One day I got a free gift from “Substitute Housewife”, a housekeeping service . The gift was a cleaning towel with this blunt message: “A substitute housewife is much cheaper than divorce”. Their point is that household chores are the main cause of marital conflict and can lead to divorce, especially in dual-income families. I couldn’t just laugh off this marketing message. Because it is part of cruel reality. And I’m a 29-year-old single woman who has stepped into what is called marriageable age.
Recent news report tell us that in a dual-income family, a wife in Korea spends an average of three hours a week on chores. A husband, meanwhile, spends only one. They work the same number of hours but bear different housekeeping burdens.
Me? Marriage still seems far off, but the worries of shared household chores are bearing down fast. What if I end up as one of those three-hours-a-week wives, balancing a job against arguments with her husband?I like managing my home. I like cleaning dirt off the bathroom floor and then seeing it glitter. I luckily have a strong stomach and feel a weird pleasure when old gunk in the kitchen drain washes away. I also enjoy arranging spices and other ingredients in the cabinet so that I don’t have to hunt for them.
Tidying my stuff and cleaning up is one of life’s pleasures. It gives me the feeling of control, and working up a sweat helps me forget the office.
And that happiness is rooted in the spontaneity. The pleasure will quickly turn to pain when it becomes a labor of obligation or when someone automatically assumes that I bear more responsibility just because I’m the wife.
I sometimes find myself assessing the cleanliness of my boyfriend’s house and his cleaning habits. I hate myself for doing it. It’s totally unnecessary to worry about something before it happens. But it’s not easy to take a full step back from this bizarre pre-marriage stress and pressure. The gloomy news reports and even messages on towels are all too happy to tell me what lies ahead.
My generation has grown up seeing traditional moms at home on the one hand, but being taught to not become those moms on the other. Girls and boys have been educated to believe that women can do anything a man can, but what they actually see in the house has been quite different. We could say that spouse hunters in their 20s and 30s are in a transitional period.
So the solution for house chores is simple but difficult at the same time. Each party in the marriage has to admit the following fact: Other people don’t want to do what you don’t want to do either! I hope to see the day when Substitute Housewife’s marketing message changes to “You rest, we work”. That’s their official company motto, and a better purpose for a house keeping service.
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