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Married Life: Chores

July 20, 2011

Whenever I read about how other married couples split up household responsibilities, I feel inferior and overwhelmed.

Most people generally agree that it is easiest if each person has specific responsibilities, and that we can help each other with them.  This sounds great, but we just can’t get it together.  We may be able to agree on responsibilities, but then one (or both) of us will have an insane week, and it just makes sense for the other (or no one) to do what needs to be done.  Our approach to chores is very reactive.

I take more initiative in the meal department.    It isn’t that T won’t cook, or that he’s not a good cook.  It’s possible he’s a better cook than me.   He just seems to wait until I say “why don’t we have homemade pizza for dinner?” before he’ll get started.  We take turns with the actual cooking, based on who is more tired. That’s our system.   If neither of us are horribly tired, we often cook together – I’ll shred some cheese while he slices tomatoes.  He’ll volunteeer to “make the rice” while I do everything else.  (Note – we have a rice maker!  Making the rice is not a real job!)

I would say I cook a little more often.  I do nearly all of the grocery list making and meal planning.  This is fine with me.  I’m more picky about meal planning, and it’s easy for me to swing by the grocery store on my way home from work to pick up a few things.

I do more dishes than than he does, but not so much more.   I’m generally responsible for all travel plans, excluding wilderness permits for backpacking trips.  I maintain our budget (but T could care less if I did this or not!).   I worry about long term plans, though some might question whether I should bother.

T does more of the deep cleaning.  Vacuuming, scrubbing the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen floors are all things I happily let him do while I find something else to work on (counters, windows, cooking, anything!).  I do get stuck with the bathroom sometimes.  I’m more of a tidy-er and organizer, which isn’t technically cleaning, but it makes a huge difference in my stress levels to not have crap (usually clothes or T’s school papers) everywhere.

T is responsible for getting quarters, and I try to take responsibility for the laundry.  Truthfully, I never actually take full responsibility for it.  After two (or one…) loads, it starts to feel overwhelming, and we end up taking turns switching out the loads.

There are two things I’m most grateful for that T does.  First, he makes lattes every morning.  This takes about 15 minutes.  He does this mostly for himself, because honestly, I’d be satisfied with regular coffee & lattes as a treat.  But I still benefit from this, a lot.  He also  handles all things related to our car.  I have never even put fuel in myself.  I think he is worried I’ll forget it is a diesel and put gasoline in.  I won’t!  I promise!

So that is our “system”, though if it is haphazard and reactive, it isn’t much of a system, is it?   We never fight about chores, but our apartment isn’t always spotless.  Is your system more organized?  Does it make a big difference?  Should we keep on trying to get something in place, or wait until T is done with school and our routine is more stable?  Or should we just get a housekeeper to make sure we stay on top of the scrubbing?

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2011 8:49 am

    We just had a baby last month and we’ve found the same thing, that our set of responsibilities has been turned on its head. From grocery shopping to cleaning to all the stuff in between, the schedules and patterns we’d developed have been wiped clean. We’re slowly starting to re-develop a new routine. My wife does the grocery shopping. I do most of the deep cleaning, she does most of the cooking and a tad more dishes than I do. It works but you have to be willing to make a routine and also have some flexibility during the crazy times.

  2. July 20, 2011 9:32 am

    Your set-up sounds very typical among my female friends. Most women do seem to take on the cooking, which includes groceries and meal planning and is frankly more time-consuming. I think women tend to take on more “daily” chores like cooking, dishes and laundry which really add up and add to a lot of stress. Plus women tend to manage the chore / todo lists. I think that’s why in the end women end up with more chores/stress than men. If anything I would suggest separate laundry baskets. For some reason that has really made a difference for us as I have full loads just with my own stuff and don’t have to worry about cleaning /folding his clothes!

    Once a baby arrives, all rules go out the window for the first few months!

  3. July 20, 2011 9:52 am

    We don’t have any sort of set distribution of jobs but I do think we split the work evenly on a monthly but probably not weekly or nightly basis . Who cares if you have a system or not as long as you’re happy?

  4. July 20, 2011 10:01 am

    I do most of the cooking and meal-planning (cooking is more of a hobby for me than a chore, although I sometimes get annoyed with him). My husband takes out the garbage, vacuums, and cleans the floors. We each do our own laundry because I am kind of anal about my clothes and he wouldn’t take care of them how I’d like (he throws everything in the dryer, doesn’t separate, etc.).

