They say that you should write about what you know, and I know all about being a lazy husband. My laziness once stretched like the British Empire, from the small villages of my children’s toys and bottles, to the teeming civilizations of dirty laundry, food to be prepared, kids to be played with, and kitchens to be cleaned. I developed advanced techniques to avoid work and prided myself in their execution. I feigned exhaustion when the grass began to grow so wild that my children could hide in the yard and the fire department couldn’t find them. I developed allergies to all household cleaning agents, especially anything that could ever be used on a toilet, run through a washing machine, or poured on a kitchen floor. My laziness was a work of art, a lifestyle happening, an inspiration to all of my (male) friends.
And then, over time, something terrible happened. My wife began to change. Not as in screaming, crying, guilt-tripping, change. But, as in, “Okay, Jack, game is over. I am no longer pulling my weight and yours in this household.” I was concerned. So I tested her limits just the way the raptors did in the first Jurassic Park movie by hurling themselves against the side of the cage. She didn’t flinch.
I tried acute, hysterical sensory loss such as
Memory failure: “I never agreed to take out the garbage every week!”
Hearing failure: “You never said I should change their diapers more than once a day!” and
Loss of vision: “Actually, I don’t see any dust balls.”
It took a while for me to realize that my lazy days were drawing to a close, and that a new era of greater participation was setting in. My wife was becoming someone that I couldn’t shrug off, scare off, or bug off. She was someone that I had to reckon with.
As a psychologist and self-help author, I often receive desperate pleas from mothers wanting to know how to get their husbands to be more involved with the housework and children. Some women are on the verge of divorce, while others are still struggling to comprehend why her partner acts like a 50’s-style uninvolved guy when he promised to share 50 percent of the parenting and housework before the children came on the scene.
I believe that the onus is on men to do the changing. However, I don’t think they’re going to be in any rush because the current system works so well for them. After all, would women be rushing to change if men, in addition to doing the majority of housework and parenting, also worked outside of the home the way most women do these days? Probably not. So unfortunately, if we’re going to get your husband to do his fair share, you’re going to have to lead the charge here, and that’s what this book is about. 1 I could write a book like this for men, detailing all of the ways that they should pitch in more equitably, and touting the benefits that they’d gain, but I prefer to write books that will be read. If I wrote a book like this for men, it would be the wives who would buy it for their husbands, and that would only worsen the problem because it would sit unopened alongside books like Parenting During Your Infant’s First Year, How You Can Save Your Marriage, and Let’s Talk About Feelings. In other words, women will have to lead the charge on this because men won’t.
However, while this book is written to women, they’re not the only ones who will benefit by it. Your husband and children will also gain from making your house a place where everything doesn’t get dumped on you. For example, consider the following facts from social science research:
- Women with partners who are actively involved in parenting and housework are happier and more satisfied with their marriages.
- Women who do the majority of housework and childcare in a family are more prone to physical illness and more likely to become depressed.
- Children score higher on academic tests in homes where dad is more involved.
- When children are raised in homes where dad isn’t involved in housework, boys are often more anxious at three-and-a-half, and girls are less warm and less task-oriented.
- School age children who do housework with their fathers have more friends at school, and are more likely to get along well with others. They’re also less likely to disobey teachers.
- Women are far more likely to think about divorce when they’re married to men who neglect the house and kid.
- Men who regularly do housework are associated with wives who are more interested in sex.
- Children who do housework with fathers are less likely to be socially withdrawn or suffer from depression.
Why should you read The Lazy Husband ?
This book was inspired by the mothers in my practice, conversations with my women friends and colleagues, my own marriage, and the letters I receive on a regular basis from stressed-out moms. The ideas found here are based on my clinical experience, as well as my readings in the areas of psychology, sociology, anthropology, women’s studies, and economics. My central goal in writing The Lazy Husband is to help you understand how to motivate your mate to be a better partner to you, and a better father to your children.
Since the book is written to you, we’ll look at what you may have to change in yourself in order to enact changes in your partner. We’ll discuss how society’s messages about being a woman and mother may inhibit your bargaining power or position of authority in the household. As a way to understand how your belief systems affects you and your partner, we’ll examine traditional marriages, egalitarian marriages, and marriages that are somewhere in-between. We’ll see how your experiences in childhood helped or hindered your capacity to be sufficiently entitled and assertive with your husband, how children changed your marriage for better and for worse, and how understanding those changes can prepare you to create a better reality . We’’ll look at different types of husbands and wives as a way to gain insight into the successes and obstacles that each personality types produce. We’ll explore common differences between the sexes and see how those play out in your relationship. Finally, we’ll give your husband his very own chapter for how he can contribute to your happiness, and increase the peace in the household. In other words, this book will take a big, bold look at how you can do less by getting your husband to do more.