Staying "un-divorced" is about shining the light of consciousness on just the right areas.
Many couples come to us in crisis, and learn that Couples Mediation can be a supportive process to help them get clear on their joint vision and conscious commitments. The resulting "relationship contract" often includes provisions for how partners talk to each other, how they make decisions, how they spend money, when and how they spend time together, and the like. If I'm doing my job right as couples mediator, the simple agreements I help people reach are like acupuncture needles, helping unblock the energy channels and allowing affinity and love to flourish. (Instead of the poison that typically courses through the system when things are left unsaid and unaddressed in the shadows.)
Dividing up household obligations is essentially a requirement. As this recent article on "Chores That Can Sink A Relationship" reports, little things like who does the dishes, when not expressly addressed, can easily become a source of toxicity in a long-term relationship.
The article exposes that many women experience, in addition to an excess burden of household chores, something called "emotional labor." This is the concept that women are the ones who primarily end up keeping track of and delegating the jobs. "[E]motional labor involves the noticing and managing and having to ask in the right tone when you want something done."
Food preparation and cleanup represents about one-third of the total time spent on household chores, and, believe it or not, among the various household tasks, who cleans the dishes was reported by the American Sociological Association as having the "biggest impact on the quality of heterosexual relationships."
So until modern families all have a robot maid, do your relationship the service of laying out a clear way in which you and your partner share in the required tasks of daily life.
While you're at it, schedule a Couples Mediation session for help in getting conscious about all the various ways you relate to each other. It's a better investment, and probably cheaper, than the DJ at your wedding.
John Hoelle is a couples mediator and family attorney. Learn more about his work here.