Someone might say, “no one gets divorced because their spouse didn’t take out the garbage.” Well, actually they do. One of the biggest sources of conflict, along with finances, is household responsibilities. When people don’t feel their spouse is doing their fair share, it can lead to a lot of marital problems.
When one spouse feels overwhelmed with household responsibilities it can lead to a lot of anger and resentment. Often, it is wives who feel unappreciated and overwhelmed with housework, although husbands sometimes experience this as well. Learning how to get along despite your differences is an important part of keeping your marriage healthy.
Examine Your Values
Have a discussion about your values. Often this is at the heart of many disagreements about chores. For example, do you believe housework should be shared equally? Or do you think a wife has more responsibility to do the household tasks?
Also, a couples’ work schedule sometimes plays a big role in determining household tasks based on their values. If one person works more than the other does that mean the person who works fewer hours has to do more chores? Does money play into it at all? Sometimes people think “he who earns the most should have to do the least chores.”
Do you have beliefs about who should be doing what chores? For example, should men do the yard work and women do the indoor chores? Although many people might think they don’t hold onto stereotypes of what men and women should be doing, it’s likely that most people do.
Once you have thought about your own values, take a look at your partner’s values. Are they different? All together about these differences and how this impacts your marriage.
Communicate About Priorities
Communicate to one another about what your priorities are when it comes to household chores. For example, is a manicured lawn more important than a clean kitchen? Do you want a clean bedroom more than you care about the dishes being done?
It’s likely that you have different priorities about what is most important. Discuss a plan to make sure that both of your top priorities are being tended to. A husband who comes home frustrated every day when the dishes aren’t done might be surprised to learn that his wife prefers to clean the bathroom and before doing the dishes. If they discuss this, they can develop a plan such as having him do the dishes since this isn’t his priority.
Work together on problem-solving. It’s likely that you both done place equal importance on household chores. So spend some time discussing how to resolve this.
If one of you prefers to do chores on the weekend and the other wants to relax, this can lead to anger and resentment from both sides. So discuss how to resolve this. It may take some alternative solutions, such as hiring a teenager to mow the lawn.
Resist the Urge to Nag
Whatever you do, don’t nag. Nagging creates more marital problems. In fact, a research study conducted by Dr. Howard Markman who is the co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver showed that men cited nagging as one of the top reasons they got divorced.
So instead of saying, “Remember you said you would mow the lawn today,” consider some alternatives. Instead of giving your spouse a deadline, try saying why it is important. For example, “Can you make sure the lawn is mowed before the barbeque tomorrow” is more likely to get a response.
Don’t be afraid to take matters into your own hands. Consider mowing the lawn yourself. Or doing whatever chores you want done.
Finally, you may need to come to a place of acceptance. It might just be that your spouse values household work a lot less than you do and isn’t interested in pitching in as much as you’d like. If this is the case, you have a few choices. You can certainly spend your marriage nagging, arguing, and begging your spouse to do more. Or you can accept that your spouse probably isn’t going to start cleaning after 10 years of marriage and develop a plan to keep the peace despite this.
Consider Marriage Counseling
Seek marriage counseling if you are struggling with sharing household responsibilities. If you find that you argue a lot about chores or are growing angry and resentful toward your spouse, make sure to seek help. Professional help can assist you with learning new skills and strategies that can be helpful to your marriage. If your spouse refuses to attend counseling with you, seek counseling for yourself as individual therapy can be effective in helping restore marriages.