Saturday, November 3, 2007

Husbands and housework

Cristina, a lovely lady I got to know through blogging, wrote a post where she shares some of her thoughts about how much, and when, husbands should help with homemaking duties. Even though I'm not married yet, I thought I'd say a few words from my perspective - and all you ladies are very welcome to drop by Cristina's blog and share your thoughts as well, she will deeply appreciate it!

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while probably know that I believe in the Biblical roles of man and woman: generally, a man is to be the breadwinner, while the woman's primary duty is to take care of her husband, children and home. Within this general division, each family finds an individual balance that suits them.

While I think the home is primarily a woman's realm, it doesn't mean I believe the husband (or sons) should never lift a finger to help the wife and mother. Sometimes, indeed, it's very difficult to manage without help. Women are physically weaker than men, and at certain seasons of a woman's life this is felt even more acutely, for example during a difficult pregnancy or after giving birth. A husband who loves and honors his wife isn't supposed to think it's beneath him to mop the floor when it's difficult for her to bend, or to cook dinner when her feet won't support her for longer than five minutes.

An observation I made - and this is something that was confirmed by other ladies - is that men often simply don't notice junk, clutter, dirt and dust. I know I'm painting with a broad brush here, but I'm convinced that's a trend with men - they simply see things differently. Studies proved that women are geared towards noticing details (and a very big part of homemaking has to do with paying attention to details!). Men are built differently. Most men won't think about dinner until they are hungry; many of them won't go shopping until the refrigerator and freezer have been empty for weeks. This can often be a source of tension.

I believe that if a homemaker feels that at this season of her life she needs more help, she should calmly, gently and pleasantly talk it over with her husband. From my observations, many men will take out the garbage if asked - but the same men won't notice an overflowing garbage can for days if they aren't reminded about it. For a loving, kind and generous husband this will be a way to honor and support his wife when she most needs it.


USAincognito said...

I tend to think/act more like a guy according this post. I only eat when I am hungry and I definitely don't go shopping until my fridge and cupboards are empty. lol. And even though I am a neat freak, I hate doing housechores - if it wasn't for my maid, they would just sit without being done! lol. ;)

Rebekah S. said...

So true, Anna! Yet again, I couldn't agree with you more!

UltraCrepidarian said...

whoops... I continue...

1 Timothy 2:8-15 (KJV)

8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety

Okay, that means women who can have children, probably should, and they shouldn't preach a sermon at church. But I don't see anywhere in the bible where it says women should stay home with the children.

Nor does it say they shouldn't.

I think there's more freedom there than just to say... "it's biblical", and end it there.


Anna S said...

Warren... I think a point is missed here? I'm asking because you said "I continue"...

Allison said...

Titus 2:5 encourages women to be "busy at home" or "keepers at home", so to say that the Bible doesn't say that women are to stay home isn't completely true. Historically, women of that time period (and latter time periods too) were almost always busy in the home, while the husband and/or sons would work. They were productive though; they didn't sit around doing nothing.

Gothelittle Rose said...

Many who have studied that bit in 1 Timothy posit that Paul is dealing with a specific "Mother Earth"-based heresy of the time, telling the (exclusively female) members of the cult to stop spreading lies about early Biblical stories, which were rewritten to elevate woman far above man. In other words, he was telling militant feminists to sit down and shut up. He wasn't claiming that no woman can teach and we're only saved by childbirth.

Consider all the times he favorably mentions women who are leaders and deacons in their local churches.

I agree that husbands can and will help with the housework. My husband has his chores. I assign them (with his assent, of course) and remind him. I'm definitely the keeper of the home, but he'll let me direct him in helping out. It's a beautiful thing, once I get past the initial don't-wanna-do-anything stage with him. ^.^

When our son was an infant, I was so badly worn down by the delivery and subsequent weeks that I stopped eating and couldn't produce milk. My husband stepped in as protector and provider and took care of that little boy for six hours each evening, from when he got home from work until he went to bed, so that I could get some much-needed rest. It took only a few days after the beginning of that arrangement before I started to bounce back.

