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Nkem Says: I Love You But These Plates Won’t Wash Themselves

Nkem Ndem



I heard the strangest thing this morning. A lady left her husband of about 13 months over dirty dishes. Apparently, the man had been forming ‘fit-fam’ all year long and would leave the blender and debris from fruits and veggies in the sink every night after making his power shake . The expectation was that the wife was to clean up the next morning. The wife had complained several times because she had to leave for work 5.30am. Having to clean up added to the stress of preparing for work. Long story short, she woke up one day and decided she was done. Just like that.

While it was not the most shocking of stories, it gave me goose bumps. I could totally relate, considering I tend to have issues with obsessive compulsive disorder. For me the sight of a pile of unwashed dishes in the sink gives me major anxiety, and it can get rather frustrating when I must constantly put up with another person’s mess on a regular basis. In fact, I can end our friendship.

I have always imagined that building a good and lasting marriage would take a lot of hard work and when people list the common problem that could destroy relationships and marriages, the first things that come to mind includes infidelity, money problems, sexual compatibility, ideological differences and lack of communication. Hardly do I ever consider struggles over home chores.  It turns out that little things like house chores, including meal preparation, cleaning, outdoor work, household maintenance (e.g., organizing objects and managing storage issues and even childcare (for married people) can have a major impact on young married couples’ day-to-day happiness.

Women who were raised in the 1970s, and even 1980s, would probably snap their fingers in disgust over the idea that a man should clean up the sink, as they were generally taught to do household chores. They are conditioned to believe it is their place to perform these tasks, if they want to succeed in managing their home. Men, raised by those same mothers in the same time as well, will share same feelings… as they were also probably raised not to know how to do such tasks as cooking, doing laundry or sweeping the floor. They probably never saw their fathers cook a meal or iron a shirt, so they can’t imagine why they should have to do these things. Some may even feel less of a man when he does.

In this 2018, however, more people have moved on from that ideology, as majority of women have jobs and even are breadwinners in their family. Housework doesn’t come with a gender anymore, and tasks like raising children, doing dishes, or cleaning cannot be categorized as “women stuff” anymore.

Although I grew up in a traditional home where my father was the sole provider, and although we had a lot of help, my mom still had to supervise and the manage the home, I believe that marriage should be a partnership. It should include the practical business of running the household. Things like going to market, cooking, washing plate, sweeping and mopping, toilet cleaning, putting on the generator, taking out garbage e.t.c should be split between the husband and the wife (taking preferences into account), that way there is peace and harmony.

Write all the chores down and agree on who does what. Be fair with sharing, so no resentment builds. And if you both hate housework and can afford to, then you should contract a cleaning service. Note that, while buying outsourcing the chores reduces the fighting and stress, it may not necessarily reduce resentment. One of the partners may still have an inner dissatisfaction that they are wasting money on housecleaning instead of a vacation or any other leisure just because the other won’t do their fair share.

Perhaps, the biggest mistake most women still make in this day and age is sweeping house chore issues under the carpet instead of drafting a system that works for both parties in the marriage. Some women also ask for help; however, asking for help is the same as you telling them that the responsibility for the chores belongs to just you, so you need them to assist you at your job. HELL NAH!  House chores are shared responsibilities, and if your husband is scheduled to do the dishes on a Tuesday night, you should be able to put your plate in the sink and say to him: “Honey, I love you…but these dishes won’t wash themselves.” No? Let me know your thoughts.

Nkem Ndem is a dynamic freelance writer and editor who can be reached for copywriting, editing and proofreading. She is also a content creator (web, T.V, radio) who has had stints with Jumia and SpiceTV Africa e.t.c. Now she works at Glam Africa as Online editor and BellaNaija as Features writer. E-mail: [email protected]; IG: @kem_dem; Twitter: @ndemv


  1. Doreen

    July 24, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    The signs are always there. Ladies just choose to ignore them and still get married. Why marry a man that has never probably lifted a finger to help you with the simplest chore during courtship?

    You’ll now get married and be expecting miracles to happen.

  2. bebe

    July 24, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    I agree with you Doreen, don’t start what you can’t finish. Unless the guy was a grade A pretender. These dirty and unhelpful attitude would have shown itself one way or the other.

  3. Shinning Star

    July 24, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Dearest Nkem, as a Naija wife, you go wash plate tire. Whether you leave the house by 4am or not. You will have to wash those dishes. Forget all these theories. It does not work for Nigerian marriages. Let me just give you a tip, get a “‘HELP'”. I work full time and i have someone who comes in daily to clean my house(I cannot die). We have to find a way.

