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Dividing Up Chores

Times have changed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional division of labor, which includes the man working full-time outside the home and the woman taking care of the house. But now, many women also work outside the home and are still forced to continue taking care of all the household duties. However, it's very important to take into account your outside obligations when dividing up the household chores. Most people are busy and would rather be doing something else than washing the dishes or taking out the garbage. But chores are a fact of life, and they need to get done.

It's useful to create a chore chart that will work for your household. Some items on the chore chart will probably be standard, and others will be specific to your home. You and your spouse need to sit down together to make a list that will work for both of you. If you are currently doing the majority of the housework, your spouse may not be so enthusiastic about working out a new system with you. But if there is resentment on your part, then you need to explain this to your spouse.

Holding grudges because of unfair workloads can lead to conflicts in other areas of your marriage. You need to come up with a compromise chore list. You may not be thrilled with it, but it should be one that both of you can live with. It should include daily chores as well as weekly chores. The following list starts with some standard things that most households need done, with space left for you to include special chores for your household.

Soul Mates

When you're in the middle of doing a dull chore, remember that you're helping to make your house a home.

  • Taking out the kitchen trash
  • Cleaning the closets
  • Emptying all the wastebaskets
  • Vacuuming
  • Grocery-shopping
  • Dusting
  • Preparing dinner
  • Cleaning the living and dining rooms
  • Doing the dishes
  • Ironing
  • Personal laundry
  • Straightening up the living areas
  • Household laundry (towels and linens)
  • Annual spring cleaning
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Taking the garbage cans to the street and back
  • Cleaning the bathrooms
  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Cleaning the bedrooms
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________

Be Fair

When the two of you come up with a complete list of chores, it's time to divide it fairly. You need to take into account how much time each of you works outside the home. If you are working 20 hours a week and your spouse is working a full-time job, it would be reasonable to expect that you would do more of the housework. But if you are also going to school or taking care of the children, that needs to be taken into account as well.

There are many creative ways to divide up the chores, but it needs to feel fair to both of you. Some couples like to rotate chores on a monthly basis to make the routine less dull. For instance, one month you might clean the bathrooms and vacuum every week, while the next month you might take care of the major kitchen cleaning and grocery-shopping.

Marriage Q & A's

Q: What if I forget to do some of the chores that I agree to?

A: Since you have taken the time to agree to them together, do your best to follow through. If you forget, apologize and make it up to your spouse by doing one of his or her chores.

Hang It Up

After the two of you have divided up the chores in a way that will work, we recommend creating a monthly chart and displaying it on the refrigerator or bulletin board.

When you have completed your task for the day or week, check it off. By putting a check mark next to a completed chore, it will add to your feeling of accomplishment. You will know that you have done your share that day to help keep the household running smoothly.



Next: No Excuses >>
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage © 2001 by Hilary Rich and Helaina Laks Kravitz, M.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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