You’re exhausted. You worked all day, dropped up and picked up the children from school, and now you’re taking care of dinner. If you feel like it shouldn’t all be on you, you’re right. Having a partner means sharing love and happiness, along with all the responsibilities of “adulting.”
Many couples have conflict relating to household chores and related responsibilities. If this problem is familiar, here are steps you can take to get your partner to help more at home.
- Validate your feelings and experience to yourself.
You’re not exaggerating or being selfish. Taking care of daily activities at home, not to mention added tasks for children, is overwhelming for most people. You need help. It’s okay to feel tired, angry, disappointed, or to have any other emotion that comes up for you.
- Think of positives about your partner.
While your feelings are entirely valid, it probably won’t help your cause to start out with a resentful statement. Even if your partner is normally open and understanding, they will likely respond in a defensive way. To ease any tension, identify ways in which you’re thankful for your partner. You also want to acknowledge to yourself that your partner is imperfect, as we all are.
- Express from an “I” statement perspective.
When you’re ready to talk to your partner, start gently. Rather than pointing a finger with statements like, “You don’t do anything around the house,” try, “I’ve been really overwhelmed lately keeping up with everything.” Express from your own experience, rather than through blaming statements. Get to the core of why you feel the way you do.
- Ask for what you need and make a plan.
This conversation may go smoothly. It may erupt into a fight, which is one way many couples work through conflicts. Eventually, once things are in the open, you can create a plan with your partner for things to change. Identify specifics and keep tasks straightforward. For example, perhaps your partner is now in charge of vacuuming, cooking during the week, and/or all laundry.
- Let go of perfectionist expectations.
We all know that saying, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” There’s some truth to that, but what’s “right” to you may not be to your partner. The clothes may not be washed or folded the way you prefer. The dishes may stay out a little longer than you would like. When you share responsibility, you need to be accepting as things may not be done exactly to your standards.
- Think of yourself as a team.
If things start to fall back into old patterns, it can be easy to get frustrated and just start taking over all of the chores again. However, rather than letting things slide, which can lead to resentment, think of yourself as a team. If it’s obvious that the task should have been done already, start with a helping statement. For example, say, “Remember we’ve got company coming over tonight. Do you need me to help with the vacuuming?” Only offer if you’re sincere (in case your partner says yes!), but there’s a fair chance this will prompt your other half to get moving.
If you feel like your conflicts around chores are related to deeper issues, you may well be right. Constant bickering without good communication and resolution can cause damage to your relationship over time. Couples counseling can help. Contact us today to see how we can help you get back on the right track.
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