We Don’t Fight About Housework And Here’s Why
BY MIKE TANNER
Photo by @darby/Twenty20
Sep 6, 2017
My wife is the bringer of bacon and winner of bread at our house, and I spend my day trying to keep two toddlers from killing or maiming themselves or others. It’s not typical (although it is becoming more prevalent), but it’s how we’ve decided to manage our lives.
Instead, my wife and I do the things we do because we like (or at least don’t hate) doing them.
The business I worked for closed at the same time I was supposed to go on paternity leave, so we made the decision that I would stay home and develop a small business on the side. I'll admit, there are a few “homemaker responsibilities” that I shirk, and my wife is (mostly) okay with that.
Here’s how we find balance in a totally unbalanced household.
First off, my wife and I don’t keep score. I don’t do the dishes because she did the dishes last time. I just do them. And she doesn’t shovel the driveway because I shoveled the driveway last time. Instead, my wife and I do the things we do because we like (or at least don’t hate) doing them. I’m not a marriage expert, but I’ve been around a lot of spouses who do keep score, and I have to say, it doesn’t look like a system that works very well.
I do the dishes in our house. My wife occasionally does them, but they’re mostly my responsibility. My wife and I never formally decided that dishes were my job. There’s no verbal or written contract in place. (A brief note on verbal contracts: If verbal contracts agreed upon before marriage actually counted, I’d have a dog. I don’t have a dog. So if you really have a sticking point, I suggest you get it in writing.) Basically, I just started doing the dishes when the dishes needed to get done. But I don’t do toilets.
It’s not that I can't clean a bathroom, I suppose my standards of bathroom cleanliness are not as...particular. I was cleaning the bathroom one day and my wife came to me and said, “How about I clean the bathroom?” We went with it.
We’ve separated tasks based on things we like to do and things we’re good at. What we’ve discovered is that there aren’t any tasks that both of us loathe, so it works out.
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One of the neat things about being married is learning what floats the other person’s boat. (I don’t mean in the bedroom, although that’s great too.) What I mean is that when my wife discovered that I liked filing and sorting, she was greatly amused. When I discovered that my wife enjoyed weeding a garden, it blew my mind.
The key to this entire process is that we don’t really care who does what. We care that things get done. Some days she doesn’t touch a dish except to dirty it and sometimes we collect compost in whatever containers we can find because I don’t feel like taking it out.
But in the end, everything gets done. And that’s all we really care about.
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