Before I married my husband I informed him that he had to do his share of the housework. As in half the housework. Fifty percent. While we didn’t map out our division of labor, somehow it became his job to take out the garbage and scoop the cat box. I cooked most of our meals and tackled a majority of the dishes. He sorted and washed our laundry.
While it might seem like I have the unicorn of husband when it comes to housework, it wasn’t always that way. We fought over how much housework I expected him to do, especially after we became parents. To be precise, he thought he was doing his share but I didn’t think he was pulling his weight.
Relationship experts say the number one stressor in a couple’s relationship is money. I think it’s the pile of dishes in the sink or the dirty underwear left on the bathroom floor. We live in a two-bedroom apartment. How hard is it for him to walk the10 feet to our bedroom and drop his dirty boxers into our hamper? Some of our arguments would turn into shouting matches. Over dishes and laundry. Looking back, it sounds ridiculous.
What I eventually realized that he didn’t see the clutter and mess the same way I did.
As a work-at-home mom, I’m surrounded by housework: piles of dirty laundry, piles of clean laundry, kids’ toys strewn all over our living room, and oh, how I hate the dishes in the sink. My office is really a nook in my kitchen, right next to our laundry area. I am literally surrounded by the mess.
In order to get any work done, I have to tune it out. Nothing messes up my concentration more than getting up to change the laundry or wash a sinkful of dishes. All of that ignoring is mentally draining. I still know it’s there, even if I ignore it.
My husband works outside the home. Our home is his haven after a long stressful day. Here he can be himself and not worry about office politics or spreadsheets. He’s just happy to be home, no matter how it looks.
In order to keep myself sane, we’ve had many discussions about our division of labor over the years. Now we think more like a team. Some nights we hang out and do the dishes together. Not incredibly romantic but it’s our time catch up with each other. Or we tackle the mountain of clean laundry while we watch a movie.
I also had to change my mindset. I’ve increased my tolerance for mess. With two young kids and both of our workloads, we can’t do it all. So our home is messy and cluttered. The sink is usually full of dishes. I’d rather have family movie night than do the dishes. I also pay my eight-year-old $5 a week to scoop the cat box.
Do you argue with your spouse about housework?