Have you guys read A Practical Wedding today? If you haven't, go, read, and come back. Then we'll chitchat about cleanliness and sexism.
Meg says, "I worry when I hear about most of us* doing the bulk of the chores around the house. Not because we have to, but because we want to (“I just care more about cleanliness than he does, so I need to take responsibility for that.”)"
The asterisk explains Meg herself does not care for housework. Neither, really, do I. I think I've talked about this before. I'm a slob. In college, you couldn't see the floor in my bedroom. Now, you can't see the floor in whatever space I call my own, be it the side of the bed, my area of the office, the zone in front of my dresser. I live in heaps. This isn't a healthy way to live and I'm sure the clutterbugs people would have a lot of choice words about me. I have a lot of guy friends who are the same way - they live out of a basket of wrinkled laundry. They don't want to vacuum, ever. If given the choice, they would let the dirty dishes pile up next to their keyboards until they started growing mold, like I did in high school.*
I live in my own little world of squalor. Those guys don't. My husband doesn't pick up after me, and their wives/girlfriends do. I say, if the dishes are a problem for you, you do them. He says, that's not fair. He's right. But for so, so many of my male friends, they get to live in this relationship dynamic of, "I care more about the house being clean, so I do the cleaning." And I don't know a single couple like us, where the guy is the neat one and the girl is the slob, where the man feels that way and picks up after his wife. So it's not just an issue of one person "caring more". I do really think that ultimately, this comes down to gender roles. Women don't have a problem feeling like they have to pick up after or "take care" of their husband/the house, and they do it, and then they justify it. Men feel, very reasonably, like they are responsible for their own mess and the other person should be the same.
Over the last three years of us living together, we have navigated this minefield of cleanliness again and again. We finally got through it a little bit by using the "this thing you do makes me feel this way" instead of saying "you're a slob", Mark says, "when you don't clean up after yourself, I feel like you don't respect me or our space". I reply with, "when you nag me, I feel like a small child and it makes me resentful." So over the years, the dynamic is, he puts up with more and I try harder to create/maintain less mess. It's not perfect, but we're getting better. I'd be lying though, if I said I didn't wish he would just clean up after me like my friend's wives/girlfriends do.
Do you see this dynamic in yourselves/your friends? Do you clean up after your spouse? And for our readers in same-sex relationships, how is the dynamic for you?
*Clearly, I'm a catch.