in All Posts

Do you ever have chore standoffs with your spouse or roommate?


This morning, the Husband pointed to the huge pile of dirty dishes in the sink and on the countertop and asked me, “Are we currently in a standoff over those dishes?  Because… even if you aren’t actively engaged in a standoff, I kind of am.”  I exploded with laughter because I was, in fact, also engaged in a silent standoff over the dishes.


We have also experienced laundry standoffs, as well as garbage standoffs (garbage standoffs don’t last very long though). The laundry standoffs never end well because the Husband can go three or four weeks without washing his clothes, while I start to freak out after seven days.  Guess who does most of the laundry? Smile


For what it’s worth – I capitulated on the dishes.


Even though I missed my chance to workout this morning, I did managed to do a 2.5-mile walk while I listened in on a teleseminar about running a holistic medicine practice – how’s that for multitasking?


And then I rushed home to inhale this lovely lunch:


I’ve been stuck on brown rice for a while, so I’m bringing back my favorite rice alternatives, like quinoa and millet.  This tri-color quinoa was tasty, especially with the following:



Two hard-boiled eggs

Pine nuts

Corn salsa


Anyone else currently engaged in a chore standoff?



  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat March 13, 2012, 2:30 pm

    My husband and I have a deal that I load the dishwasher, he empties it. So when he makes comments about the sink piling up with dishes, I point out that the dishwasher is still full! I think I usually win the standoffs but it’s amazing how long we can both go with piling up dishes. It sometimes ends up taking two loads to catch up!

  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat March 13, 2012, 2:33 pm

    We have daily “make a decision about what we’re doing for dinner” standoff. I don’t mind cooking, but I like when he at least makes suggestions!

    • AshinMT March 14, 2012, 11:13 am

      Dear lord, i hate this standoff and the who’s picking where to eat for lunch standoff. (I think we both have something in mind but both of us go with “anythings fine” attitude) SO annoying.

  • Caitlin @ Chasing a Mile March 13, 2012, 2:33 pm

    In the pre-marital counseling we took this was also referred to as “keeping score”. In my head I am thinking “I unloaded the dishwasher 2 times last week so its his turn!”. They said its unhealthy to keep score like that so whenever I find myself doing this I just go ahead and do the chore.

  • Hillary March 13, 2012, 2:34 pm

    I admittedly did this ALL THE TIME with my old roommate. She would never, ever clean and I finally gave up until she gave in! Mature, I know.

  • Faith @ For the Health of It March 13, 2012, 2:34 pm

    That’s the poopy part of living alone – nobody to help with the chores! I do standoff with myself on occasion, but I hate messes so I usually get stuff done right away!

  • Callie @ The Wannabe Athlete March 13, 2012, 2:34 pm

    YES! My husband and I get in the worst standoffs about the trash. I actually laughed out loud when I read that in your post. We pile it up nice and high – even around the trash can sometimes. Although now that the Mini Athlete is mobile, the standoffs don’t last quite as long. 🙂

  • Johanna B March 13, 2012, 2:41 pm

    From the looks of my kitchen sink last night you’d think I was in a standoff with someone but I live alone. Sigh. I did them this morning while my coffee was brewing.

  • Tanya March 13, 2012, 2:41 pm

    That is one of the many joys of having children! After dinner every night we all do whatever chores are necessary together until they’re done. (It helps that now they’re teenagers and can actually do their chores competently.)

  • Linds @ Linds Eats March 13, 2012, 2:42 pm

    Toilet paper! Yep, toilet paper. Call me choosy, but I CANNOT stand when the toilet paper rolls out from the bottom, it’s got to roll from the top!

    The boy on the other hand, doesn’t care at all. When he does chose to put the roll on, instead of leaving it on the counter, he puts it on upside. I pretty sure its on purpose, just to drive me crazy! haha

  • Sara March 13, 2012, 2:42 pm

    Whenever I have a standoff with my husband I think of this episode everybody loves raymond-

  • Christine @ BookishlyB March 13, 2012, 2:47 pm

    I’d love to say yes, but it’s really only a stand off if both people are engaged. My husband, bless is damn heart, is totally oblivious.

