Division of Labor

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-09-2011
Division of Labor
Wed, 07-20-2011 - 1:05am
I would like to know what the division of labor is in your marriage. My husband and I both work full time but he is also working on his masters and has classes in the evenings sometimes. Because of this, I don't mind doing the majority of the cleaning. However lately I've been feeling like I'm doing more than I should have to and am cleaning ALL the time. The problem is, he just doosnt clean up after himself. Its not that he's a jerk, he just doesn't think about it, especially when he is busy doing homework. So I clean before work and come home to a mess.
You might think that my husband must have been a mommas boy and never had to do anything for himself. Well, it's actually the opposite. He grew up in a hostile and abusive environment and moved out when he was a teenager. He's taken care of himself for years until he met me. Now I think there's a chance he is just enjoying finally having someone take care of him.
I have tried to talk to him but I don't know how to get him to be conscious about things like leaving dishes in the living room. Should I just suck it up and take care of him? He works so hard and my job is not demanding at all. I just get frustrated that I never enjoy a clean house.
Avatar for mrosie
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-23-2000
Wed, 07-20-2011 - 10:43am

Welcome to the board. This is a painfully (amusingly) familiar subject to me. DH and I have been married almost 15 years and we have had the chores discussion at least every couple. The last one ended in me getting flowers roughly once a month. LOL

I would suggest that you agree to a time that you can sit down when you are both calm and well-rested and can have a detailed discussion about household chores and the expectations attached.

Make a list of every chore that has to be done and how often. Include things like paying the bills, carpool if you have kids, yard work, house work, car maintenance (?)...anything that seems relevant to the conversation.

Then take turns choosing chores and agreeing to the frequency the task will be completed. Hopefully this will ensure that each of you get some chores that you don't hate doing but you share the burden on the less desirable chores (that makes it sound like there are chores you might actually fight to have LOL).

I would also take this opportunity to point out that, unless he's willing to have you quit your full-time job, you are going to require his assistance to keep things reasonably clean after you've worked to get them initally clean.

One example for us is that I refuse to pick up laundry off the floor to wash it. It doesn't bother me (too much) if DH has a pile of outside work clothes by his dresser but I only wash what has made it to the hamper. I have taken to reminding him when I'm preparing to do laundry so he has an opportunity to round up his dirty clothes.

I don't think you are being unreasonable. It's just a matter of finding a middle ground that works for both of you.

I hope that you'll post back so we can get to know you better!


Avatar for msally99
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 07-20-2011 - 11:05am

I can sympathize with what you're dealing with. I work full-time and DH is a full-time student. He is primarily responsible for the housework, and he does a great job. I rarely cook (even though I like to), and if I do dishes or grocery shopping, it's because I *want* to.

However, DH is bad about not picking up after himself. He attends class in the morning, takes a nap, then studies until I get home. Often when I get home, there will be various things on the table next to where he is studying: two empty glasses, an empty plate from his lunch, and a bit of trash. It's not that he won't pick it up, just that he hasn't gotten up from studying yet. It used to drive me crazy, and I would come in the house and pick up after him, and then be grumpy about it. Finally I realized that it was my issue, not his. He doesn't leave trash lying around for days, and it hurts my relationship with him if I'm in a bad mood every day when I walk in the door. Now, I either pick up after him with a good attitude, or I leave it for him to pick up when he's done with his studies.

I'm not criticizing you, and I hope it doesn't come across that way. I think that each of your responsibilities outside the home should factor into the division of labor in your home, but if you feel like you're cleaning all the time, that will lead to resentment, which is toxic to your marriage. Maybe it's time to talk openly with your DH about this issue, and see what his thoughts are. Sometimes people are just clueless about something that drives their partner crazy - or they honestly don't understand why it's a big deal.

I hope you can work out a system that will make you both happy. Let us know how it goes!

Avatar for hugss
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-25-2010
Wed, 07-20-2011 - 12:48pm

Great question,
With you both working full time & DH going to school .. imagine how tough that is
Don't like the sound of you feeling that he is enjoying you take care of him.
I think you need to talk with him again.
there are little things he can do that would help you out
One is picking up after himself .. to me that reminds me of a child.
Anyways hopefully others will have some ideas.
Let us know how it goes :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Wed, 07-20-2011 - 10:22pm

In our home, the division of labour changes all the time. When I was on maternity leave I did most of the cooking and cleaning. He still changed diapers and did laundry but that was about all. He was working 12 hour days and I was home all day.

I have always done more of the of the "deep cleaning"...scrubbing floors, windows, bathrooms, etc. Obviously I do all the sewing and baking (we eat homemade breads and things). But I don't resent that stuff bc I know that it stuff he just wouldn't do if he lived alone. It's my standard so I take it on bc I'm doing it for myself.

I've never found the lists to be all that helpful. On a weekend afternoon, I'll just start cleaning and I'll say things like, "hon - could you do X?" Or I'll give a list, "I need X, Y, Z done as soon as you get a chance." That way he can pick out X, Y, or Z. I also wrote on a blackboard in the kitchen things that need to be done. Like tomm, he has to call a new preschool about Sept enrollment. I'm not calling from work and they aren't open in the eves.

Sometimes I will say, "When was the last time you cleaned a toilet?" and then he'll realize he never does the deep cleaning. Usually within a few days, he'll scrub down the whole house. I never say it with attitude and I never expect it (tho I hope!). He gets upset when I don't say "thank you"...

I've taken out the roast beef and tomm I'll call on my lunch break to remind him to put in the oven & at what temp :) I expect to come home to a hot meal after work!! LOL.

In other words, I ask for help. I see shows where the guy never does laundry or something...and I think, "I'd just start doing my own and leaving his if that were the case!!!"...but my DH actually does more laundry than I do. But I do much more cooking...so it all evens out.

I think in your situation, I would just leave his mess. Maybe he'll get the hint??



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2011
Wed, 07-20-2011 - 11:17pm

We have an interesting situation in our house. I'm in the process of immigrating to Canada from the US and I cannot work yet. So while my husband works I take care of the house. I think it's only fair. He comes home from work and shouldn't have to worry about cleaning or making dinner. I'm here, I got this. Though he has one job: take out the trash. I have to make sure he remembers what chores are for when I am able to go back to work. lol On his off days he likes to cook. I'm not about to tell him no. :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2005
Thu, 07-21-2011 - 1:16pm

Our house rule is that no one is sitting relaxing while others are working.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2004
Sat, 07-23-2011 - 10:38am

In my home, since I am such