When you’re thinking about all the wonderful things about 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 it’s a way that each of you contribute to your home and make 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. This helps build the idea that you are active partners," he tells Elite Daily. "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." So yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.
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 after all. Here is 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. And Winter stresses that equality in workload is the key to success when it comes to assigning chores.
Dr. Brown says the first step is to identify what all needs to be done around the home. “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 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 will have worked out a chores list for both of you.
However, if you find that the conversation is not going as smoothly as you may have hoped, Becca Coffey, an online life coach at Blush, tells Elite Daily to take a step back and consider where your partner is coming from. “It’s important to understand how each partner grew up. 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,” she suggests. “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 it’s important, the experts say, to make sure that the division of chores 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 that 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. Dr. Brown adds that it’s also important that each partner actually follows through with the plan. “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 feel 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 Dr. Brown says the lines of communication on this subject should stay open. “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, Coffey says it’s also essential to remember that each relationship has its own unique balance, and the key is to find yours. “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 absolute 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 to remember when it’s your turn to take out the trash. Just sayin’.
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