Fighting over chores is fucking stupid

So is formally dividing them into “mine” and “yours”

I outright refuse to play this game. If you are, you done fucked up somewhere.

We are not children

And that’s the only time dividing up chores is appropriate.

When my brother and I were kids, my mom would leave us these handwritten chore lists before going to work during the summer, when we were home from school. Great.

Having shit written down helps a lot when people are new to something. Like there’s a typed, laminated list of “closing” and “opening” duties at the bar, and because I’ve only been bartending a few months, I still reference it most shifts.

But after all these years, I don’t need a fucking list for my home anymore.

Find a better outlet for anxiety

The thing is, those lists my mom left for us as kids had the same exact thing 99% of the time—after a while we knew what to do, and to this day my brother and I still remember that I cleaned the upstairs bathroom while he did the downstairs; that I vacuumed the second floor and him the first; I dusted while he emptied the dishwasher; etc.

My mother didn’t need to handwrite that list for us every day.

She wrote it for herself.

It was just psychologically soothing to her because list-making always is. She did this just like she gets off on handwriting everything she’s making for Thanksgiving, everyone who’s coming to the baby shower, or the bills she has to pay.

But when you use your partner as an outlet for anxiety, you’re doing just that: using them. You’re battering them a little bit each and every time you come at them with pen-jabs instead of handling your anxiety for yourself.

It’s a power-play

And a petty one at that. Just one step beyond “anxious,” and the sort of shit that can happen when you let your own anxiety get behind the wheel.

It’s my boss who texts me almost every time I open at the bar, even though I usually close with him the night before, to tell me what needs to be done. (Like, motherfucker I was here last night doing it. And I’m here now doing it. I can see with my eyes. And we have lists for this shit.)

He just wants to hear himself talk. He wants to feel like he’s in control of the situation — so that he doesn’t have to sit with the slight unease of feeling as though anyone else has any.

Listing off shit people need to do is just coming over the top of them to stroke your own ego — because you are insecure. “Look at how good of a handle I have on shit! I’m so in control. You are inferior to my utter on-top-of-shit-ness.”

Why do you feel the need to interact with people like this? Why?

You know what you don’t have a good handle on? Interpersonal relationships — and actually getting what you really want and need most from others.

Dividing makes a relationship tit-for-tat

And keeping score in a relationship is for assholes.

The minute we start to assign chores, we’re combative. We’ll notice that something needs to be done and instead of doing it ourselves, we’ll think “that’s their job.”

It’s petty, it’s insecure, and it drives a divisive line between you. It inherently becomes adversarial when we’re supposed to be a fucking team. There is only one score: ours.


Solution:

I have lived with countless partners and roommates over the years — some partners for as long as five — and have literally never once fought with any of them over chores, either me not doing enough or them not doing enough.

I have also worked with a shit-ton of people, and managed teams upwards of twenty, and have never had an issue with them doing their jobs, either.

Here’s what to do instead of petty lists:

Alignment of a shared goal (and values)

The greatest project I ever managed was also the most challenging — it was an incredibly aggressive timeline (3 months) for an incredibly complex technology (early IoT), with a lot hanging on its success (millions in advertising already spent.)

We succeeded, and not because I spent my time (as project manager) divvying up duties and watching over people’s shoulders. We succeeded because we all got fucking committed hard to its success — and each other. We all wanted to see it ship, and we all got serious about it regardless of what needed to be done.

The exception was one motherfucker, who actually called a meeting with our primary client stakeholder, myself and my lead dev, sat us all down and said, “I want to understand who does what here; what everyone’s job is, including my own.” Not because he was confused and wanted clarity to better support the team, but because he wanted a little domain to wholly control.

And the three of us across the table — the client, my lead dev, and myself — all stared at him in shock, like “everyone’s on board here. What the fuck are you doing?”

The answer is: being utterly unaligned and disconnected on values and mission. (Probably due to insecurity, anxiety and need for control.) And I eventually removed him from the program for it.

At home, one goal is a clean home. But the bigger goal is a good, solid AF relationship. People who fuck around about chores — not doing them, watching what others are doing, or fighting about who’s doing or not doing them — are unaligned about the higher level goal.

Alignment of generosity (and love)

I find good people — for both work and love. And then I fucking trust them to do their part, and I leave them to it. And in the meantime, I focus on doing my job — and, perhaps more importantly, on loving and caring for them.

I close with the same other bartender almost every time I work, and we fucking love working together. I would probably never hang out her socially — it’s not like we’re best friends or have much in common or necessarily even get along outside of working alongside each other — but fuck can we work a bar. We can break ours down in about 20 minutes, give or take, and we’re happy and laughing the entire time.

You want to know how many times she and I have formally divided up those countless closing tasks — washing mats, collecting and washing glassware, closing tabs, mopping, wiping, cleaning taps, capping bottles, stocking, etc, etc, etc?

Never. Literally not even once.

We share a goal — we both want to get the fuck out of there — but more importantly, we both fucking work. We don’t get hung up on who’s doing what, or who’s doing more. We share a list, we understand that we need to get through it, and we move. If I see her tackling something, I move on and tackle the next thing. If I know she hates doing something, I do it for her — and vice versa.

I don’t dawdle and kill time, re-wiping the same surfaces indefinitely, waiting for her to finish everything, like another bartender we both loathe closing with. And neither does she.

And it’s the same with all relationships.

I choose good people with good values and good love, and I trust them to do their shit — and then I back them anyway, because I trust they back me, too.

If youre upset that someone isn’t picking up the slack, then one or both of you needs to better align your values and goals. Maybe they need to get on board with loving more — or maybe you do.

Like, why are you more concerned with what they do than really, deeply understanding why, in an empathic way? Think about why rather than just getting pissed about it — i.e., do they see it? Do they agree it needs to be done? Do they know you want it done? Do they know you want them to do it? (Why not you? Do they know why not you? Do they agree with the reason?) Do you compromise, too? Do they agree that you do? Etc

Reach a solution with love and alignment on the real issue.

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