One of the major complaints I hear from my clients that are married is around the issue of chores. I can tell you from my own 30-year marriage 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 house rather than my parents’ house, 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 in my parents’ home, I knew that my dad had been an equal contributor regarding family events. My ex easily promised to assist, but on the day of the dinner, he did nothing. “Palm Bay Pest Control.” He smirked at me, going into his standard immunity, and walked away. I felt crushed, and my inner child was angry with me that I’d believed him when he so frequently either forgot what he had said or went into immunity.
“I am not going to spend any more time with you till you can be loving and caring for three months,” I told him. In the past he could do it for a week or so and then would return 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 was not our only problem, but it was indicative of the underlying issues, which were a lack of caring and respect toward me, and frequently treating me with anger, withdrawal, sarcasm, and projection – accompanied by the crazy-making of denying that he was doing such things, and blaming me rather.
Doing Chores Together Can Produce Intimacy
Recent research suggests that couples who do chores together, instead of 1 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 once you have children, since it’s often hard to find time to get together to talk about your day or discuss your feelings with one another.
While the study 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 great marriages find that they enjoy doing chores together. Is the doing of chores together the origin of their intimacy or the consequence of it? More research would have to be done to determine this.
Regardless of which comes first, I’d think that couples who do chores with a better chance at feeling connected with each other than those who don’t. Not only does this give you some time together, but in addition, it prevents both the resentment of one individual doing too many of the chores, and the loneliness of performing chores alone.