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Let's face it: Dishes left too long in a sink can lead to a drag-down, knock-out, dirty fight. But you can keep your casa clean and your marriage conflict-free by mapping out a chore plan with these expert tips.
1. Identify the chores that need to be done.
It's unfair to berate your spouse for never fluffing the couch cushions if he didn't realize that was the chore list. "I recommend keeping a notebook for a week and writing down each chore each person does, no matter how small," suggests Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage. "Most people aren't aware of what their partner actually does, or how long it takes." With a clear to-do list, you'll have an accurate way to divide chores equitably.
2. Assign chores based on preference or passion.
"Write down the chores that each spouse is most concerned about, talented, specialized, or has specific expectations about how it should be done," suggests Julie de Azevedo Hanks, Ph.D., LCSW, owner and director of Wasatch Family Therapy. "If your husband has a certain way he likes the dishes loaded he can be on dish duty. If you care more about having clean hardwood floors, put that on your list. This will work because you are starting to divide chores based on what you care about most, and this can cut down on conflict and micromanaging your spouse's way of doing things."
3. Reframe the way you view chores.
Even if your spouse is on dish duty, don't think of the dishes as only his responsibility, Hanks cautions. "Think of the household responsibilities chores as 'ours' instead of 'yours' or 'his,'" she says. "Framing household responsibilities as a team effort instead of as one spouse's responsibility can add help bring a couple together."
4. Focus on what you need to get done.
Worrying about what your spouse hasn't done instead of what you need to do can quickly lead to bickering. "Focus only on the chores you took on," says Doares. "Do not follow up or comment on your partner's responsibilities. Allow them to honor their own word. If you or they don't follow through, it is a sign that there really was no agreement in the first place."
5. Show appreciation for your spouse's unpaid work.
"Because we live in a culture that tends to value paid work more than unpaid work it often goes unnoticed and underappreciated," points out Hanks. "Remember to express appreciation to your spouse for their unpaid contribution. When spouses express appreciation toward one another, it strengthens the relationship far beyond the topic of chores."