Growing up, many of us had a chore list to get done on a daily or weekly basis. If you weren’t an only child, the chores may have been split between you and your siblings. Each of you were expected to get your chores done, and if you didn’t, you knew that mom and dad wouldn’t be happy.
As a kid, you probably didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. Now you are older, living with your significant other, and you’re starting to understand. If your partner doesn’t get their chores done, then it falls on you to clean the apartment or house — but you have your own things to do!
Suddenly, an itemized list could really come in handy, couldn’t it? A chore list can actually help your relationship if you’re sharing living space. Here’s why a list of household chores is absolutely essential for cohabitating couples.
1. Facilitates Communication Between the Couple
One reason that a list of household chores is essential for couples that are cohabiting is that it can facilitate communication in the relationship.
Creating a list can lead to conversations about what one partner prefers to do for chores and how the other partner can balance that out with their own likes and dislikes. It can also open up discussions about what the expectations are for certain chores and how they should be done.
More so, checking items off the chore list can communicate that each partner takes their responsibilities seriously — therefore taking the relationship seriously.
2. Allows You to Divide and Conquer
A list of household chores allows you and your significant other to divide and conquer. This means that each of you have your own tasks, different from one another to get done around the house.
This prevents each of you from accidentally doing the same chores as the other.
Being able to do your own chores as they get theirs done will also make it feel like there’s less to do. Here, each of you is carrying your own weight in order to keep the household running smoothly.
3. Keeps Each Partner Accountable
A list of household chores is also a way of keeping each partner accountable. When one partner seems to do all of the chores and the other does nothing, resentment, anger, and other negative emotions arise, even if they aren’t spoken upon.
Keeping a list of household chores allows partners to see when the other takes care of tasks. Then, each partner will hopefully be encouraged to do their chores in order to carry their weight in the relationship.
Sarah Mogensen, a professional organizer and home cleaning blogger, cited by NBC news shares that she believes that couples should create a chart with the most important chores. Along with the chore, there should also be a set day for these chores to be done. For example, the laundry is done on Saturday mornings and the carpet is vacuumed on fridays.
Having a chart and being able to see as each chore gets checked off will help to keep each of you accountable.
4. Establishes Reliability
A list of chores will also establish reliability, even for the small things within the relationship. As each partner gets their chores done everyday or every week, it proves to the other that they are serious about doing their part and reliable when it comes to keeping their house in working order.
A chores list is only one step in a long term relationship. So, if you can rely on your partner to get the chores assigned done, you’ll know that you can hopefully rely on them for other things down the road.
Relate.org.uk, a relationship support resource, discusses how to handle an unreliable partner. In explaining, they share that the small actions that your partner does can accumulate to shape how you feel about them. And when you consider all of these instances, this is when you make a decision on how trustworthy a person is, how secure you feel with them, and how much you can rely on them for larger things in life.
5. The Small Things Can Make a Big Impact
Lastly, a small list of household chores that successfully gets done can make the difference between a happy couple and an unhappy couple.
Again, when one half of the couple is doing all of the chores, a strain is put on the relationship. At that point, only one person is carrying the weight in that department, and you may experience fights, arguments, and an overall sense of unhappiness.
On the other hand, when you establish a list of household chores and those chores are successfully completed by each person, your relationship no longer feels the unnecessary weight of an unequal burden. That means no more fights about chores — hopefully — and potentially, a happier relationship.
Five Tips for Making a List That Sticks
How do you make a list of household chores that will stick and not just be ignored or forgotten? Here are five tips that can make that list stick.
1. Divide the Chores Fairly
First, you should divide the chores fairly. Remember that a chore list can include tasks that are more like errands, such as grocery shopping. Each partner should have an equal amount of chores so that they are doing roughly the same amount of work.
Try to give chores unbiasedly. Stay away from assigning them based on skill level alone, for example. One partner might be super efficient at doing dishes, but that doesn’t mean they should do them all the time.
Similarly, if one of you was raised taking care of many household tasks and the other is inexperienced, it’s not a good idea to keep the bulk of the work on the skilled partner. Try to create learning experiences instead. In any case, the workload should be even.
2. Discuss Your Expectations
Always discuss your expectations of how a chore is performed — but don’t be nitpicky.
Cleaning the kitchen might mean washing the dishes and putting them away, wiping the counters, cleaning the fridge and scrubbing the floor to one partner. While the other might consider cleaning the kitchen to be running the dishwasher, wiping the counter, and sweeping.
In this case, the couple should discuss what they expect and come to an agreement on what that specific chore entails. However, if a chore falls below your exacting standards, don’t be nitpicky and call them out right away. Revisit your discussion so you can better understand the different standards each of you hold.
3. Don’t Do Each Other’s Chores
This one is simple enough. If your partner doesn’t do their chores, don’t do the chores for them.
This will keep them accountable. When you begin to pick up their slack, then they begin to feel like they don’t have to worry about leaving their chores undone. This can breed bad habits that affect your relationship down the line.
4. Check in with Each Other Kindly
Remember to check in with each other kindly. If a chore isn’t done, start with a warm reminder or acknowledgment of their stressful schedule. When you’ve had a long day, the last thing you want is for your partner to criticize your laundry-folding skills, after all.
You can find a balance between being militant and being a pushover — either extreme is sure to breed resentment. Keeping it kind, instead of questioning them with your guns blazing, opens a path of communication instead of creating strife and defensiveness.
5. Provide Incentives
Lastly, didn’t your parents reward you for doing your chores? Or at least, sometimes? Well, you can do the same thing with your significant other.
Provide them with incentives. Finishing the chore list means that the two of you get a reward. The rewards can be anything that you and your loved one agree on — which means don’t be afraid to make them sexy or sweet. Whether it’s a date night idea or a movie rental, just make sure it’s something that reflects the work you put in as a team.
Give It a Try…
Now, go ahead and try making that list of household chores. You might just find that it not only helps keep your home clean, but that it aids in facilitating a happy relationship.