Top 10 Tips for Equality at Home

If your boss treats you unfairly, you've got options: You can quit, file a lawsuit, call in sick, or, at the very least, complain incessantly to co-workers.

When your home life feels unfair, your options are more limited and more complicated. It's harder to find and maintain equality at home amidst the chaos of working, tending a marriage, raising children and managing a semi-sane household. Unequal division of chores and child care tends to creep up on a couple, and resentment (okay, fury) can build before you realize it.

So, achieving a balanced division of labor at home seemed a worthy topic for On Balance. Here are readers' Top Ten Tips:

1. Find a partner with similar values when it comes to home life. If you marry someone whose mother waited on him (or her) hand and foot, it shouldn't surprise you when your beloved expects all compromises to come from you.

2. Look for someone who has lived on his or her own for a while. If he or she has managed an apartment, laundry, shopping, cooking, etc. for a few years, your prospective partner knows how to do these chores and is used to doing them.

3. Set the standards and expectations early in the relationship. Don't spend the first year or two of a relationship trying to show your love by doing everything for your partner -- and then, two years later, complain that he or she expects to be spoiled like a chihuahua. You teach people how to treat you. If you start out fairly, maintaining an equitable division of labor over time becomes easier.

4. Don't nag, whine, or get passive-aggressive. Be crystal clear and calm about why you think the division of labor is not fair, and what needs to change to find achieve balance.

5. Accept that life get unbalanced after kids -- the parent who spends more time doing child care tends to pick up a bunch of the little stuff that isn't big enough to get formally "assigned." These niggling responsibilities can build up over time until one person feels overwhelmed and resentful. Part of "balance" means re-evaluating the division of labor every year or so.

6. Apply basic parenting strategies to your spouse. When your two-year-old wants to choose everything for himself, you learn to ask which of two acceptable shirts he wants to wear. The same strategy works for adults: "Do you want to do the laundry or the dishes?" "Do you want to drive carpool or clean the dishes and make the beds?"

7. Simply stop doing everything yourself. Nature abhors a vacuum (and an unused vacuum cleaner). Chances are, your spouse will pick up the slack, especially if the first chores you stop doing are the ones he or she cares the most about.

8. Divide the labor -- with someone outside the family. Make a list together of the chores you both like the least. Hire someone to help with them.

9. Pick your battles. You can't assign the same Code Red importance to picking up your baby from day care and keeping the sink free of toothpaste residue. Focus on the five or so responsibilities that matter most. Let the rest slide.

10. Count your blessings. Part of the joys of living in a family are accepting others' imperfections along with everything you love about them. Model this acceptance. Expect the same acceptance in return.

Next week: Send me your Tips for Finding Childcare That Works for You and Your Family so I can include them in next Monday's Top 10 Tips.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  April 28, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Top Ten Tips
Previous: Using The Internet To Find Balance | Next: A Journey With Cancer


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



If a quality of a marriage is based on dishes, laundry, and vacuum cleaner, well, put it this way, it ain't based on love!

Posted by: DandyLion | April 28, 2008 7:10 AM

Oh yeah, almost forgot, First!

Posted by: DandyLion | April 28, 2008 7:15 AM

Communication is the key to keeping things equal. Not that either of us expect all to be equal and we both understand that there are certain things each of us ends up doing more than the other.

Posted by: HappyDad | April 28, 2008 7:41 AM

My tip: Work to each other's strengths. Everyone has some chores they find distasteful and others that they don't mind, so try to divvy up accordingly.

And switch from time to time, so nobody's skills at a particular task become too rusty.

Posted by: NewSAHM | April 28, 2008 8:12 AM

I couldn't send a tip in for this one because it's not an issue we've resolved in our marriage! At least not exactly.

My husband is a fantastically support, kind, loving person who is an involved co-parent. When I married him he had been out of the house for 7 years, his mum never waited on him hand and foot, and he could cook and do his own chores (as evidenced by his apartment).

But, the division of labour at home is totally inequal. Over the last 13 years (not counting the first honeymoon year) I've tried not doing the chores, assigning chores, us doing the chores together, and had more fights about this than anything.

I do the cleaning, cooking, shopping, laundry, bill-paying, 80% of the housework, and the car maintenance on my car. We both work full-time although my job pays less and he works more hours (70-80/wk).

In our marriage it really did eventually come down to whether I wanted to actually leave and get divorced, or ease up. Because the chores were constantly between us as an issue on my emotional radar.

After serious thought - and I hate to say it was really serious - I decided that I would rather stay, honour those vows, and deal with it.

I've been glad for that decision. I dropped the attitude that chores = his love for me.

And I just worked to come up with a way to get them done that wouldn't kill my lifestyle in other ways.

Don't look too closely at my basement though. :)

Posted by: Shandra | April 28, 2008 8:21 AM

I think the worst advice commonly given is that marriage is 50/50. the far truer advice is that marriage is 70-30 or 40/60 or even 80/20 most of the time--you just switch off who's able to give more as life circumstances change.

if your mother is battling cancer and his isn't, the odds are good that he'll be doing the vacuuming and handling far more of the normal chores than he would if the situation were reversed.

"equality" is such a loaded and quantifiable-seeming term. i prefer "sharing a home of harmony and support" or something like that--which indicates the ultimate good is NOT whether you do equal shares of whatever the task is, but indicates whether you both feel equally loved, valued, and supported.

Posted by: newslinks | April 28, 2008 8:33 AM

Great tips, and certainly principles we try to abide by in our household. Of course, not always successfully.

One thing that really makes me feel better about our division of labor at home is when my husband picks up one of the tasks that I own -- without being asked. It can be something as small as just putting a load of wash in the washer and turning the machine on. He agrees that I do more of the housework and childcare (in spite of the fact that we both work almost identical full-time jobs), so it means a lot to me when he tries to pitch in above and beyond the norm -- without being asked. I also get the sense that he is appreciative when I do the same -- like taking out the trash.

This has gotten us through some rough patches when we've been very busy at work (70-hour weeks) and our 2 young kids haven't been sleeping well. (BTW, I'm convinced those 2 things are related.)

Posted by: Jen | April 28, 2008 8:37 AM

DandyLion

If a quality of a marriage is based on dishes, laundry, and vacuum cleaner, well, put it this way, it ain't based on love!

Was this written by someone who rationalizes making the spouse do the majority of the work around home?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 8:45 AM

These are great tips. I would add that if you want an equal partner, you have to treat your spouse as one. That means don't expect he'll (or she'll) do half the housework but still abide by your rules about how that housework is done - how well, how often, by when. In an equal marriage, no one is the manager and no one is the subordinate. The contentious chores (where you have very different individual standards and at least one of you cares a lot about the chore) require joint standards for all of these parameters. The non-contentious ones can simply be assigned together and then each of you must let go of managing each other's performance.

Happy equally shared housework!

