Most everyone hates to do chores. We do them because we have to, though we do gain a little satisfaction once the horrible chores are done! Marriages and relationships are not immune to chores and cleaning becoming problems and arguments. We are going to explore this a bit and talk about the common complaints and fixes to help.
“Why don’t you pick up after yourself?”
Sound familiar? If not, picture the Friends episode where Ross goes to his dates apartment that is filthy!
Do you feel that your partner/spouse takes things out and leaves them all over? Do they not clean up when they make a mess? This is a pretty common issue in relationships. I know many couples that have this same argument over and over again. One spouse tends to be a very neat person and want things clean, and the other one tends to be the opposite.
How to Handle: One thing that can help reduce the fights and arguments is by deciding for yourself how much is that dirty sock on the floor worth to you? Is it something that bothers you so much that you have to bring it up regardless of the cost? Or is it something that in that moment you can let go?
Choosing to let the little things go can do a lot in helping you stay grounded and not get too frustrated with them and weather the storm better. Once walking away from the little issue, you can find a time to sit down with your partner and explain to them what is making you crazy about their lack of tidiness.
From here, you can work together to develop a solution to the problem, and give them a reason why this will help you and them in the long run. For example “I get really frustrated when you leave dirty dishes all over the kitchen,” or “If you clean your dishes after using them, I won’t be as frustrated and so angry towards you.” This is a perfect example of how you are giving your spouse a reason to change the behavior because you spelled it out to them and they are seeing the positive reward (a less stressed you) that they will be getting from making the change.
“I don’t like the way you clean – I’ll just do it myself!”
We all have struggles with wanting to do things in certain ways (more on that in a different blog post coming up!) and often deciding to just do it ourselves. That comes at a cost, because you are now spending more time cleaning up for someone else after they have already cleaned. This situation can cause conflict from both sides. When the person who didn’t clean to their spouse’s satisfaction or cleaned in a different way than their spouse, it can be a big blow to see their significant other doing the job they just did. You could see how that resentment and frustration can begin to build as this happens over and over again.
The frustration can also come from the person who does not feel like the cleaning is being done correctly. You may feel angry that they still don’t get it, don’t know how to do it the “right” way. This can cause anger and frustration to build and build and boom! A fight happens, and not a good one!
How to Handle: A way to work past this is working on giving up that control. In many of the groups I run, I talk about something called the 80/20 rule. This rule says 80% of the things that happen in our life are outside of our control. This means that 20% of the things that happen in life are within our control. However, we focus on and look at the 80% of things we cannot control and neglect our 20%. We get so frustrated and angry that we cannot control those things that are not in our control that we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to see what is in our control. So, maybe choose to let go of how the other person cleans and focus on your 20% of the cleaning. This way you both avoid the frustration and anger that comes from focusing on someone else’s 20%.
“You don’t ever help around the house – I’m doing everything!”
This is probably one of the biggest chore-related thing couples argue about. One person in the relationship feels like they do all of the work and feels like their partner does not do anything. Again as you can imagine, this can cause much frustration and anger.
Sometimes this is just a perceived issue and the other partner does actually do things around the house, they are just not what you want them to be doing or how. Other times, they truly do not do things around the house and just let their partner do everything.
I liken this to the stereotypical 1950’s family where the man is the sole breadwinner, the wife stays home to care of the children and the home. The whole world revolves around the man of the house. Well in my opinion, this is no longer true or accurate.
How to Handle: Relationships are about equal parts give and take. Partners should really work together to make their home and their lives easier for one another. Whether both partners work out of the home or one works in the home and the other out, they both should make the home and its tasks run. This could look like each partner having specific chores that they are responsible for.
So talk about this so that the expectations are clear. The earlier on in your relationship this conversation is had, the better to avoid resentment, but expectations can always be worked out if you’re deep into the relationship, too.
Make a list of those chores that each of you absolutely despise, chores that both of you don’t mind doing, and chores that each of you prefer to do. Then work together to determine how the responsibilities are divided. This way you both are on the same page about the tasks that need to get done and who is responsible for them.
My Partner Still Isn’t Doing Anything
If your partner is not doing anything in the home, you need to be able to be open as to how this is affecting you. The more you keep silent on the issue, the more resentment builds within the relationship which can tear you apart.
As I’ve talked about before, communication in relationships is key and the more open you can be with your partner about your wants, needs, and desires, the stronger and better your relationship will be.
Until next time – live truly, love fully!