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Mother’s Day is quickly approaching! As a busy mom, Mother’s Day can sneak up on you with the chaos of end of the year school activities, home projects, and travel plans. Moms have a heart of gold and do not have expectations of presents, but we still love the gesture of gifting to make the day special and show our appreciation for everything she does for the family.

“We read a lot of articles and books about how to get through the engagement process, but no one ever talked to us about what it would be like the first year of our marriage. I wish we had known what to expect,” said one of the couples my husband and I mentor. This is a common comment, and if you find yourself having similar feelings, do not fret! You are not alone. The first year of marriage is fabulous, but it can also be difficult. Two people learning to become one does not happen overnight.

We all like to think we have good manners in marriage, but with the people that are closest to us, we can sometimes find ourselves slipping a bit. As stated by Cindy Grosso of the Charleston School of Protocol, manners are not about a bunch of rules. Manners are the outward manifestation of the condition of our heart. If we have a heart that loves, honors, respects, and cherishes our spouse, then these traits will show in how we behave.

Society is opening and people are resuming long overdue vacations. This is great news! I recently posted some tips on making your travels successful, but let’s focus on dos and don’ts of traveling with friends.

 

1. Boundaries: When traveling with others, set guidelines, boundaries, and expectations before leaving town. If you know you and your husband want one night to yourselves, express this up front. If a quiet breakfast in bed is necessary to start your day, see if this fits with the group’s schedule. 

The world is opening, and it is time to celebrate! One of the first things people are doing as they exercise their recaptured freedom is heading out of town to new destinations. I thought a few refresher tips on travel might be good for all of us.

Walking into the room, my husband pauses in front of the TV. Turning to me with a spoiler alert about my favorite Hallmark movie he says, “Hey Lisa…they get married.” And you know what? He’s right! The girl found her prince charming, and the couple has a happy ending, every time.

How many mornings have we left home in a state of utter chaos? Breakfast was late, children were crying, and we hurriedly throw on clothes from the night before only to realize how wrinkled we look. This mad dash makes for an unpleasant parting from our family and it is usually caused by a disorganized approach to our routine. So much of the bedlam we experience at the beginning of the day can be avoided if we are willing to implement a few tasks the night before.

The mamor (mother-in-law) and damor (daughter-in-law) relationship is meant to be beautiful and strong. In parts 1 and 2 of our series we learned why women in these roles might have certain feelings in their new family dynamics. Once we learned the “why” we then explored practical steps we can take to strengthen these special bonds. As we bring our series to a close, I want to impart some words of wisdom we all need to hear, and be reminded of, to ensure we create a healthy, life-long bond between the mamor/damor.

In part one of our series on the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship we learned why the women who find themselves in these roles often experience emotions ranging from pure joy to hurt and sadness. Once we discovered the answers, our understanding of this special relationship came into focus. We had an “aha” moment which makes our path forward easier to navigate.

Do you remember the movie Monster-in-Law? It starred Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda in a romantic comedy centered around the tumultuous relationship between a bride and her future mother-in-law. If you have not seen it, you should. It will keep you laughing but, sadly, may hit closer to home than you would like to admit.

As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

  • Lisa Lou

Dividing Up the Household Chores: What is the Best Approach

Updated: Jun 3, 2020


Downloadable Household Chore List



Getty Images/iStockphoto


Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, authors of The Good Fight, state arguments around housework is one of the five primary sources of marital conflict. People work better when there is a road map to follow. Guidelines help everyone know what is expected of them. The day-to-day operations of maintaining a home is no exception. My husband always says, “To be unclear is to be unkind.” Without clear expectations of what each spouse presumes, tensions will surface.

It is easy for couples to enter marriage assuming certain things around the house will automatically be completed by the other spouse. This is usually a result of preconceived expectations they had about the roles of each family member while they were growing up. Maybe Mom washed the clothes and Dad repaired the cars. But what if the wife grew up with her dad doing the laundry and the husband grew up with his mother doing the laundry. If each of you believe that your own experience is “what is expected,” then you are going to stare at each other at the end of the week and wonder why no one had clean underwear!

