very day comes with a long list of things to get done. Laundry, dishes, cleaning the yard, walking the dog (if you have one), cooking. It can get exhausting, especially if only one person has to do the bulk of the house chores.
This brings us to a fundamental question in marriages – How to divide household chores fairly?
Having to deal with all these chores can bring up many questions in your mind. “Isn’t it too much for me? My spouse should do more of these house chores,” and many other thoughts may come visiting as time proceeds.
Well, if you have ever found yourself in that position where you’re confused about it, you would learn how to divide household chores fairly with your spouse by the time you are done reading this article.
Why does domestic work fall to women?
As a child, there’s every possibility that you may have seen something like this. The men wake up in the mornings and rush off to work, leaving the women back home to do the house chores and take care of the children. If you were raised in this kind of environment, don’t worry because you aren’t alone.
A study documented by the Frontiers in Psychology revealed that men between ages 18 and 34 in opposite-sex relationships are no more likely than older couples to divide household chores equitably.
This study went on to reveal that the average American woman spends almost double the amount of time on unpaid work as men (this unpaid work mostly includes household duties), with an average of 38-40 hours/week being spent on caring for children and 20 hours/week on household chores.
Domestic chores tend to fall to the women in opposite-sex relationships. Here are some reasons why this tends to happen.
It is mostly an environmental thing
Going by the findings from the research stated above, many youngsters would be more likely to embrace gender equality in terms of how household responsibilities are split between couples only if they saw this happen when they were much younger.
One of the main reasons why many people believe that women should do the housework is simply because they’ve been subconsciously trained to do so.
There’s the general belief that women are more attuned to it
Research has shown that women tend to be more nurturing and attentive than men. They tend to be more in touch with their emotions, exhibit higher levels of empathy, and are more attentive than men.
One of the results of this has manifested in the assumption that because women possess all of these characteristics, they are most suited for managing the home front and carrying out the bulk of household responsibilities.
While it may be scientifically true that women tend to be more nurturing and attentive than their spouses in heterosexual relationships, this doesn’t automatically mean that the men have to leave all the domestic chores to the women.
That said, one of the keys to having a happy family is to develop the art of effectively dividing household chores between the man and the woman. Don’t know how to do that? Don’t worry. Here’s how to get started.
10 ways to divide household chores fairly
These are several ways to divide household chores fairly.
1. Start by making a list
Research has proven that both men and women tend to overestimate the exact amount of work they do when it comes to running their household.
With this in mind, the first step to attaining an effective division of household chores is to make a list of household chores for couples. It is impossible to equitably split what you do not know.
To achieve this, sit down with your spouse and make a list of all the household duties to be carried out and how frequently they need to be executed (every day, weekly, or once a month). When you have a comprehensive list, you can bounce ideas off and reach a consensus on how to split household chores.
2. Take your personal preferences into cognizance
Some people are wired to love doing some things, while others aren’t. One way to divide household chores fairly is to do your best to assign chores you love doing to yourselves. Does your spouse love cooking? You can let them do that while you do the cleaning (or whatever you like).
3. Determine if any of you feels more concerned about how visitors view your home
While you communicate with your spouse about dividing household chores, determine if any of you feel more responsible for how visitors would view your home.
If one of you feels that way, you may want to consider allowing them to clean the house because they would most likely be satisfied if and when they do it themselves.
4. Consider getting some external help
This works most if there’s so much work to be done and both you and your spouse would rather not do them (maybe because you are both busy people).
If you can afford it, please get someone to help you with some of the domestic chores. Also, try to see to it that the person focuses their attention on the household chores neither of you (both yourself and your spouse) enjoys doing.
If you are looking for more tips to manage household chores with your spouse, watch this video.
5. Plan the week ahead
There’s this popular saying that whoever fails to plan automatically plans to fail. This applies here as well. If you want to get into a new week of spouses sharing household chores equally, taking some time to plan a new week will go a long way to help.
When you have made a comprehensive list of what should get done by the new week, liaise with your spouse and decide who gets to do what.
A simple husband and wife chore chart will be of help to you at this stage.
6. Think about your external engagements
If either yourself or your spouse has multiple external engagements and has to be away from the house for a long time every day, you may want to factor this in as you split household chores among yourselves.
The ultimate aim is to divide household chores fairly, not swarm one person with the domestic chores while the other does little or nothing.
As you assign household chores to yourselves, ensure that you factor in your external engagements, including the time and energy those will cost you.
Another thing you want to consider here is the kind of work you do, both yourself and your spouse. Do you work part-time or full-time? Does one work part-time and the other full-time?
Having these in mind as you try to figure out how to divide household chores fairly would help you achieve your aim faster.
7. Be clear about expectations
Is there a particular way you would want something to get done? Are there things you want your spouse to take into cognizance as they work on their share of the domestic chores?
How to divide household chores fairly? Set the right expectations. Let your partner know these as it would make it easier for them to carry you along, even when they carry out their household responsibilities.
Is there a way you would prefer your clothes laundered? How do you like your meals prepared? Do you feel more comfortable if your spouse leaves a specific part of the domestic chores to you? You may want to spend some time with your spouse discussing these.
Here’s how to think of it. Your spouse isn’t all-knowing, so don’t feel bad if you don’t let them know precisely how carrying out their chores will make you feel happy.
8. Embrace minimalism (if you can)
Minimalism is the practice of intentionally living with only the things you need. Although it is challenging, minimalism is a rewarding lifestyle, especially in this context.
This is because adopting a minimalist lifestyle will greatly reduce the number of domestic chores you do in the household. Minimalism may be a great solution to the question, “How to divide household chores fairly?”
Imagine not having a garage full of tools you don’t need or a ton of dishes you never use. This automatically means that you wouldn’t have to deal with carrying out these chores because you have not allowed the need to come up.
Remember this, “less can sometimes be more.”
9. Choose specific days to binge on time-consuming domestic chores
This applies more to you if both of you are full-time workers or busy on regular workdays. You can choose specific days like Saturdays or specific Sundays in the month (the weekend) to execute particular household chores.
Usually, the tasks you would do these days are more tasking, time-consuming, and stressful.
Chores like cleaning the yard (if you have one), mowing the lawn, or sorting through your attic can fall under this category. Choosing specific days to work on these domestic chores can give you some rest of mind, even as you warm up to the D-days.
10. Plan for the unknown
Here’s the thing. No matter how much you try to prevent it, emergencies may come up. These could be in many forms and could prevent either yourself or your spouse from doing the household chores you ought to, at the right time.
Someone could fall sick, have to embark upon an emergency trip, spend more time at work, or come back too tired/weak to do any household chore. Planning for the unknown will help you effectively manage anything that may come up, including unpleasant emergencies.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.