washingtonpost.com
Carolyn Hax: A great (and uneven) divide over housework

By Carolyn Hax
Monday, September 6, 2010; C03

Adapted from a recent online discussion:

Dear Carolyn:

I've finally put my foot down and told my husband our discussion about housework is over and he needs to increase his share of the work, or else.

We each estimated the number of hours we put toward housework and kids. I do almost 60 percent of the work. I excluded things on his side that I don't really call work, because I know he enjoys the solitude (lawn care, weeding, finances, cooking, etc.). He doesn't think that's right, but I don't think these tasks compare to vacuuming, doing dishes every night and cleaning bathrooms.

I also don't buy his argument that he works 10-15 hours more than I do at his job each week. That is a career choice, and while it has enabled him to earn far more money than I do, it doesn't excuse him from his share of housework.

Short of threatening divorce, how do I convince him he is wrong? I threw this out to friends and family and everyone agrees with me.

Va.

If you're softening your hands while you do dishes, then you can't count that toward your workload, either.

As for your friends' unanimous agreement, all I can say is, wow, you have friends.

Here's a definition that works on Earth: Anything you wouldn't already be doing for leisure counts as housework. Period.

And if your husband carries 40 percent of the load after you've excluded yard work, cooking and finances -- and if he's carrying that underrated load while working longer hours than you do (for more money) -- then you owe him one of the fattest apologies ever owed a spouse. Not just for being disrespectful, arbitrary and you-centric, but also for dragging his rather domestically generous self through the mud of everyone you know in a quest for approbation.

Now, if he's gardening to avoid kid duty, or hiding his money, then you've got a legitimate gripe. But if you just don't like him anymore, then end the marriage -- don't fabricate reasons to trash him.

Re: Housework:

I don't buy your reasons for thinking my husband is correct. His salary is beside the point. I absolutely hate cleaning bathrooms while his chores are not that big of a deal to him -- so mine get weighted more heavily. Also, my asking friends about this might be the only way he changes his ways. If nothing else works, I think my next step will be to have my mom talk to him and then discreetly get my friends to mention this when we get together.

Another option is to hire someone to do my share of the work -- then I'll have nothing to complain about.

Va. again

Seriously -- if this is just about cleaning bathrooms, then hire someone to clean bathrooms. Or you take yard work and give him bathrooms on alternate weeks.

If he refuses to do that, then you have grounds to object.

However, I maintain that your airing your grievances is marital bad faith. Consulting with Mom and one or two friends, okay, but surveying everyone? As a means of leveraging him? That stinks.

As for having friends drop hints, well, that's so mind-boggling I have to wonder if this is a fake question.

Tomorrow: It's real, apparently.

Post a Comment


Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company