Chief Complaint # 1: DO YOUR PART!! by Pamelah Stevens
Recently I asked a bunch of my friends and colleagues to complete a short survey about their experience within a couple-ship, past or present. I’ve also been Counseling/Coaching couples for the last 20+ years and often notice the parallel lives of many. My findings were very broad ranging, but amongst them I managed to discover 12 chief complaints that echo throughout. The studies I’ve read are mostly in regards to heterosexual couples, while my work experience encompasses same-sex relationships, as well. There are many differences in terms of dynamics, of which I will not go into here, yet fairness and compromise is the overall solution within any team/union/partnership.
Among couples I have studied, (and my predecessors before me) on average, men still work longer hours outside the home, yet even in families where women work equivalent or longer hours and earn higher salaries they still take on more household responsibilities.
And even though men are helping with chores and children more than ever, women are still doing most of the work, putting in most of the time.
As a result of this challenge that spouses experience managing household responsibilities their individual well-being and expressions of intimacy are effected. I hear this a lot – “I want my partner to recognize what to do and do it”. vs. Having them prompt their partner when tasks need attention.” I also hear, “How can I be in the MOOD when he doesn’t help with the kids or housework?”. Complaints of having no time for ones self like their partner gets- is expressed, as well.
Overtime, a (well-studied) pattern develops. Let’s call it Demand-Withdraw. THE DEMANDER-criticizes, nags, and makes a demand on the other, while THE AVOIDER-avoids confrontation, withdraws, and becomes defensive. Hence, the relationship goes from distressed to destructive. This is when I usually get a call for assistance. And here is what I have found to work…..
- Don’t ask your partner to do you a favor, instead ask them to do their part.
- Set your priorities of household chores/child care duties together.
- List what you hate to do and chances are they aren’t the same, so the other can do it, or….you can take turns on the real icky ones.
- Be considerate of each other’s clocks, don’t nag or set your expectations unrealistically, allow your partner to go at their pace (within reason).
- Hire someone if your partner doesn’t help. If he/she holds the purse strings and refuses, you hold other strings (wink, wink). In other words, don’t allow yourself to be taken for granted.
- Organize your home to run more efficiently. For example: set up a chart of chores, rides needed, important dates (trash day, Drs apptmts, oil refills, bills due, big tasks to tackle).
Within the solutions that have been found to work best here are a few
STYLES FOR WORKING TOGETHER…
1. Silent collaboration-both partners work in the same space.
2. One partner is expert/authority-either humorously or with genuine respect.
3. Coordinating together-partners organize the activity together.
4. Collaborating apart-where partners carry out their share of the labor in separate locations.
You will find that one or more styles work best for the two of you. Have fun choosing them!
And if all else fails-there’s the door!! If your partner is an unreasonable, lazy, avoidant son-of-a gun (or daughter 😀), YOU/THEY HAVE A CHOICE….
For a series of sessions to address this and other challenges, don’t hesitate to contact me!
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