Dividing Chores With Your Partner Doesn't Have To Be A Nightmare
When you think about all the wonderful things that come with living with someone you love, dividing chores with your partner is probably nowhere near the top of the list. However, choosing how to maintain your home is actually a really important part of living with someone, not just because no one likes the dishes and laundry piling up, but because how each of you contributes to your home and makes it, well, a home. But if the chores aren't split up fairly, it can also easily become a source of friction, warns Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples' therapist in Los Angeles.
"In general, it is important to divide up the chores so that both of you feel like you are contributing to your home," Brown tells Elite Daily. "This helps build the idea that you are active partners. If you don't divide some of the chores, one of you may wind up feeling resentment, and over time, that resentment can turn into bitterness. And bitterness is like rust. It silently corrodes the heart of a relationship."
Knowing this, the question becomes: How do you divide the chores in a way that feels fair? As it turns out, it doesn't have to be that difficult. Here's how the experts say to fairly divvy up the housework with your live-in boo.
Dividing Up The Chores.
“No one likes doing chores, but it's a reality that must be negotiated by couples who've decided to live together,” Susan Winter, NYC relationship expert, love coach, and author of Breakup Triage: The Cure for Heartache tells Elite Daily. Winter stresses that equality in the workload is the key to success when assigning chores.
The first step is to identify what needs to be done around the home, says Dr. Brown. “Once you've made a list of chores, then you have to figure out just how much time and energy each of you has to take on specific chores. In some situations, it isn't always going to be a 50-50 compromise,” he explains.
Winter suggests focusing on which chores are your least favorite and which ones you don’t mind doing. “This is the most effective starting point for negotiation,” she says. “Perhaps your partner doesn't mind doing the laundry, but loathes doing dishes. That's an easy task to assign. Start with what each of you individually hates the most, and negotiate your way up the ladder toward, ‘not so bad.’ If there's a chore you both hate, consider a two-for-one deal. As in, ‘I hate doing laundry so much that I'll do the dishes and clean the toilet... if you'll do the laundry,’" says Winter. Before you know it, you'll have worked out a chores list the both of you can live with.
However, if you find that the conversation is not going as smoothly as you may have hoped, take a step back and consider where your partner is coming from, Becca Coffey, an online life coach at Blush, tells Elite Daily. “It’s important to understand how each partner grew up," says Coffey. "Understand the roles that they were used to seeing. If one partner watched his mother do most of the chores, then he or she will have no concept of how to split and share chores. Find a common ground of responsibilities of each partner. The expression of gratitude can be so helpful in this.”
Making Sure It’s Fair.
Making a list of chores for each partner in the abstract is fairly easy to do, but the experts say it's important to make sure that division is actually fair in practice. “Equal distribution of the workload is the key to relationship happiness. One partner doing all the work is a surefire recipe for resentment and friction,” says Winter.
The way to make sure the division of labor is fair begins with taking your non-chore workload into consideration, says Dr. Brown. “For example, if one of you is working full time and the other is working half-time, then it may fall to that partner to take on more of the chores. Perhaps one of you is stronger than the other, so that partner may take on the truly heavy lifting such as taking out the trash,” he explains. It's also important that each partner actually follows through with the plan, Dr. Brown adds. “Once you agree to take on chores, it's important to be a good partner and follow through on your agreement,” he says.
Keep The Lines Of Communication Open.
Another way you’ll know if you’ve divided things equally is how each of you feels about the chore situation over time. “You know things are generally fair if neither of you, over time, is feeling any resentment about how the responsibilities are being handled,” says Dr. Brown. If you discover over the coming weeks and months that your plan didn’t quite work out as evenly as expected, it’s time to renegotiate. That is why the lines of communication on this subject should stay open, says Dr. Brown. “Definitely take the time to sit down and have what will likely be a series of conversations about how to divvy up the chores. See how things are going. Determine that you are going to talk in a month or so, if not sooner, to see how things are going,” he advises.
While all this advice is a great starting point, it's also essential to remember that each relationship has its own unique balance, and the key is to find yours, explains Coffey. “It’s important that each partner in the relationship feels loved and taken care of rather than taken advantage of,” she says. “There is so much beauty and excitement in living with each other. It is a wonderful new adventure. You get the insight that absolutely no other human gets — the good, the best, and the ugly. Enjoy all the little moments and remember you’re both human.”
But also, don’t forget when it’s your turn to take out the trash. Just sayin’.