For some couples, committing to one another either through marriage or a spoken agreement means combining everything: closets, dishes, finances, household duties. For other couples, the coming together is the best reason they know to keep everything apart.
There are varying degrees of separate stuff in any relationship and there are a bunch of reasons why some couples feel the need to keep it that way. Maybe they’re blending families, maybe one doesn’t want the other to take on burdens they bring into a relationship (loans, bad credit). Or maybe it just feels better to one or both of the partners to, you know, be fully in control of their stuff.
But for blenders, like me, the separaters are fascinating, mainly because blenders (I’m speaking on behalf of all of us, which I realize is unfair) don’t want to bother with the time commitment necessary just to keep the record of fairness up to date.
Take for example Get Rich Slowly blogger J.D. Roth’s Laundry Agreement, which is spelled out in detail over at the site.
You see, Roth pays his wife Kris to do his laundry. When the couple got married 15 years ago, they decided to go with each of their strengths in running the house. Laundry was not one of Roth’s strengths. The way he pays is by — she requested this — making sure her car’s gas tank is filled. He pays for the gas. She doesn’t drive much so his time investment isn’t as high, I would say. But gas prices have gone up in the last 15 years, so it’s a little more even (though, as he fairly points out, he has started working out, too, which generates more laundry).
But Roth “pays” his wife because, as he already explained, the two keep very separate finances. From their individual accounts, they both chip in for a housekeeper.
Maybe ounce for ounce it’s not a totally even split. But the point is, they found a way to make home life work. These separations have brought them together.
I’m also the laundry-doer in my house, for the most part, but I don’t get paid for it. And I fill my own gas tank. But! It evens out because my husband is kitchen, all kitchen (except for cooking). He’s also floors and a lot of the maintenance. Oh, and trash. I’m finances, doctors and the rare occasions bathrooms get cleaned. For the first time, we are really splitting child-shuttling (and it rocks!).
I know of a couple who kept a detailed log of how time each spent with the kids and made sure, on a week-to-week basis, it evened out. I thought that was nuts at the time — so much accounting and it seemed petty. But years and more kids later, I see that what they did was actually really smart and fair and healthy.
But these are the things that go on behind closed doors and every family works in a different way. How do you split household finances and responsibilities? Are you happy with your arrangement? Would you like to get paid, or even “paid”, for doing laundry?
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