In Marriage, It’s Not About the Dishes. It’s About Respect.

Readers share tips for avoiding the pitfalls of gender stereotypes in relationships.

Comments: 206

  1. Why do we have stereotypes at all? What’s with all the labels? Is it too hard to think independently? I don’t label easily but I find that if people can’t put a label on you they have trouble dealing with you, so they don’t.

  2. @Senator Blutarski, PhD - if you "don't label easily", why do I assume I could describe 5 or 6 things about you based upon your self-given Reader name? Why didn't you choose "Jeopardy watcher" or "great human here"? Humans are taught to label, describe, and classify in so many ways from birth. I think it's remarkable how far US society has evolved in the last 50 years despite the fact we have so far to go.

  3. If you made it all the way to marriage without learning the importance of respecting others, then it's not about the marriage. And "equitable roles" doesn't necessarily mean that your roles are interchangeable. A diversity of skills, talents and energy is celebrated everywhere else, why not in marriage? And if you truly think marriage is all about "power", then perhaps just form a corporation and leave the romance to those who know better.

  4. @M. Casey : what you said. Marriages or relationships that are based on "political correctness" almost always go down in flames. Marriage is not about this kind of mean-spirited, angry "rule-making" and tit-for-tat "balance". People who genuinely love one another work things out.

  5. While traditional roles were grounded mostly in abuse of power, they also reflected the realities of those roles in the allocation of work. A good marriage walks the line, tightrope more accurately, between realities and perception. Respecting the transcendent value of love helps a lot, in all relationships, even a relationship with nature, and her universe.

  6. I am a male married traditionally to a stranger, a woman, 41 years ago. I have seen many ups and downs in my marital life and spent quite a few sleepless nights on account of marital friction. Both of us are at fault. In spite of that our marital life is going strong mainly on account of eternal bond called children. I agree with the first para in this article mainly because of the reason man - woman relationship is too complex. They are completely different personalities on account of biological features and birth characteristics. In the case of other relationship, the gender is same. As such complications are somewhat less. The couple becomes blessed by becoming parents. The joy children provide us is simply heavenly. Marital relationship under the circumstances must become strong and not weak. Parental responsibility increases manyfold. Keeping aside ego, parents must strive for long lasting relationship rather than breaking, which children can ill afford. One must clearly understand that marriage is not purely about sharing domestic chores equally with the spouse, which has become a huge issue mainly on account of unequal burden on women. Marriage is nothing but compromise irrespective of type of marriage. Understanding between spouses in all matters including the minor ones is most important. Ego plays a huge role in marital life especially when both work since both are economically independent. Marriage means love, compromise, family bonding and mutual respect.

  7. @Sivaram Pochiraju I worked at a hospital in U.S. where most of my co-workers had arranged marriages. They were Muslim, Hindi, Mormon, and hard core Christian. They all agreed it was best because had to understand each other and work together.

  8. @Ivy : though it seems strange to western minds, with our cultural emphasis on autonomy and independence and "choice"....arranged marriages work out about as much as "love marriages".

  9. We've been married 25 years. I have graduate degrees, and returned to work briefly after our first was born. But once my husband completed his medical training, we found ourselves in the highest tax bracket, where my earnings would have been mostly consumed by taxes and childcare. I'm not complaining of course (!), I'm simply describing our reality. Considering the situation, I'm fine with being "a traditional wife." My mother was happy with the role, and I feel blessed to have the rare *choice* to follow in her footsteps. If I had wanted to return to work, my husband would have been supportive. But instead, I willingly took the role of buffer to his stressful career, and also enjoyed being a reliable presence for our children. Our roles could not be more clearly defined, and when that's the case, there is no conflict like what's described in the article! My only concern is that this dynamic may not be possible for (or maybe desired by) our children. If our son marries, for example, it's likely that his wife will work outside the home. That's what I expected to do, after all! Children have no idea how much work goes on behind the scenes. I guess they will just have to figure out a new paradigm for themselves.

  10. @Ginger I dated a doctor who was basically always on call, the best I could do was feed him and take care of him as best I could. Prior lovers had described me as maternal (they all had messed up mothers) but until he pointed it out, I never got it. And I was working full time + as a scientist.

  11. @Ivy yes, full-time doctoring is very demanding and stressful. We know several 2-doctor couples - with children! - and I can't imagine how they find time to enjoy anything. It's just not an experience I would choose. When our children were small I would envy my friends as they complained about their husbands traveling. If Mom's exhausted, toddlers are OK with having cereal for dinner, but a husband who comes home only to eat and sleep is not! However like I said, overall I've been content with my chosen role.

  12. @Ginger my father was a doctor - my mother was a stay-at-homebody as a sole practitioner GP in a small rural town, he would work long hours (maybe 80 hours a week including midnight callouts to road accidents and hospital emergency surgery) Lunchtime at home he would typically rush in from the adjoining surgery - sit down beside me, wolf some food, before his wife made some disparaging comment about how he was eating, whereupon he would leap up in outrage and storm back to work, not to be seen for another 6 hours. He died of a stroke when I was 15. Recently his ex-partner showed me my father’s handwritten letter to him as another doctor who joined him as partner when I was maybe 10yo - basically begging him as a friend/distant relative to help take some of the load off so that he might be able to spend necessary time with his family - and even maybe hope to have a holiday.

  13. Re the very last letter: I have been married for 28 years and I, too, prefer peace and happiness to a spotless home. In fact, I prefer peace and happiness to almost everything else. Well said.

  14. I agree with the LW who couldn't believe how many heterosexual women are the only ones suffering from profound sleep deprivation during the newborn stage. I had female friends who were DESPERATE with exhaustion but said, "Well, he has to work in the morning." .... So? If your being at home during the day means you will actually nap, okay, that's fine, but I know of only one mother who managed to "sleep while the baby sleeps." Newsflash: it's not only good capitalist workers that need sleep. Animals need sleep. To live. I had maternity leave with a baby who fed so frequently and slept so unpredictably that I couldn't nap during the day. My husband had like 3 days leave and then went back to work full time. For the first six months of our baby's life, we still split the night: my husband took the baby until 3 or even 4 in the morning, and I took him after that. (Then my husband said "Enough" and we sleep-trained him!) I'm half angry at the men who let their wives literally physically suffer with sleep deprivation and half angry at the wives who put up with it. Asking and hoping for change doesn't change anything. You have to demand change.

  15. @bess Lovely idea, but if a mother is breastfeeding, she has the total burden of day AND night feedings. My husband was wonderful about rocking a colicky infant, but no one but mom can feed.

  16. There’s quite a bit of discussion here about the stress on a relationship caused by childcare issues. Here’s a simple solution: Don’t have them. You will be happier and the world will be better off with fewer people.

  17. @Jay Amen!

  18. @Jay A lot of people already aren't procreating for many of the reasons outlined here. But any group of humans has an interest in guaranteeing its survival. Telling people they should solve the stresses of childcare - which benefits ALL of us - 'simply' by not having children is vacuous, arrogant and unhelpful.

  19. It's not only in labor that gender roles must undergo scrutiny and transformation. Also needing examination are traditional expectations, presumptions of territory and control, and emotional dependencies. There can be anxieties about giving up the emotional "security" or comfort of traditional roles, particularly dependence, and about giving up control and direction over how tasks are done. There can be resistances and reluctances to true equality - there are new responsibilities to bear. I once had a partner who professed equality and independence but showed unhappiness at not being in control over activities traditionally thought under her domain in traditional roles, and also distress over not being able to feel sufficiently taken care of in a dependent position. I felt some of those control/dependency issues myself, but not to the degree of distress, and also was very frustrated with not having an independent partner, despite the rhetoric, and with the constantly varying and volatile internal dependence-independence angst. Relationships require a maturing and forthright communication we were often lacking; ours didn't endure.

  20. Deborah, how very wise you were to recognize the depth of your socialization and realize that your happiness depended on not putting yourself back into a situation where it would get the better of you. It took me 2 marriages (years apart) to learn this about myself. Now I have a peaceful heart, without a man and with a dog, the best companion for one’s joyous solitude.

  21. Our working relationship vis-a-vis the dishes was very simple...if I cooked she did the dishes...if she cooked I did the dishes. No argument or anguish there, ever.

  22. @njn_Eagle_Scout Lovely divide, if both of you cook!

  23. @njn_Eagle_Scout WRONG. Doesn't matter who did the cooking. Mix it up. Give 100:100.

  24. I often hear that a woman should demand to share the housework, or not put up with the inequality. It’s one thing to say that but another to get a man who hates housework and is miserable doing it to share the burden. They have been socialized to believe it is ok to just not do it, or not before causing no end to relationship stress. Many women feel the same about housework but haven’t been socialized to believe it is ok to just not do it. Women already know how unfair this is, no need to tell them, or make them feel badly that they can’t change their situation. This is a societal problem, not that of any individual.

  25. @Sophi Buetens I do most of the housework. My husband has very different standards for the cleanliness of the house. When I've been away, he washed the dishes occasionally and did not do much else for months on end. Unless he spills something in the kitchen, he probably won't vacuum or sweep the floor at all. The same with the bathroom; he can live with filth. After all these years, I've just resigned myself to doing what I can to keep parts of the house relatively clean for myself and the occasional guest. I stupidly got married at a relatively young age and did not even consider how we would divide the household chores. I wish I had been born about 10 years later or waiting until I was 30 before getting married.

  26. @Dusty - as a uni student I once shared house with another guy (he was attractive to girls, with a handlebar moustache) he told me that he planned to get married because he was too lazy to do the cooking, washing or cleaning my jaw dropped - but if he found a woman happy to do that - in exchange for him earning a good income as a computer programmer, then good luck to the both of them I liked Dr.Phil's 'relationships are negotiated on a daily basis'

  27. @Sophi Buetens : OK, but does that mean then the woman cuts the grass, takes out the trash, fixes the car and kills the spiders? Or does it all only go "one way"?

  28. Just be aware that if you marry someone who grew up with a maid in the house, their expectation may be that everything in the house should be perfectly clean all the time, and that it should require no effort on their part to keep it that way. Their parents’ attitude toward that maid could in turn be directed at times toward the person responsible for keeping the house clean. I’ve had to learn this the hard way. As an American, while I’m not inclined to hire a maid, we’ve been using one. I don’t think the marriage would have survived otherwise.

