Should housemates split chores 50-50?

April 14 |
By: emilydickinsonridesabmxCC BY 2.0

Fact: Dividing up chores makes a happy household, even when the shares are uneven. The Empire touched on this briefly — Ariel mentioned it on Offbeat Mama last year — but it's got a new application for Offbeat Home.

Learning to live with other people is hard. Having a roommate or bringing in a ladyfriend isn't like living with Mom and Dad and Bro and Sis — it's new territory, with its own rules. We, being polite and hardworking people, want to make sure that we "carry our own fair share" and hope that our co-habiters do the same. But housework is one of the topics couples most often argue over, even when both sides are trying to keep up! Fundamentally, it's almost never about laziness — it's a conversation that needs to be had.

In the division of Rockethaus duties, it is my job to empty the dishwasher, but not load it. It's my job to clean the tub and the sink, but not the toilet. It's my job to keep the hardwood and linoleum clean, but not the carpet. And since I'm House Captain it's also my job by default to do most of the other cleaning, upkeep, gardening and cooking. It's my husband's job to load the dishwasher, clean the toilet and, well, go to his job — which takes up more time and energy than mine.

I do the lion's share of the housework, but this arrangement makes me 100% happy. Let me tell you how I got to this place.

Scott and I struggled over chores for a long time. Some of it was about becoming grown ups who live with other grown ups and maintain our own home, and also about one of us (me) overcoming severe slobbiness — but later it was a series of tense negotiations about who is going to clean that up.

The turning point came when we laid out our tradeoffs. This is not a funny exaggeration: I have an aversion to touching dirty dishes. Just like my other aversions I have no idea why it bothers me — I just don't like it enough that I put it at the end of all my chores and it rarely gets done if left on my plate. And Scott, I learned, doesn't like unloading the dishwasher. He doesn't have a weird thing about it, it's just tedious. Since we discovered I could unload the dishwasher if he put the dishes in — and made a few other arrangements that divided the work in ways that felt right, instead of the ways that seemed most even — we've almost entirely stopped fighting about cleaning.

Now that I essentially got Scott to do the really sucky parts of my job, I'm totally cool with doing the rest when he just doesn't have the time or mental energy. He usually goes above and beyond. We still get a messy house. I definitely still fall behind on my chores — more Fridays than not, our kitchen is a wasteland and our den is a Cat Cave from my workday hunkering. But the everyday upkeep of our house is now routine, calm and drama-free, which makes life a ton easier. Instead of dividing the pie in half, we recognized that for us, it worked best for me to take the filling, and him to take the crust.

How do YOU divide the work? Is it 50/50, or have you negotiated special deals to compensate for each person's strengths and weaknesses around things like dirty dishes?

  1. My ex used to feel the same way–if I would just unload the dishwasher, he'd load it. He hated unloading it. And I have a HUGE problem with the smell of dishes, so it worked so buttah.

    Now, I'm living with a roommate. Neither of us are natural cleaners, both leaning towards downright sloppiness. The point at which she's willing to do dishes is "Oh, I guess there's mold growing. Guess I better do this tomorrow." I'm terrified of mold, and I flip out randomly at the sight of my own clutter.
    But the thing about me is, I CAN NOT confront people. I just can't do it.
    So I've decided that if I want things clean, my choices are either to tackle that conversation or just do it my own damn self. I expected on some level to grow bitter about this, but honestly, knowing that I have an alternative that I'm just not taking helps. I still grumble about it, but just knowing that I've consciously decided to do it makes it surprisingly okay.
    Anyway, she cleans the litterbox. Not having to do that makes me feel a million times better about having to clean up the countertops weekly.

    3 agree
    • I feel the same! Both about mold (argh! Hate it so much) and about randomly finding clutter really anxiety-inducing. And the lack of confronting – because there's only so many times you can gently suggest that someone cleans something before it's nagging.

      Like, my flatmate isn't very good at washing up. So stuff gets left on the draining board, apparently "washed", but still with food visibly on it. So I have three options – put dirty plates in the cupboards (not an option in my book, mold is deeply unsettling and not cool), re-wash her things myself (which I have done on occasion to avoid the argument) or pointedly move all her stuff back onto the counter or into the sink to suggest that she should wash it again. This is really passive-agressive of me, I know, but I really don't know how to bring it up in a conversation without sounding incredibly critical and nagging.

      Unfortunately, I simply have a much lower tolerance for dirt than my flatmate, so I always a) clean before she gets round to it and b) clean much more thoroughly, including occasionally redoing chores I don't realise she's done.

