Who Should Do More Housework? Men or Women?

Before getting married, I never imagined I would be buried alive in piles of laundry and perpetually cleaning each and every surface of my house. I never daydreamed about scrubbing toilets or washing windows and yet here I am, a regular Cinderella ( I can hear the little mice singing. Blame it on the fact that I have a 5 year old daughter).

Yet, I also never imagined exactly what kind of balance with my husband there would be in terms of house work, either. All of this lack of daydreaming, is because I never really thought of getting married, so I naturally didn’t consider who would take out the trash and who wouldn’t.

But, as anyone who is married knows, inevitably, these chores or duties get doled out. Suddenly, one task becomes someones job, like it or not. Right? And more than that, isn’t is usually women who take on the majority of the housework?

And I don’t pull the “that isn’t fair” card very often, but allow me to right now. Is it fair for women to do more housework? Or should chores be equally distributed among men?

I can’t speak for everyone, but, here’s how it works in my marriage…

Basically, I have come to consider the house to be my personal domain. Being a stay home mom with all of its glitz and glamour (a.k.a. goo and grime) is also filled with inordinate amounts of housework. Even homes without kids can attests to how much care a home really requires.

But, I think therein lies the difference. I am not so much interested in taking care of a house, as I am in creating and maintaining a home. Sounds like semantics, but it is not. One is concerned with appearance, while the other is concerned with a feeling, a mood, an emotion–the way a home makes you feel, not just the way it looks.

Okay, so back to the point, how is housework distributed in my own casa? Well, again, since I consider the home my domain, as it were, and I am home each day, it goes without saying that I do most of the housework.

But here’s the thing, I consider it my job. In very much the same way that my husband provides for us by going off to his office each day, meeting with clients, creating strategies and solutions, I consider what I do to be just as important.

Now, the world would say otherwise. No one tells women that folding clothes, vacuuming, mopping, making dinner, etc, is worthwhile, important, or even cool. We’re told quite the opposite.

That is, unless you have a husband like mine who thanks me almost daily for every single bit of housework, *ahem* homemaking, I do. It does not go unnoticed by him, and that makes a huge difference.

However, while I take on the majority of housework, my husband is also not the type of guy to come home, plop down on the couch, request a martini, and sit and watch while the little Mrs. runs around like a crazy person on fire. Nooooo…

He helps. A ton. He bathes kids, run errands, dusts, changes diapers, takes out trash, and will happily and joyfully help me with just about anything I ask. He rules and it makes me feel like I have a partner, not just a spectator for a husband.

Sure, some days I wish he would or could just do it all, but I realize too, that I couldn’t go into his office and run things for a day. I wouldn’t know where to start. And I’m okay with that.

Sure, I know to some this will sound archaic or old-fashioned. I prefer the term “retro.” But it works for us. We like our system. We aren’t so rigid or hard that we can’t or don’t adjust as needed too. I think after my 3rd baby was born, my husband picked up takeout for dinner nearly 50 times.

He did so happily, knowing he has a wife who loves to cook, but that she also needed a break. And that’s so much of what marriage is about–tuning into each other’s needs and making necessary changes to bless and serve one another daily.

So how does housework happen in your home? Who does more? Does it matter? And how did you decide?

11 thoughts on “Who Should Do More Housework? Men or Women?”

  1. Love this! Thanks for sharing how things run around your house. That’s something we’re still working out and something that will probably change quite a bit after we start having babies.

  2. Great stuff! Sounds like you found yourself a keeper. :)

    3 quick things:
    1. I don’t think most aspects of marriage are ever equal or 50/50.
    2. I agree that each couple is different and should have a system that works for them.
    3. Homemakers are generally underappreciated, but a good husband will be grateful and help out. (Props to you and your hubby).

    In the Procter casa my wife (LK) and I both work so we try to find a rhythm when it comes to chores. LK sorts and cycles the laundry, I fold and deliver it to the rooms. LK cooks, I do the dishes. LK mows the lawn, I clean the bathrooms (I hate yard work and she hates bathrooms).

    And I ALWAYS make sure to appreciate her on a daily basis. THAT is key.

  3. We are an egalitarian household. :-)

    We both work outside the home, so we divide and conquer. He usually runs the laundry, I fold it. He takes care of the outside, I vacuum. He picks up piles of crap and straightens up while I mop the floor. Our daughter does the dishes and cleans the bathrooms, our boys clean their room and move firewood.

    Every other month or or so I will hire a housecleaner to give the place a deep clean, because we simply do not have the time or the energy.

    If I was purely a stay-at-home mom, I most likely would pick up more of the household duties because that would be my job.

    But that isn’t the reality in our home…

  4. I’m a SAHM, and I work evening shifts at a local restaurant to help make ends meet. This has created an interesting life for us. He has learned to do so much more (he’s always been helpful but this has been a huge step for us both) when I am gone. Some nights, he blows me away by how much gets done. Other nights, I come home, and the place is a wreck, but he decided to focus all his awesome energy on the kids. He understands that he (or I) can’t do it all without losing it, so we pick and choose what is the most important for the moment. And, most days, if there is something that really needs to be attacked, we leave it open, like “Hey, if you get a chance to do ___, that would be awesome!” And, on the nights when we are all together, we try to enjoy every minute. Normally, with wine.

  5. I like how you present your arrangement as a partnership – as opposed to some sort of “God ordained hierarchy of appropriately arranged gender roles” or something. In other words: Yay for partnership! I think that is the answer to the question.

