Of course, there’s the best benefit: I get to share my world with someone I adore, who adores me back. And when it comes to our particular dance card, that means divvying up life with someone who’s also my biggest cheerleader, and in that role, has my back, too.
I’m also lucky that The Hubster steam cleans carpets; make a darn good pot of chili, and keeps my computer running smoothly. He does lots of other stuff, too, like grocery shopping when I can’t; washing dinner dishes most nights, and feeding our three goofy dogs.
He has also brought home flowers, ice cream and chocolate for no reason at all, other than to make me happy.
But despite him shouldering all of these tasks—which he does (mostly) cheerfully after working very hard at a couple of day jobs—there’s still a lot to do.
That’s because I remain the chief cook and bottle washer.
A partial list of these responsibilities includes nutritionist, interior designer, Uber driver, seamstress, hostess, housecleaner, Internet service negotiator, social secretary and activities director. I can’t forget researcher, closet/linen/spice rack organizer, rose pruner, groundskeeper, errand runner, inventory consultant, events planner, bookkeeper and laundress.
So, while I wear these hats (mostly) cheerfully—and even enjoy putting on a few of them—this is why, just like my husband, I want a wife.
Those of A Certain Age might be feeling some déjà vu right now, because somehow, the phrase is oddly familiar.
Perhaps that’s because they’re remembering a landmark editorial titled, what else, “Why I Want a Wife.”
Only nine paragraphs, it was written by Judy Syfers, a stay-at-home mom, who, in a fit of frustration, penned the piece in a couple of hours. Published in December of 1971 in the premiere issue of Ms. magazine, this little essay poked wicked fun of the traditional roles defined by conventional marriage.
The essay was actually heard first, when a nervous Syfers read it out loud about a year earlier at a rally in San Francisco, where she lived with her professor spouse and two young daughters. And even though men in the audience heckled Syfers as she read, “Why I Want a Wife” had both an immediate and long term impact on millions of women
Today, in fact, Syfers’ piece is required reading for many university classes, and can also be found in anthologies as an example of feminist humor and satirical prose. The work also pushed Syfers toward a life spent in social justice around the world.
But if the essay was meant to actually change the way men and women take care of everyday business, it hasn’t
Indeed, even though The New York Times reports that the number of women in America who are their family’s sole or primary breadwinner is now at 40 percent—a figure that has quadrupled since 1960—the time that men spend taking care of a house hasn’t altered in nearly three decades. Breaking the numbers down further, men’s participation in household tasks topped out at 94 minutes per day in 1998. But by 2003, it was down to 81 minutes, not much different than the 76 minutes it was in 1985.
I also know that what we wives do doesn’t come cheap.
As a matter of fact, www.salary.com recently released its 16th annual “Mom Salary Infographics” for both stay-at-home and working mothers. Working 40 hours per week at a base salary of about $1,000, a typical wife’s annual income would be $48,509. But with 52 hours of overtime added every week, that annual paycheck jumps to more than $94,000 over the initial baseline. (Check out details here, at www.salary.com/2016-mothers-day-infographics/.)
Total cost? Sit down, since it’s $143,102.
That’s more cha-ching than I’ve ever seen in any for-pay job. I’m also sure that as much as he’d like to, my husband will never be able to give me this kind of wage.
I also don’t claim to have any answers as to why most husbands are allergic to brooms, dustpans and organizing kitchen drawers. For that matter, I can’t figure out why wives who work outside the home still end up doing nearly all of the stuff in the home.
I can only hope that my daughter’s generation, and the ones that come after hers, will have a more successful go at it.
Meanwhile, I can still dream about having my very own wife.
How about you? Is your role as a husband or wife a traditional one? What about all of the singletons out there? I’d love to hear your comments and stories!
P.S. Read Judy Syfers’ “Why I Want a Wife” at www.cwluherstory.org/why-i-want-a-wife.html. Listen to the story behind the story at www.thestory.org/mediaplaylist/popup.