Fairly dividing the household chores seems to be a constant battle in many relationships. The frustration and stress can lead to years of fighting and even worse, resentment. How are the people in successful marriages handling this situation? It is totally possible to change your cleaning battles into a positive experience of long lasting love and sanity.
1. Communication, Not Nagging
When I first met my husband I was still learning the dynamics of good communication. It takes lots of patience and practice especially when you’ve just washed a tower of dirty dishes only to have your spouse dump a bunch more in the sink! Or the time you have just wiped down all the counters and five minutes later there are food wrappers on them just a few feet away from the trash can. My immediate response used to be irritation and then nagging. One of the best things for my marriage was learning that nagging was not the answer to my problems. My husband simply just needed me to ask him and he would do. Which leads me to number two.
2. Accept Your Spouse's Method
This one also took me a while to learn. Many of us fall into this trap: “I want you to WANT to help.” In the midst of frustration this could seem very logical. Let’s read that sentence again. Frustration and logic never go hand in hand. Of course my husband wants to help me in any way he can. He is the kind of person who will gladly help…when he is asked. This frustrated me for some time until I realized: why should it frustrate me if he happily helps whenever I ask him to? I learned to accept his method of helping and then I embraced it.
3. Stop the Perfectionism
I am the ultimate perfectionist! I am OCD. When a picture is crooked, I will straighten it out. When books are not organized from large to small, I will take the time to fix it. You can imagine the perfectionism shock I went into once I got married and had two kids. We are not wealthy and we do not have a house cleaner on call. I was trying to live up to some fantasy where my home would be clear of any messes, every corner “lickable,” and no large piles of mail anywhere to be found. (This is still a nightmare…someone help me with our issue of never ending piles of mail!) As I began my venture into Buddhism, I thankfully learned a few things. My house is a constant family party. We are always eating home made meals, playing with our kids, dancing, singing, and Living. I learned to be grateful for our family messes because they signify love. I learned to let go of this fantasy of having a perfectly clean house every single day and instead I shoot for twice a week.
4. Flash Your Spouse
Yes, you read correctly. If you have a fun and silly dynamic between you and your spouse then this totally works. My husband and I are extremely playful so this is a norm for us. When I am in a playful mood and he is playing a game on his computer I will have the flash ready for him when he turns around. Then I ask him for the help I need and he is more than happy to assist me.
Household chores are a constant struggle in relationships and at times can be the leading cause of separations. It doesn’t have to be that way. What works for some couples may not work for others. What methods do you use to keep your love and sanity flourishing?
Written by Stephanie Briggs (Sterp)