Practically Married: Part 4 – Home
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy famously reminds us “there’s no place like home.” That’s especially true when it comes to the first place you share with your spouse. In this home you’ll create memories that last a lifetime. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that living with a spouse can drive you batshit crazy. There’s always an annoying habit (not one you have, of course), or something that should be in the fridge, but isn’t when you want it. Sometimes you’d simply prefer to be alone. Let’s just say, it takes some getting used to.
If you are engaged, or seriously dating and headed towards marriage, chances are high you’re already living together. Approximately two-thirds of couples live together before getting married. While you may have adjusted to many of the challenges of cohabitation, it’s still a good idea to look at your home life to see where there’s room for improvement. This is especially helpful when it comes to how you divide housework since it’s one of the issues that will likely cause tension in your marriage.
The importance of sharing chores ranked only behind having shared interests and a satisfying sexual relationship. Often, one spouse not feeling like there is a fair distribution of household responsibilities is tied to a reduction in sex because of the resentment that builds over time.
As you are reviewing your list of chores and deciding who does what, keep in mind that what is fair may not always mean a 50-50 split depending on each person’s work schedule or other commitments. Each partner must carry his or her load (laundry pun intended), but be flexible enough to pick up the slack if their partner is particularly busy or otherwise having a rough week. Be prepared to renegotiate your plan periodically because of life changes such as a new job, a baby, or the resources to hire professional cleaning help.
In addition to dividing chores fairly, couples should discuss their definitions for words like “cook” and “clean.” Is picking your clothes up from the floor considered cleaning the bedroom, or do the dressers have to pass a white glove test? You’ll have to find common ground for your expectations. If you are a person with extremely high standards for certain jobs, you might choose to do those yourself.
Marriage is not just spiritual communion, it is also remembering to take out the trash.
Dr. Joyce Brothers
If you are waiting until after marriage to live together, you will have to figure out more than just how to divide chores. The next phase of your life will be an exciting time, and will require adjustment and compromise. It’s easy to believe things won’t change significantly, especially if you already spend most nights together. However, sharing a home without the safety net of going back to your own place is completely different. Also, if one of you is moving into the house or apartment where the other currently lives, you’ll need to figure out how to make the space feel like home to both of you.
Regardless of whether you currently live together or not, if you will be moving into a new place after getting married, make sure to focus on affordability. It may be tempting to stretch your budget to get your dream home, but the last thing you need is financial strain on a new marriage. For now, you may need to make some concessions on the size or features of your home, or move a little further away from your desired location.
Wherever you live and however you decide to manage your home, make sure your space is a reflection of both of you (not of what looks good on HGTV), and that it’s somewhere you both feel comfortable.