Friday, September 4, 2009

Burning Question of the Day: Division of Labor

For those of you in a relationship or married, what is the division of labor like in your relationship? Who pays the bills? Who keeps you on schedule or makes sure you haven't double booked yourselves? Who does the cooking? How about the cleaning?

Why does the division happen the way that it does (i.e. work, preference, etc)?And most importantly, are you happy with the balance?

This is an interesting question for us. We've had several tiffs over the last couple of days about this very topic. Basically, the short answer is that I do the majority of the tasks around the house, but Justin really does do quite a bit too. Justin cleans the bathrooms, handles the litter box, does his own laundry (and sometimes mine too), makes sure his cell phone bill is paid, and occasionally cooks dinner or does dishes.

Justin also works an INCREDIBLE number of hours each week--it isn't uncommon for him to work 12-14 hour days. And he's most often doing physical labor like hand-digging trenches all day. Also, because of the nature of his job, sometimes when a water pipe bursts at 4:45pm, he's going to end up working late at the last minute. So, depending on him to get the car payment to the bank before 5pm isn't always feasible. Especially when the above situation happens multiple days in a row. Yes, I am speaking from experience!

I work far fewer hours. I'm off each day at around 3:30, and unless I get stuck in court, I really AM off each day around 3:30. It makes sense that I should be the one doing the majority of the cooking...especially since I enjoy cooking. For me, it has a lot of the same feeling as working in the photography darkroom--mix this, that, and try to time it all so you have a beautiful and enjoyable result. Anyway....tangent!

I hate cleaning the house, but the honest truth is that that's something that matters to me, but doesn't matter to Justin. I walk in to our disaster of a house and think, "Oh my GOD the house is a pigsty!" Justin walks in to our disaster of a house and thinks, "Oh! There are those shoes I'm missing!" There's no judgment here...I think what I've just learned after being married a couple of years now is that Justin is more than willing to help me clean if I ask for help, but because having a spotless and organized house isn't all that important to him (he's a social creature and would much rather be playing baseball or meeting people for a movie), cleaning isn't something that he's self-prompted to do. And that's okay. He doesn't mind helping, it just doesn't often occur to him on his own.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the money side of things--I am overwhelmed in general by math and numbers, and I wish that we sat down more frequently and talked about money. I think we both have a good grasp on how much of it we have, but not always where it all went. For example, I might see a purchase of Justin's from the hardware store, but have no idea what it was that he actually purchased. He might see a purchase from Target and assume that I'm buying shoes (which IS a fair conclusion), when really it's 409 Cleaner, toothbrushes, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Especially since we're trying to live pretty darn frugally right now, I think it would be good for us to have a more open dialogue about not only where the money was spent, but what it was spent on, and WHY it was needed.

So again, what does the division of labor look like in your house?


  1. I do the cleaning and the cooking. Tom takes care of all the bills and the budget. Tom does help me clean when I ask, but most of the time, I just go at it alone. I like things done a certain way and it's just better if I get them done. Tom loves budgeting and numbers and so I leave all of that up to him.

  2. I do the majority of the cleaning, laundry and cooking. Ryan does the yardwork, fixing up items, carrying and lifting heavy things. He also does the dishes since I cook. Usually it works pretty well, but since our rental house is done now, Ryan has left handy-stuff to do. So, we have been talking about this lately to decide if he can help with some other things.

    As for bills, we sit down together to do our budget each month and bills are paid automatically. So, that's dual. I like doing it together because we are always on the same page.

  3. We really 50/50 it. If I'm working late, B cooks dinner, or will clean up the house, and vice versa. Same for bills - the joint credit card is somehow only accessed through his online bank account, so he pays that, I pay the others, and we talk all the time to make sure the budget is on track. B usually handles grocery shopping, but now that he's back in school, I've been stepping it up there.

    Otherwise, I tend to just be better at cleaning, so I handle it, and B is just better at yard work, so he handles that.

  4. Chad and I basically split the chores, although I would say that I do a bit more. That's totally up to me though - I do it because I like it, LOL.

    Chad is responsible for outside maintenance (watering our garden, mowing, weeding, etc.) and cooking. He cooks every evening that he is home and always helps with the clean up too. He's the one that does any dishes that need to be handwashed and often times, he also washes his own work clothes.

    I clean the bathroom, dust, swiffer, vacuum, change the sheets, straighten up the house, do the laundry...basically everything else that needs to be done. It works well for us because Chad really does contribute to the work, but I'm still left responsible for the things I'm anal about.

