When my children were young, my first husband worked as a correctional officer. I stayed home with the kids and kept house. I took pride in making sure my husband had clean uniforms, including ironing his shirts, so that he would look his best for work.
Fast forward 15 years. My son and son-in-law began working as correctional officers at the same institution where my first husband once worked. Their wives stayed at home. Neither couple had kids, yet both wives were terrified of ironing the boys’ shirts. They felt the material might melt and ruin the shirts. As the boys were issued a limited number of shirts, the girls flat refused to help either of the boys out. Instead, the boys were responsible for keeping their uniforms in tip-top condition, and after each shift, they would have to wash and iron their uniforms to get ready for their next shift.
While my own marriage did fall apart long after he left the correctional field, I wondered how the girls could justify making the boys do their uniforms. The girls had more hours in the day, more time on their hands, and I wondered if it was just laziness that kept them from taking over this simple task.
Both of the kids’ marriages ended in divorce. One marriage lasted only a few months and one lasted a couple of years.
My second husband does not need to have his shirts ironed, yet I do it anyways. Now, don’t get me wrong, I hate ironing as much as anyone, yet I feel it is part of my commitment to him. I do all of the domestic chores while he goes out and fights the battles to earn us a weekly paycheck.
A young woman once told me, “When I get married, we will have a 50/50 household. I will do half of the housework and he will do half.” I thought that sounded like a fair enough deal, yet something has been gnawing me about it as I watched this third couple battle life’s everyday battle.
She stays at home with the kids while he goes off to work. Yet, she expects him to do half of the work around the house. Now, it seems a better bargain would be to divide chores along with the earnings. If she earned 25% of the household income, he should do 25% of the chores. If she earns 90%, he should do 90% of the chores. Since he earns 100% of the income, she should be doing her fair share of the household chores, or, in my mind, at least 95% of them.
A marriage takes two people to make it work. One cannot just stay at home while the other battles the world during the day and the home during the night. While ironing my first husband’s shirts did not save my first marriage, my new husband appreciates the small things I do to make his life easier. He comes home to a hot meal, a clean home, and doesn’t have to worry about laundry or other domestic matters. It seems only fair to me that I do my share to make this marriage work, including ironing his shirts.