Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Division of chores...what a joke!

Years and years ago, I had this absolutely insane idea that one really good reason for getting married -- no, not that one -- was having someone handy to take the car to the shop. I learned what folly this was from my married friends, who seemed to be taking not only their own cars, but their husbands' to the shop.

This came back to me yesterday as I drove to the next county and sat in the waiting room at my mechanic's while the oil was changed along with all those other vital checks that a manual says must be done periodically if the car's not to fall apart in the middle of I-95. Now, I like my mechanic. I enjoy chatting with his wife, who runs the office. I even like the dogs. But I can think of a hundred other things I'd rather be doing. And just so you know, that list does NOT include cleaning or ironing.

Way back when I thought this was a task that could be successfully delegated after signing the marriage license, I happened to mention this plan of mine to my mechanic on Miami Beach, a Cuban man who asked me to marry him every time I took my car in. Little did he know that my crush was on the younger guy who pumped the gas. At any rate, when I mentioned my personal theory of marriage, he beamed at me. "I fix your car in the driveway!" It was quite a selling point! In fact in retrospect, it was probably the best offer I could anticipate, at least when it comes to dealing with my car.

All of this got me to thinking about the division of labor in marriages. I have friends whose husbands will literally sit at home starving, rather than fixing themselves a sandwich if their wives happen to be late getting home from work. I have another friend whose husband defiantly refused to take out the trash. My friend rebeled and began stacking the bags on their tiny back porch awaiting the day he would finally tire of it and haul them to the curb. That day never came. When he could no longer walk around them, he simply started using the front door. And so it goes, the small battles over everyday chores.

How have you handle these issues in your marriage? Is it something you've talked about before the wedding day? Or has it become a bone of contention each time one of you fails to do what the other expects? Which chores matter to you? And which aren't worth fighting over? Share your thoughts with us . . . just between friends.

Sherryl Woods

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