Of all the aspects of married life, one of the most difficult parts of our first few months of marriage was the division of household chores. We got married in June and, as teachers, went back to work at the beginning of August. Suddenly, we both went from working 0 hours per week to working over 40. We had to reevaluate how to divide chores, household maintenance, and cleaning tasks.
I would like to say that I instantly knew how to solve the problems of what I perceived as an unequal division of labor. Unfortunately, that’s not true. I ended up complaining and arguing with my husband about who had to do what. What I should have done was begin a conversation. When we finally sat down and talked about it, I realized that I had no reason to be upset. We were able to solve our problems so easily just by being honest with each other!
Here are my steps to fairly dividing household chores.
Make a List
The first step in your conversation is to make a list of everything that needs to happen on a daily, weekly, twice-weekly, monthly, twice-monthly, and yearly basis. The good news is that I have already done for you in my beautiful chore chart. It is three pages of a variety of tasks. Subscribe to receive it free!
Once we created that list, we were able to see exactly how much had to be done around the house. It was a lot! I felt that my husband and I understood each other’s concerns better when we had a written list. This alleviated the “Why do you never put away the laundry?” complaints.
Assign Tasks and Frequencies
Someone once said that if your spouse hates vacuuming, but can tolerate washing dishes, you should take on the task of vacuuming. It’s just polite and thoughtful. It shows love and consideration towards your spouse, and helps you work together as a team. My husband and I followed this after we had written our list. I do not like washing the hand-wash only dishes, but I do not really mind any of the other chores. My husband signed up for dishes first.
It is also important to consider the frequency of tasks. How often do you want to change the sheets on the beds? Or take out the trash? Or check the smoke detector? How often should you? Thankfully, I have already done this for you on the chore chart!
Fair is not Always Equal
In an imaginary world, husbands and wives have exactly the same number of household duties that perfectly match their desired jobs. (Or they have a maid!) However, this does not always work out in real life. For example, a stay-at-home spouse should have different duties than a spouse who works full time. If both spouses work equal hours, one should not have more duties than the other. A spouse who has physical limitations should not be assigned the outdoor lawn-care tasks.
Some of this is common sense, but it is important to note that neither the husband nor the wife gets a free pass when it comes to chores. As a team, each must contribute to the cleanliness and safety of the home. Since my husband and I had both lived on our own before we got married, we both felt confident doing our own dishes, laundry, and yard care. I’m so thankful for that opportunity.
Set a Routine
The best way to alleviate arguments over who does what at home is to make the household chores run efficiently. It’s almost like a machine. If I always empty the wastebaskets on Monday nights and my husband always rolls the trash can out to the road on Tuesday mornings, there’s no fuss each week. The key is establishing those routines and sticking to them early in your marriage, and then reevaluating every so often. For example, if my husband studies for a Master’s degree or if I stay home with children, those pre-determined chore assignments might change. In addition, a family with older children might assign certain jobs to their children.
Write it Down
I’m a visual person. It helped me tremendously to write each chore and mark when it had been completed. That’s the beauty of my chore chart: I have already labeled the weeks and months. Just place a checkmark in each box as you complete it. I keep my chart on the refrigerator, but it would also be perfect in your homemaking binder. We’ve been using our copy of the chore chart for over four months, and the fights about chores and duties have all but disappeared.
How does your family avoid arguments about household duties?