Somehow, I've gone from a person who found herself filled with resentment and rage while cleaning to someone who actually (get this) enjoys doing my chores. Somehow, I now understand the concept of "domestic bliss." I genuinely don't know when this happened. Somehow, I'm that asshole who shouts "LAUNDRY ZERO!!" with a sense of genuine accomplishment once all hampers are empty and all clothes are folded. I don't know how or why this happened, but in the interest of bottling it and sharing it, here are a few of my theories…
This is Offbeat Home's archive of chores posts.
Community wisdom holds that the three most stressful life events that a couple can undertake are changing jobs, moving, and death. For us, repatriation combined the first two major stressors while throwing in several others, making our first year back in the US a very tumultuous transition. When the customs officers welcomed us "home," it felt like our idea of home had shifted from holding an endless sense of wonder to embodying a stack of drudging responsibilities. The towering mound of laundry only served as a physical reminder of this loss, and we were sulking. But, through trial and effort, we seem to have hit on a reasonable set of guidelines for building up the sense of self we both felt we lost, while investing in each other.
I am a terrible housekeeper. I'm also terrible at saving money. And talking about my feelings. And cooking (because I don't plan ahead). And making time for my husband. At least, I WAS terrible at all of these things until… family meetings! I found a print-out somewhere in the depths of the internet called "Peek at the Week." I showed it to my husband and he was mostly indifferent about it until I told him all of my amazing plans.
The other day when my boyfriend was at work, I texted him to say "I'm exhausted and I just want to warn you that the dishes aren't done. I'll get to them tomorrow first thing."
His response: "I hate to tell you this, love, but you're an adult now. You can do the dishes whenever you want!"
My reaction in my mind: "Not true. I have a responsibility to my roommate to maintain this house in the way that I would want to live in it." Then I caught myself and thought for a minute. Does living with your partner mean that maybe, just maybe, the entire home is now under our shared dominion? And that, within reason, I can decide what gets done when, just like he can? I still wasn't sure.
If you and your partner are anything like me and mine, you settled into some domestic patterns in the first few months of living together. But even if your systems are working well, you still need to revisit and shake-up your divisions of labor. Here's why…
This might seem paradoxical, and it probably is, but adding more chores to my daily life has actually given me the feeling I am more in control of my life. Some might call this backwards. Isn’t evolution supposed to drive towards a simplified life, with fewer and fewer chores?