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Interests & Expectations   ::   Time   ::   Recreation   ::   Household  ::   In-laws   ::   Religion & Spirituality

Expectations About Household Tasks

"There is nothing more admirable than two people who see eye-to-eye keeping house as man and wife, confounding their enemies, and delighting their friends."
- Homer, 9th Century BC

Discussion: The Current State of Housework

In marriages of the 1940's and 1950's, men were usually the primary breadwinners and the majority of women did not work full-time outside the home. Thus, the division of household labor during that time period reflected distinct responsibilities, with women doing the vast majority of housework and childcare. Many things have changed in today's society. Today, the majority of families are dual-earner families, where both the husband and wife work full-time outside the home. Unfortunately, the amount of household labor done by men has not kept pace with women's entrance into the workforce and is not equivalent to that done by women. In fact, one study estimates that on the basis of time spent, women do about three times more housework and childcare than men. A woman working a full day outside the home and then coming home to a full day's equivalent of housework is what author, Arlie Hochschild, refers to as "the second shift." Women who work outside the home also juggle more family responsibilities before, during, and after work.

Men, however, should be just as capable with housework and childcare as women. In fact, in couples where both partners work full-time, men do contribute a little more to the housework, but it is still not equal. Housework and childcare can and ought to be a shared responsibility between husband and wife. It should not be thought of as the husband simply "helping" the wife when he contributes in these areas. The more couples are able and willing to share household responsibilities, the easier their burdens will seem and the happier their marriages will be.

Discussion: Perceptions of Equity

As more and more women have entered the workforce they have begun to question how fair it is for them to continue to bare the burden of most of the housework. Couples today are generally more equal in their attitudes and beliefs about whose responsibility it is to do housework, but beliefs and actual practices do not always match up. Remember, research shows women still do more housework.

However, who actually does the most housework versus paid work is not as important to the health of the marriage as the couple's perceptions that things are divided fairly. This takes honest communication though, and each partner being willing to express their likes, dislikes, and preferences surrounding housework and paid employment.

For example, for some couples, the husband and wife may both honestly be satisfied with the husband doing the majority of the paid labor and the wife doing the majority of the housework and childcare. For other couples this would be unacceptable.



Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, December 06). Personal Interests & Expectations. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License