How To Stop Fighting The 'Chore War' In Your Marriage (& Get Your Husband On Board)

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How To Get Your Husband To Help With The Household Chore List (Without A Fight)
Love

Back in 2011, Time Magazine had a cover article on the "chore wars" — the ongoing battle between men and women over who does what in keeping a household going. And sadly, judging from recent Facebook posts and articles on the subject, not much has changed since then.

I can't help but think if the posts I wrote back then had gotten as much attention as the recent posts on social media, the battle would be over. Per the viral posts, husbands and sons are not sufficiently contributing to the running of the home they live in.

In fact, a recent study in Springer's journal Sex Rules confirms this and shows that women still do a majority of the house cleaning and chore list, even if they have a full-time job.

RELATED: Who Should Do The Chores In Your Relationship?

If women live alone, it makes sense that they take sole responsibility for the chores. If they have a partner and/or children, it’s crazy.

So why, almost fifty years into the women’s movement, has nothing changed about these gender stereotypes? Is it really that males are selfish and entitled? Are they just oblivious? Or is it something else? It may be all three.

The more helpful question is how to change things when it comes to your chore list so that no one feels overly burdened.

I believe the answer is hidden in plain sight of the posts themselves: If the woman doesn’t do the chores, she feels they won’t get done. But is it really that the chore chart won’t get done at all, or that they won’t get done “properly?"

The answer to this question is where the solution can be found.

I guarantee that part of the problem is the child-centric society we have created. Most children do limited chores around the house either because they have too many extracurricular activities or because parents don’t want to upset them.

This is where their sense of entitlement or being oblivious comes from. And if you never had any responsibility for your living situation growing up, why would you expect to as an adult?

This explanation rings hollow to some extent when you consider that most people are getting married at an older age than ever before. Most have lived on their own for some period of time before that and would have dealt with many of the chores that now seem to be causing so much tension in their marriage.

So why do so many women still accept so much of the responsibility for the domestic side of things and single-handedly take on the list of chores by themselves?

The unpleasant truth is because they allow it to be set up that way. This is why “asking” the men in your life to “help” doesn’t work.

This presumes that it is all the woman’s job in the first place. But anyone living in a household has responsibility for keeping it running. Once you accept this premise, the rest becomes a spreadsheet exercise.

The best time to tackle the issue of household chores is when you first move in together. The next best is anytime after that. If this is still a problem in your relationship, it is way overdue for resolution. You’re going to say that you’ve tried.

RELATED: How To Get Your Man To Help Around The House Before You Go Crazy

This is the refrain repeated in many of the Facebook rants. And I’m sure it’s true on some level. But, results speak for themselves.

So if you're ready to end the chore wars in your marriage once and for all, it's time for action.

Take these 5 steps to get your husband to start taking responsibility for his part of the house chore list, so you can stop fighting about chores in your marriage once and for all.

1. Identify the root problem

The first step is to be honest about how things got so unbalanced to start with. Did you indeed marry a selfish, entitled lout who expects you to epitomize the old perfume commercial about bringing home the bacon, frying it up in the pan, and never letting him forget he’s a man?

Is he unaware of all that you do because he’s focused on different household tasks? Are there too many tasks for the number of hours in a day because both of you work full time outside the home? Is he truly incapable of doing the tasks? The answers matter.

2. Let go of your anger

The next step is to stop being angry and resentful. Require things to be different. This isn’t asking

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3. Make a list

Each of you needs to sit down and list all the tasks you do to keep the household running. Go day by day, room by room, task by task.

Then, get together and compile one big list. Take each item and define what “complete” is and the time frame it needs to be done. You might create a weekly chore chart or plan out a monthly chore calendar.

4. Assign responsibilities

Then, go down the list and choose which tasks you will take on. If you aren’t willing to do it each and every time with an open heart and a willing spirit, don’t agree to do it. This will result in further negotiation around standard and time frame or deciding to outsource it.

Now if there is a task that you want done a specific way, take ownership of it. For me, that’s grocery shopping. I am very picky about the produce I buy, so I gladly go to the store every week. If you find that you want many things done a certain way, you have identified part of the problem.

The task can be done by someone else or it can be done your way — it can’t be both.

5. Follow-through

Once the chores are divvied up to everyone’s satisfaction, behave like grown-ups. Honor your agreement to do the task as defined and trust your partner to do the same. Only if things aren’t proceeding as agreed upon should either of you get to say anything.

Be willing to renegotiate when change requires it — having a child, changing jobs, getting a bigger house, etc.

Start from the premise that the household is everyone’s responsibility and don’t take on chores you don’t want to do. A new chore is an impetus for a discussion, not a seed of resentment. You can end the chore wars. All you need to do is simply begin the peace process.

RELATED: What Happened When My Husband And I Tried "Choreplay" For A Week

Lesli Doares is a therapist, coach, and the founder of Foundations Coaching, a practical alternative for couple's worldwide looking to improve their marriage without traditional therapy. For more information on scheduling a free one-hour consultation, email her for a private discussion.