Who Does What? Not Always So Simple

I’ve written before on this blog how my husband and I divide the housework basically using the theory of comparative advantage: We each do what we’re best at relative to other tasks. I pay the bills, he sweeps the floors. I order the diapers, he orders the dog food. In our case, “best at” usually means “most inclined to do because we don’t hate it as much as other tasks.”

And so it’s been with our new house, which we closed on on January 31 and have been renovating ever since. I handled the mortgage application (a six-month process of post-housing-bubble hell) and he’s handling the renovations of part of the house (the part we’re renting out). Tonight, he asked me to go over there and do some painting with him. Painting??? I was just about to settle in with Game of Thrones, which if I wasn’t currently reading I would have nothing to live for. Literally, nothing.

I squawked about how that was his job, how the dust bothered me, how I was still recovering from the mortgage drama, how he gave me no warning, how unfair he was being. He said he couldn’t believe he asked for help and I denied him, how I was playing the “dust card,” how he was exhausted by all the work he’d done the past week.

Our division of labor was failing us. I’m perfectly capable of painting a wall. I just didn’t want to. So I played my comparative advantage chip and threw in some score keeping for good measure. (Just because I wrote a book filled with marriage advice, doesn’t mean I have to take it, okay?)

In the end, I grudgingly went over and painted some door trim. He grudgingly handed me a brush. We are now grudgingly sitting at the dining room table, each on our respective laptops, griping about the other one in cyberspace. Here’s to a modern marriage!

Posted in housework

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