December 10, 2013

"Yes, Men Should Do More Housework."

Writes Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. Key paragraph:
So, yes, we could all do with slightly dirtier houses, and nobody ever died saying their only regret was they didn't buy enough ceramic tile cleaner. But maybe, now that women are out-earning us in bachelor's degrees and (often) in marriages as well, we could stand to do oh-just-slightly more than 35 percent of the dishes.
I don't see why one spouse making more money than the other should matter (the way one working longer or harder hours in a job should matter). But if the reason for the man to step up and do half of the housework is that the woman earns more, then that's implicitly saying the reason women have been doing more housework is subservience to her man because of the money he has brought to the relationship.

All couples are in some kind of an exchange — like the man in the earlier post who seems to have been buying a lady shoes as a way to earn his place in the relationship. We idealize relationships that are mostly or entirely love for love. And how lucky you are if you're in a 100% love-for-love relationship. It's highly rewarding to feel the love, and the feeling is much better if you're in a position to give it, and you never run out. And you get love too.

But there are all sorts of exchanges among couples, from the stark clarity of the money-for-sex exchange that is prostitution on up to the pure ideal of love-for-love.

Where are you on that continuum?

118 comments:

Strelnikov said...

If two earner couples are seriously fighting over this, it's time to hire the cleaning woman. We're defining the problem as both work outside the home, so plenty of money for a half day per week. So, problem solved.

Unless a clean house is less the issue than is a perception of men "pulling their weight" - which is always defined as doing more of what has traditionally been the woman's role. I don't see article suggesting that women pitch in on the home repairs or yard work. That wouldn't "count".

pm317 said...

All couples are in some kind of an exchange..Where are you on that continuum?

Thanks for saying this. When I tried to say things like that 25 years ago, nobody in my Indian circle would understand me -- love + exchanges is a good marriage. Exchanges get into picture when you want to advance your interests and don't want the marriage to hinder it. Women more than men ought to reflect on that.

Basil said...

The more pressing question is why do lefties feel so compelled to forced everyone to do the same thing all the time. Who does the dishes in my house is pretty obviously something that is none of his business and should be of none of his concern.
It's like they see themselves as the queen bee and we are drones who must be directed to do the queen's bidding. Truly crazy way to think.

Henry said...

Where are you on that continuum?

Gross for tedious.

Someone's got to do the gross stuff. Someone's got to do the tedious stuff. Luckily I get the gross stuff, the toilet cleaning, compost dumping, bandage changing jobs. The tedious stuff, the appointment making, schedule keeping, paper shuffling jobs would drive me insane.

pm317 said...

A young relative who naively believed that 'love' would naturally result in 'exchanges' (to benefit her) sadly ended up in a divorce. True expectations and understanding of what that partnership would be like is a good first step. And I am not talking about housework like that lefty doofus is talking about. Why are all these lefties so mundane?

SteveR said...

Its a partnership, no one keeps score at my house. These days, because of my level of disability, I do more inside things, like dishes and my wife more outside things like mowing. I still control the clicker.

Sharkcutie said...

It's not a question of who earns the money . . . it's a question of who has the time. The person who stays home, regardless of gender, has more time to do the household chores.

Moose said...

Then there are the studies that show marriages where the wife does all the housework are happier than those where both partners are continually judging each others contribution to the household duties.

Deirdre Mundy said...

The problem with all of these articles is that they have housework, childcare, and paid work.

But they don't consider things like unclogging that nasty drain, cleaning the gutters, mowing the lawn, washing the car, scraping and painting the trim, changing light bulbs, etc... as housework.

But you can bet the wives in these articles would complain if those things weren't done! We just tend to take them for granted because they happen on a regular schedule, andwe don't do them.

And, personally, I'd rather be sorting clothes than up on the roof, trying to figure out whether the gutter is clogged because of rotting leaves or something gross and dead!



Carol said...

I never had a problem with practical division of labor. I'd much rather my husband take care of the car and the mowing and plumbing problems while I get away with mere housework. And he's retired and I'm working.

Guess I'm just out of step.

Michael K said...

Ann you are fixated on this stuff. Wonder why ?

traditionalguy said...

How about each earner paying their share of the travel expenses and their own clothes, gifts excepted. Each keeps up with their own investments.

That sets an independence of status into place that allows romance to be genuine love.

Of course that is an ideal. The child raising times and the illness of a spouse times places the ideal on hold.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't think one partner should contribute less effort because of the money brought in. I think equal effort is what matters. What if one person brought an inheritance of millions to the relationship? It would be ludicrous for that person to do no work while the other did a lot of household tasks, even if the wealth partner paid an outsider to do half of the housework.

Joe said...

Women should do more yardwork, fix the cars, kill the spiders, do household repairs, change the lightbulbs.

And do remember, when men do housework they get laid--once and then the amount of sex drops.

Just because you complain the loudest doesn't mean you're the one actually doing more.

(Then there is this: years ago when I was still married, despite the fact that my ex didn't do shit except to do the dishes every other day and laundry (she didn't work--I had a two hour commute), one evening while she was out I cleaned the kitchen. Not for the first time. Yet, when she got home that night all she did was criticize how I'd done the cleaning. Didn't get laid either.)

jimbino said...

Any combination of friendship, companionship, sex, love, cohabitation, partnership, marriage and child-rearing, can shared between two people, but those things are all independent. No two of them go together "like a horse and carriage."

It's irritating to me that the two that are heavily subsidized by gummint mandated transfers are the two I've disdained: marriage and child-rearing.

It's an economic truism that you get more of something that the gummint subsidizes than what free folks would normally choose.

I wonder how much the interest in marriage and breeding would decline once the gummint stopped showering them so with other people's money.

mccullough said...

