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Division of labour

(65 Posts)
CauliflowerBalti Tue 02-Feb-16 16:09:01

How does it work in your house?

We both work full time - but I run my own small (very busy) business and work from home. This creates a huge imbalance. Because I am here, I seem to naturally do more. Much much more. This is my working environment. I find it hard to focus when balls of dog hair are drifting about, or I can't get to the kitchen tap to fill the kettle because of all the dishes. I could leave some of the chores. I don't.


My partner says he does as much as he can but he's Out Of The House All Day. He doesn't do as much as he can though, because he values his relaxation time and personal space. He will do anything I ask, but if I don't ask, he won't do it. He will come home and relax.

So as it stands, he cooks an evening meal 2 nights a week and clears up after dinner most evenings.

I do the rest of the cooking, all washing/drying/ironing/putting away, hoovering, mopping, empty the dishwasher in the morning, take stuff out to recycling, put the bins out, feeding, cleaning and exercising the (many) animals, sort out the online food shop and put it away, pick up the bits we need in the week from the shop, tidy, change the beds, change the towels, do homework, put boy to bed, get him up and out ready for school, take him to school and collect him, deal with all the school admin/fucking dress up days etc... Basically, everything else. All the doing takes ages - but it's not that. I feel solely responsible for the house. I can ask him, and he will do, but then I have to think to ask, and there's just so much to think about on top of running a Limited Company.

This is about the only thing we argue about. We are due to try and have a sensible discussion about it. We've only recently moved in together. Previously he lived alone - as he has for most of his adult life - and cooked/cleaned/washed etc. I know he can do it. My son isn't his, so some of the parenting-type chores will naturally migrate. But I think we need some clarity around Roles and Responsibilities (ha!). I am not a house elf and I don't want to be responsible for everything. It was OK when I was on my own. There was no-one else to do it. Doing it now while a grown adult watches. No.

So how does it all work in your relationship?

CauliflowerBalti Tue 02-Feb-16 16:10:19

Oh yeah. I make sure all the bills get paid. Deal with all the insurances and mortgages. All of those things too.

Hillfarmer Tue 02-Feb-16 16:18:47

There are soooo many threads on here about unequal division of labour. I don't mean you are boring, just that you will find a mine of information and cautionary tales on this very subject. Just because your partner has managed to live successfully on his own, doesn't mean that he will pull his weight when he lives with you, unfortunately.

Good thing is you have only recently started living together and you can get this sorted. There are any number of threads from women who are many years down the line, working hard and with kids who are tearing their hair out because their partners refuse to do their fair share of the work. Or if they do anything at all, they think they are 'helping' their wife, as if it is all naturally hers to do. They are the ones who put a dirty mug on top rather than in the dishwasher, or throw their socks next to the linen basket. Don't let it go this way. And don't have children with this man if he continues like this.

It smacks of an inbuilt lack of respect, and you have to make it clear to him that you should both do 50 per cent of the chores, not just the ones he picks. And you should have equal amounts of leisure time.

Check out some of the other threads by searching with your exact thread title.

holdontoyourbutts Tue 02-Feb-16 16:19:43

Did you have a discussion over chores/running the house before he moved in?

If not you need to sit down and discuss your feelings with him, from what you've said the balance of labour is not fair. If he likes being to what to do rather than just doing it (which I've known some men to do) the can come you up with a weekly rota of his jobs?

OnePingOnly Tue 02-Feb-16 16:21:54

Buy a copy of Wifework by Susan Maushart and save yourself from future heartache.

stumblymonkey Tue 02-Feb-16 16:22:53


- I work 9am-5pm, 3 days a week at home and 2 days a week in the office (37hrs) for £97k
- DP runs his own gym but it's not yet breaking even so he works 5.5 days a week, various shift patterns between 7am-9pm. Does around 47 hours but only pays himself £600 a month so £7.2k
- We're TTC DC1 so just us and two cats

So this is how it works out:

- I pay for everything (rent, bills, holidays, food, leisure activities) other than DP's car and petrol, his credit card, his clothes and gifts for his family. This pretty much uses up his £600

- I prefer my cooking so I cook dinner every night

- We do about half the dishes each, I probably do slightly more dishes than him

- DP tends to do most of the laundry, I do a bit

- We change the bed together and do grocery shopping together

- On Sunday's we blitz the house...I dust/clean surfaces/clean bathroom. He sweeps/mops/hoovers

- DP deals with bins

- I deal with (my) cats

- I tend to do the little things like wipe down surfaces and the front of cupboards, wash cushion covers, etc as DP would just never think of it.

stumblymonkey Tue 02-Feb-16 16:29:17

I've found its worked best since we split out 'jobs' so he knows everything to do with floors and bins are his jobs. Surfaces of all kinds are my jobs. Bed/groceries we do together.

I've taken control of cooking (sometimes I wish I hadn't but all in all my own choice and prefer it that way....if I have a day where I'm knackered and ask him to get himself a snack he doesn't moan).