PhDCow said...

My husband and I have worked the chores out in the following way:

I do "inside" chores -- cooking, cleaning, dish washing, etc.

He does "outside" chores -- lawn mowing, snow blowing, gardening, trash

We both do the laundry, although he carries it since our washer and dryer are in the basement.

I'm grateful that he lived on his own before we got married. While he lived in an apartment with other college students and in a fraternity house (for a short time, thank goodness), he learned how to cook for himself, do his own laundry, and vacuum, so if I can't do the chores for whatever reason, he knows how to.

Mimi said...

It is true that most men have to be reminded when you need help with something ...
but I have to say that my husband as he gets older is much more help around the home than he was when the children were little...
actually now I don't even have to remind him.. when he sees that I need help with something he steps right up to the plate and helps..
of course it took many years of sharing to reach this point...

Jen said...

Anna, I just wanted to say that I stumbled across your blog awhile back, and I have been blessed repeatedly. Thank you so much for your perspective, insight, and openness. A lot of your posts have been very timely... :)
God bless,

Kristy Howard said...

As usual, you are right on target, Anna! I had to smile when I read the part about husbands taking out the trast... my sweet hubby is VERY helpful and considerate, but he usually doesn't notice the "little" things... like over flowing trash cans! But he always is great about lending a hand whenever I ask, or when he sees that I'm a bit overwelmed.

Lydia said...

I think also it is the duty of mothers to teach their sons to help out and be considerate of the weaker vessel.

My brothers here recently told me that we woman are always trying to "hide things", they (the guys) are just doing what is practical. Another example that guys and gals are NOT the same. And let us be thankful that were not!

Lydia said...

Oh, I thought I should leave these verses for mr. UltraCrepidarian :

1Ti 5:14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

Tit 2:5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Pro 31:27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

Sue said...

I personally think there isn't a "one size fits all" answer to this question. It will be different for each couple and may change several times during the course of their marriage.

But in general, if the wife doesn't work outside the home, I still think her husband should have some chores to do -- and not just the traditional ones. On the other hand, there's nothing to say that the wife can't learn something about, say, car maintenance, so she can take care of this if she has to.

If there are other circumstances, say both of you run a home business together, then I think the division of labor for housework should be divided more evenly.

But these are just my opinions. Each couple should make their own decision on this prayerfully and not let anyone else's opinions on their choices matter, whatever they are.

My .02...

Terry said...

Wow, Anna, it doesn't take much for you to open a can of worms, does it?:)) Anyway, I agree with you wholeheartedly and I don't disagree with anything you wrote. As for Warren, the Bible clearly says women are to be "keepers at home" and that we are to "manage our homes well". While I don't think it's impossible to do while holding down an outside job, it is extremely stressful and difficult, which doesn't exactly free a wife to make a home a haven, does it? Good post.

AnneK said...

Hehe I do agree. Hubby can sit around in mess and not see anything. It is a talent I think. I wish I could do that too, unfortunately I can't. We have assigned jobs too. He takes out the trash and it is ingrained in his mind, so no reminders are necessary. For us, we have a system- he does cutting, I do cooking and clean up after that, he does trash and yard work. It works great for us. If I get sick, he does everything and vice versa.

We learned we are a lot more efficient when we work together.

Brandy said...

Good thoughts!

My husband has little attention to details, but I don't mind. He's a huge helper to me. When I was pregnant with our daughter, he had no problems helping me do anything that needed done -- most times sending me to go sit down!
When I was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism, he was the same way (though he didn't need to tell me to sit down then, I was sleeping or napping 12-14hrs a day. I REALLY disliked that, but I couldnt' help it).

Even now, when there's not a whole lot wrong physically, he doesn't mind helping me out. I woke up the other day to see he was already up, had done the previous night's dishes (cuz my dad went to bed early and I didn't want to wake him with clanging dishes, so I just left them), and was making me something to eat.

Like he told me the other day ... his primary role is to be the breadwinner ... my primary role is to take care of him, our daughter, and our house ... but that doesn't mean we're not partners in those roles ... I can make some extra money (within the home, so long as it doesn't get in the way of my job as homemaker, homekeeper, and homeschooler) and he can help with housework occassionally.

