what i've learned: bartering encourages teamwork

As our fourth wedding anniversary approaches (Hus and I have been dating since 2000, but only married since 2007), I've begun to reflect on the things I've learned about marriage. This reflection has inspired me to create a new series here on Jen's Love Lessons called what i've learned. To start things off, let's talk about bartering.

Barter: "to exchange goods or services for
other goods or services without using money."

Bartering may not be the first word you think of when you hear the word teamwork, but for me and Hus, bartering helps us maintain a certain level of efficiency and equality when it comes to dealing with household chores and caring for our twins.

The fact of the matter is that we have a ton of shit to do on a daily basis to maintain our lifestyle (which by no means is glamorous, organized, or even close to perfect). Hus and I both work full-time (Hus works about 50 hours a week and I work about 40), we have two kids (who go to school 4 days a week), we live a few hours away from all of our family and friends (which cuts out random calls to anyone for a break or free childcare), and we do not have a maid (which causes our house to only be cleaned about 2 or 3 times a month). Saying that, Hus and I have a good number of tasks that need to be divided up between us. We have a few jobs that are "always" mine and a few jobs that are "always" Hus', but as you know, there are several other little things that creep up everyday that need to be dealt with. And many times, bartering helps us figure these things out.

Just last night, I think Hus and I bartered 3 or 4 times.
  • "If you give them a bath, I'll clean up the kitchen."
  • "If I go get us iced coffees from 7-11 (YUM!), will you get the kids in their PJs?"
  • "I'll come home early from work on Friday so you can drive to Lynchburg for the afternoon if I can have 2 writing nights next week." 
Hus and I enjoy this kind of negotiation. It's better than one person asking (or telling!) the other person to do something without offering anything in return. We've learned that when we barter, we both are more likely to agree with the requests that are being made. It helps us feel like part of a team. And, we actually get shit done instead of arguing or complaining about each chore that's up for grabs.

I know that bartering is good for my marriage, but what about yours? How do you think bartering could help or hinder your relationship? If you're already a bartering couple, I'd love to know: what things do you and your spouse barter?

1 comment:

laura said...

Husband and I do that a lot too! This has never been an issue for ua but if I were to suggest anything is that I'd tell people to watch for bartering to escalate to raised expectations. For example- Laura HATES taking out the recycling. "oh but i'll just buy him some fro-yo next time we're out." That is bad because:
-Laura's being lazy
-Laura thinks Jermaine can be bought off like a 4yo
-Laura doesn't take into consideration that Jermaine could very well be having a crap day and wants to come home and chill because, according to him he doesn't have any chores to do tonight.

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