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division of chores

 
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(EDIT: Paul split this off from his thread about The Fork, as we veerred away from fork metaphor to how we clean and decide who cleans what and when)


This post struck many a chord for me, as it's actually something that's happened with my husband and me. It's, of course, made far worse by the fact that we have kids.

He decided that he didn't need help with the cleaning any more, because he "cleans as he goes" and he was sick of how the rest of the household (me and the 2 and 5 year old....) don't clean as we go. Apparently, the 3+ hours a day I spend cleaning up after the kids and just the routine dirt that accumulates on the floor and surfaces don't count. Nor the fact that I often couldn't "clean as I go" because as I was doing the thing, the kids got hurt or needed help or needed food or some other emergency appeared requiring me to abandon what I was doing. And, by the time I'd finished fixing whatever emergency, there was something more important--like cooking dinner or getting the kids ready for bed--that took precedence over cleaning up after whatever thing I'd been trying to do in the first place. And, df course, he never really tried to help teach the children this marvelous habit of cleaning as one goes--just complained that they didn't have it.

I pointed this out to my husband, but his memory isn't the best. He'd understand it for a few days, and then forget and start complaining again about how we weren't cleaning up after ourselves. So I started mentioning every little thing he hadn't cleaned up after himself. His reply was then, "Well, I gave up cleaning up after myself since you all weren't doing it." Which, of course, just meant more cleaning for me...and it's entirely too much cleaning to be humanly possible, so even after hours of cleaning, nothing looks clean. My life is hopeless.

Some days are better than others. Some days, my kids think it's grand to clean while Mama cleans and they don't fight or have emergencies every few minutes. Some days my husband takes them for a walk or to do errands, and I can actually do tasks and complete them and clean a crazy amount of stuff in like 30 minutes that would take 3 hours while caring for kids. Some days he tries to clean, too. So I guess not every day is hopeless, just the majority of them.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

All this is to say that, apparently, there are multiple responses one can have to being called out about the proverbial fork:

(1) The person is like Paul and decides be even more careful that they never leave any forks to be blamed for.

or

(2) They cease to care about forks or cleaning and just give up and everything get worse by magnitudes. They become like the messy other person and just don't care.

or

(3) Some other reaction. There's probably LOTS of reactions. Many of them not healthy.



------------------------------------------------------------------------

Conversely, sometimes, one person might not be pulling their weight in a certain thing is because they're doing other important things that are unseen by the other person. This probably wasn't Paul's situation with his lovely roommate, but I think it's probably pretty common in relationships where there's more than one shared responsibility (especially if it includes kids!)
 
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This could get complex!

My Grandparents were Farmers. Some things were shared (cooking, laying the table, washing dishes, killing and preparing fowl, bathing the kids, etc). Other things were definitely divided by traditional male/female roles e.g. Farm work, caring for stock, repairs/maintenance, household cleaning, caring for children, etc.

But, it was definitely a democracy requiring open discussion.

As the kids (my Uncles and Aunts) grew, they were expected to do work too - everything from milking cows, killing/cleaning animals, etc depending on their age.

Mum & Dad weren't Farmers but followed a similar plan. Dad did everything outside but on the weekends would usually clean the toilet, shared cooking, Mum did some gardening but didn't kill homegrown fowl. As little kids, Dad always read to us at night and often sung us to sleep.

As they taught us, it's about communication, working together, mutual respect and love.

I see other households where one spouse does the greater part of work or they purposely skip stuff and leave it for their partner.

Obviously those types of relationships are lacking one of those four important attributes and needs some serious work before things get nasty.
 
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My wife does the cooking, with the exception of the grilling, and I do the dishes, like 99% of the time. We both think it's a fair division of labor. I am fortunate to have a wife that enjoys cooking, and most days I get called to the supper table and there is a delicious meal waiting for me and I am happy to do the dishes and do my part to help. If I notice a lot of things stacking up in or next to the sink while she's cooking, I'll take five minutes and quickly wash those items so I have less to do after supper.
 
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I am terrible about this. If my lady is doing dishes, I will come over and dry them. If she is actively working on something, I will help. I never just get off my ass and go clean something on my own, and at the same time, I hate it when things are messy and in my way. I guess in the back of my mind, I think if I leave things long enough, elves or something will come along and clean up after me. This thread makes me realize, I'm a dick.
 
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Our division of labor is very fluid - especially in the kitchen. We both have skills, good & bad habits, and disabilities that come into play. He's a retired chef, and I've always loved to bake - so much so that I was pretty decent at my baking jobs (yup - I didn't have a specific career - but many and varied jobs). I also learned how to be a pretty good home cook, and 'earned' my right to cook in his kitchen, on my first attempt.
 
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Trace, your post reminded me of this video about the magic coffee table :
 
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This is one of the things that trouble me. Katie does way more then her fair share around the house, but I am really sick. She knows that, and as much as it troubles me, she says, "That is what I signed up for, better or worse remember?" She definitely got "the worst" on that deal, but such is marriage.

People are just different. I clean up as I go, and I always have, but Katie cleans up all at once. Neither is wrong, it is just how each of us is hard wired.

It gets better Nicole. As the kids get older, they start picking up instead of just making messes, and they get a division of the house cleaning duties. Soon it will be dived by 4 instead 2...it really does get better.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Travis Johnson wrote:This is one of the things that trouble me. Katie does way more then her fair share around the house, but I am really sick. She knows that, and as much as it troubles me, she says, "That is what I signed up for, better or worse remember?" She definitely got "the worst" on that deal, but such is marriage.



I think the big thing here is that you do what you can. When my husband was essential bedridden by his Crohn's flare up, I wasn't mad that he wasn't doing more--I was concerned that he was sick! I wanted to make him better. And, he did as much as he could. He would tell our son stories from his bed while I cooked dinner. He was in a LOT of pain and was very tired, but I knew he was doing what he could.

It's a lot harder to do the majority of the chores when the other person has time and is just spending it on things they enjoy, rather than interacting with the kids or helping clean.

To me, it doesn't matter the division of labor as long as each person is truly trying to do their best. When one slacks off, making the other do more, it's hard!



