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Season 3 | Episode 7 bonus content

One Thing Today: Talking Trash

Learn how to have an honest and productive conversation about household chores.

March 14, 2023 | 17 minutes

Episode 7 bonus content: Eve Rodsky

In this bonus episode, special guest Eve Rodsky shows how a simple task like taking out the garbage led to conflict with her husband- and how they found common ground through the Fair Play method.

Speaker 1: Welcome back to another bonus episode of Until It's Fixed. I'm Callie Chamberlain.

Speaker 2: And I'm Dr. Kenny Poole.

Speaker 1: As we cover ways to make healthcare work better for everyone, these bonus episodes will draw connections between the topic we recently discussed and our daily lives.

Speaker 2: We'll talk about one thing you and I can do today related to that topic, to take charge of our health and wellbeing.

Speaker 1: Welcome back everyone. Today's one thing is learning how to have an honest and [00:00:30] productive conversation about chores in the home. So, Kenny, last week we spoke with IV Rodsky, who's the author of the New York Times bestselling book and the new documentary Fair Play about the unfair division of labor and how that mostly falls to primary caregivers who are majority women. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and the responsibilities they take on at home and in the workplace.

Speaker 2: Yeah, I, I've had a lot of reflection from, you know, the conversation with Eve and also looking at the documentary and just kind of researching the fair play [00:01:00] concept a little bit more. And like I said, just this concept of equitable workloads and really just being fair and dividing labor in a way that's respectable, in a way that's empathetic not only in the home, but also in the workplace and in other, you know, places as well. So, I mean, for me it's, it's been a good period of reflection and really just being a better partner in everything that I do.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I love how [00:01:30] she takes her personal experiences and connects them to some of the challenges she sees in society at large. So in both the book and the documentary, there's a personal story about trash. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and I'm gonna just refresh that really quickly for purposes of this episode. So while on her way home from a business trip, Eve's husband texted her that a drunk man had left a bottle and his jacket in their front lawn. She thought it was amusing, but when she got home that night, the jacket and the bottle were still in the front yard. So when she walked inside, she saw her husband watching [00:02:00] TV and found out that he had spent his evening working out after the kids went to bed, hanging out, decompressing. And so she went outside and cleaned it up herself, timing how long it took her to do so.

Speaker 1: And you know, it took 12 minutes in total. So she had a realization in those moments, quote, the last 12 minutes of my day were in the service of our household, whereas his last four hours were in service of him. End quote, I came to the conclusion that men, women, and society view men's time as finite [00:02:30] and women's as infinite. So on today's episode, Eve gives us much more insight into why the tour of taking out the trash is so important to her. And her story, I think gives us some really good reflection points on how we can talk about chores at home. So let's listen in.

Speaker 3: So I'll tell you that the beauty of fair play became an insight that ownership was more important than 50 50. That when you [00:03:00] own a task from start to finish, like you do in the workplace, I won't walk into your office and say, Hey, what should I be doing today? I'll wait here till you tell me what to do. Unfortunately, we do that a lot in the home that when you move to ownership instead of 50 50, that that's a more constructive construct. I did that in my own household. And so Seth and I started small. We weren't gonna be able to tackle all the domestic labor that felt so unfair, but we could tackle the one task he was already doing, which [00:03:30] was garbage. And it was causing a lot of consternation in my home because Seth wasn't picking up the little garbages around the house.

Speaker 3: They were overflowing in the bathrooms. He was just taking out the garbage. But once I was able to sit down with Seth and say, garbage includes the little garbages around the house, and this is when emotion is low and cognition is high, we very rarely have conversations around domestic labor when our emotions are low and our cognition is high. It's [00:04:00] often feedback in the moment, why did you not put the garbage liner back in <laugh>? Right? So Seth was used to me talking to him about garbage that way. But when he realized the importance to me of getting the little garbages and actually putting the liner back in, he understood what ownership of garbage really meant. That it's getting the trash bins out on a certain day, the liner has to go back in the trash can. There are little garbages that overflow in bathrooms. So Seth understood that.

Speaker 3: But still, our conversation around garbage [00:04:30] was incomplete because it wasn't happening. The garbage was not being taken out, at least at a time that I thought, or at a frequency that I thought was reasonable. And finally that's when I realized the breakthrough for me about all of these conversations is that some of the most connected conversations of your life are gonna be around things like garbage. One of the most connected conversations I ever had with Seth early in my fair play journey was realizing that telling him [00:05:00] to take out the garbage over and over again wasn't working. Because like in the workplace, that would be considered a task with all control and no context. And so I started to apply some of the workplace organizational management rules that I use in my day job to my home. And I said to Seth, I'm gonna give you some context for why garbage matters.

