Why I Do the Laundry

Wives spend four times more hours doing laundry than their husbands. Not in my house, they don’t.

Why I Do The Laundry

by Norm Schrager

photo courtesy of Urs Siedentop & Co

filed under Science of Love, True Stories

It’s rare that the guy in a straight relationship does the family laundry. Especially if that guy is, oh, say a 47-year-old with a little girl in elementary school. But that’s me. In the basement, grabbing everybody’s clothes out of the dryer, using my card table to fold and stack, peeking over at Netflix in the background. No, I don’t have an odd affinity for ladies’ fine washables, nor do I feel I need to score points with my wife.

Everybody should be doing chores, partly because they’re good for you. Last year, the Pew Research Center found that moms and dads with full-time jobs share the chore load 59 percent of the time, as it is in my house. And a Swedish study found that men who don’t avoid housework have fewer psychological issues. Thank you, Sweden, for confirming I’m a well-adjusted man.

But when it comes to cleaning clothes, we guys barely register. According to a 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics study (yes, they track this), women spend four times more hours than men doing laundry.

So why have I designated myself Mr. Wash-Dry-and-Fold? The answer isn’t so cut and dried. It’s actually a bit complicated, I suppose, and even a little subconscious.

My wife says it’s related to OCD, and there may be an ounce of truth there. I’ve had moderate bouts with obsessive-compulsive disorder in the past, especially as my first marriage went on the skids 15 years ago. Though I haven’t battled it since, OCD is all about taking control, and I must admit I really like that aspect of tackling the laundry. I fold it my way. I put it in drawers and closets my way. I hang shirts to my liking. It’s a small but very concrete feeling of accomplishment.

I think it also has a little to do with money, and a lot to do with love. Ever since we met, my wife’s been the bigger breadwinner. I’ve done just fine for many years, but there’s something traditional in me that feels the man of the household should be able to provide for that household—exclusively, if possible. So while we are your typically modern two-income family, my caveman protectiveness surfaces in other, more contemporary ways. Making sure everyone has clean clothes is part of that, just one way to affectionately take care of my family each week.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got the guy stuff down. I’m the snow shoveler, the lawn mower, the bug killer, and the lifter of heavy items. But I also appreciate the love that comes from making a good meal or sweeping up or folding a pile of T-shirts just so.

What’s your role in the house, guys? I’d love to know I’m not alone here. Oh hey, gotta go. Just heard the dryer buzz.


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