dividing work fairly in a marriage

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
dividing work fairly in a marriage
Mon, 07-14-2003 - 3:26pm
On the topic of dividing work between a husband and a wife....

The amount of time both people spend working should be roughly even. So when the husband is away from home working for 50-60 hours, that is his official work time, and the wife is at home then and that is her official work time, taking care of house and kids. He gets to take lunch breaks, etc. and she should too -- get a babysitter in every once in a while to watch the kids so she can go workout or relax or whatever.

When the husband (or the wife, in the case of stay at home dads) gets home, then it is family/home time, and the things that have to get done at that time (make dinner, wash dishes, bathe kids and put them to bed, pay bills, etc.) should be shared evenly.

I can't figure out why a stay at home mom would think that it's fair for her to work 24-7, and for her husband to work 9-6 M-F only. If she's been working all day, just like he has, why is he watching TV while she runs around after the kids and cleaning up the kitchen? Why does he get to sit and relax over the meal (that he didn't even cook) while she runs around cleaning the house and has to try to fit in time to eat? Why is he golfing on the weekend while she drives the kids to lessons and playdates?

I work part time. While this arrangement continues, as it probably will until my younger one goes to kindergarten and I will return to fulltime work, it is fair for me to do more around the house that dh does. That goes without saying -- I'm home more than he is. Once he's home, however, we share our duties evenly.

I cook dinner during the time the boys get their half-hour daily of TV. Then dh gets home and we all sit down together for a family meal. After that, one of us plays with the boys while the other does some preliminary kitchen cleanup. Then we bathe the boys (sometimes I do it while dh reads his mail) and together get them in pj's, and then one of us reads to and tucks in one boy, while the other does the same with the othe boy.

After they're in bed, I do the rest of the kitchen cleanup while dh pays bills, or he cleans the kitchen while I do other things that need doing. If a child wakes in the middle of the night, he is as likely to go to that child as I am.

On weekends, one of us takes one boy to lessons (swimming or music or whatever) while the other one takes the other boy. In the afternoon we trade off kid time with relaxing or getting things done. (Here, you take the boys to the park while I go running, then I'll do art in the kitchen with them while you go to the grocery store.) On at least one Saturday night a month we have a babysitter so we can go out together for couple time. On Sundays, I take the boys to church (dh is not a church goer) and he enjoys that time to himself. I tell him to relax but he usually goes through the whole house and straightens up, which he actually enjoys. We also do fun outings all four of us -- to a park or a museum or zoo.

I married the man that I did deliberately. I chose someone who is profoundly loving and decent and fair and family-oriented. Before we had kids, when we both worked fulltime, we did all the housework evenly. If we argued about it, it was usually because I wasn't doing as much as he was. I didn't do laundry for 4 years....even after we had our first baby he was still laundry czar and groceries czar. I cook, we both do dishes. He mows the lawn and we both take out garbage. I am responsible for taking care of both cars. He puts stuff away and I run errands. Now I do more than he does, because that's my job and I'm at home to do laundry and grocery shopping and all that stuff. But once he's home, it's pretty even, and it works out wonderfully. I really like that feeling of partnership, and I know our children benefit tremendously from having such an involved father.

How do you do it? What do you think is fair? Anyone want to try to explain to me why they are responsible for all work around the house 7 days a week around the clock, while hubby gets to watch tv, golf, whatever?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 07-14-2003 - 3:27pm
Oh no, we've just been through this. Not again.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 07-14-2003 - 4:34pm
When I was a SAHM I did the majority of the upkeep of the house. Most of that I was able to accomplish during the hours that DH was at work. In the evening and on weekends for the most part the only housework that needed done was preparing and cleaning up after meals.

If there were special circumstances (pregnant, just delivered, ill, ill kids etc) or even if I were just having a bad day then DH would step in as needed to do things that weren't accomplished during the day. But for the most part that was not needed.

I see upkeep of the house and childcare as two completely different issues. Since I had so much more time then he did I never had any expectation that he would do housework but when he was in the house I did expect equal parenting. By equal I don't mean that everything was divided 50/50 but that when we were both in the house we were equal in parenting, things did not automtically go to me because I was mom.

