This post was written by School Mum Contributor Carolyn
As someone who is no longer married, I have to say one thing I don’t miss is arguing over whose turn it is to do the dishes. Actually, I should say I don’t miss seething in silence, waiting for him to do the dishes when it was his turn.
In my marriage, housework was a big issue. My ex-husband and I had vastly different standards when it came to the cleanliness of our home, and vastly different ideas on who should do what.
Now I live alone and do everything, but there’s a whole lot less tension – and everything is done to the standard I like.
Could hiring a cleaner have saved our marriage? Probably not – there were bigger issues at play, of course. But researchers at Harvard Business School and the University of British Colombia followed 3000 people in relationships and found that couples who were willing to pay for time-saving services such as cleaners were more likely to be happy in their relationships.
It’s a bit like a study that tells you the sky is blue, right? But if you’ve been looking for the evidence you need to convince your partner it’s a good move to spring for a cleaner, here it is.
“Conflicts over chores are one of the primary reasons that couples divorce,” the study authors wrote. This is because “both men and women become frustrated working a ‘second shift’ at home.”
Amen to that.
But couples who invested in “time-saving purchases” – anything that eliminates some of those daily chores – were found to have greatly improved personal happiness.
It makes sense, of course. Think about the things that frustrate you about your partner, and I can almost guarantee there will be something in there about the way they leave the laundry until there is not a clean sock left in the house, or they don’t mow the lawn until the children get lost in it.
Imagine having someone who comes and takes some of that stress away – you’re much more likely to feel warmly about your partner again.
Of course, hiring a cleaner, mowing service, nanny – or whatever will save you some precious time – costs money. Lots of us are living hand-to-mouth as it is, so hiring some help may seem like a pipe dream.
For those who can absorb the cost, the message is clear: it’s worth it for the sake of your relationship. But if you can’t, there is still a lesson to be learned.
Housework is stressful, and it can magnify small problems and turn them into big problems. The key to avoiding that is to communicate openly and respectfully, to appreciate the contributions your partner is making at home, and to have a clear agreement about who will do what, and how often.
If there is respect in the way housework is divided, and everyone is doing their fair share, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress.
And if you get to a stage where you can afford to buy a little bit of extra time off housework, try to spend that time together doing something you love. Your relationship can only benefit.