      I was annoyed about having to do so much more cleaning at first. But, ulitmately, she does try to help, and if I don't think she cleans often/thoroughly enough, and I'm not willing to have the awkward convo, then that's my own problem, really. If only she didn't leave moldy things in the fridge…

      • As the person who's been on the other side of that kind of relationship (i.e. not being as thorough/aware), I can almost guarantee that she probably feels really really guilty for not keeping up. I know when my old roommate would clean, it was usually around the same day I "came to" and noticed something needed to be cleaned. Then I would feel like a heel. So I guess what I am trying to say is that there are likely guilt consequences for her, and that she appreciates your cleaning and feels anxiety over not being better, even if she doesn't talk about it :P

        So yeah, on behalf of all of us slobs lucky enough to be room-mates/spouses of tidy people: THANK-YOU!

        4 agree
        • same boat here. im gonna have to show your comment to my fiance so he'll maybe understand its not just me and that i really do feel guilty about being the 'slobby' one.

        • Thanks Angela! Yeah, I know we tidy-freaks are really guilt-inducing… So, basically, on behalf of the tidy-freaks – you're welcome, but please don't feel guilty! If we didn't like you, we wouldn't live with you. Please have a hug. :-)

          1 agrees
      • I have some friends like this. Their agreement was that one girl does "the tidying," and the other does "the cleaning." The one who just doesn't clean as thoroughly does as much as she's apt to do, and the the other one gets the corners and the "deep" cleaning.

        Actually, come to think of it, that's how my boyfriend and I divide the bathroom. It doesn't NEED to be scrubbed down more than every two weeks, and we clear/clean off the counter and scrub the toilet whenever it needs it (so like, twice a week or so). We switch off weeks. He scrubs the tub and shower wall better than I do, I get the dustboards and corners and behind the toilet better. So, all those things end up getting done about twice a month, which keeps it from getting anything more than "a tad dusty" in the corners.

  2. My FH and I have a very similar system now. We used to operate a strict turn based system, which seemed fairest as we moved in together. Many MANY rows ensued when one person didn't do the chore they hated for aaaaaagggggeeeeeesss even though it was "their turn".

    Then I bought a book called 'Spousonomics' which (among other lifesaving pieces of wisdom) suggested the above system. Its called 'comparative advantage' in economics speak, and lets us do the chores that we are best at / don't detest while the other person does theirs. Yes I now cook 6 days out of 7, but I rarely have to take out the trash. *shudders*

    Since then we have been completely chores related argument free. Along with a couple of other gems, this book has saved us a lot of grief in our future marriage!! I RECOMMEND!!!!

    • Comparative advantage is awesome! I wish more people knew about it, because you can apply it to almost every aspect of life ^^

  3. We have the rule that whoever cares the most about something is the one to do it. then, we also play to each other's strengths. He washes dishes, I wash sliverware. I clean the bathroom, he supervises the boys' cleaning their room. he helps with homework and the boys' folding their laundry, I cook dinner and clean the table. Most of our stuff has been a kind of unspoken thing. As I got busier at work, he sort of took over our laundry and learned which shirts of mine not to put in the dryer.

    1 agrees
    • "We have the rule that whoever cares the most about something is the one to do it."

      Bingo. And then every once in a while we agree on an hour of team cleaning.

      BTW, I wasn't so sure what the girl in the picture up above was doing. Wringing out a sponge or milking a cow? Milky.

      1 agrees
      • it's a good rule when it works, but it doesn't work when one party does all the caring =)

        but "team cleaning" has been *super* successful for us – because we're both lazy. we set a timer for about 30 minutes in the evenings and just do what happens to need doing that particular day. it's such a short time, and it makes such a big difference.

        6 agree
        • My husband and I both do this. It helps that we're both hella competitive, so it becomes a game of "I have to get the [whatever] done before she/he gets the [whatever] done!!!" which benefits us both, because more cleaning gets done that way, with accompanying silly trash-talking and laughter.

  4. we definitely don't go fifty/fifty but a lot of how chores end up divided depends on our work schedules. I'm home more at night so outdoor things tend to go to him while I end up doing laundry (honestly I love doing laundry so it's fine) and whoever doesn't cook ends up doing the dishes. I clean the bathrooms but he does the cat litter box and the trash. It wasn't something that was ever really discussed though it's simply the way we ended up working out.

  5. I do the vast majority of it. It's kind of off now because my husband is away on business for four months and only home on the weekends, so right now I pretty much just ask him to not explode or make the house *that* much dirtier than the normal wear and tear. However typically he does a lot more than he does now. We do divide things based on chores we do/do not like, except the dishes. We don't have a dishwasher so usually end up doing them solely because my mess threshold is way lower than his. He's learned to pick up after himself more, or to take me seriously when he senses a panic attack over the laundry coming, but I've also learned that his mess tolerance is a lot higher than mine and if it really bothers me that much maybe I should just go ahead and do it.

    1 agrees
  6. I want April's system to work for us, but the problem is that I care more about every aspect of housekeeping than he does. Does that mwan that I should do all the housekeeping? Like, literally, all of it? (AND go to my job at which I earn more than he does, AND be the person who makes sure the bills are paid on time?)

