Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Domestic Drudge

This news story about ditched househusbands feels uneven because the views of the women concerned are not presented. The "wife" in the family is depicted as the underdog who does better than best for the home and the kids and in return for all that is dumped by an unappreciative spouse. Replace househusband by wife and you have the typical senior male exec with a mid-life crisis, leaving his wife of twenty years for his hot young secretary. Both accounts are cliched - the real story is probably a lot more nuanced than that.

When either of the couple turns too "homely" and has their existence revolving around domestic chores, kids play dates and the like they become less than interesting to their partner who has a life outside home. None of the househusbands in the story utilized the gift of time they were given in their decision to stay home, to pursue a hobby or non-career goal.
Instead they seemed to focus on becoming the best domestic drudge they could possibly be. The results are predictable. When your pride and joy is being able to clean and rinse dishes until they shine like new, comment and critique on that task is only to be expected. To me, this story has it all wrong.

This is not about men being dumped because they were humane and sensitive enough to put the needs of their family and children ahead of their own. It is more about what happens to a marriage if one partner has a opportunity of many interesting interactions and an individual gaol (which could be a career growth) while the other is happy to be a the old-fashioned "wife" cooking, cleaning, scrubbing and raising the kids.

While none of that is dispensable in the context of being married with kids, the modern day marriage expects both partners do much more than just fulfill the traditional bread-winner and domestic drudge roles to remain viable for each other.

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