Job-related responsibilities are, for the most part, easily defined. You and your coworkers are assigned specific duties based on your individual strengths and work cohesively to achieve success.
When it comes to responsibilities at home, however, the standard is shifting in these modern times.
Traditional gender roles used to place most of the domestic responsibilities—child rearing, cooking and cleaning—on the woman. Sixty years ago, when many women did not work outside the home, this domestic arrangement was feasible.
Fast forward to 2013, the vast majority of U.S. women are now working full-time. In fact, a recent New York Times article noted that four in 10 American households with children under the age of 18 now include a mother who is either the sole or primary breadwinner for her family.
Who Does What?
As a result, dual-income families are finding it difficult to agree on how to divvy up household chores and responsibilities. Unlike at the office, there is no third party to assign tasks, track your performance and reward you for a job well done.
Anne Marie Slaughter, who last year wrote the controversial article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” authored a new piece in The Atlantic examining the roles of men and women in the household. As women advance in their professional careers, she said, the balance of household duties should fall more on men.
Slaughter writes, “Home should be as much an environment for men and women to share responsibility and pool talents as work is. We would all, including our children, be better off.”
Just like in the office, spouses need to manage tasks and work together in order to make home life efficient and productive.
The “Three C’s”
Tackling household tasks with a teamwork mentality allows couples to achieve a better work-life balance, and creates a healthier environment for the family at large. In order to collaborate effectively in the home, couples need to follow the three c’s:
Respectful communication is vital to any lasting partnership. You and your partner must be able to sit down and have an open dialogue about how each of you would like the household to run. It’s important to discuss schedules, limitations and expectations.
After effectively discussing household duties, it’s time to divide and conquer. Just like in the workplace, it’s important to make sure that both you and your spouse agree and are comfortable with each other’s responsibilities.
Unlike in the workplace, there is no financial gain for successfully completing a household task. It may seem trivial to congratulate your partner for taking out the trash or washing the dishes, but most everyone responds positively to praise. By acknowledging their efforts you can avoid feelings of resentment and contempt and ultimately increase the likelihood that they will continue to take their household responsibilities seriously.
In summary, communicate openly, be willing to compromise and be sure to congratulate one another on domestic achievement. Would you say you’re following the three c’s in your household?