    It's a dilemma! Why should he have to clean to my standard? But why should I have to live with his (or, alternatively, do all the cleaning)?

    One thing that has worked for us – mostly by assuaging my irritation – is that he does nearly all of our social arranging. I love this. When I finally noticed that that's a thing that he always takes on, and that I loooove not having to be in charge of social scheduling, it made me feel a bit better about the other life-maintenance tasks that I shoulder.

    5 agree
    • My partner is OCD when it comes to cleaning and I, frankly, couldn't care less if the bed isn't made and my clothes aren't put in their drawers. As a result, there has been a lot of tension over cleaning and my partner feels like he's doing everything since it'll bug him before it does me, thus he'll clean it all while I'm at work or class.
      Our compromise came in the form of prioritizing what HAD to be done/cleaned everyday, and what could slide. His number one priority is having the bed made (can't "start" his day until it's done) and I hate putting clothes in the hamper when I have to dump the hamper on the floor to sort and wash laundry; so every morning the bed gets made and if clothes end up in the proximity of the laundry room, that's good enough. We try to do the chores together as much as possible so it's not just me or him doing *all* the work, but both of us accomplishing it together.

      I suppose the short version is this: discuss the cleanliness standards both of you are accustomed to living by and compromise somewhere in the middle, then do as many chores as possible together.

      • You could have more than one hamper, and pre-sort them into the appropriate bin when they are dirty. We have three of those collapsible ones in the bedroom (darks, lights, and jeans) and one in the bathroom for towels. Then when you go to wash them, they're already where they should be.

        2 agree
        • This is genius. And so simple, I wonder why I never thought of it. I bet the hubster would even do it, too… Thanks!!

        • We have this with 10 bins. I know it seem excessive but hear me out! We were spending $40-50 a month on laundry before, and can save a lot of that by doing it at his parents' house on our monthly visits–it makes the cost of laundry or that trip a wash, because the gas and laundry are about the same. We just do loads in between as absolutely necessary.

          1) Kitchen towels and napkins–napkins get plucked and washed with sheets or else we end up with lintyness.
          2) Bath towels, and stray socks & underwear sometimes–when we go to do laundry, we pack or wash the bathroom towels first, then sort the non-towels that are in this hamper into the other hampers as appropriate.
          3) Whites
          4) Sheets & Tablecloths (& Napkins even if they don't always make it here first)
          5) Mr's work clothes, socks & underwear
          6) Mr's t-shirts & pants
          7) my Denim
          8 & 9) my warm-wash clothes that can be dried
          10) my cold load and don't-dry-me clothes.

          This way we don't have to sort out a load of who needs to fold what, and I just have to fold my own clothes while he does the rest. He doesn't need to try to sort out what gets dried or not, when it comes off it gets sorted right off. Plus, if I'm out of clean bras, there's no searching which load they're in–there's only one spot.

          We used to wash our clothes together, but honestly, having the bulk of them separated has been absolutely wonderful just from folding purposes (plus we don't have mixed finances, so it allows me to budget for my own clothes separately and share the cost of washing towels and sheets in exchange for him folding them all). I'm not sure we have an entire load of white clothes between us, but we keep them separated so we don't accidentally pink them. His denim usually ends up getting washed with his warm load, but it's nice to have them separated so I can toss all my heavy-weight sweatshirts and such together, as it helps with managing the dryer loads.

      • Yep – more than one laundry basket is awesome! We have three – 'standard', 'hard wash', and 'special attention'. Standard gets most of the clothes – he doesn't care about separating colours, and I wear black or use laundry bags, so it's pretty easy. We wash these on the coldest setting for about 30 minutes. The hard wash basket gets the sheets, towels, and so on, which do well with a hotter wash, and usually get about an hour. The delicates/special attention basket is more of a catching place for the things we need to do differently – mostly hand washing, delicates, and wool.

      • There are other things that you can divide up which aren't cleaning, too – like meals. Meal planning, creating shopping lists, knowing the pantry inventory, actually going shopping, and cooking can all be tasks too.

  7. My most loathed housekeeping issues are the one that Nerd will willingly do – emptying the catbox, taking the garbage out, things like that. I honestly, genuinely enjoy cleaning though.

  8. It's funny this story popped up in my fb feed now…I'm currently debating how to bring up the idea of splitting chores amongst my other two roomies. As it is right now, I'm doing the only cleaning of common rooms and my roommates only clean those spaces when they have company over, which isn't often. And one of them had the audacity to mention making a chores list because "no one ever cleans around here."

    Not sure how to bring it up, though, knowing how I deal with things. I tend to not be the nicest when I get fed up with stuff like this. I'd like to go the route of "If it looks like it needs cleaning, clean it." but that doesn't appear to be working.

