Male/female stereotypes

[deleted account] ( 12 moms have responded )

I recently got in an argument with my mother-in-law over housekeeping. My husband does nothing to help around the house and subsequently my daughter doesn't do much to help saying that it's daddy's mess not hers so I get stuck with the brunt of it. I work full time so I don't have much time for housework. Needless to say, my house is pretty messy, but I do what I can.
Anyway, my MIL said that it was my responsibility to keep the house clean because I was a woman and that was the way God intended for it. She further said that my husband did not have to help out because he was a man and therefore God intended for him to provide for the family, not to help with the household.
I was just wondering what other Catholic mothers thought about this. Did God create us equal or did God want us women to be barefoot, pregnant, and cleaning all the time?


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Cyndel - posted on 06/24/2012




Your both working full both need to clean the house, putting in equal effort.
And tell your daughter it doesn't matter whose mess it is, for a comfortable home for everyone, everyone needs to pick up and pitch in, whether it is their mess or not.

Sedia - posted on 06/22/2012




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Maria - posted on 04/28/2009




As much as I am of Catholic faith and raised by Catholic devotees, I was instilled with obligations between a man and a wife. But, when it comes to chores, there's no differentiation. My mom was very good at letting us know, including my brothers, that two heads are better than one, therefore, four hands can get things more done! I'm lucky that my husband is very involved with raising our children and has no problem helping around with chores. If you have a problem with it, I suggest that you talk it over with your husband. You're married to him, not his mother.

Di - posted on 04/21/2009




Hi Nicky. I look at it this way. In a perfect world, he would be going to work and you would be staying home looking after the kids and home. Last time I looked the world was far from perfect. Here's some quotes from the bible for her.....Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7-8, 1 Cor 6:16 and Eph 5:31 which basically say the same thing. "Thats why a man leaves his father and mother and the two become one flesh." You could emphasise the leaves.....he he he

Nicole - posted on 04/05/2009




I just loved that last line Melinda and agree with it wholeheartedly!  My husband and I rotated the chores when we were first married and finishing up college.  When he had a big exam coming up, I did the cooking and cleaning and when I had the exam, he did.  It went that way as well when we both worked, now that I'm a SAHM he still helps out.  We have unconsciously designated certain tasks to each other but otherwise we share or rotate the chores.  For example, he always mows the lawn and usually shovels the driveway in winter but the kids and I will help.  The laundry is mine but everyone helps put the dirty clothes from everywhere else to the laundry room.  The dishes is usually my chore but he helps, and the kids clear the table and my husband helps to cook or serve the meals.  It's frustrating sometimes when he leaves clothes on the floor and then the kids want to know why they have to pick theirs up when dad doesn't but we're working on it.

My mother-in-law is similar, she waits on my father-in-law hand and foot and he whistles to get her attention, I made sure from day one that my husband understood that just because that was what she did, didn't mean that we were going to continue with that pattern.  She's not the easiest to talk to though so I pick my battles when she interferes, like rearranging my whole kitchen because where I had things didn't make sense to her.  I try to remind her, very nicely that I appreciate her opinion, but that I'd like to find my own way of doing things and that my husband and I have to make our marriage work our way, together.  

Melinda - posted on 03/26/2009




I agree with your MIL about your "husband did not have to help out because he was a man and therefore God intended for him to provide for the family, not to help with the household."  HOWEVER, you working full time makes you an equal monetary provider for your family and you wouldn't need to if he was providing 100% of the income in the household!  Maybe your MIL needs to open her eyes to this!  Yes, years ago this was true when every mother stayed at home to raise the family, but with the need for the wife to work also, changes the man's responsibilities too!

Lisa - posted on 02/23/2009




I am glad to hear that you are trying that again. Sometimes I get away from ours, but eventually, we get right back to it. :) As a matter of fact, I asked the kids to take the laundry downstairs for me. They threw is all down the steps instead of carrying it and who would show up at the front door just then? Yep, my MIL. I was so embarrassed!!!! But once I explained that the kids were trying to help, she just laughed.

[deleted account]

Hi Lisa,

Good to know I'm not alone.  It's good to hear that you have your son doing chores too.  I wish my MIL and I had the kind of relationship where I could talk to her about setting my husband straight, but as far as I can tell, she thinks that my husband can do no wrong.  I did mention to her in our "discussion" that I was helping to provide for our family by working outside the house, but she kind of blew that off and reiterated that it was still my responsibility to keep the house. LOL. 

I was happy to see that my husband cleaned up quite a bit of the downstairs of our house (where he mostly hangs out) this weekend.  I was sure to give him plenty of praise for it.  And I made a chore chart for my daughter - she used to use one, but I had been bad about enforcing it.  Your post made me decide to give it another try.  Thanks!

