Time and time again, couples are faced with the struggle of defining their roles in their relationships. Who will clean the bathroom this weekend? Who is going to make dinner tomorrow? Who will wash the dishes tonight? What may start out as a simple chore can catapult into a battle for acknowledgement, assurance, or even power.
How often are you faced with the struggle of doing the laundry for the third time this month because your partner doesn’t seem to be bothered when the laundry basket begins to topple over with dirty clothes? You know it is their turn to do it, but you wish they would do it without you having to ask them.
Conflict surrounding relationship roles are best handled when couples agree on a plan for the roles each will take on within the relationship beforehand. Whether the relationship is more traditional or you both side on an egalitarian relationship, it is important to have ever-evolving, open communication surrounding the roles within your relationship. When expectations are not discussed, it is easy to make assumptions. In the laundry example from above, you may be frustrated from the fact that you are doing laundry for the third time this month. On the other hand, your partner may believe that you are better at doing the laundry, so they take out the trash without communicating their reasoning for not doing the laundry.
Sometimes we aren’t proactive in our relationships, but don’t worry, it’s never too late to start a trend for healthy communication surrounding your relationship roles. Here’s how to take action: sit down with your partner and individually write down the current chores you normally complete each week and the chores your partner does. Once you have completed your list, share with one another. Talk about the differences between your lists. Anything surprise the two of you? Are you both fully aware of what each other does for your household?
Create a safe space for one another to talk about the roles that you each desire to have. Are your roles based on interest or skill? Keep in mind it doesn’t have to be the same tasks each week. Try a rotating schedule if there is a task you both do not wish to tackle, or make a day of it and tackle it together. After all, those bed sheets aren’t going to fold themselves!