November 18, 2019

My Husband Paid Me to Do Housework

“A couple of years ago, I started invoicing my husband for housework. It made sense to us: While our goal was to divide the work equally, I ended up doing much more because he worked in an office and I worked at home as a freelancer, using my breaks to cook, vacuum, and do laundry.

We split all our bills down the middle, except for rent, which we each paid in proportion to our income. But if we felt financially even, we didn’t when it came to time. It seemed unfair that I was doing most of the housework, even if I found it easy to fit into my day and was more proficient at it. So we came up with a system: He would pay me for every hour of housework I did more than him. We set my rate at €11.50 (about $13, at the time) an hour—the price of a cleaner where we lived, in the Netherlands. This seemed like a way to ease my resentment, to make our chore imbalance visible, and (I hoped) to incentivize him to take on more tasks.

The idea of paying your partner may sound absurd. But domestic work is work, and sometimes it cut into the time I wanted to spend working each week. If he was doing less of the housework but earning more, shouldn’t he pay someone to complete his half?”

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