Equal Opportunity in the home?

dirty-dishes-2

When men and women both work outside the home to equally earn an income, should they equally share the household work and tend the children?

Growing up in the south at a time when there were definite ‘woman’ jobs and ‘man’ jobs, I saw my mother, a stay-at-home mom. handle all the responsibilities of feeding the family, keeping the house which included laundry, mending and making much of our clothes, and often while working alongside Dad and us kids in the fields. When the family arrived home from working in the fields, she had the meal prepared or quickly prepared it, and after we ate she cleaned the kitchen (with help from us kids) while Dad rested. I watched as she worked until bedtime and rose the next morning to cook a big breakfast for the family and spend another day working in the garden, preserving hundreds of jars of fruit and vegetables over a summer, doing laundry using a wringer washer and hanging the clothes on a line to dry, and tending all the other household chores that were never ending. Dad was a hard worker and he did work long hours on our small farm, but when the outside work was done, he was done.

The mindset that the house and care of the children are the woman’s job seems to have remained unchanged for many families regardless of the fact that in today’s society most women work outside the home earning half the income. In the homes where this is true the woman works all day then comes home to tend the house and the children while the man, who considers his job complete for the day, lounges in front of the TV or some other form of relaxation, waiting to be served the meal after which he can rest until bedtime. Meanwhile, she cleans the kitchen, finishes on-going chores, helps kids with homework and gets them off to bed. Only then can she fall exhausted into bed for much-needed rest.

I recently spoke with a modern young woman whose husband fit this description until she led him into a heart-to-heart talk about the issue. While I cannot relay her words verbatim, I will give you the gist of the conversation.

Wife: Do you love me?

Husband: Yes, of course I do.

W: Then why is it okay for you to come home from work and relax while I have to come home from work and do all the housework? I’m tired too because I’ve worked all day the same as you, but it’s important for me to keep the house clean for you and my children because I love you. It seems to me that you would help me if you love me.

H: That has nothing to do with love.

W:  Of course it does! If you truly love me, why would you want to see me do the chores that have to be done while you relax in front of the TV? Wouldn’t you want me to have time to relax just like you? Do you enjoy seeing me tired from doing all the housework all the time?

H: I guess I never thought about it.

W: Really? Are you even a Christian?

H: Yes, I am. You know I am.

W: Then how can you feel it is fair for me to do two jobs while you do one? As Christians, we are to love one another, to treat each other as we want to be treated, and to honor and prefer one another. It seems that as a Christian you would show your love and concern for your wife’s well-being. I don’t see that concern when I’m responsible for bringing home half the income and then doing all the housework. If we both work together doing the chores when we come home it would go much faster and I would have time to rest just like you.

I’m sure there was more, but you get the idea. It’s baffling to me that one member of the home either doesn’t realize or doesn’t care that the other member of the home is cleaning up his messes, washing his clothes and his dishes, tending his children, and cooking his meals while he just does whatever he wants to do. How is that okay? How does that show love for the other person?

My husband helps me with the housework, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, vacuuming, etc. However, he has not always helped. I was a stay-at-home-mom for several years while he worked to provide for his family. During this time, I felt my job was tending the house and the kids and I never expected him to help with those things. Later when I started a career, he still didn’t help me. He came home and sat in front of the TV while I prepared meals, did laundry, and all the other chores that had to be done. One day he started helping do the dishes. He told me that he had looked around and had seen that he had been lazy and could have been helping me all along. Since then he always does his share of the chores around the house.

What do you think about this topic? Do you share the responsibilities of making a living, tending the house and raising the children?

17 thoughts on “Equal Opportunity in the home?

  1. findtokeep1 August 15, 2017 / 12:51 pm

    Please have a look at my article too, entitled Dynamics of the Household and Other Relational Contexts

    Like

    • mjwriter August 15, 2017 / 3:58 pm

      Interesting article. I bet this was a fun research project.

      Like

  2. findtokeep1 August 15, 2017 / 12:51 pm

    I think this is a heartfelt article and I feel that you’re right, the main thing when it comes to housework and careers for husbands and wives is appreciation! But we can only do that if we both put the effort in and encourage each other-lovingly!!!

    Like

  3. sydneybudgetmum February 6, 2017 / 2:52 pm

    I think it’s a western thing. My husband from the Middle East often comes home does cooking cleaning etc. I try to sometimes tell him that’s my job but he’d much rather have me out socialising w bubs

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sally Shepard January 13, 2017 / 2:40 pm

    Don’t tell me you love me, show me you love me, then when you say it I can believe it. How? be a part of all my life, helping me with everything, sharing with me your time and helping hands, don’t say I’ll baby sit, they are our kids, your are just being part of their lives too. We are in this together, every step of the way, that’s what love is.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Liz January 9, 2017 / 12:09 pm

    It is a role woman take on, and it ages us rapidly. We have to be the Superwoman that brings home the bacon, fries it, and cleans up after. I had many a discussion about this with my husband. He helps, but he still sees it as helping. I wish he would see it as continually nurturing what is ours.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. tcriggs January 9, 2017 / 4:58 am

    This is a BIG topic for me. Thanks for posting this… It was actually on the Daily Show last week that I finally heard someone else complain about what I have said for years… Let’s teach Boys to be just as good as Girls… lol. (She said it much better… lol…)

    Real conversation between a friend years ago, who had all boys (I have girls):

    “I’m so glad I don’t have girls… I won’t have to have that ‘talk’… you know?”

    “What talk?”

    “You know… the talk?”

    “Um…. if you had that talk with your boys, maybe that would be less work for me?” (It didn’t end well…)

    Geez…

    It’s been a struggle in my home to maintain some level of equality in the workload… and somehow… I am still the foreman of this operation despite my attempts to the contrary. *sigh* Just one day a week. Just ONE day… lol.

    Nice post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. advocarebylori January 9, 2017 / 3:02 am

    I believe if both work outside the home, then both should work at the home. Women tend to be multitaskers, so they do tend to do most of it, but the men should do just as much as the women.

    Like

  8. S.C Karakaltsas January 9, 2017 / 1:54 am

    My husband and I completely reversed roles when our two children came along. He got to be better with the children, better at cleaning, better at cooking yet he wouldn’t have if I had been a control freak about it. I have observed many women with perfectionist tendencies who hijack their partners good intentions instead of nurturing and coaching them along.

    Like

    • mjwriter January 10, 2017 / 5:27 pm

      Very true. We have to allow the husband to do things their way even when we don’t agree with it. I often have to hold my tongue and may even have to redo something, but he doesn’t know that. Bless his heart!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Babs Jarrett January 5, 2017 / 3:01 am

    I think women do more than their fair share of the work. My dad did work in garden after got off work but then my mom and we kids canned and she worked until bedtime. She also worked outside the home. They were both hard workers to provide for us but I would have to say women in general, do a lot more than men. You’re mother sounds like my grandmother, she didn’t work outside the home but fixed all meals, milked cows and worked in the fields with us. She would quit about an hour before lunch to go cook our noon meal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mjwriter January 5, 2017 / 3:07 am

      Is it a southern thing, or an all-over thing that house work is women’s work?

      Like

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