Forget the Glass Ceiling, What About The Sticky Floor?

Forget the Glass Ceiling, What About The Sticky Floor?


table_setting_sean_dreilingerOver my life, there have been strides towards equality, and this past year has seen plentiful discussions of “breaking the glass ceiling” with Gov. Sarah Palin taking a run at the White House. Throughout her vice presidential campaign, I couldn’t help but wonder if a female Vice President would make any difference for the “average woman” at all. It seems to me that women still don’t have equality in their own families and the only way to make wide sweeping changes in attitudes is to begin in the home. This is the place where we formulate our ideas and raise our children with the beliefs and values they take into the world. For every ONE women close to shattering the glass ceiling, there are thousands more whose possible successes have been thwarted by the sticky floor at home. 

Super Woman is Super Burdened

Women work outside of the home and have many choices. But why is it that so many of these women still carry the major burden of housework and childcare? Yes, men are doing more, some even do more than their fair share, but for the many women I know, this is not the case.

How is it women are expected to have successful careers when they are so taxed at home? I know very few husbands who miss work to stay home with a sick child. It’s usually the wife’s career that experiences the ongoing burden of accommodation. Or how is it that if a woman chooses to stay home and raise her children that the expectation is that she is on duty 24 hours a day, particularly while multiple children are young and very demanding? Should she not have daily scheduled time off as well?

Men are Missing Out

I believe men who are not equally involved in the care of their children and home are missing out. They’re missing out on better relationships with their children and they’re missing out on potentially mind blowing relationships with their wives.

Let’s Commit to Understanding

Using this blog, I’d like to open up discussion on all the roles we “play” as husband, wife and parent. Relationships are never one-sided and they are always complex – no two stories will ever be exactly the same.  Achieving equality is not as easy as saying, “do 50%” or “take responsibility.” Men and women must truly understand and respect each other before both will adopt equality in the home and ultimately benefit from it.

Every Voice Matters

Please take the time to offer your thoughts, comments, concerns and achievements. I want input from men and women. I want to know your thoughts, and your fears. I want advice from couples who have found a balanced relationship.

Equality doesn’t have to be a lose/win scenario. Through the open discussion of ideas and concerns, we can find the balance that will benefit us all. Now let’s start to discuss – EVERY voice matters.



  1. I guess I’m one of those very fortunate women whose husband truthfully does more than his fair share at home. We both worked full time outside of the home for the first 5 years of our marriage, and then I quit my “outside” job to move my business back into a full time status after scaling it back quite a bit after my divorce. I continued to handle most of the cooking, cleaning and laundry chores while hubby took care of the outside chores and household maintenance, until he quit his job to stay home and work with me in my business. Now, our roles are completely reversed … I am the major bread winner and run the business (hubby works part-time in the company), and hubby does everything else. He does the cleaning, laundry, shopping and the majority of the cooking. If I ask if he needs any help, he just says “no … just go make money,” and smiles.

  2. I’m confused! Is your incredible hubby ur 2nd marriage? I hope to hear more stories like yours!

    Did this take lots of communication initially or did it happen naturally?

    How is it that he is able to do this easily without getting caught up in the idea of what our traditional roles should be?

    If this is your 2nd marriage, was your 1st husband as open to equality?

  3. Yes, this is my 2nd marriage. 1st marriage was 23 years (not good for majority of the time) and this one is 11 years … the 2nd time is soooo much better.

    It just happened naturally. He knew I worked hard, but didn’t realize how hard I worked until he was at home with me all day long. He saw that I really didn’t have time to clean like I use to and just picked up the slack. Before I knew it, he had taken over all of the household chores so I didn’t have to worry about it.

    My husband doesn’t care about what society believes “traditional” roles should be; he just does what needs to be done. He has the time to clean and cook, and I don’t. If the situation changes, I’m sure our roles will change again.

    My first husband never did anything; I did it all. He didn’t care if the house was clean or not.

  4. It’s a hard balance to strike, as several centuries of habit/history are against it.

    I think we start with our sons and to some extent, our daughters. The hardest of which is to live what we want them to see.

    I’ve been married for 18 years to a man whose mom did everything for him and his dad. The poor guy married me, with a dad who did outdoor chores, but also did diapers and bottles, too. PLUS, I watched my parent’s marriage disintegrate when my mother went back to get her PhD…my dad felt too neglected! There was NO WAY I was having a marriage like that. Ever.

    Countless times I’ve drawn up chore lists and assigned “ick” or “oh GOD” ratings to them…all in an attempt to ration them equally. We’ve had a million discussions about what is fair and equal, too.

    For the most part we do ok, with occasional “come to jesus” moments when I’m feeling put-upon. I fix things because he can’t, he cleans up when the kids are sick because I’m a sympathetic puker. We share the dinners 30/70, do dishes 70/30, and split other chores mostly based on preference…and a LITTLE sexism. It ain’t perfect, but it’s better than our parents.

    I’m raising my son to SEE what his dad contributes, and I ask him to go a step further. He does. I raise my daughters to question everything…and as crazy as it’s made us as parents, no guy will ever convince them they don’t have a bigger contribution to make than being a stepford bride.

    I’d love to see a lawsuit against an employer for punishing Dads for caring for their kids. Men aren’t wrong that they’ll get in dutch with the boss. At my husband’s last job his manager scolded “you need to decide what’s important to you, and get it straightened out” because my husband took the day off work to be home with my concussed daughter after she’d been blinded for 4 hours the previous night from a fall. Get his priorities straight??? Get REAL. They WERE.

