How Hiring A Cleaning Lady Helped Our Marriage

by Erika Torres

how iring a cleaning lady helped our marriage

Maybe I’m being overly dramatic, but let me tell you, I’ve been more infatuated with my husband these past several weeks of hiring our cleaning lady than in this past year. A cleaning lady just makes everything better*.

 * I want to preface this post by saying that I realize that housekeepers may not be very prevalent in the Midwest or other parts of the country, but in southern California, it is very common. While I understand that it is still a luxury, I would say that hiring a housekeeper in southern California is akin to having a snow plow service in the Northeast. Sure you can shovel snow yourself, but isn’t it better to have someone else do it for you?

When we first moved into our place, we both did our best to divvy up the cleaning duties equally. That lasted all of about a month before Eric hurt his back and couldn’t do much of anything for five weeks. I don’t blame the guy for hurting himself, but you can’t deny that everything fell on me.

Then, he started working part-time, which would make you think that he had extra time to clean, except he was working the night shift, 7 pm to 7 am and he would spend his days sleeping. On the days he didn’t sleep, he’d be studying for countless fire tests and prepping for interviews.

Now, Eric is going to school full-time and working full-time. He has very little free time.

I get all that. I understand all that. But try telling yourself that when you’re spending your free time cleaning up by yourself week in and week out. I just don’t think it’s fair that I have to be responsible for all the day to day stuff, in addition to working a full-time job myself. We’re supposed to be a team, right?

In Midlife Crisis at 30, I felt Katherine said it best when she described the household-work dynamic between her and her spouse:

“We make all major decisions together. But when it comes to practical, daily-life stuff–like cleaning the house, grocery shopping, making dinner, running errands–there is nothing equal about what’s going on. Even though we both have demanding careers, somehow I am in charge of everything that my mother was, too–and she was a full time housewife.”

This is ultimately what I feel like sometimes.WE both work full-time jobs, we should both be sharing household responsibilities equally–but there is rarely anything equal about it.

I manage all our day to day affairs, I take care of the grocery shopping, the bill paying, the day to day tidying up, the loading and unloading of the dishwasher, the walking and feeding of the dog. I schedule all the doctors’ appointments, all of Bentley’s grooming appointments…Today, I even took care of rolling over Eric’s IRA from his old job.

You may think that I should just let him handle this stuff, but the last time I let him take care of it, I ended up spending an extra $8 to fax medical receipts because he waited til the last minute–even though I had been reminding him for three months.

I love, love, love my husband and I understand he is a very busy guy at the moment, and it’s not really his fault. I get all that. But I don’t feel like I should have to metaphorically pay for it and get stuck with having to manage everything just because he’s busy. In the spring, I’ll be going back to school too and I’ll still be responsible for the day to day duties.

So instead of festering in resentment, I hired a cleaning lady. Because that takes care of the one major thing I hate to do.

She comes every other week, and the house is spotless. It feels so good to come home to a clean house and just relax. I know that it seems like an extravagance, especially when I’m still working on paying down $20,000 in student loans. BUT– at $130 a month, I truly believe our cleaning lady is worth every single penny. And I will delay my debt repayment if it means saving my sanity.

Would you ever hire a cleaning lady? Do you feel like you’re in charge of more household stuff even though you both work full-time jobs?

Photo credit: Anne Worner.


A blog about newlyweds managing money in relationships. | Newlyweds on a Budget May 13, 2013 - 3:38 pm

[…] I’m pretty luck in that Eric loves to cook and shares the bulk of the cooking with me, we have a cleaning lady, and we each do our own […]

A blog about newlyweds managing money in relationships. | Newlyweds on a Budget March 12, 2013 - 12:56 pm

[…] household responsibilities fell on my shoulders–which is why I had no problem with deciding to hire a cleaning service. However, I do think toward the future, and now that I’m going to school full-time as well, […]

marian meade October 7, 2012 - 11:13 am

Such a clever decision! I’ve been married 26 yrs and my best advice to new couples is to make it a priority to spend $$ on child care, housecleaning etc, even when you feel like you can’t. Back in the day I didn’t know enough to do that and it caused a lot of stress for us. I really loved being a Mom to my 3 sons and was very easygoing, and it was my husband who was the clean and tidy organized one. As a result I can relate to both you and your husband. Kudos to you girl!! Enjoy your hubby for who he is and get the help you need!

Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals October 6, 2012 - 4:10 pm

I like how you compared having a maid in Southern CA to having snow plow service in the NE – I was born and raised in Cleveland, OH, and I can tell you, that is an accurate comparison!