Posted by: equal | April 28, 2008 8:47 AM

2. If he or she has managed an apartment, laundry, shopping, cooking, etc. for a few years, your prospective partner knows how to do these chores and is used to doing them.

Maybe he or she is sick of these chores and is looking for someone to take them over.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 8:53 AM

Shandra - I identify so completely with what you wrote. I suspect your reality is more common than a lot of what couples pretend: "Oh, it's so equal, we have no problems."

Doing chores does not equal love. But it still stinks being the one who is more capable, more organized, or more anal and thus does more of them. It just happens that way sometimes. It can be very frustrating and can get in the way of all that love you feel for your spouse in a big picture way.

My only consolation is that for some reason, now that our kids are older (ages 6-11) I've found it easier to back off from doing everything. My husband finds it easier to do more. The simple reality may be that I was better with caring for smaller children -- and he's better now that they are older.

For years I did the vast majority of the daily and weekly chores -- I was always the one to get up in the middle of the night, to take them to the doctors, to make their lunches, feed them, brush hair, give baths, check backpacks, put them to bed, make their beds, clean their rooms, all childcare stuff, etc. I had an endless daily to-do list that started at 6 am and never felt complete.

But my husband did the huge occasional jobs that were also very important. When we renovated our old house seven years ago, he met with contractors and did all the negotiating and heavy lifting. It took almost a year. He does our taxes--once a year job. He found a lawyer for our wills and did all that gnarly paperwork. He calls the plumber, the electrician, the exterminator etc to arrange house repairs.

The division of labor doesn't always feel "fair" on a daily basis. But if you take the long view (which is hard when you are in the thick of caring for multiple small children) it seems more equitable.

And also, after 12 years of sleep deprivation, I'm kind of too tired to care much. He's a good guy and I love him. That overpowers the daily frustrations (most days).

Posted by: Leslie | April 28, 2008 8:57 AM

Tip No. 1 is the most important. Really, if you have this down, the rest comes pretty easily.

Of course, when you have kids and one person stays home, the grass is always greener comes into play and until that is resolved, it is hard.

I love seeing couples who are successful at this, but more often see couples like my husband and me, who struggle with it.

Posted by: Andrea | April 28, 2008 8:57 AM

And I liked your comment about your basement, Shandra. In my house, it's the closets you don't want to look in. Everything gets stuffed in there.

Posted by: Leslie | April 28, 2008 8:58 AM

I will agree with newslinks that the division of labor shifts over time depending on what is going on with each person in the marriage. In my marriage, one person may do more than the other one week and then less the next.

I can't imagine being in a marriage where both people don't pitch in and do the work. For us, we don't even have to talk about who is going to do which chore. Everything just gets done because we both know someone needs to do it. I couldn't live with anything less!

Posted by: Thought | April 28, 2008 8:59 AM

Fred's Top Ten Tips!


10. You peel the potato, I slice the tomato.
9. Swear off each others most hated food!
8. Take turns loading the dishwasher. You put in a fork, she puts in a spoon.
7. Put extra money in the mortgage payment every month.
6. Oh, you said equality not equity, never mind!
5. Equality is easier to spell than Antidisestablishmentarianism
4. Create a Joint Taskforce on Housework, keep the PowerPoint's updated!
3. Marry a slob, be a slob, marry a maid, be a maid
2. A toilet, a toilet, my kingdom for a clean toilet!

And, the Number One Top Tip is

His and Hers vacuums.

Posted by: Fred | April 28, 2008 9:10 AM

My older relatives have a division of labor that is so skewed by our standards that being together is funny -- to all parties concerned.

My older female relatives do not sit at the dinner table until 5-10 minutes after the meal is served, after cooking for an hour or more. Their husbands think nothing of announcing, "Is there more water?" and the wives jump up to get it. It cracks me and my husband up.

And they also think it is hilarious that my husband -- oh my god -- gets his own fork and spoon! And he carries in his own dishes! Sometimes mine too.

The women think I live in a kind of paradise. Ha ha ha!! Division of labor has shifted dramatically in one generation. Which is not to say it's equal but it sure is progress. I can only imagine what my daughters' marriages will be like.

Posted by: Leslie | April 28, 2008 9:11 AM

If you feel like you are doing everything and overburdened, just wait until your spouse is away for a day or two. You will quickly realize all that your spouse does once you have to add those things to your task list!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | April 28, 2008 9:18 AM

Hax deals more briefly and entertainingly (word?) with this issue today:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/27/AR2008042701996.html

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 9:31 AM

For us, it's not just a division of labor--it's a divison of whose "domain" a particular area is. And that person not only does the work in that domain--they own it, and get the "privilege" of making all of the decisions in that domain--well, least most of them. For instance: lawn (husband's domain), gardens (my domain); garage (husband's domain), inside decorating (my domain--except for office); etc. We never actually sat down and said that's how we were going to divide things...but it just worked out that way. AND we've been known to argue at Home Depot about whether the husband gets to pick the hose wheel to water the grass seed at the edge of the lawn (his domain); or I get more say because the hose wheel is in my domain (the garden). Anyone else have "domains"???? =)

Posted by: Kattoo | April 28, 2008 9:39 AM

Boy am I glad I didn't marry someone who'd follow this advice!

In item #6 we see that you'd have the neurotic spouse treat their adult partner like a child. "6. Apply basic parenting strategies to your spouse." Oh yeah. That's really good advice. (Is your spouse a divorce atty?) Applying this treatment to an adult is certain to cause resentment. Spouses should RESPECT each other, not treat each other like squabbling, rebellious children.

And in item 7, you display a basic lack of understanding of males and females. You say, "7. ... Chances are your spouse will pick up the slack." No. They won't. Generally males have a MUCH higher tolerance for crud and clutter, and if you don't do it, they are happy to let it slide. In a comic once, the Dad and kids were discussing cleaning the house before Mom got home. The kids asked, "Do we have to make it Dad clean, Mom clean, or Grandma clean?" Exactly!

This is a bad, not-well-thought-out piece.

Posted by: Nofluer | April 28, 2008 9:47 AM

Katto, you don't mean domains, but turf wars.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 10:04 AM

my best advice - always remember that you love this person and treat them accordingly. If you both do that then it will always sort itself out. When there is something that needs doing whoever is there does it. When my husband it tired, he doesn't have to ask, I do the baths and all the clean up from dinner. When I'm tired or busy, he does the same.

Posted by: moxiemom | April 28, 2008 10:04 AM

#3 is an excellent, subtle tip. the dating phase and honeymoon year seem like excellent times to "show off" cooking and being on your best behavior. For me, the woman, I presented an image of perfect meals, clean bathroom, tidy apt. and effortless vacations and weekends away, all planned to a T. My ex had lived at home in college and was on year two of his own apt. when we met - a pigpen with a black ring in the tub that overtook the tub.
I was wrong to offer him an image of "concierge lifestyle" which I couldn't and didn't want to uphold. He was wrong to "get along to go along" and agree to share chores etc. at Engaged Encounter, a fiction-writing workshop if there ever was one.
Be real in your dating life, and push past "sure I will" when discussing the home front. Not sure 20-somethings who spend time eating out and having, er, intimate relations know anything about what a family life really is. But have the talk nonetheless.

