Opinion about division of household labor

My husband is remodeling our house, which involves taking down the crappy paneling, reframing, putting in new outlet boxes, putting up sheet rock, and painting. The whole house except the kitchen and bathroom are going to be done. He does this project when he feels like it, usually not on weekdays (our living room is bare studs right now, except the ceiling,and has been for about a month) and completely on his own timetable, with no input or pressure from me. He is doing a great job so far, and it’s going to look nice when it’s done… someday.

He believes that, while he’s doing this, he should be exempt from household chores. ALL of them, though he cleans up after the construction stuff as it happens. Except for laundry, which he promised he would do if I did all the dishes. However, he does only about 70% of the washing/drying, doesn’t do the towels or sheets (I do them), and does not feel that he has to put any of my clothes away, just stack them up in the bedroom when he gets around to folding the massive bag of clean laundry (maybe once every two weeks).

I do all the grocery shopping, dishes, mopping, cleaning the bathroom, cooking all my own meals and the vast majority of his, including packing his lunch daily, scooping litter boxes, taking out the daily garbage and recycling (he brings them to the curb but won’t deal with it otherwise). I hate housework and I’m bad at it, I would add. Also, as a teacher, about once a month I have 80 papers to grade in about a week, which takes about 10-15 hours above my regular work schedule to do, on my own time. In fact, I’m procrastinating on grading some as we speak.

My question is, do you think this is a fair division of labor? About 90% of all housework vs. sheet rocking the whole house? Thanks for weighing in. If the preponderance of Dopers think it’s fair, I will seriously shut up about it and let it go. It doesn’t feel fair, but it’s hard to have perspective on these things when you’re in them. I’m also interested in how you divide up household chores, and what you do when you and your SO disagree about who should do what and how often.

I’d say that if he were working on the remodeling on a daily basis, then he would get out of chores. He’s not. So, the days he chooses not to work on remodeling, he should help out with the other stuff.

Gee, that doesn’t sound fair to me.

Maybe you can pay attention for a couple of weeks and jot down notes concerning his work hours, plus the hours he spends on the re-modeling. Also, at the same time, make note of your work hours, plus the hours you spend on household chores, plus the hours you spend grading papers. After you have sufficient data, see if it’s really as unbalanced as it sounds. If it is, sit down and talk to him.

If you don’t get this ironed out, you may end up with a very nice house, but a crappy relationship because of the stress of resentment.

As for us, the labor is divided very much along traditional gender lines. He earns a nice living; I take care of the kids, plus probably 90% of the household chores, plus managing our rental properties. It works out for us.

Of course, when I’m sick (which happens a lot; I have chronic kidney issues), he and the kids take up a lot of the slack.

Just curious - is there a reason you don’t help with the remodeling? We’ve spent the last 3 years (on and off) redoing most of our house, and we’re about to start the last bathroom. We work together, although he tends to do the more physical aspects while I do a lot of helping/holding/fetching, although I do all the painting. Caveat - I like doing this sort of thing, so it’s not a big deal for me. But that doesn’t answer your question…

I don’t think doing the construction on his timetable exempts him from giving a hand on a daily basis. Now, if he spends all day putting up drywall or mudding and sanding, they he deserves a pass. But occasional hard work doesn’t buy him idleness at will.

I’m so glad I don’t have these power issues with my sweetie.

I don’t know how to do anything. I physically can’t lift drywall, either, or hold it up (he has a machine to help him). When it comes to the painting, I’m sure I’ll help, though that’s not happening anytime soon. I help/hold/fetch when he asks me to. I’d never refuse to help if he requested my assistance. However, weekends when I have grading to do, and grocery shopping, I’m not also going to do construction projects.

I’m envious that your husband not only knows how to do the remodeling but that he’s doing it!

Would he finish faster if you took over more of his chores? Seems like the quicker you get back to a normal routine, the better for both of you.

At our place, my husband sometimes does his own laundry, but I try to stop him because he doesn’t sort and he overloads the machine. He cooks in warm weather, when we eat from the grill. He does all the yard work and gardening, and takes the garbage out. Sometimes he’ll vacuum. He does the recycling. He takes care of the cars and in the winter, that includes putting gas in mine. He also does all the grocery shopping in the winter, when there’s ice/snow on the ground – no way he wants to nurse me through another broken hip. :slight_smile:

I do the dishes, kitchen cleanup, bathroom cleaning, and the litter boxes. Occasional window washing, dusting, and I keep the place picked up. I think I’ve got the better part of the deal.

See, this is why everyone should live alone. Then there wouldn’t be these kinds of conflicts. :slight_smile:

Is this remodeling project “fun” for him, or does he see it as a necessary evil? Is he doing it b/c he wants to, or because you don’t want to pay/can’t afford a professional?

If he’s treating it like a pastime, or this is his hobby, I think that would change things in my eyes.

It doesn’t sound fair to me. I think he should get out of chores on days he does remodeling. It sounds like you both work full-time, so you need to share the chores equally, right? The remodeling, done when he wants to work on it, does not get him out of all daily chores IMO. I think logging hours is a good idea; do that for a few weeks and then you can look at it and see who’s working for how many hours per week.

