Division of Labor with the Marriage 

Sometimes people think that divorce is caused by major sources of conflict. In reality, it is usually smaller sources of conflict that are left unresolved and eventually they become big sources of conflict. Division of labor is one of those issues that can lead to big conflicts. Division of labor includes the day to day household chores such as cooking, cleaning and caring for children.

Determining who is going to do which activities around the house can be a source of many arguments. Maybe you like the house to be clean but your spouse can tolerate a little more “mess.” Perhaps you do the cooking and expect your spouse to clean up afterward but find dirty dishes still waiting for you the next day. Maybe you are concerned that the garage is always a mess, the closets are overflowing, and the ceiling is leaking and your spouse prefers to spend the day doing a leisure time activity.

The source of this conflict usually comes down to values. What is more valuable to you? Having a clean, presentable house or visiting with family despite what sort of shape the house is in. Or perhaps you value hard work and want to ensure that projects get done in a timely fashion and feel frustrated that your spouse watches television or is on the computer instead of working on those projects.

Communicating with your spouse about these problems is important. Unresolved issues can lead to feelings of resentment that can build up fast if one person feels as though they are doing everything around the house. Try to develop a plan and try to stick to it for a month. Perhaps that means spending 20 minutes per day cleaning together. Or maybe you take the divide and conquer approach where you work indoors and spouse works on outdoor projects. Or maybe it means taking one Saturday afternoon a month to tackle bigger projects. Whatever it is you decide, see if you can follow the plan for an entire month. At the end of that month re-visit the plan and discuss what is working and what is not.

If you find that you and your spouse are arguing about household chores, do not be afraid to seek help. People sometimes think that arguing about laundry is not a reason to seek therapy. But unresolved problems about the division of labor around the house cause major conflicts that can lead to big problems if people do not seek help.

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