Man Does Everything His Wife Says For One Month And Learns A Valuable Insulting Stereotype

Illustration for article titled Man Does Everything His Wife Says For One Month And Learns A Valuable Insulting Stereotype

Writer A.J. Jacobs did everything his wife said for one month. And what he learned falls somewhere between "hacky-annoying" and "mildly depressing." Women be doing housework!

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Jacobs, an editor at Esquire, is best known for his book The Year of Living Biblically, in which he followed Biblical rules for a year. Continuing with this schtick, The Daily Mail has an excerpt from Jacobs' book My Experimental Life, which comes out this week in the U.K. It's a tough read, and not only because the Daily Mail has changed all of the nouns the American Jacobs uses to British slang (this is barely an exaggeration — "loo paper," "torch," "pressie," "rubbish tip."), but because Jacobs falls into the easy trap of condescending to women under the guise of being awed by them. By doing everything his wife says for a month, Jacobs' big epiphany is that she does more housework than he does. Seriously, that's basically it. And in the process, he says stuff like THIS:

"Maybe that's why women do more housework. They're better at it. They were born with the tidiness gene."

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Ugh. In this excerpt, basically no hack female stereotype goes un-dragged-out. His wife wants a present every day, and flowers. She tells him that if he makes dinner every night they can have sex every night, etc. She asks of him nothing remotely indicative of her actually having independent desires or a personality. The whole thing could basically have been written in the early 1960s, except for the "twist" ending — instead of finishing the entire experiment at the one-month mark as planned, Jacobs decides to go on changing the loo paper and refilling the soap dispensers whenever he notices they need it. You know, like a normal person. Progress!

Will Doing Everything My Wife Tells Me Turn Me Into the Perfect Husband? [Daily Mail]

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DISCUSSION

It would be easy to say my bf is a "typical male" and I'm a "typical female" in the long tradition of women doing more housework.

We've lived together for the last year and he has literally not once, cleaned anything voluntarily (his, mine or ours).

But for us, it's not a sexist issue, just an incompatibility of cleanliness thresholds.

We used to get into fights about it, but the truth I've just come to face that he is a slob. And his mother agrees.

(I remember in his old apt he had maggots under his bed from an old plate of food-which I told him he should move, to which he responded, "later", then promptly forgot until the consequential and unavoidable smell alerted us to its presence.)

We don't fight a whole lot but when we do it is often about cleaning.

Our routine goes something like this: I vacuum, do laundry and clean/organize (his, mine and our stuff) once a week on the weekend, make the bed/tidy up everyday, and he promptly throws a pair of dirty socks on the floor.

I pick up his dirty dishes/glasses with curdling milk that sit on his desk.

I organize his important papers and financial paperwork.

Yes, I baby him. But what's the alternative? Yes I get resentful sometimes though I've just given up at this point.

The thing is, he truly does not mind living like a slob. Days old milk, crusty plates, unopened mail and dirty sheets literally do not register.

What I've come to realize is that yes, in an ideal world he should pull his weight, and at the very least pick up after himself.

BUT.

We share a room. The only person NOT cleaning hurts, is me.

He doesn't care.

If the room is neat and tidy, yes he's happy but it's not expected.

And there's the rub.

He never, ever expects me to clean up after him.

And he's very appreciative.

I just do it because I can't stand to live like a slob. I hate clutter.

And I love him.

If I don't open his mail or sort his papers, come tax time, he's frantically sorting through his papers stressing both of us out, asking me me if I've seen form this or that.

So for my sanity and peace of mind, I do it.

And being a total type-A personality, I actually enjoy organizing so the actual deed is really not that torturous.

But I'm making him pay for the maid in the future.

I don't think it really matters what gender you are; many many couples face the "how to split household chores" evenly dilemma.

And I wish there was more practical advice out there on how to solve this issue; it's a huge bone of contention if you can't co-exist peacefully because someone left the dishes in the sink.