    For the most part, hubby dearest DOES have his straight. And a few times a year I’m tempted to straighten them futher with a frying pan upside his head, but we try to work it out respectfully and without too much cussing.

    Or I go on strike and no one has dinner, a working sink drain, a clue about calendar events, or lunch money for a month. It works!

  5. Sounds like you’ve communicated your needs clearly – regardless of whether the chores are traditionally divided or not – what’s most important, is that it works for your family.

    Obviously your husband felt strongly enough and/or secure enough in his position to take the day off when challenged by his boss. He’d be the first I know of, good for him!

  6. To MKK – his boss told him to get his priorities straight?!? I hope that’s now an EX boss! I had a client that told me that, too. She’s now an ex client with the affectionate name of Psycho Hell-Bitch.

    I’m in one of those marriages in which I do every.single.thing. I just had a melt-down with the hubby about our 4 year old. I’m trying to write and do about 4 things at once and asked that he just “be dad” for a while and in order to get him (husband) to do anything, I have to get up from my desk to go do it myself, and this is after about 5 minutes of nagging, complaining and screaming.

    Will there be equality in my marriage? Probably not. My kids are beginning to realize what I do and how hard I work, and my 11 year old daughter is really realizing it. I’ve been talking about a trip to NYC next year at Christmas, and she asked me today what it would take for it to really happen. I told her I’d let her know. She’s so freaking determined, she’ll do whatever needs to be done for us to take this trip so she can ice skate at Rockefeller Center and see the Rockettes at Radio City. Not to mention go to FAO Schwartz and the Empire State Building!

  7. Dana,
    I think your situation is similar to many women I’ve spoken with. At the same time men seem to think regardless of our complaints – this is what we “like” to do. They don’t understand that we do it because we feel we “have” to. My hopes for this blog is to get brilliant women like yourself to stand up, give feedback and ask the men in our lives what it will take to get us to understand each other so we can ALL live fuller, more rewarding lives and not be the stressed over-taxed women & neglected men many of us seem to be.

    Sounds like your daughter takes after you! Determined!

  8. I do know other men who take time off to be with their kids, but they lie about it. They call in sick, or fake a sudden illness at work. It’s such a shame that our culture doesn’t support GOOD fathers. When a man spends time with his kids folks say he’s “babysitting” or assume it’s his custody weekend. It’s just warped. Some of it is because of wage and job inequality, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard “Well, he earns more” or “He gets less vacation”. I hear it from alot of friends.

    I didn’t start out with an even-handed marriage. I had an unrealistic expectation of what I could be as a wife when we first got married. I took care of EVERYTHING, and my husband, of course, let me. I started to feel more than a little overwhelmed. Then, the bottom dropped out.

    In one February, the first year of marriage he “forgot” to come home in time for dinner which got ruined, told me Valentine’s wasn’t a “real” holiday anyway to explain the lack of gift or card, and asked me how much weight I was going to gain. Not all on the same night, mind you, but close enough for jazz.

    After I put down the chef’s knife…and stopped crying…

    I let loose. I’m telling you, I’m shocked no one called the cops I screamed so loud and so long. We had a neighbor run for his car when he saw me coming the next day…and I know I scared the crap out of my husband, LOL!

    It’s not like I laid down the law…I just started listing the things I hated to do…and you were right, he was SHOCKED. I hated dishes? I hated laundry? I hated calling his parents every sunday to tell them how he was?? Really? Then why do it?

    I had to put down the knife again…

    At some point I became irrational enough to demand “WHO do you think cleans the effing toilet…the TOILET FAIRY?? And I don’t even pee down the side of it!!” He went from dreading making a call to the local mental ward, to falling onto the living room floor laughing helplessly, gasping “toilet fairy!” I can’t keep a straight face when he laughs like that…so we ended up talking all night about it.

    His little (clean) socks were shocked right off that I hated my life…the life I’d made, the choices I made, and the fact that he LIKED it really pissed me off. Quel suprise.

    Look, in 18 years of marriage I’ve had to explain alot of stuff…hormones, how to carve a turkey, foreplay, how to load a car for vacation, why you can’t pour meat grease down the sink, why $50 bucks for MY haircut, why brown socks do NOT go with a blue suit, why black socks become brown and no longer go with said suit… The most productive conversation I’ve ever had with my husband (aside from “I’m ovulating, it’s now or never”) is about what I HATE doing, and why he should do some of it.

    We’ve struggled to get it right, or at least good enough. We once had a marriage counselor suggest that we either buy a dishwasher or use paper plates. We came out of there in shock. THAT wasn’t our biggest issue, or even what we’d gone in for. We left in agreement that we needed to buy a dishwasher and fire the counselor, LOL! She wasn’t totally incompetent, we had no idea how much we bickered over chores still.

    I suspect that when we’re eighty and in a nursing home, we’ll be bitching about who should push whose wheelchair.

    The important part (IMO) is that we’re HAVING THE CONVERSATION. Not who won, or who does more…although that’s how it starts more often than not. Sometimes he’s right. Sometimes I am. But we’re listening. And yelling. But listening, too.

    And the toilet fairy still visits.

  9. I will ensure equality at home where I will not let my man force me to do the housework. I think women need to be more tough and not give in which would change men’s ideology. We should all just be stronger and more focused on our careers.


  1. […] sexism on July 4, 2009 at 5:07 pm I was working on another post when I read a post by my friend Pat Williams. At the same time, she challenged me: […]

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