A Plea for Partnership: Close the Chore Gap

By Editor Michael Brooks

There is no daily chore so trivial that it cannot be made important by skipping it two days running.

Robert Brault

This post began with a story that Caiti had told me. She told me about how actor Max Greenfield (New Girl, The Neighborhood) made a post about #closingthechoregap. Here is an article that details how chores are important to Max and his family. She encouraged me to write a similar post for international women’s day. Obviously, I am a few days late but I still hope that it helps communicate an important truth.

So why write this in honor of International Women’s Day? Well, I think it is clear that often times that in our culture we still have this idea that certain activities in the home are for men and others are for women. What this translates to in reality though is that often women bear the brunt of the daily homemaking activities (i.e. laundry, dishes, dusting, sweeping, tidying up, organizing etc). I write this to encourage men, and families, to do everything they can to break down this myth that chores belong primarily to women. I write this to encourage the idea of initiative and sacrifice in regards to chores. I write this to encourage true partnership in marriages and families when it comes to chores (as it should be applied to everything).

Here, an article highlighting a campaign led by Dawn describes well the point they are trying to make. Click here. This movement is something I stand behind fully. But what is going to change it? A deep, godly understanding of family. We need to understand that a family bound together by a covenant commitment to each other. To serve each other towards a common goal: family flourishing. Different people in the family have different roles (parents: authority, responsibility, cultivation; children: submission and obedience) but all have one big goal–family flourishing as God intends. It is my hope to contribute to the movement in the smallest way by proclaiming a few reasons why Christian men should be doing this as a minimum biblically and how a healthy view of family would lead to a better culture of help.

Marriage and Family

I grew up with parents that were extremely hard working. My dad worked out of the home for many of my early years. And yet, not always so far away. As a Pastors kids I benefited from a dad that even when being “out” of the house for work was often close (next door!) or flexible enough to be present. My Mom did lead many of the household chores growing up, but as the realization of her auto-immune disease came to fruition (and beginning to deplete her energy reserves) and my family’s own entrepreneurship (which my Mom was the source/creator of it) my dad began to take on many of the day-to-day operations of keeping the home going. My Mom would often take a managing or supervising role when possible but often it fell to my father and us kids. This was a helpful example to me growing up that broke down any idea that doing household chores were somehow less than manly or something only women should do.

The Right Foundation

When people get things wrong behaviorally there is often a chain of cause and effect that can be easily traced back to the wrong foundational view of the world around them. Our culture has promoted (that is changing significantly but still needs work) and lived out beliefs about chores, marriage, family, men, and women that are false and damaging. If marriage and family is a covenant created by God then our view of them should be determined by that. Genesis 1-2 depicts the creation of man and woman, marriage and family. The husband and wife team were created to carry out God’s purposes on the earth with the primary goal of revealing the greatness of God throughout the earth and ensuring flourishing of all humanity. One issue that our culture has always gotten wrong, regardless of extremes (patriarchy, feminism, or anything in between), is the idea that marriage and family is a commitment of love and loyalty. This commitment of love means that everything we do should be done with the good of the other in mind. This means that something as important as daily chores should be viewed as an essential part of bearing the burden together, raising a family, and living out a marriage. Men, we need to lead in living this out.

Men, I address you because I think if we are going to #closethechoregap it must start with us. Don’t be lazy: close the chore gap for the glory of God. This is one of the most basic ways you can show love and loyalty to your wife and family. Here are three ways you can take a step forward in closing the chore gap.

#1 Ask First, Solve Later

My first piece of advice to help close the chore gap would be to ask if this is something your wife experiences. Is there a problem at all? Does your wife feel that you are not helping out enough? Ask humbly, seeking to hear the answer regardless of what you feel or think. Do not argue, just listen. If there is no problem then great! But I would still encourage you to ask if there is even more you can do. Men, we often do not come close to sacrificing the amount that we are able to as given by God. Asking if something is fair or a partnership is just the basic minimum of a healthy relationship. Even better than that, make her burden lighter if you can!

#2 The Chore You Hate, Do it

This is something I struggle in at times. Do I avoid the chores I hate? Do I try to pile up the chores I don’t mind and leave the chores I do? If this is something you may struggle in, reflect on it, and then pick one chore to do for a week that helps break this habit. As Paul instructs us in Philippians, we should look out for the interests of others and to think of others as more important than yourselves.

#3 Figure Out How You (as a couple) Will Do It for the Long-haul

Marriage is a partnership. Men, we should be working hard to make sure our marriages are partnerships that flourish. This is not about taking radical action that is unsustainable. Doing a little more and giving in love to your wife will only encourage her to continue to help and bear the burden in other ways. Respect each other enough to know you need each other. This includes chores. Chores are manly. Chores are part of homemaking and nothing is more manly than making a home.

Philippians 2:1-4

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

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