to the nature of my work) and I still have to push for help on a consistent basis, often feeling like I still do more? For example, if I work until 12:00a.m., he forgets to eat and there is nothing around when I get home. If he works late, I include him in my dinner plans, checking in to see if he is hugry/has eaten and making extra for him. I applaud the men and women who have written in and explained that they enjoy/do not mind completing household tasks more than their spouse, but with two busy schedules that can be, at times, grueling, why is there not more of an effort to pitch in without pressure?

Posted by: Young Professionals | April 4, 2006 5:00 PM

For example, if I work until 12:00a.m., he forgets to eat and there is nothing around when I get home. If he works late, I include him in my dinner plans, checking in to see if he is hugry/has eaten and making extra for him.

It sounds like you need to control things less. You are both big people. You can both feed yourselves. If you work until midnight, he should not be expected to feed you. If he works until midnight, you should not be expected to feed him. I used to work at a private firm and they ordered dinner for folks who worked late. If your firm does not do that, order it yourself. If you are too busy to cook dinner for each other, scrap the dinner plans and let each person fend for themself. Do not force him to do what works for you, because it may not work for him.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 5:04 PM

“I am so sorry you can't afford a cleaning person. But don't take that out on the rest of us.”

What a perfect response. Someone criticizes your self-indulgent lifestyle and that must mean they are just jealous of how special and rich and happy and so on you are. Good grief.

Posted by: Dave Bob | April 4, 2006 5:10 PM

"I have inquired as to why this is the case, only to be told that "it would get done eventually" or "the carpet did not need to be vacuumed" (even though we vaccum once a week)."

The truth probably is that he really doesn't think the carpet needs to be vacuumed. If he's like most guys, he looks at the floor and it seems fine to him. For him, that would take it off of the "needs to be done" list and move it to the "she would like it done" list. Guess which gets the higher priority.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 5:15 PM

Geez, Young Professional, if you're both attorneys, stop fighting and hire a cleaning service! You can afford it.

Posted by: Squeegie | April 4, 2006 5:16 PM

I'm a SAHM and formerly a WOH mom. My husband cooks, cleans, and does other things around the house.

I do the majority of it, but he does his share and I don't feel guilty, as if I should do it all because he gets paid at his job, and I don't. I've also kept a household going while he was deployed for reserve duty (just several weeks a year and one weekend a month), and while he pursues a PhD on top of a demanding job and lengthy commute.

All of his obligations have left little time or energy on my part for my own pursuits...that's a bigger issue than housework -- who is automatically assumed to be available for the children and their needs?

My husband does not have to find a sitter when he needs to take care of his own personal needs (such as a doctor's appointment). When my kids were younger, it was a major effort to try to get an hour out of the house by myself.

Yet, I have many acquaintances who have babysitters on a regular basis, along with housecleaners...and these moms are also SAHM.

There's nothing about cleaning a toilet that belongs to a SAHM, just because she's home for more hours. The same for other chores...we all wear clothes, so laundry needs to be done. We all eat meals, so groceries must be bought, and meals cooked.

P.S. I also do home improvement and my husband doesn't really have time to get involved...I painted the entire downstairs, cut and installed mouldings after a new floor was installed, etc.

Posted by: Kate | April 4, 2006 5:17 PM

Heh, I don't know about the market where some of you live, but I've had several different folks come clean for me and none of them charged 5 or 6 dollars an hour. Try 20 to 30...is it still a moral sin to ask them to clean my bathroom?

Posted by: ||| | April 4, 2006 5:19 PM

Heh, I don't know about the market where some of you live, but I've had several different folks come clean for me and none of them charged 5 or 6 dollars an hour. Try 20 to 30...is it still a moral sin to ask them to clean my bathroom?

I guess that depends on how dirty it is. It is only a moral sin to ask them to clean if the bathroom is really dirty.

Question to Dave Bob.
Do you ever use public restrooms, like in restaurants. I hope you take your toilet brush and cleaner with you so that you don't exploit the cleaning person who will be cleaning that bathroom after you used it. After all, you would not want to exploit anyone, would you?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 5:29 PM


"Welcome to Washington... (Now what do you do?)"

Having lived in New York for 20 years (after a suburban MD upbringing), I can agree with your point of view. Washington is a "repository for workaholics" as I once read. Although, in all honesty, I don't think they work any harder than people in New York. In fact, I think people here are on average more entrepreneurial, and have a dogged determination to work, regardless of their background. I don't find that true in the DC area, (just talking about family and friends).

