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Gearing Advantage

Doctors Sylvia and Milton Gearing have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1985 with compassion and professionalism.

The Gearings implement the latest in psychological research to stay at the cutting edge of their field and bring the most effective and life changing techniques to their clients.

Their methods and strategies have been sharpened over the years, and are now built upon Gearing Up’s Three Gears of Change.

Honey, Can You Help? - Jul 17, 2008

Honey, Can You Help? How the Genders Are Still Struggling to Get It Right

July 17, 2008

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

With seventy percent of the American women working outside the home, millions of couples struggle every day to juggle careers, childcare and housework. Now new research reveals some disturbing trends about American couples and the division of labor. Here to tell us more is TXA 21 Contributing Psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

Q: What is going on in American families with housework and childcare?

Dr. Sylvia: Here is the bottom line according to this research. American couples have similar patterns of contribution to housework and childcare that we had almost a hundred years ago. Women do about twice as much around the house as men do, according to this study.

Q: What do these latest studies reveal about housework?

Dr. Sylvia:

  • Traditional Division: Wives who stay home do 38 hours of housework a week and the men who are the sole breadwinners do 12 hours a week (3:1 ratio).
  • Dual Career Couples: When both partners work, the wife still does 28 hours per week while the husband does 16 (just shy of 2:1).
  • Two to One: Overall, the average time spent by wives doing housework per week is 31 hours with the husband donating an average of 14 hours (2:1).

Q: What happens with childcare?

Dr. Sylvia: The statistics are even worse. The wife to husband ratio for childcare is closer to five to one. This includes taking care of the physical needs of the child--dressing the child, cooking for a child, feeding and cleaning for them. These statistics do not include the emotional parenting of the child which consumes hours of a parent's time.

Here are the numbers:

Five to One Ratio: When mom stays home, she spends 15 hours and he spends 2 hours administering to the kids.

In dual career couples, her average drops to 11 hours and dad's contribution rises to 3 hours Again this is the same ratio we had 90 years ago according to research.

Q: So what effect do these trends have on marriages?

Dr. Sylvia: Fifty eight percent (three fifths) of American women are convinced that the division of labor in the marriage is unfair to them. Only eleven percent of men feel similarly. But we also know that women complain a lot more than men do. Stress affects them more intensely and they don't like clutter. They like the "nest" in order. So when couples argue, the topics are always about kids, sex, money and the division of labor. The only thing that changes is the order of topics.

Q: So far we have cited a number of statistics that reflect more poorly on men than on women. What do these mean?

Dr. Sylvia: I don't think this is all about how men aren't helping since I am convinced that men are pitching in more frequently especially on other aspects of running a modern household. I believe men are stepping up more than ever. Here are some interesting facts:

Ninety years ago we didn't have select soccer, national music competitions and the rigorous academic curriculums our children now struggle with. Dads are in the middle of these activities. While dads may not be cleaning the house, they are shuttling the kids, coaching thousands of sports teams, and overseeing academic achievement.

Dad is working an average of 5 more hours per week in the workplace to help pay for it all. The average American works 46 hours per week and forty percent of us work over fifty hours per week.

Q: Then why are these traditional patterns of housework and childcare not shifting more?

Dr. Sylvia: There seem to be a several explanations:

Social Values: We have made progress in equality but our society still assigns traditional responsibilities to each gender. We all repeat this pattern in our heads. For example, when a husband's wife is pregnant, he is rarely asked if he is returning to work after the baby.

Reality Bites: In the past, many of us have set ourselves up for being the secondary wage earner through our own educational and career choices. Those decisions, made decades earlier, often contribute to one gender having more earning power. Even when spouses start off in the same job, women often choose the mommy track or "off ramping," to accommodate the couples' children.

Women Want It All: Women want the house and kids to look great plus the great professional salary. We are the orchestra leaders of the family corporation and our standards are high. Even before marriage, single women do 7 hours more of housework per week than bachelors. After marriage, we are ever more mindful of the judgments of others. We are convinced that the world is watching and judging our kids, our parenting, and our own appearance. As a result, our partners cannot possibly meet our standards of excellence so it is "easier" to do it ourselves. Many of us despise having to ask for help since we decided that if he really understood us, he would know exactly how to help.

Q: So how do couples change for the better?

Dr. Sylvia:

Recognize that one partner doing the majority of the tasks will lead to negativity at some point. To break out of these traditional expectations, the couple has to shift together to a more equitable distribution of work. Having like-minded friends is helpful since the single most predictive factor of how equal a couple will be is how equal their friends are.

Ladies, please recognize what your husband does to help. We have had couples keep track of their weekly expenditure of time and it shocks a lot of women to realize just how much he does contribute every week.

Peer Marriages: We are in the era of peer marriages and global trends on marriage are conclusive. Women want and demand full rights while millions of men prefer a woman who is confident, dynamic and earning that paycheck. Radical and complete equality is becoming a reality. Modern marriage is now based on two equals who both hold the reins of power.