That mountain of dishes in the sink is hurting your relationship. According to a new report[ref url=”http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2378023118765867″] from the Council on Contemporary Families (CCF), a nonprofit that studies family dynamics, doing the dishes is the number one source of relationship stress. Since relationship strife impacts your health, happiness, and performance, it’s vital to hack the problem and finds solutions STAT.
Doing the dishes alone leads to relationship conflict
The study, which examined a variety of household tasks including shopping, laundry, and cleaning, found that for women in heterosexual relationships, sharing the responsibility of doing the dishes is more important than any other chore. The study speculates this may be so because dishes are the most routine and onerous of daily chores. Yet less than one-third of men share the dreaded task of doing dishes with their partner, according to the report. Previous research has found that women who don’t get any help with the dishes report more conflict in their relationship[ref url=”https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jomf.12313″], less relationship satisfaction, and worse sex[ref url=”http://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/fam0000161″] than women whose partners share the load.
Hack the dishes by analyzing the system of dishes
I discovered an unusual solution to this problem that is life-changing, and this report inspired me to share it with you. Even though I’m Bulletproof, dishes are still a problem in my home and no one likes doing them. So I decided to hack the dishes by analyzing the system of dishes. I’m willing to do dishes, but only the minimum necessary. We all have better things to do than dishes.
You can use the hacking technique below to approach any issue or concern in your life. First, take a step back so you can objectively assess the situation. After you’ve established what’s causing the problem, find creative solutions to fix it. These solutions then become your roadmap for hacking success.
In the case of the dishes, here’s what I observed:
- Creating more dishes than necessary happens a lot
- Stacking dishes in the sink destroys your ability to use the sink, which creates more dishes
- Dishes with dried or spoiled food take more work
- We spend huge amounts of time loading and unloading the dishwasher into cabinets, and more time setting the table from the cabinet
By reducing the time spent on these parts of the process, we could lower the amount of work anyone has to do, freeing up more time for family stuff. Yet the biggest impact is from something I’ve not seen anywhere else. It requires abnormal thinking!
Here is the obvious solution:
- Choose meals that require fewer pans, then serve from the pan instead of a serving dish
Here are the less obvious but linear thinking solutions:
- Never put dishes in the sink
- Always quick rinse and put them in the dishwasher, or *next to* the sink
- Fill with water if they need soaking, but keep the sink free at all costs
- Since the sink is always free, rinsing is easy, so no more spoiled food! No more sticking your hands in cold, nasty water to fish crap out of the sink
Here is the game-changing solution:
We installed a second dishwasher. Now, we always have one clean dishwasher, and one empty one for dirty dishes. We set the table from the clean dishwasher — no more putting the most commonly used dishes in cabinets and taking them out again. No more dishes stacked up in the sink or on the counter. Marital bliss achieved.
A new dishwasher is between $500-$1500. Marital counseling costs way more than that. Having relationship stress costs way more than that too. Knowing what a second dishwasher does for peace at home, I’d happily trade a vacation for an extra one.
One more thing: We make use of child labor. Filling and emptying the dishwasher builds character in kids.
If your challenge at home isn’t the dishes but another household chore, like the monthly bathroom scrub down, you might consider outsourcing the task. Weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing the task; then assess the time and energy you’ll gain to focus on more of what brings you (and your partner) happiness. Research shows people are happier when they outsource chores they dislike.[ref url=”https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/want-to-be-happier-spend-some-money-on-avoiding-household-chores”] Try it out for a month, and see if it brings improvement to your life.
Related: Hack Your Happiness