Split of responsibilities with your partner

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Anon1234
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Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby Anon1234 » Tue Oct 11, 2022 12:12 pm

I’m curious as to how many couples have what they would consider a fair split of responsibilities when it comes to housework/admin and children? Despite earning my own money and working often full time hours (I’m self employed), my partner still seems to think that anything related to the home and children is ultimately my responsibility. Admittedly they are not his biological children but I still feel a stepfather should have some responsibility. Curious about what others’ experiences of this is?
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szerma
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby szerma » Tue Oct 11, 2022 3:02 pm

Hello Anon,
Now that's a minefield!

I think if you ask any mums, I am willing to bet that 99% of us would feel this way - that we do more than our partners. In fact, lots of research has been done on this topic - I invite you to google it - and it says that even when men share allegedly evenly, women still carry a higher "mental load" which goes into organizing all the small daily tasks and ad-hoc things, anything from making sure the kids have the right kit for school, organizing their birthday parties, grocery shopping etc. Furthermore, men tend to pick up "big" and "one off" tasks (such as DIY, cutting the grass, sorting out the car MoT... ) which are more satisfying to complete than the drudgery of the million small things that women take care of daily. If I can speak from my own experience, I also find that my husband (and many men, it seems) are very good at completing one task at a time, but very poor at anticipating and thinking through the million small things that need to get done (or even noticing that they are getting done). 

I can imagine that in a situation when your partner is a step-father, this is an even bigger issue, because he probably feels (consciously or sub-consciously) that everything to do with (your) children is not his domain, and even if he wanted to help, he might not know how. 

If I can offer advice on what not to do (which is what I used to do and and has yielded zero effect!) is whining about how much more I am doing or tasking him with things that he will inadvertently not do to your satisfaction and therefore attract criticism (and therefore be unlikely he would want to do them again).

What works for me is tasking my husband with things he can do well to offload me, such as taking the kids for their Saturday activities, so I can get on with other things at that time; in the evenings he would bath the kids so I can tidy up / order groceries / organize things needed for the next day. It also helps to talk through tasks all the time. I also started using an app called "Merge" (I know others use different ones) so it's very clear what tasks have been assigned to whom, so I don't have the extra mental load of nagging and remembering. 

Whatever you manage to change - rest assured that most of us feel we do more than our hubbies! And yes, I have a full-time job too... 
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waltzer
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby waltzer » Tue Oct 11, 2022 3:54 pm

Agree with szerma wholeheartedly.

My other half tends to do financial and DIY big projects but then I am handed the logistical challenge of running them etc. because I can be here, and yet he too can be here?!
I tend to do kids, parents, occasions e.g. Christmas, birthdays etc. 

On paper I would say it looks quite evenly matched but I feel more vested on chores on a daily / weekly / monthly cycle for sure.

I might try your merge app as letting go is definitely something I don't do until I see it done so we are both often spending energy on the same thing yet I don't 'own' the task.

It's a tricky one. Keen to see what others have to say.
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JoY
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby JoY » Mon Oct 17, 2022 6:55 am

I would recommend Fair Play by Eve Rodsky.
This is quite a handy book to give ideas as to how to gain a better balance. Borne out of the same frustration you mention and draws on principles of mediation.

A few of my take homes from it:
-What is fair is not always equal, and what is equal is not always fair
-we all have different opinions/ thoughts/ expectations about what is essential/ good enough/ needed etc (for example differences in how tidy the house needs to be, how many kids parties you say yes to etc) and these influence behaviour
-when you divide the tasks, assign the whole task so you divide the mental load as well as the physics load eg if it’s buying birthday presents for parties then don’t specify what present/ where from, if it’s lifts don’t specify when to leave/ what kit needs to be taken etc

Def not got it perfect here but I found this practically and this helped to reframe some of the things I can’t change…

There are also a few interviews and a new Netflix doc on it (not seen these though)


https://www.waterstones.com/book/fair-p ... gIsWvD_BwE
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maze
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby maze » Mon Oct 17, 2022 7:11 am

sounds tough, maybe have a chat, work through each other's to-do lists, figure out what's fair and write down a plan
 
Last edited by maze on Mon Oct 17, 2022 7:58 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Larikerra
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby Larikerra » Mon Oct 17, 2022 9:21 am

