9 Ways to Correct the Household Labor Imbalance (Without Arguing)

9 Ways to Correct the Household Labor Imbalance (Without Arguing)

Jun 24, 2022, 11:09:23 AM Life and Styles

In the 1950s, home economics books instructed women to have the house clean, put on lipstick, and meet their man with a smile when he came home from work. Fast forward 60 or 70 years and this has all changed. Now, both partners, regardless of gender, are coming home from work or closing their laptops after a day of telecommuting, but in spite of both partners working, one person still handles the majority of labor in most families.

Feel like you do all the work? Upset that your partner isn't doing more? Feeling guilty that you don't do enough? If so, you're not alone, and there are ways to improve the division of labor in your home. Check out these tips.

1. Schedule a meeting.

Nagging your partner to do more will not work, and it will inject negativity into your relationship. Skip the passive-aggressive comments, and set up a meeting. Sit down with your partner and your kids if they're old enough to be involved in the conversation. Then, talk about the problem with the division of labor, and brainstorm ways to get everyone involved in the household chores.

2. Make a chore list.

Make a list of everything that needs to get done around the home. If one person has been handling the majority of the labor, the other people in the home may not even be aware that certain tasks exist. For instance, if you take care of the lawn, you might be the only one who knows that you have to bleed the sprinklers in the fall.

3. Simplify any tasks you can.

The easier it is to handle household chores, the easier it becomes for anyone to tackle them. Find ways to simplify household chores. For instance, use laundry pods instead of big bottles of detergent that drip all over the place. Or try disposable wipes so that you don't have to wash rags. Use an electronic mop instead of a traditional one. There are all kinds of hacks if you get creative.

4. Make a schedule.

Once you've identified what needs to be done and simplified wherever possible, put together a schedule. Create a list of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, and assign tasks to the people who live in your home. You may not need the schedule forever. After you get into a routine, a lot of the processes can become automatic.

5. Work around people's interests.

You don't have to split every household chore in half. For instance, if you wash the colors, your spouse doesn't have to wash the whites. If you cook three days a week, they don't necessarily have to also cook three days per week. Instead, try to work around people's interests.

The person who loves to be out and about can do the grocery shopping. The person who loves podcasts might be the best choice for vacuuming, ironing, and other tasks where they can pop in their headphones. If there are tasks that everyone hates, split those up evenly.

6. Get on the same page.

The way you and your partner feel about the division of labor can significantly impact your relationship. Research indicates that couples who agree about the need for a fair division of labor are happier than those who don't agree. If you and your partner have differing views on what's fair, sit down and talk about it. This issue will be easier to handle if you get on the same page.

7. Adjust expectations as needed.

Everyone has different expectations. Some people don't mind a few dirty dishes in the sink when they go to bed at night. Others are horrified by the thought of going to bed if the kitchen isn't spotless. Similarly, some people firmly believe that you can't get a floor clean unless you scrub it on your hands and knees, while others think mops are the way to go.

You can't force your expectations on your partner — and vice versa. Try to be aware of the differences in people's expectations for how they want to keep the home and don't be overbearing when your expectations are vastly different from your partners. In some cases, you may have to lower your expectations.

8. Put respect at the heart of your relationship.

That said, there are other cases, where you may need to raise your expectations out of respect for your partner. If it drives your partner crazy when you leave dirty socks on the floor, put them in the laundry basket — it's not that difficult.


If your partner gets lost in their thoughts and regularly forgets their socks on the floor, put them in the basket for them without nagging. When people feel respected, they return respect.

9. Say thanks.

When people do more around the house, let them know that you noticed. Say thanks or express gratitude in other ways. When people feel gratitude, they become more engaged. Instead of just going through the motions because you told them to, they begin to feel like active and engaged members of the family. Additionally, expressing gratitude makes you happier and less stressed. So, you get benefits just by delivering the thanks.

Remember that you choose to live with your partner for a reason. A happy relationship isn't necessarily about splitting everything 50-50. Instead, it's about finding ways to respect each other and work together to improve your lives. This has to come from both sides.

One person may need to do a bit more to make their partner happy. The other person may need to lower certain expectations to accommodate their partner. The important thing is to be honest and respectful. Have conversations about sharing household chores, but remember, it's a work in progress.

Published by Samantha Brown

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