Cohabiting Couples: A Minimalist Approach to Household Chores

cohabiting couplesFor cohabiting couples, the minefield that is household chores has brought many a romance to its knees.

Arguments in relationships are unavoidable. You’re different people, so expecting to agree on everything is unrealistic.

Learning to argue productively helps, but an even better approach is to avoid fighting about unnecessary things, like housework or home renovation projects.

We all have things we’re either better at or don’t mind doing as much. Dividing up the household chores with this in mind will go a long way to avoiding those petty ‘always and never’ arguments that invariably end up ruining the whole day.

Let’s face it, nobody enjoys sulking.

Identifying Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Everyone has strengths and weakness in different areas, so why not use them to your advantage? In our house, I’m the better cook, while Sporty is our resident admin whizz. This means we’re always well-fed and our bills are paid on time.

That’s not to say I never do anything admin-related or that she doesn’t ever help out in the kitchen. There’s definitely cross-over, but for the most part, we’ll stick to the things we do best.

Figuring Out a Fair Division of Tasks

For us, alternating the daily tasks (washing dishes, doing laundry, etc.) works best. You may find that one of you is always happy to cook, while the other is equally content to be on clean-up duty. Do what works for you.

However you approach it, the most important thing is to make sure it’s fair. We may look like adults, but inside we’re all still six-years-old. If one of you feels like you’re doing more than your fair share, resentment is bound to build up.

Housework Rosters & Trading Chores

Creating a housework roster is the best way we’ve found to avoid resentment rearing its ugly head. After all, you can’t argue with a spreadsheet. If you’re not sure whose turn it is to mop the kitchen floor, simply stroll over to your roster and take a look.

Remember how I said we’re all still kids at heart? Try trading chores and you’ll know exactly what I mean. When I really don’t feel like doing something I’ll ask Sporty if we can trade.

Either I’ll do something she doesn’t enjoy in return or I’ll pay her back a turn at a later date. It sounds incredibly childish, but I promise you, it works. We never argue about housework. Ever.

Using Your Get out of Jail Free Card

While it’s important to be fair in the division of tasks, it’s not about keeping score. If I’ve had a really rough day, for example, Sporty will offer to take my turn to do the dishes. 

Likewise, if one of us is sick, the other one will shoulder the load until we’re back on our feet. You don’t always have to trade, sometimes you do something just because you love your human.

Learning to Enjoy Housework (Yup, It’s Possible)

The idea that one can actually enjoy housework sounds like a stretch, I know, but stick with me here. For starters, doing household chores provides a variety of health and other benefits, such as lowering stress, boosting happiness and making you more productive.

Buddhists can also teach us about household chores. The practice of soji encourages one to clean mindfully and bring meditation into a daily routine. Rather than rush to finish a task, you immerse yourself in the moment, focusing on doing the best job you can.

Surviving a Home Renovation Project

cohabiting couples

Moving house is often cited as one of life’s most stressful events. Others include the death of spouse, loss of income and having a baby. What never makes it onto those lists, but should, is renovating your home.

Having watched friends go through the process, it’s no cakewalk. You might end up with a beautiful new bathroom or patio, but getting to that point can easily leave your marriage in need of repair.

Undertaking a major home remodelling project is tricky anyway, but when you navigate the venture as a couple it’s even more of a challenge. There are so many balls to juggle that sooner or later someone’s going to end up in a cone

Unless of course, you put plans in place beforehand to avoid that happening. The infographic below offers 10 tips to help you do just that.  

Based on the principles of successful communication, the suggestions are intended to help the two of you get through the project with your relationship intact. 

Communication is the key to working together. But remember, anything you learn needs to be put into action. It’s not enough to just read through the tips and set them aside.

Make a point if going through them often until you’ve memorized and internalized them. Do this before, during and even after the project is completed.  That way you’ll be even better prepared next time.

If there is a next time.

Building the perfect home is exciting, but don’t let your desire to reach the end product demolish your relationship. Have fun and enjoy the process. 

When things don’t go according to plan (because they sometimes don’t) play the equanimity game. See how quickly you can rebound from the situation. 

Renovations can be stressful, so it’s especially important to not sweat the small stuff. You’re not going to agree on everything and that’s okay. 

Whether or not your relationship falls victim to the wrecking ball has far more to do with the way you communicate than the colours you choose for your new space. It’s worth keeping this in mind as your project progresses.


Some Final Thoughts

It takes work, but creating a conscious and intentional relationship is definitely worth the effort. By figuring out the ‘daily grind’ stuff, like household chores or surviving a home renovation project, you’re free to focus on the fun aspects of being in a relationship. 

I’m off to do the dishes. According to the roster, it’s my turn..