Learning to live together: taken for granted or expecting too much?

**The fifth in my little series on learning to live with M together. I will write these as the thoughts cross my mind**

I started reading “The Happiness Project” around the time that M and I were readying for our move in together and one of the biggest things I took away from reading it, was not to allow chores and favors and such become a rift in your relationship or marriage. I knew I wanted to go into this with clear ‘roles’ for each of us, but not to the extent of a list of chores on the fridge or something like that. So, we decided on things we’d both ‘own’ (luckily, he doesn’t mind the stuff I hate, like cleaning the cat litter, taking out the trash and cleaning the bathtub!) and we’d both just do our best to create a happy medium, where he wasn’t feeling as though I was going to eye every time he left his shoes by the door (okay, I am working on this!) and he wasn’t going to just aimlessly throw stuff whereever and just assume I’d clean it up.

And to be honest, it’s been a heck of a lot smoother than I thought it would. Our place is clean and uncluttered for the most part.


Today, I started to feel myself wavering between wondering if what I do around the house is taken for granted, or if M doesn’t say much about what I do because a) he feels bad because I do ‘more’ than he does (again, this is my choice!) or b) he is really getting used to it and it’s not as ‘noticed.’ And then I started to wonder if it matters if it’s noticed each and every time. (it doesn’t, honestly. and it shouldn’t!). Which led to this post.

And then I went back to the Happiness Project and read through this list and realized two things. I am starting to nag. And I am, in a way, doing some of these things in hopes of some sort of praise. But why? I don’t need it. I did all of these things when I lived alone, what’s the difference now? I guess it’s natural for everyone to want to feel appreciated, right?

(and wow, re-reading this post so far, hellloooo overthinker!! in full effect over here!!)

But, to my fault, I was starting to get passive-aggressive with it, and making comments like ‘boy, you’re getting a little too used to this, huh?” when that is SO not me. I LOVE doing these things. I LOVE doing laundry. I LOVE making him oatmeal. (no really…I do!) He is always appreciative, whether it is verbal or not. So then, I started feeling like a jerk. And here we are now, blogging it out 😉

But I think it’s just one of those things that again, will come in time. We’ve only been at this for about two months. We’re still finding our pace, or balance, our ‘happy medium’ with everything. And if that means doing a little more here and there which frees up some time in the evenings to spend together, then so be it. And I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. These have been two of the best months of my life…and so much more to come 🙂


As a related aside, check out this list on tips on avoiding nagging. I particularly like the one about re-framing, settling for a partial victory and – the biggest for me – not expecting it to be done on MY schedule:

1. It’s annoying to hear a hectoring voice, so suggest tasks without words. When the Big Man needs a prescription filled, he puts his empty medicine bottle on the bathroom counter. Then I know to get it re-filled.

2. If you need to voice a reminder, limit yourself to one word. Instead of barking out, “Now remember, I’ve told you a dozen times, stop off at the grocery store, we need milk, if you forget, you’re going right back out!” Instead, call out, “Grocery store!” or “Milk!”

3. Don’t insist that a task be done on your schedule. “You’ve got to trim those hedges today!” Says who? Try, “When are you planning to trim the hedges?” If possible, show why something needs to be done by a certain time. “Will you be able to trim the hedges before our party next week?”

4. Remind your partner that it’s better to decline a task than to break a promise. The Big Man told me that he’d emailed some friends to tell them we had to miss their dinner party to go to a family dinner—but he hadn’t. Then I had to cancel at the last minute. Now I tell him, “You don’t have to do it. But tell me, so I can it.”

5. Have clear assignments. I always call repairmen; the Big Man alwaysempties the Diaper Genie.

6. Every once in a while, do your sweetheart’s task, for a treat. This kind of pitching-in wins enormous goodwill.

7. Assign chores based on personal priorities. I hate a messy bedroom more than the Big Man, but he hates a messy kitchen more than I. So I do more tidying in the bedroom, and he does more in the kitchen.

8. Do it yourself. I used to be annoyed with the Big Man because we never had cash in the house. Then I realized: why did I get to assign that job? Now I do it, and we always have cash, and I’m not annoyed.

9. Settle for a partial victory. Maybe your partner won’t put dishes in the dishwasher, but getting them from the family room into the sink is a big improvement.

10. Re-frame: decide that you don’t mind doing a chore — like putting clothes in the hamper or hanging up wet towels. Suprisingly, this is easier than you’d think.

11. Don’t push for the impossible. The Big Man knows that there’s no way I’ll do anything relating to our car, so he doesn’t even ask.

12. No carping from the sidelines. If your partner got the kids dressed, don’t mock the outfits. If you want something done your way, do it yourself.

13. Think about how money might be able to buy some happiness. Could you find a teenager to mow the lawn? Could you hire a weekly cleaning service? Could you buy prepared foods? Eliminating conflict in a relationship is a high happiness priority, so this is a place to spend money if it can help.

14. Remember that messy areas tend to stay messy, and tidy areas tend to stay tidy. If you want your partner to be neat, be neat yourself!

I admit that these tips are practically useless, however, in a situation where one person is absolutely oblivious for the need for chores to be done. I have it easy, because if anything, the Big Man is more chore-oriented than I am. If a person simply does not care, it’s practically impossible to get him or her to participate.


28 thoughts on “Learning to live together: taken for granted or expecting too much?

