How to split chores with a partner – professional therapists agree on these 10 tips

These ten tricks will eliminate arguments, psychotherapists claim

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We all bicker about chores with our partners now and then, but if it has become a constant point of contention in your household it is a clear sign that something’s got to give.

No matter if you are trying to split cleaning tips between the two of you or declutter a house when your partner is a hoarder, collaboration is essential if you both want to keep your sanity and keep your home hygienic. 

These are the 10 best ways to split chores with a partner to keep your home tidy and your relationship strong. 

How to split chores with a partner

As with many other things, working out how to split chores hasn’t got one-size-fits-all solutions. Not only does it vary from couple to couple, but it can vary from week to week, too. This means you will have to revisit your approach to maintain peace. 

With that in mind, these are the 10 ways to do that without it becoming a drain on your time and energy. 

1. Have a weekly meeting

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One of the quickest and easiest ways to make your to-do lists less overwhelming is to communicate regularly and openly, therapists all agree. This could mean setting up weekly catch-ups to discuss chores and how you are feeling. 

‘This doesn't have to be a long discussion, but even a quick 15-minute conversation to ensure you're both on the same page,’ assures Kristin Papa, the certified therapist at Living Openhearted Therapy and Wellness. ‘Having a weekly conversation allows a couple to proactively prioritize their home environment due to changing work demands, personal obligations, managing children's schedules, etc. Discussions about deciding how to manage household tasks should not be one-and-done or set-it-and-forget-it conversation since a couple's life is dynamic and constantly changing.’

Cleaning Planner $3.30 at Etsy

Cleaning Planner $3.30 at Etsy
This comprehensive cleaning planner is a great way to keep track of the most important chores in a household, and quickly designate chores to family members and partners

‘I recommend having this discussion when both parties are in a good mental state, not immediately after an argument about cleaning or after a long day at work,’ adds Courtney Morgan, licensed therapist and founder of Counselling Unconditionally. ‘One way to introduce the conversation is by saying, “Hey, I’ve noticed that I feel I’m doing a lot of the chores around the house. I’d like to talk more about what we can do to feel that things are more balanced. Is now a good time for that?” This will lead to a much more productive conversation than immediately listing all of the things you do and how your partner comes short. 

‘The goal of this conversation is to be on the same page, and work together as a team, not to be “right”.’

2. Work out which tasks are most daunting for the other

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Sometimes, one of the easiest ways to motivate your family to clean is to work out which chores the other person is more open to completing, suggests Genny Finkel, psychotherapist:

‘First, go through all the regular chores in the house and rank them from smallest inconvenience to most annoying. Surprisingly, your rankings might be different, and this is a good jumping-off point for splitting them. If your top choice is different from your partners', then you both get to have your top choices, and you just keep going down your ranking until it's split.’ 

You are both far more likely to complete tasks you don’t mind than the ones you hate.

3. Accept some slip-ups

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Although it is best to find ways to clean your house when you’re too busy to prevent the mess from becoming overwhelming, everyone has slip-ups when the day gets away from them, or they are not feeling their best. When working as a partner team, it is important to accept the occasional slip-up, reminds Blair Nicole, associate marriage and family therapist at Southern California Counseling Center

‘Be open and flexible. Although it's important to share the burden of household chores, it's also important to be open and flexible if there are days when you might have to depart from the usual chore agreement. 

‘By communicating with your partner openly and honestly, you can work together when special situations arise.’

4. Work out what you are already doing

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If you find yourself struggling with a high mental load, it can help to write down all of the chores you have been dealing with around the house and present this to your partner as a visible representation of what you struggle with. 

‘If one partner is doing the bulk of the chores and is resentful about it, then the other partner needs to ask what can I take off your plate,’ urges Genny Finkel, psychotherapist. This is one of the best ways to reduce mental load and preserve relationships.  

5. Avoid invalidating the other’s views

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One of the hardest parts of splitting chores with a partner is not always how the chores are split, but how the chores are done – especially if one of you is more of a neat freak than the other. 

‘Different people have different needs. Some people can go to bed with a sink full of dishes with no worries at all, others would be kept up all night just by the thought of it. The number one thing to avoid is the invalidation of another person's preferences or needs,’ warns Bethany Nicole, relationship expert and author at Apologies I Never Got

‘So even if you don't agree, the number one place to begin is listening and understanding. Everyone is different, and choosing this relationship means you choose to respect your partner's needs. Now that does not mean that you respect them to the point you bend in half or get so uncomfortable that your needs and boundaries are being trampled. It's a collaboration. A cooperative effort.’

