According to Regina Lark Ph.D., organization expert and author of Emotional Labor: Why a Woman’s Work is Never Done and What To Do About It, chores can become a source of conflict in relationships for a number of reasons.

For one thing, especially if you’re in a cis-het relationship, traditional gender roles around “women’s work” are still incredibly pervasive, with many of us subconsciously holding a belief that it’s the woman’s job in the relationship to manage the household—cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, keeping track of everyone’s calendars, the list goes on…and on and on.

And not only does that list go on, but so many parts of it are effectively invisible. Sure, one could argue that it’s not difficult to remember to pick up a birthday card, or sweep the kitchen after dinner, for example, but the mental and emotional labor that goes into keeping track of all these “little things” adds up to one person feeling like the CEO of their own home, while the other remains largely unburdened.

As Lark explains, acknowledgement of the volume of work, then, is so important, “because unless you understand what that work entails, you’ll never understand why there even needs to be a discussion.” She adds that without that understanding, it’s all too easy for resentment and anger to seep into your relationship.

Sarah Regan

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