Here, the yardstick is $$$, regardless of your education. Yes, there are a few old money types who still think the right prep school is important, but overall, you're judged on how quickly you think, how much money you make, and what you consume. (How's that for generalizations?)

I miss some things about the DC area and can get a dose when I need it, as my family still lives in MD/DC/VA.

But I've come to appreciate a different mindset, even if I don't share it.

Posted by: Kate | April 4, 2006 5:29 PM

I completely agree with the young lawyer, it helps because I'm one too, I have to ask my husband to do things over and over again. We have tried dividing tasks but it always seems his just never get done. Yet he has time at night to play video games on line with his friends. He has a more stressful job than I do and I understand that, but he is not that much more busy than I am and really compared to some people not that busy period. This has been the biggest and most contentious issue in our relationship, and I don't think it is all that uncommon. Oh, and it is not "helping" when it's your freakin house too!

Posted by: not a mom | April 4, 2006 5:33 PM

My mother-in-law is independantly weathly (via her real estate business), can easily afford a cleaning service, yet her husband won't let her get one becase he believes that if a woman is home by herself, then she should do all her own chores. I think that is wrong, chores suck, and if you can afford for someone to clean for you, go for it, because your house will be sparkling twice a month (mine is). One the other hand, my cleaners don't speak English, are probably underpaid, and I haven't inquired closely about their Social Security status. Hiring a cleaning service is a deal with the devil, and I can understand if someone holier than me wants to chastize me for avoiding honest labor. They won't be invited over for a beer.

Posted by: Squeegie | April 4, 2006 5:39 PM

To Always a Reader, Rarely a Poster: I use to have the same attitude in regards to Father of 4, but he makes some good points. He may not sugar-coat his delivery, but I don't think that's any reason to dismiss him outright.

Anyways, this post should be a lesson to all of you mom's out there to teach your sons how to cook, sew, and clean a toilet.

Posted by: LB | April 4, 2006 5:40 PM

I would not generalize that all cleaning folks are underpaid and exploited. I am a young professional with an apartment in DC. I work long hours, and have a cleaning lady who comes in once a week. I found out recently that she owns her own home and has more savings than I do. She works hard for it. She negotiates for good pay. She is good at what she does and she gets paid premium rates for it. More power to her.

Posted by: My cleaning lady | April 4, 2006 5:49 PM

Truly, this blog should be called "Off Balance." The writer as well as a few of the bloggers!" Here is an idea--how about we all write like it is NOT an anonymous forum, that we are all civilized, educated people trying to have a dialogue instead of just railing against people who do not live exactly like we do? (said the mom who works part-time, packs the lunches, does the laundry, likes her husband, cooks, hates to shop, and should probably clean her 4 bathrooms more often than she does!)

Posted by: incredulous | April 4, 2006 5:49 PM

To my way of thinking you either shop, cook, and wash dishes and if you wear clothes you should do the laundry and put it away. If a spouse doesn't participate, they should stop being fed and getting their clothes washed. Common areas should be kept clear of clutter. All other chores don't count; do them if you enjoy the work. I track the family finances because I like to keep my eye on the money.

Posted by: Squeegie | April 4, 2006 5:51 PM

Hey LB: you sound to sane to be on this board. Wanna have coffee?;0

Posted by: incredulous | April 4, 2006 5:55 PM

To My cleaning lady: It could be she has more savings because she *spends less*. Anyways, I would be curious to know how you know how much money she has in savings. I certainly wouldn't want my boss knowing about my nest egg. (But of course I like to play the poverty card so he doesn't try to exploit me.)

Posted by: LB | April 4, 2006 5:58 PM

To LB
We are friends, and she was telling me how she plans to retire to her home country, and how with what she has saved up, she can live like a queen over there. I am sure she spends less than I do. She is more careful with money. No way she would let anyone exploit her.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 6:01 PM

I know a lawyer (not that there's anything wrong with being a lawyer) who hires a babysitter everytime his wife leaves him with the kid. I don't feel like the babysitter is being exploited in any way, but it does remind me of the "Nanny-gate" scandal where the President went through several mothers/lawyers before he came to Janet Reno, whom, not not unsurprisingly, didn't have any kids. Go figure!