    We have had a cleaning lady come in a few times, and I must say, it makes me very happy. I don’t think we are busy enough to need her to come in all the time, but it’s really nice to have the bathroom be magically clean! She is also much more thorough than me, and does stuff like cleaning the bathroom walls and dusting the dresser that would never get done otherwise.

  5. July 20, 2011 11:08 am

    DH and I definitely don’t have equitable roles when it comes to keeping the house clean and doing chores. I’ll admit that I take on most of it because I like things done a certain way and have a routine. Whether I’ll be able to maintain that routine or not after our baby is here remains to be seen!! But yeah, DH has the good life – he does his own laundry and is responsible for taking out the trash, vacuuming every day (we have a dog and 2 cats so this is a must or else it gets gross super fast), and helping with the dishes/clean up of the kitchen. Otherwise, I do the rest and I’m actually totally okay with that. 🙂

  6. July 20, 2011 4:53 pm

    LOL about making the rice! Your chore division sounds a lot like ours (he does vacuuming/floors/bathrooms, I do laundry/grocery shopping/cooking/dishwashing)! Occasionally I’ll vacuum or he’ll wash the dishes, and we’re each responsible for certain household bills. We both work full-time but unlike his jobs (one mostly-full-time job plus a few freelance jobs on the side), mine is an 8-5 job and I never have to take work home, so I have more time to do more chores. I’m not much of a neat freak, so it’s ok with me if our place isn’t spic n span all the time. Is it a 50/50 sytem? No, but it works for us!

  7. July 20, 2011 5:43 pm

    Yeah it is otherwise I think i’d be single:P I use a 15 minute/day cleaning routine where I spend 15 minutes on area of the house everyday rotating over 7 days. It took a little longer at the start but now I can clean the bedrooms in 15 minutes and then i’m done for the day. I spend another 15 hanging out washing etc but I can keep our house clean in 30minutes a day.

  8. July 20, 2011 5:58 pm

    We don’t do specific jobs, but we take turns doing everything. I do the dishes one night, boyfriend does the dishes the second. I do my own laundry, he does his (we both have specific ways it needs to be done). Boyfriend usually cleans the toilet, I do the sinks. Take turns with the tub. It really works for us because no matter how busy either of us is, it should be a shared responsibility. Plus, this way, I don’t feel like killing him when he doesn’t do it, cause he always does 🙂

  9. July 20, 2011 8:47 pm

    I think if everything is getting done and you’re both happy, it probably doesn’t matter whether you have a system or not. If it gets to a point where one person feels like s/he is doing all the work, then it’s probably a problem, and time for a system of some sort.

    We don’t really have a system either. It bothers me more when things are messy, so I end up doing a bit more of the cleaning work. Sometimes if I’m super busy, I have to ask hubby to help out, but he always is willing to help-he just won’t do it without being asked. I don’t really want us to have assigned “chores”, though, and most of the time I don’t mind just doing the little cleaning, as long as hubby chips in for the bigger stuff.

  10. July 20, 2011 9:07 pm

    YES, totally! T whoops my ass at cooking but doesn’t take much initiative. Because he’s an improv kinda guy, I’m the planner and shopper, and when I try new recipes I have to plan ahead, but if he wants to make something up, he usually decides that on the spot. I do 99% of the dishes (how I want a dishwasher – it’s my #1 thing when we ever buy a place). Even if I could persuade him to do them more often, he does a shoddy job, and it’s exhausting to nag.

  11. Slinky permalink
    August 16, 2011 10:29 am

    This used to be a problem for us until we both realized that we needed to accept our strengths and weaknesses. It didn’t seem fair that he ended up doing more of the everyday chores all the time.Then one day we kind of just both realized that I do all this other stuff besides the dishes and mopping and we realized we handled household stuff like we think and it kind of all evens out. He looks to our immediate needs like cooking and keeping up with the dishes and picking up stuff. Meanwhile, I’m looking at the big problems and looking to the future. I research stuff like new cars and houses and vacations. I handle our investments and insurance and fine print stuff. I’m also prone to occasionally tackling big cleaning projects like reorganizing the hall closet from the pile of junk and clutter it’s become. I do help with the everyday stuff too, but no where near to doing half of everything, but you know what? That’s totally ok.

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