Earlier this year, I’d mentioned that I would be delving more into broader issues surrounding motherhood and womanhood. In that article, I had featured Waturi Wamboye who said that when she was a new in marriage, she tried to live up to the expectations of being a new wife but at some point, she realized she just couldn’t do it all. You can read Waturi’s story here.
Relatedly, one of the many issues that troubles many new wives, as I have discovered, is the one of house chores. I’m talking about moments where their husbands expect them to do most –if not all of the house work –cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, ironing clothes… as he simply sits back, waiting to be served.
“Hubby just leaves me to do all the work, never once lifting a finger to help. As a woman, society may expect me to do the house work, but surely, in this day and age, is right for a man to just sit there as I break my back? Like really? Haven’t the men of today been raised better than that? This is not days of our parents, we are in a different generation! Surely, is it so difficult for the man to just help me out?” I have heard new wives ask, with such pain in their voices.
This situation is often the time when there are no children in the union –yet –and there is no resident house girl to assist with the house chores, so the expectations of these tasks often fall on the woman.
I spoke to Lorraine Onyango, who has been married for just over a year now, on how she herself copes with this situation. She told me:
“I decided early on in our marriage that I wasn’t going to try and be superwoman, especially because I have such a demanding job. So I organized for a house help to come a few times a week to clean, wash and sometimes cook. On the days she doesn’t cook, I don’t mind preparing dinner. Sometimes I get her to do the chopping of ingredients beforehand to make my work easier.”
She continues to offer advice to other newlyweds:
It is always best to communicate your needs to your spouse. Sometimes it’s easier to assume your partner doesn’t care yet he probably grew up in a different setting. For example, in our home, my mom taught my brothers to cook when they were young, and so it’s something the can easily help out on. However, you’ll find that in other households, the boys didn’t do anything of the sort, and their mother was happy to take care of all the household chores. So such a man enters the marriage expecting the same of his wife. The fact is that one’s upbringing impacts how they approach issues in marriage, and so it’s best to have this discussion early on about expectations, where the couple can also clearly outline where and how one will need the help of their spouse.
The other thing to remember is that maybe a husband can’t help in the kitchen but he is a brilliant problem solver. Or maybe he’s not skilled in the kitchen but is great with the kids. Some husbands love to cook, others don’t. There are many different ways to partner with each other, so the key is to understand and adjust accordingly.”
That is Lorraine’s practical advice –based on her own experiences. By the way Lorraine is an author of the book Coffee and Love Chats, which I wrote about here. So I hope her advice helps, alongside Waturi’s.
If you are in this situation, or you probably know of a woman going through this, then share this information with her, it could help. Also share with that man who you know could benefit from this information.
Mummy Tales is a blog dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of maternal and newborn health, as well as various issues surrounding motherhood and women. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Follow Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l INSTAGRAM l TWITTER