Why Is Housework Such A Point Of Tension In Relationships?
Chores suck. Chores are this mystical thing that brews arguments, drains energy and kills more time than it actually takes. Chores are a nasty trap, a trigger for couples to fight.
There was this video circulating around Facebook featuring a talk by Matthew Hussey about whether guys are obligated to pay on dates. It piqued my interest because I find the whole gender equality argument fascinating.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71o3hq6iSPM
A lady in the audience expressed that she expects her boyfriend to foot the bill for every meal, 4 months into the relationship. Hussey responded by asking her if her man wants to sleep with her when he wants, she’d do it, to which she replied “No…?”. Hussey’s main argument by the end of the video was:
1. The woman should at least offer to pay
2. If the woman has issue paying, split the bill proportionately according to each party’s ability to pay
It’s a male dominated argument, but that’s because Hussey coaches women on how to ‘get’ men. Wearing the egalitarian hat, what possible parallels can we draw between this and housework?
It’s a pretty common arrangement for one spouse to stop working and commit full-time to managing the household. In this arrangement, there’s an implicit agreement that the stay-home spouse does all the housework. Despite such an ‘agreement’ or ‘understanding’, it’s so common to see tension in households over chores and housekeeping.
Perhaps we should acknowledge that these ‘agreements’ are simply a means to an end. They are supposed to be created for the sake of harmony and prosperity for the household. Effort and love have always been proven to be better than ‘agreements’ or naming roles like “I’m the breadwinner, you’re the housewife”.
The 50:50 Relationship
What about dual-income couples? They do have a different dynamic from stay-home spousal arrangements. The 50:50 relationship is supposed to be the purist’s model of equality where a couple splits the housework ‘equally’. The man cleans the room, the woman does the laundry. The woman irons the clothes, the man does the dishes.
“Wait. Doesn’t laundry take more work than doing the dishes?”
“What are you talking about, cleaning the room is hell!”
And that is the whole problem with ‘50:50’. People are not created equal, and neither is housework .
Another Way To Look At Splitting Housework?
Taking a page out of Hussey’s book, perhaps splitting housework could work exactly the same way as Hussey’s argument about paying for dates
1. Either the man or the woman, should always offer to help
2. If you can’t help all the time because of work commitments, help where you can.
It doesn’t have to be 50:50. It doesn’t have to be 100:0. In the end, maintaining happy relationships is all about effort. Maybe it’s time to stop looking at things in binary terms, arguing about whether your relationship is symmetrically equal or whether you’re carrying out a role that you’re ‘supposed to do’. Instead, we could look at the big picture, the end goal, and do everything it takes to make both people in the relationship happy.