Holding down the fort at home while a partner works far away is something humans have been doing since our hunter-gatherer days. That doesn’t, however, mean that one parent gets to act like a caveman to his wife when he returns home, especially not according to commenters on a recent Mumsnet post. A mother of two did think she needed to check with them, just to be sure that yes, her husband was being a demanding jerk about how much she needed to clean up before he returned home.
“My husband works away 4-6 weeks at a time, and around a week before he comes home, he sends me lists of everything in the house he wants cleaned,” User40465 wrote on a post in the popular AIBU (Am I Being Unreasonable?) board back in December. “He basically wants the house to look like a show house.”
The mom went on to say that she has two children under 5, works outside of the home, and keeps their place reasonably clean without having to be prompted by her husband. She’s not at her wit’s end, exactly, but she’s pretty annoyed.
Not surprisingly, 98% of the post’s readers think she is not being unreasonable, according to the corresponding poll. The post has more than 480 comments, mostly from outraged women who very much think this mom’s response should be full of expletives (sprinkled with a few polite suggestions to hire a cleaning service).
“Please, please, tell me you do [realize] how utterly bizarre and wrong this is?” StayingIn wrote. “Why on earth did you ever do this? The very first time you should have replied and said very funny. Stop this now OP and have some self respect.”
“He is either a massive control freak or he has serious germ issues,” added Hugsgalore. “If it’s the latter he needs help and if it’s the former then get the fuck out of there.”
As she began to receive these responses, User40465 explained more of the situation. After his time away, he usually has three weeks at home, and he has been sending these chore demands for the past three years. She shared a photo of his checklist, above, which lists all the things he’d like cleaned in each room of the house, from regular places like the kitchen floor to more detailed items like cleaning “machine filters” in the utility room. She said that when she hasn’t complied, he’s made her clean with him when he got home. The OP wrote that her husband would “sulk” if she absolutely refused to comply.
In the 21st century, it’s beyond upsetting to hear of a man ordering his wife around like this. We know that a massive gender gap still exists in terms of household chores — studies have shown that even as more women enter the paid workforce, mothers do twice as much child care and 80 percent more housework than fathers in the U.S. Plus, a 2016 study found that British men do 16 hours of unpaid work a week compared to the 26 hours that women complete.
After her husband’s three weeks at home, User40465 returned to her thread on Mumsnet to update everyone on what went down. At first, she wrote that all was well, and that her husband even apologized for being controlling.
“Unfortunately towards the end of his time at home it started again,” she wrote. “If I had a spare 15 minutes and was having a sit down he would tell me A, B & C needed doing.”
She feels they need to work on communicating better, she said.
Maybe she could use this handy Parenting Salary calculator for the sake of her argument.