It Takes Two to Tango
Dividing up household chores can often be a point of contention among couples. Often one person may feel like they end up doing more or all of the chores themselves without much help from their partner.
This can lead to resentment and arguments. Having a clear plan in mind before asking your husband to help out more around the house will help you avoid getting into a fight and ultimately make getting the chores done more efficient and convenient for both of you.
Determine what needs to be done.
Make a list of all the weekly chores and who currently completes the task. In defining the mandatory tasks, you clear the first hurdle of your husband overlooking the tasks left undone. Moreover, identifying the exact chores can help both of you see what constitutes household work. Typical chores include:
- Tidying all areas of the house
- Laundry (washing, ironing, folding and putting away)
- Grocery shopping, plus other store visits
- Cooking, washing the dishes
- Bill payment and sorting
- Yard work, gardening and maintenance
- Getting children to any extracurricular activities, medical visits, etc.
- Pet care, including grooming, vet visits, feeding, etc.
Make a date with your husband to discuss the chores. Schedule your date after a fun day or at the end of the work week––just avoid booking time immediately following an argument or when something else has your husband’s attention. Grab some wine, get away from the kids (and the TV), and bring your list to the date.
- Don’t broach the subject of helping around the house during an argument or tense situation; you’ll never get the help you need and deserve.
- Avoid treating your husband like a child or being bossy. This will only end in arguments and nothing will change. Avoid pulling the martyr routine; all that does is have you continue to burn internally while everyone simply acknowledges that you put up with it even if they have to tolerate mumbling.
Begin by telling your husband how much you appreciate what he already does around the house and for your family. Reference the tasks he performs already and talk about how his contributions make a difference in how well the family functions. Then go on to explain that because you feel as if you’re taking on more than you can handle, you’d love him to help out more.
- Show him the list of tasks so that he can see the multitude of household chores in black and white.
- Tell him that his contributions would help maintain your energy levels and give your family more time to do things instead of waiting around while you finish the housework.
- Avoid yelling at your husband. No one responds well to being yelled at. If he feels scolded it may cause him to retreat.
Keeping a home is a shared endeavor. Don’t be afraid to point out chores that you need extra help on.
- If your husband is resistant, be patient. You may have to compromise at first. Pick two or three chores you really want him to do and work on those first.
- Let him know if you think certain chores could be done more effectively or quickly with his particular talents or temperament
Define easy, moderate and difficult tasks. Rate each task by considering how time-consuming it is, how strenuous, and how often it must be performed. For example, washing the floors may be a moderately difficult task, what with mopping, sweeping, waxing, etc.
- When writing up the list, consider items that could make cleaning easier. For example, can you upgrade the vacuum cleaner or get better detergent? These can be excellent tasks to assign to your husband. Making him feel that he has bought the items can give him a greater sense of pride in using them to prove that they’re doing the job better than the old items!
Ask your husband to review your list and find the chores that he wouldn’t mind taking on. Encourage him to choose some simple tasks, as well as some more complex ones, so that the housework load is evenly distributed. If he doesn’t have the experience or knowledge to do some of the harder tasks, talk about when you can teach him how to do those things.
Recognize and learn from each other’s strengths. Part of your conversation when splitting up the chores might be to talk about what you are each good at. Some chores might be easier or less stressful for one of you depending on your skill set and temperament. This is also a good opportunity to talk about how you can learn from each other so that in the future you will both feel more confident taking on any chores that come up throughout the week.
- Make your own lists of chores you feel like you are good at and compare notes.
- Make a list of chores you really dislike doing and that you are hoping your partner can take on.
- Problem solve together. If there are chores you both don’t like, work together to come up with strategies to complete them more easily. Maybe these are chores you decide to get done together.
- Spend some time teaching each other how you do certain chores. If your husband has a particular way he likes to do the dishes that is different from you way, ask him to show you. Take on the role of student and be willing to see the benefits of doing something a different way. Switch roles for chores you feel confident in. Ask your husband to just listen and participate before asking questions or making other suggestions.
- Be willing to listen. Don’t interrupt your partner when they are showing you their way of doing things. Keep an open mind. Ask your husband to do the same for you.