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 4, 2006 6:07 PM

Father of 4
You just reminded me of my old boss, who also was a lawyer (not that there's anything wrong with being a lawyer). His wife was a schoolteacher who handled most of the wifely duties, but on occasion, she couldn't, and he would have to make sure the kids had dinner, etc. I noticed that when his wife did not make dinner, he ALWAYS took the kids out, and took me along with my son, because he wanted help with his kids. He had four. Our kids all played well together, but I found it amusing how he always invited me to meet him for dinner "to get the kids together" when his wife was busy. I always went along, because I liked getting the free meal and making him feel like I did him a favor without it actually ever been explicitly expressed that way.

Posted by: cg | April 4, 2006 6:14 PM

I thought that the general discussion was about how to balance our lives so that we could spend more time making a happy, successful family. Why not pay to have things done that we don't want to do so we can spend more "quality and relaxing" time with our families?

It's okay for children to see their parents relaxing and not arguing or complaining about household chores. It won't destroy their "character" or make them lazy.

Personally, my wife and I both work and have plenty of chores to do on a daily and weekly basis. And, we like to cook and entertain on the weekend. We both hate cleaning so we cook, have parties, and pay someone else to clean. It's fun because neither of us dreads having people over for fear of having to clean for the next few days. It's a budget item for our family. Just like the mortgage (but not as high). And, it probably wouldn't be the first expense to go if we fell on hard times.

Posted by: LC | April 4, 2006 6:16 PM

incredulous: Thanks for the compliment. Sometimes I think I come across as a raving lunatic, but apparently my thoughts get through to some level-headed individuals.

Here's my take on housework: I've never lived in my own house. Growing up with my single mom, we always rented. After moving out to go to college, I always had a roommate. I always had to live by someone else's standards of cleanliness and furniture arrangement and division of labor. My mom was a slob, my roommate's only cleaned what THEY used. Even if I cleaned everything to my (admittedly impossible) high-standards, I was still surrounded by their junk. Finally I moved out and got my own place. I am so happy to finally have my own space, that I do what needs to be done to keep it up, and it doesn't bother me in the least.

Posted by: LB | April 4, 2006 6:27 PM

To My Cleaning Lady:

The standard of living is so low in most countries, that even with a modest amount of savings, one could literally have their own junta.

But I didn't mean to suggest that you were exploiting your cleaning woman. I was making a joke at the expense of my boss, but the humor kind of got lost in the light of the discussion.

Frankly, I think your cleaning woman is better off here scrubbing your toilet for $6/hour (or whatever you pay her) than she would be selling blankets on the beach for $20/day in whatever country she immigrated from. But that topic's for another blog.

Posted by: LB | April 4, 2006 6:40 PM

I work a full-time job that averages 50+ hours/week and occasional weekends. I am allowed vacation time, but am rarely able to take it. I do most of the yardwork, all of the household repairs and maintenance, all of the laundry, all of the grocery shopping, all of the dishwashing (and unloading), handle all of the bills/taxes/anything related to the cars, and most of the housecleaning (including bathrooms). In order to spend some time with my young daughters, I end up doing many of these chores at night after they are in bed.

My wife works 30 hours/week on a flex-schedule and an additional 10-15 hours/week as a volunteer with some local non-profits. When not doing this, she is racing around shuttling our kids to and from classes, activities, playdates, field trips, and assorted errands, helping them with their homework, etc. She also does most of the cooking.

I'd say we're about as evenly balanced as you can get, but we both remain dangerously overloaded.

Posted by: MVA | April 4, 2006 6:44 PM

Without feeling even a twinge of judgmentalism towards people who have cleaning services, I just couldn't do it. Even though I can afford it, and even though my house could usually stand to be a bit cleaner. There's just something about knowing that the place you call "home" is someone else's workplace that gives me the heebie-jeebies. I don't know why this is. To be truthful, I don't really want to do anything else for myself at all. If I could have a driver, I would hire one like a shot, definitely. An assistant to deal with my correspondence, pay the bills, keep the insurance policies current, etc.? In an instant. Someone to cook healthy meals for me (which I do myself, but only because I can't afford to eat in good restaurants every meal of my life, and most prepared foods are vile)? Oh my, yes. Financial planning, picking out clothes that look good and fit, telling me what "season" I am (or whatever, that means your makeup looks good, not like Bozo), all that stuff. I would outsource it ALL and not think twice! (If money were no object.)