The best way to manage these expectations and create harmony within the responsibilities you both now share is to discuss them on the front end of your marriage (preferably before you are married). Most marriage counselors will tell you the best approach to dividing up household duties is to decide who is best at what job.

Focus on the Family: “The Bible doesn’t specify who has garbage duty. Rather, it encourages each spouse to use their skills to make a house a home. Men are called to manage their household well (1 Timothy 3:12), women to watch over their household (Proverbs 31:27) and both to abstain from laziness (1 Timothy 5:8). In a home with two healthy spouses, each is to actively contribute to the household, whether through paid employment, unpaid housework or both.”

Trying to divide the chores 50/50 is usually a recipe for disaster. In marriage, we are both called to give 100%. Our marriage is not a transaction: “If you do this, then I will do that.” That would be defined as a contract. We are in a covenant, which calls us to be the best “me” I can be and put my spouse before myself.

“As soon as we start trying to quantify things, we open ourselves up for silly fights. How do you classify reading to your children? Is that work, or not? What about having a heart-to-heart with your 4-year-old? Work? Or good for the soul? What if he works full time and she’s with the kids, but you think his job is ‘fun’ because it’s exciting and he gets a lot of time to himself? Is that as demanding as your time with the kids, even if you get to nap in the afternoon? If you’re expecting your spouse to do his share, then you’re always looking at him asking if he’s living up to his end of the bargain. That’s a recipe for constant resentment. I think we should each put our all into a marriage–100/100. That’s the model.” -To Love Honor and Vacuum.

My husband changed diapers regularly but gagged every time he dumped that toxic monster sitting in the corner of the nursery called the Diaper Genie. He never complained and he never asked me to take over, but I saw the discomfort it brought him. I stepped in and put that chore into my category. He also saw how I would get the heebie-jeebies just by looking at a dead bug. He took over this aspect of housekeeping, and I am forever grateful! No one would say those two switches were a 50/50 deal. I only had to dump the Diaper Genie for the three years our son was not potty trained. Yet, thirty years later, my husband is still picking up bugs.


When you sit down to make a list of all the household duties you now share, ask yourself these three questions: What? When? How?

What needs to be done?

When would we like it done (daily, weekly)?

How would we like it done?

The first step is to sit down and have a brain storming session. List everything that the two of you feel needs to be accomplished around the home and within your family life. Once you have completed the “what” task, then begin dividing up the chores based on your strengths. If I’m good at 6 out of 10 items and my husband is good at 4 out of 10, am I really going to give him one of my duties he’s unqualified to do just so it can be a 50/50 transaction?

Another factor to consider besides the ability of each partner, is to take both of your time restraints into consideration. If your spouse is in medical residency and you work at home with more flexible hours, are you still going to insist the chores be divided equally? No. This is a unique season of life, and during this time the spouse that has more free time at home should most likely carry the heavier load. God made us to share each other’s burdens. Remember, it’s a covenant, not a contract.

Once you have made a list, discussed your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes, then each of you take a copy of the chore list, and put a mark by the items you would like. Don’t worry about making sure every box is checked at this point. This is your chance to vocalize what you are joyfully willing to do. You both might be surprised. When you compare lists, you could find that all chores have an owner.

If there are items no one has taken, then discuss why. Sometimes it is as simple as thinking, “Oh, I assumed my husband would do that, because my dad did that when I was growing up. But I don’t mind doing it for our home.” This is the time to break that mold of preconceived ideas. The families we grew up in may have been run very differently, and that is fine. There is no right or wrong when it comes to dividing the tasks. The key is, if possible, to take on a responsibility that best fits with your abilities, likes and dislikes and not base it on the traditions of your childhood home.

