Divide and Conquer – how do you decide who does what in a relationship?


Earlier today I had to laugh when there was a situation involving restaurant reservation making. I found myself getting all annoyed at having to log onto open table (so hard, I know!). While I muttered under my breath about Adam asking me to do his job, I thought once again about why in our marriage, we have very specific tasks that we each take care of. These are based on both skill and preference, as I certainty am capable of making reservations, I just for some reason really don’t like to, which is similar to Adam with laundry. Do you have assigned roles in your relationship with your partner (as in the love kind, not the business kind)?

A few weeks after Adam and I eloped, we moved from my apartment into which he had sort of moved, but not really, into a house new to both of us. The changes of both our marital status and living situation brought up new issues, mostly being who was responsible for what. Every relationship is unique like a snowflake and in our unique partnership, we both work and chose to not have children. However, there immediately were a few issues that we had to iron out as it seemed hard to get away from the “traditional” roles in who does what. For example, as I work from a studio in my home, it was assumed on Adam’s part that I would therefore do all of the “house keeping” chores. This did not sit well with me. Even with the help of someone who came in and cleaned every other week, there was still a good deal of upkeep that I did not have time to be doing while my work day was going on. Things like this has to be figured out over time and caused a good deal of yelling until we figured out a realistic plan of who does what. We also realized some interesting things such as having a cleaning person being in our house for 6 hours every Saturday was more annoying than sharing that work and doing it ourselves in a quarter of the time. As time went on, we started to divide tasks more and more, and sometimes sub divided (cleaning the house) tasks until we reached a point where we were pretty happy.

At the moment this is how we divide everything:

Kitchen Cleanliness
Grocery Shopping and Household Basics (for clothes for either of us, we actually go together which is both so dorky and sweet)
Schedules (for both of us, including travel)
Finances (if it involves money, it goes through me)
Dog Care (I organize it all and Adam does what I ask to help, which ends up being a bit less then half)
Personal Car Maintenance
Electronics/Technology (fixing, plugging in, trouble shooting, Adam just pushes it all towards me)
Anything involving wood, paint or floors
Keeping every single thing in the house/garage organized and in it’s place at all times (which oddly is not something that seems task like to me, its really more like breathing)

Cleaning Bathrooms
Washing Cars/Motorcycle
Personal Car/Motorcycle Maintenance (the motorcycle part could be a full time job)
Lawn Care
Outdoor Holiday Decor (it’s a very big deal to him)
Plumbing (mild situations, we call for help if it’s possible he could make it worse, not better)
Anything involving the outside of the house
Garbage and Recycling Duty
Washes dishes after meals we eat together (for some reason we never use the dishwasher)
Communications (this one is HUGE. It’s equal in size to my handling our finances. It covers talking to any and all house related people such as repairs, lawn guys, if the internet goes out (unless I’m home alone) and people, making all dinner reservations, getting to know and being nice to the neighbors, making sure we are in touch with friends and family and on and on.)

It’s a pretty good divide and we seem to be doing well with this split. I wonder how much the assignment of chores has changed in the past few decades. Even though through history, besides for a few short decades in the US around the 1950’s, the majority of women have also worked, yet the bulk of the child care and house keeping used to fall mostly on them. Has this finally changed over time? Oddly we are also one of the few countries who does not have help in the home in the form of a cook and or house keeper regardless of class. The distribution of household tasks has always been a subject that fascinated me!

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