Marriage is great, wonderful, and adventurous all at the same time. Until it’s not.
When married couples both work, and things must be done around the house, it can become contentious very quickly. Marriage is supposed to be a shared thing. But no one wants to share cleaning the bathroom.
The biggest mistake my wife made in our marriage is to ask me for “help” with chores. By doing that, she led me to believe that those responsibilities were hers, which meant I was going to be a hero if I pitched in to wash dishes or do a load of laundry every now and then. Now I know better. So I started to treat this aspect of my marriage as if it was a business. I had a meeting with my wife and came equipped with charts and graphs and lists and projections. Well, not really, but we did sit down, come up with a plan and then both agreed to it.
Why not do the same with your spouse? Here are a seven suggestions to survive dual incomes without duals:
1. Discuss the Things You Absolutely Hate Doing
Who knows! Your spouse might like doing something you just do not want to do. And if you both loathe something equally as much, you can always get creative and find money to pay for someone else to do it.
2. Make Lists that Consist of “Yours,” “Mine,” and “Ours”
Or, my personal favourite, “I can’t wait until the kids get old enough to do this so I never have to do it again.”
3. Diversify the Responsibilities
Switch the chores up every so often so someone does not feel stuck doing the same thing all the time.
4. Write Nothing in Stone
Don’t look at an overwhelmed spouse whose turn it is to fix dinner and say, “Sucks to be you. It’s your job. You shouldn’t have tried to be such a good cook.” Instead, get in the kitchen and do it yourself!
5. Communicate as Much as Possible
Especially when it comes to meetings, errands, and special occasions. Write down everyone’s schedule, and then post it. In my family, me, my wife, and the kids (because they are older) have iPhones that allow our calendars to be synced. We each get the lists and calendar notifications at the same time. That way, we can trade off if we need to.
6. Recap When Things Get Done Correctly or Need a Little Improvement
Praise accomplishments and strategize why things did not get done or work out this week — or this month, or however often you do this. Never point fingers. Instead, find solutions.
7. Politely Remind or Encourage Each Other
Sometimes it takes some reminding to not forget how important a certain responsibility is and why it must be done.
If your spouse flatly refuses to do something, you have some decisions to make. Chances are you are not going to change your spouse, and if you’re like my wife and I, divorce is not an option. You might have to hire help. (For most men, when they hear this, they change their minds about pitching in.) You may have to stop doing the tasks that aren’t as important right now as other tasks. The world will not stop spinning if the house isn’t spotless every single day.
Next, I would like to discuss football and how the spread formation is revolutionizing the game….
Okay fellas, your wife stopped reading for a bit, but she will be back so we should make this quick. Here is a secret tip. The degree to which housework is shared is now one of the two most important predictors of a woman’s marital satisfaction, according to Stephanie Coontz in The New York Times. She polled wives and they told her the top source of their stress was the fact their husbands did not want to do their fair share of household duties.
Studies show that women feel more sexually attracted to partners who help out around the house. Now there’s a good reason to share responsibilities! Besides, if you do part of the work she won’t be so dead tired all the time. But just don’t do it to get sex. She is the love of your life, after all. Take some stress off her shoulders if you can. It may take a couple times for her to realize you are helping, so don’t give up. Just get in the groove and soon you will both be in sync … in the kitchen and in the bedroom!
Okay, I think she is coming back to this article, so I will leave it at that. Just trust me….
The last thing is to have the children share some of the responsibilities. They live in your house, too. They should help make the household run efficiently. The day I taught my children to wash dishes — and when they did it correctly — was monumentally stupendous. When the kids take on some of the chores, it leaves more time for you and your spouse to focus on other things that need to be handled.
Keep at it, don’t give up, and do not let the never-ending chores destroy your marriage. Tinker with your lists and charts and graphs and power points — or whatever you use.
One last super-secret classified tip I have is this: don’t overthink how difficult one chore is over another. They all have to get done. There are so many ways to be successful at shared responsibilities. If you ever want to know the easiest way to do something, find the laziest person you know and ask them how they would do it.
Work smart, not hard, and enjoy your marriage.