Home » World News » My husband and I stopped dividing chores into 'his' and 'her' jobs, and now things are actually getting done
My husband and I stopped dividing chores into 'his' and 'her' jobs, and now things are actually getting done
Melissa Petro is a freelance writer based in New York where she lives with her husband and two small children.
In their marriage, Petro says she and her husband found themselves dividing household chores into stereotypically male and female responsibilities — and then struggled with what felt like unequal workloads.
Petro says her chores of cooking and cleaning felt like more because they're done on a regular basis, while her husband's responsibilities of mowing the lawn and taking out the trash were more infrequent.
During the pandemic, the couple has made an effort to divide chores more evenly using a family to-do list, which has made running their home more of a team effort.
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It's hard to break a habit. Take feeding my family, for instance: Of all the drudgery I get saddled with, I actually enjoy making dinner — and I'm good at it. Whereas my husband? Not so much, and so night after night, I'd become the one that cooks.
My husband, on the other hand, loves any excuse to throw on a pair of headphones and drink beer in the middle of the afternoon, and so mowing the lawn landed on his list.
In the four years we'd been together, Arran and I had unconsciously divided everything into his and her to do lists.
For the most part this arrangement worked for us — except on Friday nights, when I'd come late from work, ravenous, to a husband plaintively asking "What's for dinner?" Then there was the time Arran went out of town: The recycling didn't go out, the dog didn't get her medicine, and when it snowed, the kids and I were shut in.
And then there were those jobs on neither of our lists: fixing the dishwasher, cleaning the basement, calling the bank about a lost check. Arran naturally assumed this stuff was my responsibility whereas I thought it was his, and so the tasks went uncompleted.
But since March, my husband has been working from home and my family has been functioning better than ever. Part of the reason: we've taken experts' advice and made a concerted effort to do away with our "his" and "her" to do lists. The effect has been profound: My husband and I divide the labor more equally, we have more appreciation for one another's contributions, and those big projects that used to fall through the cracks? They're actually getting done.
Gender division of labor happens in the home, just like the workplace.