Posted by: daters are clueless | April 28, 2008 10:06 AM

True- my husband is not at all concerned with clutter or most household chores. I was not getting very far expecting him to self-start and do 50% of the housekeeping.

What works for us, is that DH started doinf a discreet list of responsibilities that he does every day. He agreed to do this on the bargain that I would stop nagging him. I do the rest. That means I usually do more than 50%...but it prevents us from having the "how can you be so lazy watching TV while I'm busting my behind" fight.

Posted by: michelle | April 28, 2008 10:08 AM

There's an undercurrent here that all is equal. That if one stops vacuuming, the other spouse will notice -- or (rule #6) that giving someone a choice between two
things you view equally is just.

In my experience, different folks place different stresses/costs on different activities. One key trick is
knowing how things are valued (personal case -- I
hate handwashing dishes, but enjoy loading and unloading dishwashers: I'll happily clean up every time, but only if I can
use the dishwasher [and you'll put up with dirty dishes waiting
to go into the dishwasher while the current load runs]).

Final point -- think of how investing a few extra dollars
(better lawn mower, whatever) can sharply lighten the load on
a stressful activity.


Posted by: Craig | April 28, 2008 10:09 AM

#7 Categorically does not work!

First, this is a passive-agressive move which is not usually a good thing. I think it is usually better to communicate rather than pull this move.

I did actually do this out of total desperation with my ex. We both worked full-time and he did not lift a finger to clean the house. And I mean - NOT ONE FINGER. In several months, he never once cleaned his bathroom nor did he even notice that his sheets hadn't been washed (by this time we were in separate beds). He did do his laundry - and this is about all I gained out of the experience. Outside of his laundry, if I didn't do it - neither did he. This should not have surprised me given that when he went away on a 9 day vacation he left half-eaten food in his study. I closed the door and left his study as is and never entered it. He was upset that it wasn't cleaned up while he was away.

Posted by: Billie_R | April 28, 2008 10:20 AM

My rules:
1. Reading to the kids, giving them a bath, getting their clothes washed and folded, giving them a basic dinner and playing with them is more important than a clean house.
2. Maids come cheap and cleaning is not worth doing oneself. I have friends in LA who pay their maid $20 per hour to come by every night at 9pm- but LA is weird. In DC I have a cleaning lady who comes in once a week for $90. If my wife wanted to do all that for $90 I'd pay her, but she used to say that work was work hundreds. It's not and I'd rather she read to the kids too.
3. Admit that some cleaning tasks are more important than others and have better bang for the buck. vacuuming and cleaning bathroom tiles goes quickly, so don't get hung up on the venetian blinds.
4. Machines solve problems and refusing to use machines CAUSES problems. If you don't have a dishwasher, then keep your mouth shut for eternity on this issue. your opinion is worthless.
5. I sold books and records on ebay my wife wanted me to throw away and a handful sold for $75-100. Then I sold the unsold ones at a garage sale.

I dated a few women who didn't feel like I did- they thought there was ONE way to live in a "Clean" house and I didn't. I left them far behind.

Posted by: DCer | April 28, 2008 10:29 AM

I guess my wife and I are screwed.

1. I never did any housework growing up. My wife definitely values a clean home more than I do. I couldn't care less.

2. My wife and I met in college, so neither of us had really been on our own, per se.

6. Wife parenting me? I can see how that one would go: "Do you plan on wiping my arse for me? No? Then stop treating me like our 2-year-old."

7. Nature may abhor a vacuum, but this husband couldn't care less if the house is dirty. Bad analogies make baby Jesus cry.

Thank god we can afford to hire someone to do that the chores that I refuse to do.

Posted by: Bob | April 28, 2008 10:29 AM

Anyone who says #7 "Won't work" has standards that make them difficult for their spouse to live with or live up to. Seek therapy. seriously- you'll be much happier.

Posted by: DCer | April 28, 2008 10:31 AM

In several months, he never once cleaned his bathroom nor did he even notice that his sheets hadn't been washed (by this time we were in separate beds).
-----

Umm, after this quote you don't seriously believe that cleanliness is your marriage issue, do you? If you do, re-read this passage again.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 10:33 AM

I have to speak up for the men here - the housework matters much more to my husband than it does to me and he does much more of it. I do almost all the cooking, though...

As for hilarious balances in older generations: my in-laws have a similar division that boggles the twenty-something mind: she does all the cooking, ironing, washing - anything one would have seen as wifely in the 50s. She even irons socks and underwear. She gets up at 4:30 a.m. just to make him his cheese sandwich for lunch.
But on the other hand: in 35 years of marriage, she has not so much as put a nail in the wall to hang up a picture. He does anything remotely husbandly. It works for them, the same amount of work and inconvenience on both sides, but totally different tasks. Neither of them is 60 yet, which is why it strikes me as screamingly funny sometimes. My father-in-law finds it odd that we each iron our own clothes and do handyman projects together... he doesn't seem to know quite what to think about a daughter-in-law that can handle a drill and a table-saw.

Posted by: enkafiles | April 28, 2008 10:52 AM

But this is waaaaay different.


No, this is simply necessary sometimes! I have had to do this.

Posted by: A regular but not saying who it is | April 28, 2008 11:08 AM

I've seen this issue sink more marriages than I can count -- including my own (though it was hardly the only issue). Couples need to be aware what a landmine this can be. Just like making sure you understand a partner's approach to finances, you better be sure to understand and make sure you're compatible on issues related in keeping a home.

Posted by: anne | April 28, 2008 11:09 AM

Tips 2 and 3 apply to our marriage. My husband lived on his own for a while and kept his apartment pretty clean so I knew he had it together. We moved in together after we got engaged and came up with a weekly cleaning schedule and split things up. We went with our strengths/likes, ex., I cook, he does the dishes.

I especially like the comment about picking up one of your spouse's "jobs" once in a while. I did that for my husband this weekend so he could watch his favorite team play baseball. It was not a big deal but he really appreciated it.

#4 is pretty key too, in my view. When we hired a nanny 2 years ago she took over some of the housework and my husband resented it because he felt like I was now getting an easy ride. We had some spats about it but I finally sat him down so we could discuss it calmly. I was hurt that he felt like I wasn't doing as much as I had taken on a lot of other stuff related to our son's medical condition. It turned out that he is just not really comfortable having an employee in our home and was stressed about the cost and that was translating into resentment against me. I was the one who wanted to have a nanny. We worked it out and I think both feel that our division of labor is pretty equal.

Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | April 28, 2008 11:09 AM

Michelle - I love your husband's "discreet" list of stuff he does every day.

Where does he post it? On your pillow?

My DH would like this too. He feels like I'm always saying "You don't do anything!" when he feels like he does a lot. We are both right, of course.

Posted by: Leslie | April 28, 2008 11:11 AM

My current husband actually does a good chunk of the housework as I work significantly more hours outside of the household. We used to be more egalitarian when we worked the same number of hours. When we discussed me taking on more hours, we specifically discussed the fact that he would need to step-up and do more chores. He has done a fairly decent job of doing exactly that.

I don't know what is going to happen when he starts this new job. I suspect that we will need to rework the assignment of chores to be sure that the necessary things get done.

Posted by: Billie_R | April 28, 2008 11:12 AM

We had negotiated everything about household duties up front, which worked well for some time. But my now-ex stopped contributing his share of household work about the same time as he started his affair. He stopped valuing our home and his contribution to it when he stopped valuing me. I'm really glad I booted him out. Now I have a cleaning lady and no worries about who does what.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 28, 2008 11:26 AM

Anyone who says #7 "Won't work" has standards that make them difficult for their spouse to live with or live up to. Seek therapy. seriously- you'll be much happier.

Posted by: DCer | April 28, 2008 10:31 AM

interesting moral compass.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 11:37 AM

glad those who can afford it have maid service or a nanny who helps with the household. but....party and holiday planning, trip orchestrating, kinship stuff - brother-in-law's MBA grad party, in-law's 50th, Passover - can't be jobbed out. nor can financial stuff and dealing with banks, brokers, insurance agents, staff such as lawn care (or doing the lawn) and bug service all generally need a partner. kids b-day parties, school days off and snow closings, the black hole of summer, and religious ed, if any, also need a parent to do or heavily supervise. teams, clinics, tutoring, sports leagues, college shopping etc. need similar supervision or mom or dad to do it. driver ed, tween social life (rides to mall, carpool to playdates, supervise sleepover) and project graduation. teach gifts, helping teen register for h.s., ordering text books, calling insurance co. back and sending pre-authorizations, medical care routine and otherwise, dental visits and the whole orthodontics deal.
try hiring a maid for that!

Posted by: maid no answer | April 28, 2008 11:44 AM

"the ultimate good is NOT whether you do equal shares of whatever the task is, but indicates whether you both feel equally loved, valued, and supported."

Totally agree with you newslinks. To me, marriage is fundamentally about sharing a life, and requires respect and love. And that means that sometimes you will carry extra burdens for your spouse, and sometimes your spouse will do that for you. We are there to lighten each other's loads. And if you are not feeling loved, valued and supported - whether that manifests itself in a seemlingly neverending stream of dirty dishes or whatever - that goes deeper than the dishes.

Posted by: LizaBean | April 28, 2008 11:46 AM

re #7, you might want to read the article on training partners as orcas are trained at Sea World: "What Shamu taught me about a happy marriage." Here's the link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/fashion/25love.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=shamu&st=nyt&oref=slogin

Posted by: babsy1 | April 28, 2008 11:49 AM

DCer
"If you don't have a dishwasher, then keep your mouth shut for eternity on this issue. your opinion is worthless"

That got a chuckle from me. We really want one, but have nowhere to put it. I had one at my old place, but alas.

I think our biggest rule is that when one person is working on chores, then so is the other. We'll see how that changes if children are introduced to the picture.

Posted by: Fern | April 28, 2008 11:56 AM

I think #1 is very important.

As the years go by it's really values that hold you together. Sex comes and goes, children drive you nuts, jobs and friends change -- your values and interests will evolve, but if you have common ground it will all work out.

Take a look at your future in-laws. Details will change. If Mom didn't work then expect that she's doing more household tasks. But the way they treat each other is what your future spouse will model.

Posted by: RoseG | April 28, 2008 11:57 AM

When I read this post, I flashed back to what I now realize was a seminal point in my relationship with my husband. Before we were married, I got to the point where I had to sit him down and say look, I feel like I'm doing most of the housework around here. His response: "Sure. Just tell me what needs to be done, and I'll do it."

No. Close, but at the same time, not even remotely ok. And, as it turned out, a question that went to the heart of the everyday responsibilities of our relationship. We are both of us grown, voting adults. There is nothing in my personal DNA structure that makes me better suited to look around and see what needs doing around the house. This is OUR house, and we can and will both take responsibility for it.

We had a long talk that night, that began with "You are a GROWN MAN with EYES in your HEAD that are connected to your BRAIN--look around the house, see what needs doing, and DO IT." And it ended with two partners who are equally invested in the everyday (read: not the once-a-year leaf raking that is supposed to be the eqivalent of 365 days of clearing the dinner dishes) responsibilities of living life as an adult.

Posted by: JS | April 28, 2008 12:01 PM

Choose a spouse with your tolerance to tidiness or invest in a house keeper. It just isn't worth fighting over.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 28, 2008 12:11 PM

"We are both of us grown, voting adults. There is nothing in my personal DNA structure that makes me better suited to look around and see what needs doing around the house. This is OUR house, and we can and will both take responsibility for it."

Touche. I am no more well-suited than you to devising a list of tasks. You are not "helping me".

OTOH, what "needs to be done" includes more than what needs to be done inside the house. It includes getting the oil changed on all vehicles, visits to the DMV, preparing tax forms, scheduling doctors appointments, maintaining the home computers and network, mowing the lawn, cleaning out the gutters, and coming up with, and handling, summer plans for the kids.

Posted by: Gillian | April 28, 2008 12:14 PM

"You are a GROWN MAN with EYES in your HEAD that are connected to your BRAIN--look around the house, see what needs doing, and DO IT."

The problem, JS, is in the see what needs doing part of your statement. Each person has their own idea of what "needs doing". One person may want to load each dirty dish in the dishwasher immediately, and the other may want to stack dishes in the sink and load the dishwasher once at the end of the day. One person may be comfortable with weekly vacuuming, but the other prefers daily.

Posted by: to JS | April 28, 2008 12:17 PM

I think we should share our personal idiosyncracies. I don't mind dirty dishes stacked in the sink, but I can't stand dirty dishes stacked on the counter next to the sink. I think it's because I can see the dirty dishes on the counter from anywhere in the kitchen/dining room, but I can only see the dirty dishes in the sink when I am near the sink. The dishes are still dirty either way, but my tolerance is definitely different.

Posted by: anon | April 28, 2008 12:22 PM

His response: "Sure. Just tell me what needs to
be done, and I'll do it."

Do you expect him to read your mind?

Now that's a typical woman for you. :-)

Posted by: DandyLion | April 28, 2008 12:26 PM

DandyLion, you are opening a can of worms here, but I am a woman who agrees with you. We assume that men CAN read our minds, even though they buy us trashy, uncomfortable lingerie, assume that a new vacuum is a suitable birthday gift, and think that we will have sex with them when we're angry. Some things really do have to be stated explicitly!

