The Real Reason Wives Do More Housework

This article was originally published at the Washington Examiner.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve read a lot lately about husband and wives and housework — such as here, and here, and here. Naturally, all the articles are written by women. Naturally, they all lament the same thing: Wives do more housework than husbands do. This is true, apparently, even for full-time breadwinning wives.

One such wife works from home and thus ends up doing more on the home front because, well, she’s there. But she’s still convinced this is unfair. Her solution? To start charging her husband for every hour of housework she performs above and beyond what he performs. (Funny, my husband works from home while I’m the one who rents an office, and as a result he ends up doing more laundry and dishes than I do. I’ve never once heard him complain.)

We hear a great deal in the culture about how unfair it is that women take on the equivalent of two full-time jobs, the one outside the home and the one inside, while men don’t have this same burden. One of the arguments you’ll hear has to do with what’s called cognitive labor. Eve Rodsky writes in the Wall Street Journal:

A study by Harvard researchers published this year in the American Sociological Review found that women reported doing more ‘cognitive labor’ at home than their spouses did—such as anticipating needs (the kids prefer mustard to ketchup on their hot dogs), monitoring progress (are we running low on mustard?), identifying options (is the grocery store still open?) and making decisions (Dijon or yellow?). Men often don’t see or value this sort of invisible work until they start to do it themselves.

This is unquestionably true. But the only reason women are resentful of this is because they have false expectations of men and marriage based on the lie they were told that the sexes are the same or interchangeable. Countless couples are struggling needlessly in their marriage due to the lie they’ve been fed that a good marriage is a union of “equals.” Not “equals” as in a partnership, the way we might think of it, but equals as in interchangeable: as though husbands and wives can, and should, perform the exact same tasks with equal fervor and with identical results.

What an absurd expectation! Men and women are vastly different by nature, and these differences become glaring once children come along. Men father, and women mother. Those are verbs, and each has a different definition. For example, mothers are more likely to comfort a child who falls, while fathers are more likely to help the child dust himself off, get up, and try again.

The discrepancy is no different with housework. A husband won’t typically “see” the things that need to be done at home in the same way his wife will because men’s and women’s brains are different. Men just don’t think the same way women do.

Men tend to focus on one thing at a time and thus don’t notice things that orbit around that singular task, whatever it is. Their brains are wired to put all their attention on accomplishing one thing, and men will discount everything else that isn’t relevant to that task. This is the complete opposite of the female brain, which tends to focus on everything being “just so” or on managing many things at once. Women are inherently more sensitive to and concerned about the details of housework and child care than men are.

It’s no one’s fault. It’s just the way we’re made.

Women either want to, or feel compelled to, manage the home front, even if they work outside of it. If you look at the chart in this recent finding by Pew Research Center, you’ll notice a whopping chasm between women and men when it comes to grocery shopping and meal preparation.

The problem, in other words, isn’t husbands. The problem is that women don’t realize how different men and women are until they’re knee-deep in the work-family juggle. They assume breadwinning and child care will be handled, and should be handled, as though husbands and wives are clones of one another, as if neither sex has any unique proclivities at all.

The wake-up call is thus loud and intrusive. To realize that women can’t become breadwinners and at the same time shed their emotional ties to the home and the children is scary. No one told them this would happen, so naturally they blame husbands who, as it is, spend triple the amount of time on child care than they did in 1965 and roughly six hours more per week on household chores. That’s in addition to working far more hours in the marketplace than married mothers do.

The pursuit of sexual equality will always result in husbands and wives competing with one another, which in turn results in unnecessary conflict. The answer to this problem is to shift completely our understanding of women and men. Simply put, they are equal in value but different by nature. Men and women will never be interchangeable, nor should they be. It is our differences, our complementary natures, that makes marriage work.

Work within that framework, and your relationship will cease to be a war zone.

Suzanne Venker

Suzanne Venker is an author, columnist and radio host known as The Feminist Fixer. She helps free women from feminism so they can find lasting love with men. Suzanne's newest book, WOMEN WHO WIN at Love: How to Build a Relationship That Lasts, will be published October 2019.

Reader Interactions


  1. Len says

    When you factor in car service, lawn work, exterior work, dealing with contractors, and so on, men may do more than women do.

    The real reason women complain, is that they insist on the husband doing it “their way”. I can wash dishes in half the time my wife takes. And she knows not to watch. They are clean. If she wants to impose her own unrealistic standards- great- the expert can do the job.

    Men, as you say, focus on one task at a time. In a dangerous world, hyper awareness is a very useful trait.

    and these articles all blame men. Men have jobs, generally, because women won’t marry unemployed men. Few jobs are only 40 hrs/week any more. They are demanding. I work evenings and weekends, if we have a crunch at work. Men generally get no appreciation, because of the idiot articles in the women’s press. This is not a recipe for happiness. Keep demanding more and more, and eventually, hubby is going to want to be away from the plantation. Feminists see men as excessively lazy, happy darkies on the plantation, who, if they could just be punished more, would be happy slaves, working 7 days a week, 16 hours a day. Nobody likes being a slave.

  2. Samuel says

    The problem is that women don’t realize how different men and women are until they’re knee-deep in the work-family juggle. They assume breadwinning and child care will be handled, and should be handled, as though husbands and wives are clones of one another, as if neither sex has any unique proclivities at all.

    May I respectfully disagree. These women assume that good fairies will do the breadwinning, and the child care, and the housework, and the… they have a vague idea that maybe mom, or an aunt, or a neighbor, will come in to do it all. Balancing full time work with a family is not easy at all. I’ve done it- as a single parent- and it was very challenging. I had to set up protocols, and methods. So these women get frustrated, and dump it all on hubby. They don’t dump half, they dump all they can, and THEN get enraged when hubby- who to remain alpha does have to work at least full time, and in many jobs, do extra work, has the same problems they do. Men do a lot more than they used to. Today’s women were not trained to be moms. They assume they can read one women’s magazine, and know all they need. Haha. My parents’ generation knew a lot better. Then again, my parents’ generation wasn’t smoking weed.

    I had to raise my daughter for more than ten years. Housework got done when it got done. She ate well, she had a warm place to sleep, she had support. But the house never looked like House Beautiful. sorry. No can do. And her mother was beyond useless, a drunk.

  3. J says

    Women do more housework for the same reason men do more car repairs/maintenance. What you put your attention on, you see more need in.

  4. Matt says

    The reason women do more housework is because they are interested in it. The reason men do more with cars, often, is that they are interested in this. You want me to do half the housework? No problem. Get the oil changed, while you’re at it, and fix the lawnmower so the lawn can be mowed, and while you’re at it, could you get the old roofing off and the new roofing on, because there’s a leak. Oh, and there’s a problem with the survey of the property line, can you fix that? And it looks like the sewer outlet was 3″ pipe, not 4″ pipe, so that’s going to need replacing- can you handle that, too?

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