Use paper or plastic dishes and forks. Problem solved

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I can't believe that Ann is writing about men and housework, but doesn't mention this article.

JimT Utah said...

Saturday I bought my wife two dozen roses in celebration of the day 59 years ago when she agreed to marry me. I'm still amazed that she was, and remains, willing to live with me.

Yesterday she was asked with three hours notice to be part of a trio when the pianist couldn't perform. While she was learning the music, I washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen.

It's not a question of who does what. It who is available at the moment to do what needs to be done. If I'm working at a job site, she does the stuff at home. If she's teaching or rehearsing or performing, it's up to me. When we're both busy, the place is a mess.

John Lynch said...

What Deirdre said. For some reason, things that men do are never counted as housework.

damikesc said...

What a wimp. "Sure, the educational ssytem is rather profoundly rigged against men at this point --- suck it up!" is a pathetic call to action.

As had been noted in studies, women don't give it up for men who do "feminine" chores. There, literally, is virtually no benefit to men doing cleaning.

rhhardin said...

Consider how much housework a man does living alone. Roughly none.

Men are not bothered by environmental chaos.

A woman on the other hand always has in mind inviting somebody over to show off how good a deal she made to her friends.

So her standard of neatness is vastly higher than a man's.

As a result, she's the one that gets to say when the house is clean.

And so she winds up doing the housework, other things being equal.

rhhardin said...

I clean up whenever puppy-proofing the house is necessary.

So about once a decade.

Hagar said...

Before you marry, consider the other person's attitude on these questions. They will have to do with how he or she grew up and are not likely to change regardless of fervent promises made in the grip of youthful infatuation.

If you don't think you can live with the way I am, back off and find someone whose quirks you think you can live with.

surfed said...

I find great Zen in vacuuming. That my sig other found as much Zen in changing the oil in the car & van.

Michael K said...

I used to know a guy whose motto was," The wife does the housework and the cooking. If there is any hunting or fishing to be done, or if someone comes to the door and wants to fight, I'll handle it. The rest is hers."

President-Mom-Jeans said...

"All couples are in some kind of an exchange..Where are you on that continuum?"

Nowhere near the "full ride meal ticket in exchange for lawn care" portion of the continuum.

Joe said...

Consider how much housework a man does living alone. Roughly none.

I disagree. What they may do is pragmatic housework--such as not vacuuming unless it actually is necessary.

My house is cleaner than that of my ex and my daughter. Most single men I know keep a cleaner house than the single women.

That said, like so many other things, it's likely a bell curve thing where the men have a slightly flattened, more spread out curve and have more outliers at both ends, such as the guys who lived upstairs from me in college and who were complete slobs.

Hagar said...

and one of mine is that I am very much bothered by "environmental chaos" and was just barely able to refrain from cleaning and straightening up rooms that my ex thought were already clean and straight.

But she could feel me thinking.

Michael said...

I both bring home the bacon and cook it. I do most of the cooking and cleaning up from meals. My wife handles a number of things I abhor.

I was relaxing one Saturday when I lived out in California and was given a list of things to do by my then wife. I looked out the window and called her attention to my neighbor: What, I asked, is Tom doing over there? Mowing his lawn said my wife. And who mows our lawn? The Mexicans, she answered.

Do you think I hire the Mexicans to cut the grass to free me up to do things for you?

The beginning of the end.

MadisonMan said...

I already do enough homework, Derek, thank you very much.

Don't try to wash away your guilt for not doing your fair share by getting me to do more than mine.

David said...

Mary Barra, age 51, has just been elected the new CEO of General Motors by its board.

The press release did not indicate whether she does dishes.

Right now, she is at the hospital, getting treatment for a nasty scalp wound caused by the glass ceiling.

Hagar said...

My ex also got very upset about the way I was treated by another lady of my acquaintance, who she said should have known I was not her cup of tea, and she should have cooled me off before I even knew I was interested. "Any woman worth her salt knows how to do that," she said, "and then nobody gets hurt."

And I thought, but was able to keep from saying,"Well, that sort of applies to you too, dear, doesn't it?"

David said...

I hate housework, but I like an orderly house.

Since the age of 30, I have always done less than 50% of the housework, even when I lived alone for 10 years. That time confirmed to me how much I hate housework.

My wives have also done less than 50% of the housework.

How is that even possible?

Do what you love. The money will follow.

pm317 said...

My wives

LOL, how many do you have?

DKWalser said...

Althouse - I agree. All relationships involve some sort of exchange. A key to a lasting and happy marriage is to avoid balancing the "effort accounts" very often. I've tried to teach my kids that they cannot find happiness in marriage if they focus on counting the costs. Wondering if you expended more calories on x than your spouse spent on y is sure to generate grievance and not harmony.

In our marriage the exchange is my all for her all. Sometimes, my all (or hers) may be "worth" more than hers (or mine), but all for all is always a fair and equal exchange.

pm317 said...

Fine, I will talk about housework.. I used to keep our house like a museum and perhaps was a reign of terror over my poor husband -- I didn't expect him to clean but maintain the order. I don't do that anymore and I have help. When you hire help, you stop doing things yourself, because then what are you paying those people for, right? A neat psychological regrouping there. But we do cook for each other and my husband is the weeknight cook (yes, I come home to a nice hot dinner, every night) and I am the occasional cook. With the dish washing, he empties the dishwasher and I load it -- the neat trick there is, unless he empties it, I have nothing to do, :). Yes, dirty dishes in the sink have completely stopped bothering me.

Anonymous said...

I was a federal appellate law clerk and Big Law associate. At the time I quit to stay home full-time with our first child, I was earning over $200k/year. I now have a very traditional arrangement with my husband. I do the housekeeping, the laundry, the landscaping, the primary child-rearing, and cook dinner at home almost every night. He brings in our only income and works long and stressful days, but comes home to a peaceful home, a hot dinner, and few home obligations except loving and spending time with us. (Although he is kind enough to do dishes and kid duty almost every night!)

