Solo Routine

My husband was gone for five days and I settled into a nice routine. After the kids were in bed I did all the dishes, ran the dishwasher and cleaned up the kitchen. I got the rest of the house to a level of neatness that wouldn’t stress me out in the morning and after a couple hours of down time I went to bed (way too late I might add).

In the morning I emptied the dishwasher so that I could be loading it throughout the day. I tried to pick things up as I wandered around the house. At the very least I piled the breakfast and lunch dishes into the sink after each meal and tried to rinse and load the plates and cups during my son’s nap time. In this way I kept the house neat enough that I never felt overwhelmed and stayed on top of the stuff that had to get done.

My husband is home now and while I’m grateful for his presence in the house and our lives, I’m not looking forward to handing over the kitchen duties to him to do when he finds the time. I know he’s going to skip doing the dishes some nights and the mess in the kitchen is going to cause me stress. I can’t decide if I want to take over his kitchen duties while I’m home; if I let him do them on his own schedule (which I think is only fair if he’s the one doing them) I’ll resent the kitchen being a mess some days and if I do them myself I’ll resent that I’m doing EVERYTHING around the house now that I’m not working during the summer.

When we both work we have a division of labor that works well for us. It’s not equal and it’s not perfect but we both feel good about it. Now that I’m home I feel more strongly about the state of the house. It’s hard to relinquish control of vital areas that I have to be in multiple times a day to someone who is not home for so much of it. It’s hard to renegotiate things for only two months. What if we can’t fall back into a routine that works for us once I’m back at work? What if I feel angry that he doesn’t have to do much while I carry a heavier and heavier load.

Gah. This marriage thing is hard. My weird “working full time except during summer when I’m essentially at SAHM” schedule is hard. Our particular dynamic is hard.

I suppose we need to have a “talk” about this but I’m not even sure what I want to say. And I’m pretty sure he is not going to want to listen. Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly bringing this kind of stuff up, like I’m constantly trying to make him have “a talk,”, like I’m a nag or a bore or an emotionally crazed wife. Sometimes I wonder why I can’t just let things slide like he does, just take it as it comes, just live and let live.

I guess it’s harder for me to be like him because I do so much more than he does for our family. If I could just leave everything up to someone else, and know it’d get done, I’d be pretty willing to just let things happen to.

But things happen because I make them happen. That is how our marriage works. And if I want us to make a deliberate decision about how we’re going to manage the household while I’m home I’m going to have to initiate “the conversation.”

Blerg. Sometimes it sucks to be the woman in a relationship.

Do you have a “division of labor” that works in your relationship? Did you sit down and hash it out deliberately, or did it happen more organically?


  1. One question for you both to consider would be a wash tub under sink so all dishes as used prior to washing would go under sink and less of a visible irritant to you but still give him freedom to decide when to wash. … Personally I wouldn’t like this but I know others for whom it works well.
    As a single I sometimes give a gilded rosy cast over the married couples I know picturing them in 100% unity and joyousness and loving kindness. (Because if there was abuse, you, like me, would have left.) It is very reality grounding to hear couples are actually two human beings living together and sometimes the humanity overwhelms perfection. Though I still wish I had found a partner to share life with……

    1. It’s funny you talked about how you imagined marriage being rosier than it probably would have been for you, or than it is for most couples. I sometimes wonder if my life wouldn’t be easier if I didn’t have to negotiate things with another person. I’d obviously do more, but I wouldn’t have any resentment about it. I’m sure it would be a lot harder than I imagine though, especially the financial aspect of it.

  2. Well…we live with it but I wouldn’t say it really “works” for me. It works for my husband. LOL. He’s the sort of person who truly doesn’t care if things are clean. He takes out the trash. And he unloads groceries. And he changes lightbulbs (things that require height or strength). Everything else is on me. I make less money but we both work full time. Until the last 3 weeks when I finally got a lull I was actually working about 60 hours a week to his 40, and was also responsible for all the housework, laundry, cooking (not that I cook all that much) meal planning (that includes every decision on where to eat if we go out) And yes I resent it. His solution is- don’t do it. But I can’t live in a mess. We used to have a maid come in twice a month which was fabulous, but since we both work from home and he hates having anyone in the house I don’t do it now- once he works from an office again we WILL have a maid again! LOL Especially since due to a medical issue there are certain things that are REALLY difficult for me to do and leave me in a lot of pain. Gee that got long! Sorry.

