Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Household Chores and Relationships

I realize that dishes and vacuuming aren’t particularly sexy topics for a blog. But mundane chores are important—these routine activities not only maintain our lives but also significantly affect relationship dynamics.

In 2008, women comprised 46.5 percent of the total U.S. labor force*. Gone are the days when mommy stayed home and tended to things while daddy worked. Having one full time stay-at-home parent is a luxury most U.S. households cannot afford. Since most women work outside the home, their partners can and must share in household maintenance.

Female clients sometimes admit that they feel they must carry the brunt of household tasks. Some suffer silently, feeling guilty for wanting their partners to “do more around the house.” Many women feel that because of their gender they should do more (unfortunately some husbands feel this way too). Some women report that they endlessly complain that “no one helps” but their words do not change their family’s behavior.

Being female doesn’t make you better at laundry, or dusting, or making beds. Just like any other aspect of a relationship—communication and mutual understanding are key. If you feel that your partner needs to pitch-in more, then you absolutely must speak up. Let them know how it affects you when you don’t help out (and make sure to praise them when they so—a little positive reinforcement goes a long way). Be aware that your partner may feel he doesn’t know how to do certain things around they home, maybe he wasn’t taught. Offer to help him learn these things. Dividing up chores can be a good way to share (including children) household responsibilities. Some people hate cleaning windows but are okay with washing dishes. Gives everyone some control over choosing their preferred tasks.

If you feel that you are constantly asking your family to help and they resist, then it is time to change your ways as well. If your family members won’t contribute and you have let them know how this makes you feel then consider doing less around the house yourself. Maybe you don’t have to make dinner every night or drive your kids to soccer practice. If they are not appreciative of your efforts, maybe your family doesn’t deserve to reap the benefits of your tirelessness.

(Department of Labor Stats) http://www.dol.gov/wb/stats/main.htm

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