  29. When I was about 12-13 in the 1960s my father and I cleaned on Saturdays while mom was working for a couple years. After he had CA, they hired a maid to clean (as had their parents & grandparents). As a girl and woman, I think being raised with a paid maid helped me never agree and to not subconsciously take over the traditional female role at home or at work, and men I was involved with accepted that from 1960s to the present. Always worked full-time outside the home as a medical specialist, husband of 35 years similar job. Respect, honesty, no teary drama, and equal financial power helps.

  30. Our marriage is all about respect, love, caring, reciprocity, and desire. 34 years of it to be exact.

  31. @NOTATE REDMOND I agree. Reciprocity - in the 'mildest' kindest way. Not of the kind "I did this" and "Now it is your turn". I have heard to many young people, and not so young, say that "marriage is 50:50". To which my retort is: "If that is what you think you have already messed up." Marriage is a 100:100.

  32. The major point of contention in our marriage is that I will never make as much money as my husband and have been thrust into the traditional role more than I ever wanted to be. My job is more flexible, which helps with children, but makes far less money than his. Affording a life here demands a certain income, but I would love to try being the breadwinner someday. I wish he could experience the unique struggle that is being the primary parent. Perhaps more understanding and compassion for my work would follow.

  33. "I’m a heterosexual female, almost 70, divorced for almost 40 years. I had a number of significant heterosexual relationships in the first 20 years after my divorce, but one day I realized I wasn’t going to overcome my gender socialization. I’ve lived happily alone since. Oh, now I have a dog. Wish I’d known about them much earlier. — Deborah Hooker, Clayton, N.C." Deborah, great choice! dogs are slavishly loyal as long as you treat them right or even if some people don't they try harder to be liked. Picking up their poop and doing dishes on your own is a small price to pay for having them around. Get a dang dishwasher. Hint, get a second dog. Dogs like company. Another hint: no cats...

  34. @Gary Valan : while cute and funny -- I love dogs, and have a dog, and also cats…. People were not meant to all live in solitude with only pets. And pets die. Pets do not live remotely as long as you do. Humans need other humans, and while Deborah Hooker may be OK alone…it's not a prescription for a happy life for MOST people to live in isolation.

  35. If we all, and the partners in our lives only had the wisdom of Katie in Metairie, La! Katie, you and your husband are more lucky than you know. Perhaps of course, you both do know.

  36. I feel like this entire article is out of touch with mainstream America.

  37. You're right Karen, it isn't about who washes the dishes. It's about who doesn't wash the dishes

  38. Holly Nelson, it is NOT about race. I can assure that in my multiracial immigrant household (from different countries), the cis woman does the majority of the household chores, despite having a higher education, while the cis man very much enjoys his chaos and has not washed sheets and towels ever since we moved in together. Depressing I know.

  39. @xyz Kick him out and give yourself time, space, and a clean house. It's SO rewarding!

  40. But the dishes still matter.

  41. @SCZ - Ya just can't let it go. Can ya? I'm gonna do 'em. Just gimme a chance. Will ya?

  42. Why is there no man involved in putting this marriage column together? Two women writing about heterosexual sexual (and other) married life without a male voice?

  43. @Bailey T. Dog The second essay. or maybe third, from the top, is written by a man in same-sex relationship.

  44. The NY Times has a clear feminist agenda sprinkled with a bit of misanthropy in many of their columns and articles. It's become quite clear to me and others that they view their position as anti heteronormative (to use one of their favorite phrases). This is why the Times is viewed as so out of touch with mainstream America. I am a highly educated professional 44 year old white Male with a PhD, and when I read these types of articles, I am reminded of the right's characterization of the Ivy Tower where I work - the intolerance for all things not socially radical. All of this has turned me, a lifelong moderate Democrat, into someone who is seriously considering voting red in the future.

  45. A good marriage is deeply rooted in respect. Once respect goes, the marriage goes. Respect is a fundamental part of love. After plain lust, loss of respect is the biggest driver of divorce. If you find yourself being looked down on and callously treated, you know the rest. I tried my best, but I failed. The mother of my two daughters threw me out with the trash. My daughters will not communicate at all. They are 15 and 12. Respect is often casually thrown around, but that word would lead to a lot of positiveness in this world if people practiced it. Respect is also the agape side of love that you show your fellow man. Respect is actually what we as a society need. And I don't know how my writing drifted here but one man now in office is mutilating respect with abandonment. Lack of respect hurts and often painfully as in racism and me not being able to talk to the kids I raised. Respect, live it and love it and practice it. We are only here once and everyone has so much to give everyone else. Open your minds and hearts!

  46. @Chris Patrick Augustine Precisely. I divorced my first husband because I found his disrespect intolerable. It was impossible to have a conversation with someone who always knew better or be expected to be live in maid service, subject to his whims. It's true you never know someone until you live with them. None of my friends could understand how I could leave a charming man for a seemingly abstract concept. That was 50 years ago, times have changed; people, unfortunately, don't seem to have.

  47. @Heather Inglis perhaps you have not been looking hard enough.

  48. @Chris Patrick Augustine : I am very sorry as I know the pain of divorce. I hope you meet someone new and form a happy, respectful partnership. @Heather Inglis: it's your life, but...tell me: is it more important to be "right all the time"...or to be happy?

  49. I am THRILLED that a wonderful, loving, respectful man found me from a thousand miles away! I knew theoretically some of you were out there because my son is a good, kind man, but I’d never actually thought I would get to be loved by one. We pretend tussle over, ‘Hey! Are you trying to hone in on my laundry/dishwasher fun?’*1 I’m almost sixty, but I am doing EMDR trauma therapy and making great progress pouring my new happiness and strength onto my PTSD, and I can die happy now, my grown kids are happy we have such a lovely gentle man in our lives and everything*2 that came before has all been worth it. I am so grateful that I know what it means to feel trust in such a way that I never doubt him and loved more every day, which I thought was only for fairy tales. We are very polite to each other without thinking about it, and I am getting used to being told he loves me 100 times a day in 100 ways. When he holds me, everything is okay. Everything. I want this for every one. I feel I love every single person in the world, all of you, through him, if that makes sense. XOXO HVD *1 letting you here about it, so you all can imagine trying this technique too *2 ’boil the frog’ domestic violence and gaslighting by my malignant narcissistic Harvard/Yale ex. It took a long time to realize, it wasn’t my imagination. He was that awful a human being...

  50. Tell us more.

  51. In my observation dishes may indeed be a predictor of happiness. When does the rug really need vacuuming? And do we really need to wipe down the bathroom? These are debatable topics, but dishes, not so much. We used em - both or all of us, and they have to be dealt with. So, a kind fellow with a responsible brain will not just expect that the one who made the meal will also clean it up. It is just being kind and being responsible. (Able to respond- responsible). And no surprise that marriages with a guy who is kind and responsible is likely to be happier than one with an irresponsible mean guy. Young maidens, pay attention to this.

  52. What a bizarre conversation. Don’t Americans use dishwashing machines?

  53. Why does the NYT have to constantly publish articles stating how much cooler gay people are than straight people? Is there something to be gained by this? I say this as a very liberal straight mail who’s a long time subscriber and has been happily married for 20 years. My wife and I have all kinds of family chore role reversals going on and it’s always been that way. Straight people can be okay people too.

  54. Jeff-I find it very bizarre that you think NYT is saying that. They interviewed gay couples. So what? How does that mean that NYT thinks they are cooler than you? It’s rather odd that you seem to view how people manage their relationships as a competition across communities.

  55. @Jeff Of course the NYT ought to include opinions from people in as many forms of cohabitation as possible, from as diverse as possible a spectrum of genders and sexual identities. Non-heterosexual people fought long and hard to be seen and heard, and it seems very anachronistic to me that you would raise such a point.

  56. The obvious is being stated by the NYT.

  57. I think the single most important ingredient in a happy relationship (marital or otherwise) is recognition of the importance of ongoingly protecting the dignity of the individual participants. Recognizing dignity means a power contest is ruled out of the relationship. It recognizes when viewpoints are similar and when they aren't, with no internal (to the relationship) missionary activity designed to change a partner's essential value system. It means protecting the relationship as the #1 priority in our world of constant distractions and temptations. It means the word "we" does not eliminate the essential "I," the only one who can live one's own life. Misunderstand human dignity, and the demands it places on us, and you open the doors to all sorts of relationship pollution -- from constant criticizing to domestic abuse, or worse.

  58. Best comment I’ve read in the NYT. Husband and I are committed but struggling to overcome namecalling, feeling disrespected and more. Share more here about your views and approach to protect dignity.

  59. @BF - I am a big, loud American yet when I came home after living in Hongkong for several years, I brought back the ability to understand and use the manners of "saving face" - this requires being aware of your role in any situation and fine tuning your behavior, physically, emotionally, and intellectually, in order to not deliberately humiliate or belittle or denigrate the other person, unless you are willing to accept the consequences. Understanding the vulnerabilities of my family members and not taking advantage of them in difficult times has been essential time and again. We recently navigated my husband's rigorous treatment and slow recovery from cancer and this impacted our children harshly. At the end of the day, I found that any time I "bit my tongue", it ended up being the better choice. We have curbed a lot of "relationship pollution" (love that term!) and try to remember what is important. This is very hard and taking long walks daily is reorienting. I have a dear friend who shared her experience in marriage counseling which was required in the course of raising a child with special needs: the counselor laid it all on the line and would ask the couple, regarding their many issues: "Do you want to be right or do you want to be married?" There is a time and place to negotiate the sink full of dishes.

  60. @WiseMamaofToddler Thank you. Many years ago when I was living in Vermont, I co-led (with a woman) an effort to help about 100 men who had been convicted of battering their partners/wives learn to put down their fists. It became clear that they had to learn to be willing to face their ideas about women and relationships. To a man, they believed they had a natural right to control every aspect of their partner's life. It was for them a non-negotiable entitlement. I know this is extreme, but my point is that each man could justify squeezing every ounce of self-respect (i.e., dignity) out of a person he believed he loved. Dignity is threatened when one party in a relationship does not question his/her urges to regularly overpower the other's values, choices, self-development activities, relations with family and friends, uses of money, etc. The list can be endless. In so doing, the aggressor seeks to elevate him/herself by denigrating the uniqueness of the other. This is a horrible lesson for children in such families and virtually guarantees them a distorted (undignified), fearful childhood. Either there is deep respect for the other in a relationship, or there is trouble. No wonder so many American relationships fail.

