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The most common household disagreements (and how we solve them)

Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance comparison expert
Posted
16 AUGUST 2023
9 min read
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The most common household disagreements
(and how we solve them)


While the idea of home often conjures images of warmth and comfort, it’s also a breeding ground for a wide spectrum of emotions, opinions, and – inevitably – disagreements. From debating whose turn it is to do the laundry to arguing about who forgot to lock the back door, there’s a huge range of common conflicts that arise when we share a house with other people.

Our latest survey took a look into the most common causes of household disagreements, who we most frequently have them with, and how we deal with them to avoid any further tension within the home.

The 10 most common causes of household disagreements

1. Not fairly splitting the responsibilities of cleaning the house

An unfair split of cleaning responsibilities ranks as the most common cause of household disagreements overall. More specifically, it’s also the most frequent reason for disagreements with a partner (23.5%), mother (12.3%), husband (21.5%), sister (14.8%), grandma (14%) and female housemate (15.2%).

When asked why they have disagreements with a member of the household over this issue, the most common answers people gave were “they need to do their fair share of this” (23.7%), and “it creates more work for me” (23.2%).

2. Too little cleaning being done in the house

It seems cleaning is a very controversial issue in most households, as too little cleaning ranks as the second most common cause of disagreements.

It’s most likely to lead to arguments with a child or children (22.6%), husband (20.9%) or partner (21.2%), with “I don’t like living in a dirty home” (26.6%) and “it creates more work for me” (21.1%) given as the top reasons.

3. Not turning lights off when leaving a room

Failing to turn off the lights when leaving a room is a sore spot for many of us, with increased electricity bills making us particularly conscious of our energy use. Our survey found that children (29.2%) are the most common culprits of this. People we surveyed pointed out that this issue creates more work for them (17.9%) and makes them uncomfortable(16.8%).

4. Not flushing the toilet

Discovering that someone forgot to flush the toilet is a nasty surprise, so it’s understandable that people most commonly clash about it due to not wanting to live in a dirty home (35.6%) and feeling uncomfortable (17%).

It’s the number one cause of disputes with a grandad (14.6%), and is also common with children (25%).

5. Leaving appliances on, such as straighteners and washing machines

Leaving appliances – such as hair straighteners or a washing machine – turned on is the fifth most common cause of household disagreements overall, and the most common with a brother (15.2%) and wife (14.4%).

Over a third (35.9%) of people reported disputes about this due to it being a fire hazard, which is a valid concern – particularly for appliances that get very hot, like hair straighteners. 9.5% also said they had a disagreement about this as it could invalidate home insurance.

6. Not washing the dishes

Washing up isn’t much fun for anyone, but putting it off can often spark conflict. This is the most common source of disagreements with a male housemate (13.5%) specifically, and is also common with a partner (16.2%) and children (15%).

23.2% of people complained that this creates more work for them, and 19.8% said they just don't like living in a dirty home.

7. Not being fair with splitting laundry responsibilities

Not shouldering your fair share of laundry responsibilities can frequently spell out issues.

It’s most likely to lead to disagreements with a grandma (12.6%), partner (12.6%) or sister (12.4%) – usually because they’re “not doing their fair share” (21.5%), and it “creates more work for others” (19.8%).

8. Cleaning schedule

This is the third time cleaning has shown up on the list, so it’s clearly something many of us struggle with. Creating a cleaning schedule can be a great way to make sure the house stays spotless – but only if everyone sticks to it.

We found that disagreements over cleaning schedules are most common with a partner (13.1%), wife (11.9%) or sister (11.3%), with 20.6% of people listing dislike for a dirty home as the reason.

9. Not putting dishes in the dishwasher

Having a dishwasher might help avoid disputes over who does the washing up, but it creates its own problems when people forget to load the dishes into it.

Children (12.2%), male housemates (11.1%) and partners (10.8%) are the people we tend to clash with the most about this, and it’s usually because it creates more work for us to deal with (26.5%).

10. Watering plants too much (including indoor plants, garden and window boxes)

You might expect that forgetting to water plants would be more of a problem, but actually, it’s watering plants too much that ranks as the 10th most common cause of household disagreements. It’s most likely to lead to bickering with a grandad (14.6%), grandma (13.5%) or sister (11.3%).

The most common reason for this causing a disagreement is that it can kill the plants (19.6%) – which is true. Overwatering can be just as harmful as underwatering, so make sure you know how much water your plants need if you want to avoid a disagreement.

Home insurance disagreements

When investigating the reasons for common household disputes, we discovered that certain disagreements are triggered by concerns over invalidating home insurance.

