How spouses can share chores

Home tasks such as cooking and cleaning were traditionally perceived as women’s work and 80 per cent of housework is still done by females.

Rose Nakanjako, 34, a housewife, says there are some men who believe that housework is solely a woman’s role but it is always a question of where and how they were brought up.

“There are men brought up in an environment where they perceive housework to be solely a woman’s obligation. For them that is how they were groomed and they may not be challenged about that perception,” Nakanjako says.

She adds that for the five years she has been married with her husband, the concept of house chores has not been an issue for them since she prefers to do all the chores herself and only let the husband intervene when he feels like.

“I do not stipulate roles for him to undertake such as cleaning the house, cooking or washing the dishes, I prefer doing everything for myself but I see him at times coming on board to help in cleaning the house, he loves it a lot,” she says.

This is not unique to Nakanjako because growing up, most of us saw our mothers taking full responsibility of the home.

It was on rare occasions that our fathers took part. Fast forward to this era where women are able to be independent financially, they feel there are some chores that they need to be relieved of.

House work, a combined effort

For Mark Ssempijja, a 32-year-old married lawyer believes that doing housework is a collective responsibility and should not be left to one party.

“None of us enjoys doing housework, so leaving the chores for one party is not a fair home strategy. It has nothing to do with sexism,” Mr Ssempijja observes.

He adds that, “Even if the man is the sole breadwinner, it is not responsible for him to come back home and simply relax in the living room while there is a dust bin that needs emptying,”

Mr Ssempijja says the best way for a couple to keep a good ambience in marriage is to talk about things such as home chores, because it fills the devoid that may culminate from one party feeling cheated, especially when you do not have a househelp.

“In life each of us, men or women, has their weakness. For this reason, men should not think domestic work is solely for their wives, as some of them may be weak in doing such errands but excel in other areas, he says.”

Lillian Angom, a women activist in Mengo, a Kampala suburb, says women today give less priority to housework compared to the past where they used to prioritise it.

“Nowadays, expectations have changed and the roles in community too. To think that women will have all that time to do home errands is simply Stone Age era thinking. Women are now as corporate as men and thus need to be flexible to help each other where necessary,” she says.

Angom that because of failure to realise this changing life style, many marriages have been wrecked and divorces become more rampant.

Just like her experience, she believes if couples talk about this matter, they can come to a compromise about who does what based on realistic expectations.

“Actually, that is what relationships are all about and not just assuming that the other party knows what they should or shouldn’t be doing at home,” she notes.

Angom argues that many domestic arguments, which arise as a result of house chore disagreements can be sorted by a quick, open chat about who does what around the house.

Solution to conflicts

Joyce Gwokyalya, a teacher, however says it is all about a combined effort to get things done.

Gwokyalya says, today things have changed for the better, whereby men and women need to work together in order to achieve the goals of the family and not like in the past where women had their offices in the kitchen.

“I for one believe that a man can do what a woman can do, and the reverse is true. Even in the economic world, there are women who bring food on the table and also act as bread winners, therefore, a consensus rather than conflict model should be promoted for the benefit of the family,” she observes.

Assumpta Namubiru, a renown Ssenga in Kazo, says couples ought to understand that for women to get married, it is not about being a slave in any relationship. She says women ought to do what is expected of them but not to be one’s unpaid servant.

“I have always aised my girls to do what is always expected of them in their relationships, and I make it clear to them that they are not men’s volunteers,” she says.

Expert’s take

Mercy Nankya, counsellor

Mercy Nankya, a marriage counsellor in Nakulabye, a Kampala suburb, says the concept of housework today is a vast issue that calls for partners reaching a consensus about it.

“Times have changed and the perception about who does what at home has completely shifted. It is a thing of long ago for people to think that housework is solely a woman’s job or a maid where necessary,” Nankya says. She adds that people regard men as persons with one role, which is fending for the family. “This has, however, raised criticism from various women activists who look at this as demeaning the women in a way that they cannot be given headship too in regard to fending for the family,” she relates.



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