Wives allergic to housework

By Pham Nga   May 29, 2022 | 02:03 am PT
Wives allergic to housework
Vong Phoi in a tour to Nha Trang beach town in 2018. Photo courtesy of Phoi
Nguyen Hung hasn't eaten at home in the last half month. His family eats out for lunch and supper, and his wife orders food for dinner.

Hung is content with the family's income. But, the sole concern of the 34-year-old employee for a tech firm in Hanoi's Cau Giay District, is that his wife, a staff from a local bank, is uninterested in doing the dishes.

She employs someone to do everything for her, from picking up the kids to cleaning the house. She does yoga, goes out with friends, and cuddles her child to sleep at night when she is not working.

Stories like Hung's are quite common in many young Vietnamese families. Most men prefer their wives to do housework and care for their children, but if they tell their husbands to do it, "99 out of 100 men will be concerned," according to master of psychology Nguyen Thi Tam from Ho Chi Minh City.

Women nowadays are active in the labor force. "How can they have the strength if they are forced to work and take care of the household at the same time?" Tam said.

Tam's remarks are in line with the findings of the Institute for Research and Social Development's 2020 research on "Men and Masculinity in a Globalizing Vietnam," based on a poll of more than 2,500 men of the Institue for Social Development Studies.

A total 95 percent of males believe that doing housework benefits women. Almost 83 percent of males believe that women should put up with housework in order to make their families happy.

"In essence, these ideas strengthen men's superiority and privilege over women, limit women's prospects to develop economic autonomy, and legitimize gender discrimination at work, in the household, and in society," according to the report.

Working pressure in the banking profession, according to Thu Hong, is quite intense. She's busy with contracts that are about to expire, debt checks, and so on as the year draws to a close.

"With my salary, I can hire three helpers to work for the whole month, why do I have to bend my back to do the manual work that I am not familiar with and good at either," she said.

Hung continued to feel that Hong shirked her duty and neglected her family despite their numerous arguments. "People in my husband's hometown often criticize me for being lazy, but I didn't care," she added. This is the cause of their family squabbles.

Tam said: "Parents nowadays urge their girls to study hard and pursue a career. Women prefer education over housekeeping, so they are no longer confined to the kitchen."

Vong Phoi, 29, from the southern province of Dong Nai is an example. She is the only daughter in the family but has been earning money since she was 17 years old. Her mother devoted herself to doing all the housework so that she could invest time in her studies and career development.

When in love, she frankly told her boyfriend that she "didn't know and didn't want to do housework." Her lover considers it a normal thing, as long as there is enough money to hire a maid.

But for seven years in a row, her boyfriend's mother did not support their relationship because she saw that Pho "cannot do anything in the house."

Psychologist Kim Thanh said less housework-for-women will become a social norm as women contribute to the family and society's economy. However, if women like Thu Hong or Vong Pho know how to do less housework while still teaching their children and caring for their husband and relatives, then that sense of "chill" could bring more benefits and happiness to themselves, families and society.

Experts advise husbands and wives to discuss housework arrangements. Husbands need to share housework with their wives since they also contribute to the household income.

In comparison to the old division of work, the ISDS study demonstrates that there has been a favorable shift. Accordingly, younger men (18-29 years old) tend to share housework with women. Youth in urban areas (38.8 percent) share more housework with their wives than youth in rural areas (29.4 percent).

If both husband and wife work, Kim Thanh recommends adjusting their schedules and acquiring more resources for housework and childcare.

Thu Hong felt she needed to rearrange her job schedule so she could spend more time with her husband and kids. She also wants her spouse to understand and share her housework responsibilities. "I'm planning on inviting some of my friends over to show him how their families handle housework. That way, he will understand that washing dishes is not a chore," she said.

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