I am in my early thirties and have a nine-month-old daughter. My husband and I both work full-time but he doesn’t seem to think he needs to help me with our baby or with some of the chores at home.
He also seems to think I am to be at his beck and call attending to his every need. I am well aware that our grandmothers, with limited opportunities available for them in the workplace, singlehandedly looked after the domestic space. But times have changed. Most couples need the dual income to cope with the cost of modern life, and a lot more women are in the workplace than 30, 40 years ago.
His insensitivity to the need to help around the home has lead us to having endless arguments as I am not able to cope on my own being a full time worker as well as a full time housewife. He just doesn’t seem prepared or willing to adjust to the reality of the times. How do I get my husband to understand that in this 21st century even if the man is the ‘Lord of his castle’, he has to pull his weight around the house and help out with the chores?
Dorothy, I am really at the end of my tether, please advice.
Your typical daily routine, you’re up early, and straight away, face the chores that need to be done. You make breakfast; your darling husband eats, leaves his dishes on the table and leaves for work. You clear up, rush to look after the baby and then head off to your own workplace, anxious all through the routine not to be late for work. This daily routine leaves you usually exhausted and tensed up. But what riles you the most is that your husband is unconcerned about your being on your feet most of the day.
Unfortunately, this scene described above is quite common in these parts as many African men don’t yet seem to realise the patriarchal system no longer exists. It is possible your husband’s family taught him household chores are women’s work. This is a mind-set the modern woman must make sure their young sons do not grow up with, so as to end this vicious cycle. We as women have been “programmed” to treat our men as if they have been born lazy to help around the house. We spoil them with our take charge attitude, and they now expects us to do everything without their lifting a finger to help. Our men think that all they have to do is provide money to run the home and put their feet up.
My advice it that instead of suffering and being resentful, talk to him about it. You must impress upon him that marriage is a partnership; therefore child-caring and household responsibilities fall on both parents’ shoulders. Try to communicate your feelings without sounding confrontational. You have to make him understand that it does not take away from a man’s machismo if he is helpful around the house. “Many hands make work light”, so the saying goes. Working together as a team at home will get the work done in triple quick time, leaving the both of you with enough energy and zest to enjoy each other’s company as a family. If he does begin to pitch in, I should add that if he doesn’t do something to your satisfaction, don’t be harsh in the way you correct him. Don’t be a “boss-lady”. It’s a complete turn-off for most men! Be extra nice to him in a way that communicates your thoughtfulness and appreciation. Knowledge of your husband’s turn-ons should come in handy here. Start telling your friends when your husband’s around how much you appreciate his help. Positive feedback will reinforce his positive behaviour.
Hope my response has been helpful. If you know of any other tips that can get our husbands off their seats and helping around the house, please feel free to share.