Posted by: babsy1 | April 28, 2008 12:37 PM

"I don't mind dirty dishes stacked in the sink, but I can't stand dirty dishes stacked on the counter next to the sink."

LOL, I'm the complete opposite. I hate dirty dishes stacked in the sink because they get in the way of using the sink, and then water accumulates in them and I hate that. I'd rather have something dried and caked on than a layer of scuzzy water or slimy crumbs. I especially hate a dirty pot left to soak for too long, the slime rises to the top and then accumulates on the pot's edges at the water level - yech!

I think my husband is equally bothered wherever the dirty dishes are, if they are not in the dishwasher :)

Posted by: LizaBean | April 28, 2008 12:40 PM

what about cleaning out the closet?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 1:02 PM

"I hate dirty dishes stacked in the sink because they get in the way of using the sink"

I forgot to say that I have a double sink and they can only be stacked on one side.

Posted by: anon | April 28, 2008 1:03 PM

Batsy, I think the real problem between men and women on the homefront is that women expect us men to be as civilized as they are. and that's just asking way too much!

And women complain about a new vacuum cleaner for a gift? Hmmm, bet you never heard of a guy complain about a new power tool on his birthday. Why is that?

Posted by: DandyLion | April 28, 2008 1:09 PM

How sad it is that we even have to have this discussion. I stay home with our kids. I'm the one who's there every morning when they open their little eyes, I make a hot delicious breakfast for my kids and my husband. Then, I do all the chores while my kids are at school and my husband's at work--he works very hard, making lots of sacrifices so I can stay home with our kids and raise them MYSELF...not in some daycare where they're warehoused all day. When my kids get off the bus, I'm home with freshly baked cookies and milk, the house is clean, I help them with their homework and ask them all about their day. Then, I made dinner from scratch, and freshen up for when my MAN comes home! Then after the kids are in bed...I spend all of my time focused on my HUBBY! My husband doesn't have to lift a finger at home...which is how it should be. He's my HERO...my hardworking breadwinner...and I'm his WIFE!!!!! And he treats me like gold.

Posted by: How Sad | April 28, 2008 1:11 PM

I know exactly what you mean. I stay at home, too--and I also do ALL the work around the house. But more importantly, I'm there for my children every single day...that's my work, and it's extremely important. The other day we passed a daycare center, and my youngest asked me what it was. I explained that it was a place that kids go when their moms and dad's are both working. He turned to me and said, "mom, I'm so glad you're home with us." That moment made it all worth it. All of the hard work, and all of the sacrifice. I told my husband about our conversation this evening...and he gave me a huge hug and thanked me for being a stay at home mom. It hasn't been easy...we drive old cars, we don't have a fancy house...but my kids have what's important...a mom who is home for them every single day!

Posted by: TO: How Sad | April 28, 2008 1:22 PM

outside of the housekeeper & landscapers I take care everything associated with our lives {holidays, trips, gifts, social plans, laundry, shopping ,cooking, finances/bills,saving/investments, taxes, wills, all outside help like electricians, everything, I work from home then to take care it, all medical and car maintenance, licenses, tags, registrations} such that all he has to do is go to work. he is very successful. I resent the hell out of it all. the inlaws are like that.
I wish I had known better, but I am learning now

Posted by: on the edge of reason | April 28, 2008 1:22 PM

AAAHH HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 1:24 PM

am i the only one who finds "How Sad's" tone a little creepy?

her point that sometimes it works well for people to have entirely different domains that they're fully responsible for (ie, breadwinner, housewife) is perfectly legitimate, i just found the cheerleading a little distrurbing.

it's great that she's found something that works for her family, but if her life is always about taking care of them, doesn't she ever want a turn? or is being brought breakfast in bed once a year on Mother's Day enough?

Posted by: newslinks | April 28, 2008 1:25 PM

I thought How Sad was being sarcastic. That's true, right? To the person who said 20 somethings don't know about these kinds of things, she's probably right on a grand scale but I know for myself, I have to deal with the chores issue with my live-in boyfriend of a year. It drives me bonkers to have little help but sometimes he gets enlightened and puts the dishes in the dishwasher! To be fair, he takes care of computer stuff and has started taking over the finances so it is balancing out. I'm happy to see the dynamic now before we make a further committment.

Posted by: FloridaChick | April 28, 2008 1:30 PM

How Sad:

I agree with you. I would love to be a stay-at-home anything. I would gladly trade looking after the house for the liberating freedom of not having to go to a job I hate. If my husband was the breadwinner, then I would consider it my contribution to do the household items.

Unfortunately, I earn the bread on the table and the roof over our heads so I won't be quitting my job any time soon. As a result of sharing the burden of earning the bread, we get to share the burden of taking care of the roof over our heads. There are few people(men or women) who want to earn the bread and take care of the house while their partner does nothing.

Posted by: Billie_R | April 28, 2008 1:31 PM

So because you can't hire someone to do everything you shouldn't hire anyone to do anything? I think that's shortsighted. We have someone clean every other week and someone to mow the lawn when it needs mowing. A HUGE burden off our backs (mom always said that she would never buy a house unless she could afford the help that went with it).

So we take care of all the other stuff - but it's mostly me, whether I worked or not. He is more concerned about tidiness - me more of the stuff like planning for meals, and birthday party stuff, and whatever. planning for dinners, or other stuff like that is all me. He will help, but I do most of the shopping and the planning. Whatcha gonna do. His dad is afraid to do anything cause he always gets yelled at - he never does it right. I definitely don't do that to DH - but I'm sure he's always waiting for that shoe to drop in some way.

I don't mind doing the planning, etc. It's kinda fun.

And DH takes care of much of the house stuff - changing filters, hanging stuff, laying tile, putting in a new floor... mostly anything that needs tools. He really enjoys it. So we divide and conquer. We ask each other when we need help or we offer to each other. Works out well...

Posted by: atlmom | April 28, 2008 1:34 PM

Sounds like that Nellie McKay song, "I want to get married....it's why I was born!"

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 1:42 PM

Did not anyone like my top ten list? I think that I will go cry in a corner if no one says anything positive about it! I work hard to give y'all a chuckle, how ever small, most every day.

I just may not post tomorrow!

Posted by: Fred | April 28, 2008 1:50 PM

And I definitely don't get how I was raised. Mom was a great cook and took care of the house, etc. But she never showed us or taught us how to do anything around the house. I guess she thought we could just get educations - we didn't need to know how to keep house.

But I intend to give my kids more and more reponsibility as they they get older. I don't see my taking on doing all that needs to be done in the house myself. Or have my DH and I do it all. The kids live here too - they need to help as they can.