Brenda said...

Your brush was not too broad. Our guy friends from college, who lived in our apartment complex, would come knocking for toilet paper-----NOW!

Now THAT is not noticing "details" until its almost too late!

UltraCrepidarian said...

The first half of my comment got lost.

I said, "I don't think the bible says women should stay home".

The second part of the comment somehow got submitted, but not the first part.

Then some later commenter mentioned Titus 2:5. That passage speaks of the older women who teach the younger women. There is no doubt that in the first century church a woman's only reasonable place was in her home. Thus the pastoral advice here is sound. It is clearly more descriptive than proscriptive.

Anyways sorry about the confusion in which the original first half of my comment got lost. It was longer but it is easy to summarize: It is wonderful if a woman can stay home and she is to be praised if she does, but she must not be criticized by other women if she cannot, or does not want to. It is not the ONLY way a woman can be virtuous.


Serena said...

You are so right, Anna! A friend and I were talking about this the other day: When our houses are messy, and it's driving us crazy, our husbands don't even NOTICE! I'm always so glad to see that you have such a wonderful head on your shoulders and that you will be going into your marriage with a godly heart!

JoAnn said...

Very well written. I will brag on my husband a bit and say that he does notice the details. He takes the trash out if its overflowing. He wipes up the counters if needed and cleans up after himself. I am truly blessed that if I leave for a day or two, I return to a house cleaner than when I left. I don't mean to sound offensive, and if me bragging on my husband would offend someone, please don't publish it. But I did want to say that there are husbands out there that aren't the norm. :)

Wanda's Girl said...

Hi "Ruby",

I saw a quote from a study about a year and a half ago which claimed that men's retinas contain fewer rods and cones than women's, on average, making it harder for them to see small particles, like dust and crumbs. The overflowing trash can and trail-of socks syndromes are going to need separate scientific investigations, though.

Emily said...

Awesome article. I agree 100%. It is also very helpful for me in my marriage that my parents marriage was also structured the same way.

My husband is so precious and thoughtful but like you said he does not NOTICE messes or things that need doing. But if I ever ask for his help he is so willing and supportive.

You have such a solid foundation for your upcoming marriage. Praise the Lord for your knowledge and understanding.

Gothelittle Rose said...


I agree that a woman can be virtuous outside of the home. I also agree that a married woman, especially with young children, should see that her home is settled before doing such outside work. There are some who can and some who can't... some who don't want to. I try to not judge.

However, I don't believe that a woman's place as described in the Bible should change over time. I don't believe that the way God says is best will change as the centuries change. People get this idea in their heads that society and people have 'evolved' past 'old-fashioned' ways and means. I simply don't believe it.

Cristina (a.k.a. "Stramenda") said...

Hi Anna - thank you very VERY much for providing your opinions re my post "When should hubby help with the housework?", which has been a very emotive issue for me. Thank you to everyone who has shared much wisdom, and to the lovely ladies (men) who took the time to read and comment personally on my own blog ...

In reading all of the comments, I wish to share a couple of my thoughts. Firstly its wonderful to see that so many husbands are helping out. But what do you do when a husband just rebels in this area? I admit I read some of the comments with a touch of envy !

Secondly, I believe God knew what He was doing when he said women should be keepers of the home. On my blog, I described utter and complete exhaustion when I had to work full time and carry the entire household burden. The sort of exhaustion that makes you indifferent to everything around you.

If a woman has to work and also completely keep the home (and children) on her own, there is just no way to fit it all in - exhaustion sets in and the marriage will suffer, since exhaustion leads to indifference. I think perhaps this topic has strengthened Anna's points in her prior blog posts that there is a reason a woman should primarily be concerned with the home, her children and husband, and any money making should be a second priority ...

It is just not possible for one person to do all the housekeeping, and work full time, and still maintain a good marriage and well adjusted children:- something will inevitably fall by the wayside.

Thank you sincerely

Maggie said...