  61. In a heterosexual relationship, what may be more difficult than brute-forcing enlightenment about gender equality is the courage to see one's own flaws. See these, and you are much less likely to think you should have a position of greater privilege than your partner. See these, and you may realize you are not such a great catch. Recognize your own self- and marriage-limiting deficits to realize you may not "deserve" a "better" partner and would not even feel comfortable with a lesser flawed partner.

  62. Katie, your husband is one lucky guy. Best to you both.

  63. More than respect, it's about HONESTY! If one is honest with one's spouse, then respect naturally follows. EVERYTHING follows from honesty, and it's not easy telling the one you love things that might not be flattering. At the same time, if one starts from the very beginning being honest, a spouse learns to not only respect that but love the person more for trusting enough in love to be able to share the truth, come what may. For instance, I've never believed that monogamy is natural, but I've never cheated on my husband and never put anyone before him. Over the years if I've had time alone or away from him and met another man whom I might have had intimacy with, I've never resulted to lies to hide the fact, and what's more we've talked about the guidelines that we both agreed to in which such encounters are OK. One doesn't cheat with one's genitals, but with one's heart. Never have I desired to be with anyone else other than my husband, and honesty and my conduct when I'm with him has proven this over time. Accept who you are for real and don't begin a marriage by trying to be something you know you're not capable of being. If it's real love, the person comes to understand and respect and trust the other so long as the bond of honesty is not broken. Know who you are, share your feelings openly with your spouse and never lie about anything and a marriage will not only survive but thrive. I'm married 17 years and we love and TRUST each other more every passing day.

  64. A housecleaner can save marriages. I realize that not everyone has the money to hire someone, but if you can figure out a way to make that happen (cut back on Starbucks, shop at TJ Maxx, take fewer cabs, whatever) it is so incredibly relieving. I love every dear woman who has ever cleaned my house. I straighten alongside them, doing the organizational things they cannot do, so it gets me galvanized. I don’t have to nag my husband and I don’t have to do the heavier, more physical tasks that keep a home looking nice. It is money so well spent!

  65. We have some who delivers dinners for the week every Monday. Relieving me of the cooking burden has changed our lives.

  66. There is a saying in my home. “What Anna wants, Anna gets.” Anna is our cleaning lady. My marriage depends on her.

  67. @Kathryn So, a poorer woman does the work because your husband refuses to do his share. Gotcha.

  68. 'Katie,' you speak my language. When the day comes that men are judged by how much dust is on the furniture, that's the day I'll know women have achieved true equality.

  69. @Astrid .. sooo well put!

  70. @Astrid - WINNER!

  71. Dogs aren’t called “Mans’ best friend” for no reason. They’re permanent children, forever getting into mischief. I know.

  72. I’m reminded of a brief interview I saw on TV a number of years ago with an elderly couple who had been married over 50 years. They were very cute and, as I recall, were holding hands. The interviewer asked them what the secret to their long marriage was and, with a glance at his wife and a twinkle in his eye, the man said, “She always lets me have her way.”

  73. It shouldn't take a lifetime to figure out that whatever unhappiness, through word or deed any other means, one inflicts on one's mate will one day be returned with compound interest. Keeping that in mind makes overlooking minor causes for complaint relating to household duties a no brainer. It also helps this reader to once in a while remember, even living alone the same tedious chores would still need to be done, only the doing of them would feel so much emptier and lonelier.

  74. Divorced for decades, spoiled by not having to be accountable to a domestic teammate (and therefore possibly not even fit to live with any more), I’m having the strangest, most unexpected reaction to this discussion: optimism! It almost makes me want to give it a go again, and I’d bet we could even make it work! (Of course, I’d have to meet him, first.)

  75. nearly 30 year relationship here - we wouldn't be together if it wasn't for my partner's cooking for dinner just now she cooked a simple omelet with spring onions, capsicum, tofu - it was scrumptious ! not expecting that I had put in an air fryer some supermarket frozen roast potatoes purporting to be luxury duck fat - they were disgusting - I couldn't finish, and my partner only ate the rest with tomato sauce to hide the taste. I once shared a 4brm house with other young people - one guy liked to cook but hated washing up - I didn't want to cook but didn't mind washing up so - every night he cooked a huge pot of cheap food - mostly potato, pumpkin, carrot, root vegetables (we did a co-op run to the wholesale markets which we distributed to the hippie households) - and typically 10 people would show up for dinner every night it was a wonderful social scene - the social centre of our friends' group - I got to enjoy dinner I didn't have to cook, and he got to enjoy cooking without having to wash up - I'd be standing at the sink washing up while continuing to converse with the other 9 people at the dinner table. Wonderful. Recommended. So - if one cooks and the other washes - you can do cheap meals - invite lots of different friends - and become the social hub of your neighbourhood !

  76. I have over many years lamented ruefully the squandering of her love and affection. Raised by my Mother, never knowing my Father, I had no concrete clues how to be a good husband. It’s mostly on me, not her. I look back on those 15 years and I ask “who was that guy?” - ashamed that I was ‘that guy’. I hope there is forgiveness somewhere, but that would be a miracle. So young men, do not take her love for granted. It is too precious. If she loves you, nurture and protect that love every minute. Look for opportunities to serve her, bring her joy, and protect her from your own selfishness and ego.

  77. I’m not sure that I can summarize my own marriage. I can say that the lack of social programming and childcare programs places an incredible burden on parents- you have to be very strong and it is very wearing. We have always shared childcare duties and both made career sacrifices to help raise the 3 kids. But we both work and both do emotional labor. Housework is a constant battle- us against the mess. I probably do a bit more, but I also make more time for self care than my husband does. I insist on it because the wheels would fall off otherwise. He refuses to exercise. He has depression; I have anxiety. So we both are exhausted and over-taxed by our responsibilities in different ways. I don’t know if our marriage or bodies will survive this endeavor. I’m learning to not do as much emotional heavy lifting for others. I can only regulate myself and my boundaries. Running a family is incredibly resource intensive and taxing. I would encourage my kids to feel satisfied as single unencumbered individuals.

  78. My wife’s parents were doubtful about my suitability for their lovely daughter when I met with them 40 years ago to ask for her hand in marriage. So we spent an hour or two discussing my present and future job prospects, my cash and retirement holdings, my ideas about divorce, religion, saving money, child rearing and working mothers before they relented and agreed. Does anyone still do this? Did they ever? Many’s the day since that time when I’ve thought about that meeting and am happy that I had it and have managed to keep almost all of the promises I made. And so, I believe, is my wife.

  79. @A. Stanton Assuming your spouse was not a minor child, no, I don't think in 1980 asking her parents for permission to marry her was anything but delusional on your part.

  80. I thought the study that Coontz cited was interesting but I don't think that "happiness" in a coupled relationship has only to do with "equitable" division of labor. I'm a lesbian, married to a lesbian. We have both lived as "out" lesbians at work and among our families for decades. For certain, beyond any factors relating to our household or our respect for each other, one of the factors in how "happy" and fulfilled we are in life is how people outside our relationship treat us. That includes our immediate families, work colleagues, neighbors, and people who don't even know us but choose to denigrate (or celebrate) us on social media, for instance. I hope the researchers who did the study cited by Coontz will next turn to the same couples and ask about that and how much that matters to their overall feelings of happiness. Because I think it certainly is a complicating factor. Straight folks are treated differently out in the world. Women are treated worse than men, in all cases.. Gay men, though they certainly have also been denounced, have been celebrated longer in various mediums and venues. They're also men, who earn more money than women. Lesbians are at the bottom of the "likeability" and pay charts. It matters, both at work and at home. I certainly matters to one's self-respect and how hard one has to work to maintain that. And that plays directly into success in a relationship.

  81. My wife of 35 years came from a family of four of Belgian and German ancestry. Culinary skills, fine food, and a high level of order and cleanliness were hallmarks of their home. I came from an Irish/Italian family of 9. Food was hearty, but not necessarily gourmet. There was a hurly burly of activity, loud interchanges, intense and animated conversation, and while things were kept clean, they didn't last that way for long. We brought different gifts and perspectives to this union. No surprise then that each has made compromises. She puts up with some of my ways, and I make efforts at order and cleanliness well beyond my natural tendency. Why? Because it is important to her. We still have flare ups at time, but they are short lived and we know the pathway out of them together.

  82. All the explanations of who we are! As a nurse of many years, I’ve seen it all - and am grateful everyday for what I’ve seen. Life itself and that we can participate is way more important and gratifying than explaining!

  83. I’m a lazy neat freak and made it through life living with few possessions in small spaces and not making messes. As soon as I had the money to do so, I outsourced every task possible - laundry service, restaurants or take away, housekeeping, an accountant. If I could afford her, I’d have my housekeeper here daily, or my mom. Or, I’d live in a hotel. I’m all about being happy and maximizing freedom and refuse to be oppressed by housework. I spend a lot of energy caring for patients and teaching medical students. After a long day meeting the needs of many others, I’m done working when I get home. I don’t cook, shop, scrub or mop. If my husband wants to slave in the kitchen he can, but I’m not about ending my day making a hot mess. He could have chosen a more conventional wife, but then he’d have to be a more conventional husband and earn all the money. My shortcomings aside, we’re okay. By time I retire, I’ll be too old to learn any new tricks with pots or sponges. The only broom I’ll ever want is one that flies.

  84. @hey nineteen - Yeah, I get it. I hope writing this comment didn't exhaust you. I'm outta breath reading it.

  85. @hey nineteen You are my hero!

  86. @hey nineteen The discipline of domestic self-care isn't to be overlooked. Outsourcing mundane household tasks to people of lesser economic status is the privilege and oppression of bourgeois capitalism.

