How to share chores, Spousonomics style

While Jordan and I are honeymooning in Vegas, I've asked a few of my favorite bloggers to help me out by writing a few guests posts.  Obsessive Compulsive Daniela, a 20 something Canadian blogger, has written two - thank's again Daniela! 

Tims Stobbs from Canadian Dream recently reviewed Spousonomics: Using Economics To Master Love, Marriage, And Dirty Dishes by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson. Combining economic policy and relationship advice sounded intriguing, so I decided to give it a whirl. I also used this as an opportunity to try out the BF’s new Kindle. As a bonus, I figure if John (BF) has access to the book on his e-reader, it’ll increase the possibility of him reading it.

I’m about halfway through the book and so far, I like it. The authors conducted what they refer to as their “Exhaustive, Groundbreaking, and Very Expensive Marriage Survey.” They also interviewed a crapload of couples. Economic theories are explained (in relatively plain terms) and the theories are applied to real life examples gathered from the interviews.

The very first chapter is all about couples sharing responsibilities in the household. And this got me thinking of all the chores that need to be done in our small condo, and how John and I divide up these tasks. I decided to make a list of chores and include every little thing, regardless of often it needs to be done.

It was kind of surprising to see the list when I was finished – there were almost 40 chores. Our place is only 585 square feet, but damn – that is a lot of things to take care of! Certain things, like grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, and making the bed occur a lot more often than, say, chipping the ice off the bottom of the freezer and vacuuming the bedroom carpet. But it was still a lot of stuff.

I also realized that I was taking care of most things on the list. Don’t get me wrong, John does do certain tasks, like cleaning up after I make dinner, or making the bed in the morning, or cleaning the bathroom every other time. But he could do a bit more out more, and this would help me feel like the home stuff is more balanced.

Now, I like things super organized. Entering a room that is clean and clutter free has an incredibly calming effect on me. John, who keeps things relatively neat, does not share this trait. I know that this means I’ll be the one to do extra tidying. And I’m okay with that. I’m okay with doing a more in general – HE works longer hours, sometimes into the evenings and always on the weekends, and I rarely have to work beyond 5pm, Mon-Fri.

Spousonomics also highlights the fact that partners will have different specialties, and each person will be able to do certain tasks quicker than the other person. It’s way faster for me to go grocery shopping than John. When I go, I know what we need and I know where stuff is. If John goes, I normally have to tell him what we need, and sometimes where to go in the store to find it. Plus he has an aversion to asking employees where stuff is – must be a guy thing.

I shared the list with John, and he too was surprised by all the things I do. He was very willing to take on additional chores. We still have to sit down and figure out who will do what. Ideally I’d like a system where we each take care of our own chores and we can trust each other to take care of things without reminders. Obviously there will be times when this isn’t always possible, but it can at least be a goal. I was also thinking we could set up some sort of penalty when chores aren’t done, such as putting $1-$2 in pig. Like a swear jar, except for chores. If we had a swear jar, I would be broke.

How do you share chores in your household? 


  1. Interesting article. My husband and I too share the chores somewhat. He really enjoys looking after the cars so he washes them inside and out; I actually find cleaning the house relaxing (put on my ipod with my favorite music and just go) Laundry is out biggest pet peeve (house of 5 - two of which are teenage girls) we have tons of it. So we have devised a system that he does it all while watching his TV shows in the man room in the basement then puts it from the dryer into a basket and brings it up for me to fold and give to each respective person to put away. Yes the teenagers could do the laundry but then i would have a front load large capacity washer going with her favorite jeans only it cause she "absolutely had to have them now" :)

  2. @Anonymous - My partner loves listening to his ipod while he does chores too. Sounds like you guys have a good system in place! Maybe you could use an allowance system to have your kids help out in certain areas?


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