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Should You Go on a Wife Strike?

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Should You Go on a Wife Strike?

The extreme step one woman took could help you avoid divorce and rebalance your relationship.

By Nicole Yorio

After 13 years of being her family's cook, maid, and chauffeur (you know, in addition to her full-time job), Sherri Mills was seething. But instead of freaking out — or walking out — she went on strike! And for Mills, the author of the new book I Almost Divorced My Husband But I Went on Strike Instead, it had a big payoff:

How did you get to that point?
When I first got married, I didn't mind being the one to clean and cook. But once we had two kids, I needed help. I'd ask my husband, Gerald, to do the dishes or fold the laundry, and he would say yes but would never do it. The resentment got worse every year. Finally, I snapped. I was fixing dinner, and I asked our two kids, then 11 and 12, to run down the street and pick up an ingredient. They came back empty-handed. I was angry, but Gerald defended them. That was it. I announced, "Not only am I not cooking dinner, but I am officially on strike."

How did you think up the idea?
I considered divorce — I was that unhappy — but I didn't want to put our family through that. Gerald works at a factory and he handles union contracts. I read one of his contracts and wrote one for myself modeled after it. I made a list of 70 chores that I did regularly and demanded that he check off 35 that he would take over. I listed other terms too, like, "When the female householder is ill, all duties will be taken over by the male."

And how did he react?
That first night, he cooked dinner — the first time in 13 years! I think he wanted to prove that it was easy. But by night three, he told me I couldn't force him to take over everything. I stood firm and said, "No, I can't force you. But I'm not lifting a finger." From then on, I would eat the dinner he made, leave my plate on the table, and watch TV as he cooked, cleaned, did the laundry, and helped the kids. It was hard not to cave, but after two weeks, Gerald said to me, "I'm exhausted, but I can't complain. You have been doing this for all these years. We need a change."

How did it affect your marriage?
He gained a new respect for me, and now I have a husband I don't resent. Gerald never went back to his old ways — I'll come home from work and he'll be shining the floors or ironing. I can't believe he's the same man I married! I read that people who share chores have better sex — and we're proof: Our sex life is hotter than ever. I used to blame Gerald, but truthfully, I should never have allowed things to get so bad. My original contract called for a 50-50 division of chores, but I know that it won't be that way all the time. It doesn't really matter who does what, as long as both people are working toward the same goal.

by on Jul. 6, 2011 at 1:20 PM
Replies (11-14):
by on Jul. 7, 2011 at 12:43 PM

Quoting johnny4ever:

 Never had to-yet!

by on Jul. 7, 2011 at 7:12 PM

I did this way earlier on in our marriage --like 4 months in-- because although I'm sure it was convenient and fun for him to lay around on the couch after he got home from work 2 hours before me, it wasn't so thrilling for me.

Without making a single statement on the subject, I quit. I just stopped doing everything for 'us' and for 'him' and started doing what he was doing: eating snacks when I get hungry, watching tv, waiting for the laundry to do itself or doing my own stuff only.

It seriously took almost 2 weeks solid before he noticed. When he said 'why aren't you making me something to eat?' I asked why he hadn't made me anything to eat, since he'd been home for 2 hours longer and had clearly already eaten.

Every time the subject came up for the next several days, when I'd not done something for a long time, or only done something for me, the answer was always the same: why didn't you? Very slowly, it seemed to dawn on him that it was a little irrational for him to feed himself when he was hungry, do enough dishes for him to eat off of, wash his own clothes... and  never mine, but expected me to do it for both of us whenever I did it.

I never said a word. I never 'laid down the law' or made any unilateral 'thou shalt' noises that made it sound like I was in any way the Boss of the House... and somehow dishes and laundry and even meals started being made by the person who was available, noticed first, etc. Magical.

by on Jul. 7, 2011 at 7:46 PM
Lol no talking is effective
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
by on Jul. 7, 2011 at 10:22 PM

LOL, I just tell him to help me, I'm mad.

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