010: Why Didn't You Do The Dishes?

What do you do when your roommate isn’t meeting your expectations?

Ep. 010

[00:00:00] Thuy Doan: Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of Candid and Cringe, a podcast about growth and the roller coaster of life. Today's episode is a little random. It's inspired by something that recently happened... and a couple of instances that happened in my life, maybe the last several years. Just drawing inspiration from my experiences living with other people.

[00:00:42] That's right. Today's episode is about household chores. Household chores, namely, how do you breech the topic of household chores with the people that you live with, regardless if they are [00:01:00] your siblings, your partner, or your friends. Oh, also random people. The other thing that we're going to talk about related to household chores is, how do you breach the conversation with someone you live, if your...

[00:01:21] you know, if you're lucky, ideally previous conversation about chores is not going well or needs have changed. How do you talk about that? Well, to begin... to begin, what are household chores? Household chores are things that you need to do around the house to, to upkeep it. Like mopping, sweeping, dusting, cleaning the toilet, cleaning the tub, doing the dishes, cleaning the fridge, cleaning the oven, taking out the [00:02:00] recycle, taking out the garbage, all that stuff. Cooking, cooking, cooking as well.

[00:02:09] Um, how do you divvy up all that? Depending on your relationship, you might have different, different ways of doing it. Uh, and ideally when you enter into this arrangement, this living arrangement with the person, you have that conversation upfront. Some people will do it... like let's say, in the case of random strangers that you're going to live with, you may talk about it at your first coffee chat.

[00:02:38] Or is that just me? Am I too much of a stickler? Do I like too much process? Maybe. But you might talk to them about it before you even become roommates. You might talk about household chores after you become roommates. Either way, the conversation should ideally occur before you get to the point where you're like, that person [00:03:00] is a lazy f*ck. Am I, am I too aggressive today?

[00:03:02] G-... I feel I'm feeling passionate, okay? Before you get to the point where you're going to throw around character judgments. Right? Now, I find that a common arrangement with people that you don't know is you do your dishes and I do my dishes. I used to live in a house with... let's count...uh... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 people.

[00:03:30] I used to live in a house with six people. It was a multiple story house, but it was very old, very old. And, uh, my room... This is how old it was. My room, when it would rain really hard, water would pool up in the wall. And then one time it ultimately popped, like there was a, there was an air bubble. A water bubble. It popped in and

[00:03:58] drained water onto my [00:04:00] bed. And I thought that I peed myself at night. It was, it was like that. It wasn't very well insulated. So in the winter we had to put saran wrap in front of my window. And also the shower was moldy. That is the kind of house that I lived in with random people. And in that case, we just, it was like to each... everyone their own food and to everyone their own dishes. That worked out fine.

[00:04:28] You... People just kind of minded their own business. When you are in a situation with family members, like say, you know, you're still in the house that you grew up with you with your siblings and your, your parents... depending on your age, your parents might still do the dishes. Uh, maybe you're a dishwasher family.

[00:04:48] We had a dishwasher, but we didn't use the dishwasher. But before I moved out, like way, way back, um, the arrangement was, [00:05:00] it was a sibling per day. So it was like, oh, Thuy's on Mondays, you know? And then Saturday is do your own dishes. So there were five of us. So no problem. Let's say I was on Monday. Second sibling was on Tuesday. Third, Wednesday, and so on and so forth. That worked fine.

[00:05:21] Uh, people, it worked fine, despite that everyone had slightly different ways of going about it. So for me, unless I'm baking, I just do all the dishes all at the end of the day. Like before I go to bed. If I'm baking, I do it as I go, because there's just so much stuff. Uh, other people like to do the dishes as they see them, on their day. Either way, as long as the dishes were done by that person

[00:05:49] by the end of that day, and they're not still in the, in the sink by the next day, it's fine. That was how it worked in my family. [00:06:00] When I started living with my partner, we didn't have any formal things outlined. We originally started with feeling out the day, depending on a person's work schedule. At the time my partner worked shifts.