    1. Oh, I hate the “don’t do it” solution. I wonder how he would feel if you actually didn’t do it. Of course you can’t find out because you’d be living in filth.

      One thing that drives me crazy is that when my husband is gone I do all his jobs so he comes back and just picks up where he left off with out backlogged stuff to catch up on. When I go away none of the laundry has been done, the house hasn’t been picked up, the kids probably haven’t even been bathed. So I have days and days worth of work to catch up, on top of the work that is accumulating right in front of my eyes. He doesn’t even see that happening because he’s totally oblivious to most of what I do. It’s infuriating.

  3. Ours is worked out organically—but that only works because we both have the same standards (or mine are slightly lower…) so we both see what needs doing and do it. If anything, sometimes he has to tell me about things we does that it never occurs to me need doing.
    Its cool that you got into a solo routine—would you like to keep that up over the summer? What if you framed it to your husband as something you are doing FOR HIM, to make things easier for x number of weeks as a break? And then at the end of the summer, you hand it right back. Are you worried he’d still expect you to handle it?
    I’m really sorry these things are hard.

      1. I wish I had lower standards than my husband. Unfortunately we both have really, really low standards. It’s not a productive combination.

    1. I really tried considering just taking on his chore during the summer but I could feel the resentment festering before the decision had even been made. I already do so much! Why should he get to do less! I couldn’t do it. But I found an alternative and I think it will work.

  4. We have periodic scheduled “let’s divide up the jobs” discussions and sometimes we reassign who does what. Currently I have had few to no jobs so we are due for a reassignment. An important part for us is timeline for the job to be accomplished because we have very different ideas about how quickly something needs to be done and it bugs the pants off me when my spouse blows off what I view as a “within the next 5 minutes” job for a week (which happens all the rotting time around here… hopefully soon we can get things in order and be done with this cycle of “I just don’t know where to start” immobility). I too like the idea of “during my break, I will help you out by doing this” if you decide to do it, or else see if you can trade something that stresses you out to him if you keep the dishes long-term. Or we sometimes have traded time away from the girls if someone will take the terrible undesired job (ie you clean the toilet and get 1.5 hours away from home with 24 hour advance notice).

    1. I remember your job charts and chore games and how you assign points based on how shitty the job is to perform. I always found that fascinating. I just don’t think my husband would participate in that kind of thing. He just doesn’t ever want to talk about anything anymore. He’s too tired. He just wants to read comics on the iPad. I’ve kind of given up on even trying to talk to him anymore…

  5. Ours is organic. We’ve never sat down and hammered out an agreement. I can’t see my DH doing that. He probably does more than me actually. His kitchen standards are higher than mine but we squabble bc he will say the person who cooks should clean, but I cook most of the time bc I get home earlier. And since cook/clean time cuts into the little time we have with the kids before bath/bed, that’s not fair.

    I’ve dealt with your issue before though. My husband hasn’t really done laundry for over 15 years (except the rare load out of necessity). He would always wash stuff at the wrong temp, etc. It got to the point where I would have a huge note saying “wash in cold! Hang X up to dry!” And he’d wash it in warm and put it all in the dryer. Passive aggressive, I think. So I do laundry but he folds. And then sometimes the laundry basket sits there ALL week. And we’ve gotten into things where if I push or criticize he will be like “okay, YOU do it”. But I guess I should be glad he does a lot around here (he does all the vacuuming).

    1. Why should the person who cooks clean?! It should be the other way around. If one person made the food the other person should clean it up! That was always the way it worked in my family (with my parents and sister). That makes way more sense to me.

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