How 15 Minutes Could Save You 15% or more on Marriage Counseling…

by Erika Torres

marriage counselingIt’s fair to say that throughout the first three years of marriage, money was the number one thing Eric and I argued about.

Between bills, debt, savings…there just never seemed to be enough to go around, and it was a pretty big cause of stress.

Not surprisingly, money is often listed as the number one reason for divorce.

Well, now that we’ve taken care of that money situation, there appears to be only one other thing that Eric and I frequently argued about..

The Division of Labor within our household.

I’ve often maintained that I’m stuck with the majority of the housework.

Even though we have a cleaning ladyand that was because I was tired of using my days off to deep clean, while Eric got to use his days off to relax–there is still a large amount of things to do in just the everyday running of the household, like loading and unloading the dishwasher, feeding and walking the dog, laundry, making dinner, picking up the kitchen after cooking, etc.

During Eric’s fire academy, everything fell on me. Again.

I know that most people are all like “Well, marriage is never 50-50, you give and take and it all balances out at the end.”

But let me be clear here, those numbers have never balanced in my favor. For our entire marriage, Eric has been working on his career. And even though I work full-time, go to school full-time, and freelance as well, I was still forced to be in charge of the everyday running of the household.

It was like the 1950s called and asked me to be the spokesperson.

So I said something had to change, because I was going to lose my sh*t.

Now, I am probably making it sound a lot more dire than it was. Because the truth is that my frustration goes in cycles. There are plenty of moments where I see that Eric is working super hard studying for work, and I have no issue taking the lead in household chores.

But there are times where I am swamped with a 10-page paper, a final exam, and a presentation to do, and hey, you can’t even put the trash cans in the garage after trash day? You want me to do that too?!


After I let loose a little steam, we finally agreed to the 15-minute rule.

Eric felt that I was asking him to clean up the whole house on his days off. When really, I just wanted him to spend 15 minutes tidying up the house so it looks how I left it when I left for work in the morning.

Everybody has 15 minutes.

I spend 15 minutes in the morning unloading the dishwasher, making the bed, walking and feeding the dog.

I was asking Eric to put in his own 15 minutes by putting his own dishes in the dishwasher, picking his socks up off the floor (the living room is not a laundry bin), putting his paperwork and work supplies into one corner and not strewn around the coffee table and dining room table…

Just simple little things.

Ever since we’ve implemented the 15-minute rule (going on six weeks now…), we haven’t had a single argument.

Now when I pull into the driveway, and I see the trash cans have already been put away without me having to ask, it’s like I can hear the angels singing “Hallelujah.”

It’s seriously the small things. Because the house cleaners do the deep cleaning, we just need to keep the house tidy in between visits.

And my mom will tell you, I am the farthest thing from a clean freak you can get without being labeled a slob, so it’s not like my “clean” expectations are all that high. I just don’t like to see clutter.

The 15 minutes rule has been a life saver. Eric doesn’t spend a ton of time picking up, and I get to come home to a tidy house.




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Erin @ Gen Y Finances April 5, 2014 - 9:44 am

The 15 minute rule sounds great, I need to implement that for myself. Lately, neither of us has time to clean, but we’ve managed to keep up with dishes, laundry, and trash. We don’t really have a system, just whoever has the time does it. Everything else is chaos and I really need to deep clean this place pronto. It’s just a disaster.

Army Amy April 2, 2014 - 8:34 am

I love the 15 minute approach! 15 minutes is short enough that it doesn’t make you tired or take away from whatever else you want to do, but it’s enough time to get things done. Smart!

I listened to a Freakonomics podcast recently where they said that women today are not as happy as women in the 70’s. Mostly because even though we’ve infiltrated the workplace (huzzah!), we still get the short end of the stick when it comes to maintaining our homes. How does that happen? Why is it that women are usually cleaner than men? My husband used to tell me that I should let him know if there was something he needed to clean, but that didn’t really work for us. (He has eyes, he can see what’s dirty. I don’t want to be the teacher or the one keeping track of the chore log.) We had a therapist tell us once that the neater person needs to learn to live with the mess or clean it up themselves. Oh, you should have seen my face.

Kathy April 2, 2014 - 5:52 am

I think the biggest key to financial harmony in a marriage is both people being on the same page for financial goals. It will never work if one person is a saver and one a spender. Or if one person wants to put the money toward a down payment but another wants to eat out or hit the bar scene every night. My husband and I have been married 37 years (anniversary was April 1) and I can honestly say we have never had a fight about money. We may have disagreed from time to time, but we never let it get to the point of an argument. We had discussions, not fights. We respected each other too much to let it get to that point.

