The Amazing Pudding

Keeping Peace While Keeping Clean

Posted on: February 4, 2009

I stumbled across an interesting post the other day. Wife and mother Kate recently pondered the sharing of housekeeping duties between husbands and wives. I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts.


“I had an interesting conversation with a colleague once who claimed that the chores men typically do around the house are the ones they’re interested in and women do everything else. Is that part of the anger? That in order to get husbands to help out we don’t make them do the unappealing stuff? And then all women do is the stuff they don’t like? That’s not a good recipe for happiness.

“And what the hell do the husbands think about all of this? Do they agree? Has anyone asked them how angry they are and why?”

Please read the whole thing and tell me what you think. I’m particularly interested in hearing from stay/work-at-home dads and their wives. I’m sure that changes household dynamics quite a bit compared to the traditional norm. 

You might wonder why I’ve asked for thoughts and haven’t offered my own. Well, I’m still working on them. As a busy work-at-home dad, spare time sufficient for writing original thoughts is rare. Hopefully, with the help of my readers’ shared experiences, I’ll have something interesting and original to contribute. 🙂


2 Responses to "Keeping Peace While Keeping Clean"

My guess would be that there are many factors leading to extreme mommy anger. I think she points to them, but I can elaborate on a few that spring to mind.

The first is, as the article suggested, a very wide gap between different individuals’ standards of cleanliness. (Disclaimer: big generalization here that might not apply to all particular individuals.) Most women I’ve known tend to be more detail-oriented and to have higher standards of cleanliness– not sure why; but that’s a side issue anyway. Men seem to tend toward a greater tolerance of disorder and to be satisfied with a less-thorough clean. My husband tends not to notice dirty floors or counters, for example, quite as soon as I do. I might have to wait a couple of days or even weeks past the time I consider them dirty before he gets to that point. So one possible scenario is that the husband don’t notice the mess because to him it isn’t messy yet, the more sensitive wife gets upset and does it herself, all the while grumbling about how he never helps. Or if he does clean the sink, it might not be done to the level of perfection she desires and so she “has to do it again” or even perceives it as a task still undone. After my husband does dishes, I frequently come in and find there are still food particles in the sink I’d have scrubbed away. I catch myself grumbling about the fact that even though he did dishes for me, he’s now relaxing in front of the computer while I “have to” still finish the undone sink. Yeah, it’s not fair and I’m working on it; but I can see where this sort of thing could lead to real anger and resentment.

Another big issue is the nonsense we’ve all been sold about how men and women should be splitting chores 50-50. The whole notion of keeping score in a marriage is a recipe for disaster. In a Christian marriage the ideal is to serve each other, to give all and not count the cost (As St Paul says in that terribly unpopular passage in Ephesians 5: “Be subservient to each other our of love for Christ.”. And it’s always easier to see all the minutest details of the work I do and to overlook the same for my spouse. Is there a perception issue here? Is the wife overlooking or ignoring some of the contributions the husband makes? And is she putting herself first? The focus of the Christian husband or wife should be “How can I serve and love my spouse?” not “Am I being served properly?” Not popular in today’s secular culture; but then self-sacrifice and humility aren’t high on most people’s lists of virtues anymore.

And finally, I know that I’m good at multi-tasking, my husband not so much. I can watch the kids, cook supper and compose a blog entry all at once. He can only do one of those things. So when he worked from home during the first year of our marriage it caused some conflicts when I’d want to run to the store leaving him with the baby. I figured he could work and watch her at the same time. He couldn’t, though. He’d have to drop what he was doing and focus all his attention on the crawling baby or else she’d be into all sorts of stuff while I could do something else and still be aware of where she was and what she was doing.

I know there are more things out there; but I keep losing my train of thought with the baby crawling all over the place and getting into stuff.

Good thoughts. 🙂 I’m impressed that you left such a lengthy comment instead of responding with a blog post. 😉 Perhaps you could turn your comment into a post. 🙂

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