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Clean Together!

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Holding Hands Couple Couple Holding Hands

One of the major complaints I hear from my clients who are married is about the issue of chores. I can tell you from my own 30-year marriage the issue of chores was a big deal in contributing to the conclusion of the marriage.

I clearly remember the problem that’broke the camel’s back.’ My ex-husband desired to have our big Thanksgiving dinner at our house instead of at my parents’ house, and I was all for it – IF he promised to help. My experience in the past was that I ended up doing all the work and was too tired to actually enjoy the dinner, whereas if it was at my parents’ house, I knew that my dad was an equal contributor regarding family events. My ex easily promised to assist, but on the day of the dinner, he did nothing. “I need your help.” He smirked at me, going to his standard resistance, and walked off. I felt crushed, and my inner child was upset with me that I had believed him when he so often either forgot what he’d said or went into immunity.

That’s the day I moved out of our bedroom and into my upstairs art loft. “I am not going to spend any more time with you until you can be loving and caring toward me for three months,” I told him. In the past he could do it for a week or so and then would go back to being angry and resistant.

Needless to say, the issue around chores was not our only problem, but it was indicative of the underlying issues, which were a lack of caring and respect toward me, and frequently treating me with anger, withdrawal, sarcasm, and projection – followed by the crazy-making of denying that he was doing such things, and blaming me instead.

Doing Chores Together Can Create Intimacy

Recent research suggests that couples who do chores together, rather than one individual doing more chores, or dividing the chores, have more psychological and physical intimacy. Doing chores alone can be lonely, while performing them together can be a time of fun, affection and sharing, and it certainly makes the time go by faster when you’re doing the dishes together rather than doing them alone. Sharing chores may be especially important when you have children, because it’s often hard to find time to get together to discuss your day or discuss your feelings with each other.

While the study shows that couples who do chores together have better marriages, I wonder whether the underlying truth is that couples that enjoy being together and have great marriages realize that they enjoy doing chores together. Is the doing of chores together the cause of the their intimacy or the result of it? More research would have to be done to ascertain this.

Regardless of which comes first, I’d think that couples who do chores with a much better chance of feeling connected with each other than people who don’t. Not only does this give you a bit of time together, but in addition, it prevents both the bitterness of one individual doing too many of the chores, and the loneliness of performing chores alone.

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