Marriage Missions International

Working Together as a Team – Marriage Message #266

Photo by: Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo by: Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Working together as a team” —we know we’ve talked a lot about this on different levels in past marriage messages, but SURPRISE, we aren’t done! And we never will be, because we so deeply believe that married couples are supposed to work together as a team. We believe this is part of “cleaving” together in marriage (biblically speaking).

One of the many areas of marriage in which we should work together as a team is in the area of doing work around the house. Yeah, we know that “work” can be seen as a dirty word in many ways, but it’s a necessary subject to talk about because it leads to so many arguments. It’s actually among the top 5 things that married couples reportedly argue about.

We know that in different parts of the world, it’s “assumed” that the wife is supposed to take care of that aspect of living together. But our world is changing. Husbands and wives are taking on different responsibilities (such as both working outside of the home) in our modern world and so housework is becoming more of a problem.

Journalist Karen S. Peterson reported, after talking with “six eminent therapists” who gathered together to discuss the state of marriage that it turned out that “five of the six said basically, that men get a better deal from marriage than women do.”

“We have evidence now that even in dual career couples where the wife earns as much or more, she still does the burden of the house work,” said Neil Jacobson, a University of Washington psychologist. Needless to say, this has caused problems in many households.

If, as a married couple, you’ve decided TOGETHER that this arrangement works for you, then that’s fine. That’s what’s important —you’ve both decided that this is what works. But if it’s something that one has imposed upon the other, then we hope you’ll consider talking together about this (if you can).

Author and speaker Dennis Rainey, who heads up the ministry of Family Life Today, talks to men about the importance of being a “loving leader and a servant” as set forth in the Bible. He says this to men on this subject:

“Rounding out your responsibilities as a loving leader is caring enough for your wife to be willing to serve her. There is no question that words communicate love, but so do actions. You need both. Christ, the Head of the church, took on the very nature of a servant when He was made in human likeness (Philippians 2:17). Jesus didn’t just talk about serving; He demonstrated it when He washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17).”

He went on to challenge and question men by saying, “There is no better way to serve your wife than to understand her needs and try to meet them. If she works outside the home, do you help with meals and household chores?” The question can also be asked, “And, if you see that she is extremely busy with the children, do you pitch in and help?” And how about you women —when you see that your husband is extremely tired or over-whelmed, do you find ways to help ease his load to the best of your ability?

To help you a little further on this subject, written below are solutions that a few couples worked through concerning housework, which were featured in a newspaper article for the Chicago Tribune, titled, Housework and Harmony, written by Monica Rogers:

Solution: Smooth routines are made, they don’t magically appear. The idea that we’d ever fight about something as insignificant as laundry seemed laughable. But fight we did. And not just about how to fold shirts. We argued over dishwasher-loading (I like to pack ‘em in, he leaves lots of space), what constituted a ‘clean kitchen’ (he wants the floor swept; I like counters clear), even how to categorize canned goods (I want like items together; he figures as long as everything is in the cupboard, why sort?). And it got worse with babies in the equation.

“Figuring out how to reduce quarrels to save time and emotional energy for the stuff we really wanted to do took some work. The essence of what we learned first? Take time to make time. Tedious as it seems, dedicating a few ‘dates’ to talk about pet peeves and the nitty-gritty of who’s going to do what goes a long way toward building faster, more efficient routines.”

Another Challenge was:

“A house divided. The Solution: Share resources and play to strengths.” Monica Rogers went on to write what another couple came to discover: ‘Early in our marriage, we found we were arguing about what and how things were getting done around the house,’ recalls Mitch Chaney. Rather than go 50-50 on all chores, ‘we first broke chores down by level of pain, making lists with most-hated chores at the top,’ says Susan Chaney.

“Interestingly enough, the lists allowed each partner to do what they were best at, with enough yin and yang in the remaining list items to allow each Chaney to opt-out of dreaded chores. ‘I hated washing clothes but didn’t mind folding. He disliked loading the dishwasher but didn’t mind putting dishes away. Fitting the two lists together let us play to each others strengths,’ Susan says. And on those things both dislike? “You do it together or pay somebody else to cover that one for you.”

Challenge #3:

“On-the-job training; Solution: Teamwork and freedom to err builds confidence.” Here’s what Monica writes concerning this point: “When Jenn and Dave Schuman married, Jenn confesses being shocked at how little Dave knew about cooking. ‘He truly didn’t know what it meant to julienne a pepper,’ Jenn recalls. But recognizing Dave had interest in cooking, despite a lack of skill, Jenn used the tag-team approach to nudge him toward confidence. Rather than say, ‘I can’t believe you don’t know how to cut a carrot!’ Jenn simply chopped veggies herself and then passed the baton to Dave. ‘I’d say, ‘Hey honey, go ahead and sauté these. They’re ready to go.’ That got him into the cooking without balking at what he didn’t know how to do.’

“The Chaney’s have a strict no-critiquing rule about tasks they don’t share. ‘If he’s agreed to take on a chore, I agree not to comment about how he does it,’ says Susan. ‘Sometimes it’s best to just get out of the way and let there be mistakes so a person can learn from them,’ she adds.

“We don’t know if the above challenges and solutions will help you, but the point is to see the challenge and FIND a solution that works for your marriage. We’ve had to do that in our own marriage. And we’ve found that those who have good marriages find ways to make it work in their own. Adapt, compromise, talk, plan, and figure out what will work best for your marriage situation.

“Something that Judith Balswick says on this subject rings true: ‘Parceling out household chores carries much more meaning than merely keeping the house clean, the grass cut and the car running. It actually represents an attitude of the heart. Our willingness —or unwillingness—to help out around the house speaks volumes about the value we place on our spouse.”

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:9-10)  

Our love and prayers are with you as we strive to make our marriages the best they can be!

Cindy and Steve Wright

— ALSO —

You may find the following article (and the ones that are linked within it), helpful to read, as well:

HOW TO CREATE A FAIR DIVISION OF LABOR

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Marriage Missions International