[00:06:24] So it was like maybe that week they were working more days than rest days. And next week, more rest days than work days, it kind of depended. So we would, because they were working 12 hour shifts, it was like, okay, I'll just do dishes on the day that you're working then, but then it became unbalanced eventually.

[00:06:48] When left to its own devices, it got to the point where it felt not equal. So we ended up having a [00:07:00] conversation and ultimately landed on let's alternate no matter what that person's work schedule is and who cooked. So some days that might mean that my partner cooked and I got to do all those. Or some days that might mean that I've baked a crap ton of stuff and they've got to wash that up. But if we alternate, then it's by default going to be fair.

[00:07:27] And that was what was important to us. Now, there are situations where doing it a hundred percent, 50, 50... a hundred percent, 50, 50 haha. Percentages and percentages. Um... It's not going to work out because of circumstances that usually have to do with finances. Now, I think sometimes people fall into the trap of the only way that you can contribute to a household is money.

[00:07:59] No, [00:08:00] that's not true. And I think that people who think like that tend to undervalue stay- at- home moms. I never want to be a stay-at-home mom. Uh, do I want to be present in my child's life if I have a kid? Yes. But do I want to be a stay- at- home mom? Do I want to be a homemaker? No, but I have great respect for homemakers because my mother was one and she was a badass and she was kind. Very chatty, but she was kind. In those cases where somebody makes a significant amount of more money or somebody is

[00:08:38] uh, unemployed, you need to remember, especially in those cases, that there is a way for you to contribute to the household that is not money. And that is upkeep of the home. Now, in my relationship at the beginning, my partner [00:09:00] made more money. So I remember feeling... like damn, how am I worthy slash how am I contributing?

[00:09:12] I am a failure. Let's tack... tack on the unfair, uh, expectation that people just... just think that the woman makes less. Okay, bro. Now the roles are reversed because for the last two years, my partner has been in school because they want to get out of nursing. They're a great nurse, but a hospital don't treat you

[00:09:32] right. Let's let's just be real about that. Yes. We should be thankful to healthcare workers, especially during this pandemic, but do they treat their workers right? Debatable. But anyways, my partner went back to school and stopped working as much to the point where I needed to take on more of the bills. Right.

[00:09:58] That was the, what, [00:10:00] my way of contributing to our team and the way that my partner was going to contribute to the team was to take on more of the household chores. Okay. In your arrangement that might be what's needed. But sometimes things don't go well. Even when you've talked about it. So the inspiration for this, uh, episode... 11 minutes in... is what do you do when all of your effort to proactively discuss expectations about household chores does not go well?

[00:10:47] What do you do when the thing that was promised does not happen? Or it's fallen by the wayside. Maybe it did happen. Now, it's not happening anymore. Or [00:11:00] maybe needs have changed. As I mentioned before, is the work schedule suddenly really, really different to the point where um doing your previously agreed upon upon chores is not feasible anymore?

[00:11:15] Is somebody traveling a lot more and they're not around the house anyway? Right? What do you do? So I think the first thing is to don't jump immediately to a character judgment. Don't immediately think, man, why is this person lazy? Or why don't they have the discipline? Or do you not care about our household?

[00:11:42] Do you not care about me? No. There are so many things that could be happening that result in them not doing the chores. And I think the only way that you're going to know, instead of ruminating about all the possible ways that that person [00:12:00] sucks, or ruminating about all the possible things that you could have done, is to actually do something...

[00:12:06] and that is to talk to them. I recently... Every now and then I'm, I'm known in my circles, whether it's work or personal close friends or my discord community... awesome peeps... I am known for my communication ability. I am known for conflict resolution and I'm known for my candor. Hence, Candid and Cringe.

