If there is a universal complaint from wives about their husbands, it would have to be that their husbands don’t help around the house. This complaint seems to transcend culture, location, ethnicity and nearly every demographic (except for maybe the very wealthy). It seems beneficial to then ask a very simply question: Why do husbands not like to help with housework, and why should they want to help doing chores.
So why don’t husband’s help with housework? Arguably, there could be a number of reasons why this is so, ranging from a form of laziness or procrastination (“I’ll do it later dear”) to a sense of entitlement, but most research on the subject points to one overwhelming idea:
Men do not like doing housework because their Fathers didn’t do housework.
Though most husbands do not consciously understand that this is the root of their lack of desire to help, in most cases this seems to be the underlying reason. The old arguments of “I can’t do chores because I work all day” has been proven faulty since husbands in dual-income households still do only 1/5th of the work their wives do.
As humans, one of the main ways we learn is through observation and through the ‘modelling’ our actions after others – and so a lesson to all the parents’ out there: Your Children Are Watching!
The Qur’an clearly shows how the example of our parents (or forefathers) directly motivates our own action. For instance, Allah (swt) states in Surat Az-Zukhruf (verse 23):
And similarly, We did not send before you any warner into a city except that its affluent said, “Indeed, we found our fathers upon a religion, and we are, in their footsteps, following.”
Following the example of our parents and teachers is an incredible motivator, or in this case, an incredible de-motivator. Children who see their fathers refusing to do chores thereby consider housework to be an act that lacks chivalry or lacks manliness.
What is necessary is for us to re-establish the centrality of the example of the Messenger of Allah in our lives. It may take some effort to break the ‘psychological hold’ that whispers to us that housework isn’t for ‘real men’, but the more we study the life of our beloved Prophet the more that nonsense should melt away.
‘Aisha (ra), the wife of the Prophet, described his character beautifully when she said: “Indeed, he was in the service of his family (or wives)” (Sahih al-Bukhari). The Prophet’s dedication to serving his family, and performing chores in his house was such that he could only be described by it! Peace and blessings be upon him.
In order to motivate all the husbands and soon-to-be husbands who are reading this as to why they should help at home, here is a list of benefits of housework:
1. The greatest benefit is that you would be upon the path of the Prophet (saw) who said: “The best of you are the best to their wives” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi).
2. The act of housework is an act of charity and is a means of bringing happiness into the heart of your family. The Prophet said “The best of actions is to enter joy into the heart of your believing brother”. If it is of the greatest to bring joy to your brothers and sisters in Islam, then it stands to reason that it is a greater benefit to bring joy to your own family!
3. Research at the University of Western Ontario shows that couples who shared their housework at (close to) 50% were the happiest and reported the highest levels of fulfillment!
4. The same research shows that couples where only one of the couples did all the housework (usually the wife), BOTH the husband and the wife reported high levels of dissatisfaction and depression!
5. Dr. John Gottman’s research shows that couples that share the housework also have a more satisfying sexual relationship than those that do not share housework. If there’s ever been a better motivator for this cause, I do not know what it could be!
6. Finally, remember when I was saying the actions of the parents affect the children? Well, research shows that the children of parents who share housework chores have more friends and have better grades at school.
Image source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/relationships/fatherhood/11697949/Todays-dads-have-a-stronger-bond-with-their-kids-than-they-had-with-their-own-fathers.html