For this Couple Talk Tuesday, we decided to bring your attention to the number one thing that couples with children fight about, according to an article from 2016: Chores and distribution of work in the household. In addition to working a job in the workforce, each of us also has jobs in the home to keep the household running and functional. It can be easy to become resentful if the workload isn’t evenly distributed, or chores keep piling up without a functional system to break it all down. This article highlights the importance of balance, structure, and understanding when it comes to contributing and working in a relationship.
-Amanda, Social Coordinator EverydayDateNight.com
By Sheri Stritof Medically reviewed by Carly Snyder, MD on February 04, 2020
When you or your partner is unhappy about the allocation of household chores, the stress level in your home can increase tremendously. If you ask wives what their top source of stress is, quite a few will respond that it is the fact that their husbands don’t want to do their share of work around the house.1
Stress levels increase in your home when either one of you is unhappy about unfinished chores. Couples fight over who does what around the house almost as much as they fight over money.
Surveys and studies consistently point out that even though many women work outside the home, they still tend to do most of the household chores.
Uneven Chore-Splitting Can Erode the Partnership of Marriage
Marriage is a partnership that includes the practical business of running the household. That means keeping financial records, home maintenance, shopping, planning, cleaning, cooking, childcare, transportation, etc. When the practical aspects run smoothly, there is more peace and harmony.1
However, if friends drop in and the house is a mess, or if there are no clean clothes to wear, or it rains hard and the leaky roof wasn’t fixed because of procrastination, then irritations grow. Misunderstandings surface and a conflict can arise.
How to Share Household Chores
The biggest mistake you can make in your quest to have your partner do more chores around the house is to ask for help. Asking for help implies that the responsibility for the chores belongs to just you. In actuality, chores are shared responsibilities, and doing a good job dividing up the housework is essential to ensure a happy marriage. Here’s how to do it.
Learn About Priorities
Set your priorities as a couple. What is truly important to each of you? Many couples find they look at the division of chores differently.1 Domestic disorder simply doesn’t bother some people. But if you are comfortable with a messy home and it bothers your spouse, you both need to compromise. Compromise works best if you select priorities, rather than trying to completely satisfy both partners.
Discuss how you both feel about home-cooked meals versus quick meals or eating out now and then.2 Find out your own and each other’s feelings about dust, a clean toilet, an unmade bed, a perfectly manicured lawn, paying bills on time, and so forth. If one of you feels that a toilet should be cleaned every two or three days, then you need to share that information so you can understand what you each feel is important.
Sit down together and make a list of the chores that each of you absolutely hates to do.3 What one hates, the other may be able to tolerate. If both of you detest the same chore, then figure out a way to compromise in getting this particular unpleasant task done. Or perhaps you could tackle the horrid chore together, as a team.
Agree on a Timetable
It is important, too, to be considerate of one another’s body clocks. Some folks are morning people and some folks are night owls. Forcing one another to do a project or chore when they really aren’t ready to do it only creates tension. Timing is important.
Touch Base on a Plan Each Week
Let one another know what the coming week is going to be like: meetings, errands, special occasions, etc. Then decide who is going to do what, make a list, and post the list. Then let it go.
Don’t nag each other about what you volunteered to do. If the task hasn’t been done by the following week when you next sit down to share expectations, that’s the time to bring it up.
If one of you doesn’t follow through on promises to do your share of the work around your home, try and discover together why there is such reluctance. Sometimes one partner overcommits or underestimates the time it takes to get something done. Blaming your partner for what hasn’t been accomplished will not be effective. Reevaluate your plan and adjust as needed.
Be flexible and allow your partner to accomplish tasks in their own way.3 If having the towels folded a certain way is super important to you, then do it yourself.
If after discussing the situation, the two of you really can’t get things done, then you need to make some choices. Look at some areas of your house and yard that you may want to cut back on to save both time and money. Or try to get your home organized so it runs more efficiently.
Ask yourself if some chores even have to be done on a regular basis. For instance, if mowing the lawn is taking too much time, try replacing grass with wildflowers. If you hate ironing, give away the clothes that need ironing and toss the iron. Do the really care if the windows sparkle? After a re-examination of your standard of housekeeping, your chores may become less draining emotionally and physically.
If you can’t or don’t want to lower your standards, you can hire some outside help if your budget can handle it.4 It requires some organization on your part to create a list of tasks. You can hire someone to clean your bathrooms, vacuum, dust, shine windows, change bed linens, iron, mend, or take down seasonal items. This should not be viewed as help for one partner (the wife, for example) but for both partners.
This article was originally posted here.