Posted by: atlmom | April 28, 2008 1:52 PM

"The problem, JS, is in the see what needs doing part of your statement. Each person has their own idea of what "needs doing". "

That's true, and that's where the compromising comes in--you have to be able to figure out what you need as opposed to what you want. I would love it if my husband put the dishes in the dishwasher by the end of the day, but I'll settle for "within a day or so." He would love it if I would scrub the bathroom counters every day, but he'll settle for "when they get dirty."

And it works the other way--I hang his shirts up the way he wants after they come out of the dryer. He folds the towels the way I want. We approach it like a partnership; we don't get defensive, we don't sit on resentments, we try not to be too control-freakish, and we try to keep in mind that your spouse's discomfort (within reason) is reason enough to change your behavior.

Posted by: JS | April 28, 2008 1:56 PM

How Sad, thank you for sharing your household tips with us. Just out of curiosity, however do you manange to bake those fresh, homemade cookies every day with all those cartoon bluebirds fluttering around?

Posted by: for How Sad | April 28, 2008 1:59 PM

I also worry about her contribution to the childhood obesity epidemic with all those cookies...

Posted by: RiverCityRoller | April 28, 2008 2:03 PM

How Sad, thank you for sharing your household tips with us. Just out of curiosity, however do you manange to bake those fresh, homemade cookies every day with all those cartoon bluebirds fluttering around?

Posted by: for How Sad | April 28, 2008 1:59 PM

____________

From the wheat I grow in my yard of course...and hand grind into flower. But you're right. Those pesky cartoon bluebirds do get in the way.

Posted by: How Sad | April 28, 2008 2:04 PM

I also worry about her contribution to the childhood obesity epidemic with all those cookies...

Posted by: RiverCityRoller | April 28, 2008 2:03 PM

____________

Not to worry. All of my little ones are the perfect weight...they have to be to live in my perfect house =) I have an hourglass figure, too...and I do all the housework in stockings and heals.

Posted by: How Sad | April 28, 2008 2:05 PM

Oops I meant hand grind into flour (not flower). Well too-da-loo! I have to get the cookies out of the oven. My little ones will be home before I know it. I hope everyone else has a happy, sparkly afternoon!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: How Sad | April 28, 2008 2:09 PM

That should be "stockings and heels..."


But what about the pearl necklace?

Posted by: The Grammar Sheriff | April 28, 2008 2:10 PM

That should be "stockings and heels..."


But what about the pearl necklace?

Posted by: The Grammar Sheriff | April 28, 2008 2:10 PM

_____________

Thank you so much for correcting my grammar, Mrs. Sheriff. That's so kind of you. And how did you know I have my pearl necklace on. Real pearls, too, y'know... Oh my goodness, Mrs. Smith from next door just arrived with blueberry pie. Looks delicious! Time to put the kettle on...and oh my, I forgot those cookies. Bye, bye now! =)

Posted by: How Sad | April 28, 2008 2:13 PM

Uh, the Grammar Sheriff has no gender. There is no Mrs.Sheriff.

Posted by: The Grammar Sheriff | April 28, 2008 2:15 PM

Uh, the Grammar Sheriff has no gender. There is no Mrs.Sheriff.

Posted by: The Grammar Sheriff | April 28, 2008 2:15 PM

___________

Oopsies!

Posted by: How Sad | April 28, 2008 2:17 PM

I believe How Sad and To: How Sad were written by the same person.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 2:27 PM

Fred - Rest easy, at least one person (me) enjoyed your list today. We actually use #9 in our house as we were both forced as kids to eat foods we didn't and still do not like.

Posted by: Ishgebibble | April 28, 2008 2:32 PM

I know the "How Sad" postings were tongue in cheek (hopefully), but I remember being jealous of the Kindercare kids when I was in Elementary School(we lived up the street from the center.) They had this awesome playground, they always had plenty of friends around, and I was stuck at home with my boring mom.

Posted by: RiverCityRoller | April 28, 2008 2:34 PM

Also to Dandylion - my husband was taught by his mother to never buy a woman a "tool of oppression" for a gift giving occasion. I love her so much!

Posted by: RiverCityRoller | April 28, 2008 2:36 PM

I believe How Sad and To: How Sad were written by the same person.

Posted by: | April 28, 2008 2:27 PM

______________

Goodness gracious...aren't you a smart one!

Posted by: How Sad | April 28, 2008 2:41 PM

I know the "How Sad" postings were tongue in cheek (hopefully), but I remember being jealous of the Kindercare kids when I was in Elementary School(we lived up the street from the center.) They had this awesome playground, they always had plenty of friends around, and I was stuck at home with my boring mom.

Posted by: RiverCityRoller | April 28, 2008 2:34 PM

_________________

Oh my heavens...you poor, poor child. Wasn't your mom making you home-made cookies, too?

Posted by: How Sad | April 28, 2008 2:42 PM

Thank goodness How Sad is joking, but check out the Happy Housewives Club for the same schtick by someone who means it:

http://www.happyhousewivesclub.com/

"It is so easy to fall in love with your life over and over again. The blooming Iris reminds me of the gift of life and I don't want to take a minute for granted. I am lucky to have a home. I am still in awe of my gorgeous children. And I am still mad for my husband.

I believe being able to take care of your family is the best gift of all. And as we follow HHC's April theme, we will all add a bit more of our hot mama lovin' to everything we do this month.

And what better way to show your family you love them than the gift of yourself. You can add your love to everything you do."

Posted by: Gag me with a spoon | April 28, 2008 2:43 PM

Ishgebibble,

If only I could ban asparagus in our household!

Posted by: Fred | April 28, 2008 2:44 PM

Well, looks like I picked an interesting day to miss with jury duty. I liked this: "I don't mind dirty dishes stacked in the sink, but I can't stand dirty dishes stacked on the counter next to the sink." I'm EXACTLY the same way. Which is why I went out and bought the deepest sink I could find, so it has to really pile up before I can see it. :-)

And ok, I'll admit it: I suggested no. 6. The "parenting skills" thing was a joke, but the concept worked. I know I've said this before, but after our daughter was born, I worked very part-time from home, so he got used to me picking up the bulk of the household chores. Fast-forward a few years, though, and it didn't seem quite so equitable when I was back to full-time work in an office, we'd added a new baby, and I was still doing most of the chores. He wasn't a bad guy; he'd just gotten used to me doing it, so seeing a big pile of clean laundry didn't trigger the little switch that says, "gee, maybe I should put this away."