Very sore topic for most. I only know one family who are happy about it and in that one the husband does the shopping, cooking, ironing, some of the childrens homework and is a full time working high earner.
He is involved in everything from choice of school to presents.
All the rest like me felt like they have the lionshare of tasks and responsibilities. In my case my ex husband who worked full time and was a high earner, just wanted to put his feet up all weekend, expecting me to take care of everything - house, 2 small children, whilst I also work full time in a high demanding job. I got tired of having to ask for help and constantly having to express
Gratitude for him doing anything. Needless to say that meant the end of the relationship and Im now much happier divorced.
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dhcwong
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby dhcwong » Mon Oct 17, 2022 10:07 am

In our family, working at home carries the same weight as working away from the home. From 7 -7pm my husband goes to the office and is the main breadwinner. He generally owns taxes, insurance, passport applications and holidays. I am working in the house and do everything else - chores, laundry, pets, school stuff (so much school stuff!!) and kids homework, and working on my side gigs (not high earning but highly fulfilling). We discuss big issues like schools. We run our house like a company and have yearly & decade budget forecasts (every household needs one).  I execute the plans and do monthly finances. We take care of our own family presents, relationships and commitments.   

After 7pm we spilt the chores as both of us as 'off the clock'. He puts the kids to bed every night, and does some homework on weekends if there is some leftover. Because piano is important to him he is more inclined to make them practise. I always manage to let it slip. Meanwhile, i am cooking and sorting out stuff after dinner. Hopefully by 8:30 everything is settled and we get time to relax together. If he goes out, i am on babysitting duty, and if he goes out, then he is on babysitting duty. 

On weekends we split the chores evenly, but if he feels like a big DIY job is due then i will take on the small things and give him space.

Because the kids are in school, if i am finished early i get some hobby/gym/brunch time, and when my husband is on work trips, he gets a lot of time off as well. He moans about working hard on work trips but i can see the things he watches on Netflix and he always seems to catch all the new films on the plane. ha ha. I think it's a great split. Our arrangement is very 'modern 1950s', but people forget that being an excellent homemaker is extremely valuable.

We discuss regularly if I should go back to work, and the reality is that if i do, there will be more money coming in but more administration and mental load from the army of carers and helpers that are required, and both of us will be doing chores late into the night after our full time jobs. The fear of my husband doing his own laundry after work is palable and each discussion ends with him telling me to please do what i want (which is to stay at home).

My kids are very happy with this arrangment. Whenever they ask for the newest tech gadget I tell them I can go back to work and buy it but never manage to attend any of their assemblies and they realise the value of time VS money. The peace from this current arrangement, we feel, is worth giving up a lavious lifestyle the we could have afforded if I had stayed in my previous professional role. My house is probably smaller than yours and we don't go abroad every half term. That said, we have decent savings from when I was working (because of our 10 year plan) so we can afford a middle class lifestyle. We don't fight about chores and the mental health enables both of us to excel at our jobs (paid or unpaid) and relationship. 

When the kids leave home I should probably scale up my side gigs and take something else on, but that is a new adventure and in this modern world, being 50+ is an exciting time for a woman to change direction!  
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TryingMyBest
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby TryingMyBest » Mon Oct 17, 2022 10:14 am

I always find these posts so interesting and incredibly sad and frustrating that it's 2022 and women are still having to negotiate a fair share of family and house duties with their male partner. It's worth noting, anecdotally of course, that my friends in same sex partnerships don't have this issue, even those with both men, it's an absolute GIVEN that things are shared. So I don't think this is a "lazy man" thing, I think this is the way society has always represented things. This heteronormative BS drives me INSANE!!!

My husband and I have been together 17 years. When we first moved in together I slipped easily in to the cooking, laundry (we had a cleaner) and for years it stayed that way. We both worked. It was a p*ss take tbh. Once we moved in to our house, we talked and things improved. Then we had kids and I absolutely REFUSED to do it all. I just stopped doing stuff. We rowed. Oh we rowed, but I was not having it. He "COULDN'T COOK" so I bought him cookery lessons. He now does 5 out of 7 days cooking. I stopped doing the laundry to the point where it pissed him off so much he started doing it and now he does it all, mostly.

As I got older and became more sure of myself and, yes probably our relationship, I just don't do the things I can't do, but I do absolutely everything I can do, and he knows this so there is no resentment. He also knows how easy he had it for all those years!

Many of the women who do everything also have control issues. And have such high standards they literally can't let their husbands help so the other halves give up. If it gets done, any way possible, amazing, don't criticise.

