Yesterday I was captivated by this Salon headline: Men Who Clean House Are Happier… So are husbands with wives who put in similar hours at the office. Could equality be their secret?
But as Tracy Clark-Flory elucidates–it’s unclear whether this British survey reveals that folks who work similar hours and do equivalent housework are happier to begin with or made contented because they toast travel coffee mugs en route to work and heartily enjoy a good couple’s toilet scrub. Or neither. Sometimes I wonder whether surveys mean a damn thing at all… Anyway, it made me reflect on my relationship, where on a given day we couldn’t keep more dissimilar hours. Hubby often works seven days a week, twelve to fifteen hour days (which sounds so insane when I write it down, but them be Hollywood hours) then quite unexpectedly he’ll have a week off. I’m on a three-day work week plus writing. So a lot of the time we are ships in the night. Others, we eat breakfast lunch and dinner together and holler jokes from our respective home offices.
When it comes to housework, I think it’s fair to say that I do the bulk. Hubby will cringe at this statement because he certainly puts away dishes and pitches in with laundry. But frankly, the last time he cleaned the toilet was years ago (before I lived here) and I’m definitely CEO of dusting and washing the floors. I don’t mind these responsibilities. And even tend to enjoy a vigorous mop. He is busier. And makes more coin. So that is just the ways things go. Once upon a time, however, the idea of being a housewife with aforementioned wifely duties scared the mini skirts off of me (or should that be scared the mini skirts on?). Anyway, as I realized in working through my commitment qualms, what actually bothered me was the expectation that said wifely duties would be my responsibility rather than the reality of doing them. My man does not expect me to scrub the tub or at least did not at the get go… and has often said he’d happily be a househusband should the career tables turn. Did I mention he also plays a larger role in other areas, like budgeting? He’s a whiz bang with a spreadsheet. Me, not so much. So yes to Tracy, equality is at the root of our arrangement, even though it’s not always exactly equal.
Funnily enough though, I started this blog yesterday feeling peachy (minus lingering throat infection) and this morning the huz and I bumped heads over, you guessed it, housework. Or rather—house renovations. He is hell bent on making more counter-space in our smallish kitchen by building some sort of laminate overlay between sink and stove. Yes, laminate, ew. While I would rather focus on tasks at hand like the perpetual organization of his office/guest room. Or perhaps even finish arranging the bookshelf, which hubby thought would look much better without its sliding door last week (door still in hallway, books still in dusty disarray). Anyway, he’s off to start a new series tomorrow so once I’m feeling better I’ll probably tidy the office, organize the bookshelf, and put the door back on; he’ll take his next day off to build his dream chopping space. And thusly we’ll continue along with the side steps of marriage.
Moral of the story: Equality is an ongoing negotiation and doesn’t have much to do with the dishes.
Footnote: Love you and your constant renovations most ardently, hon.