Speaker 3: We'll never have to have this conversation again, but maybe it'll change your view of how I look at garbage. Garbage to me, reminds me of when [00:05:30] I'm 10 years old, my mother works nights and I'm responsible alone for taking care of a seven year old boy with disabilities. And my brother, I put him to bed at night. He always for water, when he did that, I would have to go into our kitchen and I had a strategy. I would close my eyes and I'd wait for the water bugs and the cockroaches to scatter. When I would turn on the lights, I would get him his water and I'd walk out of the, and close the lights. When I see garbage [00:06:00] overflowing in our kitchen, I feel like I'm that latchkey kid again, Seth, I'm my mother's partner. I'm taking care of Josh, and it's really, really painful to go back to that time in my life.

Speaker 3: And then Seth was able to say to me, well, I had a housekeeper growing up, so I never thought about garbage. In fact, I slept on pizza boxes in my fraternity. I probably like garbage. I used it as a pillow. So what happens when you're [00:06:30] so divergent over a task that has to get done every day? Do I say I care more so I should take it back? No, because then we end up in the same place we started. What we do is we can set a minimum standard of care, a thing that is a compromise for the person who cares, and the person who may not care as much. And so Seth finally said to me, I care that you care. And so garbage is gonna go out once a day. I don't wanna hear about it. I don't want you staring at the garbage or staring at me when I'm in the kitchen. [00:07:00] But I promise you, before we go to bed at night, the garbage in our garbage bins will go out once a day.

Speaker 2: Was that his call the once a day or was that your call?

Speaker 3: His call <laugh>. That that was

Speaker 2: Actually, so I, I like that, that he was able to also kind of contribute like, you know, how he was gonna enact the task. So it's kind of like shared decision making in that regard.

Speaker 3: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yes. And, and you know what? He told me to step off his card now, right? If he's gonna own it <laugh>, he'll do it <laugh>. But it's gonna be on his frequency. [00:07:30] It'll go out once a day and I won't have to worry about it. And actually started to happen. And it was a miracle. I was like, wow, this thing may have a chance. This is fair place system may have a chance if people are willing to invest, you know, some conversations about garbage. Kenny, I thought it'd be fun to, I'm gonna pull a card. Let's try it with you. Let me just pull a card.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Why are you smiling? Callie

Speaker 3: <laugh>. Because I'm excited. I just <laugh>, I, I wanna hear about your stories, like what you saw and how it may affect you. So just tell me when to stop cause I'm gonna shuffle [00:08:00] and you have to just tell me Stop,

Speaker 2: Stop now.

Speaker 3: Groceries. Groceries.

Speaker 2: What about 'em?

Speaker 3: Okay, so I just wanna know, tell me a little bit about you. What was groceries like growing up? Do you remember anything about grocer shopping? Who did it in your home? Did you ever see it happen? Did groceries just show up in your home? Were you involved in groceries? Anything you can remember about grocery shopping?

Speaker 2: Yeah, so growing up groceries, um, my mother did most of the grocery shopping. You know, my mother worked full-time job [00:08:30] and so usually there was grocery shopping on the weekend. And what I remember was my father and my brother and I always had to unpack the groceries from the car and bring them into the house. And that was it. Now, this side piece of that is if there was usually something that needed to be picked up, like blueberries for instance, <laugh>, then my dad would get that. Like, you know, if something had to be picked up during the week or something like [00:09:00] that. In terms of grocery shopping now, so my wife does most of our grocery shopping. It's evolved somewhat since the pandemic, just kind of with ordering. And so now you can get deliveries and whatnot, but she still handles that

Speaker 3: Well. So my question for you is, are you ever tasked with what I call a rat a random assignment of a task? Are you ever asked to go pick up like milk that was forgotten? Or is she really fully in charge and does, is that [00:09:30] and is that annoying? Yeah,

Speaker 2: So that's the thing. So I, so, so interestingly, like my father, I do most of the, like picking up again if there's something that needs to be picked up. The reason this is a weird question for me is I like going to the grocery store after work now, not as much now that I live in Minnesota, but we lived in, um, in Scottsdale, Arizona for about eight years. And so I used to like going to nice grocery store. I mean cuz they have like wine out and <laugh>. There's, you know, there's usually like a nice snack that I wanna get on particular [00:10:00] about like certain kinds of salads and stuff. So once or twice a week I'd pop into the grocery store cause they, you know, they, they start to know who I was. Um, <laugh>. So I, I like that. But I, I never went for full grocery shopping. I was going to pick up something that we would need for dinner, a bottle of wine or something like that.

Speaker 3: Well it's interesting because again, you know, it would be interesting to ask your partner, you know, is that a task that she really loves? Is that a task she'd ever wanna give up?

