When you live with a romantic partner, you take your cue from the birds and the bees. Similarly, when you divvy up the household chores, look specifically at the bees. Entomologists have found that when a lazy bee is paired up with a worker bee, the latter might even work itself to death to make up for the honey shortage. Since studies show that women tend to bear a disproportionate load of the housework, it is a given that a relationship might be stressed if one member tends to be a shirker while the other an over-doer.
However, people are not like insects programmed by instinct to work themselves to death. Humans use language to communicate their dissatisfaction about the different thresholds for household chores. This is the language of conflict which usually leads to repetitive arguing. Therefore ideally, before you cohabit, you discuss core values like sex, children, pets, religion and money to see if these are not deal breakers. Well, now add household chores to the list! And if you are already together, it’s not too late to renegotiate.
You need to know the following facts according to Sarah Riforgiate, professor of communication studies at Kansas State University:
- Women have a better sense of smell than men.
- Men see moving objects better than women.
- Women see color and texture better.
- The person with the lower tolerance level for an incomplete task will do it.
- The person who keeps doing that incomplete task will eventually become assigned to the task.
- There will be no special appreciation for the over-doer.
The strategy for a happy life together with less strife
- You catch more flies (probably bees too) with honey. Good sex leads to more chores getting done without asking.
- Do not use the word, “lazy,” when speaking to your mate. People live up to their labels. Your mate simply has a different threshold for chores than you do.
- Be aware that your mate does not necessarily see and smell what you do. Communicate your wishes and needs concretely. Listen to your mate’s point of view. There is no right or wrong here only an equitable compromise.
- Don’t insist on only one way and a specific time for accomplishing chores. People differ regarding energy levels and their biological clocks.
For more information on managing your stress and reclaiming your life read my book, Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show