Overcoming the Fighting: Chores and Bills

By August 24, 2016February 23rd, 2018Communication, Conflict

You and your spouse have sunken into the grind of everyday life, and now you’re up to your eyeballs in chores and bills. On top of all that, you’re fighting over who should handle what! Maybe your spouse has skipped out on housework, leaving you in the lurch.

You feel like everything is on your plate–but literally every plate in your house is filthy! What do you do?

Today, we’re sharing suggestions for how to break a stalemate when it comes to doing the chores and paying the bills. Who should do what, anyway? And how do you figure it out together when you’re already at odds?

Divide & Conquer

Have an honest conversation about all the things that need to get done around the house, and where you stand on each item. Each of you have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to taking care of business at home. Focus on your strengths, and where you may be able to compliment one another.

For example, maybe your wife hates washing the dishes, but you don’t mind. That’s great! You can step in and take over dishwashing duty, while she takes out the trash (something you’re not fond of doing).

Where will you be most effective? What about your spouse? Honing in on these attributes will simplify division of labor in your home.

Give a Little, Take a Little

You two are a team, right? Dividing chores between the two of you won’t necessarily be the most enjoyable task…mainly because you’ll each have to claim jobs that you really don’t want.

Remember to put your spouse first. Maybe neither of you want to scrub the toilets, and you’re locked in a stalemate. Don’t be afraid to step up and take that unpleasant job, without complaining or arguing with your spouse.

Being willing to compromise for one another means that your chances of getting into a fight over chores or bills will plummet. And once you step up and take on a task you don’t really want, your spouse will be more likely to do the same for you on the next round.

Don’t Make Demands

By the same token, if you refuse to take the high road by compromising first–and, even worse, make demands of your spouse–you could be sailing into very hot water.

It might be tempting to lay out your list of demands when you powwow with your spouse about who does the chores…but be prepared for them to dig their heels in. If you’re going to act stubborn, they’ll feel justified in doing the same.

Circle Back Later

Set a future date with your spouse to revisit the agreement you’ve made, and don’t be afraid to make any tweaks or adjustments necessary. Maybe you’re tired of the chore rotation you’re on, and would like a little variety. You and your spouse can switch some tasks to break the monotony.

With a little patience and cooperation, the two of you can establish a better system that will leave both of you feeling happier and much more peaceful!




  • Heather Moslander says:

    I like suprising my husband by taking out the garbage every once in a while (technically one of his chores). It’s a practical way that I can show my love for him.

  • Brian says:

    If both couples work, divide and conquer makes all the sense in the world. What would you advise for this challenge with a full time working spouse and a stay at home spouse?

    • Jessica says:

      Wouldn’t that be where the discussion is needed? I’m a stay-at-home mom who has a child who has woken up at least once or twice a night for 17 months and I get up with her (that’s not including sicknesses and my 3-year old wetting the bed last week).
      Then, the kids demand time, I have a garden I am trying to tend to but the weeds are out of control, I make all of the meals all of the time, and do the shopping etc.
      Then I also DO want to get the kids out to the park and doing FUN things but I don’t feel I have the time with all of the chores and nap times. And homeschooling starts in a couple weeks! Yikes…
      I also want to make some money for my family while I stay home.
      8-10 hours is not enough to do all of that. It is nice when the husband pitches in so that you feel like you don’t have to sacrifice clean clothes or a clean kitchen so the kids can go to the park once in a while or go to swim lessons.

      This is just something to keep in mind! Before I was a SAHM, I thought it should all be a piece of cake. After all, I am home all day with the kids and how long does it really take to do everything? Ha! Then I learned what it was like to do all of the chores but having to be interrupted multiple times to wipe somebody off, nurse a baby, pick up a spill, or stop a toddler from killing themselves by falling off of the table for the umpteenth time!

      With all of the comotion, it is soo incredibly easy to snap at the kids under the pressure and expectations.. But having a super supportive husband who says, “hey, I’ll take care of dishes and pjs tonight. How about you take a little walk and have some time to yourself?” Makes all of the difference in the world! When you know somebody has your back, the world is not so daunting! (You probably understand that. The office/work stress doesn’t seem so bad when you know you have a wife and kids home who love and support you no matter what!)

      Husbands and wives NEED each other to be there for each other!

      I hope that helps for the perspective! I’m sure Shaunti will have a much better response to your main question. I just hope this helps you see through your wife’s eyes a little to where you can better work together on dividing and conquoring chores. (That was a good article btw!)

    • Debra says:

      I see Jessica’s point, but my partner never offers to take up anything let alone pick up after himself. I’m a stay at home mom and geez it’s a tougher job than a mundane 9-5 job. Running here and there, making sure all the chores are done, making sure the bills are paid, first up and last to bed, manage other finances then to still hear “you’re lazy” after aaaall I’ve done all day…seriously? Asking him to put his dirty clothes in the dirty clothes basket, put the clean ones away, take out the trash, and maintain the yard is like pulling teeth from a hungry croc!!! Yet I’m lazy? Pretty sure the house gets dusted, swept, mopped, organized top to bottom, rearranged once in awhile, walls and baseboards wiped down, bathrooms scrubbed, everyone’s laundry that gets put in the dirty clothes basket, but because I don’t round up his clothes his solution is wanting to leave or call me lazy. I honestly don’t think I’m asking too much. Me not working isn’t a factor because it was the same no matter what shift I had. We’re even seeing a counselor over that crap because of his anger issues.

    • Deb says:

      Brian, A ‘stay at home spouse’ has a job that’s more than twice that of an only 40 hour a week worker. What can you do to be a bigger help around the house?

  • Katrina says:

    Frustrating and hard when you try to do this, but one spouse rarely follows through with anything consistently 🙁 Doesn’t matter how well they are “divided” if one person doesn’t do their part! This is where grace comes in, serving the other like Jesus loves us – it is unfair, sacrificial, hurts, and is exhausting – but it is what we are called to do. Sooo much easier to say this than do it – one of my biggest struggles right now, especially with toddler and baby… I have a long way to go in being good at sacrificial love/respect. “Do all things as unto the Lord, not man.”

  • J says:

    After being married for a decade and my spouse and I also having several different housemates within that time, we have learned a few truths in this area:
    1. No-one want to do chores consistently. Remember your sibling or college roommate that never did chores? It helps to keep in mind that your spouse is a human that would rather relax in his or her own home than do dirty work. I’m sure you’ve felt the same way.
    2. Everyone has a different version of “clean” that has to do with what kind of mess they can personally put up with. It may also have a little to do with how they were raised. (Your mother-in-law’s house may look spotless now that her kids have grown up, but it probably wasn’t always that way!) Decide together that your house won’t look like Martha Stewart’s, but your marriage will be better for it.
    3. Everyone has a preferred time of day when they are most productive. Are you offering your teammate the flexibility to get their job done on their own schedule and terms? If your spouse never seems productive, they may be battling depression (see #4)
    4. There will be times in every marriage when you need to “carry” your spouse though something tough. When their Grandfather passes away or there is extra stress at work, pick up the chores happily for them (or decide that paper plates are worth the time savings!) Pray that God will show you the best way to support your spouse and help you look past the things that aren’t getting done.
    5. Hire out the chore you both hate to do. Or swap with a friend or neighbor. I find it easier to do dishes in someone else’s house than my own sometimes. My friend once cleaned my bathroom while I helped her son catch up on math homework. We need more than just our spouse to complete us, and that is where good friends come in (and a dog that cleans food off the floor for you!)

    I hope this helps in addition to the article above (which was fantastic!)

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