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Are we equal within this marriage?

(30 Posts)
wicketkeeper Sun 10-Jul-11 14:31:54

We're perfectly happy - but following conversations in which my mother feels DH has a hard life, and DD thinks I do, I've begun to wonder, and would like an outside opinion.
Some background information - currently we run our own business, from home (he does the work, I do the books), and take equal payments out of it. I also work part-time as a supply teacher, so effectively I earn more than DH. In the past we have had periods when I have been the sole breadwinner, and periods when he has been. I do most, but not all, of the cooking (he always has the kettle on and a meal on the table when I've been teaching all day). I do most, but not all of the washing (if I need him to do a wash while I'm at work, he will do it gladly, but is unlikely to notice that it needs doing). I do all of the ironing. I do most, but not all, of the dishwasher filling/emptying. He does most, but not all, of the car-related stuff (I will happily take the car for a service, but I'm unlikely to know that a service is due). He does most, but not all, of the DIY. Once a week we have a mad couple of hours, where between us we do all the vacuuming and clean the bathrooms. He is a hands-on Dad and Grandad. In the past, when he was working 12 hours a day, I would get up at 6 to make tea and toast and fix up a packed lunch for him (as I wasn't working, I felt that this was the least I could do, but my daughter thought he should do it himself).
So, what's the verdict?? Seriously want to know, as I feel I'm somewhere in the middle between my mother's 'traditional' outlook, and my daughter's take on it.

colditz Sun 10-Jul-11 14:42:11

If you're both happy, then it really doesn't matter.

ilovedora27 Sun 10-Jul-11 14:43:44

I wouldnt do all that personally. I have never made my husbands lunch box regardless of whether I am working or not. If he goes and does his 12 hour shift I go to work or I will just lie in bed. He would never expect me to get up if I wasnt off and I wouldnt do it tbh.

My husband doesnt really do much DIY though but in our place there isnt really much to do, so its hard to say whether your husband is doing a lot there. I dont really cook for him much either. I might do a meat in a stir in sauce thing 2/3 times a week and maybe sausage or mash or something but he doesnt get that every day.

We dont have a dishwasher and take it in turns do the washing up. I also dont do ironing either except for DD. I dont do any of his stuff though as thats his responsibility. I would agree with your DD to be honest but I think its a generational thing.

surelynottrue Sun 10-Jul-11 14:44:20

Depends on whether you are happy there is no one size fits all

fluffles Sun 10-Jul-11 14:45:17

i think that instead of looking at the chores you do its easier to work out how much time each of you has to just chill out and do things for yourself and see if that is equal.

do either of you do out of the house things? classes, gym, hobbies? are they equal time? and do you both get equal chance to read? watch tv? mumsnet?

AliceTwirled Sun 10-Jul-11 15:10:50

It's all depends as it's hard to quantify all of that stuff. A good way I've seen of looking at it is to check whether you have equal amounts of leisure time. Proper leisure time.

AliceTwirled Sun 10-Jul-11 15:11:18

sorry Fluffles, just seen I've said the same as you.

blackcurrants Sun 10-Jul-11 15:55:52

it's worth repeating, though! I think the equal leisure time index is a handy one, because it makes it easier to think through the 'well I did x, but he does y, but y only needs doing every now and then, wheras x is after every meal...' stuff.

When I'm breastfeeding the baby, for example, then DH does a bit of tidying or something. OR if me and the baby are having a nap, DH puts his feet up. If one of you is working like mad on something and the other is on the couch and this happens regularly, then it's not an equal division of labour. Day to day it varies, but over the week DH and I have about the same amount of time to just chill. And I make damn sure my work is not invisible. I honestly don't think my Dad knows how much work my Mum does to make the house nice and his life pleasant. That's what she thinks a successful wife does - makes it all look effortless, like the metaphorical swan. I know running a home is bloody hard work and I'm definitely not doing all of it, so we talk about the work and divvy it up. Dunno what the opposite of a swan is, but that's me. grin

