Splitting Household Chores in Marriage

Let’s make a list of household chores in your marriage and divide them with your spouse. How to divide household responsibilities fairly between spouses is different for every family. You might even figure out how to get your husband to do chores (when I tell my story).

Couple doing dishes together

I get a TON of questions on how to split up chores in marriage, so much that I actually did a podcast on it. Episode 009 talks about it from Parenting & Pregnancy Untangled:

Feeling Alone in Household Chores

You watch the clock, only 15 more minutes…. 10 minutes…. 5 minutes….. {rrrrrrr}- the garage door opens and DAD’S home! Dad comes in, flops on the couch and turns on the TV and tickles a happy baby and wonders what’s for dinner. 

As a stay-at-home mom, you’ve been dealing with a screaming baby who wants to pull every object within reach onto the floor, fighting kids, and trying to figure out dinner when all you own are saltines and hamburger.  

You still need to vacuum, was the dirty laundry, make dinner and clean the bathrooms. And your husband is enjoying his leisure time on the couch as the kids play like little angels.

And you want. to. scream.

You’ve been working all day too! When’s your leisure time? If your husband was a bachelor, he would still need to do the laundry and clean the bathroom? Can’t he do his fair share and help out more?

Yes, yes he can. While I have always worked outside the home, I have been at the home the majority of the time. We found some ways that helped us splitting up domestic work in marriage in a way that we were both agreeable to.

Before we get into it, if getting your family members to help with chores is something you struggle with, I talk about in my course Family Routines.  I’ll talk about implementing chore routines and getting kids involved.  I think you’ll love it — in fact, I guarantee it.  Join for a month or a year — you can cancel at any time — you can even save 10% with code PC10.

Talking About Household Chores with Your Spouse

Talk with your spouse about how you’re feeling, your mental load and how much work you’re doing and maybe what they could do to help you out? Don’t blame them, instead look at your chore list and find a better way to share housework. I think when you think that one parent will stay home, you envision them doing the majority of the housework — like June Cleaver. Newsflash, June’s kids were all in school and I never saw her spending hours and hours at a PTO fundraiser. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to have this talk NOT at 5 pm when you’re riled up and angry at the injustice of it all! *that is a key point — be calm when you talk about it!

Pro Tip #2: Remember you’re on the same team. It’s you attacking household tasks, not attacking each other. 🙂

Did June Cleaver Have it Right?

If you are the stay at home parent, it is natural that you to take a larger chunk of the jobs. There are small tasks that you can do during the day. If your spouse is working outside the home, that’s not an option for them. But there are different tasks they can do to share the work of domestic duties.

When you look at it rationally it really is fair that you take a bit more share of work. Plus, showing the kids how to do chores is an important part of a mom’s job. You have to be doing chores to teach them. Be sure to take what is best to teach when you split them up!

This one’s going to be a surprise — but I’m gonna tell you to….

Make A List of Chores in your Marriage

Make a list of the chores:

  • Laundry
  • Floors (mopping, vacuuming, etc)
  • Dusting
  • Bathrooms
  • Cooking
  • Kitchen cleaning
  • Deep Cleaning
  • Financial/bill paying
  • Grocery Shopping

Then, maybe mark the ones you each don’t mind doing (as much) 

For instance, I love cleaning counters.  Call me crazy?  I just love perfection after it’s done. Maybe you love to have time at the grocery store by yourself, so that can be on your to-do list.

Then, maybe make a list of things you hate how your husband does (and/or he hates how you do)

My husband didn’t appreciate how I folded clothes.  I’ll give you 3 guesses as to who folds clothes now. 🙂

Negotiate Household Chores

Now it’s time for the big negotiation. If there’s things that one minds that the other one hates, it makes sense to split that.

Keeping in mind that the lists should be balanced, also keeping in mind that leaving the home for work needs to be balanced into this equation as well.

How we split household chores in our marriage:

For me, I needed something that I didn’t mind getting put off for a few days when my husband was extra busy, then he could binge work and get a bunch of it done. We settled on him folding clothes. I don’t mind baskets piling up a bit and he never liked how I folded it anyway.

Now that he is only working from home part-time, each one tends to do the chores if they aren’t outside of the home working that day. Or, if I have a lot of deadlines, or if I’m at my away job as a nurse, he does the jobs for that day. The traditional roles of daily things that need to be done might change on a regular basis.

I have my cleaning schedule on Tick-tick on the shared list.  He can access what domestic responsibilities are supposed to be done every day. He’s seen me do it enough to know my personal preferences of how I like it done (he’s so great at that, really) and I really like just HAVING it done. 

My cleaning schedule is such a well-oiled machine it doesn’t take a lot of time away from his part time job (he works from home a few hours every day).

Mix It Up Because You Love Each Other

Ebb and flow.  My friend Lara wrote a great post on serving your husband.  There’s nothing wrong with showing love and doing their jobs when they’re over their head, have less time, and vice versa. Love is sharing and serving.

June Cleaver taught us all that the wife does all the household work and the husband reads the paper. Not so. Splitting chores in marriage can be a fulfilling thing for both parties if done correctly!
Photos from Dollar Photo Club

For each couple, it is going to work differently, but I think there is nothing wrong with saying that you are NOT June Cleaver, and you never saw June Cleaver at Mommy and Me reading group or swim lessons, or teaching her babies how to read. It’s just a different life.

If you’re not even married yet, NOW is the time to say that you really hope for a household that shares responsibility.

The good thing about doing it before you’re married is that you’re calm with no feelings in the game. The key to this is NOT being angry. It’s all about assumptions people make before they have kids. It’s about what our parents did (which, likely didn’t work well either). It’s about talking and finding out what works for YOU. 

You have a unique marriage that needs to be honored in your division of housework. You can both be happy. You just need to talk iout the decision-making process so one person doesn’t take the brunt of the chores. And adjust when needed. Traditional gender roles for domestic tasks may or may not be the best way to divide household labor for your family.

Do you have any other tips for splitting household duties in marriage? Put them below!  Be sure to sign up for my newsletter including my cleaning alerts!

You might be interested in some of my other cleaning posts:

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Do gou guys find yourself constantly arguging over who does what (or who does MORE) -- take this advice, it can solve all your problems!

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