I'm dismayed when people imply that our arrangement is unfair or even oppressive. I wouldn't trade places with him -- I love being home -- and I'm grateful for his contribution to our family (which I believe entails more sacrifice than my own, frankly).

Edmund said...

My wife has outearned me since she left her residency. We've always shared housework to some degree, based on who was busiest. I've done most of the cooking, as I enjoy it. I do light home repairs. I kill roaches and spiders. (The wife can kill them if required. When I'm home, it's my job.) She does the wash, does dishes after I cook, bakes awesome pies for holidays. She does the "girl talk" with our daughter. She acts as unpaid medical phone consultant to the family. Saved my mom from dying at least once.

All of this evolved over time. No big fights, just two people that see what needs to be done and do it. Or outsource it.

Unknown said...

Not participating.

Unknown said...

Not participating.

tds said...

and I think, neurosurgeons should do more open heart surgeries.

Peter said...

"her standard of neatness is vastly higher than a man's."

If we assume that is true most (practically all?) of the time, then it follows that most of the time a man will get little or no credit for doing housework- because, after all, whatever he does will never be good enough.

And it's hard to imagine anyone doing something when there's little or no reward for doing it.

Even aside from the truism that there's nothing less sexy to most women than a man scrubbing a floor.

If/when feminists ever figure out how to get the incentives in place then perhaps then they'll get what they say they want (men doing more housework).

The only alternative would be for feminists to create a New Soviet Man- er, a New Feminist Man- who's different from the selfish, piggy men the world is actually populated with.

And even then the struggle will never be won (because these acquired characteristics would not be inheritable).

Jimmy said...

Geez, speak for yourself Derek.

And surprise, surprise men's brains are wired differently than women's.

Anyway my wife leaves her clutter all over the house. Purses, tote bags, mail, shoes scattered hither and yon. When I complain about it, I'm being "anal", but when I'm comfortably on the couch in my socks with empty beer cans and Doritos all around, all of a sudden I'm the slob. Go figure.

Paul said...

My wife cooks and cleans, does the laundry, gardening, etc.

I do all the skilled masculine work such as construction, wiring, repairs, woodworking, and the jobs that require physical strength.

She spends more time and ultimately effort than I do, but my tasks are more highly skilled and thus more valuable on an hour to hour basis.

In essence our roles as man and wife are traditional, normal, and harmonious.

Feminism, just like every Marxist-equalist scheme, has done nothing but sow discord and misery in its effort to erase millenia of acquired wisdom expressed through traditional roles of behavior.

A pox on you all.

Sigivald said...

I'm going to ignore your question and respond to the quote - as one does.

He says, But maybe, now that women are out-earning us in bachelor's degrees and (often) in marriages as well, we could stand to do oh-just-slightly more than 35 percent of the dishes.

But he forgets that "a bachelor's degree" is not a fungible good.

I don't know exactly what he means by "out-earning us in bachelor's degrees", since he provides no obvious reference, but I can only assume he means "more women than men are getting them every year", which comports with what I know about college gender mixes.

The problem is, again, that "a degree" is not what matters. What the degree is matters, especially if the "earning" is to reduce to wages.

The only just division of labor in a relationship, by the way, is the one the persons in it negotiate freely.

Talk of national gender balance demanding anything from an individual in their relations with another is barking mad.

damikesc said...

My house is cleaner than that of my ex and my daughter. Most single men I know keep a cleaner house than the single women.

I'd argue that, on average, men have way fewer knick-knacks that need cleaning.

eric said...

Couples that are looking for that continuum and trying to absolutely, equally, balance things out, are in trouble.

I'm fortunate that my wife is very giving. I work and she homeschools our children. She also does most of the housework (Although now our children are old enough that they assist greatly). My jobs, besides fixing broken stuff and taking out the trash, has always been outdoors, like mowing the lawn.

We never had to sit down and come to some mutual agreement. We never had to ask each other if we felt like we were getting equal treatment.

I can't imagine having to be in a marriage where such navel gazing occurs.

damikesc said...

I'm dismayed when people imply that our arrangement is unfair or even oppressive. I wouldn't trade places with him -- I love being home -- and I'm grateful for his contribution to our family (which I believe entails more sacrifice than my own, frankly).

My wife and I have similar views --- just opposite. She is stay at home since my job paid more, but I'd be dramatically happier being at home raising the boys and keeping stuff together there and she'd be happier in the job market.

Things just don't work out that way.

Rusty said...

If I don't do it the woman who lives in my house won't do it.

Freeman Hunt said...

I do the yard work that is not hired out. He does the electrical work that is not hired out. We both fix and assemble things. We mostly do our own laundry. He empties the dishwasher, I fill it throughout the day, he fills it with the dishes from whatever I cooked for dinner. I manage the robots that do the floors and repair broken toys. He changes the air filters and lightbulbs. I figure out who to hire for things. He calls them. I am the finder of things lost. He is the master of the quick pick up. Etc.

I am responsible for the education of our children. He is responsible for providing financially.

Systems build up over time based on skills and preferences and are always subject to adjustment. Love for love.

Moose said...

Of course - its all up to whose standards you measure this.
One of the biggest problems is when the 2 partners in a marriage disagree about basic things. Then it turns into a power struggle with lots and lots of BS thrown around.
The party that thinks it should be cleaner can *make* it cleaner.

Beaver7216 said...

