08 November 2023

Mum-to-be Oti Mabuse: ‘I wanted a man who was ready to become a dad’

08 November 2023

When Oti Mabuse first visited a dance studio in Romania, she says she noticed overwhelmingly it was fathers who were walking in with prams – whilst carrying another child in their arms – and more dads than mums watching their children in the class.

“I don’t know if it’s an Eastern European thing, but I found it so weird,” says the 33-year-old TV presenter and former Strictly Come Dancing professional. “It’s one of the things I noticed right away [in Romania] – this excitement about what the role of a dad is and can be. They want to be so involved.

“The fathers understand that the mother will need some time to catch up and get acquainted with the new woman she has become.”

Mabuse, who has won Strictly twice with celebrity partners Kelvin Fletcher and Bill Bailey and is now a judge on ITV’s Dancing On Ice, is married to Romanian dancer Marius Lepure and annnounced she was pregnant with their first child in August.

She says: “It’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with Marius, his culture and environment, where his father, brother and friends are all very domesticated.”

Mabuse grew up in Pretoria, South Africa, with a very involved dad, before moving into a bedsit in the UK from Germany in 2015 and joining the popular BBC show.

“It’s one of the things I looked for in a husband – a man who wanted to be a husband and was ready to be a dad,” she shares.

“We both put in the effort to make the house a home, to the best of our ability. I think it’s a communication thing – without judgement – though I didn’t have to have these conversations due to his upbringing.

“Every single relationship is different. For me, I think it’s fair that he walks the dog but that could be completely different for another couple. We also don’t have a leader and someone who wants to be led in our marriage. We’re both professional dancers who lead and take responsibility if we see a task that needs doing.”

At this stage in her pregnancy, there are now things she can no longer lift or do. “I haven’t seen my knees in like two months,” she says with a laugh. “So sharing the [domestic] load varies in different ways. If Marius ever does say anything, I ask him, when was the last time he built a heart? He doesn’t have an answer for that.”

 However, equal distribution of domestic duties may be less common in the UK. A new survey conducted by Mortar Research for Starling Bank, of over 4,000  couples and 250 LGBTQ+ cohabiting couples found that women complete 36 hours of ‘life admin’ and household tasks per week (the equivalent of a full time job) nine hours more than men.

Unequal domestic load distribution accounts for an average of five arguments a month, according to the research.

And it seems it’s common to not even agree on the imbalance. A massive 72% of the women surveyed said they do most of the household tasks in their relationship – but only 18% of men agree with that. Meanwhile, 44% of men believe they do the most at home.

According to the research, women in straight relationships are more likely to do cleaning (53%, compared to 10% of men) and tidying (49% vs 10%), and men are 12 times more likely to look after car maintenance and twice as likely to do gardening.

The data also points out the impact becoming a parent can have, with women taking on even more of the household tasks and fathers being more likely to take primary responsibility for ‘teaching their children how to use tools and fix things’. It’s one of the reasons why Starling Bank created their Share the Load tracker to help couples track how tasks are being divided in their homes.

But the changes that come with motherhood don’t scare Mabuse.

“I actually don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think that’s what excites me the most, because I get to share it with my husband. I’m a very go-go-go person, so my focus is going to be completely different. The mantra I still live by, is to live in the now. I can’t really worry about the future,” she says.

“I think we are both ready for the lifestyle change too. We never argue or fight about household items. We agree on a lot of stuff, like going to the gym, when one of us needs their own space and wants to take a holiday. We just want to raise a healthy and beautiful child. My whole career has been about me, I’m ready to be selfless.”

Mabuse also sings the praises of her friends and sisters who already have children. “I’ve been around them so much – as the fun aunt – and watched and learnt a lot from them all.

“I think sometimes there is a bit of shame in admitting to your family that you need help. It takes a village. To think that two people can raise a child alone, I don’t think that’s real. But there have always been two people in my home, so call me in four months. I know Marius will pass with flying colours. He always does.”

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