Share This Post

World

Three wives and a man whose shirking cost him his marriage have a dust-up

As domestic arguments go, it’s one that’s been raging for decades, and probably with the greatest intensity. Who does, or more importantly doesn’t, shoulder the bulk of the housework in a relationship?

Former prime minister Tony Blair reignited the row at the weekend when he revealed he hasn’t done any laundry or cooked since 1997, leaving everything to his barrister wife Cherie.

But is that Cherie’s fault for letting him get away with it? And is there such a thing as the perfect division of domestic labour? Here, and one man — who made the fatal mistake of never doing the dishes — roll up their sleeves and wade into the chore wars …

Who does, or more importantly doesn¿t, shoulder the bulk of the housework in a relationship?

Who does, or more importantly doesn¿t, shoulder the bulk of the housework in a relationship?

Who does, or more importantly doesn’t, shoulder the bulk of the housework in a relationship?

IT’S OUR FAULT OUR MEN ARE HOPELESS

By Sarah Vine

Now most men — even the most unreconstructed old curmudgeons — would at least acknowledge not having done any housework for more than 20 years as some kind of failure. But Tony Blair is cheerfully candid about his lack of domestic prowess.

No hoovering, no laundry, no supermarket trips. When asked whom he thought had been cleaning the loos in his seven-bedroom Buckinghamshire pile during lockdown, he replied simply: ‘Umm, Cherie, the kids … yeah.’

I must confess this came as something of a surprise to me, since I would have thought someone like Blair might have preferred to project more of a ‘new man’ image. But perhaps this is all part of his resurgent ego: he clearly feels he doesn’t need to justify himself to anyone or pretend to be ‘of the people’.

Sarah Vine

Sarah Vine

Sarah Vine

And in a funny kind of a way, I rather admire his honesty. Because, let’s face it, most men, unless they are mewling newborn wokelets, secretly think housework is beneath them.

Most men, given a choice, would rather get someone else to do it. Someone who actually cares that there’s a nasty accumulation of something unspeakable at the back of the fridge, or dust devils swirling in the hallway.

In other words, women. If they can afford it, a woman of the cleaning lady variety. Failing that, a wife or girlfriend. In some cases, even their mother. And who do we have to blame for this? Why, ourselves, of course.

Because when it comes to the continuing lack of inequality on the domestic front (recent figures from the Office for National Statistics found that, even during lockdown, with more men at home, they still did on average an hour’s less housework a day than their partners), we women are just as complicit in the conspiracy as men. And it’s to do with the fundamental difference between the sexes.

There is, I’m afraid, a reason the Mrs Hinches of this world don’t tend to be hairy-chested blokes. Men just don’t have the same standards as women when it comes to matters domestic.

I mean, of course there are notable exceptions, but they are rare and precious finds. Most men just don’t care enough to make the effort.

Not least because they know that, in the end, we’ll get fed up and do it for them. And we do. Not because we particularly want to, but because we don’t want to sleep in dirty sheets, or have our feet stick to the kitchen floor, or wear clothes that smell of mildew.

Neither do men, of course. But they know that we care just that little bit more than they do. And that’s how they get us.

Their tactics are simple yet effective. They will happily mop the floor if asked to — but they’ll do it so appallingly inadequately that you will be compelled to do it again.

Former prime minister Tony Blair reignited the row at the weekend when he revealed he hasn¿t done any laundry or cooked since 1997, leaving everything to his barrister wife Cherie

Former prime minister Tony Blair reignited the row at the weekend when he revealed he hasn¿t done any laundry or cooked since 1997, leaving everything to his barrister wife Cherie

Former prime minister Tony Blair reignited the row at the weekend when he revealed he hasn’t done any laundry or cooked since 1997, leaving everything to his barrister wife Cherie

Of course they are happy to cook — but they will use every last pan, pot and utensil and cover everything in such a thick layer of grease that what might have been a night off turns into twice the work.

Is this a conscious strategy? Or is it just that they genuinely can’t see the dirt in the same way that we do?

If I were being generous, I’d say the latter, but more often these days I think it’s the former. Either way, the net result it that they wear us down. Before you know it you’re taking care of everything yourself just because, well, it’s quicker and easier.

The only way to break this cycle is, I’m afraid, tough love. You have to be prepared to let the washing pile up, the cat hairs accumulate, the layers of grease multiply.

But how many of us are willing to live like the sink scene from Withnail And I? Certainly not me. Perhaps our best hope is for the next generation. During lockdown I have made it my mission to involve my son in more domestic chores, in the hope that he will grow up into the sort of man who knows one end of a washing line from the other.

