Who Does What: How My Partner And I Approach Chores When We Both Work Long Hours

Christopher Bok and Sara Siegel

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bok


For most of human history, the way we talk about household labor divisions has rotated largely around heteronormative gender roles. Thankfully, the idea that gender should determine the "who does what" of housework is (mostly) no longer the world we live in. But there’s still no rule book for helping partners figure out how to divvy up household chores — the physical, mental, and emotional ones — in a way that’s fair and equitable. 

So, what does the division of household chores for modern couples look like, really? In FGB’s Who Does What series, we asked readers to complete an exercise in order to share with us the amount and nature of housework they actually do, and how they and their partner decided to divvy it all up.
Name: Christopher Bok    
Location: New York City
Relationship status: In a relationship 
What type of home (e.g, condo, house) do you have? Apartment
Do you have any kids or pets? Yes, a dog (French Bulldog named Baxter!)
How long have you and your partner been together? 
18 Months.
How long have you been living together? 
6 Months.
What chores do you do daily, and how did you and your partner decide you’d be the one to do them? Please describe.
The chores I do daily (really depends on the day and how tired I am): 1) cleaning up the apartment, 2) laundry, 3) cleaning after the dog, 4) dishes, 5) cooking, 6) getting the mail.  We didn’t really decide but if I didn’t do these chores, I suspect they wouldn’t get done (sorry if my S/O is reading this!).  I think we are both pretty good at identifying something that needs to be done and doing it, although I’d argue I execute far more often.
What chores do you do weekly and/or monthly, and how did you and your partner decide you’d be the one to do them? Please describe.
Weekly chores include:  1) cleaning the bathroom, 2) flower delivery, 3) grocery shopping, 4) other chores as needed.  Again, we didn’t really decide but if I see a need to do something, I usually do it (as does she).
How about your partner? What chores do they do daily, and how did they and/or you decide they’d do them?
My girlfriend supplements a lot of the chores that I do and vice versa.  On a typical day, she will 1) clean up after the dog, 2) make sure the apartment is stocked with everything that we need and order whatever is missing, 3) perform some basic tidying up, 4) order/make dinner.
What chores does your partner do weekly and/or monthly, and how did they and/or you decide they’d do them?
Monthly chores include 1) laundry (as needed), 2) a more detailed cleaning of our apartment, 3) other chores as needed.
Is the way you and your partner divide tasks similar to the household you grew up in? Why or why not?
No.  When I was growing up, my mother took care of the “inside” chores while my father took care of the “outside” chores.
What’s something you and your partner could improve on when divvying up and completing household tasks? What’s something you feel you’re doing well?
We could probably be more communicative on what we both should be doing daily, weekly and monthly.  At times, we neglect basic chores (i.e. cleaning after work, dishes) that end up aggregating into more of a mess than it should be. 

Lightning Round

1. Who makes the bed? 
Usually N/A
2. When you go out to eat, who picks the restaurant and/or makes the reservation?  
Depends, but usually my girlfriend.
3. Who makes doctors’ appointments? Dentist appointments? 
We make our own appointments.
4. Who picks up the dry cleaning?  
I do.
5. Who keeps track of friends’ and family members’ birthdays? 
We keep track of the birthdays of our own respective friends and families.  In the case of joint-friends, probably me.
6. Who pays bills? (Or if you divvy this up, who pays which bills?) 
 I pay our bills, my girlfriend pays me back for her share.
7. When something in the house/apartment is broken, who makes sure it gets fixed?
I do.
8. Who makes sure the tags on your cars are up-to-date? 
We live in New York City, we don’t have a car!
9. Who vacuums? 
My girlfriend usually does.
10. Who was the last person to dust something? 
11. Who was the last person to clean your toilet? 
Definitely me!
12. Who buys groceries? 
Usually I do, but my girlfriend also does on occasion.
13. Who brings in the mail? 
I do 90% of the time.
14. Who irons? 
The anti-wrinkle feature on our dryer solves that problem (i.e. we don’t iron).
15. Who was the last person to clean out the fridge/pantry of expired items? 
Definitely me.
16. You’ve been invited to a wedding. Who RSVPs?  
If addressed to both of us, my girlfriend does.
17. When planning a trip, who books the flights? The hotels? 
My girlfriend is the trip planner, but she will tell you we don’t go on enough trips.  I need to plan a great trip for her (actually she has a “ticket” to anywhere she wants to go but hasn’t cashed that in yet).
18. Who planned what you did last Friday night?  
Our Friday nights are easy to plan.  We order in and watch 20/20; we both work a lot during the week and are usually tired. I wish I (we) had the stamina to go out on the town on a Friday.  Perhaps one day we’ll get our second pop (or in her case, her first pop).
19. Who planned your last date night? 
I believe our last date night (just the two of us) was my birthday so she did! We also recently were on a double date which she also planned.
20. You need a gift for a friend’s housewarming party. Who buys it?  
Definitely my girlfriend.

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Interested in participating in FGB's Who Does What series? Email [email protected] with "Who Does What" in the subject line.