Switch things up. Part of the reason no one likes to do chores is because they can be so dull and boring. If there is a particular chore you both don’t like doing try alternating days or weeks with that chore. For example, this week you do the dishes and he does the laundry and next week you switch. This will increase your sense of sharing the responsibilities while also breaking up some of the monotony that comes with doing the same chores everyday.
Recognize and encourage your husband’s efforts. Trust that your husband is doing the chores the best way he knows how. Be open to the fact that even though he may have a different way of doing them he can still be effective. If there are chores that you need or want done a very specific way, consider doing those yourself.
Explain to Your Partner what chores needs to be done
Don’t tell him that he must do the chores one way and on a certain day, but instead explain how you do it and what has worked for you.
- Avoid speaking down to your partner. Try to think of this as an opportunity to share your point of view, rather than instructing your partner as though they are incapable or unwilling. Instead of saying things like, “Make sure you do it like this,” try using “I” statements like, “I like to do it this way. I find this gives me the best results.”
- Be open to suggestions. Use “you” statements to ask questions. “Do you have any ideas about how to improve this process?” “How do you feel about doing the task in this way?”
Set aside one time a week where both of you pitch in and do household chores together, after which there is room for relaxing and leisure. Saturday mornings can be a good time if there aren’t other commitments since it frees up the rest of the weekend. Otherwise choose a time that fits and lets both of you do housework in tandem.
- Make dinner together. This can end up being a good time to talk about your day and for both of you to learn new skills by trying out new recipes once a week.
- Let him wash the dishes while you dry. Or you rinse them and he loads the dishwasher.
- Play music or a podcast while you dust the living room. Anything you can do to mix a bit of leisure or fun into doing chores can make the tasks seem less daunting and actually turn them into a bonding experience.
- Call yourself a team. Think about you and your partner as a team and the chores as a game you working together to win. Keep a score chart for your team. Reward yourselves with an hour of TV or a glass of wine when you’ve completed all your tasks.
Plan cleaning in advance. Prepare his mind and his mood to be engaged when the weekend comes to clean the house. Do it together and limit the time so your family doesn’t spend the entire day cleaning. The goal is to get your husband to get involved. If it becomes too much, he may not want to do it again. Start small and build from there.
- Make a chore chart with each task listed out and when it needs to be done.
- Plan in other activities like taking a walk or a break to do some reading so that the day doesn’t feel bogged down by just doing chores.
Reward Each Other
This should go both ways. Try alternating tasks and rewards. Whoever cleans the bathroom this week gets to pick what movie you watch on movie night. Whoever cleans out the fridge gets a twenty minute backrub before bed.
Get into the habit of thanking each other for keeping the household running smoothly. You both contribute to the harmony of the home, so both of you need to acknowledge this from time to time. The more you demonstrate your appreciation to one another, the more it becomes a good habit.
- Thank your partner for specific tasks. “Thank you for mopping the kitchen floor. It looks wonderful!” It can be easy to start taking for granted things that they do every week.
- Remind your husband how much you appreciate being thanked.
- Thank each other for doing extra work. No matter how hard you try there are going to be weeks where life catches up with your family and one of you ends up doing more of the chores than the other. This is part of being partners in a relationship. Be sure to point out when you see your partner taking on more of the chores to take some of the pressure off of other things that might be going on in your life. Be willing to do the same.
Remind yourselves that it takes time to change. Be flexible and patient. It takes time to change old routines and habits, especially when one person has been relied upon to keep the house clean. It may take lots of gentle reminders and additional persuasion, but persist until it becomes the norm in your household. And avoid keeping score; he’s likely to slip up, and you are too. Just gently remind him of his end of the bargain when he fails to meet i
- Have weekly check-ins. Take some time to discuss how the chores went for the week. Avoid blaming each other. Everyone’s schedules are different and no week is exactly the same as the one before it. Start by talking about what went well instead of what didn’t work. Focusing on the positive will make it easier when you start to address the things that didn’t go the way either of you had hoped.
Watch Video! – Is housework shared fairly in your home?