Friday, February 15, 2013

How we handle chores

As every couple must, both Mr. Adventure and I talked about who would be handling the household chores after we were married. This topic can be pretty controversial, so I'll start out by saying this is how B and I do things. Everyone divides tasks differently, and I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty or left out.

Our pre-marital counselor said that household chores are the number 2 thing couples argue about, after money. Each person has a different outlook on chores depending on how their parents did things and how they were raised. Even social norms can influence this decision (ex: "laundry is women's work, or "the man is supposed to take the trash out!")
how we handle chores: frying pan battle!
In order to find out how B and I felt about cleaning we both took a quiz that asked us what our top 5 most annoying chores are (mine were taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, folding socks, making the bed, and cleaning my car) his were (cleaning the toilet, doing the dishes, folding laundry, sweeping, and cooking). This quiz then had us make a list of chores that we felt we would be responsible for after marriage, as well as describe the things we felt our partner should do. I'm proud to say Mr. Adventure and I matched up pretty equally, give or take a few.

Those things that you don't match up on are called Chore Peeves. You know, those things that if they aren't done and completed correctly, will set you off like a driver who just got cut off at an intersection? I'll be honest, we clashed on a few chores. For Mr. Adventure, it was the bed. My husband likes his bed made a certain way, and if it's not made that way he can not sleep in it. Really. Many times early in our marriage I was hustled out of bed while he pulled all the covers off and remade it, because "I made it wrong" and "it didn't lay right". He had to teach me how to make it the way he liked it, and I had to get over the fact that I hate making the bed and to "just do it" with love. (people who just pile the blankets on themselves, represent! I was one of you...)
thought provoking chore meditation
For me, it was the trash. I hate taking out the trash! My husband said he would handle this chore, but after two weeks...the trash was still there. He had to learn that with us married, the trash filled up a lot quicker then he was used to and required taking out more frequently. (We haul our own trash to the dump!)

When we finally sat down to actually divide the chores, the first thing that we both realized is that B works a lot. And by a lot, I mean more then 50 hours a week. Sometimes more then 60. I, however, feel like death if I work 40 hours a week, and refuse to do that to myself. Even before we were married I only worked 30--and after we said "I do" I cut back to 20, since I am no longer the main provider in our family unit and I wanted more time to work on my small business.

Our "work hours" played a lot into how we divided our chores. Together, we decided I would handle a  majority of the chores, and I would also make breakfast and cook dinner every day. My husband, on the other hand, would pay all the bills. I think this is a more then "fair" trade when it comes down to it (I really dislike using the word "fair" when referring to marriage, because marriage is NOT "fair" by any standards, and should not be treated as thus, but I couldn't think of a better term)
Thus, I am the one who does the dishes every night. I cook, and clean, and have even set myself up a nice little weekly schedule so I remember to do everything. Mr. Adventure has not washed a toilet once in our married life. (uh, I don't think he washed it before we were married, but that is another story...) Neither has he washed even one shirt in the laundry! I don't say this out of pride or to brag about myself, or to make you think B is some sort of male chauvinist. In actuality, my husband works his tail off in the office to pay off our house, cars, and to provide insurance for both me and our worldly possessions. It seems almost natural to me that I provide for us at home.

Now, I must mention two points. One, this schedule will change when B and I have kids. We don't know how it will change, but we do know adding a very codependent life to our mayhem will require adjustment. Two, B does help out when I am sick. Last week I had the flu and I was miserable. He made me lunch (first time he's cooked since we got married, actually) and he even went to the store by himself the next day and acquired food items for me. And he's brought me countless glasses of hot peppermint tea, and been super polite with my poor whiny sick person attitude. (I'm such a big baby -_-)
Have you thought about how you will handle chores with your spouse? Here are some things to consider if you need help in this area or are just exploring the waters.
  • What are you good at? What is he/she good at?
  • What things can you not stand? Make sure the other person knows.
  • What are you willing to compromise on?
  • Have a plan before you move in to avoid disputes.
  • If you need help, try not to complain or make the other person feel bad. A simple "will you help with this?" or "when were you planning on getting X done?" will suffice.
  • Discuss what household chores your parents were responsible for and your thoughts on their roles. 
  • Don't sacrifice your intimacy or communication over some dirty dishes or socks :) 
How do you and your husband handle chores? Did it change when you had kids?


Rachel said...

We've never really organized who does what for us, it really depends on the day, although we tend to fall into habits of who is good at doing what. I don't know how to use the snowblower or lawnmower tractor so he always does that, and I'm much more likely to cook dinner because I have a far larger repertoire of meals that I know how to cook. :P But we pretty much decided at the start of our marriage to, instead of trying to figure out the division of chores, to just have the attitude "Don't be lazy" and whenever we saw something that needed to be done, if we were able to do it, we would do it. So far it works!

deanna@delirious-rhapsody said...

before owsley was born, peppy and i worked opposites shifts and took turns staying home with gage. so we both did chores. now i stay home, and peppy works, so the chores basically fall on me. but he does help out on weekends. and he mows the yard/does the yard work every time.