Fed Up Running the Household? 8 Steps to Make Sure Your Man Steps Up
Nagging your partner sucks. But so does having to do everything yourself. Despite how far we’ve come with gender equality, women are still spending more time doing housework than their male partners. Yes, even when they’re both working full-time.
This shit needs to change.
And just in case he’s not on board, studies show that couples who share the housework evenly are happier, more satisfied and have a more regular, fulfilling sex life.
There’s plenty of opinion pieces and calls-to-action about gender inequality in running the household, but little practical advice on how to overcome it.
If you’re tired of doing it all yourself, here’s your step-by-step guide to re-balancing the load in your household.
PHASE 1: SKETCH IT OUT
Step #1: Brain Dump
Write out all the responsibilities, jobs, errands, and chores involved in making your household work, making sure the mental and emotional load is factored in.
Don’t just write things like cook dinner or do the shopping – include management jobs such as meal planning, maintaining the grocery list and organising birthday presents.
Then take the list to your partner and ask him to add anything you might’ve overlooked. Tell him you’re feeling overwhelmed with the running of the household and you want to look at redistributing the work load so that you’re both happy with it.
Save yourself some time and download this ready-made list to get you started.
Step #2: The Status Quo
Go through the list together and write out who currently takes care of what. Put a name next to each responsibility, and if it’s a shared one, roughly work out the % split.
This gives you an opportunity to explain why you’re feeling overwhelmed. It also gives you a chance to acknowledge each other and what you’re already doing.
If you don’t feel the need to explain WHY you want to redistribute the load, or you already feel acknowledged in your struggle, feel free to skip this step.
Step #3: Redistribution
Time to shake things up.
Start by going through and looking for any responsibilities you can delegate to someone else, outsource, or ditch altogether. Get creative here and watch as your work load lightens.
Then grab a sheet of paper each. This is going to be your new list of responsibilities.
Begin by writing down the responsibilities that you want to share onto each of your lists, and if necessary a % split.
Then go through and pick out the responsibilities that you either enjoy or that you find easy, crossing them off the main list and writing them down on your own personal list.
Check in with the distribution so far and see if you both think it’s fair. If not, discuss ways to balance it.
You’ll then be left with a list of the more heavy-duty or less enjoyable tasks. This is where you start negotiating. Work out a fair split that you’re both happy with, and be open to sharing some of these as well.
Finding balance will mean considering your unique relationship situation. If one of you works full time and the other doesn’t, you’ll want to factor that in. But you still need to make sure the emotional and mental load isn’t dumped on just one person. That requires acknowledging the full weight of particular responsibilities, and the time and energy involved.)
Embrace Constructive Conflict
Don’t be scared to speak what’s on your mind. It’s OK to disagree and see things differently.
This doesn’t mean being a bitch about it or completely steamrolling your partner. Make sure you’re using healthy, respectful, and productive ways to communicate – which includes dealing with your emotions and communicating clearly.
Need some help with that? Click below to learn more about our free communication course Conflict to Connection.
If you don’t think something’s fair, say so. If you think your partner is overestimating or underestimating a particular responsibility, say so.
Biting your tongue or trying to avoid disagreement won’t help you create the change you’re looking for, and will only make resentment fester. And that shit is toxic to your relationship.
PHASE 2: ACTION STATIONS
Now you’re ready for action. But let’s be honest – it won’t all be smooth sailing. Here’s how to make the change stick:
Step #4: Stay in Your Lane
Stop taking more than your share of the load. Seriously. Just stop. You might think that you’re helping, but if you’re taking on more responsibility than you want to or think is fair, then you’re not just overburdening yourself, you’re disempowering your partner.
If you keep stepping in and taking over your partner’s responsibilities, then you’re creating dependency. You’re also modelling to your children that men can’t be trusted to do things on their own, and it’s a woman’s role to care for the house and everyone in it. Not fun.
If your partner’s taking on a new responsibility and you’ve got some tricks up your sleeve, then go ahead and let him know. It’s ok to share your wisdom, but don’t cross the line into micromanagement.
Step #5: Look For Success
If you’re looking for all the ways your partner’s going to fail, then guess what – you’re going to find them.
But stay on the lookout for all the things they’re doing right and you’re not just setting yourselves up for success – you’ll feel a hell of a lot more supported too.
And remember: your way of doing something isn’t the only way.
If your partner stacks the dishwasher differently to you, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. When you’ve been the one doing all the work for years, it can be easy to think you’re the expert. But does it matter which way the plates face?
Embrace some flexibility and you’ll be a hell of a lot happier.
And don’t forget to thank each other regularly and show some gratitude. ‘Cause, you know – it feels good to be acknowledged.
Step #6: Fail Forward
Apart from a few magical unicorns among us, it’s pretty hard to get something 100% right the first time. Or the second time. Or the third.
We learn from our mistakes. But in order to learn from them, we have to make them first.
So don’t get all up in his grill if he forgets to take dinner out of the freezer or organise the school lunches.
So what if you’re sending the kids to school with money for lunch – again – or eating take-out for the second time this week.
If you don’t want the responsibility to be yours, you gotta be willing to let it go.
Step #7: Say It Out Loud
If you suddenly find yourself overwhelmed and need your partner to pick up some extra slack, then ask. If your partner just isn’t adjusting to one of his new roles, then remind him.
Most common complaint – But I shouldn’t have to ask! He should just know.
Well, on one hand, yes. And the more you do #4 & #6, the more he will just know and you won’t have to ask.
On the other hand – this way of thinking is an express train to martyrdom. Is it fair to expect your partner to be a mind reader? Not really. And not asking for what you need is a guaranteed way to make sure your needs aren’t met.
So get out of your own way, ask your partner for the support you want, and then have the faith that they can deliver.
Step #8: Course Correct
As with any good system or plan, it’s import to reflect and course correct.
For the next few months, make time for a weekly check-in and see how you’re both feeling about the new plan. Talk about what’s working, and what’s not. Be open to swapping chores, outsourcing more, sharing helpful hacks and giving each other feedback.
You’ll probably find that differences in cleanliness standards will come up as an issue, but it doesn’t have to be a show stopper. Keep communicating about what you want and need, and you’ll find solutions that work for both of you.
This process is going to take time. You’re changing life-long patterns of behaviour and heavily ingrained stereotypes here. Patience is a virtue.
Keep reviewing and making adjustments until you’ve both found your groove. Rinse and repeat.