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Pitch in and Strengthen Relationships

Wise Counsel for Couples

As a counselor with a decade of experience, I was surprised when my Instagram blew up after I posted some free advice for couples. I said that men in particular need to help out as much as they can around the house and with the kids. Chores are a part of a household’s daily routine and in relationships where both partners live and share a life together, it makes sense for couples to split responsibilities. 

Often these responsibilities are left to one partner. According to the responses and feedback on my IG post, this can happen for many reasons. A lot of men were not raised to take on activities that are perceived as gender-specific (think: cleaning, cooking, and caretaking). Even in 2021, many people still embrace stereotypical beliefs about domestic responsibilities. Some men may work multiple jobs and don’t have time to help. And believe it or not, some women believe that men only get in the way when they try to do household chores, help in the kitchen, or help with the kids. And some men are just plain stuck in a patriarchal mindset. They might associate being a man with testosterone, masculinity, and ego – not cleaning floors, making dinner, or changing diapers.

Whether or not men saw themselves in any of those examples I just listed, trust me when I say being helpful around the house and with the family will go a long way toward strengthening your loving relationship. The takeaway? Just because you think your partner can do it all, doesn’t mean they should. Also, just because you might have watched your mother do it all when you were growing up, doesn’t mean your wife or partner should do it all now. 

The Benefits of Being More Helpful

I have found that I earn bonus points in my relationship when I do additional things around the home without being asked. You can earn these bonus points in your relationship as well because your partner, wife, or significant other will see you as attentive, loving, and committed. 

Yes, flowers, dates, and candlelight dinners have their place, but taking initiative to lighten the load of your partner will probably go further. What I am saying here is that if you do the laundry (and fold it and put it away) from time to time, cook dinner, bathe the kids, clean the kitchen, or iron your partner’s work clothes – to name a few – you are probably hitting above par. 

And the good news is from a physiological standpoint, doing domestic and caring acts around the house releases a chemical called oxytocin in both of you. Yes, this means acts of service can turn on your partner. Oxytocin is the love hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter. When you demonstrate your caring to your partner, this releases nature’s aphrodisiac. Similarly, when you kiss her on the forehead before work, this releases a pulse of oxytocin.

Expecting your partner to be loving with you when you are not helping out around the house will not further your cause. Relationships are based on teamwork and support. These things should be communicated prior to the relationship so that expectations can be met. If these things weren’t agreed upon up front, then it still wouldn’t hurt to step in and reduce the load of your partner. 

Being domestically attentive to the partner in your life goes a long way toward fostering feelings of love, so don’t wait to be asked to clean up or cook dinner. Do it on your own and do it because it is the right thing to do. Be selfless and encourage your partner to relax from time to time. Treasure your partner and the bond you two have created, be a helpful partner at home, and nurture your love.

I have counseled many couples fresh in a relationship as well as couples who have been married many years, and normally one partner expresses that they would like more assistance around the home. Being considerate of your partner can go a long way toward strengthening your relationship, especially as we enter another busy, stressful, and wonderful holiday season. 

James Harris is a licensed mental health counselor who has been working with men, women, and families for more than ten years. He provides community-based services and counsels clients at The HEALing Hub. He is the author of “Man. Just Express Yourself,” a tool for the males in your life. Learn more about James and support the work of Men to Heal at
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