When a couple moves in together, it's considered a big step—it's the first of many overlapping responsibilities you'll share in a new life together. When you took this step with your spouse, you probably already knew some of their organizational quirks from when you were dating, and you may have noticed some differing habits when it comes to cleanliness. If you had major differences and you married anyway, then you probably knew you had your work cut out for you when it came to figuring out how to share chores with your spouse. But it's not impossible.
Fighting over chores is likely to feel like one of those ongoing pointless arguments you seem to have over and over, so it's important to figure out early on how to share chores with your spouse and find a balance between your two schedules.
Read on for tips on how to make sharing chores with your spouse a little easier.
Ask for Help
First and foremost, ask for help. Your spouse can't read your mind, so as nice as it would be if they just naturally made the bed every morning or took out the trash, they may need some nudging from you. Ask for help and give them the chance to step up. Another idea is to declare one day of the week as a cleaning day for both of you, such as Saturday mornings.
Enlist the kids in age-appropriate chores, as well. It helps teach them responsibility and takes some of the load off your plate.
Divide and Conquer
Don't take on the responsibility of delegating every task in the household. If you're already working full time and/or taking care of kids, having to constantly ask your spouse to do chores and make sure they get done adds way too much to your mental load. Instead, sit down together and come up with a chore list that works for both of you. Make sure chores are divided equitably and that your spouse is fully aware of their responsibilities so you don't constantly have to ask and remind them to do the laundry or empty the dishwasher.
It's important that you're 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. "Resentments that we develop because we feel overburdened will affect how we think and feel about our partner, and that will come across in how we treat them," says Rob Pascale and Lou Primavera, Ph.D. Be open to hearing your spouse, too. They may be doing a lot more than you realize.
Be flexible about when chores get done. As much as you might want the bed made by 7:00 A.M., your spouse might prefer to shower, squeeze in a workout, and get ready for work before taking on the task. Unless something is time-sensitive, like needing grocery shopping done before dinner or the house cleaned before guests come over, give your spouse the freedom to figure out when doing their chores is best for their schedule. The important thing at the end of the day is that you're both willing to help and the chores are getting done. "Trying to force your partner to do anything rarely succeeds in the long term, even if it is successful in the moment at getting what you want (or maybe even need)," says Joanna R. Pepin, Ph.D.
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. Don't have the attitude that your partner is just doing what they're supposed to anyway. We all like to hear appreciation, so look for these opportunities to show it to your spouse.