As a modern couple, we struggled when we initially moved out together to really find our roles within our new household. At first, I did the majority of the housework. My husband grew up in a household where the culture reinforced traditional marital roles. His mom did the majority of the cleaning and all of the cooking. So these were the shoes I felt I had to fill. I tried, desperately–failed, miserably. I could not balance a full time job, and the housework. Finally, my husband and I sat down and had that discussion: who the heck is supposed to do what around here, anyway? We came up with the following 3 ways to split the housework.
- Make a list. I am the queen of lists. My husband is not. Nevertheless, we made a list and split it into two columns: Chores I hate/ Chores I don’t mind. By doing this, we were able to pinpoint what was most aversive for each other as well as what we didn’t mind doing. For instance, I hate doing dishes. My husband doesn’t mind. Problem solved. My husband dislikes sweeping, I don’t mind dancing with the broom–solved. It may seems strange, but until you really talk about it, you don’t realize that some of your problems are easily solved.
- Negotiate. For those tasks that you both hate, negotiate. We have two cats and three litter boxes. That’s a lot of poop. After some discussion, we agreed that my husband would scoop the litter if I held the bag open and opened the door for him as he carried it outside. This doesn’t make the task any more pleasant, but it’s helpful knowing we are miserable together.
- Stay away from absolutes. Not everything is black and white. Just because you come to the agreement on who will wash the majority of the dishes, be fair. As mentioned, my husband does the majority of the dishes, but I try to be conscious enough to walk them to the trash, scrape off the food, and rinse. It’s the very least I can do. In the same manner, my husband will pick up balls of lint off the floor in between sweeps. No one should always do all of the work, always recognize that you are a team.