The Division of Labour: It Affects Your Relationship

The division of labour in a relationship comes down to fairness and respect. If you’re falling into certain gender roles when it comes to household chores, or if one of you is pulling most of the weight, ask yourself why. It could be killing your intimacy and sex life.

The following post is excerpted from Chapter 5 of my new book, It’s Not You, It’s Us: A Guide for Living Together Without Growing Apart. Available on Amazon.


The Division of Labour: Fairness and Respect

While doing research for my second book, It’s Not You, It’s Us, I asked several people the following question:

I’m writing a chapter about the division of household chores – things like cleaning, cooking and shopping for groceries – and I want to hear from you. Yup, if the two of you don’t discuss and agree upon who will do what around the house, this sort of thing can become a major source of conflict. So what I want to know is: What is your experience with who does what around the house? Who has the stronger urge to keep the place clean and tidy? Does a messy partner make you feel resentful? Does it impact your sex life or feelings towards him or her?

I am very curious about process and how you resolve these things – or don’t! Feel free to answer any or all of these questions. Your contribution will help future couples.

Based on the responses I received, I concluded the following. (Note: I share the personal stories and responses in my book.)

Seven Key Takeaways on the Division of Labour

  1. Resentment builds and sex life and intimacy suffer when the woman feels unduly burdened with the chores.
  1. The lack of a fair and equitable division of labour is a major source of tension in couples. Often, the woman must advocate for change.
  1. People have different ideas about “clean” and what it takes to run a household.
  1. Arguments can be avoided with simple checklists and agreements about household responsibilities.
  1. It’s important to recognize what each of you does. Some chores are not so obvious, like banking or washing the car or gardening, but these are time-consuming activities that bring value to the relationship.
  1. Adherence to outdated notions about gender roles and what qualifies as “woman’s work” or “man’s work” puts stress on relationships and often leads to unhappiness.
  1. If you both hate to do a certain task, free yourself from it and hire someone else to do it if possible. Who says money can’t buy happiness?

Disputes over domestic responsibilities like housework and child care are less about tasks and more about fairness and respect. If both of you are working full-time, then it’s only fair that you split the chores. If one of you has more free time than the other, it only makes sense that that individual does more around the house. My fiancé is up at 5:30 a.m. to go to work, and home at 5:30 p.m. You can bet your sweet ass that this work-from-home gal is making his lunch and dinner most of the time. It’s not because I’m playing housewife. I do it because a relationship is about teamwork and I have more free time than he does. I’d rather we spend our evenings doing something enjoyable and relaxing. I do it because it’s the fair thing to do. If our situation was reversed, I would expect him to do the same.

The Division of Labour: You Don’t Need Ovaries to Unload the Dishwasher

No one should be doing certain tasks just because of their genitalia. As if loading and unloading the dishwasher requires ovaries!


You Don’t Need Ovaries to Unload the Dishwasher

You don’t need ovaries to unload the dishwasher

If you’re falling into certain gender roles when it comes to the division of household chores, ask yourself why. Are both of you working full-time jobs? If one of you is working from home, that still qualifies as a job. It’s not 1965 anymore. Women should not expect the majority of housework to fall on them, nor should men expect the dishwasher to unload itself.

There is nothing especially wonderful about having a spotless home and a cluttered or empty mind. This means that housework, cooking and shopping can be the man’s work as well as the woman’s. Because tradition has assigned different roles in the past does not mean that they are right for today. Some men need to be protected from stress and some women need to be in open, aggressive competition in the world. The roles each person fills in any relationship should be determined by his abilities and needs, not by society’s expectations.

― David Viscott, M.D., How to Live with Another Person

The purpose of splitting up the chores is to allow each other to do what you prefer to do, and to do this by spoken agreement, not outdated expectations of gender roles. If the woman prefers to do house repairs and the man prefers to cook, then why not adjust your living arrangement to accommodate your talents and inclinations? To make someone do a chore he or she hates, using tradition as an excuse, is a recipe for resentment.


Division of labour

No one should be doing certain tasks just because of their genitalia.

In fact, one of the three major sources of conflict when living together is the division of labour. Save yourself the inevitable blowout and agree on who is responsible for which tasks. Even better, get your list of chores in writing and post them on the fridge until these tasks become habits. Then adjust as needs and circumstances change.

For your convenience, I have created a household chore list that you can use. Simply visit to download it.

The Division of Labour: Less Housework, More Sex

Would you like a more satisfying sex life? Then split the housework fairly. According to a 2014 article in The Washington Post, “Couples who split the housework fairly are the happiest between the sheets. They have the most sex, are the most satisfied with their sex lives, and express the highest level of sexual intimacy.” I link to the full article on my website here.

I guarantee that the happier you are as individuals, the happier your partnership will be.


Couples who split the housework fairly express the highest level of sexual intimacy.

Couples who split the housework fairly are the happiest between the sheets.

Did you like what you read? Want more strategies for dealing with this topic successfully, such as How to “Master the Tidiness Scale to Reach Agreement”? Then grab a copy of It’s Not You, It’s Us: A Guide for Living Together Without Growing Apart on Amazon.

This powerful new relationship book helps couples get more love in their lives, starting with themselves. It explores:

  1. living together before marriage
  2. emotional distance
  3. having kids, stepchildren and pets
  4. sex and desire
  5. division of labour
  6. money, communication and conflict
  7. family issues
  8. personal growth and happiness
  9. love contracts and living together agreements


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Author Adele Frizzell/Sophie Winters

Sophie Winters is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Sophie’s real name is Adele Frizzell. She enjoys travel, hiking, and lifting heavy weights. She is a competitive bench presser, certified yoga teacher, and mountain addict. She loves inspiring people to get more out of life.

Her first book, The Cha Cha Club Dating Man-ifesto is written for all the single ladies, while her second relationship advice book, It’s Not You, It’s Us: A Guide for Living Together Without Growing Apart is for couples who want more joy, intimacy and respect in their relationship. She is working on her third book.


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