Somewhere in our first year of marriage we settle into a routine. We divide up the household labor and start taking ownership over certain things in the house. We expect things of our spouse, and we take responsibility for those things that fall into our own column. For some this happens naturally, for others it is more of a process…a discussion…a negotiation.
However it happened, here we are. Maybe it’s been one year, ten years, thirty years. Funny thing, though…no matter how long or short it’s been I would put money on the fact that your life doesn’t look exactly like it did when you first made that neat little list dividing the labor. However you entered into your “agreement,” though, remember…marriage is not a business arrangement.
Marriage is not a contract, it is a covenant. When kids come along, a job status changes, or life is just different, sometimes we find that our original plan doesn’t work for us as well. When that happens, we have 2 choices:
- Keep going as we always have.
- Talk to our spouse about making changes.
Neither choice is right 100% of the time. Sometimes, out of our commitment, we can sacrificially choose option #1. Other times, option #2 is best. Or maybe it’s best to land somewhere in the middle – openly discuss your struggles and feelings with your spouse, but commit to keeping on with the original arrangement.
Whichever we choose it is our heart & attitude that determines whether we are right or wrong. Making self-sacrificial choices while harboring a negative attitude toward our spouse is no better than getting angry at them for not “carrying their weight.” In fact, they might be doing more than you realized. Funny how we sometimes block out the good things when we’re focused on the bad.
Whatever the situation, remember that you are not in an employment contract. You are in a relationship. One that changes month to month, year to year. Just because you’ve cooked every meal for the past six years doesn’t mean that your husband can’t start preparing dinner twice a week. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mow the lawn if your husband is having a crazy busy week at work. And it doesn’t mean that because you don’t “work” as much as your spouse that you are responsible for all the laundry.
Or maybe it does.
But the only way you can figure out what is best for your family is to be open. Have ongoing discussions. Tell your spouse when you are overwhelmed. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask your partner for help. Make adjustments if necessary, or make the intentional decision to continue on – with a joyful attitude.
- If you do decide to chat with your partner, here are some tips to make it go well.
- Talk about your feelings and use “I” statements.
- Choose a time to talk when you are not distracted (ie, not in front of the kids and not in front of the TV).
- Don’t blame your partner.
- Listen openly to hear how they feel about the current division of labor.
- Be very specific about what you need – don’t make them guess.
Your spouse wants you to be happy. Your spouse feels like a better partner when they are able to ease your burden, or they know they can help make you happy. But, your spouse is not a mind reader. Talk to your spouse. Your marriage is not a business arrangement, and you do not have a non-negotiable labor contract.
How do you handle it when you feel like your husband isn’t carrying his share of the load? Share your tips below!