I am not the best housekeeper by far, I admit that. I like to keep things tidied in a cluttery sort of way. When my boyfriend was house sitting for me in the Spring while I was away, I did not recognize the place when I came home. It was immaculate. I think he even washed the floors. He'll clean until he'll drop. He is definitely not your 'normal' guy. And he is a keeper!

Leigh said...

Very well said, Anna! I couldn't agree more! :)

Take care,

Buffy said...

I agree with your post. I am lucky that my husband, as well as doing typical 'manly' jobs around the house also enjoys doing the ironing!! But he cannot understand the need to be tidy or for things to look nice. I think this is often what a woman can give that a man is not capable of. Oh and I agree (with Lydia I think) that mothers should bring their sons up to be helpful round the house.

Michelle said...

Ha! my DH and I actually had a quite heated discussion about this this morning. Last night I was stressed because the house was a mess and it was late. He assured me that he would help me early today get it all cleaned up so I could sleep peacefully. So he helped me with one thing this morning (giving my older son some cereal) and then sat on the computer while I cleaned up the kitchen, picked up the living room, made us breakfast, kept an eye on the kids, and cooked a triple batch of waffles...yeah, I got mad - but the reality is that he totally forgot what he had said the night before and because his brain isn't wired to see what needs to be done, he just thought I was upset about something else and decided to stay out of my way...yeah, smart move. We reconciled it, and it really came down to the fact that I'm a wife so household things are my job, so I don't like asking for help. I much prefer it and it means more to me when he just finds something that needs to be done and does it : D

Anonymous said...

My two daughters & one son have chore rotation, & it is divided equally. They are each required to keep their rooms tidy, & my husband or I might just as easily choose one child as another to do job X, with no consideration of gender. But I know I find myself giving my son (more & more, lately) jobs that require physical strength & endurance. He was never so happy as when we entrusted him with the lawnmower (walk-behind variety), & when he'd finished, he proudly showed me his blisters.

And the grownups? Well, our division of labor is pretty traditional. I am a SAH & my husband goes to work. But every once in a while, things might get crazy around here, & dh is not too proud to start a load of dishes. He has changed diapers, too. These things were particularly helpful during the first couple of weeks after our third child was born. But I would never leave housework undone, & then hope that my husband would pitch in. I say this from the perspective of a SAH of course, & if I worked a pay job fulltime, this would have to be different.


Jeannine said...

My husband helps a lot with the housework. Not because it is necessary (it's just the two us us), but because he wants to share. He has managed his own household during university, so he is used to it, and also enjoys cleaning (I think). He's especially taking care of our windows and as I don't like window cleaning, I'm rather glad :).
Sometimes it is a little strange to me, because I feel that I as the wife should be doing all the cleanin, but he disagrees (especially now that I have an important exam coming up). So I don't complain :).

Candy said...

I agree :)
Interesting post! :)

Ashley said...

I would say that my husband is 'all guy' - he loves to do anything athletic. Throw a football, baseball, watch sports. Our roles are super traditional, simply because that is the way we like them, and feel they are our God-given roles. :)

However, when I was pregnant with our oldest, I spent every morning puking in the bathroom. My wonderful husband would pat me on the back and then go make his own breakfast. He's been cooking breakfast ever since! He loves breakfast food, and likes to putter in the kitchen.

I also don't mind admitting that I just can't get ahead sometimes, and humbly asking if he'll help me whip the house in shape. With both of us moving, it *SPARKLES* in an hour or two! He does have an eye for detail, but I'm blessed that most of the time he is much more laid back than he could be.

I have found, personally, that asking for a bit of help to get caught up with 'my job' is much more effective than expecting him to do something on his own, or getting a chip on my shoulder that things could be divided more evenly, etc. Of course, I'm tremedously grateful that he drives 40mins one way to work each day, and I want him to enjoy and relax during the evenings.

Emily said...

I agree with what Sue wrote: "I personally think there isn't a "one size fits all" answer to this question. It will be different for each couple and may change several times during the course of their marriage." Good points you brought up Anna!