On Marriage | Does Your Husband Help at Home?

This is a new feature on the blog where I will publish stories related to what comes after a wedding – the marriage and the relationship behind it. Everything from what makes a marriage work, to what the Indian wife faces at home is open to discussion. Feel free to send in your honest thoughts on marriage, about your experiences so that we can all freely talk about it and learn from it. I am happy to let you write anonymously so that you can share your personal experiences openly and without a worry.

Does Your Husband Help At Home?

Kanika* is a 26 year old from Delhi who is getting married this December. In the lead up to her wedding, she has been feeling anxious about how she is expecting for herself to transform from a driven career woman to a multi-tasking care taker of the home and office affairs with limited to no help from her husband-to-be. She wonders why she feels it is her sole responsibility to manage her new home while remaining a star performer at work.

On Marriage | Does Your Husband Help At Home | Indian Married Relationships

I recently read a Reader’s Digest article on How to Get Your Husband to Help at Home that really got me thinking. It spoke about how the rules of a marriage have changed today – how (in plenty of cases) both partners have equally high ambitions for their careers. Yet, how it is so naturally expected for the woman to still continue to be the primary caretaker for the house. I will admit today that I have also been brought up to think like this. And, I never challenged this school of thought. I consider myself to be a feminist, and extremely modern in my thinking. However, when my parents dropped comments on how I should consider taking up a career that was not extremely hectic (investment banking) and instead consider taking up a career that would help me have a better work-life balance (such as human resources, no offence!) – it actually did find a place in my mind. As my wedding date draws closer, I have found myself feeling stressed about how I will handle a house as well as continue working at an office which requires many 12-hour work days. But after reading this article, I felt like a huge load was taken off my shoulders.

The Reader’s Digest article talks about how a married couple grows discontent with the relationship. Both of them are working full-time, but while the husband comes back home to unwind in front of the TV, the wife continues her working day with cooking and taking care of household activities. Now, read what the article said:

“Mahesh thought it wasn’t his job to do things around the house, Rajini’s traditional upbringing didn’t allow her to ask a man to get involved.”

Why is it that we assume the husband works harder than us at the office? Why is it that we continue to believe that it is our responsibility to have a cooked meal ready on the table at the end of the day? My mother told me for the longest time, and still does – “Why don’t you learn some basic cooking? It will really help you after you’re married. Atleast you will not be ordering takeaway everyday.” What are the odds that my fiancé’s mother is giving him the same lecture?

Now, before you get any wrong ideas, let me clarify a few things. My mother gave up her job voluntarily, because she wanted to become a housewife, she wanted to spend more time with her children, be more involved in their upbringing and teaching them whatever she could as a mother. Before her, both my grandmothers never imagined working an office job. All three of them come from a background and an era where women have traditionally been more involved in housework. Which is fine. Or rather, was fine, for their day and age. My parents are still pretty modern compared to a lot of other parents I know. But yes, they come from a time when women began getting empowered, and so their thinking lies somewhere in between. However, as an adult of this day and age, I cannot afford to have the same thought processes. I cannot afford to think that ok, I will try taking up a career which requires lesser time commitment from me, so that I can take care of the house, and eventually, children. No. It should be a choice. Not a forced decision, or one that I feel I have to take because “who will take care of the house then?” Aren’t households around the world taken care of by married couples where both share equal responsibilities of house work?

This brings me to another point. Equality is what we should strive for. Not feminism. So many feel it does not create equality (that’s only because they’ve misunderstood what it truly means). Don’t punch me in the face for this. I saw an episode of Satyamev Jayate years ago on the topic of Domestic Violence (Season 1, Episode 7). A woman spoke about realising how both sets of gender are equal. How, even in a marriage where the husband is the sole bread winner, the woman is the sole home maker. Both are nothing without the other. They’re complementary, and should be treated that way.

This rant has a point. I feel like I’ve been woken up from a deep slumber. I thought I understood society, and that my whole family and I are very modern. But just look at the little ways in which older ways of thinking creep up into the mind of the newer generation. My mother is totally right in her thinking, of how I should learn to cook so that I can make a meal when required. Part of her wants me to learn this as a survival skill. What if I’m alone and I want to eat something? However, a part of her also, unknowingly, believes that it’s my primary responsibility as a soon-to-be-wife. It is the latter that I should not let sink into my consciousness.

And coming back to the Reader’s Digest article – I feel relieved to realise that the house is not only my responsibility. It is two people’s responsibility, or in my case, seven (I will be living in a joint family). And as modern-day adults, we must realise that a woman who works a full-time job probably does have the same ambitions as a man. If both of them work together to create a house, it will make for a better home.

*name changed to protect privacy

If you have a personal story you’d like to share, please email it to thedelhibride@gmail.com with “On Marriage” in the subject line and I will get in touch with you.

Does your husband help at home? Do you expect him to? Or do you feel like the home is only your primary responsibility?

I’d love to hear what you have to say about this, and I’m sure Kanika would love to know as well! It’s time to start talking about what we have learnt, and understand with each others’ help what women out there are doing.

5 thoughts

  1. Yes he does help surely. We have been married for last one year exactly and there has never been a time when managing home or doing household work was considered my responsibility solely.
    We work together without gender roles- be it cooking, dusting, grocery shopping or anything else for that matter.
    Thanks Shinjini for introducing this chapter cause till wedding it’s all fancy; what comes later is the truth. I appreciate your initiative!!
    Happy to share 🙂


  2. I believe it takes a little bit of training to bring your husband to do chores. In my case, i live with my in-laws and thank god they are very supportive of my career. But the thing is my mother in law was and is a homemaker so my husband was used to her doing even little things for him – for which i had to train him a little to do it on his own which were earlier magically done by my MIL- little things such as putting the clothes which come from the laundry into their right place in the cupboard, put his soiled dishes from the dinning table to the kitchen sink (ya i know its basic, but earlier the dishes also used to magically disappear), pour his own juice/nimbu pani from the fridge before going or after coming from office etc. He is uncomfortable in helping with the kitchen chores but frankly its fine if i don’t push him into it- coz we have appointed a cook who cooks both the major meals so its not too much work for me also and also my mother in law is always there to help, in fact she only does the major cooking in absence of the cook.(Touch wood) She is very sweet and understands that since i work full time its difficult for me to do everything for her son which she used to. Been married for 5 months now :).

    I believe with changing times more and more mother in laws have become understanding towards working daughter in laws and are fine with it and are willing to compromising certain things (like replacing handmade achars/papads etc. with store bought ones, appointing a cook against self cooking, daughter in law being absent for certain afternoon events etc…). However, there are very few who are comfortable with their daughter in law continuing to pursue their career post a child and that’s where the major disconnect lies.


  3. My husband doesn’t help with the major household chores like cooking and cleaning, but he doesn’t insist I do the chores either. The main reason for this arrangement being his long working hours where as mine is not a high pressure job like his. There are days when I don’t have the energy to cook or don’t want to cook for that matter, we just order some Chinese and call it a day. Also, my husband doesn’t complain or find fault in what I do, instead he makes it a point to appreciate all the hard work I put in around the house. There are some chores that my husband loves to do though, like laundry, I just let him do his thing and not interfere. It’s a fine balance for us.

    I have been brought in a household that values independence. My mom had a hectic job, and my dad used to help around the house quite a lot and that includes, getting me ready for school to packing my lunch. It’s a fine balance of my parents too. I had high expectations when I got married, soon to realise that all relationships don’t work the same way.


  4. There is a basic rule in our household that helps us navigate the day to day stuff (both of us work fulltime) – the one who cooks does not clean. I am happy with this.

    However, there is some social conditioning at play here – I seem to have assumed ownership of the kitchen (without being asked) and for eg take responsibility for keeping it well-stocked, ensure we eat nutritously etc. This uses up a lot of my energy and I feel there are better ways that my time could be used. But I also feel guilty if I neglect these responsibilities. So this is something I need to get better at.

    Because of this assumed responsibilty and because he has longer working hours, the split is more 60/40 split but I am not too upset about this – I’d rather not do any housework but that’s not an option- so at least he helps when he can and my contributions in the home are not taken for granted.

    I think it helps if both parties recognise that neither party is obligated to do housework. This may not be so easy in a joint family set-up where there are multiple parties with multiple expectations.


  5. Feminism is believing in equality. I really hope people listen/read at least the definition of feminism before proclaiming themselves not to be a feminist. It really harms the cause of feminism when women and men say they are not feminists though they actually believe in the same things. The view of feminism being this rabid, violent, man-hating phenomenon is really a construct propounded by those who want to see it fail. I would recommend listening to or reading the works of Gloria Steinem. She explains it all really well and not in an academic way.


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