The Husband’s Part

Posted on July 11, 2011 by

Without fail, when a proponent of traditional family structure suggests that families are best served with the wife in the home, someone objects: “But the husband should be involved in the home as well!”  This confounds me. I don’t think anyone who believes that families fare better with the wife at home is implying that husbands are relieved of responsibility in the home. On the contrary, husbands have the greatest responsibility of all.

Most husbands do plenty to provide for and protect their families. Despite all the feminist rhetoric about household chores not being shared equally, the division is often more equitable than we’ve been led to believe. When the wife works outside the home, she does do a a lot of the work around the house. But so does her husband. Additionally, husbands who are the sole breadwinners also work around the house. The stereotype of the wife slaving away while her husband sips a beer on the couch has been oversold.

I wonder how much of this comes down to our definition of housework. Ask the average wife to define housework, and you’ll probably get answers centered around things like dishes, laundry, cooking, and childcare. However, there is more to housework than keeping the house clean and meals on the table. This is the heart of it, but far from the whole of it. There’s yard work, car repairs, home repairs and other work that is done less frequently, but is much more labor intensive. And the bulk of such work is done by husbands, not wives. When these chores are stacked on top of the 45-50 hours a week most men must work to be the sole provider for their families, one is hard-pressed to insist that women work harder than men to keep things afloat around the house.

The idea that my husband “gets to” go to work while I am “stuck in” the house baffles me. While my husband likes his job and is good at what he does (as am I), I’ve never gotten the impression that work is a great and fun adventure that he can’t wait to rush off to everyday. He comes home, has dinner with the family, and relaxes for a little while before taking time to play with the little ones and talk to the big girls while I catch up on some things that I need to do. Sometimes he gets the little ones into their pajamas and ready for bed. He takes the time to pray with his family before all the kids go to bed. This is not the picture of an uninvolved husband.

While it’s true that I am primarily responsible for making sure that things get done around our home, I am able to fulfill those duties without the added stress of having to go out into the workforce and deal with having to fulfill someone else’s demands also. I can take a break when I need to. I can adjust my schedules to meet my family’s needs without the hassle of answering to a third party. The traditional model for home and family really does work beautifully. I’m afraid that a great many women have been fooled into believing that we’re missing out on something by being at home.  They’ve missed the bigger picture. I would not want to trade places with my husband.

Recently a question was asked of us about the husband’s responsibility in a marriage. Being Christians, we submitted a Biblical answer: that a husband is to lead and a wife is to submit. We were pressed for a more detailed answer, which we didn’t feel fully qualified to offer because we believe that is a question that every husband must answer and implement in his own way in his home.

As I have pondered the question further I realized that the answer desired is actually about the practical day to day running of a home; a short-sighted question to be sure. Like most feminist queries, the issue isn’t a matter of whether or not the husband contributes to the household, because common sense dictates that providing the home itself requires a great deal of time, effort, and sacrifice on the husband’s part.

What they really want to know is: Is everything equal, and if not, what is the husband giving up in order to make it so? Well, no, everything is not equal. I submit that contrary to popular opinion, however, that it is the wife and not the husband who bears the lighter burden of the two.

Posted in: Relationships