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Your wife, not a maid

By Nhlalwenhle Ncube

When you get married, it never crosses your mind that you are filling a certain vacancy in the family. You are even made to believe that you are now part of the family and will be treated like all other children. Surprisingly, you then realise that this family has always wished to have a maid and it’s as if you have filled that gap.

Of course when you are a daughter-in-law or wife, you have duties to do. But it’s hurting and frustrating when you get to do all house chores alone without getting any help. That is when one starts to ask herself whether she is a wife or a maid. Truth be told, this has broken many homes as no woman wants to be made to fill that vacancy. Marriage is not a job!

I know in our African culture, a bride or makoti is expected to do all the house chores for the family to prove herself that she is a “real” woman. Really? In this century that is abuse and it shows that the family is not a loving and caring one. Every job is made easy by being shared.

Thanks to God, these days most women are not staying with their in-laws and they only get to receive this bad treatment of being made to work like donkeys when there are family gatherings. Unfortunately for some, even in their own homes their husbands are the ones who treat them like maids. By so doing, they are making the woman unhappy and ever depressed. No woman wants to be treated like a maid!

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I know someone is saying, but what is the role of the wife in the family. Your answer is just as good as mine that she has to take care of the family. But this does not mean that the husbands leave all the housework to their wives while they sit on the couch and relax. They wait to be asked for help instead of helping on their own.

The saddest part about this is that most husbands don’t know how much anger and resentment their wives feel towards them due to this issue. If asked, they would probably vehemently deny that they have ever treated their wives like maids and begin pointing how much they help with household chores. After a couple of heated conversations about household chores, most wives usually give up and resign themselves to doing most of the chores. However, the issue keeps simmering in the background until it boils over.

What married couples need to realise is that it takes time to come to an agreement regarding the division of household chores. One conversation isn’t going to be enough to iron out all your differences; it has to be an ongoing conversation. How you divide household chores between yourselves will also change multiple times over the course of your marriage. As your responsibilities within and outside of the home change, you will need to adjust the amount of household work each of you does accordingly.

Women have to be careful how they bring up the issue of household chores because with our African men it’s a sensitive issue. His response might even result in a heartbreak where you will be reminded of lobola he paid and that kadliswanga (he didn’t eat love potion). First of all, it goes without saying that you cannot let the word “maid” escape your lips.

Telling your husband that he treats you like a maid or that he is inconsiderate or unfair will immediately make him defensive and cause more marital problems. It also goes without saying that you shouldn’t broach the issue when you are angry. It’s best to begin by telling him how much you appreciate what he does within and outside the home. Tell him how his contributions have made a difference in the day-to-day functioning of your home and to your married life.

After complementing him, point out two or three more chores that you need help with. Be assertive but not aggressive. If your husband is resistant, you might need to bring out a list of all the tasks that need to be done so that he can have a clear idea of just how much work there is. If he doesn’t like the chores you suggested, ask him to pick two or three more chores to add to his list of chores. He’ll probably be more open to doing chores that he picked for himself.

Household chores are a hot topic in most marriages and a major source of conflict and marital problems. However, as long as a couple remains patient and keep working on finding on the right balance, they will eventually get to a point where they are more happy than sad with the way the chores are split.

Some women are taking their complaints to social media platforms and I guess most of those making noise have already quit the marriage institution where they felt betrayed after being turned into maids. This is a big problem as it also kills a couple’s sex life. When someone is bitter over something in a relationship, there will be unending problems and you will fight even over the smallest issues.

Without being one sided, these days there are also families where you find that the woman is the breadwinner — the one employed while the husband is not. Some of these women have also turned their husbands into ‘‘maids’’ which is a bad thing. They no longer help with chores even when they are off-duty. It is wrong and a recipe for disaster. Being disrespected and treated as if you are useless in a relationship has forced many people to walk out of relationships. So be careful how you treat your partner and never turn her into a maid. Sunday News.

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