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Time for truce in ‘chore wars’ between couples

A national study looking at how opposite sexes clean showed that men and woman have very different ideas when it comes to sharing household duties.

Let’s face it: Cleaning up and doing household chores is not usually considered a “good time,” at least not by most of us. The question of who cleans what can start a lot of “behind closed doors” debates. In fact, housework in general can be a great source of tension, especially for married folks. Yup, it’s true! According to The CLR Chore Wars Report, a national study looking at how opposite sexes clean, men and woman have very different ideas when it comes to sharing household duties. No surprise there! In fact, 69% of women felt they did most of the work around the house, while 53% of the men disagreed, feeling they worked just as hard as the women when it came to cleaning up. The survey also found that arguing over chores was extremely common; about 1 out of 5 Americans admitted to arguing about housework on a monthly basis.

Now this type of conflict might sound harmless at first, but those who felt overburdened by household chores and felt like they did most if not all of the housework showed a greater level of built-up resentment toward their partners over time. And the couples who felt chores were more equally shared felt happier toward their partners and happier about their marriages in general.

It’s amazing what taking out the garbage can do, huh?

We all have a certain type of cleaning personality style (to find out more about your and your partner’s cleaning personality, you can go to Some of us are more naturally neat than others. There are also different gender preferences and tendencies. The research shows that women tend to focus more on fast-acting, getting-ready-for-guests type of cleaning while they are simultaneously juggling other items on their to-do list. Men like to take on their cleaning projects one at a time and often like to have a plan of action. So what can we do to lessen the degree of conflict surrounding these gender differences around cleaning up?

To avoid the chore wars in your home, try the following:

1) Assign appropriate chores. Each partner should be assigned a task they enjoy doing, or are good at. This can greatly reduce the “resentment factor.”

2) Consider compliments. Nagging never works! Compliment your partner when he/she does something you appreciate. This increases the chances that they’ll do it again.

3) Start small — couples can be overwhelmed by the large amount of chores that need to be done in the home. So break it down. Do a little bit at a time. It all adds up.

4) Enlist the troops … make it a family affair. Get everyone to help out and then reward yourselves with something fun!

5) Don’t keep a scoreboard about who does the most. Try to balance the list and keep things fair.

6) Clean and burn calories. Turn up the music and make it an aerobic activity.

And finally, every so often you have to:

7) Just do it. As you know, sometimes cleaning won’t be fun, but it is a necessary part of life. A clean home has a better chance at being a happy home … so clean away and make your home sparkle and shine!

Dr. Robi Ludwig, a nationally recognized psychotherapist, is a regular TODAY contributor. This article originally appeared on