Mrs. Snarkfinance April 1, 2014 - 1:52 pm

I’m aware $ is the #1 reason for divorce… I’ve heard this stat many times. Luckily I have Mr. Snarkfinance to guide me in our financial planning. Although it was difficult in the beginnning I find we agree on most financial decisions now and we do a monthly reveiw to make sure we are on the same page with our spending, savings and financial goals. Just as you’ve said we tend to argue from time to time about the division of labor in the household… though I think we are pretty close to the 50/50 I like the 15 min rule for both of us.

Ris April 1, 2014 - 11:33 am

This sounds eerily familiar to me. I have a full time job and two side freelance gigs and somehow I still manage to do what feels like the majority of the housework. My husband, who is in a PhD program and thus very busy, says that I just have very high standards for cleanliness (and he is right). This 15-minutes rule sounds like a really really good idea!

Debt and the Girl March 31, 2014 - 7:34 pm

I think every couple has to make rules that will be best for them. Its def. not a one size fits all equation and thats okay. If you have found ways to be happy with that, then thats great.

NZ Muse March 31, 2014 - 1:55 pm

I may have to try this. Seriously.

E.M. March 31, 2014 - 1:27 pm

I hate cleaning! This sounds like a good system to implement. I cook and my boyfriend cleans, but we both dislike doing dishes. I’m so grateful for everything he does. I watched my mom argue with my dad about chores so much when he was laid off. He was home barely doing anything and my mom felt all the pressure of doing everything, so I understand your view on things. Glad you guys were able to work it out!

Lindsay March 31, 2014 - 9:18 am

I highly recommend the book “Spousonomics.”

Kristin March 31, 2014 - 8:26 am

I learned early in our marriage that we run on different levels of acceptable home cleanliness. My husband is awesome about doing laundry when I’m busy (even if I don’t like the way he folds things). He is also generally good at keeping up on the dishes.

My husband has a one track mind. Since he’s been hustling, he hustles. That means the dishes don’t always get done and he hasn’t been helping much with the laundry. He’s asked me to remind him about things. It’s not nagging when the other person realizes that he should be helping but forgets to do things. He now puts things in his calendar and gets reminders, which is awesome because I don’t have to remind him as much.

newlywedsonabudget March 31, 2014 - 11:16 am

that sounds like a really good system!

CeCe @Pink Sunshine March 31, 2014 - 8:22 am

I like that!! Glad it’s working for you two and I agree that it really is the little things sometimes. When MJ straightens up or remembers to dump the trash AND put a new bag in it makes me so happy that he took the time to do it and really it doesn’t take long at all. It’s just being aware of it and taking those 15 minutes to do it. When they know it matters to us they just need to step up and do it!! 🙂

newlywedsonabudget March 31, 2014 - 11:14 am

haha we have had that “argument” so many times!!! The chore of taking out the trash is not done until you put a new clean bag in the trash can…haha

Alice @ Earning My Two Cents March 31, 2014 - 7:37 am

I like to go the compliment route and tell my husband how sexy it is when he walks the dogs, takes out the trash, vacuums, cleans the toilet, or does the laundry. oooooh!

The first thing my mom said to me when we got engaged was that marriage is about compromise and acceptance, like accepting dirty socks on the floor. Yup, she went straight for the socks. So true Mom, so true. I have accepted that much of the housework will fall on me but I have learned that it usually falls on me because I do it, not necessarily because he thinks he doesn’t have to (well….maybe). I have also learned that if I say that I need help and ask him to do a specific thing (like vacuum or taking the trash and recycling out) then he will do it. Teamwork! And then I have to not correct him when he does it a differnet way than I do it lol.

newlywedsonabudget March 31, 2014 - 11:13 am

At this point, I don’t correct him at all when he does something. I am just grateful that he did it! And I am trying to avoid the vicxious cycle of being primarily responsible for housework simply because I am the woman. I’ve seen it happen way too often and this is the one battle I am willing to die on the hill for in order to find some compromise. Because me doing everything on top of everything else I do? Yeah. not much of a compromise if you ask me.

Tanner March 31, 2014 - 6:51 am

That’s awesome, haha. Great way to get around nagging. With my family, I had to resort to 1) force, 2) passive aggressiveness. Got tired of towels on the floor or in the bin when they were clean, toothpaste all over the sink, shoes right in the entrance and jackets everywhere. I’d leave passive aggressive notes or hide the stuff. I think I like your way better, but the only way that’d work is with communication… and me and my siblings never had a lot of that!

Jessica March 31, 2014 - 5:53 am

I love this! right now we are still in our arguing over money stage which is slowly dwindling down (I balance the finances and I do monthly check-ins with him to keep him in the loop) but I can totally agree on household chores. I don’t have a cleaning lady- le sigh… but I do the deep cleaning every other Saturday. I told him yesterday if he doesn’t want me to lose my sh’t he has to clean up if I cook, take out the trash, clean the cat litter and help me with laundry. Let’s see how the first week goes lol. The joys of marriage 😀


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