Now that I’m fully in nesting mode, domesticity has become priority uno in my house. Specifically when it comes to cleanliness. For example, before I had a child growing inside me dirty dishes would annoy me, but it was relatively okay. Now, every dirty dish I see is a painstaking reminder that my child’s bottles and main source of food will be sitting in the leftover sludge and THAT IS NOT OKAY. However, since my husband currently does not have a baby growing inside him, he does not share in this terror over dirty dishes. Enter conflict.
My husband and I have always had different ideas of what constitutes cleanliness. Not that he’s a slob— but, let’s just say that I’ve been doing his laundry since before we moved in together. He just doesn’t have the same annoyance about clutter and things being out of place like I do. And granted, my need for cleanliness could be chalked up to the winning combination of my Virgo-tendencies, OCD, and the fact I grew up in a household where my mother considered laundry to be more of a hobby than a chore. So, even before the fetus entered the picture, our number one source of arguments was tidying the house. But now, that argument is exaggerated because as previously mentioned, I’m hyper-aware of both the being growing inside me and all the potential health risks that are lurking around my house, and my husband is… not.
This also gets further complicated by the fact we both work constantly. I’m out of the house for 60 hours during the work-week and his current job has him traveling more than ever. We both have comparable salaries, so it’s not like one person is bringing home more money or one person is home more often than the other. We’re equal in terms of what we’re “bringing to the table” of creating a home (so to speak). Which is different from previous generations — even my own nuclear family — where the homemaking tasks fell primarily to the woman.
And that’s where the chore chart comes in.
After a few therapy sessions where I complained to my therapist about the fact all the chores seemed to fall to me because a) that’s been our dynamic and b) my husband doesn’t care as much about vacuuming and laundry as I do, but I’m not able to perform as many chores because a) I’m working 60 hours a week and b) this belly thing is a little bit of a hindrance, my therapist suggested creating a chore chart. I’m no stranger to the chore chart phenomenon, my mom used one for us kids when we were growing up and (shocker!) I found having a list of what was expected of me, and then having to check those tasks off very satisfying. So, being the modern woman I am, I made it into a shared digital “note” with my husband, so we could both access it on our phones. Fun! And much to my delight, my husband didn’t completely hate the idea and he sometimes even looks at it!
We’ve been implementing the chore chart for a few weeks now, and while the distribution of chores hasn’t gotten that much better (I still do about 70%), my husband is making an effort to at least do the dishes every night (when he’s in town) and do a lot of the bigger tasks that I’m unable to perform (like moving a 200-pound desk into another room, and painting the nursery). And I’m not as stressed about having to worry about dirty dishes mingling with dirty bottles three months from now. It’s progress. And in the ebbs and flows of committed relationships, progress can be very romantic.