Most people would agree that doing chores is one of their least favorite activities. Few people look forward to scrubbing the shower or raking leaves. Chores are even more unpleasant when we feel resentful at our partner. They are a source of tension in most relationships. The tension often arises from a lack of communication and honesty. The following tools will help you negotiate household chores with your partner.
Where Does It Start
Past cultural terms dictated tasks based upon gender. Women cooked and cleaned. Men mowed the lawn and took the garbage out. Today, we live with different norms. Traditional gender-based tasks no longer exist.
Avoid Tension – Communicate and Negotiate
The most important skill in any relationship is honest communication. Marriage is more about negotiation and communication than compromise. Compromise is a problem when one partner believes they concede to the other partner too often. Negotiation is communication and solid agreement with terms at the end of the conversation. Successful relationships always encompass clear and honest communication, negotiation, and realistic expectations.
Tools To Use
1. List all the chores and jobs done around the home. Ask your partner to help with the list. This establishes a teamwork environment. You both have an opportunity for input.
2. Ask each other to take responsibility for the tasks. Don’t assign each other work. Rather, select tasks you honestly believe you can complete. Ask your partner to take on the jobs he or she can complete. Be honest about your ability to complete a chore. For example, you suffer from hay fever which means you most likely will not want to mow the lawn. Instead, offer to do the laundry or clean the bathroom.
3. Agree on acceptable standards. He may not find the dust a problem, but you must dust every day. If that is the case, don’t resent your spouse for not dusting. If it bothers you, then you should take care of the chore. You must come to an agreement about what is acceptable. Piles of dishes in the sink or overflowing garbage may be mutually unacceptable. Negotiate who take the garbage out on which days and who does the dishes.
4. Stop nagging. Nagging is death to a relationship. It kills all respect and communication. Instead, remember your spouse is an adult and treat him or her as such. Don’t treat them like children. If a job needs doing, then ask your partner to help out by completing the job.
5. Too many jobs, too much time, and not enough fun? If financially able, consider hiring help. Housekeeping and yard work may be tasks you can delegate out to a service.
6. Think outside the 50-50 work split box. Sometimes this arrangement works for couples. If it is not for you, consider distributing tasks based upon ability. You are a phenomenal cook while your spouse is great at ironing.
7. Create a reward system. Agree to work on tasks for a set time. When done, do something relaxing and fun together. For example, work in the yard or clean the house for 3 hours on a Saturday. When time is up, go out to lunch or bike ride. Whatever is a pleasant activity to do together.
A creative reward system is to put an agreed amount of money in a jar every time you complete a task. You could establish separate jars. At the end of the month, season, or year use the money to buy something fun for the house, take a trip, or go to dinner.
8. A checklist on the refrigerator may be helpful. If a task is not done, negotiate with your partner that you complete the task if they take on one of your tasks.
9. Don’t forget the kids. Involve the kids at an early age. They love to help mom and dad with the smallest tasks. A reward system works well for kids. Pay a small amount for each chore or other reward. Chores teach children teamwork, negotiation skills, and responsibility.
10. Laugh it off. Looking back, all the times I had a tantrum about the garbage or dirty clothes on the floor seem ridiculous. Take it all in perspective, ask for help, set boundaries, and keep your anger in check. Above all else, learn to laugh off the unimportant things like dust.
Chores are not fun, but they don’t have to create strife and discord in your relationship. Find creative ways to negotiate with your spouse. And speak up with honesty if you believe you are carrying to much or need help.
In the end, chores are another aspect of living with other people. Take the time to work as a team, communicate, and pitch in. These skills strengthen a marriage and family.