The wife cooks, does laundry, and cleans the house. And after every meal I respond with something like "That was the best meal ever-thank you." Meanwhile, when I attempted to cook (which I love doing) I get comments about how it could be better. Same with laundry. I believe Robert Fulghum wrote about the refreshing spirituality of laundry and I would like to do laundry but invariably I did something "wrong". It seems that many women, at least of my age, have trouble relinquishing control over the "women's work."

Hagar said...

Complementarity is everything; but if you feel you have to insist on something that the other person is not willing to accept, wave and pass on.

Scott M said...

Where am I on the continuum?

Probably where every other fifteen-year happily married man is; long since reached a point of happy accommodation regarding money, housework, and child-rearing with the woman I love and who I'm pretty damned sure loves me back.

Beaver7216 said...

In the early 70s I travelled around Latin America, hippie style. Whenever I was invited into a home a woman offered to wash my clothes and feed me. I was amazed at how they seemed to do this with, I don't know, joy or love. Or gratitude for having the opportunity to serve.
This seemed lacking in American women that I knew. The Hispanic women seemed happier. But what do I know.
But as I grew older, I better understood the rewards of serving others.

Brennan said...

Doesn't technology solve the dishes problem? Or, are the progresslaves now anti-dishwashers too. I suppose dishwashers aren't so green and all that.

Lauderdale Vet said...

My family shares pretty much everything as daily life ebbs and flows. One of us might be busier than the others on a particular day, so others step up. Tonight I might be cooking dinner because my wife is having a crappy day, or because I want to try a recipe out and ask ahead of time. Same goes for everyone. No one really feels burned unless there's a steady and unexpected pattern, and when we point it out to each other, we resolve it.

We look at chores as a list of things that have to be done by "us".

We split personal things like laundry up to the individual. My kid does his own laundry, my wife does hers, I do mine, etc.

Works pretty well for us.

Brennan said...

Feminism, just like every Marxist-equalist scheme, has done nothing but sow discord and misery in its effort to erase millenia of acquired wisdom expressed through traditional roles of behavior.

I'll have what Paul is having.

SGT Ted said...

I think women should take on more appliance and vehicle maintenance tasks in the home.

mtrobertsattorney said...

How about this arrangement?

The man agrees to do 50% of the house work provided he can decorate and furnish 50% of each room in the home as he sees fit. And this includes displays of beer signs, model trains and cars, firearms and sports posters.

Does anybody know any woman that would accept this deal?

Andy Freeman said...

> The person who stays home, regardless of gender, has more time to do the household chores.

Not necessarily.

Lots of people working from home spend more time working than other folks who "go to work".

dbp said...

I would say the incentives are skewed when men who help more around the house get less sex

Scott M said...

I think women should take on more appliance and vehicle maintenance tasks in the home.

Here, here! That crack in the floor joist isn't going to fix itself.

Julie C said...

I do the cooking, laundry, and day to day cleaning. We have a cleaning lady twice a month, as I don't like to clean bathrooms. We have a yard guy who mows, as my husband doesn't like to do that. He fixes stuff and keeps the garage clean. I put up all the inside Christmas decorations (with the help of my kids) and he does the outside ones (with the help of the kids).

He works long hours and I want him to always come home to a calm and peaceful house and a nice hot meal. Money has nothing to do with it - love has everything to do with it. Oh, and thinking, "how can I be of service to my life partner today?" instead of continually tallying up work credits on some mental spreadsheet. What an awful way to spend your life!

n.n said...

Yes, men do more housework. Typically more of one class than another, and that earns a firm rebuke from activists. Frankly, these well-intentioned experts have a poor record for describing a viable approach to relationships.

David said...

"pm317 said...
My wives

LOL, how many do you have?"

My present (and last) wife is my third. We have been together for 14 years and married for 8. My first wife and I divorced after 27 years of marriage. My second died after 3.

I have never been married to a man, and now is not the time to start.

pm317 said...

Judging by the comments here, middle of the road people manage fine. So who is the audience for that guy's article? Presumably left-leaning audience which begs the question: Are lefties of such prejudiced mindset that their men don't do housework and that they need to be educated with articles like these?

Rusty said...

SGT Ted said...
I think women should take on more appliance and vehicle maintenance tasks in the home.

I'd be happy if the woman who lives in my house could find the garbage can in the garage.
Apparently there is a forcefield on the threshold to the garage that prevents her from going out there.

Hagar said...

I generally worked 10-12 hour days at the office and/or in the field - sometimes 7 days a week.

Why should I also have to do housework?

(Beyond "man's work" such as mowing the grass, shoveling the driveway, maintaining appliances, etc. a.s.o., that is.)

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Enh. Pretty traditional "split" chez Thomson. I do the cooking, the washing-up, the laundry, most of the vacuuming, most of the grocery shopping. He does most of the outdoor maintenance, except when we need to collaborate on it (cf. last week's snowstorm, or this week's interesting plumbing difficulties). If outside professionals need to be brought in, that's generally on me, as I'm the one that's home.

As both of us are weird hybrids of neatniks and slobs, it works well. Everything that needs to be alphabetized by and large stays that way, for example -- scores, books on music, CDs. Everything that doesn't need to be alphabetized might be anywhere; there are thirty or forty paperback books by my side of the bed that really ought to be shelved, only I know for a certainty that there isn't enough shelf space for them even if I double-stack, so dealing with the accumulation means having to decide what gets on the shelf and what goes in a box, and, you know? Why do that today? It's not as though anyone but me and him ever see the bedroom.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Julie C,

He works long hours and I want him to always come home to a calm and peaceful house and a nice hot meal. Money has nothing to do with it - love has everything to do with it. Oh, and thinking, "how can I be of service to my life partner today?" instead of continually tallying up work credits on some mental spreadsheet. What an awful way to spend your life!