    • Dee

      July 25, 2018 at 8:30 am

      My dear, not all Naija wives “wash plate tire”. Been married for 20 years and counting. My hubby washes plate, pots, does the laundry and generally helps around the house. Don’t generalize please.

  4. Lol

    July 24, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    I am the wife and guilty of not doing chores. Doing more now after realising its key to peace of mind but not enough for MIL of course who believes I’ve emasculated her son.

  5. RaLT

    July 24, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    The home should not be a replica of the work place where the accountant works on the figures, the driver behind the wheels and the boss occupying the biggest desk and enjoying fruit juice and doing nothing except growing belly.

    The home is not a labour front for the couple. It’s supposed to be a hideout from labour. It’s a labour front for the professional house maid. The couple will be creating unemployment if they continue to convert their home into extension of their work places. Otherwise house chores should be two-player hobby for both. They must do it together for the fun of it. That’s when the dirtier of the two will learn to tidy up and not wait for the other. Only true love can fuel this.

  6. kelly

    July 24, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    if he has d chance to execute them…is never a crime to carry out some domestic duties as a man.

  7. Biz

    July 24, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Well,, my hubby sometimes helps with the dishes, sweeps the house and clean the toilets. If he leaves these chores to me alone.. Hes not getting any until i get my strength back i cannot come and kill myself na. I will wash the dishes,clothes, clean the bathroom. And toilets,sweep and mob the massive sitting room and 3 bedrooms alone.

    • Fizzy

      July 24, 2018 at 9:34 pm

      Is he “helping” you or doing what has to be done so both of you can have a quality time together? A tired wife is of no good in z oza room or anywhere else for that matter..

  8. Kwame Canada

    July 24, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Miss Nkem, I don’t think it’s necessary for young couple to sit, write who is doing this and that, hence, two lovers should be motivated to do things in the house to enhance the romance between them. As for me, when I help the house work, I feel the satisfaction of being there for my woman. Because at the end of the day, when I returned to my home, it feels well come, not only that, my women will have more time to do things we both want. So what is the take away? Young men should learn to do house work and they will never be disappointed when they have their future partner.

    • Cocoa

      July 24, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      I agree Kwame!
      Write all the chores and agree who does what?? Sure, if we are just ROOMATES!
      THIS IS MARRIAGE. You look out for eachothers needs. Wife should be thinkong of husband and husband shoukd be thinking of wife.
      Selfless , Sacrificial!
      You make a mess ….you clean it there and then. Like the ADULT you claim you are. Or you earn enough money to hire someone else to do it.

  9. LemmeRant

    July 24, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    All this one you have written up here is story.

    If you cannot do house chores (not only washing plates sef) I won’t even send you talk less of marriage.

    • TJ

      July 25, 2018 at 8:22 am

      “I won’t even send you” LMAOO.
      Most of us do not care for men like you.
      You are not a “prize” to be won.

  10. jah rule

    July 24, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    I think Nkem must be referring to people in the abroad or without dishwasher .neither i nor my spouse wash the dishes ..i have kids and domestic for that

  11. To the long suffering wife

    July 25, 2018 at 2:53 am

    MY OH MY, In 2018 we should have left such topics but I see in naija everything is on the wifes head…in that case wife you gotta play games to survive, to relax, to notlookjing older than ur age
    Look a wife, a distant relative, I was 17 when she was born, she got married at 18 and had 3 kids in quick succession, now she looks so aged, when we hang out she gets the mama greeting from public…her horseband is seeing someone older than her (who looks younger) aaabeg this life na one..

    To the long suffering wife who works full time and is stuck with a modern man with archaic thinking ( eg my mum did all that and had ten of us no sweat!) please cook up an emergency and leave the home for some days (if you have young kids, leave them too, he is their father) let modern hubby bask in his dirt waiting for you… then when coming back, come with a friend he respects/adores/looks up to/ who you ‘happe’n to see on your way home. That respected person will see the pigsty your husband left waiting for you, complete with unkempt kids covered with chocolate.

    Your hubby will start to behave himself (even if in pretence as per naija style) as he wont be sure who may be coming with

    Too many oppressed and miserable wives..its time to use virrage sense on those kind of men


    July 25, 2018 at 5:50 pm


  13. Mz A

    July 25, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    And I was just telling my mom to add “husband that likes to wash and iron or kuku has a laundry” to her prayer points lol

  14. Soaak Seth

    July 28, 2018 at 6:02 am

    I love this article so much that I’m captivated with your thought process and how well you delivered your message so clearly while making it a beautiful read. Your title and end note as well is one filled with a lot of creativity and style. Thank you for sharing this!

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