Speaker 2: Oh no. She

Speaker 3: Doesn't really love. Yeah. That may be [00:10:30] <laugh>. Yes. But again, but it could be. But that could be an interesting one to sort of hand over. But even before the handing over, I think what's so interesting is that in your home it's sort of looking like it did when you grew up and in my home with the garbage, I was trying to interrupt a pattern. It was gonna look very different than when I grew up. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> so often if we don't really talk about these things about sort of how we grew up, either we just sort of do what we were used to. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> or we try to do it completely differently [00:11:00] and it causes a lot of triggers like it did for Seth and me where I couldn't even see a banana peel because I'm like regimented about garbage. But I found about the fair play cards is we can learn about each other in ways that feel psychologically safe. Like I don't feel like you will regret oversharing with me, but I feel like I know you even in that three minute exercise. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Because I like salad brownies and wine <laugh>, you know, from rice

Speaker 3: Grocery stores. Of course. Of course. And I know you have brothers, I know you have brothers. [00:11:30] I know you lived with your mom and your dad. Yeah. Um, so I know about you and I think that's the beauty. When I tried this exercise with couples in the beginning of the fair play journey, I noticed that so many people think they know a lot about their partners or even their roommates or their work colleagues, but they don't actually know that much about them. And so we fill in stories when we don't really know exactly. We think we know about them. And that's what I realized [00:12:00] when I looked at Seth about like who was his dentist growing up? Who bought his clothes growing up? Who managed the money in his house growing up? Who hosted things? Did they have a lot of parties or did was their family not, didn't like hosting. I realized I knew nothing about Seth. I knew nothing about my partner. So it's actually over the fair play journey. Not only have we changed our division of labor, but I do feel like we have a more rich relationship cuz we know a lot more about each other before, you know, our lives before we met.

Speaker 2: What's big about that? And to kind of do a connection. So I remember [00:12:30] my mom worked and I grew up in what I would consider more of a traditional African-American community. And I don't think I knew anybody who had a stay-at-home wife. Matter of fact, like the first stay-at-home mother, stay-at-home wife that one of the first that I met was actually my wife once I got married. And I, but I remember my mom working, you know, both my parents worked, but my mom used to always talk about [00:13:00] wishing she'd be able to stay at home, wishing she'd be able to be like the room mother for like school or like, I love just baking cookies and like, I don't get the opportunity to do that. Like wishing that she would be able to stay at home. And so kind of not having that and having a wife that has chosen to take that role for our children makes me feel fortunate and it makes me feel fortunate that my kids have that. Cuz my kids don't hear their mom saying, I [00:13:30] wish I had the ability to do this because their mom does have the ability to do this. And then she does pour into them those things that my mom mentioned to me that she wished she could do.

Speaker 3: Absolutely. And again, that's why I think that question about where it comes from, right? You know, who knows, you know, I think that your own family structure does affect the family structure you, we create. But if we're doing it without really intentionally doing that, then [00:14:00] again it, it may lead to misunderstandings. And I think the beauty is for your partner, all of these cards that she's holding, I I see her, she's valuable. These tasks are important. Right. And that's really what was the breakthrough for Seth and me. It wasn't necessarily that he took out the garbage or that he was taking on more ownerships of tasks, but what was really fun and interesting as we grew together in this system was understanding that when he took ownership of things, [00:14:30] again, it wasn't gonna be 50 50, but there was real value in that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So that's what was so beautiful, him saying to me, yes, I'm the primary breadwinner right now, but I still wanna own things so that you have time choice over how you use your day so you don't have a 24 hour job. That was the beauty of how things started to change when he started to look at me and say, your time matters and I want you to have some time choice over how you used your day.

Speaker 1: That was a great [00:15:00] story from Eve. I appreciate her commenting on how deeply rooted these things are for her, her comment about the cockroaches and growing up with a single mom and like, those things don't just go away and it makes sense that they would be triggered by different things that are happening in her home. And being able to share that deeper meaning with her husband I think is really important. And so I'm even reflecting, for me, I don't like being in a messy environment. It makes me feel chaotic. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so it's not as deeply [00:15:30] rooted in, you know, is what Eve has just shared, but it still does push something in me that like doesn't make me feel good about being in my own home. And I think the point is for all of us to be able to have these deeper understandings of where we're all coming from. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we're all complicated, dynamic human beings who have, you know, all kinds of things in our backgrounds and merging together, even if you're just roommates is still a lot. Yeah. And it's still like a coming together in a way where it's helpful to have these conversations. [00:16:00] So I really appreciate that her whole movement is really starting from that place of like, how do we more, more deeply understand each other?

Speaker 2: Yep. It is, I mean, on, on the surface it's a communication gap, right? Even looking at the circumstances that led to eve creating this whole movement and concept and the couples that went through the process in her documentary, everybody's got the communication gap at first, right? Like, okay, I didn't know you felt this way, or I, you know, I didn't [00:16:30] know that I was doing this or I didn't know that I wasn't communicating whatever. So, so there's always this communication gap at first, but I think in order to move forward is the mutual respect piece. And I think the people that have been successful, so like with, with Eve and her husband, there was a communication gap, but they were able to move past that because you could tell that there was some mutual respect in their household. So, um, so I think that that, that was a big part of things for me.

Speaker 1: Yeah, I think that makes sense. As an aside, Kenny, I [00:17:00] also like how she put you on the spot about the division of labor in your home <laugh>. That was so good. And I hope that that resonated with our audience. So thank you for listening. Please join us next week. We're gonna talk about neurodiversity, what it is, how it's diagnosed, how we can better meet people where they're at on their health journeys. And of course make sure to follow us, subscribe wherever you listen so you can get notified when our episodes come out. And we will talk to you next week. Thank you.