Working father of 1-year-old baby tells wife struggling with both work and child care to be 'less messy' and tidy up

Gillian Sisley

A father who works 12-hour shifts is frustrated with his wife, who juggles both work and child care, for letting the house get so messy and cluttered. He’s turned to Reddit to find out whether or not he was unreasonable with this response.

*This is a work of non-fiction sourced from social media discussion boards and verified experts/specialists.*

The author, a father of a 1-year-old, starts off by explaining that both he and his wife work 4 days a week, with himself working 12-hour shifts and his wife working 8-hour shifts.

The author will often leave for work before his wife and daughter wake up, and returns home after his child has already been put to bed. His wife is currently juggling both her job and child care, and has recently been having a hard time, as the author details in his post:

“She broke down, saying that she is struggling with balancing work, caring for our daughter throughout the week, and keeping our house clean/cooking/etc. I responded calmly by saying that I can't miss work or reduce hours. We simply cannot afford it.”

Despite it being 2022, data from Gallup shows that women are still taking the bulk of household chores in heterosexual relationships. The numbers showed that women are mainly responsible for laundry (58%), and cooking (51%).

Though the wife recognized that her husband couldn’t work less, she was still overwhelmed and vented more to him about it. His response, however, was less than sympathetic:

“I told her 90% of the problems with messiness could be solved if she picked up after herself. If she just put the used [dishes] in the sink after she was done, I will happily do the dishes when I get home from work. Hell, I'll even put them away after. But I do not want to play scavenger hunt and look around the house for things to wash.”

The author thought he was being helpful with his words, but his wife went very quiet. She still ‘seemed upset’ to him, but wouldn’t talk about it anymore. At his wit’s end, he consoled a coworker, but didn’t get the reception he expected:

“I vented to my coworker about what happened. He says I was [in the wrong] because I didn't even listen to what she wanted. I feel like I was perfectly reasonable.”

As The Guardian reports, data from 2022 finds that women overall take on 65% of the overall household work in heterosexual relationships, meaning that there is still a gap in the distribution of chores between genders.

These numbers also do not reflect elements of emotional labor, which are most often taken on by women as well, and are referred to as ‘invisible labor’ that isn’t calculated into statistics as often.

What do you think?

Are the author’s suggestions reasonable, and all he was doing was offering to help with dishes, so his wife shouldn’t be so upset?

Or did the author entirely miss the point of the conversation, and when his partner most needed his comfort and support he instead shamed her and made her feel even worse rather than before?

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