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Couple Sharing HouseworkGetting married is a big adventure. If you’re like some couples, that adventure might include creating a new home together after tying the knot. Many discuss how to efficiently combine possessions and decorate rooms, but the management of household tasks is also an important component. An equitable division of labor will likely reduce stress, resentment, and hurt feelings. Fortunately, you and your partner can achieve this goal by following some sound advice.

The Second Shift: Women and Domestic Labor

Even with significant gender equality gains, women in heterosexual relationships tend to do more housework. Various studies show that women spend about 50 to 60 percent more time on unpaid household-related tasks than their male counterparts. MarketWatch’s Jill Berman mentions the potential economic impact of women’s unpaid work. If such labor were compensated monetarily, the resulting funds would add about $28 trillion to the global gross domestic product.

Experts speculate about the factors driving these trends. CNN’s Julia Carpenter quotes sociology professor Jill Yavorsky’s conjectures that both a lack of accessible childcare and male privilege contribute to the problem. In these cases, public policy should adjust to accommodate families while men assume more home-related responsibilities. As Martha Stewart Weddings’ Jenn Sinrich points out, leaving chores to chance usually ends up with the woman taking on more.

Societal norms are also slow to change, creating another barrier to egalitarianism. Huffington Post contributor Anna Almendrala discussed an Indiana University study in which respondents assigned traditionally female-type chores to women in heterosexual relationships. These norms even impacted same-gender pairs in the study. Participants still allocated stereotypically female household tasks to partners they perceived as the most feminine. Income was also an influential element, with the study’s respondents assigning characteristically female chores to low-earning partners.

Additional Issues Couples Should Consider

Another Martha Stewart Weddings contributor, Nicole Harris, mentions more pitfalls couples encounter when attempting to divide housework. Each partner may possess different priorities, placing more importance on certain details. This becomes evident when one mate prefers that tasks be done in a timely manner while the other has a more easygoing attitude. Some chores may be tedious, causing more laidback individuals to postpone or avoid them altogether. 

How To Equitably Assign Housework

Most experts suggest that couples adopt a proactive approach to assigning household chores. Deliberately ignoring gender norms is one way to help promote an even balance. Trading chores can also give each partner a chance to avoid monotony and help build new skills. Meanwhile, both Harris and Fast Company contributor Allyson Downey recommend other ways to handle housework assignments:

  • Try aligning them to each person’s interests. Give certain tasks to individuals who find them enjoyable or relaxing.
  • Alternatively, divide them by responsibility groups instead of tasks. For instance, one person could handle all healthcare-related items such as making appointments and paying medical bills.
  • Your schedules are also an important determining factor, so take them into account when balancing the load.
  • How you handle undesirable chores is just as important. Try performing them together or trade them off each week.

Don’t forget to negotiate and be flexible when it’s necessary. Your housework schema should serve as a guideline but remain open to modification so it can accommodate both partners’ needs.

Responsibility, Equality, and Harmony

A home is worth far more than its land, physical structures, and possessions. People are what make a household truly flourish. Love and compatibility may have created your shared bond, but it’s up to you both to maintain it. As part of an egalitarian approach to crafting and maintaining your home life, you must devise a household chore system that’s satisfactory and fair. Steering clear of gender-related assumptions, accounting for busy schedules, and designating a clear division of labor are vital steps in accomplishing this objective.


Category: Marriage Society

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