But even if I were simply rolling in cash, there's just something about Home with a capital H that makes me want to keep it the last refuge from the professionalization of every single aspect of modern life. I just don't want it to be someone's job. When I had contractors in to put in a kitchen, they were lovely guys, very conscientious, did a great job, and so forth. And I still couldn't wait for them to be gone.

My own little neurosis.

Number One helper I would hire first: someone to let in the cable guy. Judging from the amount of my own time that has been devoted lately to having to wait for the cable guy, this is a full-time position.

Posted by: annie | April 4, 2006 6:47 PM

Sad, sad commentary on family life - where chores need to be negotiated. The losers are the children. Just because we are educated (men and women) doesn't take away from the fact that we still need to live a "normal" life, i.e. raise children in nurturing environment, eat home cooked meals, spend time together at home. If we don't do all these (and other things), we are doing a dis-service to our children who grow up on junk food, lack time with parents, etc. etc. Stop equating an MBA education with a "get out of jail" mentality! If you resent the acts required to live a life i.e. laundry, cooking, cleaning - to such a degree, then I don't know what to say...

Posted by: Worried | April 4, 2006 8:21 PM

Interesting discussion and coming from the other Washington, I'd say its relevance extends well beyond the DC beltway. We both work (compressed weeks fortunately) and have the same issue in our home. We split the child-care about 50/50 and both like to cook (besides whoever doesn't cook washes up), but we definitely argue over division of labor when it comes to other household chores. My point of view is that since I’m doing ~1000% more housecleaning than I ever did when I was single it feels like I’m doing plenty.

A few of the things we've done that have helped are: In exchange for my doing all the laundry (I can tell when I or one of the kids is running out of clean clothes) she does all the sweeping/vacuuming (if it's below my knees and not moving; it's off my radar), we moved our bed so that she can't see my dirty clothes on the floor, we each made some sacrifices in the budget so we could afford a bi-weekly cleaning service, and the night before they come we both pick up the house. These haven't ended the arguments but have made them less frequent. In general any successful relationship should play to each other’s strengths and cover each other's weaknesses.
Plus sometimes you just have to smile and put up with each other's quirkiness. On the subject of grocery shopping (something I actually enjoy). From my wife's point of view if we're not fully stocked up we need to go shopping. For me if I can plan out the next few days worth of meals we're fine (plus we can walk to 3 grocery stores). So she winds up doing most of it. After she complained that we were "out of food" and I didn’t go shopping on my day off, I actually got a ski day out of betting her that I could come up with a full weekends' worth of meals out of what we had in the house.


A few comments on previous posts:

"I'm not married and I'm not of the baby boom generation as I'm assuming most of you are, so maybe that's why I don't get this whole presumption that 'woman should run the home; man should bring home the bacon'"
It would be interesting to look at age demographics across these posts. Looking at both how the occurrence of the problem and its perceived cause spreads out across age groups would be informative. We were both born in the late 60's so we're a little young to be boomers but a little old to be gen-Xers. With us it's not an assumption that gender should define our roles, but a different view of what needs to be done that causes problems.


I was required to clean public toilets as part of a couple of jobs I had when I was younger and from my perspective paying someone a decent wage for a job they willingly accepted is in no way exploitive.

Posted by: SeattleDad | April 4, 2006 8:39 PM

Young Professional, I SO hear you!! My boyfriend and I are lawyers too. And either I have to ask my boyfriend do do stuff or it would never get done at all. he just presumes the Cleaning Fairy does everything. I hate feeling naggy, so I end up not asking much, and instead doing almost everything myself, after working all day. And he keeps saying, "Why don't you thank me for doing this [dishes, laundry, etc]? You need to praise me more. Why don't you thank me?" I asked him why he never thanked ME for doing such things - he doesn't - and he was nonresponsive. So anyway, I tried thanking him all the time and I started to feel ridiculous. "Thank you for doing the dishes!" "Wow, you did a load of laundry! Pretty frickin' amazing!" Now excuse me while I do FIVE loads of laundry without any ceremonial parade.

Posted by: Resident Handywoman | April 4, 2006 9:38 PM

OK, this blog has actually helped me. I've reread my own postings and others' and realized that my boyfriend and I need to really address this issue seriously. It can't go on like this forever. So we need to figure out how we're going to deal with this issue.
Thank you everyone! You have made a difference in the life of at least one, maybe two people!