  • Jess March 13, 2012, 2:48 pm

    haha!! this cracked me up. I do that too with the dishes. Mainly our coffee to-go cups. I don’t think my husband is playing the game though. I always end up doing it! 🙂

  • Jazz March 13, 2012, 2:50 pm

    Hmm, never! My husband does the dishes and the garbage, and I do the rest! The key was to do a really bad job of the dishes when we first got married.. he HATES dirty plates..

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat March 13, 2012, 2:51 pm

    Ugh yes, my roomies and I are always in a silent dishwasher unloading stand-off! The bit that I hate most is unloading the tupperware items (which to be honest, are mostly mine) because they always flip around in the dishwasher and end up collecting nasty dishwasher water in them. As far as laundry goes…. I kind of have a stand-off with myself… oh wait, that’s just called procrastination!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing March 13, 2012, 2:52 pm

    I have done that but I’m so ocd about things that I usually give in and do it myself!

  • Caroline @ After Dinner Dance March 13, 2012, 2:53 pm

    I do that with dishes a lot too! Trash is always his job and laundry is pretty much mine. But I HATE dishes!

  • Kristin March 13, 2012, 2:56 pm

    I live with my boyfriend and we have an informal system where he does most of the cooking (he LOVES to cook!) and I do most of the kitchen clean-up. He often helps me though, so I appreciate that.

    I used to have a roommate who was so crazy about keeping the kitchen clean, even one dish in the sink was cause for a standoff and then a passive-aggressive email sent to me. Oh boy, glad that’s over!

  • Amanda March 13, 2012, 3:08 pm

    I know this is going to sound funny, but our stand offs always happen because I get fed up with doing what should be my fiancee’s chores. He knows if I cook, he cleans … so that pot will sit in the sink as long as it takes!!!

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb March 13, 2012, 3:09 pm

    ha. my husband and i have silent standoffs all the time! mostly with dishes in the sink and emptying the dishwasher. i usually end up giving in first because i am much less tolerant of a mess.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) March 13, 2012, 3:12 pm

    This is awesome! I have the standoffs more with my kids than my husband. Then they ask for some article of clothing that should have been washed in the laundry and of course I knew it was on their floor, but I refuse to go around collecting favorite articles of clothing from around the house. Between my husband and I, we kind of have our things that we do so everything gets done. After almost 17 years of marriage, we just have a rhythm.

  • Meg March 13, 2012, 3:20 pm

    Haha, I love that he acknowledged that you might not even be aware there was a standoff going on because sometimes it’s so unintentional on one side! I live alone, so chore standoffs don’t really get me anywhere!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen March 13, 2012, 3:22 pm

    This happens with clean dishes in the dishwasher every single time. I loathe unloading that thing and will just grab clean dishes out of it to use as I go and then wash those by hand.

  • Ashley O. @ The Vegetable Life March 13, 2012, 3:35 pm

    Hahaha my husband and I have stand offs over the dishes all the time, we do the same over the cat liter box too!

  • Lindsey Gail March 13, 2012, 3:35 pm

    Oh, I know all about the dishes standoff!

    Usually, I can keep up with the dishes, but sometimes I can’t, so I ask my partner to help, reminding him that it’s “his turn.” However, our present dishes standoffs have a limit, such as losing all of our possible counter and cooking space due to our small kitchen. When it came to this point last time, I tried to be a good sport and quietly do the dishes, but I just couldn’t help reminding him that I was the one who was doing the dishes when it was his turn.

    The same was the case in sharing a college suite with three other women. Since I was the one who would eventually require the kitchen space, I would often take care of the massive horde of dishes that had accumulated.

  • Calee March 13, 2012, 3:36 pm

    YES. I live with two boys, one of which I’m dating and can boss around a bit, the other … not so much. Trash. And dishes. Until eventually I do them or until MY boy feels guilty and does them.

  • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope March 13, 2012, 3:38 pm

    I would try a stand off, but my fiancé would be soooo oblivious and never, ever notice. Passive aggressive just doesn’t work on him. I choose full on aggression, hahah

  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) March 13, 2012, 3:52 pm

    That pile of dishes certainly isn’t that “epic,” ha ha. Things can get really ugly around this neck of the woods.

