One of the big complaints I hear from my customers that are married is around the issue of chores. I can tell you from my own 30-year union the matter of chores was a huge deal in leading to the end of the marriage.
The Issue That Broke The Camel’s Back
I clearly remember the problem that’broke the camel’s back.’ My ex-husband desired to have our big Thanksgiving dinner at our house rather than my parents’ home, and I was all for it – IF he promised to help. My experience in the past was that I ended up doing all the work and was too tired to really enjoy the dinner, whereas if it was at my parents’ house, I knew that my father was an equal contributor regarding family events. My ex readily promised to help, but on the day of the dinner, he did nothing. “I want your help.” He smirked at me, going to his usual resistance, and walked off. I felt crushed, and my inner child was angry with me that I’d believed him when he so frequently either forgot what he had said or went into immunity.
“I am not going to invest any more time with you till you can be loving and caring for three months,” I told him. Previously he could do it for a week or so and then would go back to being angry and resistant. I gave him two years to learn to be loving, caring and respectful toward me and he never did, so our marriage ended.
Needless to say, the issue around chores was not our only problem, but it was indicative of the underlying issues, which were a lack of caring and respect toward me, and frequently treating me with anger, withdrawal, sarcasm, and projection – followed by the crazy-making of denying that he was doing such things, and blaming me rather.
Doing Chores Together Can Create Intimacy
Recent research suggests that couples who do chores together, rather than one individual doing more actions, or dividing the chores, have more psychological and physical intimacy. Doing chores alone can be lonely, while doing them together can be a time of fun, affection and sharing, and it certainly makes the time go by faster when you’re doing the dishes together rather than doing them alone. Sharing chores might be especially important when you have children, since it’s often tough to find time to get together to discuss your day or share your feelings with each other.
While the research shows that couples who do chores together have better marriages, I wonder if the underlying truth is that couples who enjoy being together and have good marriages realize that they enjoy doing chores together. Is the doing of chores together the cause of the their intimacy or the result of it? More research would need to be done to determine this.
Regardless of which comes first, I’d think that couples who do chores together have a better chance at feeling connected with each other than people who don’t. Not only does it give you some time together, but it also prevents both the resentment of one person doing too many of the chores, and the loneliness of doing chores independently.