Once upon a time, I ended a relationship. Back then, in the ‘eye of the storm’, I couldn’t put my finger on why. A long love seemed to have inexplicably fizzled away over the course of 6 short months, and by the end, I didn’t want to to get better. I just wanted it to finish.
But hindsight is a wonderful thing, and a few years distance has given me a new perspective on why that relationship ended. Among other things, one of the biggest reasons for my cooling off was that I felt the responsibility for managing our home wasn’t equally shared. Not even close. Not even even after talking, asking, list-making, negotiating, sulking, arguing, shouting or passive-aggressively thudding round the kitchen. And, after a spin on the Love Languages test, I can now see what a massive problem that was for me.
‘Acts of service’ feature very highly on my love languages – in fact, they’re right up there in second position (behind physical touch, which came as no surprise to me).
Which is why, on the occasion that I stepped into the hallway at Lee’s mum’s house (back when he and I first started dating) – and found him brandishing a bottle of bleach and a roll of kitchen towel to clean the family kitchen – I decided he was the man for me.
Laugh if you like, but I appreciate a partner who sees a pile of dirty dirty and regards it as his own to wash up. It’s the base-line for a mutually respectful adult relationship, isn’t it?
So, in this relationship, and in our household, we both do the chores. Except, rather than viewing it as a 50/50 split, we choose to view it as both having 100% responsibility for the whole lot. That way, there’s no inclination for point scoring, record keeping or chore charts. Instead, by feeling like the entire house – from the cobwebs in the loft to the icky overspill in in the bottom of the bin -is entirely our own problem to manage, we end up reaching a position whereby we actually end up doing a fair 50% of the chores each.
It works for us, and we like it.
But I’d love to know what does – or doesn’t – work for you. Do you feel good about the way you divide responsibility for housework? For what reasons have you ended relationships?