Many contemporary married women would love to see their husbands helping out around the house. However, getting men to do household chores has remained a pipe dream for many.
It is a given that wives spend more time on housework than their husbands even if they both work outside the home and the husbands offer to help. According to Chris Hart, a psychologist, couples who enjoy dual incomes are much more stable if they resolve the problem of sharing house chores.
Further, according to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, husbands who do chores, are more likely to raise daughters who aspire to less traditional roles, and instead are driven towards potentially higher-paying careers.
Amidst the debate on whether men should help with the house chores and to what extent, lies the question: Do men who don’t share in domestic chores make good husbands?
According to Ken Munyua, a Nairobi-based psychologist, doing household chores is not something men are accustomed to. He observes that unlike men, women have traditionally been socialised to see doing chores as one of their roles.
“From a tender age, women are consciously and subconsciously taught through cultural practices that they are the ones to take care of the home; that they are the homemakers,” he says.
“This does not mean that men who don’t share in household responsibilities don’t make good husbands,” he adds.
Munyua is quick to note that despite their contrary socialisation, men should strive to take up certain household responsibilities.
“Sharing chores is all about shared responsibilities. For instance, if your spouse is busy in the kitchen and your daughter is making a fuss, take her up and soothe her. Don’t continue surfing sports channels while you shout to your wife to come and attend to the child.”
There are wives who will want their husbands to engage in more household chores as a way of demonstrating their commitment to them and their union.
“In such a scenario, you may want him to engage in an activity like changing diapers, that he won’t be enthusiastic about in order to gauge his level of care,” says Susan Gacheru, a family coach based in Nakuru.
“If he isn’t totally for the idea, he won’t stick with it for long. The better approach is to look at the bigger picture of how you both envision your marriage. Once you have a shared understanding, then you can delve into the logistics of household duties with less friction.”
Gacheru observes that there are good men who may have grown up with the notion that men don’t engage in household chores, especially if they didn’t see their fathers clean the dishes or laundry.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll make worse husbands. In fact, they could be great in all attributes other than household chores,” she says.
According to Dr Hart, the best way to get your husband to help with the chores, is to resist the temptation to have him do things like you do.
“Husbands are put off by their wives’ insistence on controlling standards in the home. Like when he washes up, she re-stacks the plates her way,. Don’t criticise him if you want him to continue helping out” he says.
Dr Hart further notes that rather than split household chores down the middle, it would be better if couples found the right balance in sharing duties.
“The feeling that one is contributing or doing more than the other could seriously breed disharmony in your marriage.”