While housework may not be the number one reason couples argue, it is number four after money, raising children, and sex. But of all these causes for clashing, housework is by far the easiest dispute to resolve. In your household, you can assign certain tasks, and that’s that. No begging, no bargaining. Someone dusts weekly while the other is assigned vacuuming and cleaning floors. You can decide who’s cooking depending on your schedules, but the meal maker doesn’t have to deal with the dishes. Big stuff, like moving furniture and cleaning the garage, are done together. And you know what? There’s no resentment and there won’t be a need to fight about housecleaning. And you’re not alone.
In 2014, the University of Illinois conducted a study of several hundred working married couples and discovered that those who share equal responsibility for housecleaning and other chores have a better chance of staying together over the years. Oftentimes the tasks of the successful couples were clearly defined. In one example the husband took care of all “outside” chores while the wife covered all “inside” chores. But it wasn’t as simple as him mowing the lawn while she cooks. “Outside” chores included everything that happened out the door, including grocery shopping and chauffeuring the kids.
Dividing up household chores may seem like a simple process. But upon close examination, the way husbands and wives collaborate around the house—or don’t—exposes many complex matters that lead to disagreement. These include issues concerning power, respect, intimacy, and equality.
The key to blissful cleanliness boils down to communication: what, when, and how household tasks need to be carried out. Couples who have a clear and respectful understanding of the chores they are expected to perform spend less time negotiating or arguing over what should be trivial matters. Life flows more smoothly and it gives couples plenty of extra time to bicker about important things, like money and sex.