Perhaps the best time to talk about this is way before the couple end up married or living together. With cohabitation these styles of who does what are developed very early in the relationship. Whoever feels the most vulnerable in the relationship usually ends up doing more. The majority of the time this is the woman. In fact, even in cases where the woman is living with the guy, working full-time while he stays home and/or looks for a job, she is coming home to a messy house that needs picking up, straightening, and the dishes washed. Somehow this is still considered “her work.”
If you find yourself fighting about chores or you feel guilty for not doing your fair share, I do have suggestions that have been recommended by couples I work with, as well as programs such as smart relationships which focus on the chore list during pre-marital counseling programs.
1. There is a computer game titled, “Chore Wars.” It promotes doing chores by awarding points to the person who cleans the toilet, wipes down the tub, and vacuums. Couples get a sense of “playing with chores.” This makes it fun, and the person who wins can cash in on rewards set up prior to the game. I can see this being fun, but it seems like a lot of work to keep points, and I am not wild about the competitiveness.
2. Write all of the chores down on a whiteboard in the kitchen. Each of you checks off what you will do. This is done Sunday evening before the week starts. Next to each chore is a value assigned in dollars. If you don’t do it by a set time, you pay whoever does it. I have done this in my home, and it worked great. If you travel, this will not work. You will lose a lot of money.
3. Hire a housekeeper. No one really loves to clean all the time, and we all love coming home to a clean house. It’s expensive, but so is divorce.
4. Instead of naming chores, name hours. Basically break it down to fifteen hours a week, or whatever time allotment it will take for you during a week’s time to do all of the chores. Assign hours instead of jobs. The jobs are already listed on the white board, so everyone knows what must be done. This one must be clarified because some people work fast and others move slowly. If you say 5 hours per week and your spouse doesn’t know how fast you move and what you are able to complete within those hours, you will need to be clear about that.
5. Specific cleaning days, mornings or evenings can be very helpful. For example, Saturday morning after you enjoy breakfast you can clean and then have something fun planned. Both of you cleaning together will be more motivating, you can listen to great music, and it can be enjoyable and even fun. This one works great for families, and counts as a family day. Families that work together are engaged and understand the importance of working toward a shared goal.
It doesn’t really matter in a marriage who does what, but how one feels about what they do is everything. When I talk to couples about getting married this is one area most of them haven’t discussed or thought about. When it is first mentioned the guy looks at me and says, “We are going to share EVERYTHING.” I want to believe him, I really do, but the statistics will not support him. If you want a happy contented relationship, talk about who does what prior to someone getting angry. If you aren’t doing your fair share, step up to the plate. The guys who pitch in the most, and do their fair share, have more time to enjoy intimacy. Their wife is usually happier and more receptive as well. –Mary Jo Rapini
Tags: Relationships, Family, Chores, Work, Anger, Resentment, Responsibility, Contentment
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