    My fiance and I have a division of chores that we’ve kind of fallen into the pattern of… I clean floors, he does dishes. Of course, I also do dishes when I cook or when I have some moments to spare, but if the dishes have been sitting, he’s doing them.

    If I downright don’t want to do something, I just ask for him to do it. I figure he’d rather oblige than get into it with me, hah.

  • Liz March 13, 2012, 4:04 pm

    This cracked me up – I sent it to my fiance!

  • Corrie Anne March 13, 2012, 4:08 pm

    That’s HILARIOUS!!! We haven’t done that… yet. But we’re both really bothered by dishes in a sink. Very. Small. Apartment!! Haha.

  • Alyssa @ Fit and Fun in Third March 13, 2012, 4:41 pm

    Hahahha that is hilarious because it is SO true. My husband and I have plenty of standoff’s… most likely they are over the dishes in the sink, dishwasher being unloaded, or cleaning the bathroom.

  • Justine Duppong @ Life With Cheeseburgers March 13, 2012, 4:42 pm

    Usually if I just start banging the dishes around really loudly while I’m washing them or putting them away, that’s enough to get the hubs over to help!! 😉

  • Kristin March 13, 2012, 4:50 pm

    Wowzers. I usually cannot stand to have dishes in the sink, but it doesn’t bug the boyfriend at all. I want to scream when I cannot even fill up my water glass, so I usually keep the dishes clean and in the cabinets. However, when I have crazy busy weeks, WE definitely enter the dishes standoff. I usually still lose since I use more dishes, unfortunately.

  • Leah @ Why Deprive? March 13, 2012, 4:52 pm

    hahaha I love chore standoffs. I live by myself, so it’s not an issue for me, but I watch them between my parents all the time. I can specifically remember a clock that blinked 12:00 for at least 6 months because my dad wanted to see how badly my mom really needed that clock, and she thought he should have to change it.

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats March 13, 2012, 5:12 pm

    Hahahahaha I used to have standoffs all the time with my roomates, mostly when it came to cleaning! Now I live alone so standoffs usually don’t end well for me.

  • Rebecca March 13, 2012, 5:19 pm

    My roommate and I both hate doing dishes, but I end up doing them a lot of the time because I’m here more than she is and I just get bothered by them. No dishwasher, so everything is washed by hand–not that much of our stuff is dish-washer safe anyway… Garbage sometimes gets overlooked until I can’t stand the smell. Our recycling bin has been full (and then some) for probably a month. Oops. It’s all getting taken care of this week, though, because on Friday we leave for Break! 😀
    We don’t really stand off over things; it’s more like who gets fed up with the mess first takes care of it. Sometimes dishes sit in the sink until we’re out of clean ones. Oops.
    I tend to not do laundry until I only have a couple of Tshirts left, heh. Planning on doing laundry tomorrow since I have so much time between classes.
    At home, my dad takes out the garbage. It’s just his thing.

  • jamie@everydaydolce March 13, 2012, 5:30 pm

    Chores standoff = story of my life. Except for laundry, like you said, after six or seven days, I start to go crazy!

  • Gwen March 13, 2012, 5:46 pm

    Do you ever use the pregnancy as an “excuse” why you shouldn’t have to do something? I feel like it’s the ultimate reason for a husband to step it up for 9 months. “But I’m carrying YOUR BABY!” I pity my husband for any future pregnancy behavior I will surely display!

  • Brigid March 13, 2012, 5:48 pm

    Ha! I’m glad we’re not alone in the stand-off, though things are actually a lot better now than they used to be. He’s home more than I am — and apparently I am the worst dish washer in the world — so he almost always does them. He does way more laundry than I do, too. Everything else we pretty much take turns on, except cleaning the bathroom. That’s all me.

