We live in an age of changing expectations. While in previous generations, Pesach cleaning was an exclusively female responsibility, today it is expected that husbands are involved as well. On the other hand, these expectations are not being fulfilled in many homes. And even when they are, tension and fighting can be caused by debates on how, when and what to clean.
This is the Together with Happiness guide to Pesach cleaning without destroying your relationship.
Start with a couples meeting in which you discuss expectations. Make a list of everything which needs to be cleaned and decide who will be responsible for which areas (don’t forget to include the kids if they are old enough). Determine whether there will be deadlines for specific tasks – other than Erev Pesach – and if so, who is in charge of the schedule. Make sure tasks are broken into sub-tasks. “Clean refrigerator,” for instance, can be broken down into mini-tasks like “remove and wash shelves,” “throw away old food” and “line shelves.” You don’t want to discover that one spouse thinks they finished a job while the other thinks it’s only half done. That’s a sure cause of tension.
Minimize the Work
Pesach cleaning is always a big job, but there’s no reason to make it a huge job. If the list of things that needs to be done is unrealistic, arguments and yelling are sure to follow. Tired, cranky and stressed people end up saying things they don’t mean and create an unpleasant environment in the house. Practical tips for cutting down the work include cleaning only where there is likely to be chametz (remember: dust is not chametz), hiring help for particularly arduous jobs and using efficient tools and cleaning materials.
Take Time Out to Rejuvenate
Pesach is coming, who has time for a date with their spouse? You do, as long as you make it a priority. The extra stress of Pesach cleaning can take a toll, so make it a point to take a morning or evening off to go out and do something fun as a couple. Forget about the kitchen cabinets for a while and just enjoy each other’s company. All relationships need some dating, and the run-up to Pesach is no exception.
Figure Out Finances
Financial stress takes a toll on even the best relationships, and Pesach can be an expensive holiday. Create a budget for the holiday which fits with your household income. Don’t forget expenses such as cleaning equipment, new condiments and spices, housewares, hosting or gift-giving and trips and fun days out over the holiday. Work on this budget together and decide as a team what you will spend on each item. Keep the budget somewhere you can easily access it and write down each expense as you pay for it, so you can be sure to stay on course.
Remember, You’re in This Together
How ever you decide to divide the work, remember that you are in this together. Not just for Pesach cleaning, but for all of life’s tasks – the big, the small, the joyful and the annoying ones. And we all know that a burden shared is barely a burden at all.
Wishing you all a chag kasher v’sameach!
We know you’re busy now, so we’ll let you get back to your Pesach cleaning, but mark your calendars – on May 15 there will be a workshop at the OU Center on The Secrets to a Happy Marriage. See you there!