Jessy October 6, 2012 - 2:25 pm

My job is a housecleaner and it’s extremely hard work and exercise. I learned more than 3/4 of my customers who want a housecleaner to come inside their house lead hectic lives. That big group are small families, career women/men, travelers. Being blunt on saying not all customers are busy with kids and some do have time to clean their own homes. That’s a very small group of them though and most of the time, they don’t keep housecleaners inside their homes for that long. The best customers are ones who are genuinely relieved and happy to come back home after their long hectic days in their careers or mainitaining their family (kids and spouses). Tips are always nice too since it’s a hard job to maintain a clean house and great customer service. I used to receive “tips” from a customer who gave gift cards on holidays or random times. Saying goes- a clean home is a happy home.

Canadianbudgetbinder October 6, 2012 - 7:37 am

Mrs.CBB and I (more Mrs.CBB) are clean-a-holics.. (did I just make a new word up?) We enjoy a very clean house and everything has to have a place. We don’t like wasting time searching for things so everything is organized at the moment we have to organize it. We don’t set things aside for later if we can help it. This has helped us.
I don’t think it would be worth it for us as nothing would be good enough for Mrs.CBB as she would still find things to clean if we had a cleaning lady/man. What we do is we plan our cleaning each week so we know what needs to get done and how much time it will take. For example: I wash all the clothes before I go to work and Mrs. CBB takes care of the drying process. When we do it together it makes it’s a bit more fun, like we are working as a team. When we are done we get to enjoy a clean house that we both participated in cleaning and got it done in half the time one person would. Not everyone is the same but for us it works and as for the snow shoveller… sign me up!

Teacher Girl October 5, 2012 - 6:58 pm

Amen to that! Your sanity is worth every, single, penny.

SWR October 5, 2012 - 9:06 am

i’m intrigued by the idea that domestic help may be more prevalent in one part of the country. Do you think it’s because there are fewer stay at home parents in southern CA?

We are against the idea of having cleaning help – at least until we have kids. For me, it’s mostly just a luxury that we don’t need right now. But my partner grew up very poor and finds the idea of paying someone else to do your dirty work repulsive. I think the reason he makes an exception for when we have kids is that he imagines a sort of in-home child care/nanny, but we’ll see.

Kim October 4, 2012 - 1:49 pm

Dude! Everyone needs something to keep it together. We have cleaning and cooking down, but I also do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to finances, appointments, etc. We also have a 4 month old baby and while DH is pretty helpful, nursing (while working!) takes a lot of time/energy of which can only come from me. I’d kill for a personal secretary to run errands, because DH works, coaches, and goes to school. so can’t help as much Some of our shortcuts are in cooking, like bags of frozen cut vegetables seem such like such a smaller hurdle to a home cooked meal when you’ve got a crying baby. And lightly-sugared instant oatmeal that I keep at work for breakfast. I know regular oatmeal isn’t hard, but it’s hard at the house. And beats a doughnut.

Can you tell that I’m tired today? Our coffee pot is broken which doesn’t help…

Jessica @ Budget for Health October 4, 2012 - 1:15 pm

I can’t believe there are MOMS that work full time and have kids and a husband to cook for and clean up after. I feel like I have to squeeze in time to clean and it’s just Dave and me! I think that financial sacrifice was a wise move. Money can’t buy happiness, but $130/month sure can buy you sanity and time to love your hubs!

Kelly October 4, 2012 - 6:59 am

My hubby and I buckled down and got a house cleaner last month for the first time. I work full-time and also responsible for the day to day cleaning and chores. My hubby is a full time student and works so when he’s home I prefer we spend time together to connect rather than send him off to scrub a toilet! Someone once told me “hiring a house cleaner is a lot cheaper than marital therapy” ha! Touché

mrsplungedindebt October 4, 2012 - 5:30 am

I would LOVE to do this, especially with the baby I have even less time. Hubby is great about helping ”tidy” (ie putting stuff away and neatening things up, vastly different from CLEANING). It’s something I’ve been thinking about. I know we can’t pull it off financially while I’m on mat leave but I especially want to look into when I go back to work FT. I will be getting up going to work all day, the last thing I will want to do is spend time cleaning, when I’m away from the house for 10-11 hours/day then come home and cook, I need my family time.

Jordann @ My Alternate Life October 4, 2012 - 5:01 am

I would LOVE to hire a cleaning lady. Someone to vacuum, clean the bathrooms, and scrub the floors, that would be amazing. I definitely would consider it if I could get one for a mere $130 per month, but I don’t think that’s possible around here.

My household responsibilities are pretty well evenly split. My fiance typically has winters off because his business is seasonal, so he’s very well acquainted with what it takes to keep our household running smoothly.

Shannon October 4, 2012 - 3:57 am

My sister is horrible at cleaning and they have had a cleaning lady on and off for awhile now. So worth it. Once we are in a house I will probably do the same. For the exact reason you are saying. Work full time and run the home full time…sometimes there are not enough hours in the day!

