Division of labor is one of the most common issues of contention among cohabiting couples. A lot of unpaid, unpleasant work goes into running a household smoothly, especially if you own your home and have children. And most of that work is done by women.
Even when both adults in a household have jobs, women on average perform more of the unpaid labor in their families, regardless of where they live in the world. But statistics aren't perception, and a lot of men who aren't pulling their weight feel like they must be working as hard as the women in their lives.
A man on reddit recently found out the hard way how wrong he was about the division of labor in his household, and he did not "take it like a man" when confronted with the error of his ways.
The story unfolded in the "Am I the A-hole" subreddit, where people frequently ask other users to weigh in on a dispute and determine who is the jerk in a particular situation. A user with the throwaway account HusbandWife18273 began his story by explaining who typically does what in their household.
"I thought my wife and I shared chores relatively evenly," the Reddit user starts. "I took care of landscaping, cooking breakfast, and fixing things around the house and car maintenance and she did everything else. She always complained and nagged me to do more but I felt it was even. She dared me to swap chores for a week and I agreed and figured it would be great to get a week off from some of the heavier labor."
He doesn't get off to a great start by saying his wife always "complained and nagged" that he didn't do his fair share, and that he felt things were even with him taking care of yard work, home repairs, car maintenance, and cooking breakfast. So his wife made him an offer: let's switch chore lists for the week and see how that goes!
Rather than the "week off from some of the heavier labor" he was expecting, this husband was "cooked" after two days in. Turns out that was all it took to realize just how much work his wife put into keeping the household running. "I had to manage where everyone was going and what needed to get done, and my wife didn’t let me get away with any 'slacking' like ordering food in or letting dishes sit in the sink," he lamented.
After 48 hours, he admitted he was wrong and asked for help, but his wife refused, saying the agreement was one week and, frankly, she wasn't done enjoying her break. "She wouldn’t help with anything," he writes.
"She just [hung] out with our kids while I cooked and cleaned and made sure their lives were in order. When it ended, I told her I understood her point but I was furious with her for abandoning me and leaving that work on me when she knew it wasn’t fair."
And that, dear readers, brings us to the question at the center of it all: is he the jerk here, or is she?
General consensus, I'm sure you can already tell, was, "sorry buddy, you're the jerk here." As one person pointed out, the "heavy labor" the original poster felt was on par with the daily duties of cooking and managing kids does not balance out. "Yard work and car maintenance is like a weekend thing, if it ever needs to be done at all, so really he just makes breakfast," said one.
And another pointed out that a lot of those things — like mowing the lawn or changing the oil in your car, can be put off for a few days, whereas feeding your children and getting them bathed and dressed is just a bit more pressing.
The original poster mentions he always did what was asked of him before the experiment, and that he wasn't asking on Day 2 to go back to the way things were — he just wanted some help. But as many readers pointed out, a week of being overwhelmed was hardly sufficient for the years he mistakenly thought things were even, even if he had begrudgingly helped out when asked beforehand.
However, a few people thought that even if there wasn't an even distribution of labor, there was an even distribution of blame. One user felt it was petty of the poster's wife to not help out once he admitted the error of his ways. "Marriage is a partnership. If you are in over your head and your wife is not being helpful, she's actively hurting your relationship."
But comments like that were the vast minority. Most who weighed in felt a) it was truly fair for his wife to get her full week break, and b) if this husband was truly sorry for assuming things had been equitable, he would have taken his lumps and lived out the week without it leading to resentment. "I can't believe your first reaction to this lesson you've learned is still 'oh poor me,'" wrote "Afforkable."
And, as the top commenter on the post points out, it isn't even just that but that for years, the husband in this situation didn't believe his wife when she suggested things were unfairly divided among them. "You refused to listen or empathize or consider anything she said until you were forced to experience it. That is disrespectful," anxietycreative wrote.
"If you’re angry and hurt and feel less about your wife you should be capable of understanding how your wife feels. Congratulations you just got a first hand experience of a fraction of your wife’s married life that you refused to hear," they added.
Seems like this couple would benefit from checking out this list of mistakes marriage counselors witness most often!