    Regarding money, we make decisions together (spending a big chunk of money or making a change to our budget) but I take care of the daily maintenance - paying bills, balancing the checkbook, entering everything into our Excel budget worksheet. Up until recently, Chad really just handed everything over to me and trusted me to take care of it. But I began to notice that I have a really bad habit of spending any extra money we have on stuff that's really not necessary. So now that we are trying to buckle down in preparation of the baby, Chad and I decided that it's best if I talk to him about every unnecessary purchase before I buy it. Which means I haven't bought anything unnecessary lately because I don't want to have to call and get his approval, haha.

  5. You guys reminded me that Justin does the yardwork as well! And also any major repairs that need to be done...though he does have a habit of never quite finishing the big stuff, lol!

  6. We divide out work pretty evenly, based one who likes to do what.

    I usually cook because I like to, but John cleans up. If I am not feeling well, or am tired, or coming home late from work, John will cook and I will try to clean up. Laundry usually falls to whoever gets to it first- usually him since he is home way before me and has more patience for it.

    Bills and money usually falls to John also because he likes to check all of that multiple times a day. I like to know what is going on with it, so he lets me know, but he takes care of making sure the bills are paid and we are on budget.

    I do a lot of cleaning, but so does he. We don't have any "set" chores, just when we see something that needs to get done, we do it.

  7. Basically, I cook, he cleans. He does all the sweeping (hardwood and tile throughout) and he'll vacuum the rugs and the bedrooms. He also polishes. We're both responsible for "our bathrooms" - he's got the hall, I have the master. I usually swiffer the whole house after he's done with his bit. He does the dishes and wipes the counters. I do all the cooking and the grocery shopping, take the trashcans to the curb, and feed and water the dogs.

    I also pay all the bills. We have 2 accounts - one is where all the paychecks go. I pay the bills from here. The other account is his "allowance" account. I don't like to keep track of his little $5 here, $3 there purchases and his daily lunches. He can buy whatever he wants from this account no questions asked. Pretty much anything under $20 can be bought from the main account without discussion. I have a place for him to put all his receipts so I can keep track (I still balance it and use the little register. I don't rely on what the online banking says).

    Lately we have had some discussions about who does more. He's going to help me by making dinner once a week since I also will do dishes and some of his housework sometimes. We're going to trade off on washing the dogs. I've also made a rule that I don't want to come home every day to guitar hero, or things blowing up, or hockey (he gets home before me and will usually play until dinner's ready). I don't mind him playing before I get home or later in the evening when I'm doing something else. We're still working on that one.

  8. In our house I feel that is 50/50 and we help each other out. I do the laundry, bathrooms, major kitchen cleaning, and floors. Mostly because I am OCD about the way these are done. Since I am pregnant, DH has taken over a lot of that. He has always been the chef and dishwasher. (He is an awesome cook!) DH is responsible for trash, litter box and major yard work – lawn, garden tilling, etc. We both work the flower beds and harvest the garden.
    As far as bills, what works for us is his, hers and ours accounts. The paychecks go into ours and ALL bills (mortgage, utilities, car payment, cell phones, student loans, gas, groceries) get paid out of it automatically so no one is running around trying to make payments. Either one of us can go in and look at or adjust those bills and payments. Then we each get our fun money auto transferred to his and hers account. It is not much but enough for Starbucks and lunch with friends and some shopping. If we are considering a major purchase for both of us (new tv, computer, furniture) we talk about it and get it. If it is a major purchase for one of us (table saw for him, trip to Seattle for me) we talk about it and it usually comes out of the joint account, but could come from our own account.
    It would be worth your time to sit down and set up a budget and set up auto pay on as many bills as you can. It has saved us so much time which is really important with LO #2 on the way! Good Luck!

  9. We used to both clean and I did the laundry and he did the dishes. Now that he's in Texas Mon-Thurs we both do everything. If we see it messy then we'll do it. It's not as organized as it was but oh well.

    GK used to do all the bills but now I do them since he's gone. That has taken some getting used to as well and I've made some late payments on some becuase I forgot about it :)

  10. Well, I always pay our bills. It's easier that way because Jesse is gone so often/much and this way it's the same person doing it all the time. But we both set up the budget together pretty well monthly and discuss how we want things paid/where money is going or coming from. He gets our taxes done and keeps track of our retirement fund :)

    I do the cooking almost always except when he's home on the weekend and wants to grill up steaks or something. He usually helps me do the dishes after dinner also if he's around (not on a wacky shift). He takes the trash out to the big trash, and also takes the big trash out to the curb. When we lived in a house instead of an apartment, he did all the yard work as well...

