The other night, as I stood by the bed at 9:30 folding Andy’s shirts while he played trivia, which I had decided to skip in favor of taking care of some things at home, I thought, “Boy, he sure is spoiled. He’s going to come home and it will be as if this laundry got done by magic.” But as SOON as that thought crossed my mind, I realized, “Boy, I sure am spoiled too, because I never pay a bill, never vacuum, and know very little about how all the various computers and technologies in our home work.” Somehow Andy and I have never had the big “who does what around the house” discussion, but things get taken care of anyway. And by not talking about it and making a big deal of it, we both seem pretty content with the inadvertent system we’ve devised.

It seems to me like the division of household labor is often a sticking point in marriages, and I feel fortunate to have skirted that speed bump. When I shared my revelation about our mutual spoil-age with Andy, he suggested that perhaps the not talking about it system has worked well for us because we got married so young. Neither of us had lived alone for very long (me never and him for less than a year), so neither of us had a developed a routine of taking care of everything. I enjoy doing the laundry (okay, well, and am ridiculously particular about how my t-shirts are folded), so I took over that for both of us. Andy had already been keeping a budget and paying rent and other bills (and I didn’t have many finances to bring to the table straight out of college), so he kept doing that. I started cooking and grew to enjoy it, so it also made sense for me to to do the grocery shopping, especially once I added coupons into the mix. Andy grew up taking care of the dishes after dinner, so that naturally fell to him. And so on. Before we knew it, we had a system, wherein everything that needs to get done seems to get done! And it’s not quite magic, but it’s maybe akin to clockwork.

Sure, I have days when I don’t really feel like lugging the laundry down. Sure, every now and then I wish I could ask Andy to cook dinner when I’ve had a long day and don’t have anything planned. And sure, we butt heads sometimes about how long dirty containers have sat waiting to be washed. And sometimes, I feel inadequate and stupid for not knowing the “right” way to do certain things (like clean a stain on the carpet or load the dishwasher). In fact, I don’t really know how to use our vacuum cleaner because I’m literally not sure I ever have. I should probably figure that out. It’s probably not that hard. But at regular intervals, Andy vacuums! And so I’ve never needed to.

It was a nice surprise to realize that we have a system for household chores and to realize that we came to it with practically no analysis at all (unlike most things in my life). And it made me appreciate how well we work together and complement each other. I’m sure as life gets more complex there will be tasks will have to talk about. But for now, we’re both spoiled by how well we take care of each other, in our individual ways, and I’m okay with that.

How do you and your housemate(s) split up the chores? Do you like having a system in place, or do you play it by ear?

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman