Domestic maintenance isn’t necessarily an enjoyable thing. Even if you like the results – a clean bathroom, clean clothes to wear, a well-kept lawn – the actual process of getting these things in order can be boring, feel like drudgery, and is awfully easy to neglect. But if you don’t do it, someone else has to.
We sometimes forget that the things we enjoy (in our own homes or otherwise) are the products of someone’s hard work, that every made bed, mowed lawn, cooked meal, vacuumed carpet, and scrubbed toilet took the time and energy of a real live person.
It’s easy to take things for granted when you’re not doing them yourself – and the opposite is true too: it’s easy to feel resentful if you feel like you’re pouring your effort into chores for someone else’s enjoyment, especially if they aren’t returning the favor.
Division of household responsibilities is one of the most common things couples fight about, right behind money. When there’s an imbalance of household responsibilities, people usually fall into one of two camps: either they feel like they do everything all the time, or they’re sick of being nagged about doing more around the house.
In either case, it’s clear that there’s a disparity of responsibility that needs fixing. For the person who feels nagged, they simply need to understand that they’re not holding up their end of the bargain – or their contributions are going unrecognized.
For the person feeling overloaded, they need to reassess how they’re asking for help, perhaps relinquish some of their need for control (which can go hand in hand with taking on too many responsibilities), and even look for places where some of the chores can slide a little.
In either case, the solution rests in establishing some ground rules, working together to find a way to agree one a) what needs to be done, b) how often it needs to be done, and c) who’s going to do it.
Every household, and with it, every couple, is going to have a different set of responsibilities. There are the common ones, of course, like house cleaning, paying bills, maintenance on the house or the car, and all of that – but there will also be needs totally unique to your family. And because we’re all a little bit different, there are going to be things we just HATE to do, and other things we don’t mind so much.
So how do you figure out who’s supposed to do what?
As with so many other problems, the solution begins with communication!
First, you’ve got to take a step back from the whole ordeal and just agree that nobody likes to do chores, but they still have to get done. It doesn’t have to be a “your or me” division, but rather a “we” approach to getting things done because you both desire the results. This means contributing your fair share not just because you “have to,” but also so your spouse doesn’t feel overburdened – so you can both enjoy the fruits of labor your BOTH contribute.
The next part, however, has to get down to the nitty gritty a little bit. You’ve got to decide how you’re going to split things up. For some chores, it’s easy – if one of you is particularly well organized and already maintains household finances, it seems pretty clear that bill paying is an apt job for that person. The same goes for household maintenance or preparing a large, fancy meal – sometimes skillset determines who’s best for the job.
In still other situations, being nitpicky about something minor may equate to volunteering for a particular job. Hate the way your spouse folds laundry or loads the dishwasher? If you’ve got a particular way you want it done, you might just have to do it yourself.
Now, for EVERYTHING else (and there’s no shortage of chores to be done on any given day), you just have to divide it up based on who has time, who has energy, and who hates what the least…
For some couples, a strict division of responsibilities works best – one person does the laundry, the other does the dishes, etc. For others, it’s a matter of who has the time in the moment, as long as things get done. Most commonly, it will be some combination of the two, where some responsibilities are “assigned” and others are shared.
However you choose to split things up, this problem has to be addressed to avoid unnecessary stress and conflict. Instead of making demands of one another or setting unrealistic expectations when you haven’t talked about it, the happiest and most equitable solution stems from both people in the marriage taking personal responsibility for the good of the household.
If you’re both volunteering to get things done (without having to be asked), you’ll be less likely to feel like anyone is shirking responsibility – and less likely to feel the need to nag your partner.
You can try tactics like listing ALL of the household responsibilities you contribute to, estimating the time spent, and comparing your list with your spouse’s to work toward a more even division of labor.
You can barter with chores: i.e. “I’ll walk to the dog and unclog the sink if you’ll take care of the laundry.”
You can tackle some things together, deciding on a day and time double-team cleaning the bedroom or the kitchen, or one of you sweeps while the other mops, one of you washes dishes while the other dries and puts them away.
However you slice it, the important lesson here is to be up front about your expectations and your feelings so no one feels overburdened or neglected. Don’t put all the responsibility on yourself, and don’t expect your spouse to do everything either. It’s up to everyone to contribute!
Keep this sorted out and you’ll feel the stress melt away!
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
Let me start by saying that I know that my wife still loves me. Now with that being said let me lay out our situation . I found out 2 weeks ago from my wife that she was unhappy with our relationship and that she wants out after some heart felt tears I was able to get her to talk to me, and that's when I found out that she has been having an affair with a co-worker for quite sometime on a friendship level and then for the last 2.5 years they have been lovers. 2 months ago he finaly professed his feelings of love to her and told her he was going to divorce his wife . Now she wants out of our marriage to be with him. I am trying to b strong and give her the space that she wants so she can sort her feelings out and to not to push her any farther away . I can forgive her for the infidelity but I'm so scared n hurt n mad at my own self for pushing her to him to begin with. I have took a long and painful look back on the last 27 years and in hind sight can see all the things that I have done wrong hind sight is always 20/20. I'm trying to get my head and my heart around the fact that I have probably lost her for good but I'm still hopeful that we can make our marriage work out n be better than ever
The same thing happened to me. My husband had several affairs in 18 years of my marriage and wanted to leave me for the last partner. However, we worked it all out, had a therapeutic separation and are now back together. Our marriage has never been better. We are very happy, renewed our vows, etc. Never blame yourself. It was your wife's CHOICE to have an affair. I guarantee you 100% that after the 2-3 yr honeymoon stage and lovey dovey feelings are over with them, your wife will learn that leaving you was the biggest mistake in her life.