We had several conversations about specific tasks, and he was always willing to "help," but I got tired of the very concept of him "helping" -- because that still left me with the huge mental list of everything to keep track of. And I'd finally watched enough Dr. Phil to realize I had to ask for what I wanted. I figured he's a fairly direct guy, appreciates not beating around the bush, so I just asked him which kid he wanted. He said, neither, thanks, I like things the way they are. I said hahaha! Really, which kid do you want? Now we each have one to keep track of -- mine's more high-maintenance, but his is younger and so will be around longer, so I figure it's all a wash. :-)

Oh, and I REALLY agree with the comment above that, if you split chores, you can't ride herd on how he does them. My husband doesn't fold the boy's laundry -- just separates it into tops and pants and tosses things into the appropriate drawer. Surprised me, but mostly I was jealous I hadn't thought of it first. :-) This principle is also Reason No. 1 for the big sink: my husband is dish boy, and he likes to operate under the "let 'em pile up until we run out of spoons" theory. So if I can't see them, they don't bug me. Conflict avoidance is soooo much better than conflict resolution!

Posted by: Laura | April 28, 2008 2:52 PM

More from the Happy Housewives website. Excuse me, I need to go get a fork to stick in my eye.

"A gift of love? Cooking homemade meals for your family. The heart shaped pancakes, the mini-meatballs, the Sunday dinners, are memories that will never be forgotten. Robyn has all the tips you need to add love to your recipes.

A gift of love? Providing a clean and beautiful home. The fluffy pillows, warm towels, sparkling toilets and the aroma of fresh linens will be in your child's memory always. Dawn shows us how easy it is to add a loving touch to your home.

A gift of love? Spending time on yourself. Praying, meditating, walking in the fresh air and taking care of mommy is a gift your whole family will benefit from. If mama ain't happy no one is happy. Jia helps us realize how important it is to love ourselves."

Posted by: Leslie | April 28, 2008 3:05 PM

Can somebody really commit to that kind of ideal and accomplish it?

I consider myself lucky if I get groceries into the house and a big pot of something cooked for the week. I would be getting a big fat F on the HappyHousewife scale if my honey was keeping score.

Posted by: Billie_R | April 28, 2008 3:10 PM

Eh--if someone can find personal, emotional and spiritual fulfillment in a sparkling toilet, more power to them. And if they look down on me for not being there to provide 24-7 linen service, well, what the heck do I care? They find fulfillment in a sparking toilet, for god's sake!

The solution to the whole Mommy Wars thing can be found in that excellent 80s film, "War Games": The only way to win is not to play.

Posted by: JS | April 28, 2008 3:24 PM

Another hint from DandyLion: If you blow off your chore until your spouse nags you to do it, you get a lot more brownie points than if you were mature and just up and did it without being asked. In other words, if your spouse takes you for granted, it's your own fault.

If you ask me though, being taken for granted by your spouse is a compliment more than anything else.

Posted by: DandyLion | April 28, 2008 3:28 PM

Can somebody really commit to that kind of ideal and accomplish it?

Posted by: Billie_R | April 28, 2008 3:10 PM

Billie - it's just me during the week and if I make one dinner that doesn't involve cereal or eggs I call it a victory. I do take heed of the "take care of yourself" advice - I'd rather go for my evening run than make a complicated meal on a week night. But to each their own.

And totally tongue in cheek but how much of the mask of perfection is the product of mood stabilizing pharamaceuticals?!? Sounds a little stepford to me...

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | April 28, 2008 3:30 PM

Pass me that fork!

Posted by: anne | April 28, 2008 3:36 PM

I don't have any tips on how to keep an egalitarian household. My husband and I trade off. Sometimes, I'm the boss, and sometimes, I let him be the boss.:) I do think that it's a matter of values, and that it's important to marry someone who has similar values. Also, it's a matter of consideration. Spouses should be kind to one another. Yesterday, I got a late morning nap while my husband dealt with the kids, because I was really tired. We did not argue about what was fair. Later that day, he napped in the late afternoon while I did the grocery shopping with both kids in tow. I felt better by then, so he got his chance to rest. We rarely fight over chores. We just chip in when we need to. Luckily, neither of us takes advantage of the other person. I can see how things might be really hard if one person were chronically lazy and the other person always had to take up the slack. Which brings me back to the values thing. It is easier when your spouse has similar values when it comes to dealing with the myriad responsibilities that come with marriage and children.

Posted by: Emily | April 28, 2008 3:45 PM

The reason that much of this doesn't work is that most of the men with whom I've ever been acquainted cannot. see. dirt. And I'm not talking about a little esoteric dust on top of a shelf. I'm talking about sticky counters and floors, white door frames that are gray with grime and handprints, drifts of cat hair on the carpeted stairs. They cannot see it, and cannot therefore 1) understand why it's not ok, or 2) be relied upon to remove it. This is a recipe for divorce, and paying someone else is a very very good idea, which I'm currently lobbying for.

Posted by: Lorikay | April 28, 2008 3:46 PM

The reason that much of this doesn't work is that most of the men with whom I've ever been acquainted cannot. see. dirt. And I'm not talking about a little esoteric dust on top of a shelf. I'm talking about sticky counters and floors, white door frames that are gray with grime and handprints, drifts of cat hair on the carpeted stairs. They cannot see it, and cannot therefore 1) understand why it's not ok, or 2) be relied upon to remove it. This is a recipe for divorce, and paying someone else is a very very good idea, which I'm currently lobbying for.

Posted by: Lorikay | April 28, 2008 3:46 PM

This says more about you and the men you've been acquainted with then anything else. If you've been to their apartments a few times, you know what their standards are for themselves. Their standards will not become more demanding if you marry them. So . . . decide if you can tolerate their standards as-is, or leave the slobs happy in their squalor and start dating guys with standards more like yours, OR accept that you are willing and happy to clean the abode to your standards.

I wouldn't have either dated or married a guy who finds sticky counters, grimy door frames or furballs throughout the house "okay". That's not to say either of us can't live in squalor for a day or two, but it's not because we can't SEE the dirt. It's because we agree that other priorities are higher on the collective family checklist.

This isn't a guy thing. Plenty of guys are annoyed at dirt and grime and either clean, marry a neatnik, or hire a cleaning lady. Don't apply sexism as some lame excuse for ignoring or glossing over pre-marital slobbery. He ain't changed, honey. Neither have you.

Posted by: Sheesh | April 28, 2008 4:04 PM

see my top ten, #3!

Posted by: Fred | April 28, 2008 4:08 PM

DH and I agree that I do a majority of the chores. He works more erractic hours and I pick up the slack.

Lately he has made more time for DD in his schedule. He has tried to, and mostly succeeded, and seeing her sports and an occasional birthday party.

I keep reminded DH that in a couple of years she won't even want us around. That is why I cherish rare afternoons like yesterday when she wanted to lean on me and color. I finished paying bills last night but did not fold all the laundry. I can do it tonight.

Posted by: shdd | April 28, 2008 4:22 PM

Fred, I love your list, particularly the one about foods. I hate liver with a passion, but as a young wife I bought the best, tender calf liver and cooked it for my dear husband who loves to eat that stuff. I gagged just touching it! However, over time we agreed that he would order it when it was on the menu at a restaurant (you'd be surprised how hard it is to find it these days!) and I would not serve him things that I love but that he really does not care to eat.

