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Disclaimer- I am NOT posting this as a passive aggressive way to get Eric to do more housework. Right now I’m sitting on Facebook while he’s taking out the trash and installing new car mats in my van – but this morning he slept in while I was feeding kids, cleaning and programming. We might not have the balance perfect all the time but we do a pretty good job of making it work.
I recently read an article on LDS Living with the title “Ask a Latter-day Saint Therapist: My Husband Thinks He Doesn’t Have to Do Housework” This article addresses a common challenge faced by couples—differing perspectives on household chores and responsibilities. The writer emphasizes the importance of mutual agreement in determining roles and responsibilities within a marriage, challenging the notion that housework is exclusively the woman’s duty. Drawing on principles from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the article highlights the shared responsibility of fathers and mothers in nurturing and supporting each other. It stresses the need for couples to find their own balance in household chores and advises against imposing roles on one another. The piece suggests approaching the conversation with vulnerability, expressing feelings, and jointly deciding on a system that works for both partners. Overall, it encourages open communication and partnership in navigating the challenges of balancing work and home responsibilities within a marriage.
I thought the whole article was so well well written. The balance of taking care of a household and providing for that household is definitely a tricky one. I feel like growing up in the public education system I was well prepared to enter the workforce, but poorly prepared to run a household. Yes, that’s not the school system’s job per se, but by the end of a day of schoolwork, extra curriculars and homework there wasn’t much time left for me to learn much more than basic chores – let alone to truly appreciate all the coordination that it takes to run a family. (yes, this is one – among many – of the reasons I homeschool my kids is that I hope to help them all – yes even my boys – to be as prepared to manage a household as to be able to enter the workforce).
It’s also tricky as a stay-at-home mom. Obviously I’m going to take on the majority of the housework because that’s what I’m home all day to do. The two jobs are so totally different – Eric has more pressure with urgency of projects 9-5, and I have a job that most of the tasks are lower stakes but it’s a 24/7 gig. I think going into parenthood we sort of thought that we would equally split the household duties when we were at home. But it didn’t take very long for us to figure out how impractical that was for our situation. It sounds equitable that Eric would get up with the baby in the night as often as I would. However in the morning Eric goes in to the office and I’m at home with the baby. I can try to grab a nap with the baby, and if that means that we eat cereal for dinner no one is going to die. Eric doesn’t have that same luxury at work, and if his work doesn’t get done and he loses his job we’re in a much bigger pickle than eating cereal for dinner.
That doesn’t mean that I should be working from the time the kids wake up until my head hits my pillow at night and that Eric can come home and just relax but the split is going to be different at home at the end of Eric’s work day than a 50/50-doing-all-the-same-things division. Our division of labor is going to look different from other couple’s. Even our own division of labor has changed and evolved as our situations have changed. As we’ve had babies with difficult temperaments or we decided to homeschool our kids I’ve needed more help at home. As I’ve gotten better at cooking and managing laundry I’ve needed less help with those chores. It’s more dance than routine.
This was my favorite quote – “The man’s primary role is the woman’s secondary role. The woman’s primary role is the man’s secondary role. Men are to preside, provide, and protect. Women are to help them. Women are to nurture their children. Men are to help them. Even assuming that housework is part of the woman’s primary role, there’s no justification for arbitrarily dropping it all in her lap.” And I would add that there’s no justification for dropping all of the pressure of providing in the man’s lap either. At the very least I feel like I need to support Eric in his role by keeping a reasonable budget, helping maintain good relationships with his colleagues and doing what I can to help him be prepared for his job (i.e. letting him sleep at night so that he’s awake enough to do it )
Anyways, I loved everything in this article and it went along with a lot of thoughts I’ve had stewing around in my brain for awhile. I would love to hear everyone else’s thoughts too!