Do you and your partner divide household tasks equitably?

By: Susan Blackburn, MA, May 01, 2014
  Question

Are your household tasks divided equally?

Dividing up household tasks is an important part in every relationship

One of the important aspects of a happy relationship that couples often overlook is the benefit of sharing household responsibilities equitably.

Equitably doesn’t necessarily mean equal or fair. Instead it describes the level of cooperation established when both partners are making a number of generous contributions toward the operation of their home. This is viewed in relation to each partner’s individual situation and includes but is not limited to career, children, caring for a relative, studying, extra-curricular activities and health.

By household responsibilities I’m referring to the many tasks involved in the day-to-day operation of the couples home. Some examples of these tasks are finances, parenting, domestic chores and social planning.

Writing down all of your particular household tasks is essential so that both of you can see the big picture and start off on the same page.

Some of the items on your list might include bill paying, creating a budget, filing, scheduling the babysitter, helping with homework, buying new clothes, cutting the lawn, changing light bulbs, taking out the recycling, car maintenance, cooking dinner, doing laundry, packing lunches, booking flights, making reservations and choosing social activities.

If you’re like most couples you probably have different perspectives on how things should get done, what’s important and how frequently a particular task should be completed. Since reaching a consensus with two opposing points of view can be challenging you’re going to need to cooperate to complete the division of household tasks.

To add fuel to what might already be a difficult task, it’s likely that if you haven’t been sharing things equitably that one of you feels that your respective contributions to the household are equal while the other one feels burdened by the lion’s share of tasks.

The trouble with this is that it can set the stage for resentment and loss of attraction on the part of the partner that contributes the most and lead to feelings of shame and worthlessness on the partner who is less involved with household tasks.

When these negative feelings creep into your relationship they start to erode each person’s sense of respect and admiration for one another; two of the traits that every couple needs to retain to feel close and connected.

So what can you do if you find yourself in this situation?

Although it might seem unrelated at first, the approach I find most effective when I work with people in couples counselling to achieve a happier relationship through the division of household responsibilities involves taking a look at the amount of quality time they spend together.

Why is this?

Quality time which involves being attentive and having fun together is directly correlated to the likelihood that a couple will have the patience and level of high regard needed to develop a stronger sense of partnership with respect to household tasks.

Couples who have fun together generally like one another. People who like and feel liked by their partner usually want to be cooperative and make each other happy. When you feel good about each other and your relationship you’ll have a much easier time negotiating and dividing up your responsibilities equitably.

What does this create?

A loving, supportive relationship where your responsibilities are equitably shared makes you feel appreciated, valued and respected. Feeling this way consistently creates the happiness required to attain relationship success.

Susan Blackburn, M.A. is an Individual, Couples and Family Counsellor.

She is a member of the Ontario Association of Consultants, Counsellors, Psychometrists and Psychotherapists (OACCPP) and has a Masters degree in Counselling from the Adler School in Chicago, a B.A. (Honours) from York University and a B.Sc. in Business from the University of Phoenix.

Credentials include being a published author and several guest appearances on television and radio as an expert therapist including That Channel’s ‘Extraordinary Women TV’, the W Network’s ‘Style by Jury’ and Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s (of ‘Til Debt Do Us Part) show, ‘Princess’. http://www.susanblackburn.com/