Lessons in Love: The Chores

Did you know that I studied Marriage and Cohabitation in grad school?  Specifically, I studied gender roles and power structures within married and cohabiting couples.  (I know, my poor husband.)  Mr. A and I had such a whirlwind romance that I could have ended up with basically any type of household labor division…. I knew that he kept his room pretty clean and that he was willing to do grocery shopping, but the rest was a big question mark until we moved in together.  Some couples are totally solid doing the traditional gender roles for their household: she cooks and cleans, he mows the lawn and fixes the car.  A ton of couples seek to be egalitarian and equal in their division of household labor, but women still end up “owning” the household chores (Meaning, sure he helps with things around the house but only if she asks.)  There is even a book called The Second Shift about how sometimes both the husband and wife are working full time and at the end of the day the wife comes home to do an entire “second” shift of cooking, cleaning, child-wrangling.  Interesting, no?

The biggest thing I learned when studying power and labor is that the important thing is not how things are split in a household but how fair the people in the relationship view it.

Here are some of the things that work for us:

  1. Ownership.  Somethings are all his, somethings are all mine, the rest is ours.  Mr. A does all the laundry. Doing the laundry is SO his thing that I don’t think about it ever.  I have no idea if we’re running low on laundry detergent.  From start to finish (meaning he folds and puts away our clothes too) he owns the laundry.  I clean the bathroom and do the grocery shopping.  Everything else is jointly owned between us.  When something needs to get done, whomever sees the need will do it.  Mr. A is the first man I have ever lived with where we really share the household.
  2. Chore Time. We wake up Saturday mornings and clean the apartment.  We may grumble the entire time, but we do it.  Then we can spend the rest of the weekend in various forms of lazy and napping without any guild.  It’s lovely.
  3. Chore Aversion.  There are somethings I hate to do that Mr. A  doesn’t mind and vice versa.  (I hate laundry with a firy passion.)  I think we both are SO grateful to not have to do the things we hate, we do the rest of our chores more willingly.  :)
  4. Partnership.  I think it’s important to remember that some days or weeks we all need a little more help.  Being in a partnership means that sometimes I will do more and sometimes Mr. A will do more.  We try really hard to not keep a score sheet, because that leads to resentment.  We love each other.  We help each other out when we see the other person needs it.  We’re both working towards the same things.
  5. Dinner.  We have a simple rule in our house: If you cook, you don’t clean up after dinner.  The end.
What are some of the ways you navigate chores in your house?

12 Responses to “Lessons in Love: The Chores”

  1. Chores at my house are a bit weird at the moment. My bf is only working occasionally and I am in school which has turned things on its head a bit. Right now he is doing almost all the chores except laundry (he is a laundry hater too and I don’t mind). When things were calmer for us we split most things except he almost exclusively does the dishes and I always do the laundry. The only problem we sometimes face when cleaning together is that he moves much slower than I do. Sometimes this causes me to start cleaning what he is cleaning without asking first which can be hurtful instead of helpful. So far though we make it work!

    I like your discussion of partnership. It is nice to have a relationship that is solid enough that both parties know that everything evens out.

    • Haha the same thing happens to us! I can finish way more than he does in a given time… but I kind of don’t care really. As long as he’s not sitting down playing video games during chores time we’re good 😉

  2. The bf and I are actually in the process of rethinking how we “split” our chores. Up until now, the big chores have been: I do all laundry start to finish, and he takes care of dinner and the kitchen. But lately I’ve discovered that I absolutely HATE separating and folding laundry, and he’s discovered that the pressure of planning every single dinner just doesn’t sit well with him. So I think we’re going to start doing chores in a “let’s split everything equally” sort of way, with of course giving enough wiggle room for those days when he’s exhausted from work, or I just can’t look at another clothing item without wanting to scream. 😉

  3. My hubby and I split most things. We both clean as we see things need done and we communicate about it. Right now since I’m pregnant the litter box is his though! :) We also do the if you cook, you don’t clean rule. We are both fairly tidy people so this has always worked out well for us. So weeks he does more, some weeks I do more.

  4. I like this new feature!

    Just moved in with Alan. Before, he had a cleaning lady and personal assistant. He does not have either now and I’m kind of a control freak about chores. So currently (we’re only one month in), I do laundry, he folds and hangs his stuff. I do the cooking and grocery shopping, he does the dishes, and walks the dog. He’s also been sweet about little easy jobs in the kitchen. Like stirring the pot.

    I’m interested to see what happens in the future.

  5. We’ve got an added challenge in our house when it comes to chore time. My wife and I live with my brother, so that’s a third person to factor in. Honestly, my house is never as clean or as organized as I would like it to be. In fact, with going to work (outside the house) full time, shortly, the chores…like everything else is up for negotiation and new scheduling. All I know is the bathroom needs cleaning more often and the floor needs a good vacuum.

  6. Once again, great advice, Bri. I’m loving this series! Since my relationship with my boyfriend is my first one ever, all of this insight is really helping me develop a better understanding of what to expect and what is expected of me in our relationship AKA teamwork.

  7. I love the “if you cook, you don’t clean” rule. That’s going to be one of the things I really work hard on getting into our set of “rules” when the boyfriend moves in (NEXT WEEK! eek!) Also, We both hate laundry… I wonder how that’s gonna go over.

  8. Unless it can be done on a grill, I’m the one who makes dinner. He owns grilling, I own the stove + oven. However, the other person will help get dishes out, be a second hand in the kitchen and then like you and Mr. A whoever cooked? Doesn’t do dishes.

    I took laundry over since I have so many shirts and sweaters that are special wash this or delicate that, and I feared Knight may totally accidentally ruin my clothes. I love doing laundry, though. So much. The other chores? We share them, or do them when it needs to be done.

    And as it pertains to kid stuff, we both hang out with them while they eat dinner (much earlier than we do, which is a bummer) and then he does the bathtime routine while I get their outfits + lunches ready for the next day. It works so well!

    I love this series so much! =)

  9. My mother-in-law and I do everything around the house. My husband works 4 days a week and does nothing unless we ask (over and over and over until we finally get tired of nagging him and just go ahead and do whatever it was we wanted him to do ourselves).

    This is the best post I’ve read in like forever, and your Lessons in Love series is totally awesome.

  10. We rock and roll it as follows:

    ME – laundry (owned), cooking (owned)
    HIM – dishes (owned), garbage (split; I will take it out if I stink it up with foodstuffs)

    Then we split the cost of a maid twice a month. Saves us time and sanity, both precious resources for us. 😉

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