20 Reasons Your Husband Needs to Do More at Home

By Madeline Holler,

You Simply Do More

Whether you’re a working woman, working mom, stay-at-home mom or empty nester, you shouldn’t be the only one in charge of making sure the house is clean, the kids and pets are fed, and everyone has clean underwear for work or school the next day. But, statistically speaking, it’s likely that you are. A recent study found that most mothers tended to take on more household responsibilities, even though men thought they were putting in an equal amount of time.

You Work Full Time, Too

That chore gap holds whether women work full time or not. In other words, the second shift is alive and thriving in modern homes, despite unprecedented numbers of women working full time. So while men might be taking part in keeping the home running, women are still doing more than the men they live with. This holds whether they’re married or have children in the household.

He Needs to Invest

If your husband isn’t cleaning, organizing and caring for children, he’s not investing in the cleanliness, organization and development of the kids. Taking ownership over an abundance of the day-to-day tasks means not only taking a bit of weight off your shoulders but also giving more attention to the smaller details around the house. He’s not going to let things slide if people are counting on him. Yes, even if it’s for folded towels and clean tiles.

This Isn’t 1950

We live in the 21st century, a time when men and women seek equal education, opportunities and employment. So why shouldn’t things be more evenly split at home? For decades we’ve known the phrase “the problem that has no name,” which is how writer Betty Friedan described the malaise that sets in when women are meant only to nurture and be dependent. Everyone has their own opinion about what needs to be done around the house and how to do it. Even if your opinion leans toward "as little effort as possible," that doesn’t mean you’re excused.

You Like TV, Too

After a long day of work, your husband says he just wants to relax and watch TV instead of making dinner, bathing the kids or setting the table? Is he the only one who likes TV? Probably not. We all have long, hard days. Whether it was at the office, during a commute, at school or while at home with young kids, everyone likes and deserves TV. Knock out the chores, then collapse on the couch. His hard day isn’t harder than your hard day.

He Comes to You First

Many women are their husband’s first and only stop for emotional support. They come to their wives with frustrations, sadness, joy and dreams. These same women, on the other hand, take it all straight to their girlfriends. In other words, women often do the bulk of emotional work for their husbands. And while it’s kind, brings closeness and is the right thing to do, it’s still work that is in addition to all the other things people count on her for (school projects, sports snacks, carpooling, etc.)

The Kids Come to You First

Ditto the kids! If they cry for Mom, take their after-school problems to her, ask her for homework help and leave their dads off the hook, this is work in the home and needs to be factored into the 50-50 split. While husbands can step up and offer to support their kids more, it won’t happen overnight if habits have already been established. Instead, he can take on the after-dinner cleanup, insist on getting them to orthodontist appointments or, once and for all, learn who wears what size shoes.

You Need Your Downtime

Everyone needs to check out for a little bit every day. Downtime is important for staying healthy and taking care of yourself. If you’re filling every spare moment with tasks that need to get done, you need some things taken off your plate. This doesn’t mean husbands shouldn’t get downtime, too. It does mean he needs to step up and do more. You can’t take turns being tired. But you can take turns emptying the dishwasher.

There’s a Strange Growth in the Shower

Why does your husband need to do more at home? Because there’s a strange growth in the shower, and it needs to be cleaned. Also, there are hairballs underneath the couch that are triggering the kids’ allergies. And the recycling hasn’t been taken out for weeks. Also, the laundry baskets are overflowing. The refrigerator is empty. Someone needs to reload the toilet paper. That’s why.

The Kids Are Watching

Don’t expect your kids to be what they can’t see. If the kitchen is Mom’s territory and the lawn is Dad’s, guess what they’re going to think. Girls and boys benefit from seeing their dads be nurturing and taking care of the same tasks that moms do. Studies show there’s a chore wage gap — boys get the chores that pay more while girls get stuck with the low-wage daily grind. Upend the stereotypes. Create new norms.

