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Working Moms Want a Wife

by Shira Boss  |  4754 views  |  6 comments  |       Rate this now! 

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In 1972 Judy Syfers wrote an essay for Ms. Magazine called "I Want a Wife." It appears that little has changed - according to this article from the New York Times, working moms want someone to help with housework, childcare, and all the to-dos that go into keeping a family and household running. They want a wife.

Here's both a startling and not-so-surprising statistic from the article:

According to 2006 survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in five men engages in some kind of housework on an average day, while more than half of women do.

And while many husbands do help around the house and take part in major household decisions, few of us can deny that most of the burden is on our shoulders.

Do you agree? Is this different in your family? Sound off with your reactions!

6 comments so far...

  • This issue was one of the reasons my parents split up. I'm lucky; my husband does a fair share of the housework. Grocery shopping, in fact, is his "turf". He and our son consider it their job, and I'm so glad.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Daisy on 20th January 2008

  • I remember this article! I was 9 when it came out. My mother was a charter member of Ms. I read every issue. Our house was full of discussions on topics like this. I think it is as a result of this that when it comes to the house work, my husband and I tend to treat it as if we were room mates and not "husband and wife". He doesn't want a house wife, I don't want to be a house wife. We have someone come in two days a week to clean our four-storey town house. Where I live, in Istanbul, full-time help is not uncommon among couples with two careers. I do most of my work at home, so our hired wife comes in just two times a week. I call any cleaning day "Redemption Day."

    The funny thing is, because my mother was a feminist and refused to be a housewife, I was never taught to clean my room. It was an uproarious mess, a legend in our city ("Is it true your parents don't make you clean up your room?") (in my defense, it was messy but not 'dirty'). I took a lot of ribbing because of it-- but I grew up to live in a place where cleaning personnel come with the marriage-- so ha ha ha.

    As for the micro -level, my husband takes out the garbage, arranges all household events involving decor (he's an architect), does most of the fruit and vegetable shopping, picks up after himself, has always been involved in child care very closely, and pays the bigger bills. I try to keep after myself and our daughter to be tidy, arrange dinner, throw in a load of two of laundry, look after the cat and the horse, and take care of the physical needs of our daughter (although they do like to go sock shopping together. For some reason they both go through socks at an alarming rate and I just let them take care of that together.)

    My husband cooks on his day off, and recently has begun making excellent smoothies. He thinks that men should be independent and wants to live that way. (Here in Turkey it is not uncommon for men to ask their wives to go get them a glass of water-- though not in his family).

    Our part-time wife takes care of the big stuff.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KatieK on 20th August 2007

  • I agree with Mary. I also think that men assign extra value to stress level. They think that the tasks that wives do are not as stressful as office work or the work that men do around the house. That might also contribute to why men view their contribution as fair.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Victoria on 16th August 2007

  • In my experience, men traditionally do high-visibility jobs around the house. They are often time consuming (mowing the lawn, painting the shutters, fixing the fence, etc.) and when they are completed, there is a visible result. Meanwhile, women traditionally do a majority of what I term the "invisible" work. Women plan the meals, pay the bills, schedule the appointments, send the birthday cards, clean out the refrigerator, drive the car pool, apply the bandaid, buy new underwear and on and on and on. Though many, many of these tasks are completed each day, there is no visible result. In addition, when it comes to jobs around the house, I would say that many of the jobs men traditionally do are closed-ended, one time jobs, while many of the jobs women traditionally do are open-ended endeavors that seem to have no specific end to them.

    I think this is largely a matter of perception. At the end of a Saturday, my husband can see the nicely cut lawn and the freshly washed cars in the driveway. He feels like he's done his part. He can also see the freshly folded laundry that I've finished and the cupboard full of groceries I purchased. He sees that I've done work too. In his mind, we're even. But he can't "see" the bills I paid, the papers I filed, the phone call I made to RSVP to a party, and the letters I mailed. The reality for us is that by me taking responsibility for all the "invisible" tasks, I end up doing much more around the house than he does. Does he purposely avoid doing work around the house? No, but he perceives a lot less work than there actually is to keep our household running.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mary Koch on 16th August 2007

  • That is so funny. I said the same exact thing, "I need a wife" when I was offered a compelling FT position with a great company. The guys making the offered laughed. They probably didn't get the joke. They were all senior execs with stay at home wives.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by boysmommy on 15th August 2007

  • I once heard a couple commiserating that both of them were "helping" with the housework, but neither of them was actually "doing" it. Therefore, it never got done well.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Daisy on 15th August 2007