  87. Yes. Respect is a way of seeing others for whom they are – socially in terms of position as well as meritoriously. I believe there to be no concrete equality. Do the differences others seem to possess exist? Perhaps we need to see them and care not so much for interests but that others have freedom to do the things that one and others would appear desirous of.

  88. We are a hetero married couple with one child. Somehow we got it exactly right. We split home and childcare duties pretty equitably, both enjoy being involved in our child’s activities, don’t have the cleanest home but are both successful in our careers which is rewarding for us. The biggest problem is that our extended family tells me I’m not doing my job. I’m the mom, so I’m apparently supposed to suffer more. I get this often from my own mother and her fairly traditional husband. We try to laugh it off, but it’s a hassle.

  89. @Amv This is wonderful to hear! I think what is really a problem is that women, more than men, are still often expected to "do it all" and be good at it. My husband and I have been together for 36 years and are retired empty nesters. We have always tried, mostly successfully, to split our duties as equitably as possible. When our son was born, I was fortunate enough to spend a year at home. From that point, we worked similar numbers of hours inside and outside the home but his schedule was far more flexible than mine. Therefore, he was a homeroom "Mom", went on school field trips, etc. I attended a parent teacher meeting when our son was in third grade. My husband introduced me to some of the other parents and one of them sarcastically exclaimed, "Oh, so he (our son) really does have a Mom!"

  90. All religions faiths teach us to respect each other. We are constantly reminded to treat others like we want to be treated ourselves. They constantly remind us that god created humans in his image and instilled us with divine qualities: empathy compassion patience tolerance kindness gentleness love joy peace happiness godliness.. Yet, what has the world come to? Just look at our public discourse. Revenge, one up ness, show off material overconsumption, inequality, indignity, caging children like animals, building walls to keep less fortunate off who are being squeezed on the other side by perhaps our own policies? As humans if we do not recognize that the divine exists in us exactly as it does in any sentient being or non being, we will not respect that divinity. We are so conditioned by society to label everyone by gender faith color nationality tribe, that we fail to see who lives underneath those labels. The divine, nothing less nothing more. So YES in a marriage, respect is uppermost, but so is it in every single gesture thought we make towards all living beings. Our religions have failed to teach us that respect we all so deserve to one another.

  91. @petey tonei “we make towards ALL living things” - Yes, that is the ticket. And the best legacy we can leave for our grandchildren, I swear. And then hopefully they’ll pass it on. Wouldn’t that be perfect?

  92. I am separated, soon to be divorced. We could just never figure it out. Never found a balance. We love each other, both tried but finally had to call it. I think it all comes down to communication styles, regardless of gender or race. There's no right way, it just has to work for both people, whatever shape that takes.

  93. So men married to men are happier than men married to women who are as happy as women married to women who are more happy than women married to men. Clearly men are doing something right.

  94. @Mark Shumate for themselves. That's the problem (for women).

  95. We are a married, heterosexual couple in our 5th decade together. We kept our own names and checkbooks, shared housework and childcare equally, and for the most part, I, the woman, was the primary breadwinner although we both were employed nearing complete retirement. I was lucky to find someone who listened and reasoned; he was lucky to find someone who insisted that feminism meant for a healthier relationship. We delayed childbearing until we had worked out our process; and we laugh together, a lot. We both feel heard. The telling point came early in our relationship, even before marriage: a friend asked us who won most of the fights, and we both answered "I do."

  96. I am divorced from someone who wanted to be in charge because that a man's job. While I did not mind his being in charge of the things he was clearly better at, I objected to his wanting to be in charge of things he had no real interest in or aptitude for. I would have been quite happy in a relationship where tasks were divided along traditional gender lines, if I had been allowed to be in charge of the "women's work" and respected for managing it well. I am pleased to know many couples whose relationships are based on respect, love, and companionship no matter how the household tasks are divided.

  97. @Rural Farmer Well said. Women and men in relationships need to focus on respect. A lot fewer divorces would occur if that was emphasized by both partners. It is not always the guy showing lack of respect.....I've seen break ups where the man got destroyed well before the divorce got initiated.

  98. The original premise and 'research' over this are extremely suspect, so it not worthy of a comment about how to do better in heterosexual relationships.

  99. I am a stay at home wife who fulfills the traditional gender roles. In addition, I keep track of the family finances because I'm the one who is at home all the time. We do what works for us. Feminist ideology (and politics) has no place in my marriage and household when I'm loved and respected for all that I do to keep our family going.

  100. You do understand that feminism simply means equal rights for men and women, yes? What you are describing IS feminist ideology- you are choosing the role you want to have. You can absolutely decide that traditional gender roles work for you and that is still feminism. (And certainly, you taking care of the finances is not upholding traditional gender roles) If you were NOT choosing it and it was simply the only option, then you could say you are avoiding/rejecting feminism.

  101. @Carey Barbara is correct. Feminism as practiced (for example, in this article) shows a sharp antipathy to both masculinity and femininity. That's why so many people disdain it. I wish you were right and it simply meant the empowerment of women but that isn't the case.

  102. @BarrowK who told you this? Feminism indeed does only mean the empowerment of women. One can feel comfortable in rather conventional femininity and live a heteronormative life and still be a devoted feminist. I don’t see this article as showing an antipathy to masculinity and femininity. The article demonstrates that some families are thinking through many aspects of what was seen as traditional and are working things through for themselves. I have been married 28 years and choose to live a fairly stereotypically gendered way with my husband even though I am a women and gender studies professor. He takes out the trash, I usually buy or order the groceries. Last week I came home from work about 8:00 and he asked me what we should do about dinner. I was fairly annoyed that he didn’t think about it, but I am sure he needed those moments on the couch.

  103. My hubs and I are 35 and have been together since we were 17, married since 25. I consider him my best friend, my most beloved confidant, and companion. We've had a non-monogomous arrangement-with rules, boundaries, and expectations-since 2016. We even currently live seperately just because it's easier for us as late in life students right now. It hasn't always gone perfectly, fights have occurred, along with some jealousy. This all in addition to the normal ups and downs of a more typical marriage. At the heart of everything though, we respect each other. When we fight, it's not always perfect, but it always ends fairly, with both our voices being heard and compromise reached. Communiction is absolutely key in this regard, as we've always talked things out. From the littlest thing that might bug you, to the larger issues. We've struggled financially and had many health issues to contend with as well. I'm happy to say we are still together today and while I am unsure if the future will be us together or something different, I am confident we will always be the closest of friends.

  104. Karen and Katie (last two entries) do very well (as do the others) in helping to fill in the details of a well balanced relationship. Dissimilar priorities, schedules and timetables without respectful communication as to how to best navigate through and around such differences are potentially problematic. It comes down to taking care of your responsibilities before they gets in the way of your partner and he/she has to do it for you (or live with it)--UNLESS that's their accepted role (not expected role) in the relationship. I see how the gender roles certainly play a part and it is interesting to find that "non-traditional" marriages have situation specific issues that one may or may not envy. Simply put marriage is a lot of work but worth it with the right person--someone who will always challenge you to work harder in the relationship because they do their part so well without asking and you just want to do the same.

  105. Those of us whose biggest challenge is who's vacuuming the living room this week should thank our lucky stars. Divide the number of rooms in the house/apartment by the days in the week, assign a room to a day, assign alternating days to each person in the house (kids, too) and be done with it, already!

  106. Behavior based on gender stereotypes would actually improve relations between men and women. And they will. The current regime is not a permanent installation in the human condition.

  107. @jim kunstler Jim - if history has taught us anything it's that there is nothing "permanent" about how men and women interact in a society. In Sparta, a male warrior society, it was the women who owned the property (real estate in the agrarian pre-industrial age). Obviously, we (Western European society) are in a period of evolution in our consciousness about gender and role playing. But when haven't homosapiens been "evolving." Albeit too slowly for some and much too fast for others (the Make America Great Again crew - seeking to return to the 1850's). BTW Climate change will probably destroy as all before we can settle the issues of gender and role playing.

  108. Historical gender stereotypes included men as dominant and women as subservient to the point women weren’t considered people. No thanks.

  109. I have always done most of the housework and provided child care and now that my wife has dementia I am a care giver as well. People should do what makes sense and also realize there are costs to be had for our choices such as having children or wanting to walk around the world. People are different and some like a perfect home while others are slobs and good relationships accept this. Women should accept that they can be aggressive and competitive and dominant and that it is okay to have a partner who submits or at least find a way to express their personality, such as a little whipping maybe even cream

  110. My husband and I have been married 33 years. I worked part time when kids were very young and did most of home chores then. When they were in elementary school our roles switched and he did. Once a male playmate observed me mounting a coatrack on the wall, and said “ shouldn’t Mr M. be doing that?”. Another male playmate commented on my husband folding clothes in same manner, but in reverse. I’d like to think we taught our sons and others in the neighborhood some valuable lessons on gender roles.

  111. A narrow viewpoint presented here. See researcher Helen Fisher. Some of the happiest, most stable relationship involve high testosterone men and high estrogen women. There's nothing inherently wrong with masculinity or femininity. People can and do manage male/female biological differences with grace and equity.

  112. @BarrowK Hormone levels and biological differences have nothing to do with who does the dishes. And nobody is saying there’s anything wrong with masculinity or femininity. Not sure why you even brought this into the conversation.

  113. The thing I learned about marriage and relationships is that you names on a piece of paper means next to nothing and death brings out truths regarding a marriage. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents were not married to their respective spouse. Both were seen as having been married for 60+ years. Each pair did what was needed to keep all the juggling balls in the air and didn't run away when the bad times came. I do not remember my grandparents grandparents ever saying they loved each other but it was clear they were friends and depended on each other to get through life. In my own life the bond of friendship is what has cemented the relationship with my partner. We balance things out, I try not to step on his Y chromosomes. I also love him in a way that really cannot be easily described. All I know is if I was in a foxhole with bullets flying, I would want him fighting next to me.

  114. Male, hetero, two kids, married 36 years. In our house I'm sure to get the last words in any dispute. I've learned that making those words "yes Jane" are my best option. Respect, empathy, and letting go any need to be vindicated (major or minor) keeps us functioning.

