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Caring for our Couple Relationship: Working as a Team


By Carl and Nancy Terry

When it comes to household tasks and family responsibilities, we are a team.  Who does what in your household or family?  How do you decide?  Does it change?

Early on in our marriage when Carl and I were both working, we divided our household tasks. Initially, I thought my tasks were more than Carl’s, but then in a Marriage Enrichment Group that we were part of at the time, we had an exercise that enable me to see that we were really equally divided.  I had only considered the household tasks like cooking and cleaning that I was doing but there were things that Carl did like taking care of the car, mowing the grass, paying the bills, or reconciling the check book, etc.  that I had not considered.

As we went through stages of marriage, parenting, job changes, retirement, those tasks changed.  Also, one of you may be better at a specific task.  Carl and I at one point alternated paying the bills.  Then we realized that Carl was really the more detailed and numbers person and that task was better suited to him.  That did not mean that we did not share and make financial decisions together.

The important things to remember about these household tasks is that they can be changed.  Even though cooking may be your responsibility, you may at some point want your partner to take it over either once or more ongoing.  Speak up, ask for help.  It is not good to brood about it or get irritated.  Renegotiate and discuss the task.

Also, if you ask for help, you do not have to tell them how to do the task.  For example, the dishwasher can be loaded many different ways.  If it is something they do not usually do, your partner may ask for instructions or you may give suggestions.

During this time of COVID -19 the household tasks and family responsibilities may have changed due to work or parent commitments or “staying in place” together.  Remember that you are a team.  You can do things together, like doing the dishes, grocery shopping, putting together a new exercise recumbent bike, or putting the children to bed.  Working together gives you a sense of the strong team that you are.  Or you may decide to switch responsibilities or do separately, that is okay as well.  Just remember that you are a team.

We encourage you have a conversation about your household tasks and responsibilities.  Are there any changes you want to make for this time that we are in? Remember to use the communication skills that we have blogged about earlier such as active listening and using I messages. If there is a disagreement, go back to the blog on conflict resolution.   Do speak up if you want a change to be discussed. You are a TEAM and you will get through this time together.

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