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How to Get Housework Done Without Fighting With Your Partner

It's no secret that resentment builds when couples don't have a system for household tasks. Here's advice on how to make a plan and stick to it.

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Make a Plan…Together

According to a 2016 Pew Research Poll, more than half of adults said that sharing household chores is very important to marital success. The research revealed no difference of opinion between men and women, older and younger adults or married and single.

So, if it’s important to both partners, then it’s important to make a plan together. If one person creates a chore calendar and puts it on the refrigerator, the other partner may feel left out. But, if they sit down together and map it out, both voices will be heard, and both partners will be on board with the plan. Speaking of chores, check out this printable spring cleaning checklist for your house.

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Choose Chores Based on Value

Through trial and error, my partner and I have found which chores we exceed at based on value. For instance, I never ask him to vacuum, because I prefer to do it daily, and believe he won’t vacuum all of the areas I want cleaned. He, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about daily vacuuming. So, it is always his job to do the laundry because I am terrible at following through with changing loads. He is patient and diligent, and so accepts this as one of his tasks. He also doesn’t mind doing it!

“Together, make a list of everything that needs doing. Look down the list and decide what you do and don’t like and assign each task to one of you,” suggests Michael Brooke, a professional carpet cleaner who proclaims he saves couples from arguing through services provided by his company. Are you responsible for the bathroom? Here’s how to clean it faster and better.

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Prioritize your Partner’s Needs

The idea of ‘prioritizing your partner’s needs’ sounds much more low key than, say, ‘know what pisses them off,’ doesn’t it? For anyone in a live-in relationship, you surely know that your pet peeves are not always the same as those of your partner. And often, their peeves only come to light because of a regular habit you have revealed to them and vice versa!

Remember that scene from the movie The Break-Up when Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) tells Gary (Vince Vaughn) she wants him to want to do the dishes? While Gary has a point that no one really wants to do the dishes, he’s missing the bigger point: Brooke just wants to feel loved by way of feeling heard and valued.

If your partner hates that you throw off your shoes right next to the shoe rack, make an effort to always put your shoes on the shoe rack. It’s a tiny “chore” that can go a long way toward promoting harmony. If you can’t stand that your partner doesn’t wash his breakfast plate before leaving for the day, give him a gentle reminder that is logical, such as, “It’s so nice to come home to an empty sink before I begin cooking after a long day at work. Would you mind just taking care of your dish before you leave in the morning?” These household cleaning tips help you tackle the tough problem areas.

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Reason, Don’t Nag

I have found that the more I say, “take out the trash,” or “make the bed” the less my partner is willing to do it. It creates a feeling of control that ultimately causes him to feel extremely defiant. That’s why I’ve learned to reason.

Sometimes I will say, “Would you mind taking out the trash? I deep cleaned the house today, and that’s the only chore left to do.”

Other times I will say, “Would you mind making the bed? I’m going to brew some coffee for us.”

Showing your partner, without nagging, that their help plays a part in a bigger picture is a great way to make the process of chores feel more like a partnership and less like something you dangle over their head. And before you start a DIY project, be sure to check out these 10 that almost destroyed marriages!

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Don’t Chastise Their Chore Work

Toronto therapist Sara Dimerman and her (male) co-author J.M. Kearns penned a self-help book called How Can I Be Your Lover When I’m Too Busy Being Your Mother?

While the book was published back in 2012, a September 2017 study published in Springer journal’s Sex Roles found that heterosexual women of all ages do more chores around the house than their male partners, no matter the man’s or woman’s career or income.

With that said, the authors of How Can I Be Your Lover When I’m Too Busy Being Your Mother? point out that women are prone to sabotaging a partner’s attempt at chores, chastising them for doing it poorly. But men merely see their female counterparts as “obsessive-compulsive control freaks,” when this happens, according to the authors. They suggest that women should choose a more diplomatic route. “Treat it more as an amusing, somewhat exotic tour of another mind (yours). And get him to give you a tour of his,” they write. Want some cleaning insight? Check out these secret tips from the pros.

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“If one of you doesn’t follow through on promises to do your share of the work around your home, try and discover together why there is such reluctance,” suggests Sheri Stritof, who, along with her husband Bob, has been the marriage expert since 1997. “Sometimes one partner over-commits or underestimates the time it could take to get something done. Blaming your partner for what hasn’t been accomplished or finished will not be effective. Reevaluate your plan and adjust as needed.” Selecting a home is a compromise in and of itself! Here’s how to buy the perfect home for the DIYer.

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Split the Chore Up

I love to cook and I’m good at it. It feels more like a hobby than a chore. However, it also requires planning the meal and finding recipes, going to the grocery store and making sure my partner will like it. Somewhere down the line in our relationship, I began to feel resentment that I was cooking and cleaning. I assumed these roles without thought, and my partner never challenged me. Now, I always cook and he always cleans. He finds it just as fair as I do. If for some reason he cooks, I make sure to clean up. It ensures a pleasurable experience free of unnecessary tension. If you love to cook too, check out these 25 handy hints for the home cook.

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Do Your Partner’s Chore

Every now and then, I will find myself both cooking and cleaning up. I don’t tell my partner that’s what I’m going to do. I quietly excuse myself from the table while he heads to the couch to rest for a few minutes before he meanders into the kitchen to do his designated chore, the dishes. But instead of me sitting next to him, I’ll surprise him by doing his chore. Karma is a wonderful thing, because he’ll do the same thing back for me sometimes. It’s just a nice way of saying, “I hear you, I appreciate you, I love you.” If you’re using a dishwasher ,check out these 7 dishwashing mistakes you’re making.

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Anticipate Roadblocks

Roadblocks are going to happen, and when they do, you have to stay calm and come up with a solution. Sit down together and make a list of the chores each of you do. Where is the argument coming up? Perhaps one of you is working long hours this month. In that case, maybe you can switch chores around to free up more time for a while.

You should also anticipate that one person may be more on top of chores than the other. If you’re always reminding the other to do their chore, maybe it’s time to have a conversation to get back on track. Need a cleaning motivator? Check out these topnotch cleaning supplies and products.

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If You Can’t Compromise, Outsource

There are just some chores that aren’t going to get done, no matter the amount of negotiation that goes into it. If you don’t want to fix the broken sink, and your partner keeps putting it off, then it’s time to outsource. Problem solved! If you want to do it yourself, here’s how to fix a leaking sink sprayer.

Alexa Erickson
Alexa is an experienced lifestyle and news writer, currently working with Reader's Digest, Shape Magazine and various other publications. She loves writing about her travels, health, wellness, home decor, food and drink, fashion, beauty and scientific news. Follow her traveling adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: [email protected] and check out her website: