The Newlywed Life: The War Over Household Chores
When it comes to housework, who should take care of what?
We recently passed the six-month mark in our marriage and so far it’s been smooth sailing. There have been a few bumps in the road (sorry for the mixed metaphor here, perhaps I should have said swelling waves?). One of our challenges has been carving out couple time (his work schedule is bananas, last night I held dinner until 10 p.m. and still ate alone; for my job, I’ve traveled to as many countries as months married since our wedding). Our other frustration is the age-old division of household responsibilities. For a while, I thought we were doing OK at keeping things equal — Husband deals with the investments and bills, I’m the social coordinator and house-hunter — but lately I find myself ranting about his lax participation. I mean, is it really too much for me to ask that the dishes be done before I get home from the airport?
Whiny and quite frankly bummed, I set out to look for the answers as to why Husband isn’t pulling his weight and how we can effectively divide the chores. Here’s what I found:
Why? It’s cultural. Husband comes from a country where the word macho is used as much as dude is in the States. He was raised in a place where the kitchen was always clean, the floors were always swept and his underwear was always pressed (and yes, I mean ironed) and put away for him. As a result, Husband never learned how to run a washing machine, can’t tell when a tomato is ripe and he literally doesn’t recognize dirt. But still, it’s always seemed to me that his father is an active participant in his parents’ household upkeep. Well, actually, closer investigation has revealed that I’m not so on the money with that observation. Sure his dad sweeps the chimney and places his dishes in the sink, but the reality is that my in-laws have full-time help. And since we are on the house-buying diet, that isn’t a realistic option for us.