If there is one job that both of you really do not like, then take turns. One week the wife cleans the toilets and the next week the husband takes this job. Neither of you like doing this, but you are helping carry the load for the other.

Now that you have divided up all the duties and decided who does what, you need to discuss the “when.” When will these items be completed? Do you want floors swept once a week? Is the trash removed twice a week? How often do you want the toilets cleaned? Together, figure out a schedule you both can agree to.

Lastly, it is important you both decide “how” the job will be done. Is a simple wipe-down of the kitchen counters acceptable, or do they always need to be sprayed with disinfectant? Do you have a certain way you like the shower cleaned? Make these decisions. I would suggest the first month you do all chores together. This will help with any miscommunication you might have about the various tasks.

One point I would like to make. I believe the person doing the job should get to decide the format they will use to accomplish the task. If I am the one working, I do not want my husband standing over me telling me how to do the job. I do want to know what he prefers, which is why you discuss things up front, but I may have my own way of doing things. Maybe your mother taught you to fold as you go when you pull the laundry out of the dryer. Maybe his mother taught him to complete all the laundry, then separate clothes by piling together similar items (socks in this pile, underwear in that pile) and then fold. Either approach works, and in the end, the laundry has been folded. Don’t micromanage your spouse. My husband and I always use the toothpaste example. If one spouse rolls the toothpaste from the bottom and the other squeezes from the middle, it is alright. In the end, you have both brushed your teeth. (Side note: It is comical to see how many little arguments begin around the toothpaste tube. Are you a roller or a squeezer? Simple solution: each spouse gets their own tube! Sometimes we just overthink our solutions. Keep life simple.)

Not only should we not micromanage, we should also avoid being a gatekeeper. Alan Hawkins, a doctoral graduate from The Pennsylvania State University and family studies professor, says the same spouse who complains is usually the same spouse who has self-appointed themselves as the gatekeeper. If you are the type who supervises the work of your husband or wife, you need to stop. “It can be difficult, even somewhat humiliating, to live under the implied disapproval of a spouse with overly high expectations," Leslie and Les Parrott caution.

If you do not trust your spouse to do the work, or you find yourself going behind them and correcting their work, then maybe you should add that chore to your list. This is another reason setting expectations upfront is so important. My husband used to make the bed as part of his duties. He did not like all the decorative pillows I used and did not see the purpose of these. My attempt to explain, “If you will put this square pillow this way, and the round pillow over there, it makes the entire bed so beautiful.” I realized my decorating tips did not resonate. During our first year, as I added more and more pillows, his work increased. I saw how long it was taking him to make the bed. He tried hard to fluff the pillows and position them “just so,” but it was a very frustrating experience for him. His expertise was not in interior decorating! I knew I should not be the gatekeeper for how the bed was made, and that my desire for all these pillows had increased his workload. So, I took bed making off his list and put it on mine. Do not micromanage. No one is perfect. Show grace.

It is also important to show appreciation. When you see that the trash has been taken out, even though this is on their list, say thank you. A little appreciation goes a long way.

You can decide how you approach the weekly chores, but I think it is good to work together at the same time, if possible. Make it a game and see who can finish first. My husband and I always cleaned on Saturday mornings and made it a goal to be finished by noon. It felt good to work together towards a shared goal, and our reward was getting to spend the afternoon doing something fun.

Set up a command center in your home where you display the chore list. This is your go-to place for all things “family business” related. This becomes even more important if you have children. The command center should be where you post a physical printout of your duties. It helps keep everyone accountable as well as on task.


I’ve included a downloadable household list to get you thinking. This will change and grow as the seasons of married life evolve. Remember that marriage is not 50/50. It is 100/100. Enjoy the process of maintaining your home and the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes when the two of you work together for a common end. Do not forget to thank each other, avoid micromanaging and show a little grace. And if you just did not have time to get all the cleaning done this week, that’s alright. My favorite tip: turn the lights low and light the candles. It covers a multitude of sins.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou