Read the text again and decide whether the following are stated (V) or not stated (x)

1 Susans behaviour after her honeymoon was atypical.

2 She would not allow her husband to do any of the housework.

3 She thinks there are more disadvantages than advantages to getting married.

4 Women are reluctant to admit they do more housework than their husbands.

5 Susan considered her fiances attitude towards her smoking to be unreasonable.

6 She was amused by his initial attempts at washing his own clothes.

7 Men are more keen to get married after a divorce than women.

8 Marriage is gradually going out of fashion.

4 Discuss the following:

Compare the situation described in the text to that in your country.

Describe the division of labour in your household now and/or when you were growing up.

Is the institution of marriage worth saving? Why or why not?

A womans work is never done

When the 27-year-old Susan Maushart arrived at her marital home with her new husband after their honeymoon, she found herself suddenly acting very strangely. She proceeded directly to thé bathroom and started cleaning and didnt stop until it had been scrubbed and polished from top to bottom.

When that was done, she moved to the kitchen, pulled out a recipe book and started work on a casserole. Perfectly normal behaviour for some blushing brides maybe, but, for

Maushart, an ardent feminist and hardened New Yorker whod previously existed on fast food, this was decidedly out of character. It was like some weird way of marking out female territory, she says. Scrubbing the bathroom felt good. Wifely, even.

What Maushart had unwittingly found herself doing was participating in what she now terms wifework - that is the extra, unpaid labour that a woman takes on when she ties the knot. I thought I was the last person it would happen to, she says. But when I got married a metamorphosis happened to me, it was bizarre.

In her book, entitled Wifework, Maushart sets out to explain why an intelligent PhD student like herself should suddenly regress into archetypal Fifties housewife mode. And by contemplating marriage in terms of a simple calculation - a balance sheet, if you like, of the cost of getting hitched weighed up against the benefits - Maushart draws some disturbing conclusions.

The moment a man gets married, Maushart says, his domestic workload almost disappears. He immediately 30 gets about 70 per cent less cleaning, 50 per cent less cooking and 90 per cent less laundry. There are nowhere near these benefits for a woman when she gets married. And these days youre at pains to deny that youre doing it, because apart from being exhausted by it, youre ashamed 35 of yourself.

Mausharts motivation comes from her own marital experiences. Perhaps the alarm bells should have started ringing prior to tying the knot on her own happy day. I remember being surprised when he requested, rather firmly, that I refrain from smoking during our outdoor wedding reception, she writes of her husband-to-be in the book. But why now? I waited to know. My cigarettes have never bothered you before. And everybody else will be smoking. Id just prefer it hat you didnt, he replied evenly.

Things quickly went from bad to worse. The first day he grumbled about the lack of clean jocks in his underwear drawer, I honestly thought it was a joke, she says. The day I started lying to him about line-drying his Shirts, I knew ft had gotten way beyond one. Within three years, the marriage had broken down and they went their separate ways.

Drawing together research from the UK, America and Australia, Wifework is littered with some highly revealing nuggets of information: That two-thirds to three-quarters of divorces are initiated by women, that ex-wives are much slower to re-marry than husbands; and that wives reported levels of depression two or three times higher than unmarried women!

One woman in the book, an ex-wife, summed it up neatly. It just got too tiresome. I woke up one day and decided Id rather keep my money fot myself. I had a good job, was the one who really raised the- kids, I did all the housework. I even mowed the lawns. And I just decided that the husband had to go. There was no advantage in keeping-him.

Instead of the seven-year itch, Maushart points out how the four-year mark is actually far more common-these days. Along with that, we're how starting to see the rise of the mini-marriage- the one that doesnt even last a year. This may make for depressing reading, but Maushart says its not. She' believes marriage is an institution that is simply in a state of flux. Our attitudes towards it may have changed enormously compared to those of our mothers and grandmothers, but the reality of it, or the division of labour within it, hasn't caught up.

As a result, there is a mismatch, and it is this that Maushart believes is causing our spiralling divorce rate. We are so much out of tune with our changihg environment, what else can we expect? Ultimately, however, if the institution of marriage is worth saving, and for the sake of children Maushart thinks it is, then wifework simply has to go.



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