It gets better Nicole. As the kids get older, they start picking up instead of just making messes, and they get a division of the house cleaning duties. Soon it will be dived by 4 instead 2...it really does get better.



I'm really looking forward to this! Though, in my more depressed moments, I start to think that maybe I was so busy trying to do all the things and so tired, that I didn't have the brainpower and time to train my kids to help out, and have royally failed at it and will deal with kids that won't clean for the rest of my life! :o
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:I start to think that maybe I was so busy trying to do all the things and so tired, that I didn't have the brainpower and time to train my kids to help out, and have royally failed at it and will deal with kids that won't clean for the rest of my life! :o


I've been there. Your kids will remember the things you were doing, it's not wasted. It really does get better. You are SO CLOSE to the age when they will gladly help out if asked (they might not keep their own room tidy, but that is an entirely different thing and you gotta pick your battles). Hang in there just a bit more, 5 is on the cusp and pretty soon they will have the dexterity, along with the pleasant nature of 5-7 year olds, and may even enjoy helping you. They definitely will enjoy the responsibility. Keep up the good work!
 
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Oh my Lord
This post strikes a chord with us....We are constantly arguing over who wa supposed to do what .. Thank Goodness we arent the only ones.
Betty
 
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I had this very problem yesterday. Now I'm not a clean freak. I try to keep our "stuff" to a minimum so that it doesn't look dirty but as far as dusting and sweeping and the like, not really my biggest priority. I stayed home for several years with the kids. Now my husband stays home. Yesterday I went into the kids playroom and did a major overhaul. I threw mass amounts of stuff away. Have a big ol' microwave box of donate and found enough trash and candy stuck to the floor to cause a bit of an issue. For some super odd reason my kids think it's funny to "steal" food when Daddy is watching them. They WOULD NOT have done this to me but I would have heard the rustling of a wrapper a mile away and been on them. They have to ask for candy and snacks. They aren't. So there were all these wrappers and a sucker stuck to the floor really really well. I was pissed. I've told the kids not to steal food and they have to ask but when I'm not home..... So I threw all the candy out. Every last candy. My son looked devastated. I have no regrets. Then I politely asked husband what the hell is going on at home. Is he not watching the children? Does he not care? He told me he can only do one thing at a time. He can split enough wood for winter or he can clean the house. Not both.

Now I'm something of a freak in that I'm usually up to something. I accomplish a lot in a little bit of time. I know I'm a freak for my level of activity and I don't expect him to be me. Still, he really can't pick up some crap and split some wood while he's home alone and the kids are at school? Like I did all the things and entertained our daughter all day while her brother was at school. I don't see where his difficulty is coming from.

Then, since I'm pregnant, I had nightmares last night about finding our baby in a cupboard. So fun times.


I guess I'm ok with people making messes. I do. I just expect that when I say, "Hey, pick up __________." that it gets done without crying. I also think there are limits to the mess. Like the kids have a playroom and so long as they keep the mess contained in it I don't make them pick everything up all the time. When it gets to a certain level of chaos I will direct clean up. They just cry about cleaning it up so much lately. So yeah, they have much less to clean up now that Mommy went in with the broom. Should hopefully lead to less crying in the future.

I just need to Marie Kondo the house man. Get us back down to a minimal amount of crap. We have TOO MUCH!

Also, refuse to take responsibility for all the kids crap. We buy them very little for Christmas and Birthdays but we have a massive family so they get TONS AND TONS of stuff.

The pics don't do justice to how much crap there really was. Books everywhere. Markers. Stuff taped up. It was insanity.
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elle sagenev
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Nicole Alderman wrote:Though, in my more depressed moments, I start to think that maybe I was so busy trying to do all the things and so tired, that I didn't have the brainpower and time to train my kids to help out, and have royally failed at it and will deal with kids that won't clean for the rest of my life! :o



My mother was the type that had a cleaning schedule. We all had chores we did. The house was immaculate. Sheets were always changed on Saturdays. We did a lot of cleaning growing up. Some of my siblings are still clean. I am not. So just because you make a kid clean doesn't mean they'll clean later in life. :P
 
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One thing for both partners to keep in mind is if one partner does almost everything, at some point the other will wake up and realize that the other is irrelevant. That is what happened in my marriage. Over the years, I tried many different strategies, the last being since I cared about these things, I should do them, but that meant I didn't need him, and when I realized that I threw him out. Now it was not his only failing, but it was the straw that broke the camel's back.

The comment by Nicole that struck me the most was the one about a spouse doing what he (and his being male isn't the point, I just know that Nicole's spouse is male) wanted instead of spending time with the kids. This more than anything pained me as a parent, my children are/were everything to me, I spent every waking moment with them, and some sleeping ones, the fact that my spouse didn't feel the same, hurt me so deeply. I'm not saying the Nicole's husband is the same, I don't know him. I just know that that statement resonated deeply with me.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Stacy Witscher wrote:The comment by Nicole that struck me the most was the one about a spouse doing what he (and his being male isn't the point, I just know that Nicole's spouse is male) wanted instead of spending time with the kids. This more than anything pained me as a parent, my children are/were everything to me, I spent every waking moment with them, and some sleeping ones, the fact that my spouse didn't feel the same, hurt me so deeply. I'm not saying the Nicole's husband is the same, I don't know him. I just know that that statement resonated deeply with me.



He actually does spend a lot of time with the kids, involving them in his hobbies, playing with them, playing music for them to dance to, teaching them, reading them stories, etc. I think a lot of his personal time is self-therapy. Life is stressful, especially with kids! And, I don't want him to be a depressed zombie,  going through the motions but dead inside. But, when the only person to give me a "break" is him, it's hard when he takes time for himself. And, it's hard when he takes more time than seems necessary for self-care (taking an extra 2 hours to come home to hunt for hot wheels while I'm watching the kids, seems a bit much!). It's all about balance. I was talking with him about this the other day, how he's able to take a break when he wants, because he knows I'll step up to do all the things, but I can't just "clock out." He said, "breaks are taken, not given! Tell me, 'Take the kids for a walk, I need a break!'" So, I'll try that next time around and see how it goes :D.

