Heterosexual men! Want to make your girl want to stay with you and only you forever and ever? While spontaneous flowers and conscientious honing of bedroom skills certainly doesn’t hurt, 90% of being the perfect feminist dream partner is housework.
Do 50% or more of the cooking, dishwashing, laundry, and cleaning, and she will never leave you.
The hardest part of becoming a good domestic partner is making housework a habit, something your body just does automatically. You should be thinking about housework several times a day, and as soon as you realize something needs to be done, you need to just do it. Don’t put it off; just do it. If you put it off for 5 minutes, you’ll never do it. Or worse, your partner will start doing it, and then you have to jump up and stop her, and though she may not say anything, she’ll be thinking, “If you knew it had to be done, why did you wait until I started doing it to stand up?” That kind of thing becomes of source of friction. Even if you are doing 50%, it won’t count for shit if she has to remind you half the time.
Just. Do. It.
It’s not glamorous, and it won’t earn you the accolades of your peers. (If you brag about it, 1) you will sound like a jerk, and 2) people will think you’re exaggerating.) But you will get all the cookies from your partner. No studly, rich dude will ever woo her away from the guy who does half the housework without being nagged.
Dishes should never be in the sink for more than a few hours, and the sink should be clean and empty when you leave for work and when you go to bed. (Cockroaches!)
If the pile of laundry is more than two loads high, it is too high. Laundry should be done at least once every two days. (Doing laundry includes hanging/drying and folding/putting away!)
Learn how to do laundry properly. That’s what the Google machine is for. You win no cookies if you shrink her cashmere sweater or turn her white blouse pink. If there’s an item you’re not sure how to handle, set it aside and wash the rest.
You can keep the bathroom cleaner longer by SITTING DOWN. You’re in your own house, dude: You’re in no hurry. Sit down and spare your walls the microsplatter of your urine. (Tests have shown IT CAN ACTUALLY HIT THE GODDAM CEILING.)
Peek under the toilet seat every couple of days. If it doesn’t look clean under there, clean the toilet. (Actually, just clean the toilet at least once a week even if it looks clean.)
Is there stuff on the floor? Does it belong there? If not, pick it up and put it away.
How about the dining or kitchen table/counter? Is it cluttered? Tidy it up.
Vacuum the floor at least once a week. Even if she vacuumed it two days ago. It’s amazing how quickly floors become dirty.
I admit I wash windows rarely. Maybe three times a year. (Yikes!) But that’s three times more than my wife does, so’s she’s happy when I do it. Make your partner happy.
Clean the shower/bathtub at least once a month. (Mildew! Soap scum!)
Learn how to cook at least three or four different main dishes (and a few simple side dishes) reasonably well, and practice them to the point that you can make them in your sleep. Try to keep the necessary ingredients for at least one (preferably two) of those dishes in stock, so you can make it on sudden notice if need be. (You should always have onions and potatoes in stock; they last longer than other veggies and have many uses.) Even if your partner is an amazing cook, cook AT LEAST two meals a week.
If your partner criticizes what you made (and I hope she did so gently), try not to take it personally. She wouldn’t have said anything if there wasn’t something majorly wrong with what you made. If the thing you made is inedible, don’t pout or become depressed. Stuff happens, and there’s always pizza delivery (or some equivalent). Apologize, laugh it off, and just make it better the next time. It takes practice to become a decent cook.
Try not to become angry when you’re cooking and you mess something up. It doesn’t help, and it causes stress for your partner, who will wish she had just made dinner herself. (I admit I have this problem sometimes. But I’m improving. I think.)
I used to be a lousy cook, but have taught myself how to make great soups and pasta sauces without consulting a recipe. (My wife handles the Japanese and Chinese cooking, and I’m in charge of Western style cooking.) In fact, my wife was planning to cook Chinese tonight, but was too tired when she got home, so I whipped up a great pasta sauce with veggies from the fridge (tomatoes, eggplant, carrot, and mushrooms) and ground beef from the fridge. It was easy and fun and I got all the cookies from my wife, and that’s what it’s all about right?
Grocery shopping itself is a skill that needs to be practiced, but you’ll have to Google that one yourself, because I’m reaching the end of this entry.
Seriously, if you can do 50% of the household drudgery (hell, most women would be happy to have a partner who did even 40%), then it won’t matter that you’re lousy at communicating or spend three hours playing video games every night or you don’t think sexism is a big problem or you don’t know who Maya Angelou was. (The flip side of that is that knowing who Andrea Dworkin was and being able to quote bell hooks won’t count for shit if you don’t do the goddam housework.) You will even be forgiven for forgetting about your anniversary or her birthday. Because the work you do every day to make life more pleasant for both of you will be worth more than a once a year ritual. (Still, don’t forget those things, man; what’s wrong with you? Set an alarm in your smart phone.)
Again, the hardest part is making all this HABIT. But once it becomes habit, it no longer seems like a pain in the ass, and no longer even seems like drudgery (even though it is in fact drudgery). I have always done housework, but it took me a long, long time to make it a real habit, and now I wish I had done it ages ago instead of procrastinating and waiting to be nagged.
And now I get all the cookies.