Couples Who ‘Chore’ Together, Generally Stay TogetherBy Dr. Margaret Paul
June 11, 2018
Do you and your partner do chores together? If not, this article might be very helpful to you.
One of the major complaints I hear from my clients who are married is around the issue of chores. I can tell you from my own 30-year marriage that the issue of chores was a big deal in leading to the end of the marriage.
The Issue That Broke The Camel’s Back
I clearly remember the issue that ‘broke the camel’s back.’ My ex-husband wanted to have our big Thanksgiving dinner at our home instead of at 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 when it was at my parents’ home, 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. “You promised to help if we had the dinner,” I said. “I need your help.” He smirked at me, going into his usual resistance, and walked away. I felt crushed, and my inner child was upset with me that I had believed him when he so often either forgot what he had said or went into resistance.
That’s the day I moved out of our bedroom and into my upstairs art loft. “I’m not going to spend any more time with you until you can be loving and caring toward me for three months,” I told him. In the past 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.
Of course, the issue around chores wasn’t our only problem, but it was indicative of the underlying issues, which were a lack of caring and respect toward me, and often treating me with anger, withdrawal, sarcasm, and projection – followed by the crazy-making of denying that he was doing these things, and blaming me instead. And, of course, I was an equal participant in this system with my caretaking and accepting others' unloving behavior toward me, so I was equally responsible for the problems.
Doing Chores Together Can Create Intimacy
Recent research indicates that couples who do chores together, rather than one person doing more chores, or splitting the chores, have more emotional and physical intimacy. Doing chores alone can be lonely, while doing them together can be a time of fun, sharing and affection, and it certainly makes the time go by faster when you are doing the dishes together rather than doing them alone. Sharing chores may be especially important when you have children, because it’s often hard to find time to get together to talk about 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 find 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 would think that couples who do chores together have a better chance at feeling connected with each other than those 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 alone.
If you are not doing chores together with your partner, you might want to share these articles and see whether you both might be interested in this recent research:
Heal your relationship with Dr. Margaret Paul’s Intimate Relationship Toolbox, a 12-week online course.
Photo by Takmeomeo
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