Division of Labor
In my 9thGrade World History Class, one of the key areas of investigation for any particular culture was the division of labor. Whom in the family was expected to do what? In more recent times, one can be shouted down for even suggesting that one’s wife should have the option to stay home and raise the children. We almost have a division of labor identity crisis. Regardless of where the division lies, it needs to be made.
Early in our marriage, my wife and I would menu plan together. I had reluctantly agreed to increasing the monthly food budget. As a single man, I ate scorched earth. We are talking about the $1 microwavable dinners every night. My wife, who loves to cook, was used to a higher standard of nutrition. Each week as we sat down to plan the menu, I would grow resentful that she was proposing meal plans that I thought were excessive, in terms of cost. This went on for weeks.
Finally, we sat down for a family meeting. I told her how I felt. I had recognized that I was not giving her a chance to work her magic both with the shopping and in the kitchen. We decided on how much to spend. Then we empowered her to shop within a mutually agreed budget amount.
It really wasn’t all that different from how we were handling our money for everything else, it was just something that didn’t occur to me. We have a joint checking account through which we handle all of our transactions. I am responsible for making sure that the bills are paid and money is allocated as we decide (a job that I take delight in doing!).
What this plan doesn’t mean is that we abandon each other. What it is saying is that we make the major decisions together, such as how much to spend, and then one of us is responsible for managing the process to cause that decision to become a reality.
I’m happy to say that our division of labor is going well. I haven’t eaten this well in three years, and we routinely spend less than 70% of the allocated money for a given week. That, of course, makes room for treats like ice cream!