In ancient Greece, a husband's duties varied from one polis (city state) to the next. In Sparta, men were expected to serve in the military until age thirty. Even if they were married, they lived in the barracks during times of both peace and war. Spartan men were expected to be courageous soldiers first and foremost. Domestic life was of much less importance to them. The number one expectation of a Spartan as a husband was to conceive children, namely strong Spartan sons. If a Spartan husband was unable to father a child with his wife, it was not unheard of for him to choose a surrogate to impregnate her. Once a Spartan boy was old enough to train for combat, his father might take an active role in overseeing his martial education, although most of his training took place at a military academy.
Although domestic life was also strictly divided between men and women in Athens, things were run somewhat differently. At many times in the polis's history, Athenian men were expected to take an active role in democratic politics as well as in the military. They would serve on juries and in executive positions in the polis if selected. As husbands, Athenian men left nearly all domestic duties in the hands of their wives. However, ultimate responsibility still fell on the husband who was expected to instruct his wife in household matters.