When Jalie Gil was growing up, the expectation at home was that everything should be spotless. A hot meal would be waiting on the table by the time her dad got home from work. And when her parents divorced, despite all that effort, she saw it as a result of her mother’s shortcomings and vowed to avoid the same mistakes. In her mind, “it wasn’t ‘happy wife, happy life.’ It was ‘happy husband, happy life.’ If I did everything to my top ability, he would love me more and he would never leave.”
But last year, Jalie realized that this strategy wasn’t paying off the way she’d hoped.
When she wasn’t working on the business she and her husband ran together, she was keeping their home in tip-top shape, prepping meals for their family and picking up the mess her husband left behind. All of it was draining. “I was feeling like, why don’t I have this sense of fulfillment, because I’m doing above and beyond to satisfy my husband? And why do I still feel this feeling of, like, it’s not enough?”
She asked her husband to help share just a little bit of the housework — small things, like taking out the trash and loading the dishwasher. But even with frequent reminders, he still wasn’t pulling his weight. One day, with the dishes piled up and the smell of trash filling the kitchen, she reminded him of their agreement. And when he responded that he actually handled more of the cleaning than her, she decided enough was enough. She wanted her husband to see what the house would look like if all of the cleaning was left up to him.
Jalie went on strike.
For one week, she was only going to clean up after herself. As part of her protest, she would document the mess he left behind, using a TikTok account she named Wife Strike.
Comments of support started rolling in almost immediately. But off camera, the house — and their marriage — was falling apart.
This week, we explore a modern solution to the age-old issue of household labor. We talked to Jalie about the internet’s response to her wife strike, how her expectations changed, and what it all meant for her and her husband.
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