What tears couples apart isn’t always the Big Things. Often, it’s the everyday things, the stuff that you feel like you should be able to brush off, but trying to do so only makes you angrier, and so you brew resentment in silence until one early morning when some unrelated annoyance makes you explode with the words “YOU ALWAYS FORGET TO THROW AWAY THE PACKAGING AND WHY DO I HAVE TO DO IT FOR YOU, I AM NOT YOUR MOTHER!”
Um, anyone else been there?
This happens a lot with chores. We all have expectations, whether or not we articulate them, for what a home should look like (or smell like), what needs to be done and how often, and who should be doing these tasks.
The reality usually is that everyone is doing things, and many of us think we’re doing a disproportionate amount of things, which is why the moment we find out that certain expectations aren’t being met, there is confusion, defensiveness and blame.
We need some help communicating. That’s why I appreciate The Great Chore Audit, a resource from Real Simple. It’s a worksheet that lets you and your partner (or housemate or kids) go through each chore, one by one, and really think about how it’s getting done.
Who’s doing the dishes (the chore that causes the most relationship discord)? Should that person be doing the dishes? Is that person content doing the dishes? Is he or she any good at doing the dishes? Does the person even have the time to do the dishes based on his or her life and career goals right now?
Basically, you’re forcing yourself to dive deep into the dynamics of the chore, and shifting things around in a way that makes sense. It isn’t the most thrilling conversation, I know, but if we are not intentional about having the discussion, we end up defaulting to gender norms (which happens even with gay couples) and the stress of invisible labour persists.
As Real Simple points out, the goal of the chore audit shouldn’t be to get to a perfect 50/50. Situations and responsibilities are constantly shifting. But talking about it puts you and your partner on the same team. It’s you against the chores! Whether or not you’re victorious, it is a happier way to live.