Young happy couple is cleaning their apartment.

Why Household Chores Shouldn’t Be a Relationship Killer


Among the many things couples tend to fight about are money, raising children, and sexual intimacy. But also high on the list is the division of household chores. Believe it or not, multiple studies have shown that fighting about household labor causes a lot of stress.

A study conducted at the American University of Beirut and published in 2011 showed that women frequently cited having to do most of the household chores as a major cause of stress. A more recent study looking at the division of household work before and after the COVID pandemic showed similar results.

The interesting thing about all of this is that household chores do not have to be a relationship killer. They shouldn’t be. So why do so many couples fight about the chores? Their fights are a symptom of another problem: a lack of perspective.

Chores Are Just Chores

Think back to your childhood and whatever chores you did as a kid. Do you remember feeling annoyed when you were asked to take out the garbage? How about when your mother told you to clean up your room. Did you resent her for her request?

As an adult, you can look back on those childhood attitudes and see just how ridiculous they were. It only takes five minutes to put out the garbage. And as for cleaning your room, it’s only a big deal if you are a messy person who doesn’t make any effort to clean as you go. But in both cases, it is just a chore.

Chores are not life altering. They will not usher in the end of the world. And the more we make a big deal out of them, the bigger they become in our minds. What started out as an easy chore becomes the equivalent of Mt. Everest because we blow it way out of proportion.

Everyone Should Pitch In

Rather than fighting about the division of household chores, it is better just to buckle down and get things done. Still, household chores shouldn’t fall on one person. Everyone in the family should pitch in. That means not just mom and dad, but the kids too. Everyone in the family benefits from belonging to it, so every member should contribute the work required to keep things going. The attitude of teamwork is what makes it easier to work through family conflict.

The thing is that we are pretty good at coming up with reasons we cannot contribute. Every now and again, there is a valid reason one family member cannot pitch in to help get things done. But such scenarios should be the exception rather than the rule.

We Would Rather Do Other Things

Fighting about the division of household labor is almost always the result of one or more family members not doing their fair share. But why does that happen? It’s pretty simple: we would all rather do other things.

That brand-new book you just bought sounds a lot more appealing than another load of laundry. Going out for a drink with friends after work is certainly more fun than going home and cooking dinner. Wanting to do other things is completely normal and natural. It takes discipline to say no to those sorts of things until all the chores are done.

There are ways to overcome fights about household chores. We have counseled couples who have put together a chore chart. We’ve counseled other couples that have devised far different strategies. But in the end, they all reached the conclusion that changing their perspective on household labor was the key. Just do it and get it done. Then we’ll have the time for all those other things.

If household chores are regularly causing fights in your household, it may be time to seek couples counseling or individual therapy . Here at Relationships and More, we also offer adolescent counseling.

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