Most weekends Mike and I have some time off together.  We are married, mutually responsible home owners, entrepreneurs and parents. This gives us ample opportunity each weekend to have an entire list of tasks/projects and expectations to accomplish them. Add to that: attending worship, finding social time together and enjoying friends, and we have enough to fill up way more than 2 days.

Our usual MO is to make a running list of tasks and projectsTo Do Strategy

that we keep on the counter and mark things off of as they are completed.

This method accomplishes several things:

  • We both feel a sense of accomplishment from the tasks we complete.
  • We both are aware of what each of us wants to accomplish.
  • Stuff gets done.
  • We help each other toward a higher purpose than just the tasks – The Purpose of Accomplishment or TA-DA! (Ta Da is short for Dat ta da dah!! Can’t you just hear the trumpets sounding?)
  • We’ve got each other’s backs when a projects or task is more than one person can do.
  • By creating this list, we set an expectation for ourselves and each other of a mutually beneficial and productive weekend.

Of course, sometimes we just say, “FORGET IT, we’re taking the day off”, or “I’ll just push that off till later,” but that’s a mutual, not singular, decision.

Here’s what one of those lists might look like.

  1. Do Yard – In Dawson talk that means pick up dog poop, cut, trim, edge, blow and sweep.
  2. Wash Cars – we’re not the auto connoisseurs who do this in their driveway spending hours detailing the wheels and interior, but we do like clean cars.
  3. Take clothing donations to collection center (Saturday 9-5)
  4. Clean House
  5. Go through the mail
  6. Pay the bills


Mike’s and my interpretations of cleaning house can be completely different if we don’t define some boundaries and expectations.  Actually, my Mom’s idea of “clean house” and mine also differed since I was a little kid.  Her expectation that each movable piece of furniture would be shoved out of the way and floors vacuumed underneath, always made me wonder, “Who’s looking under there anyway.  Doesn’t dust fall straight down?”  To me, this is a once or twice a year special teams project that would most likely involve outside, professional help.  I digress.

This #4 could get us in a whole mess of trouble with unmet expectations if we don’t talk about what “clean house” means to each of us.

So we discuss and determine what is acceptable to us both, and also how much time we must allot to the tasks  (i.e. prioritization).

But here’s another variable.  The definition of ‘Clean House’ also changes depending on the coming week.  Are we having company over for dinner?  Are we having overnight guests or is it just us two and the dog?

Again, another variable. 

Mike’s and my top priorities on clean house are different.  Mike is a floors guy.  If the floors have dog hair or tree leaf shards on them, then basically, the house is not clean.  For me it’s the kitchen counter tops, sink and bathrooms.  So over our years of marriage we’ve learned to communicate these expectations in catch phrases such as:

WORM AND BURN:  We’ve invited friends over for dinner.  Top priorities are, guest bath, kitchen, floors and front porch swept.  It’s the “get it done quickly, not perfectly.” Who cares if our bed is made up or the windows have been cleaned….

DAWSON LODGE:  We have out-of-town company for the weekend and need most of the house in good condition.  As is typical for us, we enjoy our home and love entertaining here.  Because of this, out-of-town company usually enjoys our home as well and we end up grilling and swimming more than site-seeing or eating out.

There are other categories, but you have the picture.

Formula for ‘Ta-Da’ Expectation Satisfaction

  • Determine if this type of task list, attack and completion, is a good fit for you as a couple.
  • Make a list of tasks/projects you’d both like to accomplish. If these are not able to be completed within a weekend then break them down into several manageable sections and schedule out over the course of several weeks.
  • Define each of your expectations on any task/project that isn’t “the usual” (i.e. Straighten garage – does this mean stack a few boxes and sweep? Or does it mean, drag everything out of the garage, donate items, trash broken tools, re-box the Christmas tree and then buy and install new shelving for the retained tools and décor?).

Set yourselves up for success!

See how this can be very subjective!!!?  Don’t set yourselves up for disappointment and conflict.  Set yourselves up for success!

  • Build in some play/relaxation time Just because you’re not punching the clock doesn’t mean you need to be a slave driver at home.
  • Mark things off the list and celebrate your accomplishments. We often accomplish stuff that’s not on the list, then return to write it on the list, so we can mark it off.  That’s wacky – but… we both do it “sometimes”. (And I think many of you do the same thing – you know who you are!!)

This is a very practical method that we believe can help others accomplish tasks/projects with more satisfaction and mutual benefit.  It is our deep desire to help each of you be the best couple you can be. But more importantly, the “definitions” of the tasks to be accomplished and the “understanding” of each other’s priorities and preferences are vital for working well together, and for having great relationships. As in all meaningful things couples do together, how you talk to each other and communicate your expectations will determine peace, or tension.

Let us know in the comment box below, what project you’ll be tackling as a couple in the next few weeks.