Can slackers and neat freaks coexist in a marriage without a major chore war?
Firstly, all pejorative and negative terms like ‘slob’ or ‘neat freak’ should be removed from conversations. Not only do they hurt your partner, but they also create unnecessary distance and fan the flames of potential conflict over seemingly small issues.
Understanding your partner as a separate individual and giving them space for their individuality is extremely important. So, how does one develop greater respect and understanding for the other?
The first step is to share. Share the reasons behind why you are like when everything is organized or why you are messy. Was it the way you were brought up? Or was it the overpowering need for you to be efficient that that made you more organized? Talking about these things with your partner not only clears out misconceptions and mitigates the disapproval towards each other’s attitudes but also forges the way towards creating empathy. You can now understand and respect why the other person behaves the way they do.
The second step is to actually step into their shoes and practically examine life from their perspective. Even after sharing each other’s histories and reasons, you may not fully comprehend them. What you need is to spend one day as your other half. Not only will that reveal a fresh angle of looking at life but also give an in-depth insight into your partner’s mind.
The neat husband will let down his walls and for one day, he will allow himself to create and be surrounded by mess. The wife who doesn’t typically clean will force herself to clean the dishes, do the laundry and make her bed after a night’s rest. With this realization, there will be lesser fingers pointed at each other, verbal armor will be stocked away and greater empathy and understanding will lead to alleviating distance and easing possible conflict with your spouse.
Both of us work. How does all the housework still find its way to only me?
Dividing chores between each other is always a difficult task. For this division to be fruitful and efficient in a long term perspective, chores need to be distributed in a clearly delineated manner. The couple needs to sit and properly list down housework that will be taken up by each person. One approach is to let one take the other’s most hated task. However, you might find that both partners share a commonality in what is hated most.
A much better approach could be to take up what is more favorable instead. The husband likes to cook? Let him do the grocery, cooking, and dishes. Is the wife an ardent gardener? Let her mow the lawn, water the plants and do the picket fencing. And then divide the remaining, not-so-appealing chores evenly amongst each other.
In the midst of trying to find the perfect balance of defining responsibilities, don’t forget to give yourself and give each other time. If Wednesday and Friday are laundry nights, and Monday and Thursday are cleaning days then make sure you manage to scoop some me-time over the weekend whilst making an effort to spend quality time with each other. Use these breaks from household chores to pamper yourself, go to the spa or just take a very long bath. But also utilize them to revisit golden memories and tell your partner how much they mean to you.
How is him doing housework any more praise worthy?
Him doing the chores doesn’t make it more praiseworthy, yes, but he is still to be appreciated for running a small, measly errand – just the way he owes acknowledgment towards his wife for whenever she does the household tasks. We often undervalue our nearest and dearest’s contributions the most which is an ill-fated human predisposition. However, to avoid this tendency, take a moment to place a fresh eye on the work done by your partner and give him the appreciation he deserves. A mere “thanks” suffices, often thought to be an unnecessary formality. Thank him for his contribution so that you positively reinforce this attitude of his. And in the meantime, also kindle the idea that you deserve as much appreciation.
Caution needs to be exercised in the kind of positive reinforcers given. Do you want to use sex as a means to make him more susceptible to do chores? While on some days you might just not be in the mood to make his toes curl, on a more long term perspective this could potentially be a destructive tendency in your relationship. Sex is not supposed to be a ploy to lure your husband to do as you wish, but a wonderful experience to reignite and strengthen the bond you share with him.