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Why Do Men Hate Doing Domestic Chores Even When Their Wives Are Overburdened?

Posted: January 14, 2021

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Men feeling their egos are challenged. Mothers feeling their precious sons should not be imposed upon. Result – men won’t do household chores.

Yes. This is an irksome issue faced by women hailing from diverse socio-economic and educational backgrounds in our country.

As long as maids or domestic care givers are available everything runs smoothly; but the day these helpers or caregivers fail to put in an appearance, chaos and pandemonium is bound to ensue; the wife invariably has her hands full: feeding washing and dressing the babies, making beds, readying and packing meals and so forth.

At this juncture the ‘considerate’ husband might pour himself a cup of tea, or butter his toast or even deposit used dishes and cutlery into the kitchen sink. But I will wager that in case you ask him to sweep and swab the floors his mood will change like a chameleon. He may refuse point blank or think of a dozen excuses. Rest assured the jobs will remain undone. If you cajole him to wash utensils piled in the kitchen nine out of ten chances are he will be furious.

Boys, men, and the VIP treatment

There is a deep seated psychological angle which comes into play here. In traditional Indian society boys are accorded VIP treatment and kept away from mundane, tiresome chores which are assigned to girl children. In many households boys are shooed away from the kitchen and its neighbourhood. Food, snacks or other services are provided to them on a platter round the clock. No wonder they turn indolent unwilling even to lift a finger.

Post marriage this trend clings on. After all old habits die hard as they say.

A tendency that surfaced clearly during lockdown

I had a personal experience of this kind during the Covid19 lockdown months. Our maid stopped coming in; my physiotherapist daughter who stayed at home helped with dishwashing and a bit of cooking. I took care of laundry. By the evening I would get so tired and de-energized that I would have to give jhaaadoo pochha a miss.

A few days later witnessing the floors getting dusty and dirt laden I asked the husband (working from home) to kindly wield the broom and sweep at least a portion of our four bedroom flat, while I would do the rest. Pat came the reply: since he had already taken a bath he would not like to sully his hands. On yet another similar occasion he said his slip disc was bothering him too much. The next time I asked him he felt an urgent need to visit the washroom. Finally I gave it up.

Throughout the lockdown, my arthritis-stricken knees notwithstanding I limped, crept, crawled all over the house on a cleaning spree. To give the devil his due, just once the husband swabbed our bedroom with the mop wrapped around a wiper, so as to avoid stooping.

From our homes, to celebrity husbands, it is everywhere!

Such instances are commonplace. Once when septuagenarian Radharani came visiting my mother she complained how her sister (my aunt) often made her son (my uncle) operate the dishwasher! Indeed how could she for her beloved son was an eminent surgeon?

After the demise of eminent literary figure Nabanita Deb Sen, her memoirs went viral. At one place she humorously recounts how (during their sojourn in Europe) she would rope in her former husband Prof Amartya Sen for dish washing and how the latter would systematically break a few items in order to escape the tedious task!

It is as clear as daylight, that no matter how much man folk might love their wives, but being assigned menial jobs wounds their pride and ego.

The honourable exceptions to this rule

Some dutiful husbands however go all out to assist their wives. A certain Mr Gupta, occupying the flat beneath ours can be seen every morning hanging out washed clothes (women’s lingerie and all) to dry in the sun.

Two other retired senior govt officials, (also neighbours)) diligently slip into the role of their kamwali bais when they happen to be absent. Their wives might be as pleased as punch, but people have nicknamed them Joru ka ghulaam (wives’ slaves). But they couldn’t care less.

Reinforced by elders

I would like to conclude with another anecdote from my own life. Years ago I got a severe dressing down from father-in-law (PBUH)for making his only and dear son slog so hard. That day I had to attend office while he was off duty. Would you believe that all husband did was to bottle-feed our infant daughter, and then settle her nice and cozy in her living room rocker so that everyone could keep an eye on her!

Image source: shutterstock

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