Research continues to confirm what we know to be true. Women living with male partners still do the majority of the housework even when they are the primary breadwinners. This is not the small matter it is often made out to be and is often incredibly frustrating for women.
One survey found that 80% of people living with a partner have disagreements about housework. Another study found that disagreements about house chores were a contributing factor for 25% of couples who divorced. Your dirty dishes and laundry could quite literally be ruining your relationship. Here’s a brief guide on how to split housework with your partner and save your relationship from potential ruin.
Discuss your frustrations when calm
Discussions about housework often become heated. For this reason, it’s best to have this discussion when you’re both calm and relaxed. Don’t raise it when you’re upset, and the house is messy after you’ve both had a long stressful day. Communicate your frustration clearly, for example, you could say, “I’ve been feeling frustrated lately because of the housework I’m doing. Can we try to find a way to split the chores?”
Keep your different histories in mind
You and your partner grew up in different homes with different cultural views. In a patriarchal society, this usually means women do all the unsexy housework while men do fun things like taking the car to the garage. People often default to doing things the way they were done in their homes, but any good partner should be willing to make the changes necessary for a stronger union and a happier partner.
List and categorize all your logistics and tasks
List all the tasks that need to get done from the big things to the small ones. This will help you visualize all the things that need to get done without overlooking anything. After listing all the housework out, divide them into three or four categories: daily, weekly, every other week, and monthly. Specify which days of the week certain tasks need to get done. Make a clear schedule with deadlines so that you do not need to give each other verbal reminders which could set off a fight.
Before you begin to split the housework, find out if you have tasks on the list that you or your partner prefer to do and immediately assign those to each other while you wait to share the more arduous and hated housework. Your partner may like doing certain tasks.
Divvy up the powder-keg tasks
All the fun tasks that you both like doing are now off the table. What’s left now is the housework that makes you want to pull out your hair. You know the ones. One study found that women who wash nearly all the dishes are more likely to report relationship trouble and worse sex than those whose partners handle at least some of the dishes. There’s no single way to do this, you have to find what works for you.
You can rotate the big daily chores. For example, just alternate days. If you wash dishes or cook today, they do it the following day. You can also do the big things together, making what would otherwise be a stressful task into a time of bonding. Doing housework together is even better for couples with children who can model a different way for them. You can also take turns with one person doing something the first half of the week and the other, the second half of the week. Find what works for you based on your schedules.
Plan and define the rules together. How flexible are the deadlines? What are the cleanliness standards? Is there a specific way you prefer for things to be done? People have different expectations and it’s important to be realistic and clear about what a completed task looks like. Don’t criticize how your partner does something. If they are doing something in a way that doesn’t work for you, communicate that. It’s important not to sweat the small stuff.
Don’t pick up your partner’s tasks
If you feel your partner is not handling their tasks in a timely fashion, do not fall into the trap of doing it for them. This generally does not end well. You will end up doing their tasks for them and getting frustrated as you once again end up doing more housework.
Consider outsourcing and/or buying equipment
If you both hate doing certain tasks and can’t envision doing it, you could hire someone to come in and do the housework. You should also consider buying equipment to make cleaning easier. Buy magic mops, a vacuum cleaner or a washing machine, and whatever else you need to ease the burden.
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Free pass and breaks
Give yourselves the occasional free pass for the times when the spirit is willing, but the body has said an emphatic no to housework. It happens, we all have off-days. Consider, scheduling breaks so that you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed. Be kind to yourselves.
Give each other compliments and appreciate the effort you’re each putting in. Housework largely sucks so it helps to have someone appreciate the work you do.
Be clear and keep the communication lines open at all times. Keep in mind that what you are trying to build is a partnership. A partnership means you’re working together. If both of you are not working, you do not have a partnership.
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