Thursday, June 16, 2011

Me, My Wife, and Gender

My wife and I are technically an nontraditional couple, though in many ways we are also strictly traditional. One of us goes to work while the other takes care of the house, our two dogs, and our three cats while looking for part-time work to supplement our savings. The only thing is, she’s the one who has a career and I’m the homemaker. *Cue the horror music*

And frankly, I don’t know how ladies do it. You don’t have to be tough to sit in an office or teach, but I question a woman’s ability to do housework. Honestly, that is real work. Vacuuming alone is harder than anything I ever did in the white-collar world. Laundry is basically just heavy-lifting. And with all the errands I run, I would never trust a female driver to do them all.

I kid, I kid. True to our newly assumed gender roles, my wife has never been in an accident since she got her license, while I’ve been in more than I can recall off-hand (some weren’t even my fault). She’s too weak to do laundry, though, and I think her technical expertise is a little lacking. My wife has not even used the washer or dryer in our house since we moved in last July.

She tried, but I had to do it because she was futilely attempting to run the washer using the dryer settings (it’s a stack setup, so they’re right next to each other… she’s not completely clueless).

I also can’t picture her doing the other thing I do quite often: cleaning shit. Five animals produce a lot of feces. I’m combing either three litter boxes or the backyard every day. I’m literally neck deep in excrement. I don’t think that’s a job for the fairer sex.

I have a lot of the familiar female complaints, too. Would it kill you to rinse your dishes off when you put them in the sink so it doesn’t fossilize and fuse with the plate? My wife doesn’t even put anything in the sink anymore because of this; I just bus everything, because if I want it done my way, I have to do it myself.

And she’s always leaving the toilet seat up. No, the top one, the actual seat, not the c-shaped one. We need the lid on our toilets down so the dogs don’t drink from them and then lick our faces two minutes later. She’s always leaving the one in the back up. I’m fairly certain one of our cats fell in once, because his back legs were wet and he’s always climbing up to the toilet tank.

My daily routine is this: wake up, let out the dogs, take my wife to work, feed the dogs, do chores such as cleaning up the little things my wife leaves around (wrappers, glasses, plates, silverware, bras, etc.). Which reminds me: my wife does her equivalent of what most men do when they come home. Guy comes home, pants come off. My wife comes home, bra comes off. Then I make her dinner, we hang out, and the whole thing repeats.

During the day, there’s some other stuff, too. There’s chores to do, especially the last few weeks when we’ve had company. We have guests coming tomorrow, so the front bathroom is getting a total scrub down, the guest linens are in the washer as I write this, and tonight or tomorrow morning I’ll vacuum the whole house. The longer I wait on that, the better, because with five shedding animals, there will be tumbling tumbleweeds of hair rolling through the halls within hours of vacuuming.

It’s not too bad, really, because I’m actually allergic to both cats and dogs, so I’ll be breathing well tomorrow. I just don’t let anyone tell me what to do, least of all of my body. I’m allergic to dogs and cats, but I love them anyway. And while I was born a man, I’m not allergic to elbow grease, so I don’t mind my primary household role.


  1. The only thing special about your situation is that nobody realizes how common it is yet.

  2. I cringe at being considered "special," so that's good. I should ask my wife how common it is, since she has a PhD in studying gender, family, and that sort of feminist stuff I find so interesting.

  3. Damn, she said she isn't aware of anyone who studies it. Though women are getting more advanced degrees, so it will probably increase in the future.

  4. I love that you're not ashamed to be a stay-at-home husband and that you realize that it is a job. A lot of people I speak with on a parenting forum are just like, Oh it's not hard, you have ALL day to cook and clean and take care of the kids, etc. -__- Whatever. I'm no longer a "wife" but my son's father was certainly one of those people.

  5. I wouldn't say it's a job... especially since I still need one to help build a nest-egg before we have kids. But yeah, I don't feel ashamed of doing things people think women are supposed to do. Although, I still am the one who has to kill spiders and open resistant jars.


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