  1. There’s nothing worse in a relationship than feeling like you’re being taken for granted. I think that open, honest communication can go a long way in helping that. 🙂

    LOVE ‘The Happiness Project’, btw. I think maybe I need to go back and re-read it. 😉

    1. You’re right, there is just about nothing worse than that feeling! But I agree with you that honest and open communication does wonders. And the Happiness Project…so good. Like her web site and blog too 🙂

  2. Oh my gosh…I love this post (and I really want to read that book). You are not alone my dear.

    There are times when I definitely feel like I’m pulling more than my fair share of the weight in the house. I read an article once about how people tend to emphasize their “chores” more than the others. After reading it made a mental list of what I do vs. what my hubby does. He actually does a lot (I hate to admit it, maybe more than me), but he doesn’t talk about it – he just does it. And I sometimes get pissy if he doesn’t thank me, but then he rightly corrected me & said that he does thank me, but I don’t hear him. For me at least, a lot of it is because I’m not use to living with someone else. I’m use to doing things my way. I lived on my own from college graduation until I moved in with Eric 4 years ago.

    We are still trying to figure it all out. BUT, we’ve promised to call each other out on our b.s. & never keep anything inside. Oh, and we got a cleaning service to come every other week. BEST money we spend each month.

    1. You should read it!! I loved it! And I am glad that you totally get what I meant here too and in a way, makes me feel better that it is something that is ongoing, give and take, all that jazz. I love that you’ll call each other’s BS out too. I think that’s important! Cleaning serviec is a great idea! And living alone definitely made more things ingrained in me that I just want done MY way than I ever thought! So I am glad you get that too!

  3. i swear we just went through the same thing in our marriage. I felt myself nagging and then had to realize that i want to serve and love my husband without wanting praise in return. Serving others and loving them fully.

    1. Wow, so weird that you just went through this too, Lindsay! It isn’t about praise in return at all…and if it gets that way, nip it in the bud, right? Just as you did and just as I am doing now!

      1. Couldn’t have said it any better than Lindsay did – you are so wise my dear. Reason #4,564 why I heart your relationship with your husband! So important to balance out your relationship by remembering that you are here to support and serve eachother, above all else. No praise needed.

  4. But it DOES have to be done on my schedule 😉 I am really really bad about that one. But in my defense, it’s usually because if he doesn’t do said task/chore right then (when I say something about it) he forgets. Or that’s my excuse anyway.

    So often I do feel like what I do around the house goes completely and totally unnoticed. I enjoy cooking, but every once in a while I’d like a “thank you.” Or I makes sure we always have clean workout clothes and undies and the doggy tumbleweeds don’t get tooooo out of control. So sometimes just a mention that it’s appreciated is important.

    1. Yes! That’s a biggie for me too, I just want it done now or I’ll just freaking do it myself 😉 I think you’d like this book btw!! I agree with you on the mention once in awhile is just enough. All we need 🙂

  5. ok see this is why i got all riled up reading that book. because you’re right that we shouldn’t do things and expect praise, but when men do things, they DO expect praise. Every time Eric does something, he’s all “look what I did.” and i have to be all “good boy! so proud of you” and give him all this positive reinforcement so that he does it again. How come girls don’t get to have this positive reinforcement?? it’s because men were taught that women are supposed to take care of them. Mommies do that for them because they love them. SO that’s where I got frustrated.
    I’ve been told I just need to accept that I will always do more.

    1. I knew that was why you didn’t like the book 😉 I don’t necessarily agree with having to accept that we do more just by nature of the fact that we are women, but I totally get what you mean. Good thing M was never really a momma’s boy and has done a lot of stuff for himself, otherwise, the whole ‘mommies do that for them’ thing would get old, real fast ;0)

    2. I agree, Erika! This type of division of labor works for those rare couples who approach things (financially and around the house) 50/50. It wouldn’t work as well for those couples who are more like 80/20 ;). Thought-provoking post, Jo!

      1. Exactly, needs to be 50/50 in some capacity, or else it just won’t work. In my opinion. I offset what he does and he offsets what I do. I just tend to nag more than I’d like!

  6. Maybe I’m just lucky. S is so quick to notice when I do anything around the house. He loves my baking and cleaning. He says it’s part of why he married me. And we agreed that I would care for the inside while he cares for the outside. At the same time, he is quick to clean up after himself…mostly.

    And after a time, I have discovered that you just don’t get as anal about things anymore. It will all sort itself out. Promise.

  7. the man was so set in his routine, if you can call it that, that i eased him into the tornado of type-A-itude that i am in the weeks before the move was official. and i mean, after this many years, i’m pretty good at judging where he can be pushed to compromise, where he flat-out doesn’t think about things, and where he just won’t budge. and he knows this stuff about me, too. so it’s meshed well.

    the big sticking point with the man is getting him to help me plan things for the week. food shopping and meal planning was EXCRUCIATING. he’d say, to every time he was asked what he wanted, “i don’t care – whatever.” and i know it’s true; he’s not picky. but that is SINGULARLY unhelpful. i finally came up with a sentence that gets him on board with this oh-so-unfamiliar routine: “please help me.” as soon as i say that, it’s smooth sailing.

    boys are such complex little monsters, eh? 🙂

    1. YES! The ‘i don’t care, whatever’ about dinner is a tough one! I like to PLAN meals, especially when I am home later after a workout or something. last thing I want to do is mess with defrosting something or whatever. It takes time, but it sounds like we are both adjusting 🙂

  8. Ugh – I dread becoming a nag. I *love* my Mother to pieces, but she was a nag and I vowed I would never be like that. When I was married, I found myself nagging at times. As soon as I realized I was doing it, I stopped and just walked away. A good friend of mine said to me this summer when I asked him why her husband wasn’t wearing any sunscreen “If he wants me to put it on he’ll ask me to. I’m his wife, not his mother, I’m not going to nag him about it.” It made me laugh but it’s so true. Pick your battles I guess and decide which battles are worth it.

    1. YES! I never want to be anyone’s mother but my own (future) child! picking your battles…a tough one for me, but yes, I will learn this!! Every day I try to 😉

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