  115. I am a 66 year old woman married 39 years and cannot believe that this conflict is still an issue. It just goes to show that our upbringing and family history have more impact than our belief systems. Feminism has been a great movement for women career wise but it hasn't been able to change fundamental gender differences. My mother couldn't understand my conflicts about work/home when I had children because she had to work. Now I feel sorry for my daughters who must work and feel threatened to lose their careers otherwise. It works both ways. Women still want to be wooed and pursued and asked for their hand in marriage. And enlightened men will "help out" because they understand but do not see it as their actual roles. They are just "helping out."

  116. Home Economics 101. Two words: comparative advantage. One spouse can be better at doing everything. That's known as absolute advantage. However, the other spouse is going to be less bad at doing somethings that perhaps frees up time for the first spouse to do something more valuable. Judging how to best utilize your scarce time depends on each partner's talents. Let's try a real world example. I'm a better chef than my wife. Her cooking is great but I spent a lot of time in restaurants growing up. I learned some culinary expertise that simply didn't exist in her household. I have the absolute advantage. However, having the best chef cook the meal every night doesn't add the most value to your home. I can cook a 5-star meal while my wife does laundry. We both do laundry equally well. However, I'm better at paying bills too. If she cooks, I can pay bills and do laundry at the same time. We accomplish three household tasks at the same time instead of just two. My wife therefore has a comparative advantage in cooking in this scenario. In different scenario, the situation is easily reversed. My wife has an absolute advantage in communication. I'm good but she is way better than me. Insurance companies, neighbors, anything. You name it. She's better. In that scenario, she's the one on the phone while I'm cooking dinner. I have the comparative in cooking in that scenario. The roles reverse on a relative basis. It's that simple.

  117. Mutual respect and rejecting the pitfalls of gender are crucial to the two people in any relationship regardless of gender, but what makes it more difficult for everyone are tremendous social pressures. I know that as someone who (happily) supports a spouse who makes more than I do, and whose career we have both prioritized over my own (including re-locations that have been disruptive to my own so that she can be most effective at her very crucial role. You would think men like myself would get more encouragement from the liberal-identified women in our lives, but sadly that's not always the case; instead we get ridiculed publicly or privately as being "less than" (one person commented she now knew who "wore the pants" in the family after hearing we would move for wife's job, another compared me to Anthony Weiner in a brief period of my own joblessness due to relocation). The real trouble is that in this third/fourth wave of feminism, we are all still valuing a stubborn remnant of the patriarchy -the notion that the "money maker" is of primary importance, and any other familial role - including lots of unacknowledged labor, emotional and otherwise - as inferior, a position inflated by contempt those in the workforce have for those outside it. And anyone of either gender who disrupts that is a threat to the normalcy of "the way things are."

  118. Your right. We all need to be conscious of the disconnect between our conscious or ideological values and intrinsic reactions based on attitudes taught by our society and parents. I surprised myself, proudly a feminist with a similar reaction to a similar situation I immediately apologized, explained I didn’t know where that came from and said I imagine you like her in pants, shorts and skirts. Societal change is hard especially for those in the front side of it

  119. When things don't get done around the house, I am the one who worries about them. It doesn't bother my husband that much. So, whose fault is it that I twist myself into knots? Mine, for not recognizing what is important and what isn't, or my husband's for not feeling as responsible as I do? It's not just about who does or doesn't do whatever. It's also about how we feel about what does or doesn't get done. It seems to me you can respect another person and still harbor deep seated perceptions and feelings that can cause tension in a relationship. Maybe it is simply gender stereotyping at play. But maybe in any relationship when one person feels a greater responsibility and another is happy to "help," tensions will arise.

  120. Was married for 12 years with one child, wife always got on my case about not doing enough around the house, not cleaning right, not laundering right, sitting around too much, etc. Although I WAS doing all these things "right". And also working full time. Many arguments followed, until I had enough and divorced her. 50/50 shared custody - 'let's make it legally equal'. My place is clean, orderly, happy, I'm happy with an incredible girlfriend (who has their own place). There are no issues with taking care of "my share". Turns out I WAS in fact doing my share. Not only that, I have TONs of me time now. Some people like to complain, hear others complain and think they should complain too. Make sure you're not partnered up with one of these. In the end, put up or shut up. Make it legally equal if you have to. You might find the grass IS in fact greener on the other side. Peace.

  121. My wife and I have been hetero-married for 35 years. She makes double the money I do. Instead of chasing bigger houses, fancier vacations, and nicer cars, I wanted a life making art. I didn’t want a child, but it was as important to her as my art was to me, so we had one child, and in grad school I became a house-husband (the only one in my neighborhood at the time). We split the chores. I like doing clothes, she loves cooking; I do the heavy lifting out of doors; she does the finances. It works, but I have always felt a little out of place in the burbs because of our somewhat unconventional approach. I have always been closer to the wives in the neighborhood than the husbands, preferring to play with the kids and talk childrearing than to watch football and talk business. Now that our son is grown up we are looking forward to retirement without any of the bitterness of forsaken dreams. We negotiated the details of the marriage so that we could do what our hearts told us we wanted to do with our lives. I’m proud of us both for sticking to our guns.

  122. I mean this is all a bit silly. Why does this topic have to be so directed and analyzed like this? It’s really simple. See a dirty dish? Wash it. Drop something? Pick it up. Kid needs a bath? Give them a bath. You need a shirt ironed? Iron your shirt. Tag team big domestic cleanings. Maybe take the kids out so the other can focus on work, chores or read a book. This is just basic stuff. And it’s completely irrelevant if I’m gay, straight, divorced, single, happily married, unhappily married. It’s literally what they teach people in kindergarten - don’t be a jerk!

  123. I actually laughed out loud reading this. Thank you—in a relationship between two people who are not jerks, problems are so solvable.

  124. @BR Silly indeed. My wife and I (both professionals) raised our children never worrying about such nonsense because we were both too busy to dedicate the time needed to divvy up and assign household tasks. It is only now, since retired, that I can read, with amusement about such matters. If nothing else, it is a stark reminder of the real problems in the world considering so many families and children will never experience the joy of a birthday cake.

  125. I was married for 20 years and had 2 kids. I literally did everything, job(s), laundry, kids, bathrooms, yard work, garbage, bills, shopping. Every single thing except dishes and cooking. Turns out he was gay. My straight father had done dishes and cooking. I didn't know.

  126. "Are you really OK with being the traditional wife?" I've thought about this a LOT. I think that until workplaces stop demanding employees work full-time/over full-time hours, and until women have equal work and pay, most married heterosexual women with children will be, to some degree, traditional wives. Children are time-consuming and unpredictable. They get sick. There are snow days. Sitters go on vacation. At least one parent needs flexibility and time for child-rearing, and it generally makes sense to have the person who earns less do that.

  127. @Elizabeth Either the person who earns less or has the more flexible hours, and it's slowly becoming more common for that person to be the man. My middle aged breadwinner husband runs a research group of about two dozen people and of them at least three are (a generation younger) women who have the breadwinner jobs and husbands with the spouse jobs. And one of our PTA's most active participants is a fellow who's self employed in real estate with a stockbroker wife.

  128. @Elizabeth I've also thought about this and completely agree that the issue starts with the structure of many workplaces. I will add: for most straight women, the only options on the menu are being single or being married and shouldering a too-large portion of the emotional and house-maintaining labor. Equality isn't on offer.

  129. @Elizabeth So don't have children. Exactly where is the law that states that you or anyone else MUST have children?

  130. We are married 22 years. We do what needs to be done. Doesn’t matter who does it - we get it done. For quite a few years, he did the laundry because the washer and dryer were in the basement and chronic ankle and knee problems kept me from going up and down the stairs there. I have cooked almost all of the meals in that 22 years because I’m a better cook. He’s better at driving the kids to errands. It doesn’t matter. We love each other today more than we did when we got married as we approach being empty nesters. He runs. I fence. We support each other. Through thick and thin. Through good and bad. That was what we signed on for. We make a conscious choice every day to spend the rest of our lives with each other.

  131. @Knitter 215 Lucky couple. And I hope you are able to maintain your devotion to your vows at 50 years, when both of you will require much more attention to "bad" and "thin." It can be done, but it takes grit. Go for it! And good luck to you both.

  132. One day my sister in law came over. I was working in the yard with a shovel and wheelbarrow, my husband was inside doing laundry. She said that it looked like we had role reversal. I told her that no, we simply have no roles. Each of us does the chore that we want to when we want to or when it bothers one of us. We do things that make the other person relieved to not have to do it. We have a very happy marriage based on respect.

  133. Same here. I am usually the one digging and planting in the garden. Husband is vacuuming, cooking and baking. I usually do the laundry. However, circumstances can upend the afore mentioned as we do what we suits/feels like, on an ongoing basis. It all works out in the end. We never fight about chores: if anything, we can be heard saying “no, I’ll do that, leave it”......... All of the above is exercise and we both like to exercise, so that’s also a consideration.

  134. I took on the traditional role of housekeeping in our home for years because I wanted to and it was what I was supposed to do. When I was not keeping up with the chores, my husband started to do them without an announcement, without complaint, and he did them well. Years later I found out that I was severely, severely anemic to the point that they wanted to do a blood transfusion right then. My husband did what needed to be done at the time it needed to be done and continues to. I will always be grateful for that, always.

  135. For 25 years, I was married to a psychologically and emotionally abusive covert narcissist. He would say one thing, do another; then gaslight me, especially with the children, whom he used to encourage to defy proper parenting or reasonable order in the home. I don't even remotely identify with most of these narratives because they are completely alien to my experience. A man does not need to hit you to be abusive. In fact, when he doesn't you often don't realize you should leave. Treating you like a domestic servant (he makes messes, you clean them) in your own home is a real sign that you shouldn't be there in the first place. Someone had it exactly right, it is not really about the dishes, it IS about respect.

  136. @Dejah Yet you stayed for 25 years, that is on you.

  137. @Dejah I was in exactly the same dysfunctional relationship for 25 years and feel your pain. Although I wanted to leave, I was afraid for my child, afraid of my financial situation because he controlled the purse strings. I didn’t know where I would go or what I would do on my own, so I stayed. I understand your situation completely, and the person who commented that it “was on you “ has NO idea what verbal and emotional abuse are. Obviously written by a man.