    I do pretty well all the cleaning and laundry. I really don't mind doing it because I'm home, and well, he works. So laundry and cleaning are sort of my job. I have a weekly schedule and certain jobs get done on certain days. All days consist of laundry and one big chore at least. Usually there are other small daily things that need to be done as well. The only thing I don't do when it comes to laundry is putting it away and folding Jesse's work socks. I don't do those things because he is REALLY picky about them and redoes it when I do it wrong, so this way it gets done right the first time :)

    Wow, that was the longest comment EVER! :)

  11. Let's see...I pay the bills, do all the scheduling, laundry, take care of the dogs, make lunches, cook most of the dinners. I hate cleaning and as long as it isn't a major disaster I leave it up to him. Matt does a lot more maintenance. He's working A LOT these days so I've picked up on mowing the yard, fixing toilet seats, and as much upkeep as I can. Right now it is just I have more time to do all that so when his second job is done, hopefully, he'll pick back up the mowing and general upkeep (although I actually enjoy mowing and learning new things). Right now it's very frustrating though because our bathroom is demo-ed and I have a ton of time but I don't know what the he** to do to the bathroom! So I keep telling myself be patient, be patient...

  12. Well, when my husband *is* home, it goes a little something like this:

    We both work about the same amount of hours, and I'd say it's about even with "stress levels" at work, on average. He makes more than I do, but when it comes to who is more tired out at the end of the day, it's a tie.

    We both cook, but I do more of the cooking, pretty much by choice. I like to cook. He does the easy stuff, usually...or the "guy stuff" like steaks and grilling. :)

    I handle our finances. He just asks if there's enough money to get x, y, z...for the most part. I am more "anal" about things being paid on time, whereas, he so easily had late fees and stuff...before we got married. So, I handle our finances.

    When it comes to cleaning, we both clean, but I do a lot more than he does. My thinking is the same as yours with walking in the house and thinking it's a pigsty, and he's more like, "oh, hey, there's that!". I am a perfectionist. I want my house to look nice. Lived in, but nice. Whereas, when he cleans, he goes all out. If he vacuums, he scrubs the bathroom down and does everything all at once. Me, I do things as they're needed...if that makes sense.

    And I guess that's about it. :)

  13. We do not have a clear division of labor. These days I am doing 90% of the cooking. He takes care of making smoothies for breakfast, but I do almost all the rest. We tend to split general cleaning. I had to lower my standards so the house is *not* as clean as I would like, but I no longer have to do 80% of the cleaning. He has started taking care of the laundry too, so that is an added bonus. As for money, we generally split paying bills and sit down about once a month to figure out what is going where.

  14. I do 97% of household chores. (I do not mow- that's his job!)
    I like doing it and I prefer it, because I feel that J busts his butt at work each day, often putting in 12 or more hours, especially in the summer. He also pays all the bills- mortgage, utilities, etc. There's no way we'd survive without his salary, so I feel like I need to take care of everything at home to hold up my end of the bargain. And I have no problem doing it!
    Now, If I do go back to work full time and contribute to our bills, I'll expect him to contribute to household chores too.

  15. well i'm sure you're aware that we own a company. So money is a big subject for us. We budget and sit down at the beginning of the year and make sure every bill is covered in one account. We both sit down once a month and look at what's coming out of the "bill" account and make sure all is correct. We also have a savings account which we try and throw money into, and then we have 2 spending accounts. One is for vacations, daycations or trips. We also have one for misc. shoes, clothes or whatever we want. We talk about everything that comes out BEFORE it comes out, to make sure neither one of us is spending too much on something that isn't needed.

    6 months out of the year we're on sight at our company so the work load is 50/50 and so are the chores.

    When we're home for the last 6 months he does most of the work: websites, trip planning, etc.

    I do all the cooking ( dinners) (desserts) and most of the cleaning. He helps with dish clean up and occasional with dust and help fold clothes.

    I do all the major stuff
    (vacuum, sweep, mop, bathrooms, change the sheets) but mainly by choice.

    If I feel like I have too many chores, I ask him to pitch in and he does, very willingly. Especially during the holidays or when we have guest over.

    We are big communicators, and we talk about everything. Which helps keep me on track and him as well

  16. Excellent timing with this post! I am watching the responses closely since I had this same burning question!


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