Don't Let the Slob Win: Tips on Sharing Chores With Your Spouse

woman and man cleaning house

When a couple moves in together, it is considered a big step—this is the first of many overlapping responsibilities that they will share in their new life together. When you took this step with your current spouse, you probably already knew some of their organizational quirks from when you were dating. You may have noticed your differing philosophies about cleanliness. If you had major differences and you married anyways, then you knew your work had been cut out for you. Once kids come into the picture, the cleaning and doing chores issue can devolve. 

Fighting over the chores is likely to feel like one of those ongoing "pointless" arguments you seem to have over and over. The burden to clean the home usually falls on the mother or whomever is staying home to take care of the children. With two full time working adults, however, it is critical to find a balance between you both on completion of chores. 

Avoid These Mistakes to Get Your Spouse to Share Household Chores

Sharing household chores together is only fair, but if you have a spouse who won't work with you on keeping the house and yard clean and maintained, perhaps you are making some mistakes.

Here are some common mistakes you may make when trying to motivate your spouse to share in household chores.

  • "Asking" for help. Don't request that your spouse to help you around the house. That gives your spouse the idea that the household chores are your responsibility only, and that any help is simply a kindness on their part. You can tactfully and directly instruct what needs to be done. Another idea is to declare one day of the week as cleaning time, such as Saturday mornings.

Enlist the kids in age-appropriate chores as well. You will all be working together toward a common goal.

  • Being indecisive about your spouse's contributions. Do you know what you want your spouse to do or are you expecting him or her to notice what needs to be done and then do it? If you choose the latter, you may be waiting a really long time! Again, just directly ask without whining or nagging. 
  • Lack of communication. It is important that you are specific in communicating your expectations about household maintenance and cleaning. Communication also involves listening to your spouse's household chore expectations. If you find that you have frequent arguments on this topic, sit down to talk about it peacefully and calmly at some point. Talk about the impact the imbalance has on you. Be open to hearing your spouse too. They may be doing a lot more than you realize. 
  • Inflexibility and micro-managing. Is your way the only way to get a chore accomplished? Do you redo a task that your spouse just finished? Are you a gatekeeper or a micro-manager? This will definitely discourage your spouse from doing chores! You may need to accept the imperfections of how the bed is made, the dishwasher loaded or the meal that was served. Keep the big picture in mind. Have confidence in your spouse's abilities too. 
  • Nagging. Nagging only makes your spouse more resentful and defensive. There is a proper way to complain that involves you focusing on the underlying feeling you have when your spouse fails to meet you in the middle. Are you sad, hurt, or confused? Don't just criticize, say how you feel in reaction to your spouse's specific behavior. Ask for what you need as well. Don't assume they know how to read your mind. 
  • Lack of affirmation. When was the last time you complimented your spouse on a job well done? Do you regularly show gratitude for your spouse's efforts? A please-and-thank-you can go a long way. Do not have the attitude that your partner is just doing what they are supposed to anyway. We all like to hear appreciation and we should look for these opportunities to show it especially when married. 

Being married to a slob or fighting over chores can suck the romance out of your relationship. Don't get caught up in that. Remember that there are ways you can better manage or change this situation!

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