Is dividing the to-do list a constant battle in your home? Maybe you need to cut each other some slack. Here, Hallmark magazine editor-in-chief Lisa Benenson and Best Life magazine contributing editor Eric Villency offer perspectives from both sides of the trenches.
Don't be a martyr
Lisa: When you were little and your mom asked you to help pack up your house for a move, you packed boxes and boxes of books and toys. Your mother lavished praise on you: "You're such a hard worker!" You've been a hard worker ever since. And yes, it makes you feel saintly and superior to your husband when you do more chores — as if there really were a "better half."
But when you are upstairs furiously wiping handprints off the woodwork and he is downstairs watching his favorite team play, you have to ask yourself: "Who, really, is better off?" Lighten up! Go downstairs and tell him you'll bring him a beer (and even watch the game) if he'll help you clean up later.
Eric: Let's remember, marriage is a partnership that consists of many things besides house chores. Paying the mortgage, doing the taxes, planning a vacation, are all on the to-do list for every couple. Most men will tell you that "keeping score" belongs on a TV tuned to sports, and not in the relationship. A healthy marriage is one where each person steps up and gets things done on behalf of the other.
Be the alpha
Lisa: When it comes to keeping house, lots of women long for a partnership in which whoever sees the mess fixes it! Sadly, it just doesn't work that way. When it comes to housework, women are the managers, so manage! Make to-do lists, and try to delegate chores that you know your partner will do well. Then try hard to avoid micromanaging.
Eric: Relationships develop a natural rhythm, and a fair balance only exists as long as one person feels they aren't being taken advantage of. Most men are more than happy to take a back seat as far as running the house is concerned. So, if your career allows (sorry, all you emergency room physicians out there) and you want the house a certain way, be our guest and go ahead and take charge.
Give clear marching orders
Lisa: "The Female Brain," a recently published and somewhat controversial book, claims that women and men communicate in very different ways. So trade your hints for bluntness. "Please do the cooking on Tuesday" works way better than "I really liked the food last time you cooked."
Eric: Thank you. Most men complain that they have no idea what women want. This isn't "The Da Vinci Code"; hints and clues will only frustrate us. Trust me, we want to make you happy' Tell us what you're really thinking and everyone will benefit.
Applaud his efforts
Lisa: Thank your partner for a job well done, no matter how small. Saying "I appreciate your taking out the trash" and "Thanks for setting the table" will make him more likely to do those chores cheerfully.
Eric: This is a great tip and the amazing thing about positive reinforcement is that it leads to positive results. Keeping the energy upbeat leads to a cycle where you treat each other with respect and strive to make one another happy, and yes, we promise to try to tell you that we love that outfit more often.
Remember that you actually LIKE this guy
Lisa: When your husband drives you nuts for whatever reason, turn your attention to his more stellar qualities. Socks on the living room floor don't seem so bad when you think about how great he is helping to coach your kid's baseball team.
And when his gaffes are so big that his essential goodness just can't shine through your dark cloud of vexation, think about the OTHER husbands you know — the ones who make you wonder, "How can they be together?" The guys who buy Harley-Davidsons without discussing it and expect their partners to ride around the country with them in a fly-splattered helmet. Guys who disrespect their partners. Guys who don't play with the kids. Guys who are boring. Thank goodness that's not YOUR guy!
Eric: Lucky for us men, there are only two sexes, so we don't have much competition. We may have shortcomings — who doesn't? But love us for our faults and quirks as much as we love you for yours!
This text is taken from the April/May 2008 issue of Hallmark magazine.
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