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Ladies, Your Lazy Husband Does Not Represent the Male Gender

In a recent story from Harper's Bazaar, a female author shouts into the ether about her discontent with her present marriage with a husband who, instead of satisfying her Mother's Day request for a "house cleaning service," elected to "[wait] for me to change my mind to an 'easier' gift than housecleaning, something he could one-click order on Amazon."

From this understandable and generally-relatable frustration spawns a radically-unsubstantiated claim that "Emotional labor is the unpaid job that men still don't understand."

This statement is the headliner for everything to follow, the thesis she offers without any supporting evidence beyond her own personal experience with her husband. We'll return to this subject in a moment.

Now, a broad number of people, laymen and scholars alike, are familiar with the nearly self-evident fact that humans are creatures of habit.

This is supported economically by the law of least effort and mathematically through the expected outcome as measured between marginal labor and marginal utility, where an exceedingly high level of effort is always required to learn a new skill while the immediate product of that labor remains relatively low, causing psychological anguish by way of frustration and yielding a material loss of time that could theoretically be expended elsewhere with higher expected returns in the shorter term.

Ian Newby-Clark, psychologist at the University of Guelph, has written in his article We Are Creatures of Habit, "Simply put, habits are extremely hard to change."

"They're hard to change," he continues, "because they're so ingrained, because they're so almost-automatic."

So the psychological toll, the emotional expense, is in fact dramatically increased for any individual who is prompted to deviate from the course of his routine, a pattern proven empirically across all demographics of the human species, regardless of one's apparent willingness or reluctance to comply.

In this sense, specialization and economies of scale within the household are extremely important, not only for the conspicuous benefit of the family's balance sheets, but for their emotional ledgers as well.

For the intents and purposes of this essay, we can label that advantage specific social surplus, the benefits enjoyed from a consensual arrangement over the less-measurable exhaustion of effort from all parties involved.

In the divvying up of household chores and affairs then, there are simply some tasks which have been customarily practiced by one gender over the other, which are traditionally and persistently assumed by one party or the other to ostensibly maximize specific social surplus.

These roles, or assumed responsibilities, manifest nearly organically across the timeline of dating and vying for the love and attention of the other partner, incrementally cementing the average expectations of both parties.

Now, the system of any relationship is the function of a continued satisfaction of wants, or expectations, which are actively established during those early stages.

While some individuals may commit the error of assuming that front-loaded effort is purely a feature, or upfront cost, of the courting phase before the formal beginnings, or dividends, of a more cooperative and compromising symbiosis, their faulty assumptions are sure to eventually clash with the uncompromising reality of their mutually-constructed misfortune.

Albeit, this construction may have developed absent active design, yet it emerged nevertheless with the complete participation and even tacit approval of both parties whose wishful forecasts could only be upended if they had failed to recognize this evolution along the way.

Now, men and women have long cooperated to the grossly-underestimated and under-appreciated benefit of all persons everywhere, as it is precisely this treasured bond, and that which is then shared with their offspring, which sets into motion the type of self-sacrifice and tireless labor which continues to propel the global economy to fascinating heights by inspiring individual actors to work more intensely and diligently to accrue and invest wealth with a mind toward a future which exists beyond one's own lifespan. I cover this phenomenon more specifically in my article entitled The Price of Equality: A Participation Society.

Whereas women, on average, make a far lower contribution to the family's total pie of wealth, oftentimes contributing a direct net zero to their households' balance sheets, their domestic contributions often form the incalculable foundation which enables their male counterparts to focus more specifically on the business affairs which in turn finance their enjoyed standards of living.

To that end, assuming responsibility for the finances — the household's primary income source, budgeting and investments — in addition to technical maintenance and repairs has long been the role of male heads of household.

In fact, while women continue to constitute a greater overall share of the workforce, roughly 47 percent today, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) shows that in marriages in which both partners are engaged in paid work, only 29 percent of women earn more than their husbands.

Men are also typically the chief negotiators for sales and purchases, while they commonly assume the additional role of instructing the children on these technical elements.

In the case of any husband failing his wife's expectations, or vice versa, this may more accurately prove a mismatch between partners, their expectations and life goals, than a globally-significant symbol of the failure of any given gender.

Ultimately, it is always and everywhere the responsibility of each party to personally vet the body of any contract before entering into it.

One's disappointment then is hardly emblematic of a demographic epidemic, but rather more specifically revealing of the emerging failures of a single relationship system or the parties' blindness, or informal modification, to the original terms.

Author's Note

The qualitative results are certainly mixed on this subject, as the reliability of reported household hours worked may be dubious while the real value of the marginal hour may in fact be more attributable to the female preference for domestic affairs which are wholly irrelevant to the pressing basic needs of the family or household unit. 

What's more, the sample size of this group, though burgeoning, remains insufficient to wield any such broad claim against a given gender, as the range of failures may indeed result from the phenomena explained in this article. 

Despite the lacking volume of support for any such global claim, sociologists Lyonette and Crompton conclude that "the balance of the empirical evidence suggests that men do increase their domestic contribution when their female partners earn more than they do, although women still do more." 

Ultimately hours worked, just as in the formal economy, fail to independently form the basis of real value-add. 

This, the Labor Theory of Value, has long been dismissed by the Subjective Theory of Value, which illustrates that the market value of any activity is measured by the real desirability of its final product. 

According to Altice Media Solutions, the female audience comprises roughly two-thirds of home improvement channel HGTV's viewership, and of the remaining one-third, a closer examination might reveal that the lion's share of those men are purely acquiescing to their female partners' pleas to watch with them. 

Notwithstanding this apparent speculation on the back end, this striking imbalance between the genders reveals an overwhelming tendency of women, over men, to prefer to engage in household-related hobbies that bear no specific persuasion on the habitability of the unit, but rather promote its aesthetics or presentability, proving more valuable to the woman than the man who might simply harbor little preference on decor or the presentation of his home. 

At this juncture, the failure of the relationship system is clearly more attributable to a mismatch between partners, an ill-understood social contract or simply an overstated difference in household contributions. 

Attributing culpability to a whole demographic effectively shifts the responsibility to an abstraction away from the individual, an expedient which further aligns with the emerging modern ethos of everyone else is at fault


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