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.