More and more women are becoming the main breadwinners for their families. In fact, 25% of all women outearn their spouses (Working Mother). My guess is that many more women don’t outearn their husbands but earn an equal amount or close to an equal amount as their husbands. While women and men’s salaries may be nearly equal, in many households, the division of chores is not.
Splitting the Chores 50/50
In my own marriage, for the first 10 years, I was the primary breadwinner. During that time, my husband was in graduate school, earning first a Master’s and then a Ph.D. While many of those years he worked as a teaching assistant, his income was no where close to mine. During that time, we split the chores evenly–we each worked to clean the house and we each cooked meals. The first two years of our son’s life, my husband went to school only part-time and cared for our child full-time while I worked.
Now, my husband is the primary breadwinner, though my monthly income is almost equal to his. My husband works from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. While he’s gone all day, I homeschool the kids, do household chores, cook, and do my freelance writing as I’m able. When he comes home, we eat dinner and then he gets the kids ready for bed while I clean up the dinner mess. On the weekends, my husband does all the childcare, cooking, and cleaning while I spend both days doing my freelance writing work. I can’t tell you how glad I am that my husband is so willing to shoulder half the family responsibilities.
Many men are not that way.
When Most of the Chores Fall to the Women
While more women are earning more, many of them are still doing the majority of household chores.
“’The division of labor at home has not shifted to compensate for women working more,’ notes economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, PhD, founder of the Center for Talent Innovation in New York City. ‘In addition, there’s a huge disparity between what men think they’re doing and what they’re actually doing. More than half of working dads believe they’re splitting the load with their wives—but their wives say they’re doing less than a third of the work’” (Working Mother).
Our family friends, Joe and Susan, fall into this category. Susan has an executive level job and works on average 60 hours a week. Joe farms and is an electrician. Joe works about 50 hours a week. Joe will watch the children as long as he can take them to the farm with him. However, he does no cleaning or cooking. All of the household chores fall on Susan’s shoulders.
Joe has ample time to relax in the evenings while Susan is busy caring for the children. Since the kids take priority, she frequently orders meals out and leaves the house a mess because she doesn’t have energy to do everything. When the kids wake up in the middle of the night, Susan attends to them because Joe says she’s the mother and it’s her job.
My Question for You
How is the division of household labor treated in your house? Do you or your spouse do more, or do you split chores 50/50?
Should a woman consider how likely a man is to pitch in before she marries him? Is this a deal breaker as far as marriage is concerned?
Ray’s Comments – I believe that expecting someone to take the lead on household responsibilities strictly based on gender is something that doesn’t apply in the 21st century. At this point, whether it’s caring for children, doing work around the house, or being the breadwinner, both men and women have the capacity to do anything. As a guy, I think that guys that expect their wives to do more at home despite doing equal work (or more) outside of the house are lazy and entitled. Saying that a wife should be the one to wake up at night for the kids just because she is the mother is appalling. Not that I have an opinion, or anything like that…