Just so. My husband's a public school teacher (and if you do that job properly it involves very long hours indeed), and he typically comes home exhausted and hungry. It's the least I can do to give him a comforting welcome, a cozy place to sit, and good food.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Sgt Ted,

I'd be happy if the woman who lives in my house could find the garbage can in the garage.
Apparently there is a forcefield on the threshold to the garage that prevents her from going out there.


The trash is definitely in my chore territory. The litterboxes are, too. (As is feeding the cats, as a result of which I am the official Food Human, to be harassed any time I go near the Food Room.)

JoyD said...

You can size up people and relationships pretty-darn-quick with just a few revealing sentences. This was fun today. A couple of commenters made a lot of sense to me, for example "do whatever you see needs doing". I observed Stubborn growing up and resolved not to be that way. It is just nonproductive. Husband and I have been working it out pretty smoothly for almost 40 years. Mostly it's a matter of consideration. I think you have to have a sense of a joint enterprise, and that includes the house, yard, kids, and both partners' jobs.

Birches said...

Judging by the comments here, middle of the road people manage fine. So who is the audience for that guy's article? Presumably left-leaning audience which begs the question: Are lefties of such prejudiced mindset that their men don't do housework and that they need to be educated with articles like these?

A political philosophy that advocates "your fair share" has an unhappy effect of affecting other aspects of your life too.

I told my spouse I married so I would never have to take our the trash again. Its worked out nicely, even on the rare times I do have to take out the trash. No one's keeping score.

mrs. e said...

My guy's retired and I work, so at the end of most days, there's not much for me to do.

He cooks, shops, does most of the laundry, cuts the grass, snow-blows and takes care of the house maintenance. I assist on all of the above, do the dishes and houseclean. He really, really, really hates to houseclean - so, somehow, this all seems to balance out for us.

Ann Althouse said...

"I can't believe that Ann is writing about men and housework, but doesn't mention this article."

I linked to an article that discussed that article. But I need to also "mention" the article to avert your amazement? That's weird. Why do you have expectations like that?

Ann Althouse said...

"So her standard of neatness is vastly higher than a man's. As a result, she's the one that gets to say when the house is clean. And so she winds up doing the housework, other things being equal."

This is a subject specifically discussed in the linked article.

But here's what I think about what you've said: It's the mindset of a man who shouldn't marry, because he is not about giving all to the woman who should also be giving all to him. If he understands that the woman wants to live in a clean house, he should want to help her have what she wants. She too should hear him and understand what he is saying he wants, which is unlikely to be a dirty house. He's just saying he personally doesn't care. All the more reason her love will be continually re-inspired by the things he knows she cares about. She won't be thinking, ha ha I'm getting more than he is. She'll be thinking that she loves him and looking for more ways to show that, in the shared home where they live together in love. If you're into rigging tricks to get her to do more than you, you're not a fit husband. I do think you live alone, rh, so I think you know that and are expressing a certain amount of hostility (or sour grapes) over the people who have what you do not: a true marriage of loving partners.

And everyone else here expressing similar thoughts: You're saying something about yourselves and your own marriages or lack thereof. I've been there too. I was single for 20 years between marriages. Now, I'm trying to help the men (and women) who are reading this who have some potential for finding married happiness. Notice the things you're saying to buck up your courage and determination to go it alone as a single person. I've been there, but I did not also descend to the lowest point of self-deception where I said to myself: I do not want someone to love.

Ann Althouse said...

I need to give rh credit for saying "other things being equal."

If he allows his wife to do all or most of the cleaning, what is he doing to equalize the contribution?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

My apologies, Ann! I didn't click through, and assumed, unfortunately, that the article turnaround time was too fast for the NYT piece to be in there. My bad.

FleetUSA said...

We both realize we love a more or less organized home. Hence, I know that if I don't pitch in things won't always get done and there are somethings I enjoy most of all, e.g. washing dishes, cooking, and garbage clearance. The bride covers the rest generally. All happy on the western front.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm dismayed when people imply that our arrangement is unfair or even oppressive. I wouldn't trade places with him -- I love being home -- and I'm grateful for his contribution to our family (which I believe entails more sacrifice than my own, frankly)."

The danger pointed to by feminists is that some day he'll leave you and you'll need that career back and feel ripped off for the rest of your life. You've made your choice and we all want it to work out. But what if at some point he loses sight of all that you have done and how tremendously valuable it is? You had to trust him so immensely to do what you did, and you have to believe he has the love and the moral fiber never to forget the value of what you are doing and what you have given up.

Anyone who has a stay at home spouse needs to understand this. The spouse at home needs to understand it too. It takes great love and trust and work to have a single-earner household. With all that, it should be the easiest, most satisfying way to live. But without it, it's too risky a bet. And so we see all the single people and all the 2-earner households.

Sad! But it's the world we must face. The question is: How to get to all that love, that love that wasn't needed in the days before women achieved equality (or close to equality or more than equality) in the workplace and before the liberalization of divorce and the normalization of women raising children alone.

That's an awful lot of love that we need. If you ever find it, see what you have and keep it alive.

Cleaning the house is the least you can do!

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

If you're into rigging tricks to get her to do more than you, you're not a fit husband. I do think you live alone, rh, so I think you know that and are expressing a certain amount of hostility (or sour grapes) over the people who have what you do not: a true marriage of loving partners.

I don't see any basis for this barb, and I find it (at best) in bad taste for the Blogress to tell one of her commenters that he's unfit to be a husband.

traditionalguy said...

Housework, such as washing clothes-sheets-towels , running the vacuum, loading and unloading the dishwasher and preparing the AM coffee ready for brewing are mostly my job. The wife is a perfectionist so she can tell me what I do wrong. Someone has to supervise the servant. She is also good at fighting ants that invade the dog's food bowl.



Scott M said...

