Despite this, previously held beliefs can mean many women still find themselves shackled with more of their fair share of duties at home. Many men may have been raised in a family where their own father did little to no chores. This experience growing up can instil a belief that cleaning the house isn’t really their job. It also means that some men may be clueless about this work to begin with.
It’s unfair to make this generalisation as many modern men take housework in their stride. In some families the burden of work can fall unfairly the other way. Studies still consistently show however that many women feel overworked and still complete the vast majority of work at home.
How can a couple renegotiate household duties to make life fair and manageable for all?
Here, we will discuss some methods by which to share out duties at home and smooth out any disagreements.
Don’t Become Obsessed With it Being Exactly 50/50
Studies have found that partners who divide up duties into “my work” or “your work” are actually more likely to split. This is because such division may lead to resentment and arguments.
A better approach is to agree that as you live in a shared home, you will share the duties out together and work to your best ability. Approaching the division of labour as a team as opposed to two opposing teams, is much more manageable.
Respect Your Partner’s Preferences
If you cannot deal with dishes in the sink but your partner is happy to let the days dishes pile up then explain why you find this habit difficult. You may feel disorganised or embarrassed when guests come over. Conversely, this may not bother your partner but they may not like the way you leave a towel on the bathroom floor.
Air these preferences and if something is really important to one partner then agree to honour it.
It’s Okay To Have Areas of Expertise
By letting each partner do what they like it means the job is more likely to get done and allows the person to get into a weekly routine.
If it’s something you like doing then you are more likely to be better at it as well.
Set Defined Work Hours
Why not allocate a certain part of the week or weekend where you both get around to doing some household chores together? That way you are both on same page as to when to get working. It also means that you can relax together.
In addition, setting designated work hours helps both partners establish a routine. When something has its set time in the weekly routine it is far more likely to get done. It also means that if one partner is somewhat reluctant to complete their portion of the work then they have less scope to wriggle out of it!
Don’t Tell Each Other How Chores Should Be Done
The whole point of sharing the chores is to demonstrate respect as well as valuing your partner’s input. If you are constantly criticising your partner then this will lead to them feeling infantilized and unappreciated.
Similarly if you feel analysed or criticized by your partner when completing your own work then be honest about it. In reality they probably feel they are helping and will back down when you are honest about your frustrations.
At the end of the day all that matters is that the work gets done and you both feel respected.
It’s easy to underestimate the feelings of resentment and frustration that can develop when one partner feels overworked and unappreciated. It’s also easy for couples to fall into patterns that do not stand up to fairness and equality.
If you feel overworked at home don’t let yourself burn out. Talk to your partner and have an open conversation about how to ease the burden.
You will not only be doing a favour for yourself. If you have kids you can model a healthy and co- operative partnership so that when they find themselves in your shoes, they will find it easy to emulate your behaviour.
Get talking about the chores in your home and work like a team!
Baxter, J., Hewitt, B., & Haynes, M. (2008). Life course transitions and housework: Marriage, parenthood, and time on housework. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70(2), 259-272.
Hersch, J., & Stratton, L. S. (2000). Household specialization and the male marriage wage premium. Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 54(1), 78-94.