Lance and I talk a lot about compromise – what it means to adapt your own interactions to cater to someone else’s love style, for example, or being supportive of your partner’s desire for a dog even though you hate them. Here’s another example of Honey and Jake: Compromise in Action.
Jake hates household chores.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, right? Is there anyone out there who likes household chores? I can think of one friend, but only one.
While I’m not doing cartwheels or anything over the prospect of doing dishes, laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc., I have come to realize that I certainly don’t hate it like Jake does (which is to say, with the fire of a thousand suns). Additionally, because I am a Virgo, I have a very high standard for how clean our house is – a standard that Jake appreciates, but doesn’t necessarily share. He’s way more willing to let things slide than I am, and also tends to (IMO) take the lazy way even when he does get to the point of doing chores. I can barely watch him load the dishwasher without going into convulsions (seriously, I have to physically leave the room).
Now, in a seemingly unrelated topic, Jake loves to go out – to dinner, for drinks, to Gameworks for video games, to fun or cultural events around our city. Now, I like these things too, but since I make less than half as much money as he does, it is not financially possible for me to even pay my own way lots of times, let alone treat him to things (no matter how much I would like to do it). And, for Jake, having me there with him is the main reason he finds those types of activities fun. He wouldn’t get nearly the same joy out of doing those things if we weren’t doing them together.
So, our agreement has become that I will take on the majority of the household responsibilities, and he will pay when we go out. Now, that’s not to say that he doesn’t help sometimes – he cooked me a fantastic “three meat” pizza from scratch for dinner last night. And it’s not to say that I don’t pay sometimes when I can afford to – I have bought him drinks, takeout, or small gifts on numerous occasions. However, most of the time – say, 80-90% of the time – things work out according to our compromise.
This compromise also makes sense because in addition to getting paid about twice as much as I do, Jake also works more than me (maybe not twice as much more, but pretty close). Also, he has a commute of about 30-45 minutes whereas my commute – since we moved to an apartment that I selected and adore – is about 10 minutes. So not only am I on the road significantly less than he is, I get home literally hours before he does. Given that I am practically OCD about dong chores anyway, there is no way I can be at home by myself for 3 hours before Jake gets back and not futz around the house taking care of things. Also, I am a hobby cook, so trying to make new foods from scratch is one of the ways I have fun. For Jake, it’s just another chore.
Would this compromise work for everyone? Of course not – and for a variety of reasons. As someone whose dissertation research was feminist in nature, I know that particularly, lots of women (including, I am given to understand, Jake’s ex girlfriend) would object to our arrangement because it reifies traditional gender roles, at least on the surface. But the fact of the matter is, the way that we’ve set things up allows both of us to enjoy the things we enjoy more – for me, having a clean house and for him, going out a couple of times per week – and avoid the things we either cannot do or don’t enjoy.
The only thing that is sort of funny about the situation for me is that Jake came to this arrangement in his head and only told me about it several months later. I told him that I wished he’d said something sooner and when he asked why, I said, “Because for the last several months I’ve been simultaneously pissed off that you don’t help around the house more and guilty because you pay for so many of the things we do!” Now I can enjoy both our clean house and our dinners out conscience-free.
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