    I may just be a product of postmodernity, but a family is tasked with finding and shaping its identity in this crazy world. To say that it is a man’s job to work outside the home and take out the garbage when he is home, and a woman’s job to do … well … everything else, that is either an admission of ignorance or an attempt at oppression, if it’s not just naivety. It is the job of the (emotionally/spiritually) mature couple to work out their relationship with fear and trembling.

    I know that as an adult I have felt such freedom in understanding that I am NOT A STAY-AT-HOME MOM. I don’t see the defamation of this role in media that others talk about – quite the opposite. I experienced a lot of attack and shaming because I didn’t fit the mold of the “traditional Christian woman.” It was a bright sunrise on the horizon of romantic relationship for me when I gave myself permission to think, “You know what I need? I need a stay-at-home dad.” Now, that’s not EXACTLY what I’m looking for, but what I AM looking for is a partner, and partnership with me is going to look COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than partnership with you or with anybody else, for that matter. I praise God for that diversity, that freedom, that invitation to co-create with another human being family, relationship, the kingdom! :)

  6. For me it’s simple: whoever’s home more. Im my case, it’s me. Also, we divide some jobs by preference and others by whether it is for our son or daughter. But mostly, I do more because I only work part time whereas my wife is full time.

  7. As I write this, I am still a Bachelor (I am working diligently to remedy this situation), so guess who has gotten to do all the housework around the home? Me! Right before I turned 14, my mom divorced, so it was just me, my single working mom, and a brother ten years younger than I was. I got to be the “man of the house” during my teen years, but I quickly realized that such a term has a whole other meaning that just “being in charge.” Being the man means that you actually do anything and everything you can in your power to help out. By the time I was 18, I was doing stuff like grocery runs and making sure that mom’s car got washed and had the oil changed. I learned to make my own food at a very young age, do my own laundry, and take care of what needed to be taken care of. I wasn’t perfect – I was a creepy teenager after all – but I learned something:

    A family is a team, so everyone helps out.

    I think in this day in age, it is a rare blessing for a man to make enough money in the current economy to have a stay-at-home-mom for a wife. This especially true for younger families. Most men simply won’t have that kind of earning power until they hit middle age. So, what have I seen modeled? When both parents work, both parents split the at home duties. I’ve seen some couples split their work schedules… Dad works days and mom works evenings or vice-versa, that way someone is always home with the kids. As for me, I actually enjoy cooking a lot so in my hypothetical family, don’t be surprised if dinner is prepared by dad on occasion.

    Then again, the teaching profession may actually become lucrative someday. But seriously, I am a teacher so you already know what I make. What if a lovely female cardiologist and I fell in love and got married (I did court a veterinary surgeon once)? I would have no intent of asking her to give up a six digit job that she spent ten years in medical school to earn. If anything, I’d probably be a stay at home dad, and I’d fart in the general direction of anyone who had a problem with it.

    If your arrangement works, it works. If both parties are supporting each other and the family is Christ centered, then Huzzah!

  8. I work part-time. I am a kindergarten teacher, so I am “off” in the summertime. My husband, who is incredibly awesome does as much as I do around our house and sometimes more. He does anything with the kids (bed, bathe, feed, etc…) Well, except pick out cute outfits that coordinate :) Since we work as a team neither of us is completely burnt out and we are both able to sit back and relax in the evening (some) when our children go to bed.

    Yay for sweet husbands!

  9. Yeah, so I guess we’re not in the full 3 kids mode like you are. We just have one toddler running around our house, but we tend to share everything. Probably to our detriment, we don’t even have set divisions of who does what. Typically my wife does more laundry and cooking, but I’d say I do a fourth or third of that. I do most of the outdoor work. One thing I drew a line on was picking out clothes. I just can’t match those things. But we both do diapers, I do most baths since she’s been with our child most of the day, that at least gives her a break to get things ready for the next day or just watch. As long as we don’t start getting jealous ( which of course happens when it doesn’t even make sense ), then it works well for us.

  10. Sounds like you and I have similar homes and similar marriages. The “housework” is my job since I’m a SAHM too, and I do it without much complaining because it’s my responsibility. But my hubby is always willing to help out, run errands, etc, when I ask him to. There’s only one chore I refuse to do: take out the trash. I have a husband and two sons. I don’t think I should have to remove the stinky trash unless it’s absolutely necessary. I guess I have a little diva in me, too. :)

  11. I’m a male and have been doing all the housework since I bought the house in January. Fiancee is now living with me and we are slated to get married in a few weeks (yay!)

    I tend to be the person that knocks stuff out as soon as it’s needed – a bit too much at times. I feel guilty if I ask her to help doing chores around the house, almost like I’m forcing her to do things if I ask her. I know I probably shouldn’t feel this way when asking for my wife-to-be to help with things, but part of me does. The situation is more unique since I am off work 2 days she works and she if only off on “standard” weekend days. This means that my weekend starts before hers – and I almost feel like I’m lazy if I’m not doing all the housework.

    Should I let her help me out, and if so how do I do this so I don’t feel guilty about it?

    Scrubbing the floors, vaccuming, mowing, laundry, changing bed sheets, cleaning dishes, etc… it’s easy stuff to knock out but the problem is that I spend all my weekend doing things around the house and exercising, and by the time I have a chance to sit down she’s off work and then we are doing things together. Just don’t have time to relax and play computer games like I used to.

    Maybe this is just part of normal life. But it would be nice to relax on my days off once in a while.

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