April 27, 2009

Division of Labor

So I've been wondering lately. . .

Growing up I thought the world worked like my parents did. What child didn't? My mom was in charge of everything inside of the house and my dad was in charge of the outside. Both worked outside the home, so for the most part things were divided relatively evenly. And when I got married, I just assumed that we would have a similar understanding. Then I met my husband's family and realized just how different things were: The gardener was in charge of things outside, along with the pool man, and the house cleaners were in charge of the things inside.

Ever since I made the realization that every marriage is different when it comes to the division of labor, I have been very observant of other marriages and how things work. I know one family where the wife is in charge of all things on the home front--and we're talking inside and out. The lawn, the garden, the diapers, the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning, everything. And her husband is responsible solely for bringing home the bacon.

Another family I know is similar to my parents. She is in charge of things inside the house and he does most of the work outside. But it isn't uncommon for her to mow the lawn or for him to cook dinner. The boundaries aren't strict. They're more like guidelines. (name that movie)

And another family there isn't really a division. Yes, he has a job and provides for the family, but half the time he cooks dinner and cleans the house. And half the time she does all the weeding in the garden and mows the lawn. They do these things as they need to be done. Meaning when he notices the bathroom has to be cleaned, he pulls out the cleaning supplies. He doesn't wait for his wife to do it, because it is her job. When the garden needs to be weeded, or the sidewalk shoveled, she doesn't wait for him to get home.

In our house, we never really made a conscious decision about who does what around the house. We just kind of fell into our patterns and habits. Sometimes, though, I wish there were a few more boundaries and expectations around here. . .

But now I am wondering: How does it work at your house?

18 comments:

Kristina P. said...

We don't really have a strong division either. I cook more than my husband, but we eat out a lot.

I will say that he does the laundry most of the time.

And if something needs to get done, I generally have to ask him, rather than him just doing it. But he's good with helping around the house.

Debbie said...

Growing up my family sounds like it was a lot like yours.

Now that I'm married I mostly take care of 'the home front'. Cleaning, cooking, bills, car repair, kids, etc. Hubby is wonderful about helping out, but it isn't generally on his mind as 'his role', you know? So I do have to ask.

If I had my way though, I think it'd be nice to have him do the cars, the yard and a small lot of weekly chores.

SO said...

Um I wish, wish, wish that our house was like the last one described. Honestly ours is probably more like the where I take care of everything on the home front and he brings home the bacon. My husband would probably disagree with this. He does mow the lawn every now and then and will do thing when asked but most of the time anything here at home falls to me. In fact I just took down the Christmas lights on Friday. Yep. Because he wasn't getting it done.

Aubrey said...

Pirates! I love that movie.
Anyway, I think right now we're kinda like the last one you talked about, where we both just kinda do stuff when we see it needs to be done. Matt gets home before 4 most days, so it doesn't really make sense for me to have dinner ready right when he gets home, so we usually just make it together at a later hour. Stuff'll probably change when we have more kids & our life gets busier, but right now that's where we're at. :)

janae said...

What a fun post! It really got people talking! I grew up the way you grew up, too. My family now is more like the last one you described. Partially because Sam is a sweetheart around the house (I don't do diapers on weekends), and partially because I'm pretty feisty outside the house. I like the lawn to be mowed every week. So if Sam is to busy, I do it. Sam with shoveling the snow. We pretty much both do what needs to be done. It's pretty nice!

janae said...

I can't believe I just made the to/too mistake. ;)

hippyrochelle said...

When I was growing up my mom did EVERYTHING, inside and outside, my dad didn't lift a finger to help out around the house.
My husband and I do things differently. I do most of the cooking, cleaning, bills, diapers, laundry etc. and Scott does outside stuff like mowing the lawn. He is also very helpful when I don't get to things inside, like vaccuming or doing the dishes, especially on weekends. He also is super good at helping with diapers when he is home, and is a general fix-it type of guy.

Melinda said...