Thanks Jessica for your kind words of support , I am not trying to take blame off of her 4 having the affair because I had my own affair years ago and I know that it was my choice to do so just as it was her choice to do so this time but all of the other stuff over the years on my part is what I take blame 4 mainly not communicating or listening to what she had to say when she was trying to get me not to do something that was wrong for me or us. I take blame 4 not being around enough to be a couple and doing things that couples would do . You know things like date nite or a walk down the street or helping around the house or any of the other countless things that make up a loving relationship .
I am a stay at home mother with our first child who is 7 months old at the end of this month. My husband works 8 hours a day Monday through Friday. When my baby boy was a newborn, all I asked my husband to help me with was to feed him before he went to bed and before he went to work in the mornings, so I could go to sleep ahead of him. The newborn at this time was eating every 3-4 hours. Long story short, he did the morning feeding like twice. After that it was "I am late can you feed him?" and that never changed since.
Hi Stuart - we applaud you for taking a hard look at the situation, and recognizing the role you played. You didn't make her have an affair, but sometimes it's important to see if we gave our spouse a reason to find someone else. I hope you both are able to reconcile. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/ed-asks-my-wife-is-having-an-affair-and-she-wont-stop-seeing-him/
Thank you mike for taking the time to read my blog and your words of encouragement :) thanks again
You're most welcome, Stuart, and I hope everything turns out well for you!
Hi Samantha - Some men don't realize that being a stay at home mom is a job 24/7, and that it's just as stressful if not more than a 'regular' job. I would encourage him when he comes home to give you a break. You can make dinner while he takes his turn, or just to go out with the baby for a while so you can get a shower in peace. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/important-problem/parenting-yt/
Hi Stuart, thanks for the clarification. I totally agree with Mike, you deserve such a big applause for recognizing the role you played. I discovered that we learn the best lessons in life through our mistakes. We are human and to realize what we have done and work towards a resolution is huge. You're right, date nite, walking down the street etc, are all necessary but it's never too late to start again, even with the same person. We didn't realize it until after 18 years and are the happiest we've ever been, doing those things you mentioned. We wish you nothing but happiness and everything good in your efforts to reconciliation. Remember that the power of love can do wonders. Keep the positive attitude.
Once again thanks from the bottom of my heart for the words of encouragement. And u r so right about learning from our mistakes:) heading to da beach with penny and the family now for vacation family time
Really messed up this morning broke down crying n begging penny not to leave me , very very emotional right now and could not help myself . I want to give her enough time n space to come to her decision on her own but I feel like I'm the other man and that she's gonna pick him over me because they have had there relationship for such a long time. I'm just so physically ill over the fact that she wants to divorce me that I'm almost nonfunctional
Hi Stuart - I think most spouses can understand, and I know you wish there was something magical you could do to win her back. There are things you can do to help increase the odds of a successful marriage though - https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/wife-says-im-done/ You both need to start fresh, and you need to focus on being the guy she wants to be with again, for her and for yourself.
Ok, whew, where do I begin? My husband and I married 18 years ago (honestly bc I got pregnant). While we were dating (b4 the pregnancy), he cheated on me with his 2nd wife(which I didn't find out until after I got pregnant). I forgave him, and we got married. 17 months later, we had our 2nd child, and all seemed to be going well. He had a full time job, and I stayed home with the 2 kids. While pregnant with my 2nd child, I found out(from my best friend), that he had been trying to "get at her", and she showed me the messages, and NEVER acted on them. I was hurt and angry, but he didn't deny it(how could he? It was there in black and white text messages that she saved, for me to see). After being a full time mom(even on the weekends, and felt like nothing but a piece of meat to him, yes.....I cheated, and told him). We reconciled and not long after found out we were pregnant again.....yet, this time, it was TRIPLETS. We moved, 3 hrs away, to "start over", and my life grew out of control. Doing EVERYTHING, all the time. I ended up going to a rehab facility for 30 days and came home to discover that we had a "live in" nanny. She was great and always helped me with everything. Until, I discovered that he had cheated on me with another "friend" of mine, and was having an affair in OUR HOME. This time I was DONE. I asked for a divorce, and that was the end. Until 3 years ago, he wanted me to come home. I did so, reluctantly. Now, he owns a business and is gone ALL night, sleeps all day, and with 5 kids to deal with all alone again, I am so tired and some days, ready to bail. It's hard though, bc I don't want to leave my kids. He is constantly accusing me of cheating (like I have time), when he is the one that's gone ALL NIGHT!!!! I get little to NO HELP from him, regarding our home(chores, etc.), and gets angry with me if I dont have sex with him. I'm just TIRED!!!!!!!! ADVICE????