Every couple argues now and then, but care tasks might come up most frequently. They’re arguments about one person doing dishes all the time or being tired of taking the dog for walks by themselves. Talking about the grievances could just result in more fighting. This guide explains how to encourage constructive discussion about the division of care tasks with your partner, so no one feels unappreciated or tired.
1. Open a Safe Space
When you’ve fought over the same subjects numerous times, your partner may feel on edge if they come up again. Start your constructive discussion by opening a safe space. Release any lingering emotions surrounding the subject and let your partner know that they’re free to say what’s on their mind. If you work together to respond without instinctive emotions and feelings, you can sort out anything keeping you apart.
2. Focus on Their Skills
Enter your new discussion by focusing on your skill sets, like who’s better at mowing the lawn or handling the bills. You’ll both feel better about your care tasks if they come naturally. Give each other jobs you can already do well to develop confidence in yourselves. It won’t feel like a struggle to check your tasks off every week, minimizing the resentment built up over time.
3. Remind Them of Your Love
Even if you both try to keep emotions out of the conversation, things can still get tricky. When tension keeps you from being productive, remind them how each care task symbolizes your love. When you ask them to research life insurance plans, it’s so they receive enough care to live comfortably after you pass. The coverage will protect them from rising debt and the cost of living, even if the research only feels like a homework assignment.
Instead of starting another argument about money or personal fears, you’ll focus the conversation on what’s driving the task — your love for each other.
4. Review the Logistics
Going over the logistics is another way to keep things from getting emotionally explosive. Mention how if neither of you wants to get the oil changed, no one can drive the car. The tasks that are most tedious or bothersome have to get done so life goes on. It’s not worth arguing over when there’s no getting around the tasks themselves.
5. Ask Them What’s Wrong
Your partner may not voluntarily do a care task around the house because there’s an underlying problem. They could feel stressed about ongoing distracting challenges. People who have little self-confidence may also struggle to proactively complete care tasks because they don’t think they’ll do it well enough.
Talk about what’s going on in their private lives to identify what’s really going on. A self-confidence boost or encouraging discussion could help them tackle things like meal prepping without being reminded or asked to pitch in.
6. Talk About Outsourcing
Constructive conversations often dig up problems that require creative solutions. You could face tight schedules that keep both you and your partner from getting everything done during the week. Unfinished chores and other care tasks add stress to your relationship, so outsource whatever you can to delegate the work.
Hired help or friends can do certain chores that pose the most problems. Ask loved ones or friends to carpool your kids to school. Hire a team to deep clean your home or order your groceries online and select a delivery date.
Outsourcing is the perfect solution for tasks that you and your partner can’t agree on, dislike or don’t have time for. Even something as simple as hiring someone to clean your pool once a week can add hours to your day and remove significant sources of stress.
7. Make a List
Care task arguments might come up because you or your partner forget to do them. A list will help avoid these unpleasant verbal sparring matches. It may feel like you’re both signing up for a chore chart, but your care task list can be more than that.
Write down what each of you should finish before the end of each day or week. Hang it somewhere everyone will see, like the kitchen fridge. The visual reminder makes each chore a priority and doesn’t have to last forever. The care tasks will quickly become habits. When they’re a regular part of your routine, you can permanently remove the list.
8. Set Up a Review Discussion
After talking things out, you’ll come up with a care task plan that works for everyone. A week or two may pass and make the plan less effective. When schedules change or preferences fade, it’s time for a review.
Set up a review discussion to reflect on your new arrangements and see if they still work. Reflecting opens the floor for everyone to express their thoughts and opinions in a safe space. Nothing will feel set in stone if you can both look forward to a review in a week or two. Frequent meetings prevent resentment or stress from building because your care tasks will adapt to your needs.
Discuss Division of Care Tasks
These are just a few ways you can figure out how to encourage constructive discussion about the division of care tasks with your partner. Help them feel safe and welcomed so everyone can be honest about what’s not working or why they don’t appreciate the current task arrangement. You’ll iron out current issues and figure out a better arrangement that works for you and your partner.
Kara Reynolds is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Momish Magazine. Bio mom of two kiddos & stepmom of two kiddos – normalizing blended families is her ish. She enjoys peeing alone, pancakes, and pinot noir.
Image courtesy of Gary Barnes.