Leandie Buys Realtionship Therapist & Clinical Sexologist

Making it work: How to share household responsibilities & decrease conflict

How do you handle your ‘normal’ responsibilities as well as all the change?

We are almost 40 days into lockdown, and I have been saddened by all the posts on social media about how many people are suffering. And it’s not just people, it’s animals too. This is a very overwhelming and scary time for us all.

Any kind of routine we once had has been thrown out of the window! Our normal is no longer so normal, but we had to adapt to create a new normal. I know that you’ve heard this a lot, but it is the truth.

While the President and our government are trying their best to provide for people’s basic needs for food and shelter, have you given consideration to the needs of your relationship? I’ve encountered many ‘couples in need’ or ‘couples in crisis’ during this time.

Just as a healthy body can help fight off disease, a healthy relationship can survive a crisis.

Emotionally healthy relationships allow for the couple to feel strong, and ready to tackle any obstacle. They are a team, and are ‘in this fight together’. Do you feel that way about your relationship?

This week, we’re going into Level 4 lockdown which allows us a little bit more freedom. One or both of you may be returning to work, and you might have to renegotiate some roles to ensure the home and work responsibilities are dealt with fairly.

How do you share out daily household responsibilities?

While the ‘new normal’ prevails, we still have to deal with the ‘old normal’ things like cooking, cleaning the house, taking out the rubbish, mowing the lawn, and helping kids with their homework. How you and your partner negotiate these responsibilities will determine whether or not they lead to conflict.

In my practice, I believe firmly in having a roster. This applies during lockdown AND in every day life. I believe everyone in the household should be involved in developing the roster, and take responsibility for their tasks to ensure that one person isn’t left “doing everything”.

This will help decrease conflict in the relationship.

Never just ‘assume’ that your partner knows what needs to be done, and that they will do it. Waiting for your partner to wash the dishes while you get angrier and angrier doesn’t solve anything.

Having a roster means that everyone is aware of what needs to be done, and who needs to do it.

Start with the basics:

Start with planning what you will be eating every day. Draw up a menu to make it easier for everyone to know what’s going on. This also helps when it comes to grocery shopping.

Now share out the cooking responsibilities. For example, you can cook on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Your partner can cook on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday. On a Sunday you can decide who will be doing the meals.

If one partner prefers to cook, then the other partner can take responsibility for doing the dishes or packing the dishwasher. This all depends on your particular family and your preferences.

The rule for making the bed is the one that gets up last should make the bed. Kids must ensure their own beds are made and that their room is kept tidy. Start a reward chart for them to teach them that for each responsibility there is a reward, but also a consequence for not doing it.

Do this for each task and make sure that the family shares the roles and responsibilities equally according to their abilities.

Seeking help

If you and your partner are struggling to renegotiate your relationship and your responsibilities, or you’re feeling the pressure of Covid-19 lockdown take its toll, why not consider chatting to a professional counsellor?

I'm offering online relationship counselling or tele-therapy. Find out more HERE.