We have come to the last week of my five-week blog series for couples. This last installment is regarding housework and chores - an area few couples agree on and tensions can flare.
How often has putting together a "honey-do" list actually worked out? Are you and your partner always squabbling about whose turn it is to clean the dishes? Pick up the clutter in the living room? Scrub the toilet? Change the next diaper? Are you satisfied with how work gets done around your home or do you tend to do it yourself after your partner's attempts?
You are not alone! Housework can be a frustrating topic for many couples. Here are a few thoughts about why this is and what you can do differently:
Doing chores is NOT about the acts of folding laundry, cutting the grass, or doing dishes. It's actually about sharing equality. More and more couples these days have an egalitarian view of their relationship. When both parties feel they are equal partners, there is usually increased happiness between them. If one person feels more burdened by household responsibilities, over time, this can wear on that person and conflict can arise because of inequality and burnout. To combat the danger of inequality in your relationship, start becoming more aware of who is doing what around your home. If you notice your partner doing more, offer to help. If you notice you are doing more, ask for help. When trying this out, be kind with your words and genuine about your requests.
Being angry over housework can be related to your or your partner's primary love language. If your language is "Quality Time", do chores together. Not only will you get these things done more quickly because you're working together, but you'll have time to talk and be with each other in the process. If your partner's language is "Acts of Service" or "Receiving Gifts", speak to their heart by doing housework you don't usually do to surprise them or leave small gifts around your home where they can find them to show how much you care. What about "Physical Touch"? Find ways to hug or kiss your partner in the little moments during or in between chores. Work will become much more enjoyable. "Words of Affirmation" people will want to be told how much they're appreciated for what they do around the house. These small gestures will show your partner how much you love and care about them. Take note that you and your partner might speak different languages though, so be sure to speak the language they understand.
How important are each of the individual tasks you feel need to be accomplished around your home? Yes, you'll need clean clothes to go to work in the morning and something to eat for dinner, but not everything holds such high priority. Sit down with your partner to make a list together that ranks what needs to be done, how often, and by whom. Being on the same page will help you keep each other accountable and happier in the long run.
Keeping score is only good for sporting events. If either you or your partner have a running tally of who has done what and when so now it's the other's turn, no one will win this type of game. This method only creates hostility and conflict between you. Instead, go back to number one on this list and realize it's about equality. Ask for or offer help. Be authentic and open with your partner about your needs if you are close to burning out.
I hope these posts have been helpful and shifted the dynamics of how you and your partner are able to manage conflict a bit easier. As always, if you find you need extra help in your relationship, seek a mental health professional who can help you navigate conflict more effectively.