  138. I’m a woman, married, mother of an infant, sole breadwinner, working full time. My spouse, a man, is home full time with our son - so there’s some non traditional gender role stuff built into our arrangement. Even with that, it is still an enormous struggle to get him to do his share. I probably do active “work” (traditional work and baby care/housework) for 13 hours a day - my spouse is doing active work (baby care, housework) for about seven. It is an eternally frustrating situation that we’ve discussed many, many times. I know being at home is hard, and it is work. I also know I still am very clearly carrying more than my load. Hot tip - it’s okay to tell someone that you’re frustrated with being put in the position where you have to nag. That you being in that position, where you have to repeatedly parent and remind your partner to follow through with things to begin with, is a big problem - and a much bigger one than your spouse faces by being lazy and then being nagged at.

  139. @June (what I meant for you my iPAD posted higher). @Ginger - It’s hard to make a monogamous,unfrivilous relationship work. Most don’t. Pride. Ego. Many people trap themselves, or think too short-term for their own good. One partner is too afraid to say anything to the other. Both work to deeply conceal the true nature of their situation. They fear others’ expectations. And gossip. The man in your life needs a job, if only for his sake.

  140. Would you say that to a woman in the same position? Just curious. Not said with any disrespect

  141. I think your home situation is creating a lot of stress for you and likely your spouse, too. I suggest couples counseling to air and share your differences, find a workable solutions, and create comfort for you and your child. Good counseling will help you both to look in the same direction and be happier.

  142. I am from a rural area, where tradition is generally valued more than it in urban settings. I married a woman whose ideas about modern takes on marriage was very strong, and the one thing we could never agree on was attitudes about "house husbands." No matter what she thinks about me as a house husband, she is never the only person figuring into the equation. There are also my parents and her parents, who see husbands as the prime providers, as well as all my male friends, and, I suspect, at least some of our female friends. As long as society views a house husband as a "deadbeat dad," there can be no equality in the roles of husband and wife. Employers in many male professions are not going to look favorably at a male who's just spent a couple of years as a house husband, seeing him instead as an unemployed deadbeat dad letting his wife be the family provider and give the job to someone else. These attitudes are the elephant in the room concerning equality in marriage. They are strong and they are prevalent throughout many areas of the country, and I think that feminists who demand 50-50% equality in all areas, especially employment issues, tend to overlook or minimize this aspect of societal attitudes.

  143. So interesting. Makes sense. Imagine what its been like though for women trying to get a job after taking care of kids (and wanting to) for 10 years. So I’m glad you get how hard that is. And it’s so true that men still look different than women when staying home. Weird.

  144. @Edwin Duncan Right on Edwin. As a house husband for 5 years, I had to put up with just this attitude in men and women. It teed me off at first, and then I just slowly got used to the fact that most people ARE conventional, THINK conventionally. I realized most cannot break a pattern pre-established for them by the social order and that my anger was a vestige of that very conventionality.

  145. Actually, every couple is different. If one person is type A and a germophobe while the other is a complete and total've got trouble brewing if there is no shared sense of humor. Lighten up. Higher a cleaning person. Listen to jazz.

  146. Misleading headline. Washing dishes IS about respect. In a more than satisfying same sex relationship over 30 years and we never a leave dirty dish in the sink for the other to find and wash.

  147. re: dishes Too many women have done too many dishes for too many years.

  148. My late husband would drag out household tasks over days and make a big show of his labors whereas I continued to quietly get things done, no fuss. In this and other relationships I'd hear myself saying "thank you" when my male partner emptied the dishwasher or mopped the floor. Then I was in a long relationship with a man who never had to be asked or prodded to do chores, did them happily and without expecting a gold star, and there was a true and seamless division of labor. But he turned out to be a philanderer and a liar. This is the reason so many women of a certain age prefer the company of dogs, and do all the chores themselves without self-pity or complaint.

  149. I am a 57 year old male in a very loving heterosexual relationship. Our rules are pretty simple and we rarely speak about them: The garbage doesn't care the sex of the person who empties it. If it is full, take it out. If the hamper is full, wash the clothes. If you are around when they are finished, fold them. Likewise, clothes make no demands to be cleaned based on the sex. Neither of us is what I would term a gourmand, but she is better than me. When we cook, we tend to do it together. I take the jobs I can't mess up (cutting, chopping, salads, pasta, BBQ) and she does the other stuff. I often wash the dishes, especially if she has done more of the cooking. I happen to be physically stronger than my partner, so she likes it when I do chores that require more brute strength, like moving stuff. I don't want her hurt and don't demand equality in this area. I know she hates cutting the lawn, so I do it. She knows I don't like housework. So I pay someone to come in once every couple of weeks to do it, so she doesn't feel like she is stuck doing it. If I couldn't afford to pay someone do it, we would split it. Frankly, I think the reason it works so well and easily for us is that we love each other so much we wouldn't fight over this kind of nonsense.

  150. So with it you are and in the right mind for a wonderful life!! Best is your solution to housework!! Congrats to your parent(s) for raising a wonderful you.

  151. A challenge can be the expectation of frequency and extent in doing chores. I am fanatical about the yard, she is not. She looks at the inside of our house and feels that if it is not dusted every week it looks like a mess. I am ok going two weeks between dustings. I do the laundry every week and most of the ironing. We typically share dish washing where one washes and the other drys and we rotate who does what. My wife loves to bake so I am her cleanup crew. I earn 85% of our collective income but have never held that over her in any way, especially in terms of who should do what around the house. More of the child raising fell to her but I gave them baths, got up for the 2 am baby feedings, sat up with them when they were sick, fed them, changed diapers, went to school events, took them to various activities, helped with homework, disciplined them, etc. And she did to. Yes, we had/have our conflicts at times but mutual respect is ultimately at the base of any successful relationship.

  152. If you see something needs attention, just do it and get on with the day. If you see dirty dishes, wash them If the bed needs to be made, do it. Vacuum the rug once a week, it doesn't take very long, and it's easy. That's the basic rule in our house. Don't assign chores, just do them if you see they need to be done. The only task that is completed on an individual level is laundry - everyone does their own. That way if something shrinks, or the colors get messed up, it's your own fault. If you need help, ask, and if you are asked, do it. Also, take walks together, go shopping together, and at the same time, if someone needs some time alone, respect that request.

  153. When asked, “who wears the pants?” we’ve always maintained, “one in each leg.”

  154. Why would anyone want to subject themselves to this. Thank God everyday, not only for never getting married but also for never having kids.

  155. The foundation of any relationship including marriage is all about emotional health (EH). I have a simple hypothesis that measures EH. There are four classes of people who mostly have well educated minds but with different levels of brain education. The brain level is stuck at -2, fetus stage. These are the ones who abuse their partners. At -1 they exploit their spouse. At +1 they treat themselves as more than equal. At +2, guru stage the partner is treated with selfless love. It is like the -2 person's behavior is a quarter but he says to his partner, 'Here have a dollar'. The -1's behavior is 50 cents and he says, 'here have a dollar'. The +1's behavior is 75 cents and he says... No wonder relationships are messed up and there is so much divorce. For a good marriage relationship and for all life's behavior one should live life by numbers. Know the +2 way and always act +2, selfless and humble. After all it was Confucius who said if you do not have wisdom learn the wisdom way and act accordingly. For a good marriage relationship act +2. I have a simple hypothesis on wisdom that has huge practical applications in education, health and society. I wish the NY Times' Team will help me push it forward. America is an emotionally challenged country and it can be made into an EH super power. Marriages that end in divorce jump from one frying pan into another frying pan as the fundamental personality does not change.

  156. People are attracted to each other based on the brain's misunderstanding of symmetry and stability. They spend their whole lives seeking pleasant shapes and reassuring sweet nothings. This error is important to get the human race to reproduce. But it gunks up society. People want loads of money and power (which are inextricably linked to sexual relations) in society now too. It is like Mother Nature presented us with an error and expected us to transcend it, not constantly reinforce it. Too many relationships are motivated by logical errors.

  157. Yet another article on how supposedly rigid gender stereotypes disadvantage one sex or the other, this one concentrating on the high symbolic importance of who does household chores. It seems to me that Katie of Metairie made a good case that the real consideration in achieving happiness in relationships is not who does the dishes. So can we just go back to the fundamental toilet seat question?

  158. In the same way that heterosexuals have no business commenting on the dynamics in homosexual relationships, why would we (heterosexuals) seek advice from homosexuals on heterosexual relationships. The needs, desires and expectations are utterly different.

  159. I don’t understand what you are saying by this comment. To me, Love is Love. I will gladly absorb any understanding related to Love I can get exposure to, but then again, I was almost strangled to death while I was pregnant with my son by a man I never believed existed except in horror movies, was the monster he turned out to be. Maybe like an adopted pound dog, I have an antenna tuned to that invisible power of redemption we call Love, and done call God, but no matter where it is or whatever shape it manifests itself in, I want us all to feel it and spread it all over every living thing and the world.

  160. *some call God

  161. @Lilo : every gay and lesbian couple I have ever known, has arranged their relationship along the lines of "one is the husband and one is the wife' -- if anything, they are MORE traditional and hidebound than any straight couple!

  162. Ok let's go over it again what common sense and history has taught us. 1-Treat everybody equally and share tasks. 2-Negotiate on how to share tasks. 3-Don't identity obsess or social engineer. 4-Then let men be men and women be women whatever that may be and re any other relationship. Don't intellectualize, rationalize, ax grind, finger point, enable, co depend, whine, carp etc.

  163. Bahah! There are so many aspects in conflict-engendering married life that a uxorious husband and virilous*) wife can avoid by taking a deep breath and reasoning logically. *) virous, from latin vir = man, husband, feminine adjective equivalent to masculine uxorious.

  164. Ain't trying to sum anything up and I hope this makes some sense- "To be with someone who doesn't make you angry."

  165. You can say it’s not about the dishes all you want but eventually it is about the dishes. As a female, I hate housework and especially doing dishes and I will turn into a monster if I have to do more than my share.