  • Susanna March 13, 2012, 6:24 pm

    I had not realized this until I read your post, but we have no standoffs…I used to have those with the ex-h, but they never worked – same with roommates. You either care or you don’t…My BF and I work a combined 100 hours/week, work out like maniacs and we both like our small house to be clean, so there is very little room for battling. We run a tight ship! We have the agreement that, for example, if I cook, he washes the dishes. However, BF has amazing work ethic at home (I blame his military background), so he is not the type to “leave it for later when I feel like it.” This character trait makes our day-to-day lives harmonious…

  • Christina March 13, 2012, 6:29 pm

    You made a pretty good point back in your “lessons from 1000 days of marriage” post about doing things yourself or coming out and asking instead of silently stewing. It’s not a new idea or anything, but one we tend to forget quite often. It works better for me when I’m direct, too.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin March 13, 2012, 6:55 pm

    My roommate never cleans, so I gave up on the stand-off, and now I just do all the cleaning. It’s annoying, but it’s better than living in a pig sty! 😛

  • Lindsay @ The Reluctant Runner March 13, 2012, 7:35 pm

    My husband used to be responsible for dishes (because I always cook) but he hates doing them and it takes him forever for some reason, so it was a constant problem because he would never just wash the damn dishes! Last week I bargained with him that if he washed the bathroom every weekend, I would do dishes every day. Most awesome trade ever! I don’t mind dishes, they take me no time at all, and to never have to touch the bathroom again? Yes!!

  • Lauren @ Vaguely Vegan March 13, 2012, 7:58 pm

    Is that corn salsa the Trader Joe’s brand? I am obsessed with it! It’s the perfect amount of sweet and spicy.

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) March 13, 2012, 8:48 pm

    Too funny… we definitely have standoffs over laundry and even more so, who will put the laundry away. Brandon will tend to do the laundry first since he goes through clothes way faster than I do. Yet when it comes time to put it away he will let it sit in the hamper on the bedroom floor for WEEKS so eventually I cave (b/c clutter drives me insane) so I end up folding, sorting and hanging! Ha!

  • Sarahf March 13, 2012, 9:00 pm

    My old roommates never did chores, they were lovely, but oh! the mess. I began a chore standoff, but they never even noticed! In the end, I did it myself after a few weeks, so totally lost the standoff they didn’t even know they were having!! Luckliy, they were so sweet, I couldn’t really get mad about it.

  • Nicole March 13, 2012, 9:06 pm

    Look at the headlines for the Confidence Coalition Newsletter:

    “Operation Beautiful Announces New Book”


  • m March 13, 2012, 9:19 pm

    Ha! I definitely won the dish lottery by getting a type A husband… my friends joke that my husband is in charge of all the house-hold cleaning but that’s only because he literally will clean up after me regardless if I do it. In fact, when we were moving and I suggested hiring a cleaning person, his first response was “they won’t do as good a job as I can”…literally, didn’t see that coming (more likely a complaint about the cost). I do try to cook most nights as a thank you for dishes/laundry/toilet scrubbing/trash taking out… but I admit, its far from an even deal!

  • Christie March 13, 2012, 9:59 pm

    We totally have standoffs sometimes! I actually ended our dishes standoff this morning because I couldn’t handle it anymore. We don’t have a dishwasher and I really hate washing dishes.

  • AmandaonMaui March 13, 2012, 10:12 pm

    Nope, we don’t have those. We have found a way to create an equal exchange of energy. He works, I do a lot of the domestic duties alongside my school stuff. If I get overwhelmed from my school work and find that I can’t keep up on the house work he pitches in. I can often ask him to help unload or load the dishwasher, and he is responsible for the trash. He does the money budgeting stuff as well. It feels well balanced.

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife March 13, 2012, 10:26 pm

    HAH. I always do the laundry. He always does the trash. And we usually split the kitchen…so it works out pretty nice (so far). One time, though, we did have a dishes standoff. I ended up doing ’em though b/c I HATE dirty dishes. Like HATE it.

    Nice job multi-tasking on that walk!!

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More March 13, 2012, 10:57 pm

    Sometimes I think my roommate is engaged in one. Even though the dishes are ALL HERS. I think she’s just hoping I’ll get sick of staring at them and cleaning around them and do them FOR HER. Sadly, I do get to a certain point and give in. I’m such a neat freak…

  • Leila @ Spinach and Skittles March 13, 2012, 11:04 pm

    lol, my husband and I always have laundry stand offs, but we’re opposite to you guys. Aside from underwear (which I handwash), I can go a few weeks between washes. Probably because I am a sale shopper who can’t say no. The hubs, on the other hand, needs his clothes washed every week. He’ll come downstairs while I’m blogging or watching tv and make a comment about how we really need to start laundry…yet almost all the clothes are his. So I just blankly stare at him until he starts a load, haha.