    • God, I would kill to figure this out. My partner and I live with two other roommates, but it seems like it's only ever us two doing all the cleaning. We are constantly cleaning their dirty dishes, taking out the trash, vacuuming the house (including THEIR bedrooms, otherwise it would never get done, ugh)…
      Unfortunately, we tried a chores list and it was STILL just the two of us cleaning– and I didn't even live there at the time! So if anyone has any other suggestions, I'd love to hear em. >.o

      • When a housemate of ours wouldn't clean his dog crap up, at all, ever, with our one year old playing in the yard, we asked, picked it up ourselves, asked, picked it up ourselves, asked, asked… then collected it and out it on the bonnet of his car. He picked it up after that.

        2 agree
      • Oh man, my hubs and I have been there. One roomie was unemployed and we STILL came home to rotten, dirty dishes, full to the brim cat boxes and trash on the porch. We finally had to move out after she suggested that if it bothered us that much we could clean it ourselves. And we did, as a wedding present, the day before we moved out.

    • Consider ChoreWars as a more fun way of dealing with who did what. It worked well for us!

  9. April – That's awesome! I wish I didn't have to be so concerned about both myself and my husband putting one of my non-dryer shirts in the dryer. It was a nightmare when we were using the laundromat.

    • Honestly I get around this by refusing to own clothes that need special care.

      I wash whites seperately (because mixing them ends badly and I can't avoid owning white stuff completely it seems) but that's as far as it goes.

      It's actually surpising how many things can take a standard wash (at 40 celcius) and dry cycle when the lables claim they can't. I've got a few allegedy hand-wash only items I took a chance on because they looked durable and they've always been fine.

      8 agree
    • Sunny is completely terrified of putting one of my shirts that don't get dried, in the dryer. I've shown him multiple times and he still worries. I think he worries more about ruining one of my SUPER-FAVORITE shirts and me being angry with him. I've already explained to him that I wouldn't be mad, might be bummed, but not mad. I've made the mistake too and their MY clothes.

      I've just taken to telling him that if he's not sure about whether it goes in the dryer or not–on the rare occasion I actually ask him to switch a load for me (because I LIKE doing laundry and he hates folding.)–I just have him leave it out. That way nothing will get ruined. :)

  10. When we were first married, I worked full-time and my husband part-time. He did all outside chores: lawn, gardening, and trash, and he also cooked; I cleaned the inside of the house, did dishes, and we shared laundry (whenever the laundry basket was full, whoever was home did it). Now that I'm home with our son and he's working full-time, I'm pretty much doing most of the chores. However, he still does trash, and he does laundry on his day off if it needs to be done. We don't have a specific list, but if I ask him to do something, such as dishes after I've cooked, he will do it, and if he asks me to do laundry earlier in the week, I will do it.
    Before I was married, though, I lived in a house with three other adults and two children (only during the summer and holidays). We had a chore list, and it was my job to do vacuuming/sweeping and to empty the dishwasher. One roommate was almost never around and so he never really did chores, but he would also pick up the random bills now and then for repairs or other charges, and when it came time for us to move out, we all agreed he had to do the lion's share of the post-move cleaning!

  11. Our chore division is pretty simple: Boyfriend cooks, I clean. This puts us each in charge of the one we a) are any good at and b) really care about happening. It means he spends a little time each day on his part, and I spend bigger chunks of time every few days on mine.

    I will go ahead and admit that my boyfriend holds up his end of the deal WAY better than I do mine. I'm still struggling to not let clutter accumulate (and, I should note, even though I'm in charge of cleaning, that isn't a free pass for him to just leave his crap everywhere because I'll pick it up).

    It's really working for us — well, it really works in that we've had maybe two fights about it. It's not working in that I need to quit slacking. :p

  12. At the moment I do almost all the house work because I'm unemployed but my boyfriend works full time. It's not something I'd want to stick with long-term but for now it helps me feel less useless.

    Our system for when I'm working is a bit more complicated but like other people's focused on letting us both avoid things we hate. The only real rules are that I clean the toilet and he takes the rubbish out and whoever doesn't cook dinner has to wash up. We both like cooking and don't mind washing up, but the fact that one generally follows the other means it sucks to do both. Oh and my pet snails are my sole responsibility.

    Shopping, especially big shops is a joint chore by nessesity. We don't have a car so it takes both of us to carry a full load of shopping, especially heavy stuff.

    Everything else gets split by negotiation. I'll come up with a list of stuff that needs doing (because I'm the one who notices when the place is a mess) and we try to make the amount of effort even but both take jobs we don't mind or know the other person hates. It usually works out pretty well.

