Labor Day is coming soon, a holiday dedicated to the hard work done day after day, celebrated by taking the day off!
And while it’s a chance to take a much-needed break from your actual day job, it’s also a perfect opportunity to reevaluate how the division of labor works in your marriage. Is the workload shared evenly between the two of you? Is one person feeling unduly overburdened? If you don’t talk about it, you might not know where your spouse stands (or have a chance to tell them how you feel about the household responsibilities you share).
Determining how to adequately divide labor is going to be a little different for every couple. There are some tasks that one of you may just hate, but the other doesn’t mind so much. There may be other tasks that one of you is particularly skillful at, while the other has no experience or ability. These are the easy things to divide, but what about everything else?
Well, you can always divvy things up right down the middle, where you each take responsibility for every instance of a chore – i.e. one of you mows the lawn, the other does the laundry; one of you cooks, the other does the dishes; one of you gets the kids to school, the other gets them to after school activities, and so on…
This approach, however, isn’t very realistic. It might work for a while, but eventually, something will come up that throws a wrench into the system. Someone will have to work late, schedules will change, and those responsibilities you’ve carefully divided will still have to be taken care of, even if the “designated person” is unavailable.
With that in mind, you can still divide things up, but a healthy approach involves seeing your marriage as a team – where you’re both willing to take care of household odds and ends whenever you have the chance, whether or not it’s your “turn” or your “responsibility.” Instead of seeing something that needs to be taken care of, but leaving it alone because it isn’t your “job,” take care of it so your spouse doesn’t have to!
If you’re both making a point to do this, it will feel much more like a combined effort instead of a division of labor.
This Labor Day, seize the chance to sit down with your spouse and talk this stuff over. The daily grind of keeping up with chores is something that annoys most people – it’s stuff that no one really likes to do – but when you’re both willing to take things on of your own volition (and without complaint), it ultimately makes things easier for everyone.
The real goal should be balance, where neither of you feels like you’re taking on an unfair share. To achieve such a balance, you have to talk about expectations and make sure you contribute to the cause!