Posted by: Resident Handywoman | April 4, 2006 9:41 PM

To the women who are lawyers and can't get their male companions to hold their own at home - totally my old situation, and here's where we're lucky: we are lawyers - lawyer them! You get paid to persuade people for a living - if Richard Scrushy's lawyers can convince 12 people he should be found "not guilty," (or 6, I forget what the final jury count was) then we can definetely convince one person to clean up after themselves!

Posted by: Just a thought | April 4, 2006 10:04 PM

Household chores can be a source of contention. I wish that my husband would do more on his own without my requesting it. However, after 20 years, I realize that he is just not wired that way. He is willing to do just about anything, but it will be up to me to ask for it. So, I ask and try not to get irritated that he didn't "read my mind". He and I have different levels of comfort when it comes to cleanliness. I can't expect him to think that my level is more important. My "I can't stand this mess" is met with "This is comfortable. We live in a house, not a magazine." So, sometimes I'm irritated and sometimes he feels nagged, but it's not normally a big deal and we get over it.

I am uncomfortable hiring cleaning help also, but for different reasons. I was raised in a lower middle class neighborhood where cleaning help was seen as an extragavance that only the rich can afford. Now that I am comfortably middle class and could afford occasional help, I can't shake the idea that it is an extragavance that I shouldn't spend my money on since I am not actually rich.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 10:18 PM

1. Does the man (or woman) not clean/cook/sew because they don't give it the same importance that you do? 2. Does the man (or woman) not clean/cook/sew because they think it is your job?

1. doesn't appear to be insurmountable. both should discuss and decide on a compromise.

2. run as fast as you can.

PS. The biggest problem in my house is when there is something that neither of us wants to do, which for us is cooking. I end up doing it most of the time because I am not interested in eating sandwiches and fast food on a regular basis =).

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 10:29 PM

Women, stop expecting him to have the same standards as you do.

Men, stop agreeing to chores, duties, assistance or whatever you call it just to be agreeable. If you are not going to follow through, keep discussing before agreeing. It might be a rough discussion, but it beats having the same arguments over and over down the road.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2006 10:42 PM

I think an earlier poster had it right when she said "He and I have different levels of comfort when it comes to cleanliness. I can't expect him to think that my level is more important. My "I can't stand this mess" is met with "This is comfortable. We live in a house, not a magazine." So, sometimes I'm irritated and sometimes he feels nagged, but it's not normally a big deal and we get over it."

If we're having guests over on a Saturday, Friday night I'm cleaning and straightening and running around like a mad woman. My husband, however, is on the internet or watching t.v. Saturday morning, however, he will do whatever task has been assigned to him - and I just have to remember that. He will get around to it, get the job done, and before the guests show up. I just have to not go mental in the meanwhile. ;-)

Posted by: DLM | April 5, 2006 10:52 AM

I stay home, my husband works. I used to work, but couldn't sanely balance two toddlers and a nine year old. He does major projects once a month, I get around to his laundry once a month. His only request is a picked-up *not cleaned, picked up* living room and a kitchen with uncluttered counters. It's not just the working parents who struggle with doing the 'daily chores of living' because the whole point of staying home isn't to clean the house, it's to take care of the kids, help them with homework, take them to the park occasionally, get the younger ones out with other preschoolers, teach them etc.
The rest of the chores just fall to the person who is home most of the time, or who can do it. If I waited for my husband to get home to cook, we'd be eating at 9 every night. When I was working, our house was just as chaotic no matter how we divided the chores. We were too busy. Which is what it sounds like everyone else who works here is, too busy. So use peapod or safeway delivery and shop online. I do.

Posted by: Lahdeeda | April 5, 2006 1:14 PM

Regarding comments by "Worried"
about using an MBA as a "get out
of jail" card, that's really on the mark. My ex-husband did not like to do housework at all. I felt our family of 3 (one child)
should take care of our own home for a few solid reasons: it was *our* home and our child needed to learn how to take care of a home, a place, his stuff. After much kvetching -- on my ex-husband's part! -- we got a twice-monthly cleaning service. While I will admit that it was nice to come home to a clean house twice a month and we did handle the cleaning the other 2 weeks -- son learned how to dust and vacuum -- none of that "free" time ever came my way. My now-ex used the time for himself. No surprise why he's an ex. I live by myself now, don't ever intend to live with any guy again.

Posted by: SF Mom | April 5, 2006 5:31 PM

SF Mom: I didn't have to go through the same BS that you apparently went through, but after spending enough time on this blog, I've come to the same conclusion. I don't want to clean up after a grown man, or fight about the division of labor, or constantly nag him to do things he doesn't want to do, or follow after him re-cleaning all the things he didn't clean properly the first time around.

