Housework Hurdles for Spouses - FamilyEducation

Housework Hurdles for Spouses

Assess how clean you and your spouse like your home to be, and compromise if necessary to make it a pleasant environment for you both.

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How do you view your home?

Everyone views his or her home in different ways. For some, it's the one place where they can relax and be themselves. They enjoy being able to come home, grab a drink, sit down in a comfortable chair, and put their feet up. They don't want to think about getting a coaster for their drink or taking their shoes off before propping them up on the table. They might throw their jacket on the couch or not rinse the sink out after brushing their teeth.

This behavior might drive their spouse crazy. Their spouse might view their home very differently, seeing it as the one place where things are in order, away from the chaos of the outside world. They like to invite people over spontaneously and want the house to always look nice. They are always going around cleaning up after the other person and really resenting it. They spend twice as much time on housework as the other person and always feel their spouse is not doing his or her fair share.

Think Twice

Don't criticize your spouse for his or her housekeeping style. Remember, it's your spouse's home, too. You need to compromise on your different styles to make your living space a home for both of you.

Where Do You Stand?

Before you and your spouse can organize your weekly chores, it's useful to figure out how each of you feels about your home. Decide whether the following statements are true or false as they apply to you. Then have your spouse answer them.

Home Quiz

  1. I like to feel totally relaxed in my home.
    • True or False
  2. It's important to me that everything is in its place.
    • True or False
  3. My dirty underwear doesn't always make it to the laundry basket.
    • True or False
  4. I prefer the bed to be made neatly every morning.
    • True or False
  5. I like to eat all over the house, not just in the kitchen.
    • True or False
  6. Dishes should be washed as soon as you're finished with them.
    • True or False
  7. I leave magazines and books wherever I read them.
    • True or False
  8. The bills should all be left in one place.
    • True or False
  9. I enjoy putting my feet up on the coffee table.
    • True or False
  10. I always rinse the sink well after brushing my teeth.
    • True or False

To compute your score, add up your “True” statements in the odd-numbered questions and your “False” statements in the even-numbered questions. Do the same for your spouse's answers.

  • 0-3 You like your home to be in excellent order, and you like things in their place.
  • 4-6 A certain amount of order in your home is important to you.
  • 7-10 You tend to be very relaxed in your home, and keeping things perfectly neat is not that important to you.
Think Twice

Don't create unrealistic expectations of how you want your home to look. The amount of time and money it takes to have a spotless house may not be worth it.

If you and your spouse both fall into the same category, you probably have a similar idea of what needs to be done to make your home livable. If the two of you fall into different categories, you will have more of a challenge creating a home that both of you are happy living in. It's important to realize that both of you cannot have the exact kind of home you want. Two people living together always need to compromise. But there are ways to make the house livable for each of you, if you are willing to negotiate.

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The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage


Learn how to keep a strong and healthy marriage. Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage © 2001 by Hilary Rich and Helaina Laks Kravitz, M.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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