“A man can work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.”—Canadian writer Jean Little

   An Internet headline: “Having a husband creates an additional seven hours of housework a week,” caught my eye while searching for a topic for this week’s column.

Tell me about it! Although women are gaining parity in work outside the home, married women do more than their fair share of housework.

A 2018 University of Michigan study found the dynamic of marriage has changed  in the 21st century compared to the 1960’s and 70’s. Study leader economist Frank Stafford reported married women average nine more hours of housework a week than single women, and married men average three hours less than single men. Stafford qualified his findings with “it is not clear whether men are over reporting their own hours…or whether their wives are under reporting.”

That brings to mind the time my spouse the Binmeister came home from work and made the error of asking, “What do you do around here all day, anyway?” After an astounded silence that lasted about a month, I presented him with a list: cleaning, laundry, ironing, dish washing, cooking, shopping, car-pooling, gardening, child care, homework help, paperwork and household maintenance. He never asked again.

Fifty-plus years later, he began invading my territory to prove his superior cooking skills. I was a bit miffed at first, but found an extra glass of wine (or two) in front of the evening news eases my angst…until I have to clean up whatever happened in the kitchen.

While staying in a hotel on a recent vacation he decided to develop a new housework skill. “My khakis are wrinkled,” he complained, then exclaimed, “oh look there’s an ironing board in the closet!”

Will wonders never cease, I thought, waiting for the call to action and trying to decide whether it was more interesting to watch politicians slug it out on TV or a grown man skilled at electronics, power saws and intricate tools wrestle an ironing board. There was much clatter and squeaking and unprintable muttering as he tried to set it up. Mission accomplished, he pulled the pants over the wrong end of the board before making another discovery.

“Oh look, there’s an iron!” He plugged it in but complained it wasn’t getting hot and turned it upside down to read the settings. A previous tenant had left the iron filled with water that poured over his wrinkled pants. That was my cue to step in.

One thousand years or so ago, the Chinese heated metal in pans of hot coals to press wrinkled cloth. Round glass “linen smoothers” have been found in the graves of Viking women, proving ironing kills? Thank heavens permanent press, a wrinkle-free blend of cotton and synthetic fibers, was invented mid-20th century. Ironing is at the head of my household chore hate list. Perhaps I should follow comedian Phyllis Diller’s lead. She said, “The only time I ever enjoyed ironing was the day I accidentally got gin in the steam iron.”

Gender-related roles have evolved from the days early man went out to hunt for food, while early woman stayed home and tidied the cave. Nevertheless, when modern working couples come home, women still log the most housework, while their partners utilize hunting skills to find the TV remote and beer and snacks in the fridge.