[00:12:34] So I often get asked how people should phrase things in emails, or when they're about to have a difficult conversation with somebody that they care about, and all of that stuff. What can you say to someone who is not meeting your expectations about the chores? First, assuming that you really like living with that person,

[00:12:55] I think no matter if they're a sensitive person or not, I'm a big [00:13:00] fan of trying to alleviate concerns as soon as possible. If you are trying to, to get an outcome that is not occurring, you need to be cognizant of barriers and you need to be proactive about ... addressing those barriers. Okay. And if a barrier to the person doing chores is feeling like they are supported and appreciated, um, and that you enjoy their existence,

[00:13:33] I think you need to cover that upfront. So let them know, depending on your relationship that you love them, that you enjoy living with them, that you want to work together with them to build a beautiful home... and then you explain the situation. If it's, hey, I'm I I'm working more now and I don't have the bandwidth...

[00:13:58] this is such a gross, [00:14:00] like work terminology thing, but I mean, it's real. I don't have the bandwidth or I don't have the capacity or I don't have the time... to do household chores. You know, is it possible that we can talk about a new arrangement with household chores that will work for the both of us? Something like that.

[00:14:21] Um, I don't think that you need to be like, hey, you said that you were going to do this and you're sh*tting the bed. I don't think it's gotta be like that. But, I definitely think it needs to be said. Because, you might think this is wishy-washy. It is not. Radical Candor, if you haven't read the book, Radical Candor, you need to read it. In order to avoid being ruinously empathetic, which is like sugarcoating it to the point where you actually hurt people,

[00:14:53] or what's the other one? I forgot what it's called, but it's something, something aggression. You [00:15:00] need to balance being direct and honest with being tactful. Without the tact you're just being cruel. Without the direct feedback, you're... and obviously the honesty... you're just being dishonest. You need them both.

[00:15:19] Instead of saying you sh*t the bed, you need to say that you want to pursue a different arrangement for the chores that will work for you both. And you need to make it a team activity. Okay. If it has to be something, if it has to be a little hour session on a Sunday, so you can figure out what's best for you and them, do it.

[00:15:44] If you suspect that there are deterrents to them doing the chores, you need to figure out what that is. Right. And while also showing that you're flexible about having a different arrangement. [00:16:00] So for example, are they somebody that they say that they're going to do the dishes, but they'll just sit there. Do they have a problem...

[00:16:09] do they have difficulty remembering to do it? Do they want to do it, but forget to do, do they want to do it, but find it absolutely horrendous to do? Why would that be the case? You need to lead with empathy. You need to lead with empathy. You need to lead with flexibility. You need to lead with direct, honest and tactful communication. And you need to be focused on, not the person and like

[00:16:48] holes in their character, you need to be focused on... how do we get to the outcome that we want? Which is a clean home and a happy home that [00:17:00] feels good to live in. Now, when I say you... you shouldn't focus on their character. I'm not saying that you shouldn't keep in mind. What kind of person they are. You should. That's where the empathy comes in. But it's not about changing who they are.

[00:17:16] It's about changing their behavior. This is what I've noticed out of the conflicts that I've resolved, whether it's at work or at home. When people have conflict... yes. misunderstanding... but if it's, if it's something where things have been said, or things have not been done, or you've pinpointed a behavior that is happening that needs to stop happening or isn't happening and needs to happen,

[00:17:44] that should be the focus. How do you get the behavior to stop happening if you don't want it to happen? And how do you get the behavior to happen, if it's not happening? It's not, how do I make this person not an *sshole? Or how do... It's not it's not, how do I make this [00:18:00] person believe this thing? That's not the approach. Now, after you've set the stage that this is a loving, joyful living situation that you are in this together, and that you have the same goal, from there

[00:18:21] you need to figure out what the barriers to achieving that goal are. Now sometimes you might be living with someone that is forgetful, but willing. Sometimes you live with someone who needs pushes. Ask the person, you know, is it something... for example, I know somebody who they have a hard time taking their medication if it is not in their [00:19:00] eyes... like within their eyesight. If it is in the cabinet, they're not going to remember.

