How to split housework fairly - and the things you shouldn't say

Splitting up household jobs, whether that be cleaning, washing or life admin, is an issue that affects a lot of couples.

Starling Bank found women do a total of 36 hours of household tasks and admin per week - equivalent to a full-time job.

This is nine hours more than men - and yet men believe they do the majority in their household. The average man estimates they do 52% of work overall.

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It's the discrepancy between perception and reality (and, of course, this can work both ways) that leads to arguments.

Couples who don't divide the housework equally have roughly five arguments about housework each month - rising to eight for couples who rely on just one person for the work.

We spoke to relationship expert Hayley Quinn about the best ways to split household work - and how to deal with arguments should they arise with your partner.

She explained that it's necessary to be "transparent" when deciding how to split the workload - but also to be flexible in order to find a solution that suits all involved.

While a 50/50 split might be your idea of perfection, Ms Quinn said it was "almost inevitable that one partner may take on slightly more of the load" at different periods of time.

"Striving for perfect 50/50 fairness at all times is a really nice idea, but it just may not be that practical for modern life," she said.

She said some jobs may be more visible than others, like cleaning, sorting out the washing and taking the bins out.

Other jobs can take up just as much time and resource but will fly under the radar. She gave examples of sorting out travel insurance or changing over internet provider.

How should you approach a conversation with your partner about splitting the work?

To start off, Ms Quinn said you should enter the conversation with a positive mindset - think how you are both contributing to the relationship in different ways.

"When you're having these conversations, it's not that many people are sitting around feeling like they're not contributing," she said.

"In fact, I think if there's a discrepancy in how people contribute, it's just due to a lack of awareness as to what the other partner does, and some chores are just more obviously visible than others."

Try to avoid starting the chat with the perspective that you are working a lot harder than your partner and they're not pulling their weight.

"That way, you start from a place of we're all on the same team," she said.

"When you're doing that as well, it's really important not to make statements which assume what the other partner is thinking, feeling, or contributing."

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Ms Quinn added: "So, for instance, saying something like 'I'm always the one that's picking the kids up from school and you never do anything', becomes easily very accusational, and this is when arguments start.

"Instead, most partners will be much more receptive if you simply ask for more help and assistance."

When asking for help, Ms Quinn said it's important to ask in a way that's verbal and clear - don't assume your partner is going to intuitively know what share of household chores to take on if you just complain.

"In a nice way, explicitly ask for what you want. It could be something like saying, 'Look, I know that we're both working a long week, but I feel like there's so much to do. It would be really helpful if... I'd really appreciate it if you take over lunch,'" she explained.

"Again, start from a place of appreciation. Acknowledge what your partner contributes already, and be explicitly clear as to what you would like them to do. Phrase it as a request for their help."

She also said some people can feel protective of how jobs are completed, and learning to relinquish that control can be helpful.

"If you want it to feel more equitable, you have to let your partner do things in their own way," she said.

What happens if that doesn't work?

If you find the conversations aren't helping, you can always try organising a rota, Ms Quinn said.

She recommended using Starling Bank's Share the Load tool to work out your chore split.

However, she said if you feel there are constant conversations and nothing is changing then the issue is becoming more about communication than sharing the workload.

"It's actually about someone not hearing what you're trying to communicate to them, so it's more of a relationship-wide issue," she said.

She advised sitting down and trying to have another transparent verbal conversation, making it clear that you have spoken about this before and how it's making you feel in a factual way, without placing blame.

Using phrases like "I've noticed" or "I've observed" can help, she said.

If after all that, the situation still isn't getting better, she said it's time to consider confiding in friends or family for support, or seeing a relationship counsellor.