Oh, and we could really dig the his and hers vacuums. :)

Posted by: Lynne | April 28, 2008 4:27 PM

Thank you all for some great laughs today.

DH and I make "Leave It to Beaver" stereotype jokes about our home all the time. He's the SAHP, and an aging, hippy-type with long, wildly-curly hair, and a full beard (neatly trimmed, or I'd refuse to kiss him!), so the idea of him wearing a frock and pumps and pearls while he vacuums just completely cracks us up.

He's a great cook, and another of our family jokes is, "no one eats Mom's cooking - not even Mom!" That joke started with me, because I won't eat my own attempts at cooking if I have any other choices short of starvation.

Yeah, it would be great if the house were cleaner than it is. But we usually can all find something clean to wear to work or school. Nobody is underweight. We all have great immune systems from all the *whatever* we're exposed to, when it isn't cleaned up.

Today, DH is taking the king-sized down comforter to the cleaners, because one of the cats left a "present" on it on Saturday. I tried to take it to the cleaners yesterday, but it turned out that they were closed Sundays.

Between the two of us, the boys have learned almost all the steps of laundry - 1)drop it on the floor after taking it off, 2)pick up the dirty clothes in the hallway and drop them on the floor in front of the washer, 3)pick up the clothes on the floor and stuff them in the washer, 4)sorting! (they didn't like having pink undershorts from washing in hot water with a red robe that bled), 5)temperature and cycle selection, 6)detergent and bleach (color-safe, or good old chlorine - another lesson like the pink underwear!), 7)dryer use, 8)finding clean clothes in the dryer to wear, 9)moving clean clothes from dryer to laundry basket so the next load can be dried, 10)finding clean clothes to wear in the laundry basket, 11) - what we're working on now - putting clean clothes into dresser drawers, 12) - future - finding clothes to wear in dressers!

We have a similar training program in progress for cooking, with dishwashing and kitchen clean-up planned for future, advanced lessons. Pet-care is about 95-98% handled by the boys. Trash and recycling is just about 100% boy-handled. Yardwork is about 75% mine, but that's because I enjoy it. Older son mows the lawn for pay.

Some day, my sons will make wonderful house-husbands for some smart women.

Posted by: Sue | April 28, 2008 4:33 PM

"most of the men with whom I've ever been acquainted cannot. see. dirt."

If you quit hanging out in biker vars then this wouldn't be a problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 4:34 PM

Hmm. Liver. My sainted mother LOVED liver and would force it upon us regularly.

Fortunately, Frieda does not care for it, the asparagus is bad enough!

Posted by: Fred | April 28, 2008 5:17 PM

OK, OK, I admit it, I do love making special pancakes on weekend mornings, you know, ones in the shape of my son's first initial, and an M and D for mom and dad, or little itty bitty ones, and I was thinking about finding some other fun, oversized cookie cutters to use as molds. And I really really like the smell of clothes dried on the line and try to hang out the laundry whenever I can. Ack! But I do not find personal fulfillment in a clean toilet and my house is never ever sparkling and I don't make dinner most weeknights, my husband does, and a lot of times it's from a box. Whew...

Posted by: LizaBean | April 28, 2008 5:44 PM

LizaBean, Tell the truth. You are in awe of your gorgeous child and are still mad for your husband, too, LOL. On the other hand, you seem sane, so we'll give you a pass.

Posted by: MN | April 28, 2008 5:49 PM

We have a cleaning lady and a gardener come once a week. Totally worth the money.

I love to cook and do the majority of meal prep in our house. However, I really hate the grocery store. My husband doesn't mind going at all, so I make him a detailed list every week. Perfect trade-off, as far as I'm concerned. We both work a ton, but we like eating at home. When I realized that a big barrier to getting real meals cooked every night was that extra 20 minutes or so of futzing around in the fridge/pantry trying to figure out what to make, I decided to plan meals every Sunday and make the list to cover just those things (plus staples).

Posted by: law_bela | April 28, 2008 5:57 PM

Ok, ok, you've got me MN!! But I only have cartoon seagulls that say MINE! MINE! and crap all over the furniture.

Posted by: LizaBean | April 28, 2008 6:41 PM

So, LizaBean, that's where my older son's seagulls went. Could you send them back, please. He really misses them.

(There's nothing quite like an autistic kid imitating a Disney movie character 24/7 for a month after seeing the movie!)

Posted by: Sue | April 28, 2008 6:46 PM

Hey Gang!

A bit late today as I had to actually work!


To the tune of that mournful oldie "Teen Angel"

Dustbunny, Dustbunny, Dustbunny, ooh, ooh

That fateful night the vac was stalled
upon the den room floor
I plugged it in and made it run
but you went running down the hall

Dustbunny, can you hear me?
Dustbunny, can you see me?
Are you somewhere up above
the blinds and to clean I need a glove?

What dirt were you looking for
that took your life that night?
They said they found my Dyson machine
clutched in your fingers tightly like a ring

Dustbunny, can you hear me?
Dustbunny, can you see me?
Are you somewhere up the stairs
And I can not clean 'til spring?

Just barely full and now you're gone
They've should never taken you away.
I'll never change your bag again
They threw it away today

Dustbunny, can you hear me?
Dustbunny, can you see me?
Are you still above the stairs
And I cannot get to you before spring.
Dustbunny, Dustbunny, answer me, please

Posted by: Songster | April 28, 2008 7:44 PM

"And women complain about a new vacuum cleaner for a gift? Hmmm, bet you never heard of a guy complain about a new power tool on his birthday. Why is that?"

You can't wear a power tool! I admit that I treasured the large roaster my DH gave me, until I threw it at him as I booted him out. Made quite a dent in the roaster. I got great pleasure in buying a newer, sturdier one of my own!

Posted by: babsy1 | April 28, 2008 7:55 PM

what about when your spouse is messy and doesn't give a sh*t about having a neat, organized home? this post should bring flames galore. i know, i know . . . should've evaluated that before you married him.

Posted by: dc lawyer | April 28, 2008 8:26 PM

what about when your spouse is messy and doesn't give a sh*t about having a neat, organized home? this post should bring flames galore. i know, i know . . . should've evaluated that before you married him.

Posted by: dc lawyer | April 28, 2008 8:26 PM

What about it, LOL? As long as you're not suggesting that he should change or that you are disappointed, we're all copacetic. I hope you've hired a maid and that you love the slob very, very much.

Posted by: MN | April 28, 2008 9:42 PM

As the years go by it's really values that hold you together. Sex comes and goes
----------
No it doesn't. It only goes if you're lazy.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 9:45 PM

Depends on the couple, and what is meant by "sex". DH is a type-I diabetic over 50. If "sex" for us meant only intercourse, yes, it would be pretty nearly gone. But in our bedroom, "sex" means lots of other things besides that, so it's not gone.

Posted by: Sue | April 29, 2008 4:34 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company