And, Stacy, I remember how hard of a time you were having with your husband ♥. Those were some hard times, with no support. I hope things are much brighter for you now!
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:It's all about balance. I was talking with him about this the other day, how he's able to take a break when he wants, because he knows I'll step up to do all the things, but I can't just "clock out." He said, "breaks are taken, not given! Tell me, 'Take the kids for a walk, I need a break!'" So, I'll try that next time around and see how it goes :D



I think we're raised to think that people can read our minds a bit, or at least *should* be able to do so.  

But, as I'm learning, anyone who's a bit aspie is likely to need telling things.  They still want to help, but they need help in knowing when to help, and what's needed.  Which means you have to drop all that training about being polite and just hoping they'll offer and make things a bit clearer.  So if he says "Tell me and I'll do it!" believe what he says, trust that he does really want to help but isn't the mind reader you thought he should be, and tell him that you need a break! Having told you to tell him if you need a break, he probably believes you're just fine else you would have said something. Sometimes us aspies can be a bit TOO honest and literal.
 
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Burra Maluca wrote:

Nicole Alderman wrote:It's all about balance. I was talking with him about this the other day, how he's able to take a break when he wants, because he knows I'll step up to do all the things, but I can't just "clock out." He said, "breaks are taken, not given! Tell me, 'Take the kids for a walk, I need a break!'" So, I'll try that next time around and see how it goes



I think we're raised to think that people can read our minds a bit, or at least *should* be able to do so.  

But, as I'm learning, anyone who's a bit aspie is likely to need telling things.  They still want to help, but they need help in knowing when to help, and what's needed.  Which means you have to drop all that training about being polite and just hoping they'll offer and make things a bit clearer.  So if he says "Tell me and I'll do it!" believe what he says, trust that he does really want to help but isn't the mind reader you thought he should be, and tell him that you need a break! Having told you tell him if you need a break, he probably believes your just fine else you would have said something. Sometimes us aspies can be a bit TOO honest and literal.



Burra and I were talking about this just before she posted, and my take was that there are two basic levels of "help me with this" -

Firstly there's the emergency level where the ordure collides with the aircon and you say (often with some level of expletive emphasis) "I need help with this NOW" - and faced with that situation you drop everything and go help fish the kids out of the pond, or put out the cooker which is on fire, or mop up the flood the washing machine made, or a dozen other such things which need immediate help.  There's no resentment (or not much anyway) because it's mainly a reaction to an unforeseen event.

Secondly there's the more common ordinary level where you really want to hjave the house clear so you can mop the floor but the kids are all over it.  That's the one where you need to ask, not demand or tell, along the lines of "Hey, can you take the kids out so I can clean the floor" - it's not an emergency so it doesn't need to be NOW, so the askee* gets to negotiate within reason, such as "gimme 10 minutes, I'm right in the middle of $THING" - and also to note is that even if you think $THING is a complete waste of time, it's important enough to your partner that they spend time on it, so allowing 10 minutes for $THING to be put aside in an orderly manner rather than dropped immediately is fair.  This negotiation obviously needs to go both ways.


* hey a new word.  If it gets into regular use, I call dibs on inventing it
 
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Just to add - it's also possible to schedule stuff, so that you all get time for what you want/need to do, and time for the kids - by working it out in advance.  That kinda depends if you're the sort of people that respond well to set routines, or find them unbearably restrictive.  Scheduling won't work in the latter case.  Also some creative activity can't really be scheduled at all.
 
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Burra Maluca wrote:
I think we're raised to think that people can read our minds a bit, or at least *should* be able to do so.  

... Sometimes us aspies can be a bit TOO honest and literal.



I'll take that one step further and suggest that many raised minimally in Western culture (not saying that others don't) are raised to think that others....partners, more specifically....should not only be able to read our minds but should be 'in sync' with our feelings.  It's a bit of that 'two hearts beating as one' that just goes too far and is, IMO, very unrealistic.   And although Aspie-leaning constitutions may be more prone to literalness of interpretation or expression(?), I think on a cultural level many can get into the quasi-narcissistic "These are my *perceived* needs at the moment and especially those close to me should drop what they are doing and know exactly the degree to which I need them placated/gratified".  It's been a pretty hard road (and perpetually rocky....although the stones have lost their edges a bit over the years) for my spouse and I to get that point of "I guess I can't just treat this person as my appendage..", traits we both brought into the partnership from misguided conditioning over many years.  Naturally, for many there will be a breaking point if incompatibilities grow too severe....for those times, it may be best to purchase a 'magic coffee table' [  :-) ..loved the video clip! ]    Not having raised kids, I can't really speak to that aspect except as having been one once:  More than anything, I feel one's behavior will become highly modeled on parents behavior.  Just do the best you can with that in mind and try not to beat yourself up excessively with worry and anxiety.....cuz often they will adopt/integrate *that* behavior as well.  Finally, I place *perceived* in asterisks above because I find that not only interpersonal communication skills are lacking in many raised in our culture, but *intra*-personal communication skills as well--- i.e. we don't often really give much thought to what we *perceive* we want, often realizing later it was a want or desire put there by the culture/media and not something so much our own.  FWIW......
 
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So I've lived in a few different "community" settings. I've lived in community households that divided the labor by certain jobs in a very egalitarian - we all cook, we all clean, we all have some separate tasks. Cleaning dishes was more of a volunteer thing. it wasnt on a schedule. we had house meals 4 times a week, there were 8 people in the house. you cleaned dishes once every 2 weeks for a household meal. People picked up dishes, swept the kitchen and dining floor, wiped up counters and tables, others put away the left overs, napkins, etc. The thing is - we all had a relationship that went beyond utilitarian housemates. we actually looked out for each other and listened to each others lives.

i've also lived in household where it was very very ...governmental? meetings were cold. division of chores was by the book and gave no lee-way for people that just had a baby or anything like that. when you didn't get a chore done the question wasn't "hey..i noticed __ got forgotten. is there a reason it wasn't done?" it was "chore x was not done and you have accrued a demerit, and will pay a fine". There was no move towards personal relationships, and the feel of the house was sucky and judgemental.

