Okay, so my husband doesn't know which end of the mop to wring and can't tell a whisk from a spatula. If he liked the idea of housework he would have offered to pitch in years ago. Why should I go through the bother of trying to get him involved? It's easier just to keep on doing what I've been doing. After all, you know what they say: A little work never hurt anyone.
Besides, there is one thing my husband can never be; he can never be a mother. I know my children need their father too, but while they are young there is no substitute for the nurturing their mother can provide. I feel especially strongly about this because I work and have to miss so much of the kids' lives. I don't want to give up any more time with them than I already do, so I'm the one who looks after them when we're home, no matter how much extra work that means for me.
Signed, Working Hard
Yes, I've heard that saying about how a little work never hurt anyone and it applies to your husband as well. I also realize change can be scary even when it's for your own benefit. You have a choice between redefining your role in your household or proving to yourself that you don't need to. I can tell you're busy working on the proof.
Domestic work issues can have a big impact on quality of life for everyone in your family. Researchers have uncovered the following facts about living with an inequitable work sharing arrangement:
- It's not good for your marriage. One study of working couples found that those who feel they are doing more than their share are more likely to be dissatisfied with their marriage.6 On the contrary, husbands who contribute more at home have wives with lower stress levels.4 These women tend to see their men as loving, caring and more sexually attractive.
- It's not good for your health. The more time people spend performing household chores, the more likely they are to be depressed.3 Beyond that, a lack of fairness contributes more to depression than just doing plenty of housework. Both men and women tend to be depressed more often when the division of household labor is inequitable.1 One survey of working women showed that those who perform the greatest percentage of domestic work also have the highest blood pressure levels.2
- It's not good for your children. Studies show that fathers who are more heavily involved in housework and parenting are more effective role models for their children.4 Such children tend to get along better with others, be more outgoing, have fewer behavior problems at school and be less depressed. They also achieve higher school grades.5
More than that, they will have a Mom who is less stressed and more fun to be around if she is not so overworked all the time. Allowing your husband to share the burden can help to achieve that.
Finally, your husband can pitch in with the more mundane housework and parenting chores, such as cleaning up messes and preparing meals. These are tasks that tend to prevent you from paying attention to your kids. With less time needed for these activities, you can have more direct interaction with your children.
If you are wondering whether you should bother getting your husband to help out more, consider how important these issues are to you. To provide the best care possible for yourself, your marriage and your children, get your husband to pitch in.
All the best,
I'm going on vacation for a few days, so I won't be posting stories again until late in the week. Until then, I would like to ask two favors:
- If you haven't already done so, don't forget to check out this week's Ask the Faithful Readers question. I will post my favorite response next weekend with a link to the winner's blog.
- Also, if there is anything you would like to know about me or this site, now is your chance. Your interview questions are needed so I can be interviewed online. You can find the details here.
1. Bird, C. Gender, household labor, and psychological distress: The impact of the amount and division of housework. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, vol. 40, 1999, pp. 32-45.
2. Brisson, C., Laflamme, N., Moisan, J., Milot, A., Masse, B. and Vezina, M. Impact of family responsibilities and job strain on ambulatory blood pressure among white-collar women. Psychosomatic Medicine, vol. 61, 1999, pp. 205-213.
3. Glass, J. and Fujimoto, T. Housework, paidwork, and depression among husbands and wives. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, vol. 35, 1994, pp. 179-191.
4. Lovekin, K. When dads clean house, it pays off big time. UC Riverside sociologists say men likely to have better behaved children and wives who find them more sexually attractive, University of California-Riverside Public Release, June 2003.
5. Radin, N. and Russell, G. Increased father participation and child developmental outcomes. In Nontraditional Families: Parenting and Child Development (M. Lamb, ed.), Erlbaum, 1982.
6. Wilkie, J., Ferree, M. and Ratcliff, K. Gender and fairness: Marital satisfaction and two-earner couples. Journal of Marriage and the Family, vol. 60, 1998, pp. 577-595.