  13. My dude and I have agreed about some divisions, some are still to be negotiated. We'll probably get a dishwasher because I hate doing dishes, but I also hate having to empty a sink of dirty dishes because I need to drain spaghetti or can't get in to wash a pan. The ferret cage, however, is his problem. I flat out refuse to wash the cage but I will nag about it. I love the little rodents, but one of them missed every single memo ferrets are supposed to get about how to live in their territory. In contrast, my dude loves to cook so that is his job when he's not so exhausted from school and work that he just wants food. I bake though because that I know about. The bathroom is mine because I have a very different standard of clean in there than he does. He looks after my car maintenance because I suck at it. I'll shovel because I am more likely to care. Even isn't really the issue, just finding the balance that works for the two of us and making sure that we're both contributing.
    As long as he cleans the ferret cage.

  14. We don't have a 50/50 system; it sort of fluctuates around who's got more time/etc. Since I've been back at school, Mr. Ninja's been awesome at picking up the slack while I write endless papers and research and study for exams. Some things that don't change: I do the litterboxes (we have 2 cats), unload the dishwasher (we both load), cook breakfast and supper during the week and generally tidy up here & there if it enters my brain that the house is looking cluttered. He's the one that handles the laundry, does the bathroom and vacuums. It's taken some negotiation here and there – I tend to be the messy, "It's only a couple of things!" person, while he's the "Let's put it all away and make things look tidy, OK?" person. But so far, things seem to be working just fine – we'll see how it goes when a baby gets added to the mix!

  15. We use this focus as well- taking on the chores that we each hate less or care about more.

    I hate vacuuming (due to some childhood trauma- my mom used to yell and scream when she made me vacuum cause I wasn't doing it right). The most romantic thing I think my fiance has ever said to me was that I would never have to vacuum another day in my life with him around. He also does all the mopping.

    I do most of the general tidying, dusting, clutter busting… We share dishes, but I put them away. I usual clean the bathroom. He shovels, I take out the garbage. We both do laundry. It seems really fair and it works for us.

    1 agrees
  16. I pay the bills and cook all the meals, my boyfriend goes to school and does most of the chores. It works for us because he likes cleaning.

    I also have an aversion to dirty dishes– but mine is mostly centered around silverware. I won't touch them, and the same goes for dirty clothes, particularly underwear.

  17. The BF and I are both pretty loaded with work (each with full-time job, him working on his dregree, me going for certificates and trying to become a successfully published writer), so… let's say, if someone complains about the mess, I can say that we do indeed have better things to do. ^^

    But we've got arrangements to avoid encounters with the "pest department" – since his way to work is longer than mine and he works an hour per day more, I do most of the daily chores (cook, groceries, clean litter boxes, do dishes and laundry); in addition I clean the bathrooms about once per week. The BF takes out the trash and is responsible vor vacuuming and mopping – but I have to say in his honor that he often helps me with stuff if I'm not done yet when he returns home. This way, we get to enjoy the maximum out of our time together on most days. ^^

  18. We have almost a 50/50 system. But we divided it up based on what we hate doing. For example, I LOATHE vacuuming. And he LOATHES cleaning a bathroom. So I clean the bathroom (I cleaned plenty when I worked at Starbucks), and he vacuums. I do most of the cooking in the winter, he does most of it in the summer (I don't BBQ ever since I almost burnt off my eyebrows). We share things like cleaning the kitchen, dusting, the dishes/dishwasher, taking out the garbage/recycling, grocery shopping and general tidying up. We're both messy people in some aspects (I leave clothes on the bedroom floor, and he leaves dishes piled in random places throughout the condo)…so we both reserve the right to say to the other person…"hey! clean up your mess!" But otherwise, our mess is shared, and we clean it together.

    However, I do the laundry because I'm really anal about which clothes go in which laundry pile.

  19. We have a vaguely functional system that's worked in the past, which was basically, 'I don't mind X, but I hate X' as mentioned above. Washing dishes is my Zen place, as is most kitchen stuff. My boyfriend gets super anal about keeping the living room neat, including my super cluttered computer space. Between the both of us, we both ignore the bedroom and the bathroom, which suits us so long as no one's mother is coming over to grouch about the way the sink looks.

  20. I've lived with 3 other girls (all grad students) for the past 2 years. The first year, everyone was just supposed to pitch in when they saw that something needed to be done…and our place was kinda messy and everyone felt like they were doing all the work.

    We moved last summer and used the occasion to talk about chores. This year has been much smoother because we began a list of the major chores and everyone writes their name and date each time they do it. We don't necessarily have "turns" – depending on who is busy when – but it has helped us even out our duties in the long-run.

  21. My husband works 2 12 hour days, 2 12 hour nights and then 4 off. On his day shifts, I cook supper. On his other days, I do the dishes and keep the kitchen clean and he cooks. I do laundry, he takes out the garbage and shovels the driveway. We both keep our place pretty tidy together, but the bulk of the rest of the cleaning falls to me because I feel, with me working fewer hours than him in a much less stressful job, this is my way to pull my weight and to give back.

  22. Talking about how to divide chores has never happened between Derrik and I, and I'd welcome it.
    I'm looking forward to having that talk and getting away from the nagging.
    (If I keep going I'll start to sound like a letter to Dear Abby.)

