The Subservient Wife: How Carrying the Housework Burden Destroys Marriages | Giftie Etcetera: The Subservient Wife: How Carrying the Housework Burden Destroys Marriages

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Subservient Wife: How Carrying the Housework Burden Destroys Marriages

I've been thinking about gender roles a lot lately.
housekeeping, homemaking, marriage

Maybe it's because I recently was in an accident that the police officer stated was because I am one of those "women drivers." (I filed a complaint, it was founded, and the police officer was reprimanded.) 

Also, my child has had some medical issues at school and, though my husband works five minutes from the school and I work more than thirty minutes away, I got all the phone calls. 

I was starting to think that everything was falling on my shoulders - not because of any actions that my husband was taking, but because I am a woman - when I innocently clicked on a blog post about organizing.

Instead of really being about organizing, though, it was actually about being submissive to a husband in cleaning the house, even when the husband was actively messy in order to annoy the wife.

I am firmly against the concept of a subservient or submissive wife.

(Should I pause for you to gather your thoughts and absorb your shock? No? All of you already knew I didn't pledge to obey in the marriage vows? Well, yes, I guess that is pretty obvious.)

Yes, in my household, I do most of the organizing. I'm a natural at it, and order is a struggle for my husband. Still, he is the one who organizes the kids' rooms, due to all the dust. I am very allergic to dust. We share the cleaning, about 50/50 on laundry, all the dusting to him, and the kitchen cleaning mostly for me. I cook all the meals, but I only cook about a quarter of the time and, otherwise, it's leftovers or hubby microwaving something or baking meat (the only cooking that he does) for the kids and for his lunches. 

I probably do more chores, overall, especially if you count errands, but I work 15 hours a week to his 40 hours, so that seems fair.

But what does not happen is me doing chores in service to my husband. Instead, ALL members of my family - the kids, my husband, and I - serve each other.

The author of the article (sorry, I won't link it, as I found the title of it so deceptive and refuse to add "hits" to her blog) argued that letting go of resentment and serving one's husband frees one from resentment.

Know what really frees one from resentment? Sharing responsibilities.

In fact, the author sounded pretty resentful and as if she was repressing that feeling due to religious beliefs.

The author of the article argued that a wife should wait for God to change her husband.

Know what really changes a husband? A loving wife who shares her whole life with him, instead of making the house a virtual no man's land.

The author of the article argued that the Bible tells a story of women keeping the home and men working outside of the home.

But the division of labor for our ancestors was very even and the Bible reflects that.

Men worked sunrise to sunset, in the fields, hunting, making tools, and doing all sorts of household chores. Women surely tended babies more, due to biology, but also engaged in sunrise to sunset household chores. Having a man going off to work and a woman staying in the homestead is a new, modern concept. Families used to work together. When Mary and Joseph are mentioned in the Bible, they are most often spoken of as a couple, working as a team.

If one party does all of the housework, the problem is not just the natural resentment that is created.

I've seen marriage after marriage break up over the issue of one party resenting the other. I've also seen people stay married, by law and by living together, but without a real marriage, because one of the partners was carrying too heavy of a burden and the other was insensitive to that and unwilling to change. Their marriage is over, just as much as those who divorce, but they don't see it. It is heartbreaking.

Doing chores together is an opportunity to work together and strengthen the marriage that is lost. A marriage where spouses share chores is a marriage where they know (and teach their children by example) compromise, honor, and respect.

I wish women would stop using Christianity as an excuse for their husbands. Don't let men off of the hook for housework. It's good for their souls - and for your marriages.



VodkaSoyLatte said...

Oh, this. So much this. Thank you. It makes my eyeballs bleed to read the "obedient wife" crap. My husband and I (married for almost 17 years) do our best to work as a TEAM and we remind one another of our commitment to that idea almost daily. I couldn't do it any other way.

Giftie Etcetera said...

I can tell from your blog that you are probably here because of my planner posts! I am timid about posting about anything else, lest readers leave, so I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

Anonymous said...

And you are correct! Submission in the context of that blog writer's opinion is that the wife is to be subservient to the husband? Okay, so she becomes his servant instead of his wife? If she agreed to those terms then I conclude that she is brainwashed or brain dead.

My husband and I have been married for 48 years. In all of those years he has never suggested that I was to be subservient to him. In fact, we share roles inside and outside of our home. Doing so "works" and that leaves no reason to change things.

A sloppy husband does not need a wife. He still needs a mother who will teach him how to pick up after himself rather than impose his selfishness on someone he said he loved. Love does not burden either party. It is the sharing of the entire self with the other in a balance of trust and honor.

Those who think otherwise need to go back and read Ephesians again. LOL.

Dianne in the desert

Giftie Etcetera said...

"A sloppy husband does not need a wife. He still needs a mother who will teach him how to pick up after himself rather than impose his selfishness on someone he said he loved." -Dianne in the desert

I LOVE this!!! I plan to quote you a lot!

Unknown said...

I think Dianne in the Desert needs to start a blog - I will be one of her first followers! The wisdom she must have gained during 48 years of marriage - I cannot begin to imagine.
Giftie, I agree with what you said 100% - as a Christian it disturbs me to no end when someone can't get basic Christian principle straight...Husband and Wife are to be partners, not one the master of the other. You should diverge from planning posts more often - this was nice. I was thinking about expanding my own blog a bit, like you I'm more than just a planner nerd and perhaps some of what I have learned along the way might help someone else (or give me a chance to vent now and then)!

Unknown said...

I am with you here! My husband, Thank God, knows how to take care of himself & the rest of us. We divide chores equally & we teach our children by our actions. Everyone pitches in, no one is exempt! I want to raise my daughter & son in a way that their future spouse will be thankful.

Giftie Etcetera said...

I am trying to stick to planners on MWF, but on Thursday, I let you get to know me a bit! :)

Unknown said...

I think the problem with how that lady said it is that she was waiting for God to change her husband. Sure, God can soften a heart, but he cannot "change" a person. If she would speak with her husband about it, *and* God softened his heart, then maybe there would be a chance. But it just doesn't work how it seems she was explaining it - and that's the craziest bit of the whole idea!
I do 90% of the housework. Because I'm home all day, and my Mister works. He is responsible for cleaning up his desk and putting his laundry in the hamper. Anything else is bonus. I'm alright with this, simply because that's the balance in our relationship (unspoken, but still). I would rather do the housework and have a cleaner house than try and get him to do it, because he has more stresses in his life to deal with (how as you said, your work less than your husband).
It's a touchy subject for a lot of people, but what it comes down to is what works for your relationship, not necessary what you *want* to have work. In an ideal world, I would never have to clean the house! But that's going to happen :P

Giftie Etcetera said...

Well said, Jessica. It sounds like you are in a very healthy relationship.

Poet, Detachment Mom, and Navy Wife said...

Thank you for writing this! I loathe the doormat movement in contemporary Christianity - women excusing their husbands for failing as husbands as though it is a Christian duty. Things should be equal. Furthermore, most of these women don't get rid of their resentment. It comes up in various small ways.

Hilda Rodgers said...

My husband and I share a lot of the chores. And he was a stay-at-home-dad when our kids were really little. He still enjoys cooking more than I do and does all our grocery shopping. We work it out as our lives and needs change. I agree that sharing responsibilities sets a good example for our kids. And as they're getting older they're helping more too. It's not about male or female. It's just about dividing things up. Great post!

Anna said...

Love your post! I like to think of myself as laid back, but you bring up so many points that are "issues" I can get pretty riled up about- marriage, treatment of women, "spiritual" manipulation, resentment, etc. Maybe I'm not all that laid back.
Marriage shouldn't be about subservience on either side! And as a Christian, it always makes me sad when people try to make God/Bible say what they want instead of looking at what is really there.
I've been married 18 years, working before kids, SAHM sometimes working part time or babysitting. It did take us some time to adjust to each other's styles regarding house, but it was never a question of it being "women's work." And now that I have kids, if they complain about chores, I remind them that in our family we work together to do what needs to be done.
I'm home more & I do a lot more, but now I do have some help. We live in Congo on a mission hospital compound, so I can't really not be involved in some aspects of the ministry here. (And I like to be involved as long as it's not medical.) Everything has to be done by hand from scratch. I have local women that help me with that, and it gives them an income, which helps them. I figured that with marketing, cooking, dishes, laundry by hand, and cleaning, it would take me about 8-10 hrs/day just to get by, not even to do a really good job. And historically, even people without a lot of money had servants, so I think this idea of "doing it all" is a more modern concept.
Anyway, I could go on and on about how women are treated. Here it's really bad, but even in the US, there is still prejudice in that regard.
But with resentment... that should not be OK for a marriage. Marriage shouldn't be something that is endured. It can be really, incredibly wonderful! And resentment can eat away at your happiness and emotional/spiritual health. Repressing those feelings isn't the answer!
And as far as talking about things other than organizing- I say "Go for it!" Everyone might not always agree with everything you say, but I think some respectful discussion on "issues" is healthy. It's good to understand another's viewpoint and to take the time to examine the reasoning behind our own beliefs.
PS. I'm showing considerable self-control, because I feel like I could have written 1/2 of a book as a comment. :)

Tina said...

I adore all of your posts but this one I love. It's very timely as my husband and I are attempting to shift the division of the household responsibilities, chores and errands to a more equitable split between us. I'm so resentful of him sitting on the sofa watching tv after work that all feelings of love, passion and caring are crowded out. How is it possible to feel passion for someone you mother? How can a marriage survive like that? The blogger asking God to change her husband and marriage is equivalent to writing a letter to Santa. Good luck to her.

Anonymous said...

I find this sort of Christianity fascinating and weird. I *am* the submissive partner in my (non-religious) marriage, because that sort of dynamic works well for us. However he's the one who works from home whereas my commute is several hours every day. He does more of the housework than I do, and he asks me what the plans are because organising/planning is one of my strong suits. My point is that dominant/submissive dynamics are also a partnership, just one where the power imbalance is acknowledged and welcomed on both sides. Being submissive didn't mean being a doormat, I am far more valuable (yes monetarily but also emotionally) as the primary breadwinner than I would be chained barefoot in the kitchen. Oh, and just because I'm submissive doesn't mean he gets it all his way either - a responsible dominant cares about what their partner thinks about things and tries to make sure they're happy. Not just taking them for granted/deliberately pissing them off. The foundation of *any* relationship is trust, and the cornerstone of trust is open and honest communication. I feel sorry for the author of that blog post if she can't have that :-(

Anonymous said...

Whew! Diane in the Dessert - that was well said. I just wish more Christian women would raise boys to be men that enjoy pitching in and lending a hand with household tasks.