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Can you prevent rows about household tasks?

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Even among couples who share housework and parenting, subtler inequities persist

In her new book Drop The Ball, a manifesto for women juggling jobs and an unequal share of the burden at home, Tiffany Dufu describes a phenomenon I’d never previously seen given a name: “imaginary delegation”. This is the all-too-familiar relationship pattern whereby you see (or just think of) some household task that needs doing, mentally assign it to your partner, fail to inform them you’ve done so, then feel sincere outrage when they disregard the instructions you never gave them.

The problem here is that both sides have an excellent case for feeling aggrieved. The person on the (non-)receiving end naturally protests that he can’t be expected to read minds. But the other person is also justified in saying she shouldn’t need to spell it out: for a cohabiting couple, teamwork demands that both partners keep an eye out for what needs doing, without being told by the other. So the stage is set for the worst variety of domestic row: the kind where both parties are right.

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