It's the things like laundry and dishes that aren't split that cause the most annoyance but luckily I get more annoyed by dishes so do more of those whereas he needs laundry more than me as I've got so many clothes I could live for about two months with no washing so he does most of that.

We don't iron at is too short for ironing.

millarmer Tue 02-Feb-16 16:38:04

I do most of the cooking, DH washes up (but just the things that don't go in the dishwasher). I tend to do more laundry as I'm at home more. I do most of the food shopping in person as it fits into my routine better.

DH does more tidying up than me, he empties the dishwasher and does the hoovering and all bin/recycling stuff. He deals with all the bills.

We each have a bathroom so we clean our own and sort out our own towels.

We don't have any pets, it would just create more work for us both.

DS is my son but not DH's so I deal with his packed lunch, school/medical appointments etc. I think that's fair enough, I wouldn't expect DH to deal with any of that but he'll help with more fun things like days out.

In all, I think it's fairly equal considering DH works f/t and I'm a p/t student.

CauliflowerBalti Tue 02-Feb-16 16:40:55

It is difficult for him as he moved into my home/space, with all the routines already established. I know that for a while he felt a bit like a guest, but I think (hope) that's wearing off a little now.

Yes, we spoke before we moved in together. He painted the picture of a very feminist, wonderful man. And he IS a wonderful man. Like I say, I only have to ask... But I do that very female thing of, but you can SEE. You can see the floor is filthy. You can see the wash basket is full. You see these things, and you walk past them, and that is like saying 'Fuck you Cauli, you do it, I can't be arsed'. And I know he sees because he is a very tidy, very clean and orderly man. His study space here is immaculate. He writes lists and sets reminders and is way more organised than I am. So I know that it isn't genuine blindness. And that does make me feel taken advantage of.

He really wants children and I never saw myself having just one, and he's the only man since my husband I've ever thought, yes, you'd be a great father to my children. But this does put me off. I don't have time to take responsibility for another thing, let alone a thing as all-consuming as a tiny baby. I know that it would be me doing all the wake ups in the night, me doing all the early mornings. And it would kill me. I'm already dead on my feet half the time as it is. It makes me feel very, very unbroody.

Hillfarmer Tue 02-Feb-16 16:54:12

I know that it would be me doing all the wake ups in the night, me doing all the early mornings.

If you know this now, then I do not think he is co-parent material. It does beg the question of how do you know this would be true? Has he said as much, have you discussed dcs?

And yes, I can see how it would make you seriously unbroody.

stumblymonkey Tue 02-Feb-16 16:55:06

I would definitely try assigning specific jobs....I just think men generalising massively work better when they understand their exact area of responsibility.

ProfGrammaticus Tue 02-Feb-16 16:57:37

He has a study. Do you have one? I assume so. You probably need to stay in there and just refuse to do house stuff during your working day. That and draw up a list of chores. If it isn't yours, don't do it. Start now, it will be much much worse if you have kids.

HandyWoman Tue 02-Feb-16 17:29:08

OP have a look at the 'Incompetent Husbands' thread. It's running just shy of 500 posts. Read Wifework (or get him to read it) also Google: The Politics of Housework.

Til you get this sorted do not breed with him.

'Just because he has managed to live successfully on his own, doesn't mean he'll pull his weight when he lives with you'

So true. And such a bolloxing stark depiction of how society works.

It's bloody bollox. It really is.


Aspergallus Tue 02-Feb-16 17:35:35

Yep, read Wifework and make him read it too.

Also this whole blog, not just the post I'm linking:

...get him to read it. It's from a male perspective on this stuff.

Me and DH have full time jobs and 2 DC. Bit by bit I was becoming the family PA, also a FT job. After a series of heated discussions and some realisation on his part there has been a bit of a shift. Weekly family meetings over Sunday dinner to divvy up jobs, gift buying etc are the plan.

fay144 Tue 02-Feb-16 20:00:20

I have to admit, in my house, the person who works from home on a given day does the chores.

We have a short list of daily tick-over type tasks - stick a load of washing on, prep dinner, cats trays, empty dishwasher, quick hoover and sweep - that take about 30 min at lunchtime. Then if we get any extra time before nursery pickup we do something extra like a bathroom.

To me, it makes sense for the person who doesn't have the commute to do that stuff so evenings are free.

It maybe just feels fair though, as we both wfh on different days, so it does all balance out.

HarmlessChap Wed 03-Feb-16 13:37:20

I think we have a pretty good balance, 2 adults (both working full time) and 2 teenagers, and this is how we do it.

Shopping: Family conference to do a meal plan and create a list,then I do the weekly grocery shop(s) and put it away. She does her and the kids clothes shop, I do my own.

Meals: I do the main meal at least 2 nights, 2 nights a week are fend for yourself from the freezer, DW does main meal 1/2 night, DD sometimes does one. Sunday roast, I do the meat, pots, gravy & carve DW preps the veg. I'm the better more confident cook (taught by my mother) so any real cooking involving making sauces, seasoning, balancing flavours and so on is down to me. I want it done right a certain way, so we play to our strengths; DW makes lovely cakes. Packed lunches we all make our own, same for breakfast.

Dishwasher: Who ever didn't cook loads, or if we fended for ourselves then we are supposed to load ourselves but that doesn't always happen. The kids are supposed to empty it after school and put away, which they are reasonably good at remembering to do.

Cleaning: DW does the majority, but will delegate some. Neither of us are too house proud though, floor gets mopped once a week downstairs, quick weekly clean of the bathroom mostly her but sometimes me, and upstairs hovered infrequently. Kitchen cleaned after use by whoever cooked and deep cleaned a couple of times a year when DW is in a bad mood (probably PMT but don't dare ask). She attacks it like she is possessed and everyone stays out of her way, apparently she finds it cathartic.

When DW has been tired or stressed I've tried to take on more of the washing and ironing but she doesn't really like me to.

Washing/Drying: DW's domain, she is quite protective of the washing machine. I do my own sports kit (immediately after getting in) but she takes over if I try to do a family load when she's home.

Ironing: Mostly DW, A lot depends on who picks up the Iron 1st, if she does then she'll do hers, the kids and maybe mine. If I pick up the iron do I'll do mine and the kids but won't touch hers. I have tried in the past and when she finds out she scowls, investigates it closely and questions whether I turned this or that garment inside out to iron it.

Putting away clothes: 4 piles each to be put away by the owner.

Bins: Whoever can't fit any more into the bin must change the liner, its a bit like Jenga! DS puts out the bags and recycling for collection then bring in the empties after.

Clearing up after yourself: The answer is in the title often requires summoning of DC responsible.

Dog walking: 95% me.

School run: Me, well mornings only as they walk home.

DespicableBee Wed 03-Feb-16 15:21:54

As he lived alone previously and was capable of doing all the household taksks without another adult teling him what to do, he is basically choosing to not help you, its a lack of respect
He chooses not to do his fair share of tasks because he doesnt want to, and if he doesnt there are no consequences bevause you pick up the slack
You could write a list of all the tasks divide them up etc, but my desk ng is that even this you woukd be policing it
My dh puts washing on, hangs it up, cookes, washes up, loads dishwasher, puts dc to bed, hoovers, cleans etc etc we both do, we are both adults who both know what tasks require doing around the house, we dont have to remind each other, we just get on with it, because we respect each other

DespicableBee Wed 03-Feb-16 15:24:21

Also my dh does all the shopping, puts it away, most of the gardening, did night feeds with dc, changed nappies, makes packed lunches,
Why woukd anyone want to live with another adult who didnt contribute to the house, you woukdne better off on your own

DespicableBee Wed 03-Feb-16 15:25:50

Oh yeah he changes beds when they need changing,

DespicableBee Wed 03-Feb-16 15:29:03

He also buys all his side of family xmas, birthday presents, writes cards etc
Irons own shirts
Takes rubbish to tip
Puts out bins
Sorts out insurance for house, car ec, sorts phone contracts
Takes car for mot, repairs etc

CauliflowerBalti Wed 03-Feb-16 15:32:31

DespicableBee, please can I borrow your husband for a month, just until I'm on top of things?

I don't really want to turn this into a partner-bashing thread, because my man is a good man. He has his faults - he isn't a perfect man - but he is a good man. He has gone from living a quiet, OCD existence on his own in a flat to living in a house with dogs, cats, small animals and a small boy. I don't think he truly understands that the floors are only semi-sanitary because some fucker hoovers and mops the bastard things every day. Maybe I should go on strike, and then he'll see how much needs doing?

We've spoken about this in the past, usually when I get to breaking point and freak out at him. He says I just need to tell him what to do. But I really don't want to have to tell him. He isn't my subordinate. We are partners. So I posted to see how other people divide the shit. I liked whoever it was that has a floor/surfaces category.

I think he would fully endorse the view of the poster who says that, because she doesn't have a commute, she feels she should do more of the work. To that, I would reply that I will go and work from my business's office every day then. I would rather have a nice commute during which to sit and listen to Radio 4 and decompress/unwind from the day, than running round like a headless chicken doing everything, going from working to mumming to cooking to cleaning without a pause. I would gladly do that.

DespicableBee Wed 03-Feb-16 15:33:56

Cleans kitchen floor, bathroom, wipes down all kitchen sides every evening
Attends parents evenings
Sorts pe kit, homework etc, makes sure bags packed for school
Has taken dc to doctor, dentist

DespicableBee Wed 03-Feb-16 15:36:48

Im not saying he does all those things and i do nothing,but im just giving you an idea of the typical things hedoes in a week without me asking, we share many of the tasks, just do stuff when it needs doing
Apart from things to do with his family i dont really get involved unles he wanted adviceon a particular present for his sis

DespicableBee Wed 03-Feb-16 15:37:47

Oh btw my dh works full time

DespicableBee Wed 03-Feb-16 15:38:59

I previously lived with ex who hardly did anything, i once asked him to clean the bathroom, after a year of living together and he refused 😕

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