My husband and I have been married for 5 years and have two young children together. We both have full-time careers and neither of us are interested in cutting back on work. The household chores have begun to bring stress to our lives as our children engage in extracurricular activities that keep us away from home on the weekends. I want to hire a weekly cleaning service to tackle the larger chores that take up a substantial amount of my time. My husband says this is a waste of money and we can work out a schedule in order to split the load more evenly. He also thinks items like mopping the floors once a week is ridiculous and can be done less often. Now you understand why I said the chores take up more of MY time. If my husband thinks a chore is silly he simply skips it, regardless of my pleas for help. I want to hire someone for a month trial and see how it works out. How can I go about convincing my husband to support this idea?
Consumed By Chores
Dear Consumed By Chores,
I cannot tell you the number of readers who have written in to me with similar solutions to their cleaning dilemmas and faced pushback from their spouse. It seems that those who do not shoulder half of the housework are quite quick to decry the need for a cleaning service. I thought I would mention this so that you know that you are not alone and your household is quite ordinary in this disagreement. While my soothing statement may not solve your initial problem, it serves a far more valuable purpose – which is to allow you a moment to take a deep breath because I am positive you are feeling a bit of rage right now.
I wouldn’t want you to end up the subject of a podcast discussing murderous spouses.
Let’s get back to the problem at hand. It seems your spouse is unable to grasp the concept that cleaning is quite similar to setting up a house of cards. Each step is vital and removing even one card will send the whole thing tumbling down. While skipping the mopping may not seem like a terrible thing, sticky floors have never actually killed anyone as far as I am aware, it does lead to a rather unfortunate chain of events.
It starts with a layer of grime on your socks.
Shorts and shirts follow suit seeing as how Miniature Humans tend to roll around with complete abandon, uncaring of what syrupy mess they may be sopping up in the process. This leads to your washing machine slowly building up an impenetrable layer of goo inside. This results in your washer rendering clothes that are far more disgusting after a cleaning cycle than before they went in. Eventually the machine will give up entirely and stop spinning the load.
An army of ants will begin marching across your floors.
Happy to have found the one home on the block that’s given up on routine cleaning, every ant will be alerted to the palatial paradise that your home offers. Entire colonies will unite in breaching the teeny cracks at your windows and doors and make themselves at home. They will remain scarce for a few weeks, leading you to believe there is no real harm in skipping the mopping for a third week in a row. Then one day you’ll arrive home from work to find all of your clothing has been thrown onto the front lawn. The ants are evicting you after a majority vote ruled in their favor. They’re ants, reproducing by the thousands always give them the upper hand in these democratic situations.
You end up moving in with family who come to realize they’ve invited pigs to stay.
Obviously I’m exaggerating for comedic effect. However, I do think your spouse is being unreasonable. He has declared you will not hiring a cleaning service. He generously offers to split the household chores evenly. Then he qualifies that offer to explain that he will only split the chores he deems worthy of his time and effort. I imagine he’ll quickly find many of the chores silly and make excuses on why they need to be done less often. Imagine the insanity of cleaning the dinner dishes every single day!
Didn’t you realize you only need to wash when you have run out of plates in the cupboard?!
Make a list of every single chore you do around the house in a week. Once you’ve supplied your spouse with a document the length of a Harry Potter novel, I am sure he will be more open to the idea of hiring a service. If not, simply split the list in half making sure each person is given an equal workload. An equal workload. I am stressing this because you should not take on all of the tasks your spouse deems silly, instead splitting them by difficulty and time needed to complete.
Any tasks skipped are a breach of the agreement and result in instant beheading.
Wait, I’m being told by my typist that beheading is no longer a suitable punishment. I bet Henry VIII never had to put up with a messy bedroom…
At the end of a month, evaluate if this new routine is sustainable for the long-term. Maybe some chores are being done more often than they need. Be open to hearing feedback after the trial has ended and your husband has gotten a complete view of the methods behind your madness. Have a discussion about which chores can be swapped for familial happiness. Some people love folding laundry, others would rather set it on fire and buy new outfits each week. As long as each spouse feels the other is doing an equal amount of work, the problem shouldn’t resurface. However, if the month ends with even one spouse feeling that the workload is still too burdensome, it’s time to hire the cleaning service for a one month trial.
I can already hear the ants preparing their letter of complaint to me.
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