I was once with a guy who was not so fond of doing household chores. At first, I did not think about it that much, assuming he was simply busy with other things.
But years had passed and I noticed that things remained the same, regardless of whether he was preoccupied with important stuff or not. In fact, there were moments when he’d rather play computer games instead of doing the dishes or calling our preferred laundry service provider to pick up our soiled clothes.
Things were even worse each time I went out of town alone or with friends. Before leaving, I’d always remind him to take care of the simple chores, especially those that should not be delayed–doing the dishes, taking the trash to the building’s garbage room, cleaning the bathroom, and calling the laundry shop for pickup. Unfortunately, though, he’d fail most of the time.
I was devastated that I’d always rant to friends about his behavior. It was unacceptable, I would tell them, especially I was not too fond of housework myself. However, I was really trying. I was giving my best, making time for all the chores, because I was aware that they were part of the adult life and there was no way I could escape them. I just had to deal with them, otherwise I’d rot. But to carry the entire burden by myself when I could have had an extra pair of hands? Unfair!
Apart from a full-time job, I also had a couple of part-time writing gigs on the side. I was working on my post-grad diploma, too, so I could really use some help in keeping the house clean and orderly. But he didn’t seem to care. I don’t know if he thought his video games were more important than my ambitions or if he simply didn’t care about my other endeavors in life that he was okay with my time being eaten up by housework.
There was also the so-called invisible workload which, according to an essay I read online, was all about the invisible tasks women were burdened with. Remembering what to get from the supermarket and when to pay the bills were some of their most common examples. These tasks might not seem so demanding, but they actually were. And they tormented me and made me feel so bad about myself many times. One time, our Internet connection was also temporarily suspended, simply because he failed to pay the bill after I had religiously reminded him to do so.
I was really frustrated with how things were going, to the point that I almost resented staying at home. What was supposed to be a safe place for me transformed into a prison–a place I no longer associated with comfort but with oppression.
I am aware that in the Philippines, just like in other places in this world, many people still expect women to do most of the housework. I am against it, since I think people should be responsible enough to learn these valuable skills regardless of their sex. I also believe that any decent human being who has the guts to live with a romantic partner should be able to do his share of these chores. Of course, I already shared my thoughts on such matters with my previous partner, so I could not be blamed for not voicing out my opinions. I thought he understood, but apparently he didn’t. And it got so tiring, really. I came to a point when I just snapped and stopped making up excuses for him. He just didn’t care about those things.
After years of enduring that situation, I finally decided to move out and get my own place where I could only think of myself and do things according to my own pace. It would be challenging, I thought, as there would only be me to do the housework. However, it was also exciting for that meant I no longer had to take care of someone else, let alone stay with someone who neither valued nor appreciated my time and my efforts.
Now I think that the guy didn’t respect my time at all. If he did, he’d understand that as a person, I had other important things to deal with, too. He would not assume that I could simply devote all my spare time and energy to running the household and keeping our space clean and orderly. Instead, he’d try his best to do his part just to make sure I’d still have ample time to work on my own dreams. After all, loving someone also means helping them realize their dreams.
If you find yourself one day in a similar situation, I hope you slow down and take a moment to reflect on it. Ask yourself, does your partner really respect you? Please remember that while acts of service may be among your love languages, you still deserve help with housework. Don’t let any person keep you from achieving your personal goals just because they have decided they want to leave all the household chores with you. Your time is as precious as theirs; they have to respect it.
Once you confirm that such is your case, please don’t hesitate to bring it up to them. And if it still does not work, especially after several attempts, go on and ask yourself the bigger questions: Do you still want to be with them despite their attitude? Are you willing to spend the rest of your life cleaning up after them and sacrificing your time–which could have been used for other things that matter to you?
You have options, and I hope you don’t forget about them.