Who is responsible for doing the household chores? This is not a small question at any stage of life. I had a conversation this week with my Iranian email friend Saeide about the pro’s and con’s of having a roommate. Saiede is coming to the U.S. for graduate school this fall, and she has decided to live alone rather than take a chance on a roommate. I had plenty of roommates during and immediately after college and in many cases tensions arose over the chores. Our biggest problems was agreeing on whether they should be done; we rarely got as far as who should do them.
Saeide has had lots of roommates in the past. Now she lives with her brothers and cooks and cleans for them, so I asked her how they would cope after she left. She said, “I am sure they’ll get into trouble after I leave because none of them will agree to do any of the housework. They will remain hungry and both will stubbornly refuse to work. They’re too lazy, you know! Besides, here men learn from childhood that they should only eat and order because there will always be women to work. Anyway, I hope my leaving does good to them by forcing them to work!!! Society’s changing! I doubt by the time they get married their wives would agree to have them sitting around all the time!” Yes, Saeide has strong feelings on this topic. But so do the rest of us.
This week, the DailyGood website cited research, which showed that not only is it important to divide up the household chores in a way that works for all the spouses/partners/roommates, but that it is also a good idea for them to thank each other for their work. It all boils down to this. Household chores are not particularly fun, especially if we are responsible for the same ones for forty or fifty years. They are even less fun if we think no one appreciates our work. The situation gets more complicated than this when one partner is less observant and has a higher tolerance level for messiness than the other, as in “Gee, I didn’t wash the dishes because I didn’t notice they were there. I’m just not bothered by filth, grime and sinks full of dirty pots and pans. And I thought all those cobwebs were Halloween decorations.” You can read more about the research findings, but the big idea is that cleaning up around the house or yard can be seen as a gift from one partner to another and that life runs more smoothly when both notice their surroundings and thank each other for making these surroundings better.
Gotta run now. My husband is hungry and I just noticed that breakfast dishes are still in the sink.