Moving in together is a huge step in any relationship. It’s a time where you find out all of those little pesky things about your partner that may otherwise go unnoticed. As in Sex and the City says, that “secret single behaviour”. On top of that, there is the issue of sharing household responsibilities that come into play and can become a source of conflict. Nowadays many homes have two primary wage earners but one person, often the woman, can feel as though most of the household work is her burden and not her partners.
One key approach to remedy this situation is to overcome traditional gender roles to achieve a balance of household responsibilities. Breaking the pattern of viewing housework and taking care of the kids as women’s work will help to split up these duties more evenly.
Patterns also develop in any relationship and once they are there, they are hard to break. Just because you were always comfortable doing the cooking before your job got increasingly demanding does not mean that cooking should always be your responsibility. The unwritten expectations of your arrangement should be renegotiated as life events come up and the situation changes. Each partner should be willing to renegotiate expectations and reach a compromise that will keep you both happy.
Focus on tasks individually rather than the whole picture. Instead of looking at your entire home as a mess that needs to be cleaned, break it down into small achievable tasks such as making dinner, taking out the garbage, vacuuming the floor and cleaning the toilet. Once the tasks are listed you can start to decide who will be responsible for which task and when.
Delegate effectively and reciprocate when your help is needed. Once you have decided which tasks belong to each of you, both of you have a great starting point but life changes at the drop of a dime and has a way of getting in the way of plans that we set out for ourselves. Be flexible enough to delegate things that you cannot do because something has come up and equally be willing to reciprocate and accept a task when your help is needed.
Acknowledge each other’s feeling and show your appreciation. When discussions start make sure to listen to your partner and what they have to say. Make sure to show appreciation for the things around the house that they already do and show appreciation when they get their tasks done.
Most importantly, keep communication open. Through open and continuous communication you will eventually find a balance that feels right. Living together can be a very trying time in any relationship but finding a way to strike a balance between household responsibilities can be a great help. Remember that it is when expectations are not being met that problems arise so if you both enter into the situation with an open mind and an attitude of compromise, smoother sailing lies ahead!