I’m a SAHM and my husband is starting up his own company right now, so I do the bulk of the housework while he works a lot (he is at work right now, in fact). He does some laundry and dishes, most of the trash/recycling, more of the yardwork, and when I collapse every evening he puts the kids to bed. He also feeds them in the morning and takes care of his own lunch, though he only cooks for the family on Saturday mornings–he’s the waffle man.

Generally our issues are whether or not he’s doing enough around the house (and the fact that I’m at best a mediocre housekeeper!). Now that he’s in the middle of a start-up, he’s mostly off the hook so that we can continue to eat for the foreseeable future. In the past, when I’ve felt that things aren’t fair, I’ve asked him to do more. When we were first married that was more difficult than it is now; his mom never made him do any housework (she had 5 boys and did it all, I don’t recommend it) and he’s sort of clueless. He’s much better now. I would still be happier if he did more, but let’s face it, I’ve got it pretty good and he’s improving.

Everything after this is redundant.

When I brought this up, he said, “Then I’ll work on it every day.” :rolleyes: I also asked if he thought I should be helping him, and he said no. He doesn’t even want me to help paint. It’s “his project” and he want it done by him, his way.

Does he enjoy doing this project? I think he does. I’m positive he’d rather do it than household chores. It’s more concrete-- when you’re done, you’re done, unlike with dishes and laundry, which you’re just going to have to do again in a couple of days.

Well, OK. But no nailing one nail and calling it done. A good chunk of work would have to get done, I’m thinking a couple of hours’ worth.

If he does that, he’ll be done a lot quicker than it sounds like he’s going now. And soon he’ll be back to doing his own laundry, and you’ll have a lovely new room. :smiley:

Are the division of chores normally an issue for you?

We got married in August and we didn’t live together before that. He worked on landscaping the outside of the house during the summer, which was his excuse then for not doing any chores. To be fair, the lawn was really screwed up and needed a lot of work, but again, he did it mostly on the weekends. When it got cold, he started on the interior. So, we are still sorting out who does what in terms of chores, and there seems to always be a reason why he shouldn’t have to do any. I don’t want to set a precedent here where I do everything, because once people get used to things being a certain way, it’s very hard to change it. But I want to be fair, too.

ETA: I think it’s about who cares about what. He cares about how things look, like the lawn and the drywall. I care about things like the house being clean and having fresh groceries. He never cared about that stuff, and it wouldn’t bother him if he bathroom was gross and we never had clean sheets; OTOH, I don’t care if my lawn is 5’ tall or if I have ugly paneling in the living room.

Oh, I didn’t realize you were newlyweds! I sympathize with your point about setting precedents! I’ll think about this one.

Have you considered hiring someone to do some housecleaning while he is in the midst of this project? You have a full-time job plus health problems. That plus cleaning for two is a lot of work. If this is going to last for 3 months, $300 in housecleaning is a better investment than $300 in marriage counseling, IMHO.

We’d have to have someone in twice a week to keep up with things, plus I have no idea how much it would cost to have all that laundry done by someone else. We had the house cleaned professionally before our wedding and I have to say, I wasn’t all that impressed by the results considering what it cost. We’re not exactly rolling in dough either-- Home Depot is going to own this house by the end of this project, seriously.

One of my childhood ambitions was not to have to do household chores.

So I employ a cleaner, who also does my laundry.
I make use of a dishwasher and a microwave, so that’s covered too.

I hope this isn’t going to cause a rift in your marriage - I suggest you see what cleaners cost in your area, plus whether there’s a laundry that does self-service (the one in my town will also collect and deliver back).

We don’t have a dishwasher, and since we are remodeling the kitchen in the foreseeable future, we don’t want to get one now. I mean, I want one in the worst way, and maybe I should push for that regardless. I also cook real meals about 4 times a week, which dirties a lot of dishes. I have no idea why the laundry is so out of control.

The cleaners who did it before the wedding cost $80, and they hardly did anything-- floors, counters, bathroom. That’s it. For dishes and laundry, I can’t imagine what it would cost.

I think that whatever solution you come up with will have to strongly take this fact into account. While both partners should of course contribute equally to the household workload, you should try to set it up so as to minimize the time each of you spend doing tasks you find personally unrewarding. Doing chores you wouldn’t do if you lived alone is a necessary evil when you live with someone, but the more you can minimize that, the better.

What we did was sit down and agree on what chores were necessary (not an easy task on its own) and then assign all the chores a value, sort of a combination between time and difficulty/unpleasantness. (Scooping the cat box may take the same amount of time as emptying the dishwasher, but gets a higher value for the ick factor.) Then we negotiated – some chores were easy to assign, as one person hated them and the other didn’t mind, others had to be done jointly. Some were compromises in exchange for getting out of something worse. At the end, we found that there were just a couple of things that each of us really hated doing and that by trading off on those we were both a lot happier.

In the specific situation in the OP, I think it’s clear that you feel you are doing more than your share, so you should definitely ask your husband to do more of the regular housework. If it slows down his remodeling job, so be it.