Forget bouquets of roses and fancy dinners out. If you want more marital bliss, hire yourselves a house cleaner.
Prior to marriage, I fancied myself a fairly tidy person. I had my weekly house-cleaning routine (okay, apartment-cleaning routine) down to a science. By Sunday afternoon, new sheets were on the bed, my floors were gleaming and my counters were spotless—all in time for the start of the workweek.
But then a few things changed.
In just a few years, I acquired a husband, two kids and a couple of pets—plus a house big enough to fit us all. As newlyweds, my husband and I tried to create an equitable division of labor, but somewhere between balancing family life and two full time jobs, the housework began to fall by the wayside. And worse, it was increasingly becoming a source of marital stress.
We were far from alone in this scenario. It’s well documented that the division of household chores is a hot button issue in marriages. One that is ripe for breeding feelings of tension and resentment if not carefully managed.
Initially, we decided on a trial run with a cleaning service shortly after the birth of our first son. We quickly discovered that outsourcing the burden of housecleaning is a better investment than we ever could have imagined. There is something luxurious about seeing vacuum marks on your carpet and having your toilet paper folded like you’re living in a resort. Needless to say, after my return to work we decided to keep up with the twice-a-month cleanings.
For me, I have noticed a great reduction in anxiety since hiring a cleaning service. I am able to enjoy dinner with my family without eyeing every crumb my three year old drops with a sense of obligation to later vacuum it up. And those toddler handprints and dog noseprints on my glass doors are more endearing now that I am not the one repeatedly wiping them clean. Sure, my husband and I still have to do what we call “maintenance cleaning” in between visits from our house cleaners. But it feels like there is a safety net in place to ensure our home won’t fall into complete disarray because of a few busy weeks.
The stress relief from hiring a house cleaner means no more score keeping over who last scrubbed the toilets or mopped the floors, and instead, more Netflix and chilling once the kids are in bed.
Of course, spending money on a house cleaner is a splurge. One that many families might be hesitant to allocate money toward. But a recent study from Harvard Business School supports that “spending money on time-saving services is linked to greater life satisfaction” than the purchase of material goods. This held true for families at all income levels.
So if your marriage is suffering from what the study’s researchers describe as “the ‘time famine’ of modern life,” you may want to re-examine your budget, if possible, and take advantage of a time-saving service such as a house cleaner. I promise, it will boost your marriage more than any flowers or box of chocolates ever could.