Establishing a cleaning card system with detailed instructions for you both to reference or creating a collaborative night shift closing routine could help to mitigate this without one person feeling alienated. 

6. Hire help

‘If you get stuck on something like the laundry just sucks the soul right out of both of you – have you considered hiring someone?’ asks Bethany Nicole, relationship expert. ‘I know finances can be finicky but investing in the health and happiness of your home is major.

‘We only have so much energy in a day, doing things we hate takes a lot of energy and willpower. Why waste our precious time or energy on something like that? Hiring someone can alleviate that stress, and allocate that energy for far more important and pleasurable things.’

7. Don’t micromanage

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While offering advice and tips is a great way to help and encourage your partner around the house, micromanaging can have the opposite effect – and often leads to more arguments and silent resentment. You are trying to communicate with a partner, not introduce children to chores, after all, reminds Rachel Goldberg, MS, LMFT. 

‘You want to refrain from critiquing how your partner performs their assigned chores. While providing constructive feedback on specific issues, such as a dish not being properly cleaned, is acceptable, consistently scrutinizing your partner's methods or pace can foster resentment and diminish their motivation to complete their assigned tasks. Instead of micromanaging or nitpicking, trust that your partner is capable of completing their tasks in their own way and refrain from unnecessary interference.’

8. Make chores fun

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There are plenty of ways to make cleaning fun – and they aren't reserved for children. If you want to add a little more spontaneity to your relationship, your chores can be a good place to start, says Dr. Courtnay Meletta, licensed integrative psychotherapist and founder of a private group therapy practice:

‘I remember asking a friend about yard-work and he said he calls it yard-play instead. Now I understand it is unreasonable to find play in all chores, but are there any that you could make more playful? This could be an interesting experiment and challenge that might even draw you closer as a couple.’

‘I encourage couples to get creative with how they go about splitting chores. They can pick tasks out of a jar, play a card game, or even have a chore draft,’ continues Mark Verber, a licensed professional counselor at EPIC Counseling Solutions. ‘A chore draft involves listing all the chores on pieces of paper and taking turns picking. It can even be incorporated into an at-home happy hour with cocktails and appetizers. Why not have fun with it?’

9. Avoid assumptions

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No matter how long you have known or lived with your partner, you should never make assumptions about what they do and do not know. This is another key reason why chores are left incomplete or loaded onto just one partner, points out Christine DeVore, a licensed clinical psychologist at Birch Psychology.

‘Don’t assume your partner knows what chores need to be done or when you’d like them done. What seems obvious to one person might not be to the other. Regular check-ins can help clarify expectations and adjust the division of labor as needed.’ 

Family Wall Planner

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Keeping a list of chores and their deadlines in plain sight can help everyone in the household stay on top of their tasks without the need to prompt or nag. 

10. Never keep score


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Although making chores a fun competition between partners can help you get motivated to clean, it is vital that you never start to keep score in the back of your mind when your partner starts to slack. This will only result in needless resentment, says Wes Knepper, therapist and director of clinical quality at SonderMind

‘Assuming an otherwise healthy relationship, being the only one that has taken out the trash for the last month doesn’t mean that your partner isn’t pulling their weight somewhere else. Be observant of other ways that your partner might be contributing to your shared chores.’ 


Should couples have a chore chart?  

Although chore cheats are usually thought of for children or housemates, they can help between partners who live together too. The char ensures that all the important tasks in a house are complete and that the load of work is divided equally between both parties. This can make chores into a friendly competition, but it is important that it does not become a point for argument, or trying to point out that one person is ‘better’ than the other. If tensions arise, this might not be the approach for you.  

Should working couples share housework equally? 

If both parties in a couple work, it can help to split chores equally. This prevents one partner from feeling like they have an unmanageable burden when they get home after a long day. When splitting chores between working couples, consider the person's manner of work and any shifts. One partner might work a manual labor job longer than the other partner, who might work in an office. Split chores accordingly so that one person is not tiring themselves out even more. This means chores might not be exactly 50/50, but everything evens out in the grand scheme of things. 

When moving forward into a more collaborative stage of your relationship, it is important to avoid looking back to the past – especially if your partner is taking steps to help around the house and share the load, urges Courtney Morgan, licensed therapist. Only then will you both see progress both in your relationship and your home. ‘A couple of things to avoid when splitting up chores is bringing up the past, belittling your partner, or avoiding the conversation entirely. It is best to recognize that your goal is to work together as a team, not to make your partner feel bad for not doing more chores.’ 

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.