Sunday, July 15, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Sharing chores isn't always an even split

Q: I know you're a believer in the idea that housework needs to be split 50-50 between two spouses, but I'm wondering if there are any exceptions.

We recently moved from a small apartment in the city to a house with a big yard in the suburbs. I really, really didn't want to make this move, but my spouse really, really, really did, so I ultimately decided to do this for my spouse.

Now my spouse thinks we need to share equally in the extra yardwork. I feel like my sacrifice was making the move in the first place, and the additional work should fall on my spouse. What are your thoughts?

Splitting the Housework

A: I'm actually a believer that housework needs to be split fairly, which isn't always 50-50.

Fairness warrants a 50-50-ish split when two people share a home, both work a similar number of hours at similarly demanding work, and can live with a mutually acceptable level of cleanliness. The percentages change, though, when one partner is an at-home parent, or works fewer or lighter hours, or travels often for business, or is neat-freakish, or when one has a special housing preference that involves a lot of extra work.

It's obviously unfortunate that you didn't resolve this before you moved, but it's doable even now. Go out somewhere and have a thorough discussion of what constitutes fairness here.

It's not my plan to draw up, but if it were, I think it would include liberal use of paid help, as much as I could afford. And, too, I think you're going to have to accept shouldering a little extra work. While in principle you're justified in saying it's your spouse's dream home, not yours, and therefore not your problem, that kind of thinking rarely ends well for a couple. Instead, I suggest reframing it as the need for each of you to be willing to do a little extra to support the other.

If your spouse then does a little extra for you to balance out the extra yard care you're absorbing, then you'll be in a much happier place.

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