Re: Way OT - DH advice
posted at 7/29/2011 1:52 PM EDT
This might be the greatest, most uncomfortable thread in the history of BDC.
Obviously I have a much different relationship with my husband than misslily does with hers, but I agree with medford that being a SAHP is a job, and because it is a job it has set hours. In a marriage of equals, the SAHP hours should match up with those of the working-for-pay spouse or partner. Any chores that occur outside those hours should be divided equally to the extent possible. (You couldn't hire a nanny or housekeeper to work around-the-clock -- it's illegal.) I think it's important to view SAHP duties as a job, because to do otherwise puts divorced women -- particularly older ones -- in a situation where they are not entitled to monetary compensation from their former spouses. If a husband and wife have, together, made the decision for the wife to leave the job market in order to care for the house (and children), then they both have to be responsible for the wife's welfare if the marriage ends and she is faced with a difficult transition back into an already overwhelmed job market. "In the United States, the share of elderly women living in poverty is highest among divorced or separated women (37 percent)" http://www.prb.org/Journalists/Webcasts/2008/olderwomen.aspx.
The problem with the archetypal 1950s housewife is that she was NOT in a marriage of equals -- and if that marriage ended, in divorce or death, she was bereft and without money, skills, or resources. I've posted this before, but Terry Hekker wrote an amazing article about her own dramatic transistion from happy housewife to cautionary tale: http://terrymartinhekker.com/newyorktimes06.html
. I think that every woman should read this article, because it also applies to the situation we all might find ourselves in one day -- widowhood (27% of elderly women living in poverty are widows). If we as a society agree that being a SAHP is a job, then we will have more respect for the women and men who do it, and provide the necessary protections for those who choose it as a career.
As far as the housework thing goes, I think that housework is miserable and nobody wants to do it, and that most people would rather spend two hours weaseling out of cleaning than one hour mopping the floor. I think that men are particularly adept at weaseling because they've had more training (also required reading: http://www.uic.edu/orgs/cwluherstory/CWLUArchive/polhousework.html
The Politics of Housework, which shows how little has changed in the past 40 years. Sample quote: "I don't mind sharing the housework, but I don't do it very well. We should each do the things we're best at." MEANING: Unfortunately I'm no good at things like washing dishes or cooking. What I do best is a little light carpentry, changing light bulbs, moving furniture [how often do you move furniture?]
I don't know if my husband would volunteer to do more chores if I gave him bjs every night, but I also don't care -- bjs and housework are two totally separate matters in our house, and I'm not trading one for the other. He should do his share of housework because we are in a marriage of equals and we respect each other. If I feel that he isn't pulling his weight with the housework or child-tending, I tell him. And he does the same for me. Because the most important aspect of a relationship, in my opinion, is open and honest communication.