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Committed: The Ties that Bond

with Angella Dykstra

I'm a mom of three, a professional accountant, and an amateur photographer and writer. I am not a marriage expert. But my husband and I take "Til death do us part" seriously, and here I'll be sharing how we keep our marriage strong while we both do that insane work-life juggle.

Check out my Work It, Mom! profile and my blog, Dutch Blitz.

The secret to a happy marriage

Categories: marriage


I left the office early yesterday because I had absolutely nothing on my desk and have banked overtime from that (not so) lovely tax season I just emerged from. I had some freelance deadlines anyway, and thought it might be nice to bang them out during the day instead of after the kids are in bed, which is right about the time that this early-bird body of mine starts to shut down. Quickly.

I sat down at my kitchen table while my husband threw in a load of laundry, cleaned the bathrooms and then vacuumed the upstairs bedrooms. He is a bit of a clean-freak by nature, yes, but with me working full-time and him working part-time, he’s taken over the bulk of the housework duties in addition to keeping our lawn mowed and planting our garden. He really is Superman.

I know that the situation is not the same for everyone else. In some households the husband is the primary breadwinner and in other households both spouses work full-time. Regardless of your family dynamic, I think we can all agree on the secret to a happy marriage:

Help out with the housework.

A little bit of cleaning can go a long way to a peaceful existence. My husband is arguably a little, um, anal-retentive when it comes to keeping things clean. I know this about him, we joke about it all the time, and I know that if I want to make his day I will do more than what we have agreed on in our current work/life situation.

When he left to pick up the kids from school I closed my laptop. I folded and put away a load of laundry, unloaded the dishwasher and cleaned the kitchen. He hadn’t expected me to do it at all and he was pleasantly surprised upon his return. Sometimes it’s not about keeping score; sometimes it’s just about doing what needs to be done.

How does it work in your house? Are you the one in charge of keeping everything clean, or does that responsibility fall on your spouse’s shoulders? Do you think housework is divided evenly in your home?

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6 comments so far...

  • For the most part I think it’s divided evenly. I cook, he does dishes. We tend to each do our own laundry but sometimes we do each others. We don’t keep score there. I pay my mother to clean our house once a month (that’s what she does for a living) so that means that we both get out of having to do certain chores we hate. He does all the yard work and I do the general tidy-ing up and any redecorating that needs to be done.

    I’ll be honest… since he was laid off last year and has only been doing freelance from home I have expected more out of him with regards to house work. So far my expectations have not been met. Oh well. I’ll take what I can get.

    Carrisa  |  June 1st, 2010 at 9:38 am

  • It’s divided almost equally in our house. We both work full time, so whatever jobs the kids aren’t responsible for (dishes, vacuuming, their own laundry) are up to us to get done in the evenings or on weekends. We both have our preferences for tasks - he cuts the lawn, I’d rather do our laundry - but I couldn’t name something that one of us done more of than the other. I absolutely think this is the way a partnership should run and that’s what a marriage is, a partnership.

    Procrastamom  |  June 1st, 2010 at 10:11 am

  • We both work full-time so our home is never actually clean - we sort of maintain it all week and then I do a big clean-up on the weekend. I don’t think that the chores are divided equally but I acknowledge that my standard of clean is higher than his so it falls on me to make myself happy. If a clean kitchen makes me happy, harping about the division of chores isn’t going to make me happy, doing the damn dishes is going to make me happy. It’s tough - sometimes I just do the damn dishes and sometimes I feel like life is unfair and everything sucks and how can he play video games when the kitchen is such a mess, woe! We’re a work in progress is what I’m saying.

    hillary  |  June 1st, 2010 at 1:08 pm

  • I definitely do it all.
    I work part-time and he works full time. But even before kids, I pretty much did it all.
    I like doing it. I don’t mind so much that he hates cleaning. I really really enjoy it, find it therapeutic even, and like your Matthew, I’m a bit of a clean freak myself.
    Sometimes I do wish that he had done enough of it in his life to understand the amount of effort and it takes to keep this place sparkling though.

    Danica Grunert  |  June 1st, 2010 at 3:35 pm

  • We don’t keep score, but I think most things are divided pretty evenly. I work full time from home; he works 4 days/week. On his day off, he does tons of housework. On my work days, I do what I can. He helps when he gets home. On the weekends we each do whatever needs doing, and it’s an equal load. I probably cook more (he cooks maybe twice a week, sometimes three times) and he does the dishes most of the time (because I HATE that job). But I’m usually the one who tidies up. We both do the laundry, whoever sees it needs doing will put it on and hang it out, and whoever is home when it’s dry will bring it in. Both of us will fold it and put it away. It all evens out.

    Hannah  |  June 1st, 2010 at 3:53 pm

  • I pretty much do it all but he is very willing to help (if asked ;). I want him to spontaneously do some of the chores but he says “You don’t let things get dirty so i don’t know what ‘needs’ to be cleaned”. There may be some truth to that.

    However, last week he both cooked me dinner and swept and mopped our basement knowing we had a particularly grueling house maintenence weekend ahead. He then stated “you know…I think I might understand the satisfaction you get from cleaning”. Hmmm….

    Secretly? I enjoy cleaning and he doesn’t sit around wasting his time. He usually spends it inventing things that make us extra dough. I figure, it’s not too bad a deal.

    Ruth Lepp  |  June 1st, 2010 at 10:30 pm