Chore Wars

The Surprising Truth About Household Chores

This is the final installment in a series of blog entries about things about which couples argue. This week's entry subject is household chores. Actually, I was supposed to write this entry two weeks ago but my wife had me so busy doing work around the house I am just now getting to write. (Just kidding, honey.)

Someone has referred to this subject as "chore wars" and in many homes household work really is a battle. Almost without exception the problem can be summarized like this: "He" (and this is referring to the male, the man, the husband, the x chromosome, the guy) "doesn't help with chores!". This saying is usually uttered by the female through clenched teeth, or with a sigh of exasperation, often accompanied by hands thrown up in disgust or despair. In the many years I've worked with couples I've never heard a husband complain that his wife doesn't help out around the house. This subject is the number one complaint from wives.

What's the number one complaint from husbands about their wives? Nagging. See the connection? He fails to help with chores. She nags him to help. He ignores, forgets, or refuses which leads her to nag more. It's like the downward spiral of a jet fighter who lost the air battle.

Rather than get bogged down in an analysis of why men never see things to be done, let me simply share the single most exciting discovery I made as a husband. This is not something anyone told me although it should be lesson #1 in all pre-marriage classes.

Doing housework makes you sexy.

I stumbled upon this quite accidently, years, ago while cleaning out the garage. It was a hot day and I was dirty from a couple hours of labor when my wife brought some trash out to the trash can and said "It's so sexy when you do chores around the house!" I suffered whip lash from my reaction. "What!? Doing work around the house is sexy? Then give me another mop bucket" I declared. She just winked and returned inside the house. I quickly finished up the garage.

I share my experience with every husband-to-be I talk with. And recently my own experience was confirmed by no less a source than the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled "Housework Pays Off Between the Sheets."

Housework may seem like the ultimate romance-killer. But guess what? A new study shows that for husbands and wives alike, the more housework you do, the more often you are likely to have sex with your spouse.
So in the interest of promoting more marital intimacy for every couple, here are some specific recommendations from Rachel Moheban, LCSW on the subject of winning the chore war:

1.) Tell your partner what you want or need without being judgmental. Be respectful and avoid criticisms. Never start a conversation with “You’re lazy!” This will only lead to anger and will make the situation worse.

2.) Present completing housework as the problem. Never make your partner feel as if they are the problem. Be open with your partner that you need help with housework without placing the blame.

3.) After you make your request, be open to ideas and suggestions from your partner. If you don’t agree with your partner’s ideas, stay calm and discuss alternatives.

4.) Bring up the subject while spending time with your partner. Don’t make it seem as if this is the only topic you want to discuss. If you do, your partner will become defensive immediately.

5.) Be friendly, open, honest, and make it personal. You can say “Darling, it would make me so happy if you would take out the trash when the bin is full.”

6.) Realize that small steps are important. Don’t expect big changes overnight. Transitioning from not doing housework to assisting with housework will take time.

Other articles in the series on arguing:
By Jim Priest

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