Couples fight about a lot of things, but some issues come up again and again in relationships. According to a recent survey of 75,000 married couples by Lasting, a marriage health app, three of the main things couples fight about have to do with money and cleaning — the top two spots being how the cleaning gets done and what being "clean" actually means. But what if you could throw that worry out the window? Some couples are choosing to spend money on chores and other services — and it might just be benefitting their relationships.
My girlfriend and I have a cleaner who comes to our flat once a week. We don't really need one, in fact we have a small flat. But my partner likes the place very clean and I know that I can be messy so, before it even became an issue, we found an ethical cleaning service that pays a living wage and signed up for it. Rather than having a nice TV or buying a lot of new clothes, it just seemed like a better investment. So now big things like cleaning the bathroom, changing sheets, and vacuuming are taken care of. And because we're both happy to chip in with day-to-day things like dishes and laundry, there's no resentment over one person doing more of the work or nagging the other that it's time to take out the trash. I think it's a great way to spend our money. And it turns out, I'm not alone.
In fact, a working paper from Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia surveyed over 3,000 people who were in committed relationships to see if spending money on "timesaving services" like chores and errands really made a difference — and it did. Those who spent more money on timesaving services reported being more satisfied with their relationships, in part because they had more quality time to spend with their partners. And, I would also guess, it's because arguing who is going to clean the toilet just isn't sexy.
"I absolutely think that throwing money at the chores is good for relationships," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "Nowadays we are so overworked and spread so thin that couples often find themselves at war over 'who is doing more'. Assuming a couple is comfortable enough to have a bit of extra cash, it is definitely better spent on a house keeper twice a month or getting the laundry done. Even if you end up having to have a few more dinners home in order to afford it, couples are often happier to gain a little free time and stop the bickering over whose turn it is to clean the toilet!"
What If You Can't Afford To Spend Money On Chores?
Of course, this sort of advice only applies to a very specific set of people — people who can afford to outsource chores. And considering that money is major cause of relationship stress, it seems that people who can afford to outsource their chores and errands have a doubly unfair advantage. They're less likely to fight about chores and, presumably, less likely to fight about money.
"Money is the number one thing that couples fight about," Emily Bouchard, a certified money coach, tells Bustle, so having enough resources that you don't have to stress about that is a huge blessing. Bu at the same time, telling someone who's having trouble making rent that splurging for a cleaner a couple of times a month is good for their relationship is just out of touch. So if you can't afford to splurge and have someone else do it, that's OK — you're not doomed. Just make sure that the chore divide at home is clear and fair.
You both need to be in it together when it comes to chores or else it can be a sign of a major relationship imbalance. "If you feel like you can't predict whether or not your partner can be responsible for completing chores, following through on favors, etc., this is a clear sign of an unfair relationship," licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Racine Henry, PhD, LMFT tells Bustle. Having a cleaning rota or making a commitment that things won't become lop-sided will go along way. And, if you agree beforehand, there will be no arguing about whose job it is. Sit down, go through the chores that have to be done on a daily/weekly/monthly basis and find the best way to share the load.
Chores are something that can creep up on you. You don't think that it bothers you that you're always the one to change the toilet paper until suddenly one day it infuriates you. So, if you have the cash, or you have the time to figure out a division of chores with your partner, it's definitely worth the investment for your your relationship.