Pros and Cons of Sharing All Responsibilities with Your Spouse

Is it better to have a relationship where all responsibilities are shared or is it best when there is a clear definition between the roles of each person within a relationship?  More specifically, when a family has decided not to use day-cares to assist in the raising of a child is it better that one person looks after the kids while the other works or should you have a balanced split?  This may seem like a question not worth answering because it is so hard to obtain a balance split since it essentially means no full time work (or no free time whatsoever and no sleep).

One of our major goals with our lifestyle change was to obtain a balance with our individual responsibilities around the house.  Every week we are spending equal hours working on our business ideas, looking after the kids, and doing chores.  Is this an egalitarian utopia or a disaster waiting to happen?  While our balanced family lifestyle is still evolving we have tried to live this way for nearly a year now.  Even when I was working and Lisa was at home with the kids we did try and balance out the responsibilities as much as possible so this is not an idealistic switch for us, but it is still a considerable change.

Advantages

  • Minimizes the feeling like the other person is not pulling their weight.  Since we both spend equal time on the business and chores around the house the feeling of doing too much while the other slacks off rarely occurs (I won’t say never)
  • Provides an example of cooperation for our children.  Mom and Dad shares household responsibilities so our kids cannot say that since they are a girl or a boy that it means that they should be doing this and refusing to do that.  Sure there are things that I am better at and definitely things that Lisa is better at so it is not like all tasks are split 50/50, but we do split overall workload fairly equitably.
  • Get to enjoy more variety in a day and you do not feel like you are doing the same task over and over.  In a week my time for work lies between roughly 5am to 4pm, 7 days a week (77 hours).  During that time I have 34 hours by myself for work & exercise, 21 hours with the kids, 9 hours away together in family outings, and the left over 13 hours is spent as a family during breakfast and lunch.  We will also work some of the evenings, Lisa more since she does not get up as early as I do.  Chores are done during time spent with the kids or in the evening.  Neither of us enjoys doing a lot of chores so the fact that we share in the cooking and cleaning makes a lot of sense to us.
  • We see an advantage with working equally on business opportunities as we both bring a different perspective which adds value.  Since we are not working consistently in a day we do not get too bogged down working and we usually bring a lot of energy to the time we get to work.  This reduction in hours means that we actually look forward to our time working.  Lisa and I work well together and so far we have not had any disagreements that would be a warning to stop doing this together.  Some people are great as husband and wife but should not go in business together.  Our personalities make this arrangement work.

Disadvantages

  • Working in 3 hour shifts makes it hard to get momentum to get larger tasks done.  By the time you sit down and start making some progress it seems like is time to let the other person work.  It is crazy to think that I would love to have a week, just one for now, with solid 8 hour days in a row.  We may not be able to get more work done in that week but for the person who gets to work it would seem like a far more productive week.  
  • We rarely get to work together to discuss the business.  I get up as early as I can (usually 5am) but Lisa hates getting up early.  She prefers to stay up later which I cannot do since I get up so early.  The best time to work with each other is either before the kids get up or after they have gone to bed but one of us usually is more interested in sleeping during that time and does not add much to the discussion.  Sometimes going for a drive and putting on a DVD for the kids is the best way to force a meeting to happen.
  • Seems like you are working at a snail’s pace.  The perception is that two people should be getting a lot more work done then one person but our reality is that we have two people doing one persons worth of work.  This can be frustrating as it takes longer to obtain your goals then you think it should.

At this point we have no intention of going back to an unbalanced working relationship.  Lisa and I love spending time with the kids but both of us prefer having a break to do other things creatively.  Will this be a long term solution for us?  It all depends on how successful we are.  We are still 3-4 years away from all three kids spending all day in school which will allow time for us to work together.  Until then we will have to do what we can to make this schedule work, or go back to our old lifestyle where one of us gets a job.  We are still a long way from doing something so drastic.

  2 comments for “Pros and Cons of Sharing All Responsibilities with Your Spouse

  1. SR6
    June 8, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    In another post I saw you get up at 5:30 every morning. With little ones and being overweight…HOW? I too have little ones and I can’t get them to bed until 11-12am. So I get little sleep as it is. What’s your secret?

    • June 8, 2010 at 6:22 pm

      We have been very lucky with the kids sleeping since they were around 6 months old. We are strict with the bed times most of the time and our kids usually quiet down fairly quickly. It is harder during the long summer days but I am ususally in bed before 10pm. I am a morning person and I need to be able to get up early to get anything done. I wish I had a failproof solution for you. My only suggestion is be consistent because kids do well with a routine.

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