Do you and your partner fight over the roles and responsibilities in your relationship? Does the division of labor feel equitable? Are you clear about your expectations?
In today’s podcast Julie and Gina talk about one of the most common sources of conflict in relationships – Division of Labor! They'll share tips for exploring your default roles and ways you can create a system that works better for your relationship and lives!
On division of labor -
“For a long time the main way I saw it come up with people was specifically talking about chores around the house and the things that keep the household running...in the last year or two it's come up more about “the big picture of the relationship” - the hopes and the dreams and the goals. Who's keeping the relationship moving forward.”
“Sometimes the work that goes into creating a family or a life or a team, some of it's really tangible. What’s the financial investment? What are the hours invested? Who's doing physical labor? And some of it isn't necessarily tangible - the management functions of tracking, coordinating or overseeing or planning...it's harder to name these things. So sometimes folks I see get in conflict over this because they are striving for an equal balance, that feels really important to them, they want that, but one of them tends to have greater strengths in one area and one has other skills. We each monitor our contribution and try to measure our partner's contribution to whatever our defaults are.”
“When we think of that big picture thing or the emotional labor, I think of the computer tabs you have open in your brain. And sometimes your partner doesn't even know that they are there. But somebody's got to have them. And I talk to people who are so beside themselves - 'How do you think this household runs? How do you not know this?'”
“In my partnership, my partner loves to do the dishes and I hate it. I hate it! I would rather throw out the dishes than do the dishes honestly. So it's been beautiful! I haven't done dishes in 10 years.”
On our default roles and expectations -
“The reason this comes up all the time in sessions is that it's usually something that we set up on default without a lot of talking about it or without a lot of intention and almost never do we have a system in place to check in with each other about how's it going.”
“We often create this system out of default. Like what our family taught us. Or what culture teaches us....Or what used to work for us but not longer fits with our lives.”
“You'll end up in defaults, potentially with resentment, if you don't have a way to talk about the ways the contributions sit right now and if you don't have a way to check in as they change.”
On division of labor equality -
“I like to tell the couples I work with, If you are aiming for an equal split, If you don't feel like you are doing more than your fair share, you are not doing your fair share. There is just so much to do!”
“Our culture hasn't done a great job of teaching half the people in it to take care of their home or their belongings. I've worked with a lot of men who are like, “I would like to help out, no one really taught me how to do this well and I feel like I'm letting down my partner all the time when I try...”
“There are some things that we sometimes just have to do to manage a life or a household or a team that neither of us are good at and neither of us want to do. Nobody wants to clean the cat box. Nobody wants to wrap the gifts for Christmas and still sometimes those things have to get done. So how do we do it in a way that feels like it honors not not our strengths but also honors the things we are avoiding or hate doing?”
On the importance of having a process to talk about your roles, responsibilities and resources -
“We need space to have these conversations. Yes, focused space. I think about how often in long term relationship or couples who are doing lots of coordinating and managing, you can read their tests and the beginning stage texts are 'La la la you're so cute. Tell me about the things you like' and the longer they are together the texts are like 'Can you pick up cat food? Did you remember the _____ I'm running late ______.' It's just not very cute.”
“In an ideal world we can sit down and have this beautiful conversation about who's going to take on what and how we got there, but there is all this pain wrapped up in this stuff too.”
Have a regular management meeting
Check in about Resources, Roles and Responsibilities
What are the resources you are contributing? What are your shared resources?
What are your roles (give updates about what is falling under your role or ask for input)?
How are you feeling about your responsibilities?
Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sexuality counselor and communication consultant specializing in healthy boundaries, passionate relationships, jealousy, and infidelity. She supports non-traditional couples all over the world as a retreat leader and certified relationship coach.
Connect with Gina
Julie Jeske, LPC is a sex and relationship counselor. She has a private practice where she helps clients increase intimacy, ignite passion and deepen their connection to themselves and others. Julie especially loves to help women discover who they are sexually. Through counseling, online classes, or in-person retreats; her clients learn how to talk about their sexual and relationship desires, and explore ways to make them a reality.
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