With my wife and child, i feel like without an official structure, we can place expectations on the other and on ourselves that may have come from our separate families, from watching TV shows, or just our own idealism. I would say first, you have to remember that you are with your spouse because you have a friendship. whatever internal or external stress is happening - these should be shared. not in an "oh crap, this is what we have to do because our lives are falling apart" way. It's just a part of friendship. not for fixing the problems. to share and to know. have a date night, but only after having intentional sharing.

a marriage is a marriage. life is life. you don't do it perfect all the time. those aren't hinderances or reasons to give up. they're reasons to remember our imperfections are here to bind us together as humans.

talk about the tasks or roles you do around the house. perhaps write out a list. you may be surprised about what they other writes down. don't make the list completely utilitarian. family isn't an assembly line of efficiency. if the social burden or organization burden or task burden is too heavily put on one person. even the load. if the load is unrealistic, change your expectations. have real conversations with other people in families.  

remember that difficulty isn't some rare form of torture that you've been tossed by some short straw of a spouse. difficulty welcomes you in to the rest of humanity.

these things are all un-structured, un-exampled, un-supported, and we have no frame of reference for what is normative. our modern lives are strange. you have to swim against modernity's current of miscommunication, poor management of time, stress, etc and let go of any image of suburbia's super-spouse magazine.
 
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Burra Maluca wrote:

Nicole Alderman wrote:It's all about balance. I was talking with him about this the other day, how he's able to take a break when he wants, because he knows I'll step up to do all the things, but I can't just "clock out." He said, "breaks are taken, not given! Tell me, 'Take the kids for a walk, I need a break!'" So, I'll try that next time around and see how it goes :D



I think we're raised to think that people can read our minds a bit, or at least *should* be able to do so.  

But, as I'm learning, anyone who's a bit aspie is likely to need telling things.  They still want to help, but they need help in knowing when to help, and what's needed.  Which means you have to drop all that training about being polite and just hoping they'll offer and make things a bit clearer.  So if he says "Tell me and I'll do it!" believe what he says, trust that he does really want to help but isn't the mind reader you thought he should be, and tell him that you need a break! Having told you to tell him if you need a break, he probably believes you're just fine else you would have said something. Sometimes us aspies can be a bit TOO honest and literal.



Why is a man doing tasks required to keep his own home in good shape called "helping"? Unless you've explicitly agreed to split the chores otherwise, cleaning the house is as much his responsibility as hers. Making it her job to keep track of which chores need to be done, and to assign them and follow up to make sure that they're done, is a chore in itself. This idea that men who tidy up their own homes are "helping" comes off to me very much the same as men who call parenting their own kids "babysitting".
 
Burra Maluca
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Meg Mitchell wrote:Why is a man doing tasks required to keep his own home in good shape called "helping"?  



It isn't.  At least, that's not the way I was using it in the post you quoted.

The sort of things I will ask for help with might be something like "I'm in the middle of washing up a mountain of dishes and there's hardly any water coming out of the tap because it' hasn't rained for a couple of months.  Could you pop out and find the hose pipe and and stick it in the top of tank and run the bore-hole pump for a few minutes because if I stop now I'll never persuade myself to tackle the washing up mountain..."

Or maybe "I've got someone suicidal online and I'm gonna be tied up for goodness knows how long and it's nearly dark.  Could you take the dog and go and lock the chickens up when you get a minute?"

Or even "I'm feeling totally shit and suspect I'm going to smash everything within reach if I approach the kitchen.  The yogurt's in that great big flask and it will need decanting into that jar over there in an hour or two.  If I've not managed by 10 am could you do it and then stick it in the fridge for me?"

If I have to ask for help with fairly random things, then I suspect the chores are split well. If I regularly have to ask for help with the same thing, then the chores are probably not well split and a new equilibrium needs to be allowed to develop.

As a more mundane example, let's look at laundry.  Which in our household is all done by hand.

I quite enjoy doing the laundry.  He hates it.  As a rule, we each do our own.

At the moment we're doing a ton of renovations and mechanical work. Well, he's doing the mechanical work. I don't do that stuff and he's a petrol head. If he gets to the point that he has hardly any clean trousers left I wash them for him, because he's doing valuable work changing the head on the 4x4, which I wouldn't be able to do even if I tried.  On the other hand, if I've been laid up in bed all day for several days and my laundry has built up and I have an appointment the next day at the notary office and have nothing clean to wear, I'll happily ask for his help to rummage through my laundry heap and wash the stuff I'll need for the next day.  

The overall equilibrium just sort of sorts itself out.  He loves cooking and hates washing dishes.  I've had decades of being responsible for all the cooking and am glad of the break from it, so I leave all the cooking to him and I wash all the dishes.  Except on days they somehow don't get done and he notices and quietly does them for me...
 
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It is true that apart from what says Burra Maluca, a lot of the chores when done by men are called "helping", lol...

And now with the developping transgenderism and no fixed gender roles, what Will happen if pair 2 people who have the same knwoledge and capacities? We cannot learn everything, so I think that the traditional division not only of chores but of work - and this can be quite different from culture to culture - was not a bad idea.

In the modern world, when both work outside and both tend to buy ready made food and rely on professionals to repair most of the stuff at home and in the garage… nothing looks very clear to me!

I must say that, as living in nature, I am quite happy if a man can save me from doing what I am not strong enough to do! And then my thankful heart Will look for the best way to signal my happyness and be equitative in the sharing.
 
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I do things I am physically able to do, Roy does stuff I am not physically or technically able to do. It works well. If I am knee deep in something I might ask if he could just run a hose or move stuff while I prep something else. Although it is just contributing to both of our overall comfort and welfare, I always thank him because it makes him feel better for 'helping me'. I often ask him to empty the caravan loo. I am quite capable of doing that, but bleeeuuuggghhhhh. Bless him!
 
Travis Johnson
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I often hear, but think it is totally BULLSHIT that couples should have a 50/50 marriage. That is just plain impossible.

