There is a lot of research being done right now involving the division of household chores and relationship dynamic. This article suggests some interesting theories on the dynamic of household tasks and how emotions and couple dynamics in the modern culture come into play. I wish I could tell you that I have a great, end all disagreements, idea for dividing the housework in your marriage. But I do have a few different ideas that you can try out to and see which one works best for the two of you! We're still working to find the process that works best with our new dynamic now that I'm not working and Joe is temporarily working a lot of overtime. If you have something that works well for you or if you find one of these ways that works, let me know! These ideas are written specifically for couples with really young kids or no kids at all, who are responsible for the majority of housework all on their own. These could easily be adjusted to fit your family's stage of life and include your kids if you'd like!
Divide and Conquer
Just like you'd have a chore chart for your kids, create one for the two of you, separating the chores so that you know things are getting done and everyone has their own responsibility. This is something that Joe and I tried out when we were both working full time. There never seemed to be a day when we could get all of the cleaning done at once. We both worked and had the kids to take care of and play with after we got home from work at night. Our day off was rarely ever the same day, so one of us was either busy with the kid on our days off or spending time as a family. The last thing we wanted to do was spend hours cleaning.
We sat down together one night and listed out all of the things that needed to be done around the house on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Then we went through each day of the week and decided how much time we were willing and able to dedicate to cleaning and divided the tasks accordingly. We also took into consideration our strengths and the tasks that we enjoy or dislike doing. On the days that we had more time, we'd tackle the big projects like cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom, one of us on each room. Other days we'd take less than half an hour to dust and vacuum the house, letting the kids help us with our tasks because those are their favorites. We had monthly tasks like cleaning out our cars or wiping down the fridge and we'd tackle one of those each week, usually on our day off.
We have loved having cleaning parties and tackling the entire house once each month. We'd send the kids to grandma's house for a few hours, blast 90's pop music and get to work. It wasn't the most romantic date, but working together to tackle all of the household cleaning was somehow satisfying. We'd always treat ourselves to takeout and a movie on the couch after we'd finished and the kids were back home and in bed. Then throughout the next month, we'd keep surfaces wiped down, vacuum every few days and tackle messes as they happen. Every once in a while, we treat ourselves to professional cleaners and have them come in for an hour and tackle all of that stuff for us while we play with the kids in the backyard. I kind of feel like we need to get back to this once a month cleaning party thing...
Create a Shared Checklist
A friend of mine shared on her Instagram story the other day that she and her husband have a shared list on an app on their phones that lists all of the tasks that need to be done around the house. She said that ever since they started doing that, she'll find her husband using his free time to do things like clean the fridge. I started brainstorming how we could make this work in our home. You could use an app like Trello or print out a "chore chart" of sorts and have it laminated to hang somewhere in your home next to a marker. As you have time or during the time that you've set aside for cleaning, pick one chore off of the list, complete it and then note that it's been done. I thought that having a daily, weekly and monthly list would be a great idea, since some things are done daily and others are not done as often.
The next day I read an article about how couples are using Google spreadsheets or other apps and "chore charts" to strengthen their marriage and lessen the conflict that can come from disagreeing on chores. I loved the idea that not only do you mark that you have done the task, but that the other partner writes a thank you note or acknowledges your work in the column next to your initials. As the article notes, "recording what each person does around the house can make you realize you're not actually doing everything."
The article mentioned that having shared lists for things like household tasks "allows couples to save in-person time for talking about the really meaningful time." How true is that though? It might take a few months to get the hang of and to get a good routine down, just like setting up a budget that works, but as time goes on, you'll have a good idea of who is doing what and can add tasks to the list as they need to be done, leaving more time to talk to connect and strengthen your relationship. I know that our relationship would flourish even more if we weren't spending any of the precious moments that we have together talking about who is going to do which tasks and when they are going to get done.
How do you tackle and divide household responsibilities in your marriage?
Photography by Sadie Banks Photography