Also the best argument is YOU LIVE HERE TOO!!!
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Jellie75
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby Jellie75 » Mon Oct 17, 2022 11:49 am

When I was married, my ex-husband left all domestic/admin/childcare duties to me despite me also having a full time job… his opinion was that he was the main bread winner so his time was more precious. Note here, he is now my EX-husband.

I’m now in a relationship with a man with children from a previous marriage also and we very much split everything equally, without ever having to actually discuss sharing responsibilities.

That said, we do largely take responsibility for our children, and there are Co-parents also involved but we are very mindful of each others child care responsibilities and work together around them…
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muddyboots
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby muddyboots » Mon Oct 17, 2022 4:53 pm

Sadly as long as the woman holds the mental “master list” thing will never be fair.

If you delegate, you are still ultimately responsible. It helps, but won’t stop the burden of the mental load.

I have no suggestion other than to leave the husband in sole charge of the household and kids and let things go wrong …?
Then maybe it will trigger something.
The issue is not many women are willing to let this happen. The control freak within will prompt him to not forget the water bottle and snack etc etc
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chorister
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby chorister » Mon Oct 17, 2022 6:18 pm

A husband here ... 

When we got married my best man provided some very important advice - that I should stick to the small decisions like preventing nuclear war, managing the world economy and so on, so that my wife could take responsibility for the big ones like what to have for dinner etc.  It's worked - so far - for nearly 50 years.  Probably helped however by the fact that I am (though I say it myself) a pretty good cook, and actually enjoy cooking.
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uptheoctave
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby uptheoctave » Mon Oct 17, 2022 7:54 pm

dhcwong - that sounds perfect! I'm incredibly envious of how organised you are. Would that my brain could only begin to think like yours... :)

Chorister - I always thought you were a woman! 

Anyway, nothing more helpful to add, sorry.
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chorister
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby chorister » Mon Oct 17, 2022 9:52 pm

@uptheoctave

Life can be so confusing .................... !
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Clarabarabow
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby Clarabarabow » Mon Oct 17, 2022 11:36 pm

Slight change of tack here...but i think it's worth expanding out to think about the role of housework in society. It's utterly vital. If none of the cooking, cleaning, nurturing or organising gets done then nobody actually gets to 'the office/school' in a fit state and GDP remains in the doldrums (although GDP is also a slightly problematic and old fashioned way of looking at global progress but it seems to be the only one people recognise).

Housework is the MOST important work on the planet. It literally holds society together. This year marks 50 years since the launch of the 'wages for housework' campaign. It's not as daft as it might immediately seem. If you have 9 minutes, please have a listen to my short radio documentary about it. If you have just 4 minutes you could watch my short digital film instead.
(Search BBC Witness History wages for housework or BBC Witness History 'we demand wages for housework)
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lifeminco
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Re: Split of responsibilities with your partner

Postby lifeminco » Tue Oct 18, 2022 2:50 pm

Sensitive topic indeed, and like others I'm intrigued, and also impressed, by all the thoughtful replies. 

I also find it kind of crazy how still, in 2022, you see cafes filled up with women during schooldays, school Whatsapp groups are dominated by men, and even at social outings the men and women still coalesce into separate groups. I'm not as outraged as I was when I was a few years younger but it is still such a curious (retrograde) phenomenon. Now I can appreciate that it's a long arc of history and traditional gender roles/power dynamics are terribly sticky.

I'm glad some husbands have piped up as I think there is a lot of anger and resentment directed their way, both individually and societally, but not much open response. I do think that women sometimes don't necessarily appreciate the stress and graft of their husbands' jobs, just like men don't appreciate theirs, and that, as noted, some women find it really difficult to let go of tight control of the domestic domain. 

I would 110% second that 'unpaid work in the home' is the absolute glue of society and the fact that it doesn't have the status or compensation of paid work is a massive distortion in the economy. (Recently listened to this interesting podcast on the topic https://www.tortoisemedia.com/audio/the ... on-strike/ - likely similar to the BBC short film!)

I would also point out that society doesn't exactly make things easier for parents. I started a service - a parent calendar assistant called Lifemin (www.lifeminco.com) - that reads school and activity emails and newsletters and diarises all the important dates, to-do's and deadlines in *all* parents'/carers' calendars and inbox.

It's just one piece of the puzzle - an example of the admin that constantly rains down on families, and tends to fall to the female side of the partnership. 


 
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