Laney Morrison expected to be overwhelmed after her divorce. She was now a single parent in a little house with two children. Taking care of the household all on her own stressed her out immensely, and she wondered if she could handle it. After the dust settled, she realized, to her shock, that running her house had gotten easier without her husband. Incredibly easier.
“I had no idea how much I was doing, how little he was doing,” she writes on Scary Mommy. “It took moving out for me to clearly see the contrast in our workload.”
Since she worked from home, her husband had assumed she had “free time” to take care of chores and any other issue that arose. And when he put his dishes in the sink instead of the dishwasher, or his dirty clothes on the floor instead of the hamper, the children followed suit. With him gone, the kids learned to properly pick up after themselves in her home.
In her conclusion, she adds that she never wanted the burden of all of the housework, but her attempts to get her husband involved failed. “I hope he comes to appreciate the extra load I took off his shoulders, so much of which should never have been mine to carry. In the meantime, I will enjoy my lighter load and tidy house.” 
Housework Without a Husband
Overall, many husbands share chores equally with their wives, but they are far from the majority. A recent study of 8,000 U.S. families found that husbands create about seven more hours of housework a week for their spouses, but wives save about an hour of housework a week for them. Essentially, husbands create more work for their wives, as seen in Morrison’s case. And she is far from being alone.
According to another study, men do more housework than in the 70s, where they did about six hours a week while women did 26. In 2005, men did about 12.5 and women do about 16.5. The divide is starting balance, but chores remain a struggle in most households. Especially since both spouses also have jobs in many cases. 
Women are often expected to take care of the home even if they work full-time. But that doesn’t mean that stay-at-home moms deserve no help. This demographic is actually more likely to experience depression, sadness, and anger than their working counterparts.  And that makes perfect sense. SAHMs don’t work 9–5; they work 24/7, seven days a week. Their husbands assume that since they are home all day, they can accomplish whatever chores they need to, allowing them to relax and pursue their interests — both of which are luxuries for their wives. Meanwhile, mothers put everyone else’s needs before theirs. This is a weighty burden that could prevent them from “having a life.” 
(Keep in mind that stay-at-home dads could fall into the same rut. And in a case where both spouses work, the burden of housework could just as easily fall onto the husband. Everyone’s situation is different, but for the sake of clarity, we focus on the more commonplace dynamic where the wife is expected to fill the domestic role.)
In conclusion, the burden of household responsibilities shouldn’t fall on one spouse. Doing so often causes tension and resentment in the relationship. In fact, a 2007 Pew Research Poll found that sharing household chores was the third-highest-ranked factor for a good marriage, bested only good sex and faithfulness. 
How to Divide Housework Fairly
First, it’s important to acknowledge that your time is not more valuable than your spouse’s, and they should respect the same thing about you. Time is limited for everyone, and most prefer to do anything other than chores.
Next, create a specific intention for getting your spouse more involved in the housework. Is it validation for your hard work? More time for yourself? To reduce resentment and create a sense of fairness? Know exactly what you want before initiating the conversation.
Thirdly, establish your values. Some standards you may refuse to change, like cooking a homemade breakfast for the kids every day, but some you won’t mind if they slide. Decide on the most important chores, and determine which one of you will be responsible for it. Don’t forget to set the details. It’s not enough to say your spouse will be in charge of laundry. Ensure you discuss a schedule and a standard that you are both comfortable with. 
And lastly, this conversation isn’t a one-and-done deal. Constantly reevaluate and see what works and what doesn’t. Change won’t happen overnight; there’s a trial-and-error period. Also, let your partner do the work in their own way. They may discover a way to accomplish the task more efficiently than you did. Just remember what your priorities are regarding housekeeping, and keep the conversation going. 
Keep Reading: Mom ‘Cusses Out’ Her Husband For Piercing Their Infant Daughter’s Ears
- “I Didn’t Realize How Much More I Did Around The House Until I Got Divorced.” Scary Mommy. Laney Morrison. July 22, 2019
- “Chore Wars: Men, Women and Housework.” National Science Foundation.
- “Stay-at-Home Moms Report More Depression, Sadness, Anger.” Gallup. Elizabeth Mendes, Lydia Saad, and Kyley McGeeney. May 18, 2021
- “The Difference Between a Happy Marriage and Miserable One: Chores.” The Atlantic. Wendy Klein. March 1, 2013
- “Modern Marriage.” Pew Research Center. July 18, 2007
- “I Created a System to Make Sure My Husband and I Divide Household Duties Fairly. Here’s How It Works.” Time. Eve Rodsky. October 1, 2019
- “How to Keep Housework From Hurting Your Marriage.” Very Well Mind. Sheri Stritof. February 4, 2020