  23. I was just thinking about this today, because my husband cleaned the kitchen and I finished doing our taxes. We never sat down and decided who would do what, but he's far more likely to take the trash out and clean the bathroom, and I'm far more likely to schedule car appointments and plan meals. There's very few tasks that we split 50-50 down the middle.

    One way we try to keep resentment from building up is to be very appreciative of each other. I think it's fantastic that he cleaned the kitchen today, and made sure he knows it. And I know it was a weight off his mind to not worry about taxes, because he told me so. Even when one of us feels like we're doing more than the other, knowing that what we do is noticed and appreciated can keep the grumpies from turning into a full-on fight.

    4 agree
    • Yes! I can't believe it didn't come up before, letting the other person/people know their effort is appreciated is such a big part of it too.

      It's something I learned from working with kids, and especially getting kids to clean up after themselves. Encouraging them and thanking them goes a long way. Adults maybe don't need as much encouragement but a thank you or "wow, it's so clean, you did a really good job" really helps stop any resentment.

      2 agree
      • Yes! Exactly! I've always thought thanking a person for Doing Their Job was a good thing. It's way better than receiving the wage or knowing you'd done your duty.

        My husband? It made him feel like he was doing My Chores if I thanked him for something. Wha'?? I'm so not kidding. He'd stop doing things I thanked him for doing.

        Is that nuts?? I still think it's hilarious.

  24. Usually my partner is the one who takes on most of the chores. He's just always cared much more about those things. Besides, he's a system-freak; he needs things to be in order.
    But now that he spends three hours commuting five days a week, we both agree that I should be the one to take care of the apartment. It wouldn't be fair if he had to do all those things on top of sacrificing three hours of his day so that we can live near my university. But he still cleans the bathroom every other week, and cooks (delicious!) breakfast in the weekends ^^

  25. I do more tidying (I also make more mess), he does a lot more day to day cleaning (like washing up). I do more "extra credit" cleaning – like bleaching mildew off a wall.
    He does more cooking. I have a pretty sweet deal, all told!

  26. my SO and i are nowhere near 50/50 – we fluctuate regularly. here's what normally happens, though:

    i vacuum, since he hates it and my cats are the reason we need to run the vacuum 2-3 times per week. he cleans the bathroom and handles washing all towels and sheets. he does 90% of the cooking, so i keep the kitchen clean. he handles the yard. the basement and his office are his domain, and i don't touch them outside of moving things out of the way if i need to get through; my office is my domain completely, and he doesn't touch anything in there. half the closet room is his problem and the other half is mine. the spare bedroom is a shared responsibility, and we don't really worry about it unless we have someone coming to visit. we each handle our own laundry.

    this is what works for us. i think, if we tried to split everything 50/50, we'd fight constantly.

    • forgot to mention, income is only slightly skewed in his favor, and we're both the 9-5 sort.

  27. I'd say my husband does more than I do at home – he washes dishes, cleans cat litter, does laundry, usually cleans the bathroom and sweeps/mops. He generally remembers to buy cat food and litter before I do.

    I handle social activities, decorating (which is interesting as I'm not really into decorating) travel, finances, tidying up (cleaning up clutter), cleaning the bedroom and living room except for sweeping/mopping. I also work more hours, generally, and make a bit more money.

    Maybe it's that my chores feel easy and, while not pleasurable, at least easily bearable, but it sure seems like he does more housework.

  28. My fiance does more of the household cleaning than I do. But I contribute more financially and work longer hours than he does, so it's 50-50 in that sense. I usually do the laundry, clean the cat litter, and pick up the groceries and other stuff we need like birthday gifts for friends and family when it is needed. Dishes we share, but he does it more than I do. I can't cook for shit, and I suck when it comes to sweeping and mopping, so he does those.

  29. My husband does all of the cooking since I hate it. We both work from home so he does dinner, but we fend for ourselves for lunch. He takes out the garbage, but I clean both bathrooms (he doesn't do a good job it), do the laundry, vacuum. I do most of the grocery shopping since I leave the house every morning to get coffee and he never leaves. Dishes that can't go in the dishwasher I do, but he loads and empties it. When there are days that I work outside of the house (I'm a filmmaker and sometimes will be on set for a week at a time) he picks up the slack by doing the laundry. Overall I think we have worked out a system that both of us like.

  30. My partner is a commercial pilot and is away from home 4-6 days a week, and brings in about 90% of our household income. I assume about 90% of household chores, because I'm the one at home, and because I actually love doing domestic stuff. Sure I don't like taking out the trash, or picking up dog poop in the yard, but I get such a tremendous sense of satisfaction from having a clean house or preparing a great meal, or just being able to check off items on my to-do list. I also cook & pack all of his meals for the week (which saves us thousands of dollars a year) and assume most of the day to day dog care. When he is home, we cook and shop for groceries together, and he enjoys waking up earlier than me sometimes to make me breakfast. It's an equitable arrangement for both of us, and lets us do what we do best.

