As an American Government teacher, I spend a significant amount of time with my students at the beginning of each semester teaching the six principles of the United States Constitution.  The thorough overview of each principle is intended to build a strong foundation for their understanding of our government and its complexities.  Two of the six principles are Checks and Balances and Separation of Powers.  Without these two essential principles, our government would not function as it does.  I believe the same can also be said about a marriage.

It occurred to me when I was teaching these concepts recently that this is very similar to how our current household operates.  Without either me or my wife noticing, these two principles have found a way to become routine to how we delegate responsibilities at home.

SEPARATION OF POWERS: The first thing you are told when you take your vows is that marriage is a partnership.  It is difficult at first to learn this first principle, especially when two very independent, self-sufficient people join their lives together – much like my wife (Kathy) and I.  Either naturally or forcefully responsibilities become more clear and tasks are inherently delegated to become routine contributions to the teamwork of the household.  For example: I take care of the finances and yard work.  Kathy generally chooses the menu/cooks and does the laundry.

CHECKS AND BALANCES: In my opinion, this is the most difficult out of the two.  Usually by default, each partner eventually settles into his our her role at home.  What can become the most straining on a marriage is the balance of that separated power.  I will be the first to admit that when it comes to our household responsibilities are not always balanced.  Now that it is baseball season, I work tremendously long work days.  There are nights where I do not walk in the door until almost 9:00PM or later.  Kathy shoulders a lot of the responsibility when I am away, especially with our two-year-old son.  Nearly everyday she gets him up, dressed, fed, bathed and off to daycare only to work a full eight-hour day and to repeat the reverse order Monday-Friday.  This is all while attending full-time graduate school online (we will get to that later).  For that she is my hero and truly the leader of our household.  As an equal shareholder in his partnership it is absolutely imperative that I CHECK and BALANCE these responsibilities as often as I can.  This conscious effort to check in to re-calibrate the work load can go a long way toward the person doing the heavy lifting.

Kathy and I have developed a great system for giving each other a “break” from our son on the weekends for personal time to tend to whatever we have been putting off.  If you are a parent you know what I mean by this – kids come before you do and you do not have a choice in that matter.  Kathy and I share  house cleaning duties, weekend laundry, grocery shopping and occasionally the cooking.

Even though we have our own household niche, it does not mean the other person should not be included in the household goal setting.  I admittedly do this from time to time with the finances and get angry when the budget is off. This is certainly not fair to my wife if she is kept in the dark.  I have learned inclusion is absolutely vital in goal setting and goal achievement in a marriage.  Even though it may fluctuate back and forth, a two-person seesaw has to be in balance at least once for it to work successfully.  Think about it.

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Profile photo of Brody
Husband. Father. Brother. Teacher. Coach. Sports fan. Weather geek. Backyard vacationer.


  1. Profile photo of Heather

    What a great analogy!

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  2. Profile photo of Sara Brennan

    I can totally relate to everything you said @bjhoward12, especially the part where you talk about giving each other a “break” from parenthood. Getting to unwind is so essential for both mommy and daddy and I agree that taking some time to recharge definitely makes us a better parent (and spouse)!

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