The danger pointed to by feminists is that some day he'll leave you and you'll need that career back and feel ripped off for the rest of your life.

Was this before, during, or after they were telling housewives that were mentally ill for making that choice?

There are no guarantees in life and a fool looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart. Part of soul-satisfying oneness that is a successful marriage is not having to second-guess your spouse constantly.

Ann Althouse said...

"Doesn't technology solve the dishes problem? Or, are the progresslaves now anti-dishwashers too. I suppose dishwashers aren't so green and all that."

Spoken like someone who hasn't had much to do with dishwashers!

Ann Althouse said...

"'If you're into rigging tricks to get her to do more than you, you're not a fit husband. I do think you live alone, rh, so I think you know that and are expressing a certain amount of hostility (or sour grapes) over the people who have what you do not: a true marriage of loving partners.' I don't see any basis for this barb, and I find it (at best) in bad taste for the Blogress to tell one of her commenters that he's unfit to be a husband."

I don't see any basis for your reading what I've said to distort it like that. My line is "If you're into rigging tricks to get her to do more than you, you're not a fit husband." I did not accuse anyone of rigging tricks. People can decide for themselves whether the "if" clause describes what they are doing. If so, my opinion applies to them.

As they say: If the shoe fits...

Ann Althouse said...

And rh is a commenter who has made hundreds or even thousands of comments on this blog that disparage women and imply that he wants little or nothing to do with them. That's the larger context for the following sentence. He puts things amusingly, but he has been belittling women and showing disrespect for us in the comments here for many years. So to the extent that what I said is a "barb," I do have a basis for it!

Basil said...

Professor, it's not "the world we face" as if our current culture fell out of the sky. This culture was imposed by elites who actively attacked and denigrated the traditional values of religion and family. You are an enthusiastic proponent of the decline of traditional ways of living. And you actually think you are "helping people" with relationships. The lack of self awareness boggles the mind. People who embrace traditional (and reality based) ways of living are happier than the neo Marxist control creeks who so appeal to you.

Rusty said...

The litterboxes are, too. (As is feeding the cats, as a result of which I am the official Food Human, to be harassed any time I go near the Food Room.)

The woman who lives in my house had to have the cute husky dog at the animal shelter. I walk and feed the husky dog.

Big Mike said...

Before I get excited about the study cited by Mr. Thompson I'd like to know a bunch of things.

For instance, what counts as "housework"? I don't know about the rest of you commentators, but I neglected to put down self-mowing grass when we moved in, and the developer's landscaping form chose trees that not only fail to grow self-raking leaves, but aren't self-pruning, either. (Meade would have done better, I'm sure.) I just came in from working on our non-self-shoveling driveway. And most of the things in our house are not self-repairing, which I guess is an oversight on both our parts when we bought them.

I think each couple needs to find its own balance, and wife and I did a long time ago (39th anniversary coming up next month). A couple that hasn't found balance needs to either find their balance or get divorced.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann, at the the very least you're telling rh that he's single for a very good reason. Hell, it might even be true, but it's not really an appropriate thing for the moderator of a forum to say.

I guess I have a thick skin or something, because much of what is called "misogynist" doesn't seem so to me. Cf. the ongoing thread about James Taranto at Volokh. Taranto has never struck me as misogynistic. But because he wrote an op-ed piece for the WSJ about a student who was subjected to what he correctly calls a kangaroo court, people in the comments are asserting that he hates women, and approves of rape, and wants it to be punished less harshly.

rhhardin said...

Amusingly goes with truth, like humor.

Marriage has its typical ways of succeeding and of failing, between a man and a woman.

That's one reason to keep the word.

It covers those typical ways.

Also: you take your child to the dentist because you love them. Is love still a feeling?

rhhardin said...

Women don't understand the entertainment they seek is entertainment. They think it's caring.

Nor do they spot misogyny correctly.

That's why they're such rotten voters.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

No reason to be black-and-white about expecting commitment of resources or time for sex. To be that way in excess is probably the most typical moral fault in a female that makes her unworthy of love. But, still, if a guy has something monetarily or caring-wise to offer, better a good female should get that than a bad one, and so it is still something a good female would prefer. With males it is similarly bad to spend resources for sex, but badness in males is not exactly a mirror image since another kind of badness perhaps as bad or worse in males than caring for someone little loved is not being willing to care for anybody because one is excessively devoted to trying to get commitment-free sex.

Perhaps the sort of commitment that most bothers me is that which happens in high school and junior high, where girls will "go steady" for no reason other than if they don't guys will make out they are trying to get people jealous or girls will think they are sleeping-around frivolous. Though I suppose sometimes they be too powerless in the face of school-mob opinion to have much choice, it would be better if girls were more stubborn about kissing, etc., whomever they wanted whenever they wanted (of course, provided the object of their affection were agreeable to it), without submitting themselves to the petty or just violent tyrannies that (at least in my high school) seemed to separate the girls who cared more than a little about their own sexual feelings from the guys who weren't mostly motivated by their own sexual pleasures. Not that the randy males and the unaffectionate females particularly liked each other, but they, both being more selfish than others, were each responsible in their own way for exploratory relationships involving a kind of ownership contrary to freedom.

I don't even think the concept of girlfriend enters into my conceptions of how things should be. I suppose I tend to think of three kinds of close relationships with females in relation to my person: (1) females who are friends, who may or may not be kissing me, others, etc., as they see fit, (2) females who are having sex with me (to get pregnant) notwithstanding I won't care for them monetarily (though they might be friends and I might have loving feelings for them), and then (3) a wife (which I think should involve commitment of my resources and (to a lesser extent) time rather than a sexual commitment from me). It's conceivable that I am underestimating the extent to which girls like and need to "play" marriage, which play going-steady conceivably makes easier, but I doubt it. As for this sort of going-steady thing making dangerous jealousy from males harder, well, I think the whole girlfriend/boyfriend concept just makes it more likely that girls will make out to see whether other guys they really want are disappointed, else the requisite plowing that might be necessary for the girl to get to whom she really wants were too much of a bother thanks to it being considered a norm that exploratory relationships should have a kind of semi-commitment endorsed by the domineering and those who sell out to the domineering--one knows intuitively that they don't tend to be just in their endorsements but rather contrary to love.