  31. I'm the same way about dishes…sort of. I always rinse my dishes off right away, so they're pretty much clean when I'm ready to wash them, and under those conditions I really don't mind washing them. BUT I've been living with my boyfriend for two years, and I still can't get him to rinse them off. So I HATE washing dishes now. Unfortunately, he doesn't get them clean enough, so it's my job. :(

  32. We share our household duties 50/50. It took us a long time (and some heated discussions) to get there. If it was all based around who cared, I'd do 90% of the work. We also can't base it on income because we make very similar amounts and work the same hours (technically for the same employer).

    There are some things that he does more (dog poop) or that I do more (bathroom), but we can both do all the things. One of the reasons that I like that is that if one of us is sick or out of town, all the things will still be looked after. This is what works for us. The catch is that we don't do it all at the same time. Right now, for example, I am sitting in a very messy house and prepping to do a "big clean" now. He'll play video games and help me when he has breaks, and I'll watch TV on my laptop while I do my half of things. Our previous arguments were more around timing. I would be cleaning while he gamed and by the time he was finished and ready to clean, I'd have finished almost all of it, causing a big old fight. Now, I tell him I'm going to start cleaning and I leave half for him to do, whenever he's ready. It works for us.

  33. Right now I am at home a lot of the time, and only work a few mornings and evenings a week, while my husband works FT at a pretty stressful job. I feel totally ok doing pretty much all the cooking and cleaning right now, and he is only responsible for cleaning up any extra messes he makes when he is home.

    When we both used to work full time, the only way we could find to keep the house relatively clean was to do a 15 minute team cleaning session a few times a week. This doesn't sound like much, but our house was tiny, I guess if you live in a bigger place, maybe a 30 minute session would be better. This really worked out well becuase it felt fair since we were both cleaning at the same time, and we didn't procrastinate since 15 minutes feels totally do-able, even if you are tired from work.

  34. We have an odd living arrangement – I'm required to live on the university campus for my job, but I'm not allowed to have a partner live with me. So about 5 nights/week my lady's with me and the rest of the time she's at her small off campus apartment – that way she has a place she can go to when I'm not around. I'm switching jobs in the fall, so we'll move in together then.

    Since my job requires a lot of "on duty" time, where I'm just required to be in the building and holding the phone, I do all the laundry, vacuuming, changing of the sheets, making the bed, all of the housework practically (my bathroom is cleaned by custodial staff.) In return, lady is responsible for food those 5 days or so. Either she cooks or brings me takeout. She also tends to pay for things like clothes that I might need as seasons change, dinners out, vacations, stuff like that. She will probably bear the majority of the financial responsibility come fall. One thing that I like about Spousonomics is that it talks about how these things change — I am switching jobs in the fall so I will have more of a disposable income to contribute and less time to do chores. We've already talked about it, however, and she knows she'll have to pitch in more around the house and I'll have to pitch in more with my wallet, to a certain extent. I don't think comparative advantage will be affected to much, because she does like to clean she just hasn't had time.

  35. Ugh, I wish I knew how to do this. At first, before the kidlet, it was sort of divided evenly. If one person cooked, the other cleaned. If we both cooked, we would both clean or exchange cleaning rights for not having to get up for additional tasty beverages that evening, we would both do the laundry, etc. But over the years, and after the little one came around, its sort of turned into me doing a great deal of everything except for cooking (he stays at home during the day with our son). He is slowly fixing up the house, so I suppose that's ok, but I have no idea how to interest him in or get him to do any thing else around the house if I don't nag. I do like cleaning, but I don't want to be the only one doing it all of the time.

  36. The live-in BF and I have system for the kitchen -he cooks, I clean. With the rest of the chores we sort of play it by ear, one of us decides something needs to be done so we ask the other for help. Seems to work well.

    I did have an issue with a previous flatmate, he pretty much decided that I should do all the chores because I'm a woman. Needless to say, it didn't last!

  37. My husband and and my household tasks are pretty much separated and assigned. We do our own laundry, whoever cooks the other cleans up, we put the clean dishes away together and we designate one weekend morning every 6 weeks to divide and conquer a thorough cleaning of the house. I do the gardening and he mows the lawn. Its very systematic.

  38. Gamers take note: we recently started playing Chore Wars (www.chorewars.com) at our house and it is pretty fun. You get experience points for household tasks. I read about it in the book Reality is Broken (and somebody mentioned it in commenting on the "clean your house in 20 minutes" post). Normally I am against "motivating" people to do things with rewards and turning everything into a competition, but we all went into it pretty aware that we were manipulating ourselves/each other into doing work. Yet it still works! And I actually feel more like doing stuff and less frustrated by it.

