Clear Roles and Responsibilities in Marriage

Clear Roles: A Key to Family Harmony

How do you decide who does what in your marriage?  Family roles and responsibilities are often a source of arguments for many couples today. Expectations around gender roles continue to evolve, and many partners struggle with the question of what is a fair division of tasks. When the battle for equality enters family life, fairness becomes a big issue.  In this video I offer you a way to deal with this challenge. As usual, to address uncertainty and confusion we turn to the archetype of a King to help us achieve clarity and Order. 

 In my practice, I often hear men describe their wives as combative over the division of tasks. Upon closer examination, the distribution of responsibilities is rarely black and white. 

We might wish to blur gender differences in family roles, but practical realities often dictate otherwise. The person who gives birth typically spends more time at home, and naturally takes on more household tasks. However, what happens naturally is not always aligned with the narrative of justice and fairness.  This narrative, whether valid or not, may lead to feelings of unfairness and unfairness always breeds anger. 

For many men, household tasks may not matter as much as work-related responsibilities. But if it matters a great deal for your partner it matters a great deal for your relationship. Most husbands operate with goodwill and wish to share the burden fairly, yet misunderstandings often arise due to perceptions of unfairness. Justice demands visibility, so making the division of work clear is in your best interest.

Part of the problem is that she may prefer an intuitive and collaborative  approach, a kind of ‘let’s help each other’ like she does so well with her community of women. This doesn’t suit most men because they are used to the more formal approach of the work environment.  Saying to her “just tell me what to do” only further frustrates her. You believe you show willingness to support but for her this is an extra responsibility. 

As men, we thrive in structured environments where responsibilities are clearly defined, much like in a work setting. We are used to instructions, manuals and ‘job description’. Yet, in modern family dynamics, your role is not set in stone.  It may leave you confused about your responsibilities. And when you are not sure what to do you may default to avoidance. Without leadership the confusion can result in more arguments and resentment.

So, how could you help?

To address issues of fairness and avoid arguments your relationship needs order and clarity in roles. Take the lead to negotiate and agree on clearly defined tasks.  For example, consider the common scenario where both partners are exhausted after a long day. It is the most stressful time with the kids and both parents are desperate for some rest. If you negotiate an agreement on who does what during this stressful time you can transform tension into mutual support. One option can be to take turns for a brief rest.

The solution lies in establishing order and clarity in the division of work. Once roles are clearly defined, hold yourself accountable for fulfilling your responsibilities. Your reliability will alleviate much of the resentment that stems from real or perceived issues of unfairness. It will boost trust and reinforce the value of equal partnership in your household.

Consider clarity of roles and reliable completion of tasks as your insurance policy against the resentment that arises from a perceived sense of unfairness.

Your Practice 

Think of a household area that you and your wife are prone to argue about. Negotiate the division of tasks with her, being as specific as possible about what each of you wants to see happen. Be fully accountable for your tasks and make your efforts visible. If you also check with her to ensure she is pleased, she will value that as a sign of care.

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Clear Roles and Responsibilities in Marriage