[00:19:07] So it needs to be on their bedside. I'm similar too. I need to see things or they basically don't exist. And by that, I mean, like if I only see six out of 30 of my socks, I'm gonna keep using the same six socks. Of course after washing them. Pursue a strategy... if they are somebody who needs to see it, do they need to see, do you need to put up a whiteboard?

[00:19:38] Do you need to put up a bulletin board? A calendar that says so-and-so's dish day? If that is something that comes to mind as a possible solution to your problem, ask them, how do you feel about this? Would... Do you think it would work if we did this? Um, and then that is an opportunity [00:20:00] for you to figure out what is hard for them to do.

[00:20:05] Like, what is hard about doing the chores for them? Okay. Another thing to keep in mind is the whole people are different from you thing. Okay. Just because somebody doesn't do things the same way that you do does not mean that they are lazy or they lack good character. You can see that already with, in the case where two people actually do the dishes, but one person does them right away when they see them,

[00:20:36] and the other person does them at the end of the day. Is that really? Is that a bad difference? No. The same can be said, even when one person is not doing the dishes. I think it is easy for people to jump to a conclusion where they label the other person as [00:21:00] lacks discipline, lacks a care for other people, is unhygienic, like in the case where they don't bathe or something like that...

[00:21:09] and you're you maybe think they're smelly. And the reason why it is important to remember that a person may be different from you is not only because it's very true. But there is another element to it too, that a lot of people look past and that has to do with neurodivergent people. People who have brains that work differently from standard.

[00:21:40] I learned this being, um, learning a lot from being and participating in the disability community. In communities where people speak and spread awareness about ADHD. About [00:22:00] autism. There are so many people out there, on top of the general fact that people are very different, there are so many people out there whose brains work so differently and have been long ignored by society.

[00:22:20] And people have no idea how to form a good relationship with them. Here's an example, and is something that you can take back with you in case you already know it applies to them, or it may apply to them. For example, a misunderstanding that people have about ADHD is that the person is hyperactive and can't focus.

[00:22:45] Something that I've learned about people with ADHD is it's not that they can't focus. It's that they have a hard time controlling where their focus goes. They are very capable of focusing to [00:23:00] the point of hyper fixating for hours on the most mundane things to the average observer. It is not that they can't focus.

[00:23:16] They have trouble directing their focus. Now there are strategies that the ADHD community has come up with to hack, quote, unquote, their focus. And oftentimes they have had to do this in the workplace because work likes to shove your productivity in this sweet little eight hours a day, consecutively.

[00:23:41] But in this case, this is what I'll tell you. There is... this concept of anchoring yourself to another person while you do things in order to help you [00:24:00] stay present to do those things that are otherwise very difficult for you to focus on if you have ADHD. Now, if your friend or your living partner has ADHD,

[00:24:17] or you suspect they have ADHD, or none of those things apply, you can use this line of thinking as a, as a way to expand your problem-solving horizons. All right. Now people with ADHD, they have a hard time focusing on the things that even they want to do. So in this case, let's say that person may or may not have ADHD and they want to do the dishes, but they simply cannot bring themselves to do it.

[00:24:56] Something that may help them is for you, as their [00:25:00] roommate... this might not work well with strangers, but if you are tight, you as a roommate can maybe talk to them while they do the dishes. If you already talk with each other, just when you're about to have like a juicy conversation about work, be like, hey, let's do the dishes.

[00:25:18] And by let's do the dishes, I mean, you do the dishes cause it's your day. And I'll talk to you. That may help them. I recently had a conversation with somebody who, uh, they were having this, they wanted to breach this conversation with somebody that they were living with. And I brought up, you know, because I happen to know this their, their roommate.

[00:25:44] There's a possibility that your roommate has ADHD. Now, what I know about ADHD is what I just told you. And you know, this was a very fruitful conversation because the person says to me, you know, what, someone that I love very much [00:26:00] has autism. And that is something that we practice in our house.

