Who Does More Work?

Couples and Chores

The Time Magazine front cover article this month is called “Chore Wars” and sets out to answer who does more work in life as a couple. It's a fascinating article and an issue that often comes up in couples counseling, especially among working parents.

The article documents a study that found overall that if a man's actual paid work hours are taken into consideration, that women are only doing very slightly more total work (in housework and childcare) for their family than their male partners. This is no doubt surprising to some, especially those who have read the popular book, Second Shift by Arlie Hochschild. Hochschild argues that working wives often go home to a second shift of housework and childcare thereby making their actual work hours far greater than their husbands.

I have observed in my work with couples a growing trend of men being much more involved in childcare and house work and they are still working a lot of hours outside the home. Men are expected to do more and more around the house. Yet, as the Time Magazine article points out, women are still feeling overwhelmed and annoyed. Part of this is because men do tend to take more personal time for themselves and the demands of young children do tend to fall more on mothers. It can feel for mothers that there's no escape. And, women tend to carry the mental work of managing the household, which as any women will tell you, that takes work too!

The point of the article, suggested reluctantly by the overworked mom who wrote the article, is that most women may just need to give up the idea that they really are doing more around the house and acknowledge that, in general, both parents are working hard.

I like this idea for the simple reason that it just seems like it could be one less thing to argue over. Truly, wouldn’t life be happier if we just appreciate each other for what the other does for home and family? Wouldn’t we just start to notice all the things that go unnoticed that the other does? I think so. Yes, I’m the one that always changes the towels but my husband goes to Sam’s Club so that I don’t have to. I just can’t bear it and God bless him for it.

So, ladies, I’m telling you to start thinking: “Oh, you mean this really isn’t the problem I thought it was? Okay! Let’s go have more sex!”

(Eyes just began to roll!)

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