  • Patti March 13, 2012, 11:42 pm

    Not in a stand-off, but man do I wish that my pile of dirty dishes was as small as your standoff one!

  • eatingRD March 14, 2012, 12:17 am

    bahahaha so true! I’m always on a dishes or recycle stand off with my husband. Or he usually just has crap lying all over the place!

  • Jen March 14, 2012, 12:47 am

    Ahahahaha…sooo funny and true! To me, the best part of this is that, even when engaged in a chore standoff, you & the hubby can laugh about it. That is beautiful. 🙂

  • Haleigh March 14, 2012, 3:45 am

    I live in a small apartment in Germany. Most apartments in Europe don’t have the convenience of a dishwasher. So, all the dishes must be cleaned by hand. Naturally, there is often a standoff regarding the dishes 🙂

  • Charise March 14, 2012, 8:15 am

    Oh, we are definitely in a garbage standoff right now. I think it’s a holdover from condo life, where we had to drag it downstairs from the third floor and across the parking lot. We only have to go just outside our house garage now, but we still let it get overflowing haha.

    No dishes standoffs around here – it drives my husband crazy to see them piled up, and I don’t like cooking around the mess. Having a dishwasher gives us no excuses, I think (except for the pots/pans we hand wash).

  • Lizz @ Leading the Good Life March 14, 2012, 10:35 am

    when did you get a vitamix?! i remember your ex-boyfriend’s grubby old blender that you used to use. 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP March 14, 2012, 11:53 am

      About three months ago – best investment ever!

  • Reenie March 14, 2012, 10:40 am

    When growing up (12 kids) we had no dishwasher….us kids were the dishwasher! Each kid had to take their own dishes to the sink ~ rinse them off and stack them for whoever’s dish-nite it was.

    How bout you and the husband both be responsible for putting your own dishes in the dishwasher after they are used? Makes for a much neater kitchen 😉

  • Amber K March 14, 2012, 2:11 pm

    Aubrey and I have our own chores so this doesn’t usually happen. He handles the ones I really hate and I handle the ones he hates. The only standoff occurs if I want his done and he puts them off.

  • Vickie Jean DeHamer March 14, 2012, 4:46 pm

    Hi Caitlyn –
    Long time reader, first time commenter – ha! My first reaction to this was: she should not be doing chores, she’s PREGNANT. Do you feel like that sometimes? I know I’d be super-entitled if I were pregnant. ESPECIALLY with the husband. This is all very unhealthy thinking, of course. 🙂
    By the way, can we have an update on your sick neighbor? Is she doing ok? I just went through cancer with my boss/close friend and knowing what to do to help is so maddening/confusing/upsetting.

    Keep up the GREAT blogging!
    Vickie Jean in California

  • Stephanie @ Legally Blinde March 14, 2012, 8:29 pm

    Wow, that salad looks great – sounds like a really delicious combination or flavors and textures. I absolutely love quinoa on salad.

  • Laura is Undeterrable March 15, 2012, 6:11 pm

    I think we need to examine your definition of “pile.” Not sure that counts :):):):)

  • Amanda @ Hungry Vegan Traveler March 15, 2012, 10:27 pm

    Oh, yes. Definitely been through that with my ex-boyfriend. I also went through that with former roommates, but they were never my dishes, on their’s. (Nasty meaty ones, no less.)

  • SpaceySteph March 16, 2012, 10:12 pm

    I live alone and am what someone referred to as a “constant loader.” After every meal, I load the dishwasher. I never leave plates in the sink unless I really really do not have the time to unload a clean dishwasher which is extremely rare and will never go on more than a day. I never leave the dishwasher clean and un-emptied. My kitchen is immaculate.

    I do get into standoffs with my boyfriend’s roommate, because I often clean up after we cook at my bf’s house. I used to clean everything, but sometimes I’ll leave the roommates dishes there and clean around them. That guy is a slob and generally oblivious too, so I usually lose. But he never thanks me for cleaning up after him so I rarely do it (is it so hard to say thank you?). Problem is, I really cannot stand a dirty kitchen and break long before anyone else.

  • Chetney March 18, 2012, 7:38 pm

    My husband and I are usually always in a chore standoff haha!

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point