Role Play

by Andrea Cooley

I am capable of taking out the garbage, shoveling the driveway, and mowing the lawn among other things, but in my mind, those are jobs assigned to the man of the house. One of the reasons I probably think that is because growing up those were things my dad did around the house. I didn’t realize until we were married, and living with each other day in and day out, how many expectations and assumptions I had about what our marriage would look like and what my responsibilities or jobs would be compared to Adam’s.

Growing up, my family was very traditional. My dad worked and my mom stayed home (when I was in high school she started to work, but even then she worked from home). My mom did the cooking and cleaning and my dad did the yard work. Adam’s family was more disjointed. His parents divorced when he was in grade school, so he lived with two parents, single parents, and then step parents. Because of that, or maybe just because he’s a boy and way more laid back than I am, I don’t think he really had expectations of who would do what around the house.

I remember within the first few months of being married, telling (OK, I was probably complaining) a girlfriend that it was hard making dinner every night. Adam and I both work full time and I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to be everything: the perfect wife, career woman, and homemaker. I had forgotten that we were a team, and it was perfectly alright for me to ask him to help me.

Let that sink in for a minute. Contrary to what culture tells us, women can’t do everything. We don’t have to! We can ask our spouse for help, and we should. I don’t know about you, but that is freeing!

We’ve been married almost 6 years and sometimes I feel like we’re still figuring out what our “roles” are. When it comes to housework, the thing that works best for us is to divide and conquer. I clean the bathrooms, do laundry (I actually like folding clothes, what can I say?), and dust. Adam does the kitchen and floors. This isn’t set in stone–sometimes I vacuum and Adam knows how to do laundry, but for the most part it’s how we operate. Maybe in the future if I’m home with kids, I’ll take on more of the cleaning, but this works for now.

I usually do the grocery shopping and meal planning, but I’m learning to ask for help in that area too. Actually I’m learning to ask for help in general. Usually when I’m feeling overwhelmed (which usually happens on a Sunday night when the weekend is almost over and I’m looking ahead to the coming week), I realize that I’m trying to take care of everything by myself. Adam can’t read my mind (it’s taken me a long time to learn that!). If there is something I need help with or something I think he should be doing, but I haven’t asked him to, I can’t expect him to do it. Ladies, if any of you who are reading this aren’t married yet, and I can give you one piece of advice, it would be this: Tell him when you need help or what you want him to do! More times than not, he will gladly help you, and by just asking him, you’ll save a lot of heartache. Believe me, I know!

How have you divided roles in your marriage?


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Andrea Cooley

  1. I’m mostly the indoors chores (which lately, I’ve greatly enjoyed the AC!) and Gerard does a lot of the yard work (mowing). But I do the gardening and most of the planting if we’re landscaping a particular area of the yard. Gerard can clean like a fiend inside (the floors just about sparkle when he does it) so I let him. :) Good reminders Andrea!

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