The way that worked on a practical level was he would take care of the kids when I finished preparing and cleaned up after dinner. When it came to the bedtime routine sometimes we divided the kids up, sometimes one of us did all. I am a natural morning person and he a night owl so the way we worked it out when we had one not sleeping though the night is I would go to bed about 8:00 (as soon as older siblings were down). Then he was in charge of all childcare until he went to bed (usually sometimes between 10:00-12:00). Once he was in bed if the baby woke then I was back on duty. That allowed up both to get about 7 hours of sleep a night. Taxiiing kids we both do when both available (usually I drop off he picks up).

Since I have been back to work I have been working part time (except for 2 years). So I still have more time and still do more of the household upkeep then he does. The only real change is I gave up the yard work and laundry somestimes is a tag team situation (I will start a load, someone else will put that load in the dryer and start a new load, someone will fold that load and start another).

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2002
Mon, 07-14-2003 - 5:01pm
That is EXACTLY what I thought when I read the title...lol

Dangerbaby2000, you should take a look at the archives. There are about 3 or 4 different threads on this!

Okmrsmommy-36, CPmom to DD-16 and DS-14

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 07-14-2003 - 6:22pm
All I have to say is.. don't even go there again girl! LOL

Avatar for cindytree
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Mon, 07-14-2003 - 8:30pm
Our marriage isn't a 50-50 proposition. We both give 100%.

I ask for help with housework if I need it. Otherwise, I try to get it done during the time hubby is at work. Evenings are for family time. Where the kids are concerned, we don't see anything as my job or his job exclusively (except when I was nursing babies! lol). We both parent our children. He never was afraid of diapers or doing dishes or cooking.

If hubby sees something that needs to be done, he does it. But since I am at home all day, I do try to make sure he doesn't have to do housework in the evenings...I don't even do housework in the evenings! There is very little that can't wait until tomorrow if I don't get it done today. If we are having company and I need help with extra cleaning, I simply ask and the kids and hubby pitch in.

Avatar for bobcatkathi
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 07-15-2003 - 12:22am
Regardless of my work status. I do all the household chores, all shopping ect. I do no yard work at all and our yard work is enormous. I do a little weeding and work on my herb beds but I don't even clean the pool. So since my husband keeps the yard of both our homes, I think it is a fair trade. We are pretty 1950's in our ways of thinking about gender roles except I am boss of the money on account of it is mine.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 07-15-2003 - 12:04pm
Whether or not its fair for a wohd to step in and help out the sahm once he gets home depends upon what the sahm has been up to all day vs what the wohd has been up to all day.

Yes, the wohd got a lunch break. Did the sahm get to sit and read while the kids napped? Did she sit in the park and chat with other Moms while the kids played? It seems to be a common misconception "free time in sahm mode" is less real than "free time in wohd mode". Fact is, both can be pretty limitted and neither really ammounts to "personal spare time". So if a sahm is spending several hours a day doing what she prefers - be it going to the park, going to playgroups, playing leggo, watching videos with the kids - rahter than doing other less interstnig things - it probably means the wohd and sahd have their breaks at different times - which would mean, just because the wohd is home, doesn't mean it would be fair for everything to go into 50/50 mode in terms of domestic labour. Not UNLESS the wohd WANTED the sahm to be spending a particular ammount of daily time doing things that would prevent her from doing the more mundane housework that could be shared later. I mean, if the wohd thinks he needs to stay downtime till 6:30pm, rather than 5:00pm, so he can get in a gym workout, thus moving his return home from 6:00pm to 8:30 pm - the sahm might have something to say about that. She might say "its worth it to have my husband fit and healthy - I don't mind picking up the slack" or she might not be pleased at all. He really shouldn't just "get to decide" based on what he wants to do, and neither should she. Its about doing what needs to be done for the family's benefit, vs what needs to be done according to individuals preference. No, the sahm can't "just go workout at 5:00 pm" but the wohd can't "just go play with the kids at 2:00 pm either".

Avatar for cyndiluwho
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Tue, 07-15-2003 - 8:03pm
ITA! It is dependent on what they are doing not the amount of time put in. A SAHM doesn't get credit for working 10 hours just because she's home 10 hours alone with the kids. It depends on what she did with those 10 hours.