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updated: 10/17/2013 4:51 PM

When women work, men should share the load at home

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How about a law requiring husbands do as much work around the house as their wives? If you read the same article I did, you know that 1) they tried it (in Cuba) awhile ago, and 2) it didn't help.

According to a recent international study, though the number of wives working full-time jobs outside the home has increased significantly in all industrialized nations, the amount of time their husbands spend on housework has changed hardly at all. That means that after a full day at the office, plant or store, married women come home to yet another full day of being household manager, cook, child-care worker, etc.

Though my math is a bit rusty, that sounds to me like trying to fit two full days into a single 24-hour period. The consequences are not hard to imagine, nor to see.

In fact, I see it all the time in my office. Women come in who are physically exhausted, emotionally drained, spiritually defeated. They have little time or energy to give to anything but the basic necessities of living.

Sometimes it is a couple or family that appears at my door. "She" has stopped being affectionate, isn't interested in sex, seems grouchy all the time, a husband will complain. Or children will misbehave, struggle in school, or seem angry or depressed. As we unpack such problems, though, it often turns out that the real problem is that Mom is just doing too much because Dad is just doing too little.

To put it bluntly, too often the problem is us, guys. Granted it is often no fault of ours that our wives are back at work. It really does take two incomes for most families to make it in this economy. And many women do choose to work outside the home for reasons of personal and professional fulfillment.

We even may find ourselves protesting at times: "Hey, I can't control the economy! I'd earn more if I could!" Or, "I never told her that she needed to be 'more' than just a housewife!"

The fact is, though, even if we buy into the traditional male breadwinner bit, anymore we usually can't hold up our end of the "bargain" moneywise. Like it or not, then, we probably agreed that our wives needed to go to work.

And though we may remember fondly the days when a women's place was in the home (and only in the home), women have talents and interests that draw them to other endeavors just as much as men do. If we're honest, that's part of what makes them interesting and exciting to us. Even if our spouse begins married life as a traditional wife and mother, chances are good that her personal growth and development will lead to involvements outside the home. That's healthy for her, and, believe it or not, for us.

So whether it's dollars-and-cents necessity, or personal and professional development, most married men are going to have wives who work outside the home. And most of us men really are smart enough to realize that our spouse is going to be carrying one heck of a load if she tries to continue as housewife while doubling as breadwinner.

Now, there is not a one of us who wouldn't protest if all of a sudden our load on the job got doubled while the person working next to us continued to do the same amount of work. Yet, that's what's happening in our families. Is it any wonder wives are worn out and fed up?

It seems to me there is only one thing to do. It's time for us men to get up off the couch, or out of the garage, or come home from the tavern or golf course, and pitch in. OK, nobody really likes housework. And we guys have plenty to do around the house ourselves. But the stuff has to be done, and since we live there too, and they are our kids, we are just as responsible as our wives for taking care of it all. Fair is fair.

Sure, sharing the load more fairly will mean more work for us. But with the extra effort on our part, our marriages and our families will be a lot healthier and happier. Guys, it really does pay off.

So, excuse me while I clean the toilet and load the dishwasher.