Faithfulness and a satisfying sex life are the two biggest factors in a happy marriage, but can you guess the third?
According to 62% of couples, it’s sharing household chores. This ranks well ahead of other important factors like adequate income, religious beliefs, or political views.
Are you and your partner constantly fighting over housework? You’re far from alone. And it’s not a minor issue either—studies show that couples who divide the housework unevenly are more likely to split up or get a divorce.
How can you stop fighting over cleaning and restore the peace in your house? In this post, we’ll offer expert tips and advice on how to stop fighting over housework. Once you have a housework schedule in place, you’ll be amazed at how easy organising your home can be!
1. Recognise that it’s not (really) about the housework
If you’re screaming at each other about dirty dishes in the sink, it’s not really the dishes at the heart of the issue.
Couples fighting over cleaning are, more often than not, fighting about deep-seated emotions. These include respect, recognition, power struggles, and traditional gender roles.
Housework is one way we communicate to our partner about their value, worth, and place in the relationship. If one of you fails to do their share, the other will feel resentful. And if one of you goes back and re-cleans something the other has already done, that conveys the message that the first attempt wasn’t good enough.
2. Identify your emotional triggers
Before you explode, take a moment to identify what you’re feeling.
Is it frustration or resentment? Do you feel burdened, incompetent, or unsupported? Do you feel like nothing you ever do is good enough? Or do you feel like nothing your partner does is ever good enough?
When you come home to a messy house, does it make you feel disrespected or unloved? If you see a pile of bills on the table, does it trigger a stress response because you’re worried about finances?
Take a few minutes to calm down and identify your underlying feelings. Suggest that your partner does the same so you can both sit down and discuss it at a later time.
3. Calmly discuss & acknowledge your feelings
When you’re both calm (and not tired or hungry), have an open, empathetic conversation. Acknowledge that you each have different viewpoints about housework and you want to understand each other.
Remember: It’s not about who’s right or who’s wrong. It’s not about “winning” the argument. As a couple, you’re on the same team, so it’s time to start working together as a team.
Validate each other’s feelings and then agree to find a solution that works for both of you.
4. Learn each other’s priorities
As you calmly continue your discussion, find out what’s most important to each of you. An unmade bed might drive you crazy, but it’s no big deal to your partner.
One of you might be happy with takeout or quick-service meals a few nights a week, while the other expects homecooked meals. Your definitions of speed-cleaning or “quickly tidying up” might be very different too.
Create a timetable that works for both of you. Can you each spend 10 minutes tidying up each evening? Can you dedicate Saturday mornings to certain tasks before you get on with your weekend plans? If one of you is an early bird and the other is a night owl, make allowances for when you’ll accomplish your share of housework.
5. Be willing to compromise
What type of housework do you detest the most? What are your partner’s most hated chores? If there’s a way to maximise your personal preferences, do it.
If you hate to cook, your partner might be happy to cook if you clean the dishes. If your partner hates doing the laundry, perhaps you can handle that task if they put the clean clothes away. If there’s a task you both loathe, tackle it together or put it on a rotating schedule so one of you isn’t always stuck with it.
Reasonableness is key here, especially if one of you is a “neat freak” and the other is more laid-back. Is it really the end of the world if your partner doesn’t fold their towel perfectly over the bar after each shower? Is it okay for the family room to be a little messier as long as the kitchen is tidy?
6. Set yourself up for success
Organising your home means being ready for the task. Whether you live in a tiny flat or a huge house, the right storage options can make a world of difference in keeping up with the housework.
Does someone always leave a mess of shoes by the front door? Solve this argument by placing a shoe rack in the foyer to keep those shoes neatly organised.
Is one of you lazy about dropping clothes on the floor? Place a laundry basket in your bedroom and bathroom so there’s no excuse to leave your clothes lying around.
Is all that clutter in the kitchen driving you crazy? Invest in a few kitchen organisers so everything has a home and you can tidy up in no time.
Are your closets overflowing with winter jackets or extra towels and linens? Put unused items in vacuum bags to free up space and give you less to stress about.
These might not seem like big steps, but being a little proactive can go a long way in dividing and conquering the housework.
Stop fighting over housework today
If you’re one of those couples fighting over cleaning, it’s time to make a change. Not only will your home be cleaner and better organised, but your relationship will improve too!
Use the tips listed above to create a housework schedule that works for both of you. Remember that—like other aspects of your relationship—communication and compromise are the keys to success!
Do you live in a small flat? Do you need a better way to organise your belongings and keep your home tidy?
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