Over here they have a saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" - we share the work.

wicketkeeper Sun 10-Jul-11 16:14:37

Like the idea of comparing leisure time. OK, here goes. I go to Pilates once a week, DH does nothing equivalent. If I'm not teaching, then I spend most of the day in the office doing the paperwork for the business. DH also spends most of the day in the office, writing up reports, chasing new business and so on (plus is away from home about 30% of the time). If I've been teaching, I tend to flop in front of the TV in the evening, but will look at the post and do anything urgent. In the evening, DH will also flop, but might spend time networking on LinkedIn or similar. To be honest, neither of us are very good at doing nothing.
I can't agree that it 'Depends on whether you are happy there is no one size fits all' - my parents are perfectly happy, but certainly wouldn't measure up to any modern idea of equality (she's never worked, doesn't drive, has never used a cash machine, and until he retired he'd never cooked a meal, washed a sock or ironed a shirt). I guess I'm really asking if it matters - if you're happy, does it matter if you don't have equality? Or should you insist on equality at all costs?

joaninha Sun 10-Jul-11 16:20:21

The question is do either you or your DH feel the situation is unfair? From what you've said I think you do a hell of a lot but then your DH seems to be working a lot too - working 12 hour days so it probably evens out.

I don't know really - are YOU happy OP?

wicketkeeper Sun 10-Jul-11 16:43:39

@ joaninha - yes, I am/we are happy. Glad to say the 12 hour days are now a thing of the past (thanks to the move to running our own business). He's just made me a cup of tea, then noticed that it was raining on my (ha! surely that should be 'our') almost-dry washing and helped me bring it in. He's currently tidying 'his' side of the office (like I said, he's rubbish at doing nothing). I'm drinking the aforementioned tea and watching Pride and Prejudice. In a bit I'll go and start cooking tea. It feels fairly fair - but my daughter is horrified that I do so much, and my mother is horrified that I do so little. Maybe we're getting it about right!!!

sunshineandbooks Sun 10-Jul-11 17:28:05

If your daughter is horrified then you must have done something right and brought her up with the notion that women should put up with less because of their gender. wink

Ultimately I think a lot depends on your DH's attitude. Just as there is no shame for a woman who has fallen foul of the patriarchy, there is no shame for the man either if he has done it without awareness and there is no deliberate exploitation or malice going on. If he genuinely loves and respects you, and appreciates what you do, it's not like he's an abusive twat who is revelling in his privilege. It doesn't follow that you should leave him just because your housework balance isn't 50/50.

You could try reading wifework and see how you feel about it after that. I was very interested in her take on how wives underestimate how much of their time is spent just having to listen to their husbands and remembering things (e.g. there wasn't enough milk in the fridge this morning so if I don't get any on the way home there'll be none for tomorrow's breakfast). The author argues that when you factor these things in the imbalance is far, far higher than most people realise. Maybe you could get your DH to read it too and compare notes. It might make for some interesting conversations in the evening instead of watching TV together. smile

sunshineandbooks Sun 10-Jul-11 17:28:55

Hmm. Should not put up with less... that should read blush

joaninha Sun 10-Jul-11 17:49:55

Yeah but isn't that what mothers are for? To run their fingers over the dust, make "tut tut" noises and generally make you feel guilty about how messy you keep your home .... or is that just my mother?!!

wicketkeeper Sun 10-Jul-11 18:57:56

Haha Joaninha - my mother's mother is still doing that to her, and she's been dead 51 years!!! And DM now does it to me AND my daughter!

