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A House Is A Woman’s Castle—Guest Post By The Blonde Bombshell

Attention men: that green thing is a “duvet cover”. See the text.
A Norwegian study reports that couples who make a concerted effort to divide the housework are more likely to divorce than couples where most of the chores fall to the woman of the house.

The study results may puzzle the modern person, who has been informed from the cradle that gender roles imposed by a patriarchal society are meant to be exposed and shattered into a million little pieces. It is much better that everyone carry their own freight (or do their own laundry) under the banner of fairness.

Lest the reader write off the study results as a case of “Norwegians just being Norwegian”, a recent article in The Atlantic offers circumstantial evidence from a dinner party attended by women (all divorced save for one) in Los Angeles that suggests that the increased divorce rate among the multi-degreed, professional class is skyrocketing.

The Atlantic article recounts the story of a married woman who has a wonderful well-paying job and a house husband, who seems like a pretty cool guy, and content in his role. The wife asked the husband to replace a broken light-bulb in the garage, and he didn’t do the assigned task in a timely manner, which resulted in the wife banging her shin one dark night. She became unhinged, and the result was a costly “emergency therapy session.”

In this instance, most or nearly all of the home chores fell to the man, so it is not fair to use him as an example of what’s wrong with the 50-50 approach to marriage. If this particular union ends in divorce, it could be due the wife’s financial independence or the modern tendency to view marriage as a business contract rather than a sacrament—both reasons that the study authors offer for the increased divorce rates in 50-50 marriages.

What is really going on is that the poor men—from the fjords of Norway and to the suburbs of Los Angeles—do not have a clue. The men do not have the most basic realization that his home is his wife’s castle, and she has very definite customs, habits, and expectations, all of which he hasn’t noticed.

He has never observed that the top sheet has a very definite top and a bottom. He does not recognize that the duvet cover has a several buttons at the bottom, which should be to the foot of a made bed. When he makes the bed, the covers go any which way. The result may be functional, but may not please the eye of the wife.

He doesn’t see the smear of balsamic vinegar on the shelf or the ring of dried ketchup at the neck of the bottle. He doesn’t sense the internal order in the way the dishes are stacked or how the silverware is arranged. He doesn’t care that the clothes are inside-out as he folds them from the dryer. There is a lot going on in his own house that is outside of his awareness.

The trouble is that the wife is perfectly aware. She sees right away that things are out of order. She can either heave a quiet sigh and re-stack the dishes, and tidy up the silverware drawer and be grateful that she has a life’s companion, or she can make a federal case out it, and summon the emergency therapist—or the divorce lawyer.

I don’t have any scientific data to back me up, but I would guess there are between 12 and 20 ironclad expectations that any wife has for her house. These expectations vary from woman to woman. Men in a second marriage will quickly learn that what worked with number one isn’t necessarily going to work with number two.

So, for the upper-income man to stay married, he needs to learn what she wants. (Note: She already knows what he wants.)

Some wives will want an everyday vacuum run and bathroom polish. Others don’t mind a once-a-week vacuum and a deep clean of the tub on Sundays. Some wives are a maniac for order in the kitchen, and won’t go to bed with dishes in the sink.

The strategy of some men (likely those with less education and not as much income) is to have her do the work herself. These louts manage to stay married.

For a man to be king of his castle, the queen has to be happy. As sexist and backward as that sounds, that is the biggest key to martial harmony. Researchers: start your data collection.

26 thoughts on “A House Is A Woman’s Castle—Guest Post By The Blonde Bombshell Leave a comment

  1. Yup. 32+ years of my research experience says you’ve got it. But it’s a bit more complex than occasionally doing some “field work.” Substituting with home handyman skills in plumbing, electrical, etc. can get you out of some of the menial chores for a bit. Also, cleaning up your own messes goes a long way in maintaining the housework equation in your favor. If you’re a klutz and a slob, then buddy, you’re on your own.


  2. Men in a second marriage will quickly learn that what worked with number one isn’t necessarily going to work with number two.

    I would say that men in a second marriage will quickly learn that what didn’t work with number one isn’t necessarily going to work with number two either.

  3. I have been married too long to make a concerted effort to divide the housework. All I know is that I don’t do dishes every night, but somehow, the dishes, pots and pans manage to walk themselves into the dishwasher before I wake up next morning.

  4. >>For a man to be king of his castle, the queen has to be happy.

    My wife tells that she will be happier if I do ALL the housework.

  5. There could be something else going on here.

    It could be that “progressive” couples that go out of their way to divide the labor so as not to appear to be cow-towing to the “old fashioned” and “patriarchal” ways are also “progressive” when it comes to other aspects of their lives and thus less committed to life long marriage to begin with.

    So its not the division of labor that leads to divorce, its being a couple of liberal/progressive/leftist type folk to begin with.

  6. THAT JUST ILLUSTRATES Ralph Waldo Emerson’s elegantly succinct observation: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

    In ALL relationships, some compromise is essential…and what this post is clearly conveying as a norm is that women manifest no recognition for compromise (this topic failed to materialize here, note) but complete & total acquiescence. Literally, per this post, its all about HER “definite customs, habits, and expectations.”

