Wives Swapping Lives
Jodi and her husband Steven have three children—and four nannies to care for them. Jodi doesn't work, but she is not a stay-at-home mom either. Jodi's main priority is what she calls "me time."
"'Me time' is going to the gym, then getting my hair blown out and getting my manicures and pedicures," Jodi says. "You know, going out with my friends—children at the end."
In rural New Jersey, Lynn lives in the house she built with her husband, Brad. She gets up at 5:30 a.m. and chops wood for three hours every morning, and never misses a day of work. She also does the family's cooking and cleaning.
"The mother's role in the house is to take care of the family and home, and make sure everybody's needs are all taken care of," Lynn says. "I don't think money can buy happiness. Love buys happiness. Material things mean nothing, because if you don't have friends and family, you don't have anything."
After only 15 minutes of wood-chopping, Jodi had had enough. "If I had to do this for the rest of my life, I couldn't imagine it," Jodi says.
Making breakfast for her new family was a chore, too—she hadn't cooked in eight years! Cleaning the house was also no easy task for the mom accustomed to around-the-clock maid service.
After Jodi struggled, she got the chance to put her rules in place. Time for manicures, girls! While the daughters got pampered, part of Jodi's rule change was that Brad had to now do his wife Lynn's jobs of cleaning, cooking and chopping. He began to realize how hard his own wife works—and how much he missed her.
"I've seen the children very little, and I forget that [Jodi] even had kids," Lynn says. "I don't know how she can stand that. But maybe she forgot she had kids. Who knows?"
When Lynn turned the tables on the family with her "new rules," the kids were very excited to have a mom around more often. But Jodi's husband Steven was reluctant to come home in time for family dinners or to read a bedtime story to the kids. Lynn left the home a night early, because she was tired of the disrespect she felt she was getting from Steven.
Steven apologized to Lynn for his behavior while she was living with his family. He wrote in a letter, "I want to sincerely apologize for anything I may have done or said to make you feel bad. I respect you as a person and for what you do for your family. Therefore, I would like to make this offer of peace to give you a full afternoon to spend with your family. I will be responsible for one day of your wood-chopping chores with a smile on my face." The pledge was even notarized.
Both Steven and Jodi also say they are now making much more of an effort to spend time with their children. Brad has a newfound respect for his wife, Lynn.
"I would like to think I helped out around the house and pulled my weight," Brad says. "But, when I had to do everything [Lynn] does and see the extent of it, I really saw how little I do help out."
Christie (right) is a mother of three girls and enjoys a pretty pampered lifestyle. There's no alarm clock in Christie's morning—her husband Richard brings her breakfast in bed and she has been known to stay in bed until 3 p.m. on the weekends!
See what happens when Audrey and Christie trade husbands, homes, chores and children…
But, after a week of obeying Christie's house rules, Audrey gets to lay down her own rules for Richard and the three girls. "The way I see it, you girls are spoiled. So, for the rule change, the girls and I will be doing the cleaning." She also tells the girls they are going to drink milk with dinner instead of soda, and she will no longer drive the older girls to school—they're going to take the bus to school.
Although most of her new rules are defied, Christie's girls do come around in the end. One daughter says, "We actually love Audrey and wish she was our real mom, because she's so into her family and making sure they're happy."
After a week of living by Audrey's rules, Christie milks the rules ceremony for all it's worth. "I have milked my last cow, for as long as I live!" She even forbids the kids from helping their dad in the barn. Jeff must now do all of the housework and all of the farm work by himself…and he must pamper Christie.
After living with Jeff on the farm and seeing how much Audrey does, Christie has a realization of her own. "I need to help Richard more. I never knew that he wanted me to help him with the yard and stuff like that. But I'm working on it."
And what did Christie's husband Richard (right) learn from swapping wives? "It was a great experience having Audrey there," Richard says. "And, I love Christie. They're just two different people with two different styles of life and home management. I think that it affected us both and that we'll move towards a center from an extreme." But is he still making breakfast for Christie? "Absolutely! I love to do it."