But back to marriage. If you are newly married and you are somehow under the impression that marriage duties and tasks will be equal, stop being impressed! Tasks and duties won’t be equal, nor can they be equal, or the marriage will fail. In the pie charts above, I’ve charted the assignment of the most taxing tasks in marriage. The circular area represents the financing of a marriage which is a constant unrelenting toil. Finances are not often a clean circle, money woes and uncertainty plague most of us through our marriage. The outside area represents home and family. The masculine blue represents the man, of course, and the pink represents the woman. The greens and yellows represent the children.
The first chart square represents those early years, usually both spouses are working and since there are no kids yet, chores are mostly shared. You want to spend as much time with each other so you stare at each other fondly as you fold laundry or cook dinner and then you gaze into each others eyes as you do the dishes….ACTUALLY “to heck with the dishes, let’s go have sex and leave the dishes for a few more days right?”
The second chart moves into having kids. Now, usually in our LDS households, the husband is responsible for almost all of the income coming in. The woman spends most of her time on the home and children. As more children arrive, in chart three, you see the black area which represents the work or care that doesn’t happen at all because the duties can be so overwhelming. As the marriage matures, children provide, or should provide, a good portion of care of the house and their own care. The woman might go back into the workforce and over time will take on a larger role in the money making.
Chart 5 shows the woman taking on a bigger roll all around, after her husbands gets his ACL reconstructed after a ski fall. Then, there is retirement where their riches are shared and huge amount of duties and chores get overlooked or set aside altogether.
And this is marriage, the comforting aspects of the marriage partnership. If you go into marriage correctly, you understand that you pull and push each other along. Sometimes the wife does do more of the housework. But, if the husband works all day, then he should NOT have to do half of the housework just for the chart to be equal. He needs surgery after skiing? The wife should expect to kick into overdrive. She has a baby? Then it’s time for him to step up and maybe take on 80% of every aspect of EVERYTHING for a little while. The ebb and flow of marital duties and responsibilities is certain. If a spouse isn’t willing to step up and take on MORE than their “fair share” multiple times throughout a marriage, then the alternative is that the framework will simply fall apart and bitterness ensues.
It is important to be helpful to our partners, when we can. Though a woman may stay home with her kids and not work, she can help in the roll of finances by being a good steward of their money. If she spends money that he can’t earn, then she’s throwing the charts completely off and you can add some more teeth to those finance pie charts. On the flipside, if the husband expects a perfectly kept home because he thinks his wife is home with the kids all day doing nothing, then he is also being unreasonable.
You don’t know frustration until you spend a morning putting all your pots and pans, and dishes back in the cabinet after your toddler pulled them all out while you were vacuuming up the box of cereal in the next room, only to find that your 4 year old then went and pulled all 300 books off the shelves, removed all of their clothes from their drawers, because they wanted to help you clean, then left the water on in the upstairs bathroom which then flooded the bathroom…. but you didn’t notice it until the water started flowing out of the ceiling fan on the first floor… but you still want to make reading time at the library because it’s Harry Potter Day and you promised, but then you forget your laundry in the dryer which then molds by the time you remember it before you go to bed! Yeah, don’t be the husband that walks in on your wife at 6:00 pm who is sitting on the couch with a towel over her face and ask “Didn’t you cook dinner?” Yeah, don’t be that guy. Those rugrats are 50% your DNA, too, Buster, and the desire to be destructive may have come from your side!
So, frustration happens on both sides. You have no idea what he puts up with at work and he has no idea what you put up with when dealing with children. Acknowledging that you aren’t walking in the other’s shoes is the first step. A couple needs to have a gameplan, a budget and a sense of humor. Be the couple that knows when to throw a frozen pizza in the oven, relocate the kids to the tub where you can watch their every move while both of you share stories of your day and clean the clog out of that drain.