It seemed less bad in college about girls not being approachable for the wrong reasons, but then there (at least where I went) you've got probably even more drunkenness, drug use and other assorted nastiness (thanks to an absence of parents), and in college people tend to be more conformist and less exploratory of themselves. So on balance, I'd say college is worse, but younger people do have their faults and bad stuff that they get forced into more than older people.

tim maguire said...

My wife and I work about the same hours and make about the same money, but I do almost all the housework. Cooking and cleaning.

For the most part, I don't mind. I care more and I'll do a better job. But I do get irritated when she makes a careless mess. I can't help paraphrasing a line from Bill Bryson's "At Home."

This is the sort of mess made by someone so removed from the process of cleaning that she's forgotten there is a process of cleaning.

So, sometimes, I'm not happy with the arrangement. But most of the time I keep that to myself because I'd rather do the cleaning. I care more and I'll do a better job.

Ann Althouse said...

"Professor, it's not "the world we face" as if our current culture fell out of the sky. This culture was imposed by elites who actively attacked and denigrated the traditional values of religion and family. You are an enthusiastic proponent of the decline of traditional ways of living."

Basil, the world has changed. Culture is always an ongoing evolution. You can sing the "Tradition!" song from "Fiddler on the Roof" and dance all over the stage, but life changes, and we're not going back. There have been good and bad changes in the 60 decades I have been alive and living in America. I am grateful for what is good and hope to do some good in helping people make good out of what has happened.

Women's equality and ending racial discrimination are great achievements of humankind, even when it has been done imperfectly. I think the question is how to go forward in a good way.

Oldies have always talked about the old days, the golden age, but what can you say to young people? How do we go forward? You can consign yourself to irrelevance and not want to talk about it. But I want to talk about it.

In the real world.

Basil said...

Professor, the world did not just "change". It was changed, by people who want to kill the ideas that millions of people live by, by people whose ideas, with all due respect, are insane. The idea that men and women are born the same is really dumb. The idea that all people should believe the party line is both dumb and dangerous. The idea that children do not need a Dad has ruined millions of lives. The idea that government can help people rather than people helping themselves keeps millions in poverty. The ideas of progressivism are both dumb and damaging. Why do you advocate for them? Or even accept the irreversibility of them?
Btw, thanks for this blog. It rocks.

rhhardin said...

Then women ought to be interested in what keeps them from being actual adults in the political world.

Pretending isn't enough.

John Lynch said...

What Althouse is getting at is that we're moving from a patriarchal family system to an egalitarian system. All transitions are messy, and there' no clear guide as to what men and women are supposed to do. This isn't unique in human history, either.

In a couple generations we'll be back to defined gender roles. Right now, we're still figuring it out.

Skeptical Voter said...

Now that's a question worth pondering. My wife and I just had our 48th wedding anniversary. I cook quite a bit now--but I had a time demanding career and she did and, after my retirement, continues to do most of the household things. Part of it is a bit of a control freak nature on her part where operating household machines--like the dishwasher and washing machine are concerned. I'm not operationally checked out on them to her satisfaction.

But I was listening to Vince Gill's "Just Look At Us' song this morning. One of the refrains is, "after all these years still leaning on each other." That's a pretty good way to think about and have successful long term relationships.

Mutual respect and admiration go a long way--and discussions or decisions about how household chores should be split "60-40"? "55-45"? become irrelevant.

Anglelyne said...

Michelle Dulak Thompson: I guess I have a thick skin or something, because much of what is called "misogynist" doesn't seem so to me.

I wouldn't worry about rh. He's been around the internet since forever slagging off women and being slagged off as a misogynist (which he is) in return. I'm sure he has a pretty thick skin, too, though I don't see why he'd need it here. Lots of whatever-ists, far from being offended by the accusation, believe their state of antipathy to be perfectly reasonable and justified.

He has the virtues of being pithy, and sometimes witty, if repetitive. Frankly I don't think he gets anywhere near the reaction and reward he deserves for his heroic perseverance in his Schopenhaur-lite performance art.

Dude's been devoting himself to his craft, if memory serves, since the early '90s. And in all that time I've seen him get only one paltry banning for his woman-dissing, and barely any other response, while lesser, wordier men get all the glory - bannings, hysterics, tumblr crusades, you name it. Truly life is not fair. He deserves at least that wee smack from Althouse, after his years of patient effort here.

...but it's not really an appropriate thing for the moderator of a forum to say.

Why not? She's the blogger, not some official moderator with a duty to neutrality.

Skeptical Voter said...

I want to make one more point. I'd posted before I read Anonymous's post--she who had been a law clerk for a Federal appellate judge, and then gone on to do well in big law before starting a family and staying home. You said that you realized your husband was making some tremendous sacrifices in working hard etc to support your family.

My wife and I married just as I started law school. We started our family just as I graduated. She did not go back to work until our youngest child was in high school and of driving age. (A big deal here in the California car culture.)

The work world was changing around us, and women were starting to have and want careers. We did what we wanted--it was very important to her, and to me, that she be a stay at home mom until our kids were well on their way.

We lived our values; but we never kidded ourselves that she was not making a tremendous sacrifice where her career was concerned.

And Anonymous--if your husband deserves you, he'll understand that you are making a tremendous sacrifice.

As for me and my wife--would we do it exactly the same way again? We would indeed.

rhhardin said...

If you're curious, look up Vicki Hearne's chapter "Beatly Behaviors" in _Bandit_ for the important difference between men and women that women ought to take into account when things get serious.

And "Beware of the Dog" in her _Animal Happiness_ for what feminism ought to be.

Instead of wandering around in estrogen goo.

Freeman Hunt said...

"The danger pointed to by feminists is that some day he'll leave you and you'll need that career back and feel ripped off for the rest of your life."

Humorously, the last woman who warned me of this was a stay at home spouse who had abandoned her own husband in the name of self-actualization.

If the spouse who stays home is abandoned, that spouse generally gets custody and at least half of all assets plus alimony.

There has to be trust on both sides.

I know what you're talking about though. I've seen that happen to people and the bitterness that often takes hold. I would advise people to look at it this way:

(1) if a couple truly desires that one of them stay home but forego it out of fear, the danger is that they reach the end and think, "I lived a life I didn't want because i was afraid. I structured my entire life around fear."

(2) That people are abandoned is terrible. But rather than look at it as the ultimate betrayal from which one can never recover, choose to look at as a great challenge to be met, a frightening adventure requiring great courage and determination. With God in heaven, the acceptance or opinion of any other person is secondary.

Of course, that's all easy to say...

mtrobertsattorney said...

"Culture is always an ongoing evolution." True enough.

Progressives and leftists have a deep seated belief that the movement of this evolution will always be in the direction of greater happiness and fulfillment for humankind.

There is no evidence that this is a true belief. And history shows it to be false.

In human society, the dominant ideas in a culture shape the direction of the evolution of that culture. If those ideas are false in the sense that they contradict human nature, then culture will move in a regressive direction.

The cultural war we are witnessing today is about the truth of progressive ideas on how civil society should be structured. Are these progressive ideas moving our culture in a positive or regressive direction?

Ann Althouse seems to believe that the notion a love relationship between a man and a woman will always survive in our evolving culture. But it is not clear that this is true.

A progressive could easily argue that "love" as traditionally understood, is not "natural" at all, but a mere social construct.

In an efficient and well-ordered society, male/female relationships should be understood as an exchange of services. And this exchange should be based on economic equality to be determined by the economic value assigned to the services offered.



Smilin' Jack said...

But maybe, now that women are out-earning us in bachelor's degrees and (often) in marriages as well, we could stand to do oh-just-slightly more than 35 percent of the dishes.

Bullshit. Who does all the work in bed?

Marshal said...

There have been good and bad changes in the 60 decades I have been alive and living in America.

That seems a buried lead.

Freeman Hunt said...

Another point: Being a stay at home spouse is a career. If that person is ill-treated later on, that doesn't undo the work that person did in the home. The career isn't missed out on, it happened. Say one has a wonderful career at an office, but, for whatever reason, it ends badly. That doesn't negate the person's career. It's the same for stay at home spouses.

kentuckyliz said...

Who does all the work in bed?

The one who cares about it more.

Sorta like housecleaning.

Ann Althouse said...

LOL

6 decades.

I am old.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Freeman is exactly right. I have never understood why the cultural elites value writing soap commercials over shaping the character of a new human being.

Carl Pham said...

Derek Thompson just wants to exchange public bootlicking for fellatio while tied to an X frame. Or maybe he wants to get pegged? That seems plausible, too.

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse, perhaps you need to change your name to Methusalette?

Anonymous said...

Ann: "The danger pointed to by feminists is that some day he'll leave you and you'll need that career back and feel ripped off for the rest of your life. You've made your choice and we all want it to work out. But what if at some point he loses sight of all that you have done and how tremendously valuable it is? You had to trust him so immensely to do what you did, and you have to believe he has the love and the moral fiber never to forget the value of what you are doing and what you have given up."

First, on a practical level, there is divorce law. Even if my husband loses sight of the value of my contributions, a court presumably would assign them some value. Second, in my particular situation, even if we were to divorce, I would not be without skills. I don't expect I would ever again be close to big time litigating (or the money) but I could always support myself and my children with paralegal skills at the barest minimum. As a side note, I hated big time litigation and have always felt that I escaped from my job, not that I "sacrificed" my job.

But -- on a more philosophical level -- I just don't believe in living our life in fear of divorce when there is no evidence that it's in our future. Why would I accept certain unhappiness for my children, my husband, and myself in a two-earner situation on the off chance of divorce? (Not to mention divorce seems more likely in that scenario anyways.) I'd rather bet on my marriage and embrace a happy and peaceful life now (for certain) and for the future (probably). I'm willing to take a risk to give my children and the two of us a shot at that life.

David said...

Rusty said...
The litterboxes are, too. (As is feeding the cats, as a result of which I am the official Food Human, to be harassed any time I go near the Food Room.)

The woman who lives in my house had to have the cute husky dog at the animal shelter. I walk and feed the husky dog.


That Husky could cut down the cat population in a very quick hurry. Huskies like to chase small animals. And catch them.

Anonymous said...

p.s. it's a long story, but I'm "Jessica" who's commented here before. (I think you have a tag for me.)

Matthew Sablan said...

"As had been noted in studies, women don't give it up for men who do "feminine" chores. There, literally, is virtually no benefit to men doing cleaning."

-- I had one woman insist I must be seeing someone, because my apartment was so clean.

Ann Althouse said...

"But -- on a more philosophical level -- I just don't believe in living our life in fear of divorce when there is no evidence that it's in our future. Why would I accept certain unhappiness for my children, my husband, and myself in a two-earner situation on the off chance of divorce? "

I agree. There is risk whichever way you go. You have to commit to something, and life passes at its speed. You can't slow it down and you can't do everything.