Sunshine - totally agree that attitude counts for a lot. I don't mind doing a lot for someone who notices and appreciates - and I hope I appreciate what he does too. I do think it'll be a long time before women stop feeling responsible for the housework, even if we don't actually do all of it (I'm just more likely to notice that the loo needs cleaning or we're running short of bread than he is. And also I'll feel more guilty if someone turns up unexpectedly and the place is a tip.)
Time to cook tea - joint effort tonight grin

rainbowtoenails Sun 10-Jul-11 19:30:21

I second reading wifework, it is a very good book and i think you would relate well to it.

iggagog Sun 10-Jul-11 20:08:56

I read (and was very influenced by) Wifework before we moved in together/got married, and I'm a bit scared to re-read it to see how far I've fallen into all the traps!

wicketkeeper Sun 10-Jul-11 21:47:43

<off to beg/borrow/steal/buy from Amazon a copy of Wifework> Watch this space.

clarlce Sun 10-Jul-11 22:33:02

I must be of your daughters generation (never thought feminism could evolve biologically!) as i become infuriated if i have to do one more dishwasher unpack than my partner. Note - Partner! and not husband.

I'm guessing if you feel you do more then you probably do. The thing i have to keep reminding myself is that most women take on more work than is actually necessary. Most men wouldnt even notice certain tasks that women consider essential.

The best thing to do is to lower your standards so that they're closer to your husbands. It will be difficult for a short while not doing the ironing or the dusting or all those other totally useless, thankless tasks.

You know they were only invented to keep women occupied so that they wouldn't have any free time to educate themselves.

wicketkeeper Sun 10-Jul-11 23:10:14

oh clarice, puhleese. You may well be the same generation as my daughter. But I only married DH last year, after 10 years living together. I have post grad qualifications, I'm a company director, and I have absolutely no intentions of lowering my standards. And who said DH's standards were lower? I only said he wouldn't notice so quickly, not that he wouldn't care. And yes I iron his shirts - do you really think no-one would notice if he turned up to a meeting all crumpled? It's not useless (first impressions are everything), and it's not thankless. Don't make assumptions about me!! (My apologies if your comments were intended to be ironic). Personally, I feel life's too short for counting the number of times you fill the dishwasher...

Interesting point about the evolution of feminism - absolutely it has evolved. The whole point of my post was that my mother's expectations and my daughter's are very different - and I'm in the middle somewhere.

HerBeX Sun 10-Jul-11 23:26:29

I suspect that if you've bothered to post on here, you have some uneasiness somewhere about it.

Wifework will solve all your problems. grin

But yes I too am a fan of "how does the leisure time divvy up".

I have not yet come across a fairer, less anal, more sane way to assess if one partner is doing more or less than their fair share of the shitwork.

swallowedAfly Mon 11-Jul-11 10:11:25

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swallowedAfly Mon 11-Jul-11 10:12:56

Message withdrawn

clarlce Mon 11-Jul-11 13:50:13

wow - chill the fuck out! I was speaking generally about men and women and that, where domestic tasks are concerned, women usually have a higher standard and it isn't always necessary, a compromise should be met.

Clearly this does not relate to your situation, it is perhaps that your husband isn't as efficient as you are - as in, doesn't do the job at the time you would consider it best to do it. E.g unpacking the dishwasher in the morning etc.

Personally, if i were you, i wouldnt read any feminist literature since it would appear the two of you have the kind of relationship that suits you well. It is not radically feminist nor wholly traditional and you both seem to respect each other very much. We're talking about life here not a navy ship - it need not be perfect nor tasks executed to the finest detail.

Usually its a case of who is in charge (normally the woman) and that once the man feels in charge of domestic duties he suddenly springs into life and starts ironing and cleaning like a lunatic.

ilovedora27 Mon 11-Jul-11 16:07:45

Swallowedafly - Its funny you should say that cause thats what its like in our house but the other way round. I am always asking questions when I am doing stuff and getting his input. My mum does that I always thought it was just a thing most women did as they often like talking more. Questions like do you like this or this, how shall I make this food do you want this or this in it, can you come and look at this a minute etc. When I am at home I have a habit of doing it by text as well blush

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