Let me begin by saying I do not have deep respect for women. I have equal respect for them. I will not treat them otherwise for being a woman and at the same time I will not cut them some slack for being one.
I believe that any person, man or woman, needs to be independent. I define independence as having three parts to it:
- 1. Financial independence – the money you make should sustain any current and future needs and wants you have.
- 2. Emotional independence – you should be able to make decisions without external validation and be able to live with the consequences without external support.
- 3. Time independence – you should have enough time to be able to do all the things you want to do
This three-pronged independence forms the basis for decisions you make on how often you cook, you do the laundry, or you clean the house. Broadly, this independence is the framework that defines what you do daily for work, play and other stuff.
Now let us take an example, mine for instance, to see how this plays out:
- A self-declared workaholic, I work about 12 hours a day.
- Like the average human being, I sleep about 7 hours a day.
- Because I like my family (wife + dog), I spend about 3 hours just hanging out with them.
- Because I need to recharge my batteries for the next day, I watch television in a very meditative state for about 2 hours.
So now if I were to insert any additional activity into my day, I would cease to be time-independent.
The work that I do affords me two ordered meals a day. So I am financially-independent.
My work is remote. I don’t have to meet my clients very often and when I do, they are willing to tolerate my crumpled t-shirt and jeans. If they are picky then I put on a jacket to hide the creases. And my team doesn’t really care what clothes I wear. At some point in my career I made the choice to do what I do, and now I enjoy the privileges as I suffer the consequences. The privilege is that I do not have to do laundry more often than once a month. This makes me emotionally-independent.
Having ruled out cooking (and consequently doing the dishes or grocery shopping), and doing the laundry, the final chore is cleaning the house. I divide house-cleaning into 2 categories:
- a) Dirt which affects us (like scraps of food that might attract cockroaches)
- b) Dirt which does not affect us (like a piece of paper on the floor)
I see no reason why the piece of paper should not continue to lie on the floor. I pay rent so the house can give me shelter, not so I can take care of it. As long as I remove dirt that affects us, I am covered. So all I need to do is to make sure that leftovers of the food I ordered in are thrown in the garbage or put in the fridge. I can do that.
Given my lifestyle and the entire outline above, it should be clear that I am independent and hence not a burden on anyone. So if my wife asks me to do something beyond this, then I am doing her a favor. I am doing something for her because I want to do it for her, not because it is my job to do it. In all likelihood, if my wife is asking me to do something, then she is not independent, which she should be.
If my wife wants to eat home-cooked meals (which means also doing the dishes and grocery shopping) AND keep the apartment clean AND do the laundry AND work AND spend time with the family AND have a good night’s sleep AND be social, then it is not practical. It is not time-independent. That’s when her needs and wants spill over and become mine. At that point, I can choose to help her out – I don’t have to. I don’t become a bad husband or a bad man because I say no. It is her prerogative to become independent like all people must.
Now that that’s settled, let me pre-empt some questions that I have heard a million times:
Q1: You will ruin your health by eating out all the time.
A1: Not if I eat reasonably healthy food. Even if that isn’t the case, in line with my philosophy, I will face the consequences of my decision to eat out.
Q2: Why would you want to live in a messy apartment? It is disgusting.
A2: Why would you spend your hard-earned money and buy a car or a house and then spend time taking care of them? They should take care of you, not the other way around. “They will take care of you if you take care of them,” you say? Nope. I am living proof that you don’t have to take care of your house for it to take care of you.
Q3: Your wife works all day as hard as you do. Why should she be the only one doing the chores?
A3: Read the entire article again. To summarize, she has a set of needs and wants which are not achievable in a day. So she should manage her needs or find some way to increase the number of hours a day.
If you are a husband accused of being selfish, I hope this article articulates everything that you already know but haven’t been able to put together coherently. If you are a wife who feels persecuted, I hope this article gives you some perspective.