My husband and I have been married for about ten years and we have three lovely kids. Both of us are professionals. I am a lawyer and a partner in a law firm. My husband is a banker.
I think we have a good relationship but an area of friction over the years is how to share domestic duties equitably between us – parenting, household chores, and so on. How do we strike a fine balance on who does what when it comes to the home before our arguments over this begins to affect our work and romance?
Dorothy, I am convinced we have to sort this out urgently before it wrecks our marriage as I feel my husband is leaving most of the parenting and household chores to me.
All couples occasionally have arguments and a good percentage of them centre around who is taking care of what, and whether one person isn’t pulling their weight in the relationship, be it with respect to the domestic situation, finances, etc. Conflict over the division of domestic duties ranks second to money problems in creating discord in marriages.
Most couples due to the present-day lifestyle are working couples. Most women find fulfilment in being working wives and mothers. There was a time when spouses had clearly defined roles – husband worked, wife stayed home. But even in those days, men and women debated who had the heavier burden; was it tougher to go to work or to stay home with the kids?
Working out how to balance who does what between couples in the home can create animosity and discord between partners. The problem is that it is impossible to exactly calculate the worth of each person’s actions and behaviour in a domestic situation. For instance, does cleaning the house have more weight than doing the laundry?
What about weighing up the emotional balance. Which one of you is more emotionally stable? How do you then balance being the person who is always leaned upon to provide the emotional pivot and balance in the relationship? If one spouse is a pessimist and the other optimistic and cheerful, who gets more marks in this case?
The truth is that measuring the worth of just how much of the weight we’ve been pulling is very personal and everyone will tend to score points in their favour. But our judgments are flawed because they are prone to biases. My advice is that both of you should not get into the “politics” of who is doing what or who is doing more. This is bound to lead to unnecessary frustrations and needless arguments. You should work together as a team balancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses in love and not dwell on which one of you is carrying most of the domestic load.