I fell in love with my husband, Glenn, while he was vacuuming my living room 35 years ago during our first weekend together. Mildly allergic to cat hair, he asked if he could vacuum my two-cat apartment to minimize his tendency to sneeze. I guiltily agreed, grateful that he wasn't criticizing me for not being as adept at home maintenance as he was (and still is).
Since he was clearly eager to make my living quarters a comfortable place for him to spend time with me, I realized he really liked me. Fortunately, "like" soon evolved into "love" and he's continued to vacuum our various homes—and do even more chores—ever since.
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My hubby's far from alone in choosing to be an equal partner in domestic maintenance. According to a study published in the Journal of Family Issues, sharing household duties tends to strengthen relationships. Other research studies suggest that marital bonds remain strong when both partners participate in household tasks in an equation that feels fair to both, even if it's not always 50/50 in terms of time or effort.
While my husband's skills at doing home chores helped me fall for him, it also continues to make me feel loved by him. This is even more relevant now than in our early days since I'm still working as a life coach, counselor and author to help pay our bills while he retired several years ago. This means he's able to spend even more time on household duties, gardening and writing, which works well for both of us.
I consciously choose to appreciate his house maintenance skills as evidence of how much he cares about me and our long-term relationship. We've always shared daily chores, especially when one of us worked at home while the other worked in an office or traveled for business. When our daughter was young, for example, my husband was a band road manager who traveled for weeks at a time on concert tours, so I was often a "temporary single mom." Now that our daughter's grown and preparing to start a family of her own, I enjoy having the freedom to travel for teaching and speaking engagements while Glenn's happy to spend most of his time at home!
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I also appreciate his willingness to do what some men consider "women's work," which he's done all his life. As the third of four brothers, he was well-taught by his mom to help around the house, especially the vacuuming, laundry and dishes (which in our house get washed in the sink as we don't have an automatic dishwasher). These particular chores are my least favorite and I've always been relieved that Glenn does them much better than I can. (Self-disclosure note: My stay-at-home mom only required that my older brothers and I clean our own rooms when I was young, bless her heart. Thus, I've always been "household chore-impaired.") Keep reading...
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