Spouses Sharing Equal Housework Essay

1597 words - 7 pages

"Who says it's a woman's job to clean?" In today's society, Americans are working more than ever. This is particularly the case for women. Women continue to increase their participation in the paid work force, and the average paid work week of fully employed women has risen from 35 hours in 1969 to 40 hours in 1990 (Schor 1993). The overriding question for most dual-earning marriages--is who is going to do the housework. Apparently men and women have a different perspective on who should do what, and they find themselves fighting about it. The man is apparently demanding that she do most of the work, and she is demanding that the man do it (Harley, Dr. "How to Divide Domestic ...view middle of the document...

National Forum.) Men are also doing more childcare after the baby comes home. Opinion polls show that two of three American men say that they value families over jobs, and two of three wives say they want husbands to spend more time with the children. As most women have figured out by now, men are not very motivated to do childcare and housekeeping. Whether these attitudes will motivate men to share in the full range of family tasks remains to be seen, but fathers appear to be doing more than they formerly did.Fathers who are sharing everyday parenting with their wives is increasing, such men are intimately involved in the details of their children's lives, and while they might not act exactly like mothers, they adopt some similar styles of parenting, including treating sons and daughters alike. As everyday parents, men are more in touch with their child's developing needs and abilities in setting realistic goals for them. The experience of caring for children also generalizes to other relationships: men who do more parenting report they are more in touch with their emotions, are more compassionate, and can relate better to their wives.Though men are doing more parenting than their own fathers did, changes have been slower than anticipated. Some of the major barriers to father involvement stem from job demands and the structure of the workplace. Work-family programs (like flextime and parental leave) are usually designed with women in mind, giving some men more schedule flexibility and shorter hours (Mellor, Earl. 1986. "Shift work and Flextime" Monthly Labor Review 109:14-21).However, women have discovered that there are costs associated with making children a priority, including slower promotions, lower earnings, and a general perception that one is not serious about work. Men's family involvement also has been limited around the house. Many men worry about their masculinity, they refuse to perform activities they consider "women's work." But perhaps most importantly, men do little family work because they can get away with doing so. On the basis of being men, they expect to benefit from the domestic services of women. This outdated sense of masculine entitlement, coupled with women feeling obligated, leads to divisions of family work that are markedly unbalanced. Men and women each have a totally different perspective on who should do what, and find themselves fighting about it (Thompson, Linda. 1991. "Family Work: Women's Sense of Fairness." Journal of Family Issues 12:181-96). The man is apparently demanding that the woman do most of the work, and she is demanding that the man do it. Neither of them feeling, it is their responsibility. Domestic responsibilities are a time bomb in many marriages. When marriage occurs there is willingness on behalf of both spouses to share domestic responsibilities. Newlyweds commonly wash dishes together, make the bed together, and divide household tasks. The groom welcomes the help he gets from his wife...

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