Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Division of Labor

What's the division of labor in your house? I was chatting with a young newlywed recently. Neither she nor her new husband ever had a roommate before. They were not only learning how to live with one, they were learning to be one.

When I first got married, the first time, we assumed traditional roles. I was pretty much in charge everything that took place inside the house and he took care of what was going on outside.

By the first time I got married, the second time, things hadn't changed much except that I was better at asking for help. Still, help was only given when asked for and I was responsible for making sure chores were getting done.

When did I become responsible for the household chores? The house belongs to both of us - both our names are on the deed and the mortgage - so why doesn't it seem we are equally vested in it's upkeep?

"Seem" is the operative word, I suppose, because it all depends on perspective. If we start talking about paying for a new roof, maintaining the cars, or mowing the lawn you can bet Hubby feels he's the one shouldering all the responsibility.

Back in the day when we lived in an apartment and there wasn't much in the way of outdoor chores, I asked my husband how it came to be that I was responsible for the domestic upkeep. We both worked full time. Shouldn't he share in the housecleaning?

He argued that he made more money than I did and therefore his time was more valuable than mine. (Oh, yes he did. Go figure that we're still married.) The point is that he gladly contributed to the housecleaning by paying to hire someone else to do it.

I felt it was wrong for him to buy his way out of what should be his duty to contribute. But I cashed the check anyway. And, why not? He could afford it and was willing to pay for it. Still, I wasn't sure if I had won or lost that argument.

We still follow traditional roles for the most part although he spends more time in the kitchen than he used to and I'll take out the garbage. We still pay to have the house cleaned, and now the lawn mowed. The argument that our time is valuable still applies. But it's more about sanity, enjoying life, and enjoying each other.

And making things work.

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