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Split Chores, Not Your Relationship: Talking About Tasks at Home

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If there’s one thing couples who live together often argue about, it’s doing household chores. For instance, washing the dishes is a major source of relationship tension that can lead to couples splitting. Although completing household tasks is not the sexiest thing to discuss, no couple can get away from it—no matter how they try to sweep this topic under the rug. Good thing, there are ways to deal with this.

There are no labor laws in marriage or partnership. No party is expected to cover one particular in a house. But without guidelines, it’s easy to fall into an argument on who does what to maintain a house. To come up with an agreement that works both for you and your partner, here are some tips to help you.

List every chore you and your partner can do—then hire someone for the rest.

Start the talk by listing all the tasks that need to be done daily, weekly, and monthly. After listing everything, discuss who does what task and the expectations you both have. Use this talk as an opportunity to negotiate about the chores you can’t or prefer not to do. But try to approach negotiations with a little humor to avoid or ease the tension. Talking about household chores doesn’t have to be a war.

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For those tasks that you and your partner can’t or don’t like to do, consider hiring someone. Of course, this move completely depends on your incomes. But if you’d rather spend your Saturday morning hanging out at the park or having a breakfast date than tending the garden or doing AC maintenance, then outsourcing household tasks is well-worth your money. Your relationship deserves quality time, after all.

Don’t criticize how your partner chooses to complete their chores.

If you don’t like the way your spouse does something, consider switching it up. Do the dishes if you feel like you could do a better job. But never coach them how to do it unless they ask for help. Criticizing your partner on how they complete their tasks will only create more unnecessary tension in the relationship.

If they do something that greatly bothers you, sit down with them and talk it out. But try to stay away from using absolute phrases when speaking, such as “You never,” “I always,” or “You do nothing.” Even if it’s true that they always miss a certain corner when sweeping, it’s their instinct to defend themselves. The talk can turn into a shouting match quickly. So never use absolutes and offer to switch tasks instead.

Have an open running dialogue about household chores.

The list of chores that need to be done never ends. Just because you had one successful talk about it a few months ago doesn’t mean you don’t need to have a conversation about it again. Make it a habit to discuss how you both feel about chores and schedules, so you keep any resentment from building up.

Above all, show some gratitude and remember that you and your partner are on the same team. As you both work out the kinks of your arrangement, expressing gratitude can help create a lasting positive home environment for both of you. Remember that you both want to be happy being together under one roof.

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