Fighting over the housework?

wife ironing“I do more of the housework…that’s how I know I’m doing more of it!”

That’s the answer my client gave me today when I asked her “how do you know you are doing more housework than your husband?”

Her answer was fair, accurate and maybe even a bit obvious.  And it seems like a conversation ENDER, not an opener….doesn’t it?

Except that when I asked her what her goal was and how I could help she said “I want to stop keeping score with my partner because it feels like crap, but I can’t seem to stop ‘noticing’ that I do most of the housework around here.”

See, my clients know that there is a Transformation Killer in intimate relationships….it is measuring! Also known as, keeping score!

The process of measuring what we are getting back from our partner in exchange for what we are giving literally blocks the process of relationship transformation that our clients are creating!

It’s one of the hardest habits to break for so many people. It was one of the HARDEST things for ME to break when I went through this process years ago with Paul. So I understand!

Back to my client today. She asked this great question on today’s live Q&A call. The question is actually extremely common, but the outcome may surprise you.

I asked her to give me an example and she said one of the ones that really triggers her is cleaning up after she’s cooked dinner (pots, dishes, etc).

When I asked her what happens when she asks her partner to clean up, her answer was also pretty common – sometimes he does and sometimes it doesn’t go very well.

Sound familiar?

There are TWO KEYS to asking for what you want here.

  1. How you ask:
    1. When you are really criticizing, punishing, yelling, nagging, shaming, guilting or generally attaching negative energy to how you ask your partner, you are not really asking. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t go very well.
    2. When you ask, you need to use the energy of “indifference” and truly make it an invitation, so your partner feels like they actually have a choice.
  2. Timing:
    1. Timing is always key in everything you do in your relationship. When you have already cooked and eaten the meal and THEN you ask your partner to do the dishes, that comes with an “energy” of not really being an “invitation.” Dinner has already been eaten, the dishes are sitting there, someone has to do them, and now it’s a “me vs you” energy.
    2. The KEY is to truly ASK by doing it before dinner!
    3. You could try something like this “I really want to make Zucchini pasta and meat sauce for dinner tonight babe, but honestly, I just don’t want to clean up after. So, you choose A. I cook and you clean or B. we order a pizza. What do you want to do?”
    4. When you do that with a truly OPEN energy (not a manipulative energy) then you are really inviting your partner to choose. And then he has the option to pick what he wants and whether he feels like cleaning up afterwards.

Now, I wouldn’t be serving you if I didn’t handle the elephant in the room. “Why should I have to ASK!”

Sweetie, you DO have to ask! I’ll take it one step further. If your trigger response is “why should I have to ask” then consider that your “rules” about having to ask are actually making you upset and not the cleaning or housework itself.

Change your rules!

While there are a hundred reasons why you have to ask, I’ll give you one simple one to start. If you are feminine energy and your partner is masculine, then you must ask because your partner has a different focus than you do.

Men have “single focus” while women have “diffused awareness.”  This is not a judgment, this is a scientific fact.

Men go deep, focus on one thing and don’t shift their attention to other things easily.

Women have diffused awareness, we are “aware” of everything within a certain radius of ourselves. Everything around us is “talking to us” – as we walk through the kitchen we notice the sock on the floor, the plate in the wrong spot, the placemat that has crayon on it (that’s new from today?), the water in the cooler is low and the phone (oh yeah, I forgot to call that person back).  We are aware of so many things all the time, trying to shut everything else OFF and focus on only ONE thing is challenging to say the least.

What does this have to do with the dishes? EVERYTHING.

You started thinking about WHO was going to do the dishes WAY before the meal was over! Yes you did! You started thinking about it when you got the craving for zucchini pasta with meat sauce.  Then your next thought was that you didn’t want to have to wash two pots and the zucchini spirally thing.  Then you thought about how you wish he would clean up after you cook. Then you decided to cook anyway. Then you wondered if he would offer. Then you finally asked with all the energy and buildup that you brought into this meal.  (And by the way, you might have started thinking about this in the grocery store when you picked up the zucchini, but I’ll let that go).