  166. I Challenge the whole misconception that gay marriages are happier marriages. Simply the sheer number difference in sizes of gay vs non-gay would matter. But that aside my marriage (heterosexual) is one of both gender rolls and non gender rolls. I cook better then my wife, we share that roll 3 days each wearing an apron. I do my own laundry as does she. Last guy out of bed makes it. We both take turns cleaning. Here’s where the masculine roll kicks in. I take care of all the plumbing ,yard maintenance and vehicle maintenance. I also am better with money so I run the houses economy. Oh and we each keep and make our own money. Going on 26 years now and I’m very very happy!

  167. Live by the 3 C Never Criticize, Condemn, or Complain!!! After 30 years, you learn what works. You would be amazed how a smile and a thank you brightens someone’s day. Listen and participate. Let someone else take charge.

  168. I never had a great desire to be married. If it happened, great, and if not, it wasn’t going to be a tragedy. So it was a sort of shock to me, that at 43, having lived alone for 16 years, I “tied the knot”. Eleven years younger than me, he seemed to appreciate my ability to make decisions, my meticulous apartment, the book I’d written, etc. The knot has became a noose. Phone calls 9 times a day. Tantrums in the airport, in the street. The clean, organized life I had been living slowly devolving into mountains of dishes used while he works at home, coins left on the floor when they fall out of his pockets, boxes stacked on the stairs, hair from the brushed dog left in a coffee cup. “I’m the husband”, “I’m not yelling at you”, “I was going to do that later” - a devolution to an adolescent sense of entitlement triggered by a tuxedo, white dress and I do. Working toward a grey divorce and hopefully many years of living alone but for the dogs.

  169. My late partner and I met in midlife--he was 60, I was 46. I had 3 criteria for a life partner: (1) he had lived independently and could prepare a basic meal and do laundry; (2) he would accept that I am an independent person and needed a career; (3) he knew how to enjoy life. After a bad marriage, he was seeking someone who would respect him and accept him as he was. He took up cooking as a hobby and did most of the food shopping. I handled the finances. We enjoyed 30 happy years together and learned not to sweat the small stuff. "You may be right" became our mantra when we had a disagreement--that and a sense of humor. His family embraced me and, indeed, may be the legacy that I most cherish.

  170. My husband and I split work and home equally (we share a practice) and because of it, we both know that work is so much easier than home and the children. I am endlessly grateful for that because so many men don't understand this and come home from work and sit when they should come home and bail their partner out so they can finally rest.

  171. I read somewhere that couples were happiest when their duties were 'assigned', and decided to apply that to our marriage. We were already self-assigned with some chores, he takes out the trash and tends to the yard, and I do the laundry and manage the finances. For years, I had insisted on cooking, because it was 'expected' for the women around here to provide for their families in that way. Since the cleaning was mostly on me, too, I was a pretty miserable wife who fussed a lot. But I gave in, and allowed his inner chef to come to life. He does all the cooking, which takes an enormous, enormous I tell you, burden from my shoulders. The cleaning I do with zeal after receiving a delightful meal.

  172. Katie in Metaire sounds like the type of woman most men would be compatible with. I think these things boil down what men left to their own devices care about (on average) and what women do. Once married, more women want men to do household tasks they don't particularly care about than the reverse, including many things that arguably don't really matter. And, in my observation of other couples, women are often more controlling about the way domestic tasks are done. You see it as early as the engagement. When it comes to wedding planning, it is mostly the brides who get worked up about and have the last say on all the details. And when the kids arrive, you see it in the elaborate way women plan things like birthday parties, attending to details that the kids don't even appreciate it, whereas most men would just get all the kids together in a room playing spontaneously to their own devices, and just buy a basic cake. This from a man who changed most of the diapers, bottle-fed my kid at night, filled up most of the dishwasher loads and emptied them, made most of the school lunches, did most of the bedtimes, etc.

  173. @LV Women have competitive images to keep up vis a vis other women; in domestic matters, men pretty much could not care less.

  174. @LB If society were to peek into the home of a married heater couple, and things were in disarray, who, of the husband and wife, will society blame, (or lable a "pig")? The Woman. Everyone will judge HER based on the state of THEIR home. My Father was a fanatic about the lawn. Almost got in a fistfight once down at the ELKS lodge, because another guy in our neighborhood was extremely angry at my Father because our lawn was so perfect compared to his, that his wife would chastise him every time they drove past our house.

  175. @LB re: "women often hold the power over myriad everyday things": as a child when we had house parties, the men would be attracted to the lively chatter of women in the kitchen and tantalizing aromas, whereupon I'd typically hear a matronly command 'MEN OUT OF THE KITCHEN!' whereupon the men would meekly slink off to sit awkwardly and uncomfortably in the formal lounge room in silence, occasionally attempting a few words of conversation with other equally awkward-feeling males exiled away from the fun centre hearth of the home where all the action and interest was going on.

  176. I am in a long, happy heterosexual relationship. I work and my husband is retired. I joke that he is the perfect wife. Gets the groceries, cleans house, and even preps the food so I can make dinner, which I love to do as I am a chef. We have absolutely no sense of chores being gendered. I only worry I don’t do enough because I’m at work and don’t want to do much when I get home. I tend to do deeper level versions of chores when I can. For example, he does dishes most days and I might clean the cabinets once a month. I just asked him and he is content and so am I.

  177. Listen and practice, and find out what’s really important for your partner. It is very important for my wife to be fully respected, which is understandable and an area where I have been learning with some success I believe. A sense of male responsibility has its pros and cons when taken too seriously. As well as listening and learning and practice, forgiveness (and a sense of being forgiven) is essential.

  178. I have struggled with this for my entire life. I am a straight woman who has been in three long-term relationships with men. My main complaint in the first relationship was that my husband seemed so disconnected from our child. I didn't really mind doing most of the housework since he was working full time, but I thought that he should at least try to relate to our son. But he seemed really uninterested in him. In my second relationship, my boyfriend was more attentive to kids generally, including my son, but he was absolutely helpless when it came to everything else, even "manly" things like building a fire or bringing firewood into the house. Eventually it became clear that he wanted to be taken care of, in every way. In my third relationship, the man was able to cook and do basic housework, and he was willing to share these tasks equally. I thought I had finally "solved the problem." But this man covertly turned his own children against me, creating a huge amount of emotional housework that seemingly never ended. The conflict and drama were constant, and somehow it was always directed at me, while he sat in the calm space at the eye of the storm. Eventually I figured out that this was not an accident: his children were angry at him, but I was a convenient scapegoat. Emotional housework is still housework. I still like men, but I will never let another man move into my house. It's like having an airbnb with a very troublesome guest who never leaves.

  179. Excellent article. The emphasis on mutual respect is particularly important. I am a male married for over 50 years to one very bright woman. She lacks "theory of mind" - ability to read others' feelings and nonverbal language, but after so many years I gave up trying to help her. She is probably "on the spectrum" of autism or Asperger's. I do the cooking and shopping, home repairs, etc. She has neither aptitude nor interest in that, which is fine with me. I try to please her with her favorites-food, clothes, etc. She likes that but usually says nothing. Even after she get a great dinner, all of her favorites, she chomps silently, watching her favorite fix of TV channel. On the other hand she knows nothing about my preferences and likes nor has any interest in that. Some appreciation or warm remark would be nice. I get it from friends at work, but not home. Anyone in my place would probably have a girlfriend, but that's against my belief that promise is a promise and marriage is forever.

  180. @Stefan : boy, that's really sad. I do think that "watching TV while eating dinner" is one of the worst things in American life and has led to all kinds of unhappiness. Mealtime should be a time of relaxed socialization and TALK -- not people "chomping down food silently" and staring at the boob tube.

  181. My sweet, funny beloved late husband did the dishes every morning and night and made the bed every day. We never discussed the arrangement, he just did those things from the beginning. I shopped and cooked, we did the laundry together, and he did almost all the yard work when we lived outside New York City. We were enormously happy. His first wife, whose friendship has been a comfort to me since he died, last year - we laugh a lot exchanging stories - was surprised to hear that he knew how to make a bed! Never had he helped with the dishes, either. His mom had been a traditional housewife, and except for college, he’d never lived on his own. We laughed, and decided that he must have been determined to do everything possible to make his second marriage work. Thanks to the New York Times, I now know the secret ingredient to our thirty years of happiness - dishes! Or, to put it broadly - mutual thoughtfulness, respect, and kindness. “Put yourself in the other guy’s shoes”, he’d often say. And be remembered as a mensch, when you’re (too soon) gone.

  182. Some people have a tendency to keep score of everything and become a martyr when they feel there is inequity in the sharing of chores and whatnot. But what happens often is the one who gets upset not only wants the chore done, but wants it done their way, at the time they want it and the way they want. This is what causes all the grief. I think in my marriage I may have done the dishes more. If I cooked, and finished first, I took my plate to the kitchen and did the dishes. Big whoop. No score required. My spouse probably bought more groceries than I did but frankly, I'm just not sure because we never kept track of anything. If something needed doing, we just did it. Neither of us would ever be able to stomach a term like "power dynamics" in our marital home. That sounds insane to me. One of the letter writers said something about how he can do all the getting ready in the morning and stuff but that makes the wife feel like she's failing. The spouse in that case is making it all about her rather than appreciating his contributions. There is the problem right there. Get rid of the scorecard and appreciate that everyone's contributing to getting stuff done.

  183. In my heterosexual marriage, I did a fair amount of household chores especially as related to out two daughters. I did their laundry, took them to swimming and other lessons, read to them, went on hikes etc. This worked out fine until the kids started coming to me for things most kids go to their mothers for. Like, I can't find my socks etc. My wife became totally furious when one day a daughter insisted that "Daddy do it" while my wife was trying to remove some sand from an eye. This type of thing became a huge issue and continued so until the marriage ended after fourteen years

  184. After working for years in the restaurant industry, my husband has high expectations for how clean dishes, pans, and the kitchen surfaces are after a meal. I come from a traditional family, and I wanted to cook and was dishes for my new husband. From day one, he didn’t let me because my dishes weren’t spotless, the surfaces not fully disinfected. For the first 10 years of our marriage, our after dinner arguments (“Let me wash the dishes!” “Just relax, I am going to do all the dishes tonight!”) were comical to all our friends, but frustrating to us, to the point where it sent us to therapy. I gave in. He does the dishes. I read stories to the children. We’re happy.

  185. Actually, sharing the housework etc. is a principle of respect for the other. Talk without action is just that: talk. If housework was absolutely wonderful and huge fun to do, teenagers would be fighting over who gets to do it. They rarely do. For most people, teenaged or adult, housework is a chore. Therefore, adults living together should think twice before dumping the bulk of the housework on their partners. And that old excuse, that 'men don't have the same housekeeping standards as women, so shouldn't have to clean/wash up/whatever as often or as well', is just that. An excuse. No two human beings have identical standards of household cleanliness/tidiness. So get off the sofa and do a fair share of the necessary domestic work to make your shared home pleasant, clean and comfortable, and to get dinner, and to wash up, and do the laundry (yes, you can learn how) etc. etc... Pitching in is what it's about. Forget the trad divisions of domestic labour. Help one another.

  186. A hidden message in the headline is the ongoing lack of respect that society has for gay marriages and partnerships. Yes, there is now equal marriage rights and that's a big deal, but there is still minimal honor paid to homosexual - particularly gay male - relationships. There have been gay men and relationships throughout human history which confounds those who believe being gay is a choice and is not a genetic attribute that is a benefit to humanity. By being in touch with their feminine sides, gay men have an intuitive awareness of what women feel and want - just as they also know what men like. When that kind of emotional intelligence is within each of two partnered men, there is naturally less tension, more empathy, and more respect for what the other feels and wants. In that regard, it's not about gender specific roles like washing dishes or mowing grass, but far more about encouraging a more gender fluid culture especially in heterosexual relationships. That of course doesn't mean to eliminate gender identity, but to foster in young boys and girls - and adults - a full celebration of the best of both gender qualities in every person.

  187. Heterosexual woman, married for almost 15 years with 2 tween-aged children. Ten years into our marriage, after playing enough “dishwasher chicken”- where you both ignore the festering pile of dirty dishes in the sink until someone breaks and finally loads the dishwasher- we realized that I prefer loading and he prefers putting the dishes away! This practical approach has worked in many instances in our household. However, tackling the “witching hour” - no one actually enjoys that, so until our kids become increasingly self-sufficient, we will struggle through that time in our day. Humor and a glass of wine help, and also, realizing the Queen of England isn’t showing up to your unkempt house for an impromptu visit!

  188. Just do the work when it needs to be done. If the laundry needs doing, do it! If the lawn needs mowing, mow it! If the garbage needs to be taken out, take it out! If the school is closer to one parents route to work, then that one gets to do it most times, not all, but most. But the after-school pick-up can and should be shared if the schedules permit. Sink full, empty it! Toilet needs a scrub, scrub it. Shower needs the same, do it! Do it when you're in it! Save time and water! I have never understood this lopsided work load. I can understand if a partner doesnt like to do X, is allergic to Y, or maybe the mower freaks them out, etc...just do other things. But do them! Just do the chores in small increments and the load is lessened. And parents - for the love of your personal god, teach your children how to do them too! And start early! None of this, "Oh they need time to study, or do homework, or play sports." So do You! Families should share the fun stuff, and especially the workloads. Teach your children how to do their own laundry, and that will last them a life time, and make them more independent. Show them how to tend to the things in/around the home that should you be down for the count, or not around, they can pick up the slack. In other words; teach them responsibility to take care of the things that keep them safe, warm, and functioning in a modern life. So as they mature they don't take those things for granted, and expect them to be done by others.

  189. I am a married, straight white male but freely admit to having a gay thought at least twice a month- I assume that makes me a member of the LGBTQ community. Now that I'm out, it's easier for me to identify with my wife's feelings. I am happy to share our household responsibilities. She cooks, I cook.. She vacuums, I vacuum .. She gets mad, I get scared..

  190. You ultimately reach a point where it’s better to surrender and try to enjoy the boring peace than to keep fighting and enjoy the war. Just don’t forget the line that begins with, “too many cooks ...”.

  191. In marriage, the biggest problem is that you find yourself living with an entirely different Psyche, with all its dark corners and knowing and unknowing assumptions about who you are and who they are. Most of the time we communicate with spouses from an entirely fantasy perspective, the fantasy being that we have have ANY idea whom the spouse is or what their perception of us really is.

  192. Marry a gay man if you want to be happy? They wash dishes equally. All this arguing when a dish washers are in the kitchen. It's hard to believe. It's simple wipe into the garbage, rinse whatever left over in the sink, put it in the machine and when it fills up turn it on and let technology do the hard work. Try it, today's soaps and machines clean even some dried on stuff. But be warned it takes practice to load a dish washer properly. Stay with it. But is washing dishes what you're really angry about?

  193. @JoeG Correct that the dishes aren't the core of the problem, but when a couple doesn't have a dishwasher, it adds to the list of things that complicate life! We share everything equally, but we feel like we spend a large percentage of our free time washing dishes. If I weren't in an equitable relationship in which he shared that responsibility, that one chore alone would have brought the gender imbalance to light long ago and I would have bailed on the relationship. Having certain luxuries like a dishwasher (or a car, or a washier and dryer) does free up time and make life seem easier!

  194. About time to end the myth that women do the housework. It wasn't that way with my parents, they shared in the work. It's not that way in my family, my siblings or any of the couples I know. If anything the women do less of the housework and they certainly complain about it more. This may be how the myth developed, because of the complaining. It must be difficult to live in a household with two women and no men to do the work, my sympathies!

  195. Let’s just make sure All of the housework and childcare chores get on the list (fixing the car, putting up a new shelf, mowing the lawn, as well as dusting and doing the dishes, balancing the checkbook, etc). Then partners regardless of sex or gender can have a honest and open discussion about tasks they hate, tasks they don’t mind doing, and tasks they actually get some joy of accomplishment from. Some of t he dynamic may be adaptations to a more urban lifestyle where the outside work of a home and a car no longer apply. (In fact historical data may be a more balanced division of labor if this included in house work). Regardless, a list of everything that needs to get done in a partnership, discussing what to pay to have done (if possible) and splitting all the rest relatively evenly can create win/win outcomes. And it can’t be a one and done discussion as partners should check in to make sure the split is still relatively even and both partners are still happy with it. One partner cooks; the other cleans up after dinner. One partner hates grocery shopping and the other hates cleaning the bathroom? Then trade those tasks so the other partner does them.

  196. I have an idea, how about we do what we can when we can and not get hung up on equal divisions of labor. Sometimes my wife cooks, most times I do because I enjoy it. I don't expect her to cut the grass, fix the car or move heavy objects from one place to another, she doesn't expect me to do laundry, clean the bathrooms or do the pots and pans. But, I will and she would if asked or needs to. If the relationship boils down to a power struggle then perhaps one should consider the marriage as perhaps not being viable. Why spend ones days worrying or fuming?

  197. I think a lot of this comes down to how much one thinks of housework in moral terms. As a society we talk about "good" mothers (and, implicitly, "bad" mothers), and tend to see "good mothering" as part of a package: very clean house, very well kempt children, and a wide variety of tasty, home-cooked meals. Women feel themselves held to these standards, and both complain and pick up "slack" when their partners don't work to them. My hetero female friends tend to describe things their husbands do not do as failings of character ("I don't understand how he can't see that the dishes need to be done!"), while my hetero male friends are flummoxed by the expectation to constantly do things that do not (to them) appear to require immediate attention. In my experience, women in same-sex couples both understand (or have both rejected) these expectations, so they both work towards them (or agree not to). My male friends in same-sex couples organize their households based more on their own preferences than on fears about moral judgment. Hetero couples have managed half the problem (a desire for equal contributions), but not the other half (expectations about outcomes). And society has not stopped blaming women when the outcomes are not what they "should" be. I think we'll all be better off when we acknowledge that "good" parents can have messy houses and feed their children boring, repetitive, nutritious meals. The kids might even be better off and less anxious because of it!

  198. @Eleanor - you have described the dynamics perfectly. Thank you!

  199. @Eleanor Wow - best and most thoughtful reply of all. You should have written the article!

  200. Perfect analysis

  201. Like the old conundrum in psychiatry: Do you want to be right or to be happy? After I graduated from university, I made a decision to always live alone. Hell is other people and their expectations.

  202. With most of these stories, it makes me wonder if the two parties met the families during a dating period. I'm eighty three and my dear wonderful husband and I were married sixty two years. He died two years ago and my heart, mind and soul are empty because of the grief and loss. We met in the fifties. Does that make a difference? Our love evolved FROM mutual respect, continued throughout our marriage and our children learned from this. If anyone works in the office environment, it is imperative there's cohesive employees. Traveling for business: We know how to behave to another business. Teaching: again, behavior with students and other teachers matters. Why should we live with our life partners with a different attitude. Respect, love, growth, signs, equals peace.

  203. In a conversation with two other straight women, one single and one married for just a year, these self-identified feminists were renouncing traditional gender roles, and how their difficulties with relationships had to do with the compromises that relationships required. What struck me was their feminism was the reason for not wanting to compromise on any sacrifices they might have to make in a loving, long-standing relationship. In a long and loving relationship, partners of any sort make sacrifices for one another. As a widow after eleven years of happy married life, I was struck by their declarations about not wanting to give up any part of themselves to be married. I wish these principled women luck in their pursuit of romantic love, and hope they find someone who is willing to appreciate their other qualities and strengths.

  204. @Woman They're kind of stuck in their own self images. My sister is an ardent feminist. Until she needs something done which requires a skill set which her husband lacks, meaning most repair projects, etc. Then she has absolutely no problem turning on the charm for my husband (who is an amazing Mr. Fixit type) and using absolutely classic female strategies (flattering, etc.) for snaring him into doing her home repairs. (It took him a while to catch on, because he's a helpful sort, but he finally did). It's sort of sad. Said sister's daughter, who sister describes as a 'raging feminist', is having trouble finding / keeping a boyfriend. And sister bemoaned the fact that her daughter didn't have a 'boyfriend with a strong back' to help her move into a new apartment. Go figure.

  205. First world problems

  206. Deborah Hooker, Clayton, N.C I am in your boat, and happy about it. I did know about dogs though.