Are you fed up with taking on all the responsibility of keeping your house clean by yourself? Do you wish that your husband would lift one tiny finger, at least, to help you? Do you feel stressed and burnt out by holding down a job and being expected to carry out all of the cleaning chores while your husband enjoys himself down the pub or is out with his friends? Sound familiar?
Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a country where household cleaning duties had to be shared equally between spouses by law? Oh, wait, actually we do.
Believe it or not, in 2005 MPs in Spain introduced a new law stating that all married men must carry out 50% of the housework at home and do their bit when it comes to looking after the children and elderly relatives. If they don’t, there could be severe consequences later on if the marriage ends in divorce.
This little-known law was then updated just a few years ago. Now, if your husband point blank refuses to help, he could face legal sanctions.
On researching this wonderful law, we discovered a very recent case where the wife had just been awarded 108,000 euro in a divorce settlement by the judge for this very reason – her husband did not participate in any kind of cleaning or household duties for the duration of their marriage. The wife was duly awarded the equivalent amount of money that would have been paid out to hire a cleaner every week plus more.
If you’re a married man reading this and starting to feel a little anxious, there are a number of things that you could do to counterbalance this nervousness.
- Start doing some housework
- Start taking lessons in how to do housework
- Hire a cleaner
- Move to another country
- Take all the easy jobs and make your children do the more complicated ones
Another amendment to the housework law, which has just been approved by Parliament, is that children must also help out with the household chores. This is all part of the child protection law, which states that ‘all children under the age of 18 are obliged to engage in all areas of family life’. That includes chores and caring for the home and is not dependent on age or gender.
The older generation of men, who are more likely to be set in their ways and resistant to change, will in all honesty never change. However, the younger generation is probably more prepared to see things from a different perspective and agree to share responsibilities, especially if both partners work.
Yes, Spanish men are viewed as macho and believe that women should stay at home cooking, cleaning and looking after the children. But, this inculcated tradition may be perceived by some as the fault of the Spanish women, especially the mothers.
From a very young age, girls are made to help out with the chores while boys don’t have to and have everything done for them.
Now that society is changing and women are working, we expect and demand equality – in all areas – but this is very difficult for men that have been brought up in a traditional and old-fashioned way.
Really, we should be a bit more understanding and realise that most Spanish men have just not had any exposure to cleaning the home or carrying out any type of household chores.
Nevertheless, men also need to become aware that we now live in the 21st century and things are not the same as they used to be. It’s about time they recognized what a mop is and how one actually works.