It’s rare that a news report from the U.K. truly hits home (I don’t know many WAGs, or X-Factor cast-offs), but a Daily Mail article last week was right on the money.
A study of 2,000 women by the British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s claims that women spend three hours every week re-doing chores for the men in their lives. Laundry, vacuuming, and the mysterious-sounding “wiping down surfaces” are some of the main chores needing later correction.
Now, this standard “battle of the sexes” fluff story would usually have passed by me unnoticed — except that it reminded me of something that happened in the Beer estate last week. Correct: I caught my wife re-doing a chore I thought I had (adequately) already done.
We have a house rule that states the last person out of bed is the one who makes it. This person is almost always me, although I’m not above springing out of bed just when it looks like my wife may be getting up. This little move has become easier now that she’s nine months pregnant. I may be a terrible husband.
Being the last one out of bed this particular morning, I dutifully make it. While putting on the kettle to make coffee, I notice stirrings coming from the bedroom. My wife is re-making the bed, tugging the sheets and arranging the pillows in a configuration that looks…identical to what I had managed.
Later that day, I tell her that I saw her little re-do. “Oh, I usually do that,” she says. WHAT? Why am I making the bed — ever — if it’s just getting re-done? (The question as to why anyone bothers making a bed at all is another debate entirely, and one that I lost a long time ago.) She claims my bed-making issues include but are not limited to: duvet asymmetry, sheet slackness and a general lack of fluffing.
My wife calls herself “particular,” which is one (nice) way of putting it. We alternate vacuuming duties, and I can tell that she’s barely tolerating my attempts when it’s my turn. Not only does she claim to enjoy vacuuming, but she can’t even explain her technique to me when I ask how to improve things. She’s operating at a higher vacuuming level. It would be like asking LeBron James for a quick tutorial of how to put balls through hoops.
One domestic duty that is all mine is laundry. Not because I’m more fastidious about washing clothes (I am not), but because my wife is terrified of our basement. You see, this particular task lives up to the name chore. To do the laundry, I have to go down two flights of stairs, outside, around the back of our house, through a spooky cellar door and into a basement that looks like a set from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. After my wife was shaken by our first visit to the laundry room, I made a joke about a feral mole child living down there (there aren’t any). That was five years ago. I’ve been doing the laundry ever since. (She folds.)
Whether in the U.K. or closer to home, women who are spending the running time of The Godfather Part II every week re-doing chores need to re-think their definition of what constitutes a “satisfactory” job. Are your husbands really doing their household duties that poorly, or are they just not doing them your way? If having chores done precisely as you’d do them is that important, there’s really only one solution and it sounds like you’re mostly there.
But you don’t want to do all the chores. Do you?
Here’s my advice: Pick your battles, provide guidance to your partner on matters that may result in health hazards, and learn to live with a little duvet asymmetry.