    Who knows how long this will work, but it is amusing to watch my 13-year-old complain that I have leveled up before him and run to feed the cat (in Chore Wars this task is called "slake the hunger of the beast") and unload the dishwasher before anyone else can. It is also a nice way of becoming more aware of who does the most–even if my son eventually gives up because he will never want to do enough housework to "beat" me and my husband, I think it has raised his awareness about how much adults do.

    1 agrees
    • Ha! My husband would LOVE this website and system. We started to experiment with the '20 min a day cleaning' system, because we struggled to keep our place clean. We made a list of chores, divided in 20 min tasks and whoever does the task puts his/her name behind the task. That way, we keep track of who's doing what. It gets competitive… but it really seems to work, it especially motivates my husband when he's behind :).

  39. If you live in a household where the cleaning compulsion is divided unequally, but you all want to pull your own weight, you can do what my college roommates and I did: a chore chart (but with more freedom than the usual kind). Make a chart with everyone’s names on the top, and all the chores on the side. Try to split the chores roughly evenly in terms of time/difficulty/stress (ex., “clean the counters & stovetop” takes longer than “clean the toilet”, but is less icky. “Empty the bin under the leaky sink pipe” took seconds but got its own spot b/c it was important that we didn’t forget)

    When you do a chore, make a mark on the chart. Then you can tell in seconds if you are pulling your weight (and if it’s been too long since “clean the toilet” has been checked off), but you’re not locked into doing a specific chore at a specific time. At the end of the month, the household buys a drink for the one with the most points (not a big expense, especially split 3 ways, but an acknowledgement that doing chores is important and that we appreciate people who do them).

  40. This is a super sensitive(?)/relevant topic in my household for a number of reasons:

    He def. does the majority of the cleaning BUT I handle almost all the finances and remembering doctors and dentists and vet appointments and other general life logistics. We split the dog walking 50/50 with him doing it in the morning, because I am just not a morning person. I also do ALL the cooking (of course, when I don't feel like it we do take-out …). To me, splitting chores *should* be close to 50/50, but I count many many more things than just household cleaning in "chores."

    On another note, my sister has been living with us for about 9 months and throwing another person in the mix really … mixes things up so to speak. Even though I've lived with my sister most of my life, bringing that family-living dynamic to our new-family-living has been a bit of a challenge.

  41. When we were first married, there was a period of time when I was working two jobs, and hubby was working from home – I'd get home exhausted and be sooo frustrated because he hadn't even bothered to make the bed or something!

    After a period of time (too long a time, actually), we finally sat down and talked about it. Apparently he just didn't *see* the mess. He didn't mind helping out around the house, but unless I told him what needed doing, he didn't know it needed done. I'd not been saying anything because I didn't want to be a nag.

    Now I'm working a normal 8-5 job, and he's in limbo after just leaving a job requiring him to work 60-80 hours a week. Which means he's home until he can find another job. And he's picked up almost everything – I'll get home and he's tried to pick up the kitchen and will be making dinner.

    He still has a problem noticing chores that needs to get done in the house, while I still refuse to nag. Instead, I'll leave little lists of things that I would like to be done, with the understanding between both of us that nothing on the list is a requirement. If he even does one thing on the list I will be happy. Otherwise I will do it.

    Generally he does more than one item, though! This has worked amazingly for us. It really came down to communication and figuring out what works for us.

  42. We followed the trend of friends who had "Housework Night" where you all get together and do all the chores in one night (Tuesdays or Wednesdays are good) and then order a pizza and a bottle of wine to celebrate!! Last person to finish their chores pays!

  43. I lived with roommates, then my husband and roommates, for five years. SHOULD the housework be divided evenly? YES. But it rarely is, and that is the source of bitterness and quirky comedies.

    With roommates, I doled out the chores. Then I'd bug about them not being done (I actually put housework in the lease agreement and made sure they understood – I own the house, whatever, I can do what I want). Most of the time, I'd end up re-cleaning what was allegedly cleaned and that was painfully frustrating. I had one roommate whose only job was to take the trash to the dump twice a month… that's a long story that involves neglected tasks, burst well pipes, and my first ulcer.

    With the husband, it's taken a couple years to find our stride. I loathe cleaning the floors, so he does it. I'm okay with everything else. We will likely never have a dishwasher, but if I don't do them at night (I usually do, I hate a mess), he'll handle them in the morning. He feeds and waters the pooches. When he sends the child off to night-night time, I clean the child clutter, and he does the same on nights when I pull night-night duty. He's learned to keep the house free of clutter to save my sanity (though his office is his space and he can be as messy as he wants).

    Open, calm communication is key. Seriously, I have an ulcer that says "don't keep it in!"

  44. My former roommate and I split chores by who cared about what more, and what dirt each "sees". Seriously, I don't notice when floors need to be mopped (unless they're disgusting ), and he doesn't notice when the microwave needs a scrub. It worked well, and I just kept my bedroomddoor closed ;-)

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