Lisa - posted on 02/19/2009




Hi Nicky,

I haven't read the link that Tami included in her reply yet, but I am in a similar situation as you, except that my MIL doesn't come out and say it. My husband was raised in a family where the wife did all the housework, chores, and took care of the children and the men provided for their family.

I have always worked full-time and while my husband says that he will help out more around the house, he never does. It was engrained into him that men just don't do that type of work. (GRRR!!) Even now when our kids are getting a little older, they do their chores (my son too) and my husband doesn't. He expects me to tell him every day what needs to be done and stay on him about it. My response - "I am not your mother". Ha ha. I do go on to tell him what I need from him that day. Anyway, maybe you can develop a chore list for everyone in the family. Start with little things and build up. Make sure the chore list is in a visible spot daily.

Also, I would have no qualms about telling my MIL that if my husband is expected to provide for the family and I do all the housework, that I shouldn't be working outside the home and that she needs to talk to her son about setting things straight with him - after all, according to those terms, he is the head of the household. But that is just the kind of relationship I have with my MIL and she would be understanding of that aspect.

Best of luck to you! :)

[deleted account]

Hi Tami,

Thanks for posting.  I will check out the Letter.  My husband and I have been a couple for 13 years and married for almost 8 so we've definately talked about this alot, especially before we got married.  I made it clear that if I was expected to work, then he was expected to help with the house/family.  He agreed.  But, unfortunately, it was more talk than action.  I'm pretty used to it and we've learned to accept that we're not going to have the magazine cover house, at least not until I don't have to work anymore.  I was mostly upset that my MIL poked her nose into our business without being asked.

I have often wondered about what we're teaching my daughter.  I try to stress to her that it is everyone's responsibility to help out.  I like your rule and will try to apply it to everyone who lives in my house : )

Tami - posted on 02/11/2009




I just wanted to clarify my paragraph about taking this to Jesus. What I meant to say also is that through your prayers & petitions, the Lord could work in your husband's heart to be more open to your suggestions on helping out more with the house work. And also through prayer, the Holy Spirit may guide you on the best way to approach the subject so that it's received well and is taken to heart.

Tami - posted on 02/11/2009




Hi Nicky,

I think this is a great question and one that many women ponder....

I highly recommend reading John Paul II's Apostolic Letter MULIERIS DIGNITATEM on the Dignity and Vocation of Women. You can find it at the Vatican's website here:

It's definitely something you'll want to print out and read over the course of a week or two. Not because it's extremely long, but just because I think it's something that's better read in pieces so you can absorb it! :O)

I just wanted to quote one part of it, though. JPII is addressing Ephesians 5:21-33 on Wives and Husbands. Here's part of what he writes:

"'Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife' (Eph 5:22-23). The author knows that this way of speaking, so profoundly rooted in the customs and religious tradition of the time, is to be understood and carried out in a new way: as a 'mutual subjection out of reverence for Christ' (cf. Eph 5:21). This is especially true because the husband is called the 'head' of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church; he is so in order to give 'himself up for her' (Eph 5:25), and giving himself up for her means giving up even his own life. However, whereas in the relationship between Christ and the Church the subjection is only on the part of the Church, in the relationship between husband and wife the 'subjection' is not one-sided but mutual."

From here on out, I'm speaking for myself and my own thoughts and opinions on the matter... I believe that God DID create man and woman equal and that it isn't God's intent for women to take care of everything that has to do with the kids and the home by herself (with no help from the husband). Husband and wife share in the responsibility of raising a family, and part of that responsibility also involves keeping house!!

Since every couple and every family is different, there could never be one "correct" or perfect way to run a household. It's something that has to be decided between the spouses. But having one person (i.e the woman) do all the housework herself while the husband lays on the couch and watches t.v. all evening after work doesn't seem to me as a way of living out this "mutual subjection out of reverence for Christ."

In my own home, I do FAR more housework than my husband does. But I'm a stay-at-home mom. It just makes sense for me to do most of the cleaning and cooking. But you said you work full-time. That's a whole different story. Again, every family is different so the needs are different.

From what you said your MIL said about your husband's job is to provide and not help with the household, it would seem to me that your husband would feel the exact same way since that's most likely the environment that he grew up in - his mother did all the house work and his father worked outside the home and wasn't expected to help out at home.

Since that may be the case, I would think your best course of action at this point is to just bring this burden of yours to Jesus. To try and talk your husband into starting to help out around the house may get you nowhere and just be nagging to him. No doubt, the Lord can do more to help us in any of our struggles and crosses a heck of a lot more than we can on our own.

And one more thought, if you don't mind. I know this is long...!! Just as your husband most likely views the roles of husband and wife the same as your MIL b/c that was the environment that I'm assuming he was raised in, so your daughter may grow up thinking the same if she sees that you're always the one responsible for doing the housework. I think a good rule to live by for a family is, "if you live in this house, you help take care of this house."

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