423: Chores

A Thousand Things to Talk About
423: Chores

How do you prefer to split chores?

Show notes and links:
Apartment Therapy
Fast Company

Full episode script

I don’t think I have ever– EVER — read more marriage advice than I did when looking at articles about splitting chores. Seriously, if there was a measure of marriage issues based on the number of online articles written about them, I think the chore-splitting issue is probably what makes or breaks marriages.

Which… ok, yeah, I’d actually kind of buy. In May of this year, French comic Emma penned a graphic essay about the mental load of household work — that while men and women may evenly split the physical work of household chores, they don’t often evenly split the mental load of managing a household.

That said, I found a very intriguing and refreshing bit of advice from — of all places — Fast Company, in an article by Allyson Downey. They suggested that, rather than splitting the individual tasks that may come up (which can leave very large gaps for unexpected or new things) that households or partnerships should instead look at splitting “areas of expertise” in a household. Quote:

For example, perhaps one person can manage all family health care issues. That means one party is responsible for finding doctors, arranging appointments, submitting reimbursements, paying medical bills—and filling out those camp forms. Making sure that entire categories of responsibility are “owned” by a single person helps prevent mission creep.

Plus, when you own a whole area of responsibility, you develop domain expertise in it. This allows each party to develop a greater sense of appreciation for how much thought and effort goes into managing a particular project, and makes it more efficient and less of a source of friction.

It’s an interesting idea. And certainly helps with expectation management. Which, as Apartment Therapy points out when talking about roommates learning to split chores in a way that works for them, is really what it’s all about. One person’s need to scrub the shower on the regular may be met with another person for whom laundry is a once-a-quarter affair. And managing those expectations both upfront and on the regular helps keep harmony — married or not.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.