Take for instance going out on a date, if your spouse wants to go to a Steakhouse, and you want to go to Chinese, how can a couple do both? Some might say have diner at Chinese, and have desert at the Steakhouse, but that is not really practical. And in some circles some would say, "Happy Wife, Happy Life", but I can assure you from my own life, always giving in to the desires of one spouse is going to be a very unhappy marriage. So my point is, in life, marriage (or any relationship) is 100%/0%.

Today we go to the Steakhouse and the next time we go Chinese...that is a 100%/0% marriage.

But this same thing can be done in cleaning. I am a "clean as you go" type of person, but my wife Katie is a "total clean" type of cleaner. I also do not help clean the house as much as I should. So how does Katie and I have a thriving marriage?

I might not clean as much as I could, but I do make my cleaning times really count. For inatnce, I know my wife really gets depressed if she comes home from a long trip and the house is a mess. She wants a comforting, calm place to come home too. So I always try and make it a point to clean the house when she is out on a trip, so she gets that when she gets home. This might be when she visits her family out of state, or every other Friday and Sunday when she takes her kids to see their real father...that is a 175 mile trip. I do not do it to impress her, it just works. Is it a 50/50 cleaning split on chores? No, but it does make my cleaning really have meaning.

I think your husband Nicole could learn to do what I do. Find out at what times a messy house makes you really stressed, and help you out at those times. It might not be an even split, but at least you will reduce your stress.
 
Stacy Witscher
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Travis - I think that is a difference in language or perception. I would totally call that a 50/50 marriage. I don't look at the division as what is happening each moment but the division over time

And regarding cleaning up as you go, part of the issue is that when one has kids, it's not your mess so the other spouse (if the kids are too young to clean up after themselves) is responsible for half of it, and if they aren't home as much that builds up and is their responsibility. Hence, when they arrive home, they have cleaning to do.
 
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Hi Travis,

You raise a point that I would like to run with.  I have been with my spouse since the 70s.  We have both learned to identify when the other is getting overwhelmed and pitch in to give an unsolicited assist.
 
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Burra Maluca wrote:I think we're raised to think that people can read our minds a bit, or at least *should* be able to do so.  


Bravo!  Even though it seems it *should* be obvious that the carpet needs vacuuming, it's not really to everyone, especially those on the spectrum.  Each couple has to find what works for them.  For us, I've always done the overwhelming majority of cooking and cleaning.  He takes care of working and the finances. He's probably spoiled compared to many, but he spoils me in different ways in return.  I also needed to understand what his capabilities are (we all have different physical and mental struggles.)  I'll echo that it does get easier when the kids are old enough that they're not following you around messing up the room they've just left clean.  We both like a clean house, but realized that when there are children under 5, our standards would need to be quite a bit lower -- sometimes embarrassingly so.  As Nicole said, when we're actually doing our best, that has to be enough.

Elle, we also had a cleaning schedule.  With many children in the house, it was a necessity.  Saturday was heavy cleaning day, and we all knew that there would be a chore list for after breakfast.  It worked well.  As far as messy rooms, I'd tell my children that I was going to clean [x] room in 10 minutes, and to feel free to leave out anything they wanted me to take to the Goodwill.  This was said in a positive manner.  In 10 minutes, I cleaned -- and bagged up what was left out.  Unless it was something super special, it went to Goodwill (the really important stuff had to be earned back by a special chore.)  It took 2 or 3 times before  they realized that I did mean it.  Worked for us.
 
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I do exactly what I want, all the cooking, washing, ironing, gardening, shopping, floors and wash milady's car.
In return I'm allowed to be retired!  And she cleans the toilets and dusts.

I couldn't be happier with our arrangements.
 
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Even if this thread is more of the ranting thing, I'd like to share my experience too.

Let's start by saying that I lived alone for several years so I know how to do the household chores. When my wife and I started living together, we found an arrangement: if one cooks, the other does the dishes; if one does the laundry, the other folds the clothes; on sundays we both cleaned the whole house. It was not exactly half split, since she decided what to cook and what to grocer, but fixing things was my exclussive chore. That worked pretty well: a few exclusive tasks, the rest were shared. Oh, we did that since we both have paid jobs, so it's not like my parents where the only job of my mother was householding.
The kid kind of changed this arrangement. Cleaning the house just on sundays worked no more. Cleaning after the kid is exhausting, so here came the disagreement. She thinks we must keep the house as clean as before the kid, I say that doing this is putting too much pressure on our lifes. Of course we are trying to teach the kid, but you know, he's a very active kid. For every chore he helps with, there are two that he messes. Then something happened. I don't know how to explain it. One of my chores became taking the kid out of the house so my wife could clean it in peace (I totally agree with the person who said that something that gets done in thirty minutes requires three hours with kids around). Then she started doing everything. Laundry and folding (some ironing), groceries, meals, dust, you name it. I was only allowed to pass the vaccuum machine, cook / do the dishes, or diverting the kid.
I am sure I was doing half the work she did, but even when she was at the point of mental breakdown, she didn't let me take care of the groceries, arguing that I wasn't good at it. Did I mention that my wife makes a full list on sunday evenings about what we are going to eat the rest of the week? When my uncle the farmer gave us some of his produce, that completely messed her meal planning, ranting about what she was going to do with so many cabbages. Of course, I don't plan. I go to the supermarket and buy everything I feel like that day, and then a few more things just in case, then I forgot something of what I did buy and let it rot in the fridge. That's unacceptable for her. Up to the date, we haven't managed a fair share, unless taking the kid outside counts double.

