Monday, August 07, 2006

Dismaying Stories #24 and #25: My Husband Loves Me, This I Know...

This is the first of two posts today, both of which are part of a continuing series entitled The Hunt for the Vacuum Cleaner Gene. This series uncovers the many excuses we use to perpetuate some old-fashioned stereotypes. Many people believe it is normal and inevitable for women to be responsible for the bulk of the housework and parenting within their household. This series includes motivational posts that argue "why" these beliefs are largely unfounded, as well as instructional posts that move on to discuss "how to" effect change in your household. Both of today’s posts discuss "why" topics.

Dear Andrew,

I do the cooking, cleaning and child care at my house and that is not going to change. This is because of our religious beliefs, not because my husband is stubborn or lazy. We are taught that the man is the head of the household, so there is nothing I can do about my workload. Our faith is such a great comfort to us all that I accept willingly any costs that come with it.

Signed, Content With My Role

Dear Content,

I’m a big believer in equality of all people but I would never challenge anyone’s right to their own religious convictions. I also realize that some people might be perfectly happy to accept extra work if it gains them other benefits in return. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all deal. If you are truly happy with your lot in life, feel free to scroll past this article and go in peace.

To me, however, your story seems to have two sides. You mention the positive aspects but also refer to the costs of your workload. I bet you end up just as exhausted and overwhelmed as any other woman who manages an entire household by herself, regardless of the reasons behind your choices. I also suspect that many women in your situation would welcome some relief from the work if everything else could remain the same. With that in mind, you might appreciate the message of hope in the following story.

Dear Andrew,

Based on our religion, I’ve always been taught that I should love my wife and take care of my family. I’m the head of our household but I don’t think of that as the authority to do whatever I want. To me it means I’m responsible for making sure everyone is okay. My wife did most of the cooking and cleaning when we were first married, then our children were born and the amount of work exploded. She was tired all the time and began to have less and less patience with the kids—and with me. Everyone in the house was getting cranky. We talked about it and realized this had a lot to do with my decision to leave all the family work to her. Now I’m a regular Mr. Mom and the general mood in our house is much improved. My daughter even likes my pancakes better than her mother’s.

Signed, Proud Dad

Dear Proud,

Not everyone agrees on how to interpret the many issues related to family roles and religion. In your case, you are obviously willing to do what you believe is best for everyone in your family. This shows how much you care about your wife and children. Hopefully your insights will provide courage and inspiration to other men and women facing similar challenges.


Do you have a problem in your relationship that you believe is impossible to change? Take a moment today to send in an email or leave a comment using the link below.

Also, if you haven't already done so, now is your chance to review Saturday's Ask the Faithful Readers question and let the rest of us know what you think. This coming Friday I will pick my favorite response and feature it in a post with a link to the winner's blog.

Today's other post: Dismaying Story #26: Too Much Water Under the Bridge?


  1. If I waited for the woman of the house to do any work I would live in a messy house.
    Probably because I live alone.
    I have always picked up after myself and housework is not a womans job but the residents job.
    That has always been my biew and I have been with some women that were messy too.

    As for your question, the main problem I had in my last relationship was her fear of a commitment.
    You would think I was dating a man.
    It only shows how what used to be an excuse for men has now balanced out with both sexes.
    No matter how much an effort I put in she always found a way to make it go bad or derail any good that was happening.

  2. You are right about commitment phobia no longer being just for the guys. Check out this article.