There’s nothing quite so frustrating as coming home from work to realize that your house is a mess, dinner needs to be cooked, and there’s a mountain of laundry for you to do. All of us spend time dealing with chores, but this scenario is even more frustrating when you arrive to find that mess and a partner who doesn’t seem to care about it.
Chores may seem trivial, but are a big deal
After faithfulness and sex, sharing household chores is one of the most important components of a successful marriage. Many people hold a perception that a healthy relationship centers around the major milestones. Engagement, marriage, romantic dates, anniversaries, and gift-giving are obvious points of discussion in our relationships. These are big things because they seem to have the greatest impact on our lives with our significant others.
Some may think that it’s better to talk about work, what’s on TV, or what’s happening over the weekend instead of devoting some of the conversation to cleaning the house.
But think about it, about 80% of our lives are made up of chores. Everything–from what you eat to what you wear to how clean your house is–comes down to how proficient we are with our chores.
To put it into perspective, think about how much time you spend doing basic things like feeding yourself. If it takes you an hour to make a meal and you eat three meals every day, you’ll spend three hours on meal prep daily. Over the course of 365 days, that comes out to 1,095 hours, or 45 days in the kitchen.
Even those clothes on your back create a serious time commitment. If you spend an average of an hour per day on washing and ironing, by the end of one year, you will spend 15 days on laundry. Cleaning your house for three hours per week takes 156 hours of your year, which comes out to nearly 7 days.
From these few tasks, we’re spending two months per year on chores. This isn’t even considering other duties such as child care, lawn care, or vehicle upkeep. If couples can’t agree on the chores, that means that they will spend at least two months of their year resenting their significant other for their lack of contributions to the household. Without a plan, the chores can quickly become overwhelming for at least one partner. Whenever there’s an imbalance, the relationship suffers.
Happy couples run a household like a business
Instead of waiting for the dishes to pile up, and allowing the resentment to stack up along with them, couples should enter into a business agreement about chores. The “business” is making a couple’s home run efficiently so that both of them can live happily in it.
Usually when couples don’t talk about the chores, one person ends up doing most of the work. They wind up managing the finances, making repairs, cooking, and cleaning. This is exhausting, and even the best partner is prone to becoming overwhelmed or making mistakes.
When one partner feels under-appreciated, he or she might lose motivation to continue with the business of running the household. This sentiment will ultimately erode the partnership.
A fair distribution of responsibilities will help the business run smoothly. Both partners will feel that their needs are met, and they’ll be happy.
The first step in all of this is shining light on what you both do around the house. Chances are, you and your partner are both contributing to the household, but you don’t even realize it. When you show one another what you’re doing to make the house work, you can use chores to help you play as a team.
As the 5th and final stage of a romantic relationship, playing as a team makes you to unite as a common front. As a unit, you can work to achieve a happy, organized, and loving household. Read more about the 5 stages of love here: There Are 5 Stages Of Love, But Sadly Many Couples Stop At Stage 3
The process of figuring out who should do each chore will differ based on the couple’s needs. Both of you will need to decide on responsibilities at home, and it doesn’t matter whether you are the boss at work or the entry-level worker. You leave your rank at the door and become a business partner with a vested interest in your household as soon as you get home.
Talk about chores, bond with chores
I have a few tips to help couples to establish the ground-rules for the business of keeping up their house.
1. Be clear about what needs to be done and when.
The more specific you are about what needs to be done, who will be doing this, and when it needs to be completed, the better. Each partner needs to talk about their expectations and priorities for the household. In addition to thinking about basic things like the who/what/when of doing the chores, spend some time talking about why it’s important to do these things and how the tasks should be completed.
You both may have different expectations, and this could be a cause for bickering down the road. Prevent problems by talking through chores in detail. Make a list of what needs to be done, and identify which chores are the most loathsome for each partner. You can compromise so that neither of you is stuck doing chores that you can’t stand.
You wouldn’t run a business without discussing the various aspects of it’s day-to-day operation with your partner. When it comes to running your house, you should be just as explicit about what needs to be done.
2. Review and adjust your plans as necessary.
If you were running an actual business, you and your partner would work together to maximize strengths and work around weaknesses. You’d divide labor to get the best results. It’s worthwhile to periodically discuss whether you are accomplishing your tasks in the most efficient way possible. It works the same for chores.
Making a plan is only half the battle. You’ll need to revisit your plan from time to time to make sure that it’s still working. For example, if you partner has to work late on a major project this week, you might agree to temporarily take on more chores to assist.
Checking in with one another prevents frustration. If you can work together to get more work done in an efficient manner, it’s going to make your relationship stronger.
3. Take time to acknowledge effort.
In business, leaders know that acknowledging hard work builds loyalty and mutual respect. Loyalty and mutual respect are powerful components of a healthy romantic relationship as well. So at home, couples should acknowledge each other’s effort too.
Show your appreciation when your partner keeps up his or her half of the bargain. When you express your gratitude over the effort your partner exerts to make your home a nice place, you make them feel appreciated and motivated.
Run the chores or the chores run you
Instead of letting chores get out of hand until one partner grudgingly does them all, come up with a plan. Together, you and your partner can establish expectations that will lead you both to have a more comfortable home, and a more supportive relationship.
Chores may seem like little things, but they have so much influence that we ought to consider them big things. Work as a team to figure out how you will clear these tasks from your schedule in an efficient manner. You’ll have more time together, and you’ll appreciate one another more if you treat your household like a well-run business.
|The Atlantic: The Difference Between a Happy Marriage and a Miserable One: Chores
|Verily: How to Avoid Bickering Over Who Does the Housework
|Inc.com: The Powerful Impact of Acknowledging Good Work