[00:26:07] And I think you might be onto something. I was like, hey, I'm here to spread the word. I'm here to spread the knowledge. I have no idea if this person had this conversation with their roommate, I don't know if it worked out and I don't know if it starts... I started happening, but what was very beautiful about this interaction was

[00:26:34] this person cared enough about their roommate to reach out to someone else for help. That person was me. I also happen to know that person that they wanted to talk about,

[00:26:50] but sometimes you don't have the tools to solve whatever problem that you have. [00:27:00] And I think people who are very proud will have difficulty asking for help. I used to be that way. I still have some of that. But if you are having difficulty dealing with a situation, whether it's your partner or your sister, or your brother, or your coach, your boss, don't be afraid to reach out.

[00:27:31] Don't be afraid to seek advice from random *ss people on the internet, like me who know a lil some, something about something. Anyways, household chores. I've had people say.. Actually, I think I know at least two couples, not couples like romantic couples, but like pairings, I've been a, an advisor of sorts in two [00:28:00] different pairs.

[00:28:01] Where they've had problems with the other person not doing, not contributing the way that the other person expects in the household. And both times there was a very early, uh, contemplation that maybe they should move somewhere else and not live with this person. For me, I am somebody who likes to exhaust all possible options before getting to the most extreme option.

[00:28:38] Granted, I also make that decision very fast. So that process for me goes very quickly. I can go from, this is not good, I want to try everything that's possible, and then cut it off. That is a very short cycle for me, cause I move fast. But oftentimes people will immediately [00:29:00] jump to, maybe I should just remove myself rather than going the confrontation route. Rather than having the talk.

[00:29:09] And I will always, always suggest... You have no idea what that person is thinking or feeling or why they're not doing the thing that you want them to do. Do they even know that you want them to do that thing? And if they do know, do you know why it is hard for them? Do you know why they're not doing it? Do you both care about this relationship?

[00:29:39] Do you... all things, like that thing aside, do you want to live with that person still? If the answer is that you do want to live with them still, and there are a whole bunch of unknowns, a conversation needs to be had. Too many people jump to, well, I'm just going to remove myself because... [00:30:00] annoying. I don't think annoyance is enough of a reason to break it off.

[00:30:07] Especially if it's a one-time thing. Uh, yes. If the feeling is so strong and it's irredeemable, then of course, even if the time is short, you should cut it off. But if there is even an ounce of hope, if there is an, is even an ounce, an ounce of desire to continue this arrangement. Then you need to do what you need to do an order to problem solve.

[00:30:40] Now, in both cases, both of those people came to me. They're ... entirely different cases, but they both came to me and I suggested what I said, which is to have a conversation about it. And you know what? I mean, I don't know how the second one's going to go, but the first one, they ended up [00:31:00] staying together.

[00:31:01] And they're practically they're... Same sex, um, platonic friends, room... Roommates, but they are practically, they call themselves, uh, affectionately, like husband, wife, even though they're both women, but, uh, whatever ... that happened, they discussed it. They put in the effort to make it work. They tried their options and now they're still together.

[00:31:34] They are still together. Now I have a, I have confidence that this one's going to work. I don't know if I will ever know the outcome, but, uh, I strongly believe in the power of candid conversations and direct communication. And honesty. And respect for [00:32:00] each other to the point where you will have a difficult conversation.

[00:32:04] Today, we talked about household chores. Seemingly trivial and mundane on the surface, but a common, common area, a boundary setting and expectation setting that happens in people's lives that may or may not be talked about a lot. Who knows? Maybe another day we'll talk about other things around the house. I don't know what else you could talk about around the house...

[00:32:29] asi.. Aside from household chores, I guess money, but that's, that's a very nuanced topic. But for now we'll leave it at household chores. We'll leave it at dishes. We'll leave it about, leave it at sweeping toilets tubs, and I'll catch you on the next one. Thanks, y'all. Have a good day. Toodaloo.[00:33:00]

010: Why Didn't You Do The Dishes?
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