How NOT to Get Your Husband to 'Help' Around the House
Cross-posted at FamiliesRising.org - a primer on housework equality...
The American public, at least the part consisting of parents, is obsessed with measuring how much housework is done by women versus men. Statistics about men's increasing involvement at home clog the blogosphere and newspaper columns - followed by discussion of how much MORE women still do. Many women would love to find a way to get more help from their husbands to even the load.
What would it take to get men to truly pull their weight? Here's our recipe:
1. Stop asking men to "help." Asking a man for help with housework is akin to asking him to babysit his own kids. In other words, it implies that women are still in charge and men are apprentices. Manager and subordinate. Chef and sous chef. Senior and junior. All in all, not good for getting full buy-in on housework. Promote your husband to partner - in your thoughts, words and deeds.
2. Approach chores from the team standard. As partners, you and your spouse are equals. That means the how/what/when of household chores should be decided by the team of both of you, not by one of you who then dictates the rules to the other. Take a good look at the household tasks you both do now and decide which ones are causing friction for you (or your spouse). Then, sit down together and nail down some standards for how often these problem chores should be done, to what level of cleanliness, etc. Make sure that you BOTH agree on the standards you set.
3. Divide up the chores. Estimate how long it takes to do each household task, and then divide them up together. There are so many ways to divide chores - alternating by day or week, by interest level, dividing right down the middle, each does his/her own, etc. You choose! In the end, make sure you both feel the final division is equitable.
4. Let go. Now you are both free to do your assigned tasks, but you are truly free only if neither of you is scrutinizing the process. No nagging, no reminding, no criticizing. Just let the natural consequences of a job well done or a job botched fall onto the partner who did (or didn't do) it.
5. Re-evaluate together. How did your team standards hold up in real life? How was the division of labor? Check in with each other often, and revise your plans as a team.
Becoming equals in the home runs counter to our culture. But the rewards are great - not only for women who are able to let go and embrace a partnership of equals, but for men who become equals in their own homes. A man who shares the housework participates fully in his home life - his home really is his own castle rather than a dwelling that functions by his partner's rules. A woman who shares the housework lives in a place of peace - her sanctuary rather than her demanding and lonely second job. Together, life is good.