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How Chores Can Affect Your Relationship

This weekend, I spent about an hour listening to a radio talk show discuss how one couple ended up separating due to fighting over chores. When I think about chores, I think about doing the laundry or running errands. As a husband and relationship counselor, I found that the topic of the show was accurate.

I’ve worked with hundreds of couples in my counseling practice who struggle to find respect and balance in the area of chores, tasks, and responsibilities. What tends to happen is that the tasks become triggers that lead to fighting, disrespect, and negligence.

To address this problem, I came up with an interactive solution that allows couples to overcome the challenge. The solution described below helps couples do the following:

  • Create a system that highlights respect
  • Create balance
  • Foster gratitude and appreciation

The first step is to understand the foundation to the activity. This activity is aimed to help couples create a foundation of balance, consistency, respect, and commitment. The activity highlights the impact that chores, tasks, and responsibilities have on relationships.

Step 1:

You and your partner are going to need to schedule a time that is distraction-free and committed to each other. The time you pick should be mutual and again, distraction-free. Please make it a priority to find a location that allows the focus to be on each other.

Step 2:

Individually write down all the chores, tasks, and responsibilities you do. Do not include your actual job if you are employed.

Step 3:

Time to share what you have written down. While sharing, do your best to be nice and practice respect. This can be achieved by reviewing your partner’s list and applauding their work. Expressing gratitude for their contribution to the relationship and family system.

Step 4:

On a single sheet of paper, draw a vertical line right down the middle. On the right side have partner A and on the left side have partner B.

Together, with love and respect, distribute the items accordingly. This task may take a while. Do your best to be fair and respectful.

Step 5:

Now that you have the items divided accordingly, practice them for two-weeks. At the end of the two-weeks, you have the option to swap your entire list with your partner, or if needed rearrange it.

The goal in Step five is to practice evaluating the effectiveness of the list. The two-week period allows plenty of time to engage in the chores and reflect on the following:

  • Practicing respect
  • Commitment to the relationship
  • Creating balance 
  • Maintaining consistency

As you progress with the activity take time to create value per item. Value is directly associated with promoting interest and passion. For instance, if you value doing the dishes because it’s one less thing that your partner has to do, then you are more likely to continue doing the task.

On the other hand, if you are just doing the chore because you have to do it, then you are more likely to express a negative mood or emotion due to the low value invested in the activity.

About the Author:

Mr. Juan Santos is a professional counselor, private practice consultant and book author who specializes in relationship stability and understanding separation indicators. He has conducted hundreds of couples counseling sessions.

Mr. Santos is the creator of two successful relationship strengthening courses: “A Marriage Preparation Course: For Premarital Couples” and “The Relationship Building Course: For Struggling Couples.”

He is the author of the following self-help psychology books: Couples Workbook: Making Your Relationship Work; 100 Ways Married Men Can Remain Emotionally Connected; Life Without Stress, My Journal, and Parenting Education for Hispanic Families.

Mr. Santos is the owner of Santos Counseling PLLC, a counseling private practice located in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, NC. Mr. Santos is currently completing his doctoral studies at the University of the Cumberlands.