Mowing the Lawn Is Seasonal

It’s not enough for husbands to be in charge of the trash, which takes five minutes at the most and goes out just once a week. Nor is it enough to say husbands take care of the outside of the house while wives take care of the inside. Yard work is seasonal; house painting and porch repair once every 10 years. Dishes, laundry, child care, dinner (so many dinners!) are daily, even hourly. A true split means 50-50 inside and out.

He’s Capable

Cleaning, organizing and caring for humans isn’t a mystery. If it is for your husband, tell him to Google whatever it is about vacuuming or long division that’s got him so confused. Men are just as capable as women at cleaning. There’s really no special skill needed to make lunch.

You Only Think It’s 50-50

Sure, there are exceptions. But your man of the house likely needs to do more. Studies show that even though you think each of you is pulling his or her own weight, wives and moms are still doing the bulk of the cleaning, organizing and child-rearing. Remember, just because he’s participating in household chores and family life doesn’t mean he’s doing exactly half. It only seems that way because for so long, husbands did the bare minimum.

You Are Partners

In all other ways you see yourselves as equals, so there’s no reason to think that when it comes to housekeeping there’s a his and hers. You’re partners, which means you support and respect each other. You don’t take for granted the magic of a swept floor or the crisp crease of a well-ironed workshirt. You don’t think “thank you” is enough in exchange for day in, day out labor. You show your gratitude by rolling up your sleeves and partnering in chores, too.

There Is Nothing Feminine About Cleaning

There’s nothing in that second x chromosome that makes women better at cleaning than men. There’s nothing in the y chromosome that makes scrubbing a toilet or cleaning windows impossible. What is true, however, is that women have seen more women in their lives taking on these tasks and getting good at it with a little (involuntary) practice. Men can get good at it, too. And they should keep trying, whether they ever become pros at it or not.

You Carry the Mental Load

When husbands and wives divide up the housework that needs to be done, often the mental load of life and especially raising children gets ignored. Women more than men are still the ones who make the doctor and dentist appointments (or, more important, they’re the ones who know that and when they have to be made). They tend to be the ones in charge of new shoes and knowing clothing sizes. They also often do the holidays, remember gifts for extended families, listen to the neighbors’ complaints, sort through the toys and books and things children have outgrown. They also, more often than men, make the lunches, plan, shop for and cook the meals. All of this is work. Stepping in with the vacuum, or even doing the dishes every single night, does not yet balance this work out. Taking on half the mental load does, however.

He’s a Grown-Up

So husbands are adults. Which is why he needs to do adult things at home. And, statistically speaking, more of it. It’s not a favor to you. It’s not a one-off. It’s a dedicated responsibility that every husband should share in equally.

He Wants to Stay Married

It turns out, the difference between happy marriages and miserable ones is chores. A 2007 study found that shared household duties ranked third, just after sex and faithfulness, to things that can make or break a partnership. Husbands who love their wives and want to stay married have their answers to how to make it work: laundry and the Swiffer.

He’s Better at Cleaning

Everyone has their skills and hidden talents. Your husband, in relation to cleaning, is no exception. Perhaps he gives dishes better attention, sees dust in places you never notice or has a knack for getting whites whiter. In which case, those should be his assignments. If you’re better at vacuuming, know just the right cleaners to get mildew out of the shower and are the better cook, then that’s all on you. Everything else (including the mental work), gets split down the line. Bottom line: Go with everyone’s strengths, and then just grapple with the rest.

Your Career Matters, Too

Chances are your husband earns more than you. Or perhaps he’s working in his dream job. The thing is, your career matters, too, even if you don’t love it. Even if the pay is low — or less than his. The home is not the workplace, where the duties — while exhausting and time-consuming — also come with rewards. (No bonus check at the end of a busy household year.) Wives and husbands shouldn’t compete with each other for career advancement. They should support each other — in work life and at home.

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Love Magazine: 20 Reasons Your Husband Needs to Do More at Home
20 Reasons Your Husband Needs to Do More at Home
You're not the only one responsible for keeping the house clean
Love Magazine
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