Army Amy* October 4, 2012 - 12:08 am

I grew up in Texas, and we had a cleaning lady who came twice a month. My dad was majorly OCD though, so he’d complain about the way the cleaning lady did the cleaning. I guess my mom liked that better than him complaining about her cleaning. Ha!

Do you read A Practical Wedding? It’s not all about weddings; there’s lots of relationship stuff. They’ve talked about this before and highly suggest getting a cleaning lady. I say, “why not!”

As for how we clean, when we were both working, cleaning was 50/50. I’d still end up frustrated though because when it was my husband’s turn to clean the dishes, he’d wait until they were so piled up and disgusting. It was pretty gross and frustrating. Now that I’m not working, I do most of the cleaning. It’s actually been (surprisingly) less stressful. I don’t expect him to clean, so I’m not annoyed when he doesn’t. I don’t nag him. I just scoop up the mess and take care of it. If I was working though, I would not want to do all the cleaning. That’s just whack.*

eemusings October 3, 2012 - 10:49 pm

Ha, I just commented at Nicole and Maggie about this topic!

I wish we had a dishwasher. When we buy a house, that will be the first thing I put in if there isn’t one. And at that stage I think a monthly cleaner to do proper deep cleaning will be an excellent investment. (It’s really not something I can justify at this stage.)

Kyle @ YPFinances October 3, 2012 - 2:26 pm

I used to use Molly Maid but I felt like they were too expensive ($120 for once a month) – where did you find yours? Do you have any recommendations (I’m in SoCal too)? $130 for twice a month sounds wonderful! I agree that it saves a lot of arguments and is worth the sanity.

Gerri May 30, 2014 - 12:20 pm

The abltiiy to think like that shows you’re an expert

Emily @ evolvingPF October 3, 2012 - 12:41 pm

I would be open to outsourcing some domestic duties but my husband (who is from soCal BTW!) WOULD NOT HEAR OF IT. Maybe that will change when we have more demanding jobs or kids or whatever. As it stands now, I do more of the day-to-day picking up and he does the infrequent deep cleaning (which I HATE) and we’re both satisfied with that balance – it plays to our strengths (or at least not our weaknesses).

Andrea October 3, 2012 - 12:38 pm

Thank you for writing this! Definitely made me feel less guilty for my feelings of frustration. My fiance always says he wants to help out with things, but like you said, it’s getting around to actually DOING it that is the hard part for him. So most of the time I take care of things myself and then *as* I am doing the dishes, straightening up, whatever, he says “I was gonna do that later…”

Drives me crazy! If you were going to do it later, why did it sit here for days before I decided to just do it myself!? Haha… my old roommate did the same thing actually so this is a long held pet peeve of mine.

Since we got a cat, it’s been better because he’s really stepped up and taken pretty much 100% responsibility for her – feeding her, taking care of the litter box, etc. It makes him feel like he’s helping, one less thing for me to do, and helps us both feel like there is *somewhat* of a balance of duties. 🙂

Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies October 3, 2012 - 12:37 pm

I end up doing most stuff inside the house, but there are a few things I refuse to do – dishes being one of them. I cook the food, he cleans up after it! I also use a different bathroom from Mr. PoP – so he lives with his own slovenly habits in there until I hose it down with bleach once a month or so. I just can’t handle the day-to-day grime he somehow builds up in the bathroom.

Cleaning ladies are super common in FL, too – but unless we have kids and absolutely need to have the place sanitized from top to bottom super regularly, I think I’ll just keep the money =)

That said, we hired a pool guy at the start of the summer, and it is freakin’ amazing how much more we enjoy the pool now that someone else manages it! And for the record, completely cost effective, too. Double-plus bonus!

One Frugal Girl October 3, 2012 - 11:58 am

I love that you posted about this today! I feel the same way about household chores. Although I now stay home I perform the majority of cleaning tasks (other than laundry) and did the same when I was working. The cleaners showed up for the first time this week and as soon as they left I immediately felt calmer and more relaxed. It feels so good for everything to be clean and feels even better knowing that I didn’t have to do any of the cleaning!

SavvyFinancialLatina October 3, 2012 - 11:21 am

You only pay your cleaning lady $130 a month. That’s $32.5 a visit! How big is your place?

We try to split the household duties. It doesn’t always work, and often times the house is a mess, but as long as I have room in the couch I’m fine. We only have a 700 sq. foot apartment though. Our mess usually comes from dirty laundry, so once we do laundry it gets better.

SavvyFinancialLatina October 3, 2012 - 11:23 am

I’m the messy one of our relationship by the way.

newlywedsonabudget October 3, 2012 - 11:50 am

No, she comes every other week, or twice a month, so it’s $65 a visit.

justrealhappy October 3, 2012 - 11:09 am

We go back and forth with the idea of hiring an assistant. Until I graduate, time is really tight. Cleaning would be a part of the duties. Not certain if we’ll ever go thru with it, but if life remains this crazy, we may have to.

