Marriage is great, wonderful, and adventurous all at the same time. Until it’s not.
When married couples both work outside the home, and things must be done around the house, it can become contentious very quickly. What happened to marriage being a shared thing? No one wants to share cleaning the bathroom.
The biggest mistake my wife made in our marriage was to ask me for “help” with chores. By doing that, she led me to believe that those responsibilities were hers, which meant I was going to be a hero if I pitched in to wash dishes or do a load of laundry every now and then. Now I know better. All those responsibilites are ours, as a couple. So I started to treat this aspect of my marriage as if it was a business. I had a meeting with my wife and came equipped with charts and graphs and lists and projections. Well, not really, but we did sit down, come up with a plan, and then both agreed to it.
Why not do the same with your spouse?
Here are a few suggestions:
Discuss What You Hate Doing
It’s like choosing an alarm to wake up to in the morning. “Which sound do I want to hate for the rest of my life?” Who knows? Your spouse might like doing something you just do not want to do. And if you both loathe something equally as much, you can always get creative and find money to pay for someone else to do it.
Make Lists Consisting of “Yours,” “Mine,” and “Ours”
Or, my personal favorite category, “I can’t wait until the kids get old enough to do this so I never have to do it again.”
Diversify the Responsibilities
Switch the chores up every so often so someone does not feel stuck doing the same thing all the time.
Nothing is Written in Stone
Don’t look at an overwhelmed spouse whose turn it is to fix dinner and say, “Sucks to be you. It’s your job. You shouldn’t have tried to be such a good cook.” Instead, focus on helping one another as much as possible.
Communicate as Much as Possible
Especially when it comes to meetings, errands, and special occasions. Write down everyone’s schedule, and then post it. In my family, my wife, the kids (because they are older) and I have iPhones that allow our calendars to be synced. We each get the lists and calendar notifications at the same time. That way, we can trade tasks when needed.
Evaluate Tasks Regularly
Praise accomplishments and strategize why things did not get done or work out this week — or this month, or however often you do this. Never point fingers. Instead, find solutions.
Politely Remind or Encourage Each Other
Sometimes it takes some reminding to not forget how important (insert responsibility here) is and why it must be done.
If your spouse flatly refuses to do something they promised to do, you have some decisions to make. Chances are you are not going to change your spouse, so you may need to switch tasks, or you might have to hire help. (When most people hear this, they change their minds about pitching in.) You may have to reduce your expectations concerning the frequency at which that task is accomplished. The world will not stop spinning if the house isn’t spotless every single day.
Here is a secret tip for men.
The degree to which housework is shared is now one of the two most important predictors of a woman’s marital satisfaction, according to Stephanie Coontz in The New York Times. She polled wives and they told her the top source of their stress was the fact their husbands did not do their fair share of household duties.
Studies show that women feel more sexually attracted to partners who help. There’s a reason to share responsibilities! Besides, if you do share the workload, she won’t be so dead tired all the time.
But just don’t do it to get sex. She is the love of your life, after all. Take some stress off her shoulders if you can. It may take a while for her to realize you are doing your part, so don’t give up. Just get in the groove and soon you will both be in sync.
The last suggestion is to have the children share some of the responsibilities. They live in your house, too. They should help make the household run efficiently. The day I taught my children to wash dishes — and they did it correctly — was monumentally stupendous. When the kids take on some of the chores, it leaves more time for you and your spouse to focus on other things that need to be handled.
Keep at it, don’t give up, and do not let the never-ending chores destroy your marriage. Tinker with your lists and charts and graphs and power points — or whatever you use.
One last super-secret classified tip I have is this: Don’t overthink how difficult one chore is over another. They all have to get done. There are so many ways to be successful at shared responsibilities. If you ever want to know the easiest way to do something, find the laziest person you know and ask them how they do it.
Work smart together, not hard, and enjoy your marriage.
This article was written by: Prescott WilliamsonPhoto Credit: Jessica Castro