Woman faces six years in jail for not being a better wife

Feb 5, 2016 at 9:22 a.m. ET
Image: Thomas Northcut/Getty Images

A woman in Italy is facing up to six years in jail after her husband turned her in for not doing enough housework in their home. Sounds like a movie plot, right? But apparently this is real.

The husband says that his wife never cooks or cleans and as a result he doesn't feel loved or taken care of and somehow this is criminal. Apparently this qualifies as "mistreatment of family" and is punishable by jail.

Assuming this is true and not some kind of hoax, the whole thing seems rather absurd. It is hard to imagine a marriage in which an unhappy man wouldn't just talk to his wife and, I don't know, pitch in if she is overwhelmed once in a while. When I hear a story like this, I wonder if she is overwhelmed or depressed or suffering from some kind of mental issue that makes it difficult to function. Meanwhile, this guy just feels badly for himself. Nice guy.

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And while most of us are not living in rural and traditional Italy, certainly the idea of the "good wife" is pervasive all over the world and still, despite so many years of progress and work, involves keeping a nice house, cooking, and making sure the children are well-fed and perfectly coiffed. Anything less than that will earn you some looks in the carpool line. Even in suburban New Jersey, just a few miles outside on New York City, I know I have been judged for not being more focused on my home and our children's appearance.

It's just not my thing. And I don't feel badly about that. Other than the once a week cleaning we get from the person we hire to clean our house, our house is rarely cleaned. Sure, we do the dishes and wipe down the counters and make the beds, but the operative word is "we." The upkeep of our home is both of our responsibility. We have three kids and very busy schedules. My husband doesn't get to take a pass because he's a man.

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We need to get past the idea that keeping the house is always the woman's job. Quite frankly, most women have better things to do with their time and if men have an issue with that, they can step up, too. That's what a marriage is.

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