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The 14 Rules of Long-Lasting Relationships

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You have to treat your partner fairly in a relationship, or you haven't got an equal relationship. If you love them, this is one of the most basic ways to show it. Regardless of your background, education, and culture, the only fair thing is for both of you to put an equal amount of time and effort into running your lives.

In other words, no lounging around with your feet up when you get in from work while your partner gets the dinner ready. No sleeping in every morning while they get up with the kids. You should both put in the same amount of work. That means if you both get up together in the morning, no one stops working until everything is done and then you both stop at once. So, if you get home from work and your partner is busy cooking, take over from them, or get some housework done, or put the kids to bed, but don't put your feet up until they can join you.

Of course, you don't have to divide everything exactly, you can do whatever you prefer. In our household, I do all the washing while my wife does all the shopping. It suits us both that way. I get up first, but I generally need quite a few little breaks from the kids on a bad day (bit of a short fuse), whereas she gets up a bit later but then just keeps on going when I need to disappear for a few minutes. I might relax while she's finishing a few chores early evening, but that's because at the end of the evening I do the late-night chores (letting the dog out, loading the dishwasher) while she heads straight for bed. So we don't do exactly the same things, but we both feel happy that the division of labor is equal on balance, and neither of us feels used or abused.

I've heard certain people -- almost always men I might add --- patiently explain that they're earning all the money and working at a tough job all day while their partner is just staying home with the kids. This constitutes much more effort, and therefore it's only fair that their partner does more in the evenings and weekends. They need more rest after all that effort.

If this is your attitude, let me tell you something. I've done a lot of things in my time, including both hard physical work and exhausting creative-thinking type jobs. I've been the sole breadwinner and I've been in a relationship where I earned only a proportion of the household income. I've also done my share of staying at home all day with the kids. I can tell you which job is the toughest by a million miles, and it isn't going out and earning the money.

Next: Keep Your Finances Separate

More on: Marriage and Divorce

From The Rules of Love Copyright © 2009, FT Press. Used by permission of FT Press, and Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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