One of the issues at splitting chores is how valuable is for each person to have the house clean, ordered, and how valuable is the spare time. I'm content with a half clean house as long as I can find my things, while my wife wants it perfectly clean if possible and will jump at the sight of some dust on the sideboard. I don't feel the urge she feels. I understand that making her happy is making both of us happy, so I end up cleaning more than I would be content with. We've been arguing about the level of cleanliness for years. Our house is not dirty or messy, not even when we don't clean it as we please. I've seen dirty houses, I've seen parents that have abandoned the fight against entropy and it is not our case in the least. And I've seen better houses, but they usually don't have kids. Maybe that's because in my job I've been in many client houses, while my wife went to none: she only visited a house when the owner was ready for the visit. But that does not matter to her, she want it cleaner and she will have it. That's why I say the value we give to things is what matters.
If I do chores up to my values, and she does chores up to her values, we will be both content with the outcome, but we won't be happy about the other person (I fall below her expectation, she overdoes it in my opinion). If we find a middle ground between my level of demand and hers, then none will be happy about the outcome (I'm working more than I should, she will think the house is not clean enough), and still we won't be sure if everyone is doing the fair share. It's a loss-loss situation.

A schedule is the best way to make sure that you expend the time you want to expend on these tasks. With one exception: if something requires doing it now, it must be done now (think of spilt milk, you don't want to walk over it by accident). With a schedule you can be sure that you get enough of spare time (which is necessary for moral) and that you don't forget to do the chores. The schedule doesn't have to be based on the hour, it can be something that gets done after or before a daily tast. For example, you can help the kid to store the toys ten minutes before diner, everyday, just before you set the table. That's a scheduled task too. That's not to say you can't 'clean on the way', as long as you respect the schedule for the spare time.
The other best way to get things done is to share the tasks you are responsible for. If it is my responsability to clean the dust, then when it is clearly dirty, I know it is my fault. But if the responsability is shared, then I could think that my partner is not doing her part. This doesn't prevent the differences in the level of exigency: If I take responsibility of dusting, my wife may still think that it's all dirty and that I am not doing my part, with the difference being that she must not clean it since it is now my job.

So, where the problem really lies is in the negotiation of how much clean and ordered we want the house. How much control do we want in our meals. How much schooling does the kid really need. How many clothes do we want ironed. These kind of things. Are you really happy finding a middle ground? I believe that no matter how we do it, there is always some dissatisfaction. Even if all the household is the duty of one person alone, the other one might not agree on the performace. Does the other parts of the relationship make up for what you are giving up with the chores? Hope so.
 
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Sonja Draven wrote:. . . the magic coffee table : . . .

Ruth thought that was very funny
 
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What is really annoying in my household, is that they all know that I really care about recycling, reusing, not wasting anything... so if they want to throw something away, they give it to me instead, knowing that I will first try to reuse it and then throw it away, if it's really not useful anymore. They know that they could reuse the thing themselves, but it's easier to just give it to me. That makes me mad!
But it's part of a general tendency that many people have - for example, they donate worn clothes to the homeless, although they know that these clothes aren't useful anymore. But it feels good that they didn't dump the thing into "general waste".

Another thing, which I'm now assertive enough not to get tricked into anymore, is gardening and animal care. Everyone knows that I love all the animals and everything related to gardening, so whenever they are lazy doing something - like composting, or trimming the bushes, or doing whatever extra care an animal might require, they first try to talk me into it, before doing it themselves. So I'm the only one cleaning up after our dogs, and only I do the composting; which tends to extend into only me being responsible for sorting any garbage...

On the other hand, I would love to have animals that are more useful for the garden, than cats and dogs - like quail, rabbits, or guinea pigs. Or a bioactive vivarium with lizards or a corn snake (my newest discovery - not very useful for the garden, but super cool - like a tiny balanced ecosystem). Here I have to credit the one vegan in my household - who is the only one supporting my idea of keeping animals for meat (and eggs). She thinks that this is the only way it should be (along with regenerative farming, etc). Pretty impressive for a vegan. Others (the vegatarian and the meat eater) are grossed out, although they obviously wouldn't do anything in terms of maintenance of these animals.

I guess it depends a lot on the type of relationship you have with your housemates - if they are your parents, other relatives, partners, children, or not related at all. Although, I used to live with two people I didn't have any relationship with, and one of them (the oldest of us) at some point complained that she's like a mother to us... as we ignored some chores. She was right! But she also put herself in that position a little bit... so apparently one can end up "parenting" others, even if they're not supposed to.
Unfortunately it also happens with real relatives, and backwards - when a responsible child has to "be the adult" for their immature parent(s).
I also lived with a person with whom we were really good at sharing chores fairly, even though we disagreed (temporarily) in other areas. I think it depends a lot on one's personality, and whether someone is trying to dominate the other(s), or not.
 
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The "right way" if, at 72, and on my second marriage, I can be as arrogant as to give advice on the subject, is to make lists of all the chores that need doing and study them for a while.
That is valid for all the expenses as well. Because it is a second marriage, and after the kids were out of the nest, we each came into it with a little money for retirement. His bills are paid by him, My bills are paid by me, [like insurance, new vehicles] some are paid by both [like electricity, landline, internet, taxes]. For the food, sometimes he does, sometimes I do, as he does the cooking but I like my own things as well.
Once you have that list of chores, take turns selecting the ones you like. You will invariably end up with a few that neither one of you likes doing. For us, it is cleaning the floors. For those, you need to take turns. Put them on a calendar if you have to. It is better than harsh words when it is the calendar that says...
You might think that keeping money separate is not very loving. Perhaps. But that is how we never have discussions about money heated or otherwise. The common bills come, we see what needs to be paid and we each put 1/2 into the account and the checks go out. We have zero credit cards in common. It was the same thing with my first husband, after a little painful wrangling. When came the time to divorce, we were able to do so amicably and without lawyers because our assets were already pretty much separated and it was not so acrimonious that we could not agree on what was left.
 
