Do you fight about chores? Are there times when you feel that you are the only one who does all the cleaning? Have you ever thought of posting “I like hugs, I like kisses but what I really love is help with the dishes” on your Facebook or kitchen wall? Or, do you feel like your partner is just too meticulous when it comes to tidying things up? Perhaps the house does not need to be that squeaky clean?
Indeed, household work is one of the causes of marital conflict. “The Good Fight” authors, Les Parrott and Leslie Parrot state that aside from money, work, and friends, “chore war” is one of couples’ volatile topics (2014). This has been one of the persistent conjugal issues which was backed up by a Pew Research survey labeling “household chores” as the third most essential factor that can make or break marriages.
A recent study conducted by Brian Ogolsky, Renee Peltz Dennison, and James Kale Monk looked into the role of house chores concerning 220 marriages (2014). The couples who had just tied the knot within the last 24 months accomplished questionnaires as to their perception of gender roles as well as how much chores each partner should pitch in. The results showed that lower marital quality was apparent when the couples’ expectations of shared housework significantly differ. Specifically, wives reported higher relationship dissatisfaction levels due to perceived discrepancies.
The following suggestions seek to help individuals in relationships overcome conflicts due to household chores:
Set Realistic Expectations
In a Huffington Post interview, Ogolsky explained that he chose to evaluate newlyweds as this is “… one of the first transitions that they go through in which they have to renegotiate some very important roles”. It is then recommended that clear expectations, especially when it comes chores, should be set to prevent unhappy marriages. It would be a good idea to list down and ascertain which duties are more suited for each partner’s schedule, abilities, and preferences. It is crucial to keep the tension low by reminding yourselves that you’re a team and immature acts of blaming, forcing, and being inconsiderate will not help you reach your goal.
Appreciation Works Better than Inspection
Compliment each other’s efforts in maintaining the house as well as the home. Encourage your partner’s creativity and helpfulness when he shows initiative in fixing things up or decorating. Modeling gratitude and courteous words are also helpful in teaching such behaviours in children. Empathize with each other and be willing to adjust expectations when needed. Sometimes, you just need to step in and cover more work and vice versa.
Don't Forget to Have Enough Time and Energy for Leisure
Keep the balance by setting aside enough time to enjoy each other’s company. Sharing both tiring work and refreshing fun will definitely strengthen your relationship. Having a quality time creates core memories that can considerably support you when the going gets tough. Moreover, observing “me-times” are equally crucial. Take turns and specify weekly schedules for individual hobbies, meeting friends, and other forms of personal development.
By Wilma Derksen, C.E.C., O.M.
Therapist and Coach
Parrott, L. & Parrott, L. (2013). The good fight. Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing.
Ogolsky, B, Dennison, R.P., & Monk, J.K. (2014). The role of couple discrepancies in cognitive and behavioral egalitarianism in marital quality. Sex Roles, 70 (7): pp.329-342.