Jami October 3, 2012 - 10:28 am

I’ve been having this same argument for months and have just about reached my breaking point. Our home is gross, I can only really clean about once every 6 weeks (I do clean the toilet/wipe down counters/etc.. every other week or so) because of our busy schedules. Even if my husband ‘helps’ I have to write down a list and give him a week to do it, it’s crazy talk. A cleaning lady would definitely help keep my sanity!

Margaret October 3, 2012 - 10:17 am

My husband and I have had a woman come in and clean every two weeks for the last 2 years. It is the most worthwhile investment we have ever made. We still have to tidy and keep the clutter under control – but once that’s done I don’t have to clean afterwards!!

Lisa @ Lisa the Vegetarian October 3, 2012 - 10:16 am

I DEFINITELY feel the same way. My boyfriend and I live together, and we both work full time and he is also going to school part time. Every once in a great while, he’ll put a few dishes in the dishwasher or clean a few wine glasses, but that’s about it. Meanwhile, I do our grocery shopping, clean the apartment every day, make sure all the logistics of life are taken care of, etc. I know he wants to take more of a part in all this, but I also know that if I don’t do these things myself it means one of two things: it doesn’t get done, or I end up nagging him to do it.

Caitlin October 3, 2012 - 10:10 am

We are seriously considering hiring a cleaning company to come in monthly or once every two weeks. I am looking at a job that will require a 1 hr commute each way on top of working 40+ hrs a week and my husband is looking at a very similar situation. At first I felt silly, especially since our condo is only ~1000 sq ft, but I don’t want us to bicker because we are both too tired to clean up. I think our only challenge will be finding someone we can trust who can clean while we are both at work rather than us having to be home on weekends to keep an eye out.

Glad to hear that the cleaning lady worked out so well for you guys 🙂

Michelle October 3, 2012 - 10:10 am

We’ve been thinking about doing this. Neither of us has any time. However, we are thinking about just asking my sister to clean in exchange for us shaving off a couple hundred off her rent.

Debt and the Girl October 3, 2012 - 9:45 am

We have someone come by monthly to help clean the apartment and it is wonderful. I take care of the majority of the cleaning in our relationship and its just a way of lessening the work on me, plus at $50 a visit (once a month), it isn’t exactly crippling us financially. I say its money well spent if it helps you maintain your sanity!

Megan October 3, 2012 - 9:39 am

Perhaps I just got lucky but my boyfriend and I split all the household chores. We both work full-time (and in fact he probably works more hours than me because he usually gets 2-3 extra hours of work done from home after I go to bed each night), and agree that there’s aboslutely no reason that one of us should be doing more of the household work than the other. He pays all the bills and takes care of the dishes while I’m in charge of laundry and most of the cooking and we split cleaning and taking care of the dog. Personally, if I were you, I’d be pissed at my husband. Sounds like he gets away with being lazy (considering you’re both working full-time and going back to school) while you do all the work.

But holey moley, if I felt like we could afford a cleaning lady right now I’d hire one in a second! I’ve already told my boyfriend that once kids enter the picture we’re definitely hiring one to come in at least every other week.

newlywedsonabudget October 3, 2012 - 9:51 am

WOW! You are definitely one of the lucky ones I think.

Eric does manage some things…like fixing stuff around the house–but it definitely doesn’t require as much time and effort as the everyday things I do. I do sometimes get mad, but for the most part, it’s not like he’s just sitting in front of the TV all day. He’s studying, working, sleeping, or going to the gym. Plus, he works 24-hour shifts…so the poor guy has to sleep when he gets home!

I guess it’s just not worth it anymore to get mad. If he were really just being lazy, I would so get angry.

Arlea October 3, 2012 - 9:32 am

Get out of my head! I started a post last night (still unposted–I’m a slow writer) about my “house husband.” Haha!

I know some men are the exception when it comes to being cleaners, and organizers, but my man is not one of those exceptions. I have one of the sweetest husbands in the world. Emotionally, he’s very attentive, so thoughtful and loving. But, I swear he cannot clean without me telling him each job to do. It is NEVER obvious to him that the bathroom needs cleaning or that the laundry needs folding, etc.

Rob October 18, 2012 - 1:35 pm

OMG I had to show that to my wife (of almost 30 years) threatened several times with being sent back to work (and thusly being able to hire a cleaning lady again) unless I start noticing the dirt!

Shaba October 3, 2012 - 9:24 am

I’m considering doing exactly this. Every couple I know who has a cleaning lady is beyond happy with their decision. This weekend (our regular cleaning time) I think I might throw this out there, either he starts doing half the work or we start paying someone else to do it all. It’s totally not fair that I do all the day to day stuff.

newlywedsonabudget October 3, 2012 - 9:45 am

I think cleaning ladies are a cheaper form of therapy. Use that in your argument : )


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