I can’t say it’s been the easiest of experiences. But he does at least now leave the bathroom the way he found it — which is more, quite frankly, that can be said for his sister.

'The only way to break this cycle is, I¿m afraid, tough love. You have to be prepared to let the washing pile up, the cat hairs accumulate, the layers of grease multiply,' says Sarah Vine (stock image)

'The only way to break this cycle is, I¿m afraid, tough love. You have to be prepared to let the washing pile up, the cat hairs accumulate, the layers of grease multiply,' says Sarah Vine (stock image)

‘The only way to break this cycle is, I’m afraid, tough love. You have to be prepared to let the washing pile up, the cat hairs accumulate, the layers of grease multiply,’ says Sarah Vine (stock image)

I LEFT THE DISHES (AND SHE LEFT ME)

By Matthew Fray

During our 13 years together, my ex-wife did most of the housework. I saw absolutely nothing wrong with that. After all, it’s what I’d grown up witnessing my mother and grandma do.

It’s probably why I thought my wife was an unreasonable nag every time she’d remind me of everything she did around the house. My grandma and my mother didn’t complain like she did. OK, I didn’t do much but I did more than my father ever had. What was her problem?

Yes, I’m ashamed to say, I really did think like that.

My wife got progressively more upset with me. I’d leave a drinking glass by the sink instead of putting it in the dishwasher. She insisted that it mattered. I insisted that it didn’t. I was confused about how something that seemed so petty to me could actually matter so much to her.

Matthew Fray

Matthew Fray

Matthew Fray

I got progressively more confused and defensive. Then, one day, she packed a bag and our four-year-old son in the car and drove away for ever.

I thought she was a cruel and heartless quitter who betrayed me and our family and I cried more than I thought an adult man probably should.

I started blogging about it in an effort to work through complicated thoughts and feelings. I never imagined anyone would read it or care. In 2016, after a couple of years of writing, I published a blog post called ‘She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes By The Sink’. It went viral and was shared millions of times — which propelled me from divorced internet blogger to accidental self-help writer.

In that post I wrote about how the penny had dropped. On the surface, it was about the unfair division of labour. In reality, it was about my lack of respect and care.

Managing household duties is a massive invisible mental load that affects and mothers at a profoundly uneven rate. It’s exhausting when you’re the only one taking responsibility for remembering everything.

I comfortably left my wife alone to worry about all of this stuff. I did whatever I wanted, and waited for her to ask me to do things.

This is what children, as immature dependents, do to their parents. When adult partners do the same, we are breaking our promise to love, honour and serve our relationship. My not putting my used glasses in the dishwasher was tantamount to saying: ‘I don’t love you or care about you enough to do something you think is important.’

Matthew Fray says: 'So, if your partner asks you to do a household chore, just do it. It matters to her and it should matter to you, too. I learned that lesson the hard way' (stock image)

Matthew Fray says: 'So, if your partner asks you to do a household chore, just do it. It matters to her and it should matter to you, too. I learned that lesson the hard way' (stock image)

Matthew Fray says: ‘So, if your partner asks you to do a household chore, just do it. It matters to her and it should matter to you, too. I learned that lesson the hard way’ (stock image)

My ex-wife was hurt and betrayed and it made her leave. And in my journey to figure out what went wrong, I came face to face with myself and finally figured out who was responsible.

After I wrote my blog post, complete strangers contacted me to say that my story sounded eerily similar to theirs.

Men wrote to tell me they instantly started doing the dishes and thanked me for saving their . Women wrote to thank me for prompting important conversations regarding the state of their relationships.

So, if your partner asks you to do a household chore, just do it. It matters to her and it should matter to you, too. I learned that lesson the hard way.

MY IVO HASN’T DONE A WASH SINCE 1992

By Rachel Johnson

Just as no two eyewitnesses ever give identical versions of a gruesome murder, so it is with housework. My husband Ivo insists he punches well above his weight in the chore wars. In his mind, he did all the night feeds, changed all the nappies . . . and when I still overhear him boasting about this decades later, I have to fight the urge to howl like a banshee.

No point. It’s a losing game. Even though I breastfed children till they were six months old, who am I to correct him?

I would say that I did 80 per cent of the childcare and do 70 per cent of the domestic chores (and I am only saying 70 per cent in order to avoid a row).

Rachel Johnson

Rachel Johnson

Rachel Johnson

Like Theresa and Philip May, we have slipped into a retro, 1950s division of labour, with boy jobs and girl jobs. He gets in the logs from the woodshed. He does food shopping. He unloads the dishwasher in a forlorn manner, half expecting a fanfare that he knows will never come.

When our youngest, then aged six, once saw him suctioning some cobwebs with the hoover nozzle, he burst into tears. ‘Daddy!’ he cried. ‘Why are you doing Mummy’s work?’

