Whose Job Is This? Divide Responsibilities with Your Spouse without Causing Division

God created the Family Model. And, like it or not, the man is responsible for the family and all that having a family involves.

God created the Family Model. And, like it or not, the man is responsible for the family.

The Business Model

A few years ago a man started a business. He discovers that there is much to do: write a business plan, secure financing, managing the taxes, paperwork, servicing potential customers, advertising, building maintenance, janitorial services and developing business relationships. He comes to the conclusion that he cannot do these tasks alone and brings in a partner.

The man knows in his mind just how this business should operate and shares his vision with the partner. Excited about this new endeavor, the partner carries out all of the man’s mandates and even brings several new ideas to the table.

The business is up and running and soon employees join them. The man, pleased with the success of the business, leaves most tasks to his able partner. Despite the fact that the partner has always been an integral part of the business, the partner never had the intention of running the business alone.

The man is aware that the workload is heavy and knows that at the end of the day, he alone bears the ultimate responsibility because it is HIS BUSINESS.

The Family Model

God created the Family Model. And, like it or not, the man is responsible for the family and all that having a family involves.

“. . . This [Adam’s recognition of woman being his equal, “bone of my bone and flesh
of my flesh.”] resulted in what has become known as the universal law of marriage:
where it can be seen that: 1) the responsibility for marriage is on the man’s shoulders – he is to “leave his father and mother;” 2) the responsibility for keeping the union together is on the man’s shoulders – he is to “cleave unto” his wife; and 3) the union is indissoluble – “they shall be one flesh.”
(The King James Open Bible,”The Christian’s Guide to the New Life,”Gen. 2:22-24, p. 6.)

Technically, the man is responsible for the marriage, his wife, the children, education, savings, finances, planning for the future, discipline and yes–household chores. However, like the man in the Business Model, he knows that he cannot do this alone. He needs an “able partner.”

God has made provisions for a helper for the man in His instructions to women in marriage. What exactly is the woman’s role? There is only one role for the woman in marriage–“be in subjection to your own husbands.” (1 Peter 3:1-6)

Being an able partner means that when tasks and chores are determined, the able partner – the wife – will make it happen. However, the wife and able partner never intended to run the business or the marriage alone. And, when the able partner cannot make it happen; the responsibility for any tasks goes back to the husband.

Philosophically, this is an easy concept. However, in the real world, women consistently are “burdened” with the majority of household and childrearing duties–whether they hold jobs outside of the home or not.

How does this conflict of which spouse does what chores and how often and for how many years get resolved? At some point in the marriage, the husband must take responsibility over his household. At some point in the marriage, the husband must love his wife more than himself. At some point in the marriage, the husband must move into a spiritual understanding of “loving your wife and not being bitter against [her].” (Colossians 3:19)

At the end of the day, it is really the husband’s business, his marriage, his family, his children and of course, his chores.


Chores at home never end. No matter how many loads of laundry are washed, floors mopped, furniture polished, diapers changed, garbage removed or yards mowed, eventually, it will all have to be done again . . . and again and again. Who should do the majority of these chores or should they be equally divided?

The answer is obvious–the husband!

The husband is the head of the household and thus ALL responsibilities eventually fall on his shoulders.


You have read Part One. Yeah, the husband is responsible for all the chores. And, yet the laundry is piled up (clean and dirty clothes!), the dishwasher is full (again), the children have doctor’s appointments, the yard needs mowing and everybody wants to eat dinner (again) tonight! There are just not enough hours in the day to get all of this stuff done–even if, like me, you are at home all day. So what’s a wife to do?

First, get your husband to read Part One! Then sit down and figure out where on the list below your personal situation falls, and come to some agreement.

Both Working Outside of the Home, No Kids

Hey, stop complaining and hire a maid service! Okay, okay, I know there are still chores and you don’t want to pick up his dirty “whatevers”. Let each person do what he or she LIKES to do or is BETTER at doing. If cooking is your thing, then you cook. If your husband really wants the yard or is better at mopping then it’s easy. Or, get that maid!

One Working at Home, One Working Outside of the Home, No Kids

It would seem logical that whoever is home would do all the chores. Right! Let’s forget the logic because whoever is home does NOT want to clean the toilets all the time. But in the spirit of fair play, the person at home should bear most of the home chores. Whatever you absolutely don’t want to do – I don’t do yard work EVER – figure out a time when the out-of-home spouse can reasonably get the tasks done and then let them handle it.

If there are chores, like getting clothes from the cleaners, the spouse coming home from work can assume that chore–you’re already out anyway. If your budget will allow, get some help every once in a while just to keep up.

One Working at Home, One Working Outside of the Home, with Kids

First, split the kid duties. Appointments are “scheduled in advance” so the working spouse can handle that duty sometimes. Sick kids go to the parent at home, sorry. Give the spouse outside of the home very specific chores–you have kitchen duty on Tuesdays and Thursdays: no meetings, no after-work functions because you have a prior commitment. Of course there are the exceptions, but they should really be exceptions. The parent at home should also schedule “vacation days.” Just because you work at home does not mean you NEVER get a day off!

If the kids are school age, put them to work! They can put away clothes, empty garbage cans or simply keep younger siblings out of your way so you can really get some things done.

Both Working Outside of the Home, with Kids

Poor things. You are extremely busy and everybody is tired when they get home. This is the time to be super organized and everybody has chores–EVERYBODY. When I was in this hectic phase and all the kids were under 10 years old, some things just had to give. Some weeks laundry would wait until Saturdays (maybe even two Saturdays!) then we would marathon clean up just enough to last until the next big pile up.

That’s part of life with kids. Living with a few messes won’t kill you.

A Fair Division of Labor

There is a difference between being fair and being equitable.Being equitable means everybody gets and does the exact same thing. I pick up a sock; you pick up a sock. I cook; you cook. I pick up a sick kid from school; you pick up a sick kid from school. One kid gets piano lessons, all kids take piano lessons. Let me tell you up front, this will not work or last.

Being fair means you get what you need and do what you can when it is necessary. I pick up the sick kid because I’m home and you can handle the garbage. The 16-year old learns to change the oil in the car and the six-year old puts away stuffed animals. Try being fair with your spouse in dividing chores and neither partner should feel that they are being used or resentful.

I can tell you this: when the kids get bigger, it will get better.Just this past spring break we let it all hang loose – for days. Stuff was everywhere. There was laundry, dirty dishes in the dishwasher, the sink, on the countertops and thus the ensuing stack of pizza boxes on the floor. The vacuum cleaner was missing in action and nary a bathtub was cleaned. On the Sunday before the kid’s return to school, after a day of lounging, we had a marathon, quick, one room at a time, clean up party.

The kids (and the parents) enjoyed a few days of no chores. I have learned that I can pass a bathroom sink with pink Dora the Explorer toothpaste everywhere and not throw a “hissy-fit”– at least, for a few days.


Evelyn Ransom

Evelyn Smith Ransom is still trying to decide what she wants to be when she grows up! For now, she is: a wife of 24 years to an Army colonel; a mom to two boys, 24 and 18; two girls, 17 and 13; a kindergarten teacher, an avid reader; a lover of scented candles; and an ever-developing Christian.

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