The Household Chore That’s Hurting Your Relationship

The Household Chore That’s Hurting Your Relationship

In my work with couples, I’ve heard all sorts of issues. From the big stuff to the little stuff, it almost all comes out in couples therapy. But do you know what one of the most common issues to come up among the majority of couples is?




And now there is scientific evidence to prove why that comes up so often.


Dishes can be a huge source of tension for couples. While it might seem like a simple household chore, dishes often represent more subtle and nuanced issues among couples. Shared responsibility, appreciation, partnership, and communication can all be found among the suds and spoons.


If you’ve ever cleaned your partner’s crusted cornflakes out of a cereal bowl, you know exactly what I mean.



This recent Atlantic article shares several important findings about the dreaded household chore, as well as just how much dishes can affect your relationship. The piece is fascinating and totally worth a read. It highlights some surprising reasons why dishes are such a big deal in relationships, as well as how the chore has changed for couples across the years.


The simple household chore of cups and spoons is often a major breeding ground for resentment, and it doesn’t take a psychologist to know just how dangerous that can be. Resentment often lives under the surface in relationships, leaking out in all sorts of unexpected ways.


So if you don’t want the task of dishes to take you and your partner down, my suggestion is to get a system. Don’t fall victim to the “we’ll play it by ear” approach. That rarely works for couples and chores, especially when we’re talking dishes.


Decide who does what, when, and how often. Trade off months, claim certain days of the week, or find another way to make it a shared task. Talk about it, agree on something, and stick to it.


Your kitchen sink and the health of your relationship with thank you.


Are dishes the most problematic household chore in your home? What system works for you and yours?


PS: Looking for more relationship advice? Check out the two words that are slowly killing your relationship.

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