Hmmmmm, growing up my house wasn't too clear. My mom is a super cleaner and always did that, but if there were spots on the carpet my dad would get out the cleaner and we'd all do it. He'd mow the lawn, but we all would weed together. I'm not sure. My husband and I are more like that, I do some things, he does others. Its not too clear. Although he ALWAYS mows the lawn (because I have horrible allergies. And I'm weak.), but that means it doesn't get done nearly enough. Really, if I need help with something, I just ask him. Thats how we roll. :)

Erin said...

It took about three years for me to explain to my husband that I expected him to take the garbage out because that's what my dad always did. Before that, it piled up and I got really cranky. Ever since then, he takes it out :)

Rachelle said...

me and hubby never really set "roles" and i like it this way. he actually loves cleaning and cooking, and so do i... so it works out. i think he feels like its his responsibility to be the bread winner but i work too. i think the way we do it "for us" avoids feelings of negativity if one person is doing one thing all the time. but i do always do the bills but that's cuz i love doing them. and he always puts gas in the cars, cuz i hate doing it...LOL. i guess you just gotta find what works for you. my parents roles were very defined and i hated it. i felt like my mom got taken advantage of and underappreciated for her roles, and my dad for his. so for me and my hubby, "sharing" the roles works for us. we don't have kids yet so we'll have to see... but we have been married for 12 years and i still think he's a hottie and love being around him, so i guess that says something! CUTE POST. :)

That Girl in Brazil said...

WHOO-HOO, this is STILL a topic in our house!

I do most of the stuff in our house, but that's mostly because my husband is SERIOUSLY never home.

That will change when we move to the States and his schedule clears up. ;o)

(And for the record, before he became bishop and Insane Finance Director, we cleaned together every Saturday. I did most of the cooking, and he did most of the dishes. Pretty evenly split.)

wonder woman said...

Most of the time, the home-front is all me, and Superman is bread-winner. There are sometimes days like to day where he does lawn stuff, but I'd say we split lawncare 50/50. (I spent 12 hours pulling weeds and mowing last week.)

I wish he did more. But he hates dishes, sucks at cooking, and isn't much into childcare. He plays with the kids alot, but it's not rare for me to come home and find out that a diaper hasn't been changed since the previous evening. He's never done a load of laundry. Sometimes he tidies, like when people are coming over in 20 minutes, or he wants to bring the dogs in. But that's about it. He honestly feels like he has his job, and I have mine.

My dad was a lot more helpful around the house, and I also falsely assumed that's how it would be for us.

p.s. my WV is "inables." Now that's what you call ironic. (name that movie)

Rachel said...

Wonderwoman that is the same with us! I mean I could have written that comment!

wendy said...

Oh it is totally about finding that rhythm in life and marriage eh. There are no rules, no right or wrong. You just find what fits. My husband insits on doing all the laundry --that works for me.

~Thought's By Dena~ said...

this was a great post and it was interesting reading everyones comments and seeing how life is for others. Here I pretty much take care of things in the house and he does outside the house...although he loves to cook so when ever he wants to I let him!!!!

Carolyn said...

Basically my husband does anything I refuse to do :)

But that isn't too much. Mostly just car stuff.

And I do the things he refuses to do...like cook.

Everything else we share.

2busy said...

We work along side each other most of the time. If he is mowing, then I am trimming bushes and weeding. If I am cleaning bathrooms, then he is vacuuming and sweeping. Rarely does he cook, though, unless it is frozen pizza or mac n cheese.

Mother Goose said...

this is how it works. I am boss of everything. However, there are no set guidelines for either of us. We fell into it. Mr. incredible will move or step outside the comfort zone if I roar. which isn't often but it used to be.

I used to do the outside and the inside. He did all the bacon burning. Then more kids evolved and he did outside i did inside. Then the kids got older and Mr. incredible's list got shorter and the chore list got longer.

Now, he does it all, he pitches in wherever there is slack and I do the same. WE never said, this is your job this is mine. Well, maybe i did... LOL
basically, all he has to do is listen to me. ::tongue in cheek of course::

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