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How to Divide Up Chores and Housework When Crisis Hits

Who does what during a pandemic?

 

Most working couples have tasted the amazing benefits of outsourcing. Things like having a school with administrators and teachers where you can send your kids. Having a cleaner who comes by every once in a while. Or having a babysitter who watches the little ones when you go out on date night.

Outsourcing is often the ultimate antidote to resentment and fights over what is or isn’t fair. So it follows that the temporary death of outsourcing results in a reemergence of all sorts of conflict, drama, and resentment.

Now that you and your partner are likely both on the hook for doing everything, these conditions can amplify even the most microscopic areas of inequality and unfairness. In short, it's the perfect recipe for the worst, most resentful and petty, sides of both of you to emerge.

 

Tools

 

1. Remember:  Everyone (including your partner) is doing their best.

In this crazy situation, we are all overwhelmed, stressed, and doing our best to make it through the day. Your partner is no exception. And the marriage research is clear: your partner is probably doing quite a bit more than you think they are. When it comes to our partner's contributions, we are all blinded to some degree by what psychologists call “availability bias,“ the fact that much of what our partner does is unseen and unknown to us.

 

2. Get clear on your roles.

This is a pro tip during normal life, when everything is going just great. It’s even more important during times of crisis. After all, now that the school consists of a 30-minute Zoom call, the cleaners can't come in to clean, and you and your partner are on the hook for everything, there are a lot more roles to divide. To do this, all you have to do is get out a piece of paper, write down what each of you currently do and then consider the question:

 

What adjustments, role switches, or changes might bring greater harmony to the system?

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