by Ha Nguyen
Hoang Van Anh, a deputy director at a company in Ha Noi, earns an impressive monthly salary. But her husband's lack of willingness to share the work of the household has put their marriage "at the edge of divorce".
At the office, Anh works hard. When she comes home, she spends considerable time in housework, as well as taking care of her children and helping her parents and parents in-law.
But her husband refuses to co-operate. When she was promoted to deputy director, he failed to congratulate her, and since then, she said, their marital relationship has steadily deteriorated.
"He always disagrees with me about everything. It's a combination of 'hot' and 'cold' wars," Anh said. "He does nothing around the house, so despite being very busy, I have to go home to cook our meals. But when I ask him to hire a helper, he disagrees. I'm very angry but still try to keep calm so I can keep my family united."
If only her husband were more like Le Trong Hung in Ha Noi's Hai Ba Trung District, who had to quit his job following the Government's policy to cut down staff in the civil service. As a result, he had to retireand devoted himself to working around the house. However, all did not go smoothly.
"The most difficult thing for me is taking care of my nine-month-old, who is very weak and often ill," Hung said.
He also complained that his wife, a businesswoman, did not respect his efforts.
"My wife considers me a helper, not an equal. She never listens to me or talks with me. Instead, she orders me to do anything she wants," Hung said.
Psychologist Bui Thi Thu Trang of the HCM City Centre for Marriage and Family Planning surveyed more than 200 families where the wife is the "boss". Most husbands complained that their wives spent too much time on their job and left the housework and childcare for domestic helpers, making husbands and children feel they had been abandoned.
Trang quoted one of those men as saying that his wife's success made him feel that she was becoming "less female" as she was more authoritative.
The psychologist suggested these couples try harder to sympathise with one another and share responsibilities equally.
A role model for these husbands would be Vo Van Khai, director of the HCM City Department for Science and Technology's Software Centre, who said his wife's promotion to general director of a seafood processing company made her "very busy" and more in need of his help than in the past. "So I try my best to help and encourage her. She in turn tries to help me by doing housework during her free time." Recently, Khai's wife worked abroad for 18 months, but he still managed to balance his career, housework and their two children. "I never felt inferior," he said. — VNS