That being said, you better believe if I ever have a son, I'm going to teach him how to cook, clean and sew. And if I have a daughter, she's definitely going to learn how to handle her own finances, change a tire, and install surround-sound.

Posted by: LB | April 5, 2006 5:50 PM

Some of the posts indicate that some marriages foundered because of issues involving sharing responsibilities. Personally, as a child of an unhappy marriage, I think the most important thing is to develop a division of labor that makes the spouses happy. It is certainly much better to hire a cleaning person and give someone a job than to fight about who should clean or to resent the other spouse for not cleaning or not having a reasonable standard of cleanliness.

I love to cook & give my family a home-cooked meal, often from scratch, almost every night -- whether I am working full-time, part-time, or not at all. (And my husband does dishes). I do the laundry, clean the gutters, and plant the garden. He waters the plants.

But we have had a cleaning person (or service) since we've been married. We have paid Social Security taxes and unemployment taxes for a long-term cleaning person & we have paid a cleaning service. And we have never paid anywhere near the minimum wage -- usually more like $20/hour!

We also pay for a company to mow our law.

Everyone has to decide what works for himself/herself and his/her marriage.

Posted by: Happily Married | April 6, 2006 12:52 AM

This blog is hypocritical. This is like George Bush being an everyman kind of guy. Leslie just loves to whine and moan. I'd like her husband to sock her in the mouth for once.

Posted by: Leslie and her Nannie... | April 6, 2006 2:10 PM

This blog is about an over-privileged white woman who gets off on belittling her husband and mocking other men. This is the kind of woman that will run America if Hillary Clinton were elected.

Posted by: Ann Coulter | April 6, 2006 2:12 PM

This blog is for women who think that men should cook and sew after they put in 12 hours at the office so they can pay for a nanny so their wife can sit around writing books that make her a star.

SHE HAS A NANNY

Do you think LSM has any notion of a real working mother?

LOOK HOW BADLY SHE TREATS HER MAN

Is that your ideal of a woman? Who mocks her husband in public?

Posted by: bsblog | April 6, 2006 2:14 PM

I don't think Leslie intended to mock her husband, but that does raise an important point. In our culture jokes about husbands, wives, children and inlaws are proverbial. As a result, it's easy to find yourself making jokes about your spouse or kids as part of an informal stand-up comedy routine when you're around other wives (or husbands, as the case may be). I would strongly, strongly urge that we all make the commitment to never belittle or criticize our spouses in public. (That doesn't mean we shouldn't discuss whatever needs to be discussed - we should just have the respect to do it in private.) Publicly criticism can be tremendously hurtful, and undermines any relationship.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2006 9:25 AM

P.S. We shouldn't criticize our kids in public either. (We probably shouldn't criticize our in-laws in public, but I have to admit that's one I'm still working on.)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2006 9:26 AM

For me, the only part of the housework I have a hard time with is all the 'remembering' that goes with having kids -- who needs to wear a blue shirt tomorrow, and who needs crayons, and which child attending the birthday party is allergic to eggs or whatever.

I hate to say it, but I always feel like somehow as the woman, I'm expected to waste all the disc space in my brain with this CRAP and if only I didn't have to remember who needed new sandals and that on Wednesday you need to wear flippers for swim team and all that other stuff, I could be much better at my outside job because I'd be free to indulge in much more thinking. Longer thoughts. More involved thoughts. Whole sentences. Paragraphs, even . .

Toilets, schmoilets. I still resent the fact that my husband doesn't have to remember all the costumes for Ancient Civilizations day and all that other stuff. I asked him to try to be responsible for Boy Scouts and my son ended up dropping out.

Are there men out there who actually read the 'Dear Parents' letters that go home from school and say, "Oh, look. This one's addressed to me." I usually stomp around and rage about the ruse. The letter might say, "Dear Parents" but I never see any men running around Michael's like lunatics at quarter to 10 on a school night looking for the historically-correct shade of Sculpi for the Greek terracotta pots, do you?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2006 12:01 AM

I don't do any of the housework. I've never done it. The only thing I do is make the meals and go grocery shopping. We do laundry together. He cleans up everything? Why? Because after living together for 4 years before getting married, he realized REAL fast that if he didn't clean the bathroom, do the dishes, vacuum, etc. none of it would get done.

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