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So, I have this situation in my house. I enjoy working. I work outside and sometimes I work inside fixing things or building things or creating space for things or sewing for money, etc.
On the other hand, my partner does not like to work. My partner likes to sit on the sofa and write in her journal or cruise the internet.
Well, I hate cleaning and since I do almost everything else and also most of the cooking and all of the laundry, I pretty much refuse to clean except to wash the dishes now and then.
My partner feels that it is unfair for me to expect her to do housework because she doesn't like to do housework. However, she doesn't like to do anything and I can't do it all myself.
She says that I am the one making the messes so I should be the one cleaning them up. However it is easy to not make a mess when you don't do anything and it is very easy to make a mess when you are busy doing everything for the entire homestead. My logic is, I work hard to produce good things for the homestead and she cleans up after me. But of course, she doesn't.
She thinks that I am being unreasonable because I enjoy working so much and she does not enjoy working. So her logic is, the person who likes to work should do the work and the person who doesn't like to work shouldn't have to do any work.
Despite the fact that I like to work, I only have so much energy. So I cannot possibly do it all, nor do I want to.
When I am doing a big project outside and she is not helping me, I want her to be inside doing things like making me lemonade or cooking lunch or dinner for us or tidying up because it just feels more fair if I'm working my butt off outside for the benefit of the homestead, that she should be doing at least something inside. But she says it is not okay to treat her like a housewife.
I prefer the term homemaker but it seems to me that when one partner does the lion's share of the work and the other partner just benefits from that work without actually doing any work themselves, there's a distinct lack of balance.
 
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M Wilcox wrote:So, I have this situation in my house. I enjoy working. I work outside and sometimes I work inside fixing things or building things or creating space for things or sewing for money, etc.
On the other hand, my partner does not like to work. My partner likes to sit on the sofa and write in her journal or cruise the internet.
Well, I hate cleaning and since I do almost everything else and also most of the cooking and all of the laundry, I pretty much refuse to clean except to wash the dishes now and then.
My partner feels that it is unfair for me to expect her to do housework because she doesn't like to do housework. However, she doesn't like to do anything and I can't do it all myself.
She says that I am the one making the messes so I should be the one cleaning them up. However it is easy to not make a mess when you don't do anything and it is very easy to make a mess when you are busy doing everything for the entire homestead. My logic is, I work hard to produce good things for the homestead and she cleans up after me. But of course, she doesn't.
She thinks that I am being unreasonable because I enjoy working so much and she does not enjoy working. So her logic is, the person who likes to work should do the work and the person who doesn't like to work shouldn't have to do any work.
Despite the fact that I like to work, I only have so much energy. So I cannot possibly do it all, nor do I want to.
When I am doing a big project outside and she is not helping me, I want her to be inside doing things like making me lemonade or cooking lunch or dinner for us or tidying up because it just feels more fair if I'm working my butt off outside for the benefit of the homestead, that she should be doing at least something inside. But she says it is not okay to treat her like a housewife.
I prefer the term homemaker but it seems to me that when one partner does the lion's share of the work and the other partner just benefits from that work without actually doing any work themselves, there's a distinct lack of balance.



Now just to say I understand where you are coming from I get that feeling a bit myself, and I may be entirely wrong but the paragraph under is how I feel from your post things are.

I suspect you have radically different ideas on what life should be like, I think she doesn't really want to homestead so all the "work" you feel you are doing to her is wasted effort and time and why should she (in her opinion) compensate you for your wasted time? let me put this another way if I am outside building a new smoker say. should I expect him to have cleaned the kitchen just because I decided to do something outside? He could happily "say well it was your choice to build it it's not as if we need it".

For us I have to remember he didn't want to do any market gardening and while he was ok with us buying this place he really doesn't want to be in the field 10 hours a day he wants to sit at his computer. He will help with big projects but has no interest in weeding or sowing or harvesting or planning or or or and that reminds me I have a wheelbarrow of potatoes that need to be bagged and put in the cellar.
 
Abraham Palma
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M Wilcox wrote:So, I have this situation in my house. I enjoy working. I work outside and sometimes I work inside fixing things or building things or creating space for things or sewing for money, etc.
On the other hand, my partner does not like to work. My partner likes to sit on the sofa and write in her journal or cruise the internet.
Well, I hate cleaning and since I do almost everything else and also most of the cooking and all of the laundry, I pretty much refuse to clean except to wash the dishes now and then.
My partner feels that it is unfair for me to expect her to do housework because she doesn't like to do housework. However, she doesn't like to do anything and I can't do it all myself.
She says that I am the one making the messes so I should be the one cleaning them up. However it is easy to not make a mess when you don't do anything and it is very easy to make a mess when you are busy doing everything for the entire homestead. My logic is, I work hard to produce good things for the homestead and she cleans up after me. But of course, she doesn't.
She thinks that I am being unreasonable because I enjoy working so much and she does not enjoy working. So her logic is, the person who likes to work should do the work and the person who doesn't like to work shouldn't have to do any work.
Despite the fact that I like to work, I only have so much energy. So I cannot possibly do it all, nor do I want to.
When I am doing a big project outside and she is not helping me, I want her to be inside doing things like making me lemonade or cooking lunch or dinner for us or tidying up because it just feels more fair if I'm working my butt off outside for the benefit of the homestead, that she should be doing at least something inside. But she says it is not okay to treat her like a housewife.
I prefer the term homemaker but it seems to me that when one partner does the lion's share of the work and the other partner just benefits from that work without actually doing any work themselves, there's a distinct lack of balance.



This is exactly what I was talking about. You have different expectations on how the home should be managed. In your case these are big differences. You can negotiate (she has to do more work than she wants, you have to see things done less than you want) in order to please the other, or you can have it her way, each one doing exactly the desired amount of work in the desired kind of task. But in the second case there's an imbalance that must be paid in one way or another. Cécile here did it by sharing the work no one would like to do which they both agree that needs doing, but there are many other ways. I have a friend who is single and hates cooking, well, he has to purchase his food. He gives up on buying other things that he would like to have, and expends it on buying prepared meals. See? He ends up working to eat, but instead of working on the kitchen he works at the office. I also know of a woman that is maintaining a lazy man just for his company. The man does almost nothing at home, he barely works, and he is not even a good company in my opinion, but this woman is not without issues and she found no other person who wanted to share life with her. In their case, the lady brings the money AND the work in return for some company she wouldn't find otherwise. This arrangement has worked for them for more than 25 years.
A relationship must be balanced or it will not last, and from what I gather in your text, yours are far from balanced. Honestly, it looks as if you are looking for some confirmation to leave her, since you didn't mention anything you love about her.