Let the record state: like Tony Blair, Ivo has never put on a wash — in his case since 1992. He bundles his clothes into the washing machine, then stands there helplessly, asking: ‘What button do I press?’, until I set it.

If left to his own devices, he would eat the same at every meal: frankfurters and salsa with jalapeno peppers. So I also do the cooking and, it has to be said, the cleaning.

He may deny this but I don’t think cleaning as a concept has ever struck him with any force. I have never seen him with a pair of Marigolds, squirting Toilet Duck, or mopping a floor, scouring the sink or de-gunking the fridge.

There’s a reason for this. I genuinely mind about how tidy and clean the house is — and he doesn’t. His cleaner quit as soon as we got married, telling me: ‘Ivo is not my problem now.’

I sometimes wonder whether if I wasn’t here, he would live like a vagabond painter to the point where Channel 4 might come calling to make a documentary called The Old Etonian Who Never Threw Anything Away.

But, however much I may whine and grumble, I know it’s yin and yang — and I secretly wouldn’t have it any other way.

'I have never seen him with a pair of Marigolds, squirting Toilet Duck, or mopping a floor, scouring the sink or de-gunking the fridge. There¿s a reason for this. I genuinely mind about how tidy and clean the house is ¿ and he doesn¿t,' says Rachel Johnson (stock image)

'I have never seen him with a pair of Marigolds, squirting Toilet Duck, or mopping a floor, scouring the sink or de-gunking the fridge. There¿s a reason for this. I genuinely mind about how tidy and clean the house is ¿ and he doesn¿t,' says Rachel Johnson (stock image)

‘I have never seen him with a pair of Marigolds, squirting Toilet Duck, or mopping a floor, scouring the sink or de-gunking the fridge. There’s a reason for this. I genuinely mind about how tidy and clean the house is — and he doesn’t,’ says Rachel Johnson (stock image)

MY MR PRACTICAL DOES EVERYTHING

By Bel Mooney

My husband jokes with friends, ‘Bel doesn’t know how to use the Dyson’ – and while it’s not strictly true, I don’t bridle.

What Robin really means is that if I see dead flies on the carpet of my precious library, a festoon of spider webs high in a corner, or (worse) the evidence elsewhere of one of our dogs being taken short, I come over all helpless and call out his name.

Our own cosy division of domestic labour means housework is his very own.

Our lovely, and adored, cleaner Tina comes once a week, as she’s done for about 13 years, but during lockdown (of course) she stayed away, on full pay, so I had a willing man to clean windows and floors.

Bel Mooney

Bel Mooney

Bel Mooney

My beloved Mr Practical doesn’t mind at all and even shoos me away from washing pans and glasses because he dislikes my slapdash approach.

Robin is a perfectionist as well as a modern man. He thinks it perfectly natural that I’m the breadwinner while he keeps our whole life afloat — including paying bills, car cleaning, management of work accounts, putting bins out and washing on, and mending everything from a broken earring to a storm-damaged fence.

He is my rock.

But in case you think me lazy, let me say cooking and ironing are mine. I genuinely enjoy ironing.

Robin and I like to go food shopping together, too, but during lockdown he went alone a few times (being younger, so not classed as vulnerable) — only for this difficult wife to look askance at his purchases.

My husband and I are equals, but it wouldn’t work if he thought I felt somehow ‘entitled’. No: I value his innumerable practical skills as much as my own literary ones, and respect those who, like him, are good at housework.

My beloved grandmother took immense pride in her own shining brass and polished furniture — and I’ve inherited her pride in homemaking.

Before university, I had a job as a kitchen assistant in a private school, lodging rent-free with one of the teachers in exchange for cleaning her house.

So yes, I can do it. But why would I, when I have a wonderful man who knows I’m more usefully employed reading a book?

Bel Mooney says: 'My husband jokes with friends, ¿Bel doesn¿t know how to use the Dyson¿ ¿ and while it¿s not strictly true, I don¿t bridle' (stock image)

Bel Mooney says: 'My husband jokes with friends, ¿Bel doesn¿t know how to use the Dyson¿ ¿ and while it¿s not strictly true, I don¿t bridle' (stock image)

Bel Mooney says: ‘My husband jokes with friends, ‘Bel doesn’t know how to use the Dyson’ – and while it’s not strictly true, I don’t bridle’ (stock image)

Credit — dailymail.co.uk

Precious Macaulay
Author: Precious Macaulay

Call me Presh, I am an expert in SEO, a dedicated writer who can write diversified contents. I just want to put my passion into a piece for others to get informed.

Related Posts

Share This Post

Leave a Reply