Then vs. Now

When it comes to who does various jobs/chores around the home, most couples set up, or fall into, a routine early in marriage. Unfortunately, some couples don’t rethink and redistribute as their lives change. Usually, both husband and wife become busier as the years go by, but the increase is rarely even. In addition, some chores get bigger – doing laundry for a family of four is far more work than doing laundry for the two of you. Failure to rethink the jobs leads to one person doing more than they can/should, and that will lead to resentment.

Most of my marriage I have done work that has busy and slow seasons, so The Generous Wife and I have dealt with this several times a year for a quarter of a century now. We have reached the point where it’s not even discussed – we each stay aware of how busy the other is, and we each pitch in as needed. If you can learn to be aware and scale jobs on the fly, that’s great. If not, I suggest having a discussion of workloads every few months. Don’t allow resentment to build!

A couple things to keep in mind:

  • Certain jobs will take one of you more time than the other. If you can do a job faster, it’s good use of your combined time for you to do it.
  • Some jobs take more effort, physically or emotionally, for one of you than for the other. If a job cost her less emotionally (such as she hates it less than you do) then having her do it may be the best for the two of you as a couple.
  • Some tasks are relaxing or emotionally beneficial to some folks. If one of you enjoys something, clearly that person should do that job when possible. If you both like a certain job, share it or switch off.
  • If one of you is picky about how a job is done, you will both be happier if that person does that particular job. However, if one of you is more picky about how most jobs are done, you will have to find a middle ground for those jobs done by the less picky person.
  • How busy you are is not just a function of how much of your time is taken by things that must be done. The physical and emotional cost of your daily required tasks needs to be considered when looking at how busy each of you is.
  • Try to balance the rest of your day with your chores – if one of you works hard physically, then physically easier chores would be better for that person. If one of you works hard mentally, then mindless chores fit well for that person.

Finally – don’t see the household jobs in terms of what she does vs. what you do. Rather, see them as what has to be done by the two of you as a couple; then make the best use of your combined resources. Just like a sports or business team, what’s best for the group may not be evenly balanced for each person, and the best person for a job will change as the job changes.

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2 Comments on “Then vs. Now

  1. Good Stuff!

    I would add also to re-examine your concept of fairness. ‘Fairness’ really does not exist. And so, the more you pursue it the more nebulous it becomes. Why? Because ‘What is fair’ is an ever-shifting point of view based on an emotional reaction. Jesus spoke on this in this parable:
    “For like is the kingdom of the heavens to a man, a householder, who came out at the same time with the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.
    Now, agreeing with the workers for a denarius a day, he dispatches them into his vineyard. And, coming out about the third hour, he perceived others standing in the market, idle. And to those he said, ‘You also go into my vineyard, and whatsoever may be just I shall be giving you.’ Now they came away.Now, again coming out about the sixth and ninth hour, he does similarly.
    Now, about the eleventh, coming out, he found others standing. And he is saying to them, ‘Why stand you here the whole day idle?’ They are saying to him that ‘No one hires us.’ He is saying to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ Now, evening coming on, the lord of the vineyard is saying to his manager, ‘Call the workers and pay them the wages, beginning from the last, to the first.’And, coming, those hired about the eleventh hour got a denarius apiece.
    And, coming, the first infer that they will be getting more. And they also got a denarius apiece.
    Now, getting it, they murmured against the householder,saying, ‘These last do one hour, and you make them equal to us who bear the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’
    Yet he, answering one of them, said, ‘Comrade, I am not injuring you! Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Pick up what is yours and go away. Now I want to give to this last one even as to you.
    Is it not allowed me to do what I want with that which is mine? Or is your eye wicked, seeing that I am good?’ Thus shall the last be first, and the first last.”
    Matt 20:1-16

    Be good! Just as you were created to be!

  2. Thank you Paul for this great reminder!

    Being work at home parents…we have had these discussions ourselves…and still don’t always get it right…

    My work right now happens to be slower, so I am tending to do more of the ‘household management’ duties. Unfortunately, I haven’t wrapped my head around them being just as significant for our family as “making a buck”. I’m learning, but sometimes I am a bit slow!!! :)

    Your fourth point is very valid for us – if something needs to be done, and I feel strongly about it…I feel like I should be the one who takes care of it. Not pushing it off on my wife.

    A conversation that we need to have, or at least think about, is the emotional vs. physical nature of tasks. That is a great point I don’t think either one of us has considered.
    .-= stu@themarryblogger´s last blog ..Have a Happy Easter =-.

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