Your partner should ask herself what she is offering to the relationship if it is not a job or a hand in the house, and you should ask yourself if all the things you think you are doing in behalf of both are really better than simply passing more time doing things together. This friend who is single worked hard for ten years to give his marriage a nice home, and she helped too, but they were so focused on the material that they left the relationship decay, she divorced and they had to sell the hard worked house, now they both are struggling despite their efforts.

 
Flora Eerschay
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M Wilcox wrote:My partner likes to sit on the sofa and write in her journal or cruise the internet.



Others made good points about it already, but I'll try to be a bit more optimistic... how about turning a problem into opportunity, the permie way? For example, you could suggest her to write a book, perhaps about your homesteading skills? Or about you trying to learn/do things that are useful and practical? Many people want to learn that but struggle with it, and also it's tiring and feels like too much of a routine at times. She could write about these problems, research the internet for most useful tips, and it could be both a feel good story and a useful handbook, that will bring you both a passive income in the future. She could even make it a bit like a journal (which itself is a great writing exercise).
That is assuming that you both love and value each other.

Like I wrote about my cleaning, composting and sorting garbage "problem" - it's not that I don't like it. I find it fascinating and important (well maybe just the composting is fascinating... the other stuff is just a good and responsible thing to do). But it's still a dirty, repetitive work, sometimes physically exhausting and not as pleasant as watching birds or picking fresh veggies for a salad. So I don't like that my family assumes that I can do the "dirty work" all the time because I like it so much, while I don't have any time or energy for more pleasant work, or I can't do some projects that I would like to do.
 
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My partner hit me up the other day basically saying that she felt she did more work than I did around the house. What ended up happening is that in the quest to do 50/50, she didn't realize a lot of the things I did. I was like "Yeah sure if you want to split picking up groceries, I'm totally down. Let's split shoveling and blowing snow at 5am." I didn't mean it like a jerk, and I was all about it if she really wanted to split things up even.

She really just didn't know a lot of things that I do, and likewise I didn't know about things she did. She didn't know how much work went into certain parts of our home and when she saw that we realized that we're probably about 50/50 already. But there were certain things that were pain-in-the-butt for her, that I really don't have a problem with, so I picked up some of those too because why not?

For anyone having this type of issue, it might be helpful for people to take a few minutes of think of the work they do to sustain and improve the family that the other person appreciates. Like if I spend 10 hours a week maintaining a really curated rose garden, but no one in my family really cares about it that much, that's not for my family, it's for me.
 
Tereza Okava
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Different people seem to have different tolerances for "fairness". My natural tendency is to be constantly calculating who did what. But no two people see things the same way and it's a great way to cause strife.

My daughter is a bit of a piggy in the house, has always been, and in the past it led to some issues. She moved out two years ago to go to college, but thanks to pandemic business she moved back a few weeks ago. I told myself that instead of taking stock of who did what and how unfair it is, I was going to focus instead on how much I missed her while she was gone and how happy I am just to have her back at home. Like the example above, just her presence here gives me benefits, and I'm willing to stop making tick marks to see who did what.

M Wilcox, have you talked about feeling put-upon? Or talked about what tasks you do that she could take over? Since food and wifi, clean clothes, power, etc all come from somewhere, it seems like maybe there could be some sort of redistribution. Nobody LIKES to do housework (I actually don't mind washing dishes or clothes, shhhh), but part of being an adult is having to take responsibility for your own care (or part with some of your money or other talents to compensate someone else for doing it for you).
[not that anyone asked, but in my experience the old "i'm going to stop cooking/cleaning/washing dishes/etc until they start carrying their weight" never, ever, ever works. There is a great story I read called "He's never going to put that shirt away" about a women who leaves a shirt in the same place for 8 months hoping her husband will get a clue and start cleaning up after himself. He eventually picks up the shirt, and when she points it out he mentions he also put away her socks which she herself had piggishly left somewhere.]
 
M Wilcox
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Abraham Palma wrote:
A relationship must be balanced or it will not last, and from what I gather in your text, yours are far from balanced. Honestly, it looks as if you are looking for some confirmation to leave her, since you didn't mention anything you love about her.

Your partner should ask herself what she is offering to the relationship if it is not a job or a hand in the house, and you should ask yourself if all the things you think you are doing in behalf of both are really better than simply passing more time doing things together.



Now now children, is this how we solve our problems? By getting divorced? I think we can do better. As a side note, to assume one can get the complete picture of a nuanced relationship and decide what one partner wants to do about it based on one short post, is fairly magical thinking. We spend exactly as much time doing things together as we want to. Sometimes I get impatient with her long visits with her bestie when I want to spend time with her, and sometimes she gets irritated that I'm sewing when she wants to snuggle, but that is the exception.

One of the reasons we got together is that we both were reaching for our homesteading dream. We spent years seeking the right situation and doing what we could with what we had until we were able to afford our house and land. We both still really want the homestead paradise--it's just that my wife has now realized she wants it all without having to actually bring any of it to pass herself. That's what I'm for, in her view. THIS IS NOT A DIVORCING OFFENSE. It's merely something we have been as yet unable to solve. I guess my main complaint is that we live in a tiny house and it's just the two of us, so the least she could do in my opinion is clean the house while I do every f-ing thing else.

Flora, you are a genius. You said, "... how about turning a problem into opportunity, the permie way? For example, you could suggest her to write a book, perhaps about your homesteading skills? Or about you trying to learn/do things that are useful and practical? Many people want to learn that but struggle with it, and also it's tiring and feels like too much of a routine at times. She could write about these problems, research the internet for most useful tips, and it could be both a feel good story and a useful handbook, that will bring you both a passive income in the future. She could even make it a bit like a journal (which itself is a great writing exercise)."

I had suggested long ago that my wife write a book and she nixed that idea immediately so I didn't have much hope that she would want to blog either. Nevertheless, I pitched the idea yesterday and she thought it was a great idea! In fact she setup a blog yesterday and already has done her first post! She also researched monetizing it and we had a talk this morning about things we might sell in the shop. Maybe if people learn about our place I can get WWOOFers to help me do projects, or barter workshops and products for housekeeping work.
 
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