Dividing housework duties with your spouse

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When we were still courting the love of our lives, we spend a fortune on flowers, chocolates, and occasional fancy dinners. We literally opened doors for them, pulled their chairs for them, and carried baggage for them. So now that they’re married to us, all we do to help her is raise our feet to let them slide the vacuum cleaner on the rug while we’re on the couch holding a can of beer watching ESPN?

Dividing housework duties with your spouse

If one the partners is unfairly overburdened with work, it can destroy a relationship? Love flies out the window?

Nope. It’s the other way around.

You are confusing cause and effect.

When one partner lets the other become overburdened with work or/and the other partner resents being overworked without help, there’s not enough love going around the house.

Gentlemen, you may protest incredulously and say:

“Hey! I love my wife just fine. But wiping baby bums, doing the laundry (what!? I’ll wash the wifey’s undies?!!!!), washing the dishes, vacuuming around the house, and an endless list of household chores? I didn’t sign up for it. I’m a trained money-maker. I’m an awesome bread winner. What I do is put food on the table, buy gifts to the wife, take her out to dinner and generally make things easy and beautiful for us. In fact, I bought her a vacuum cleaner for her birthday last year.”

When we were still courting the love of our lives, we go out of our way to make them feel loved, protected, and served. We spend a fortune on flowers, chocolates, and occasional fancy dinners. We literally opened doors for them, pulled their chairs for them, and carried baggage for them. We treat them like royalty! Heck, we would even want to lay down our coats on the puddle she’d walk on.

So now that they’re married to us, all we do to help her is raise our feet to let them slide the vacuum cleaner on the rug while we’re on the couch holding a can of beer watching ESPN?

Cause and effect: The fever didn’t make you ill, it’s the other way around. Unfair workload doesn’t make love fly out the window, instead it is because you don’t care/love enough so you don’t notice the better half is bitter that she has more workload. When solving a problem, you don’t treat the symptom (one partner doesn’t care that the other is overburdened). Instead, you treat the cause (why doesn’t she/he care?)

I can hear your protestation of love, protesting the implication of it all. But think again. Love is a verb, an act. You don’t ease up on your efforts at showing it, expressing it, just because you already are married. If left unchecked, there is a danger that this will worsen down the years to come. And before you know it, you will be slowly drifting apart because of complacency. And you’d complain, “We used to love each other dearly, but I don’t know what happened. We don’t talk anymore.”

Ladies, you may not be without fault with the setup. Do you remember how you touch him in the face, or how lovingly you look at him with genuine concern to ask him how his day was? How tired he looked coming from work? You may protest, “How can I do that when two hands are not even enough to do all the work at home. And he expects me to serve him like a master when he arrives?” And you would go on, “Why, he’s the only one who gets tired just because he’s the breadwinner? He works 8-5 and I work 24/7!”

Listen to yourself. Where is the love?

If you love each other, if you wish to show your love to each other, you will forget thinking about yourself and focus on how the spouse is doing.

If you are going to sit down to talk about how unfair the setup is, and you need to let him/her know how he/she needs to help you…DON’T.

If you are going to sit down to talk about how unfair the setup is, and you wish to know how you can ease up the other’s workload…DO!

If you love your spouse enough, you will not mind doing all the work, and vice versa.

I am not stereotyping the sexes. I know of a husband, who comes home from work, happy to see his wife, hugs her, and cleans up the messy house. They’re both happy. I know of a wife whose husband is a slob but remains unfazed. She doesn’t let anything go between them, not even a bunch of dirty dishes in the sink, and soiled socks hanging on the bedpost.

I was a slob myself before I met my wife who can’t stand a messy room. But there was no problem. She didn’t mind cleaning after me. But she doesn’t know how to do the laundry so I wash the clothes (mountains of them, including her undies!) She doesn’t know how to iron clothes, so I do them. And I didn’t mind. And I was her hero. I remember, those were the only things I did around the house. Now, I got used to a clean house and before I knew it, I also tidy up without even thinking about it. Without being told….well, sometimes. Most of the time, she gives me the death stare, and I tidy up…without even thinking about it.

Love each other again

 When you do, you’ll focus on helping each other, not on how unfair the set-up is. You don’t sit down and list down to-do lists. Sharing of workload would just happen naturally. You don’t ask to be helped. You are happier to help.

Here are some related articles:

Say more with gestures than with words

Dealing with marital issues maturely

Discuss your way to a better relationship

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Written by

Ron Afable

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