Honey, get your own goddamn avocados
A friend of mine tells this story about her husband. Their first year together, he got pissy because she forgot the avocados. “He texted me while I was at work,” she said, “and I didn’t see it.”
That night, they had a talk about expectations.
Specifically, divisions of household labor. You know, groceries. Cooking. Cleaning. Laundry. The stuff once delegated to housewives, before women became a visible presence in the workplace.
“Basically, I told him he could get his own goddamn avocados — if he wanted them that badly.”
My friend makes a good point. Sometimes, you might ask your partner for a favor. They might cook for you. They might take on more or less responsibility around the house to offset your stress.
That’s love, and it works both ways.
There’s no good reason to make faces and passive-aggressive remarks, when avocados lie waiting for you not even ten minutes away by car. And you’re not all that busy. You just wanted her to make guacamole.
Avocados lie in waiting. That sounds ominous.
Some couples buy their groceries together. They have a routine. Some men even enjoy loading up the dishwasher, and they don’t mind vacuuming, or starting a load of clothes. Their moms didn’t do their laundry in college. They know the difference between spin cycles.
Until recently, I assumed everyone had some kind of agreement to split the dirty work. But I’m learning otherwise.
We still have a ways to go.
Plenty of guys don’t grasp the idea of chore sharing. Sometimes, it’s not that they actively resist. More like passively.
“They just suck at everything,” another friend said over coffee last week. “My husband can’t even chop vegetables. We tried once, and I thought he was going to slice his fingers off.” My friend took over meal prep that night, and she’s been doing it ever since.
Bringing home the actual bacon
We’ve made some progress on chore-sharing, in some places. Women spend fewer hours now on household work than they did a generation ago, especially when they have higher positions and salaries. According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Marriage and Family, women do about 10 percent less cooking and cleaning than the decade prior.
Nowadays, common sense plays a greater role in relationships than gender stereotypes. Couples divvy up chores based on who makes more money, and who has more actual free time.
But it’s still not that hard to find a husband or boyfriend who can’t iron his own shirts. Plus, trends always vary based on factors like age group, location, and economic class.
For example, gender stereotypes remain strong in the south.
Another friend of mine does have a progressive spouse. They buy groceries together. Cook for each other. Take turns with childcare. But they live in a small town, where everyone stares at them because he pushes the cart through the store, and she’s the one who pays.
“The cashier won’t even hand my own change back to me,” my friend laughs. “He always gives it to my husband. Or my son.”
Yeah, her 10-year-old son.
Even career-minded women can find themselves loading up the grocery cart by themselves. My friends might bring home the bacon, figuratively speaking. They make higher salaries than their husbands. But they still catch shit if they don’t bring home actual strips of pig flesh.
Doing the chores can get you laid
About now, I’m sure someone’s rolling their eyes and waiting for the feminist rant. Nope, not gonna happen. Because it turns out that doing more chores isn’t just about feminism or social justice.
Men have lots of reasons for picking up a broom, or folding towels. First off, it makes you sexy. Because fairness is sexy.
And your partner’s more likely to play around in bed if they’re not exhausted from cooking your dinner, then washing your dishes, and then doing your laundry, and then putting your kid to sleep.
Sometimes when your partner says they’re too tired for sex, it’s actually true. Instead of pouting, help them out.
Doing that doesn’t entitle you to more sex. But it’s a step in the right direction. It increases the odds.
Research confirms this common sense approach. A 2015 study in the Journal of Family Psychology found that couples who divide housework equally tend to have more and better sex.
As the authors write, “People desire to be treated fairly and equitably in their relationships and react to experiences of injustice with feelings of anger and resentment.” Well, how about that.
Basically, if you go off to play Skyrim while your partner cleans half the house, they’re not going to want sex with you later.
Sociologists describe chores as core (feminine) and non-core (masculine). Earlier studies actually showed that splitting these duties might lead to less sex. They surmised that men who do a lot more core chores not only appear less masculine to their partners, but they also feel more tired and less likely to initiate sex, i.e. “not in the mood.”
Many women still don’t feel comfortable taking lead in the bedroom. The end result: nobody makes the first move.
That can still happen, depending on the relationship. But solutions exist. It’s easy to pop a blue pill after mopping the kitchen. Not so easy to excuse a pile of dirty socks on the floor.
What you should do
Maybe you’ve already worked out a great deal with your partner. But if your relationship or marriage is struggling, negotiate your chore list. It won’t fix everything, but it can’t hurt.
This rule applies to all kinds of relationships, not just heterosexual.
We’ve moved beyond the old “enlightened man” bullshit of the 1990s. It’s not about the man anymore.
And it’s not about gender roles, or feminism.
You don’t get bonus points for ironing your own work shirts, or chopping vegetables without losing a pinky.
You should’ve been doing that the whole time. If you can’t cook or do laundry, you’re way behind the ball. What are you going to do if your partner drops dead tomorrow, ask your mom to move back in?
That doesn’t sound like fun.
And if your partner takes on some of your core responsibilities, you should be grateful. You own them one down the road. Not just flowers. You need to help them out the next time they get stressed, tired, or busy.
We’re talking about your self-sufficiency, and your relationship goals. Hey, maybe you’re even on the brink of divorce. If that’s the case, then you’d better learn how to steam spinach. You can’t exactly guilt trip yourself about forgetting the avocados when you live alone.