Now, how about that man eating the zucchini and meat sauce? When did he start thinking about WHO was going to clean the dishes? Before dinner? (NOPE) During the meal? (NOPE) He has single focus, so he was focusing on whatever he was focused on (eating, talking to you, being with the kids, work, etc) but he was not ALSO focused on thinking about who would clean up after the meal.

The minute you engaged him in some kind of conversation about cleaning up was the minute he started focusing on the clean up for the first time. And if you came at it with the exhausted energy of “why do I always have to ask” you can imagine his surprise when he finds himself hip-deep in a fight with you about something that he didn’t realize he was in until 13 seconds ago.

It’s an exaggeration, but maybe not-so-much?

So, the short answer is “you DO have to ask.” You have two strategies for HOW to ask and WHEN to ask.

Now you can choose to stay stuck in your current pattern and be RIGHT about doing more of the housework, or you can consistently use an approach that gets you more of the result that you want!

I’m a huge fan of empowering myself to create the life and love that I want to live in! I hope this serves you!

Sending love,


p.s. In next week’s blog, I will talk more about score keeping, and the 50/50 relationship problems that come with it!

11 thoughts on “Fighting over the housework?

  1. Hey Stacey! Shana tova to you, too! May it be a GREAT year!
    Right after the RBR, I noticed how difficult it was for me to "unprogram" keeping score. Amazing how you can know you don't like what you are doing, know you want to change it and what your goal is, and still struggle. But awareness and goals and not getting down on yourself for repeating the pattern eventually turn into – whalla! I am not so professional in my scorekeeping anymore! And you've taken a babystep and are on your way to Level 3! Thank you for raising my awareness and showing me where I want to be! Mwah!

    1. Oh Fahmida! When it comes to children and family contributions I will defer to our amazing parenting coach Amy McCready! Check out Amy’s solutions at!

  2. Oh Fahmida! When it comes to children and family contributions I will defer to our amazing parenting coach Amy McCready! Check out Amy’s solutions at!

  3. LOVE this post! The most interesting thing for my husband and I is that we're somewhat reversed in masculine/feminine energy. I am typically single-focused, yet have the awareness of all the other things going on, so they do vie for my attention. Multi-tasking is something I'm not so great at. My husband however, is very diffuse awareness. He can work on a car in the garage, get 5 loads of laundry done, sweep the floors and get at least some of that laundry put away – all while I'm grocery shopping. Say what!? I am in no way so effective. (Dishes he refuses to do, and he has no cooking skills but that's ok, he does plenty else!) Since we've come to an understanding of "single focus" and "diffuse awareness" things have settled quite a lot. Less complaints from him and more help. I am actually able to focus and get more done at what I'm doing. However, I had never thought to *back it up* and ask for what I need or want sooner! I have approached it that way before, but with the energy of "either way you're not going to like it". THANK YOU for the different perspective and reminding me that the energy of *how* I ask is so important! {{{{HUGS}}}}

  4. So appreciate your reminder to stop the score keeping. When I was growing up, our family played games a lot. My Dad usually won, which was a sore spot with me, since I had a competitive side to me as well and wanted to win too. We would keep score usually. After I moved out on my own, I joined a group of friends and played games without competing. We actually would play for fun, not for the score. I discovered that each new game or hand was a fresh opportunity to improve our skills without putting the other person down. (I used to play Scrabble with a couple of friends and applaud them when they got the high scoring words!) Then, the games were much more enjoyable and we all were actually a team! I'm going to put this to practice with my family and enjoy this fresh freedom! Thank you, Stacey!!

  5. Whooo Hoooo Kathryn!! I love this! Thank you so much for sharing your story….that is awesome!!!! You are so welcome sweetie…and Thank YOU too!!! MUAH!

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