    Such near-absolute & one-sided intolerance on the one hand and demand for subservience on the other (i.e. near total disregard for the other party’s values, outlook, etc.) is a hallmark of a toxic/dysfunctional relationship with the one party, the female as portrayed here, exhibiting extreme narcissistic traits, which are to be accepted without question by the male: “…he needs to learn what she wants” and those that don’t are “louts.”

    There’s a closet industry shattering that misconception of the very extreme cases (e.g. http://www.shrink4men.com; http://www.melanietoniaevans.com/; etc.) … not to mention a very well-defined shift in state laws around the country [USA anyway] in which violence — where a narcissistic partner of either gender too-commonly leads the relationship — is not so easily presumed to be the female anymore.

    Narcissism is a growing epidemic in modern society’s around the world & much has been written about that trend. This article is perpetuating that very toxic trend.

  7. I cannot wash dishes or load the dishwasher (or do other housework) to my wifes satisfaction. She, like most women, learned what should be done while working beside their mother and I was not privy to those rules and requirements. Just when I think I know how to do something a new rule pops up and once again I am a barbarian.

    In my wife’s favor I must state that my dishwashing technique is to laod the dishwaser and run it then after it air dries to put away all dishes that came out clean and leave anything that didn’t for another wash or two. Admittedly a little crude but workable and in my small little man mind makes more sense then washing the dishes BEFORE putting them into the dishwasher.

  8. Paging Doctor Freud:
    Next to last sentence: “As sexist and backward as that sounds, that is the biggest key to martial harmony.”

  9. I’m only 17, and I definitely notice this with my parents and my close friends’ parents. I clue into what my female friends say and do, because the dynamic around home is present in most-or even all-girls by the time they are in their late teens.

  10. My wife and I do divide the work up where she does most of the indoor house keeping and I do almost all of handy man and outdoor tasks. Exceptions being, heavy scrubbing of pans or floors -I do. Planting of flowers -she does. Things really do operate better that way. I may be the king of the home projects; but she is the queen of the house.

    Thanks for you article.

  11. This woman speaks truth.

    When it comes to routine household tasks, my wife gave up on me a long time ago.

    We’ve gotten along a lot better since.

  12. The generalisms in this article don’t work for me and my husband. I’m not even sure what a duvet is. However, my husband and I don’t really share housework at all. My husband earns the money and repairs appliances. That’s it. I do everything else or hire someone else to do it for us – for instance I pay someone to mow the lawn and rake the leaves. I think it works because I’m independent and possibly a bit of a control freak. I don’t need to call my husband to jump the battery on the car or change the tire. And he’s a workaholic and likes not having to sweat the small stuff. If I need him to pick up one of the kids, he just wants to know what time and what place and he’ll do it.

    I think I’m making him sound like an idiot and he’s not, far from it. He’s very successful and we’re very comfortable financially and extremely happy relationship wise. He’s an excellent and involved father who has never been afraid to change a diaper or kiss a boo boo or get dirty, cold, and tired working the Boy Scouts’ Christmas Tree sale every year with our oldest son. But he just wants to leave the details to me. And I’m fine with that. I think I might resent my role if I had to work for money as well, but since I don’t I’m happy to pay the bills, do the dishes and laundry, run the kids around, and keep on top of their homework, practices and dentist appointments.

    On the flip side, I would also be happy earning money so long as he took over some of the running of the household. But he wouldn’t be happy because he’s a big picture guy and really doesn’t want to invest a lot of mental energy in what needs to be done around the house. I think the reason married couples with definite divisions of labor are happier is there’s just less to fight over. And anyone who cares about buttons on a duvet cover is going to find a lot of fight about.

  13. I think the real problem with the idea of a 50-50 split is that in order to maintain that someone has to keep score. As a married couple if you are keeping score rather than just doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done out of love for your spouse then you will be in trouble. If we could all put down the scorecard and just serve our spouse the best we can the dishes and laundry will not be a problem.

  14. Rich,

    The lady was so called and given this nickname by an eminent radio personality in New York City. The description is accurate.

  15. I wrote a really good post, but then remembered the sage words of Homer (Simpson):

    “You say that about girls now, but when you’re an adult you’ll only think it”

  16. Sage advice for newlyweds: whoever does the chore first does it for the rest of the marriage.

    For instance, if you take out the garbage or wash the dishes just once, you get that job for the rest of your life (unless you get divorced and remarry someone else who will do it for you, or get rich and hire maids and servants). Otherwise, you do it once, you own it.

  17. These women mentioned in the Atlantic article are a very specific type of creature. It appears they want to select a mate in the same way they select a duvet. From a store, on a rack, with a 90 day return policy. And they seem to enjoy overpriced pesto-hummus, couple’s therapy sessions, white wine sangria, and hot tubs.

    Fair warning, men. If your date offers you hummus while you’re in her therapist’s waiting room, run.

    Great commentary! Thanks!

  18. These women mentioned in the Atlantic article are a very specific type of creature. It appears they want to select a mate in the same way they select a duvet. From a store, on a rack, with a 90 day return policy. And they seem to enjoy overpriced pesto-hummus, couple’s therapy sessions, white wine sangria, and hot tubs.

    Fair warning, men. If your date offers you hummus while you’re in her therapist’s waiting room, run.

    Great commentary, thanks!

  19. Dave Barry had a great column on this subject about 25 years ago. A line I still remember, virtually verbatim:

    “Women, for hormonal reasons, are able to see individual dirt molecules.”

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