Arguing over chores is one of those things that not only causes endless squabbles, it’s a leading cause of marriage break-up.
Yes, those dirty socks on the bedroom floor and the apparent inability of men to clean a toilet can spell the end of a relationship. Conflict over chores is second only to money in what causes couples to fall out.
The problem is that resentment over chores left undone (or done primarily by you) builds up and if you are not careful, you end up transferring your anger to the bedroom where it kills passion stone dead.
But is it really worth getting so worked up about socks and toilets that you switch off in the bedroom and risk losing out on what could otherwise be a good relationship?
Only you can decide that, of course, but be careful that you are not building up the issue out of all proportion. Even if you’re tired, overworked, and have too much on your plate and he’s not helping, there are ways to deal with the issue before it gets out of hand.
What Stories Are You Telling Yourself?
When resentment is building up, there’s probably an unhelpful refrain going through your mind.
“If he cared for me, he would help around the house”
Telling yourself this story means that you feel he doesn’t care about you. You think if he loved you he would notice how tired you are and help. But the chances are that how much he cares for you and how much housework he does are not even remotely linked in his mind. You’re reading too much into his lack of action in the house.
“I shouldn’t have to ask”
Many men will help out if you request help, but then you feel that the whole thing is falling on your shoulders because you even have to ask. Why should it seem like he is helping you? Surely housework is a joint responsibility? Yes, you’re right chores should be shared, but his parents probably didn’t act like they were so he hasn’t got the message (or doesn’t want to hear it).
“ He’s a lazy slob”
As he lies on the sofa watching the sports channel while you wield a duster in your precious time off, you can start to lose respect for the man of action you thought you married/moved in with.
What The Story Actually Is
Remember that’s there’s another side to every story about housework – an equal and opposite truth that paints a slightly different picture of the situation.
You May Notice The Dirt More Than He Does
There may be some men who notice dirt, but the three males in my house don’t seem to. Either that or they notice and simply don’t care about it. I start getting uncomfortable with the state of the house well before they do. In fact, they have never been known to comment on any level of squalor at all even if I neglect things for weeks. So, though you may think he doesn’t care about you because he doesn’t help it’s more likely that he doesn’t care about dirt and untidiness.
He May Do More Than You Think
Just because your man doesn’t clean and do traditional housework, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t make any contribution to the running of the household. Sometimes we just forget that there is more involved than cleaning. You should bear in mind that he’s contributing if he
- organizes the household finances
- pays bills
- picks up dinner or wine on the way home from work
- gets the car serviced
- fills the car with fuel
- does repairs around the house
- changes light bulbs
- puts up shelves
- gets rid of pests
- walks the dog
- cuts the grass and other gardening chores
- deals with the trash
or any one of 1001 tasks that keep the house running. In fact, it wasn’t until my husband started going away on business for a week at a time that I realized how much he actually did!
He’s As Tired As You
Your guy is probably exhausted too after at week at work, and given that he doesn’t care about the dirt, but does care a lot (for some weird male reason) about the sporting results, it seems perfectly sensible in his mind to spend some time relaxing on the sofa. It’s no reflection on his ability to be a guy who gets things done when (he thinks) it counts.
So, what can you do about all this to prevent it destroying your relationship? You have the choice of harboring resentment (and still having a house that needs cleaning) or you can take action.
You May As Well Accept Responsibility
Given that you are the one who cares about the dirt, suck it up and take charge (without resentment) for the state of your home. It doesn’t mean that you have to do all the work, it just means you accept full responsibility for it getting done.
After all those struggles for women’s liberation we still have more than a few glitches and I’m sorry to say this is one. You care about the dirt more than him – if you didn’t there’d be no problem – you’d be lying on the sofa on a Saturday afternoon watching reruns of Sex And The City while he ran around with the vacuum cleaner.
Sorry, it’s just not going to happen (and if it did would you really want that guy or would you secretly hanker for the all action hero type who doesn’t know one end of a vacuum cleaner from another)?
Get A Cleaning Service If You Can
If you can afford it, get help with the chores from a service. You will still have to do some stuff around the house, of course, but the major things will be done with no nagging or extra exhaustion.
Ask For Help
Whether you think you should have to ask or not, never mind – you want it done and him to do it. Always ask without nagging. A simple request with a smile and a kiss (make it as passionate as you like) works much better than any kind of nagging or whining. After that kiss, maybe you’ll both forget all about the chores or take a rain check for later!
Relax About The Method
If he doesn’t do whatever it is he’s doing to your standards, just let it go as long as it’s actually done. You can always do it your way when it’s your turn to do it.
Have A Routine
There are a lot of sites around the web such as flylady.net that swear you can keep a house clean in 15 minutes a day. If 15 minutes a day is all it takes to make you happy with your home and save a relationship, then it’s 15 minutes well worth spending. (I have never managed this 15 minute trick I have to admit, so feel free to let me know how you do it in the comments.)
One thing that most of these sites do is rotate around rooms/tasks on different days so that nothing ever gets so bad that you feel bad. Spending just fifteen minutes a day may at least go a long way to stop you feeling enraged about the state of your house and the lack of help.
Get Your Priorities Straight
The happiest households are not those with the lowest level of dust or the tidiest sock drawers. They do not look like “Homes & Gardens” hot off the press. (Heck, even the homes in those magazines, don’t look like their pictures most of the time.) The happiest homes are the ones where you can just relax and spend time with your partner and family. Make sure the basic cleaning gets done to keep things from descending down to pig sty level and forget the rest. Spend the time and energy you save in bed with your man. That’s much more likely to result in the outcome you really want than arguing over chores.