Nearly one in 10 (9.6%) people said that they have had a disagreement with a housemate or family member over not locking the back door because they know that doing this invalidates home insurance. Others also said home insurance concerns triggered a disagreement over not locking the front door (9%), not locking windows (7.5%) and not locking the gate (6.3%).

Surprisingly, some people we surveyed also expressed having had disagreements over things that they ‘know’ will invalidate their home insurance – despite the fact that these things don’t actually affect it at all. 7.1% listed insurance concerns as a reason for disagreeing about what temperature to sleep at; 6.9% gave this as a reason for arguing over not watering the plants; and 6.4% blamed this for a dispute over building flat pack furniture.

Some reasons for common household disputes are due to nothing more than annoyance, however some habits can be a bigger cause for concern.

Leaving doors or windows unlocked can indeed invalidate your home insurance. If a theft happened on your property because of doors being left unlocked, it’s likely that your claim would be rejected due to there being no signs of ‘force and violence’ used to gain entry.

It’s important to always stay aware of exactly what can influence your home insurance policy and potentially lead to a claim being rejected – but disputes over building flat pack furniture or doing the laundry definitely aren’t included in this.

Rank Cause of household disagreement % who said they know doing this invalidates home insurance
1 Not locking back door 9.6%
2 Leaving appliances on, such as straighteners, washing machine etc 9.5%
3 Not locking front door 9.0%
4 Not locking windows 7.5%
5 What temperature to sleep at 7.1%
6 Not watering plants, including indoor plants, garden and window boxes 6.9%
7 Building flat pack furniture 6.4%
8 Not being fair with splitting the responsibilities of doing the laundry 6.3%
9 Not locking gate 6.3%
10 Not blowing candles out 6.2%

The most common people to have a household disagreement with

As well as identifying all the most common causes of household disagreements, our survey also revealed the most common culprits we tend to disagree with the most.

Children come top of the list, with a quarter (24.8%) of people admitting they’re more likely to disagree with their children than anyone else in the household. Disagreements with them happen on average 4.2 times per week, which adds up to 201.2 times per year. That means parents typically have disagreements with their children on more than half (55%) of the days in a year.

Just under a quarter (23.9%) of people said they are most likely to disagree with their husband, although the average number of disputes with a husband is just under 3 per week, which is the lowest number on the list. On the other hand, only 12.5% of people named their wife as the person they’re most likely to have a dispute with, but these disputes occur slightly more frequently at an average of 3.2 times per week.

22% also listed their partner, with an average of 3 disagreements per week.

Although fewer than 1% of people named their grandmother or grandfather as the most likely culprit, those people disagree with their grandparents an average of around 15 times per month – which is second only to the amount of time people spend arguing with their children.

Rank Person % of people who said they are most likely to have a disagreement with this person Average number of disagreements per week
1 Child(ren) 24.8% 4.2
2 Husband 23.9% 2.8
3 Partner 22.1% 3.0
4 Wife 12.5% 3.2
5 Mother 4.3% 3.3
6 Sister 3% 3.3
7 Father 2.6% 3.3
8 Brother 2.5% 3.5
=9 Female housemate 1.8% 3.4
=9 Male housemate 1.8% 3.5
10 Grandma 0.6% 3.8
11 Grandad 0.3% 3.7

Most common ways to resolve a household disagreement

Over a quarter (28.4%) of people said their go-to method for addressing a household disagreement is to just do the task themselves, making this the most common method used. This is also the most common method used by women specifically (30.9%), whereas the most frequent tactic employed by men is to have an honest conversation explaining how they feel (25.1%) – which is also the second most common way of resolving a disagreement overall (27.4%).

Following that is letting the situation cool off before talking to the other person (24.9%), and forgetting about it and moving on (23.6%).

Rank Method % of people who resolve a household dispute this way
1 I just do the task myself 28.4%
2 I have an honest conversation explaining how I feel 27.4%
3 I let the situation cool off then talk to them 24.9%
4 I forget about it and move on 23.6%
5 We spend quality time together 16.1%
6 I raise my voice and/or shout at them to get my point across 13.5%
7 I talk to another person in the house hoping they can help resolve the issue 11.9%
8 Avoid the person I disagree with for an hour 11%
9 I ask another person in the house to help resolve the issue 8.7%
10 Avoid the person I disagree with for a day 7.2%

Interestingly, over one in 10 (13.5%) people said their preferred method of dealing with a dispute is to raise their voice and/or shout to get their point across.

18 to 24-year-olds are most likely to pick this method, with nearly one in five (19.8%) saying they try to resolve a disagreement this way. Nearly one in five (19.1%) Liverpool residents also said they resort to shouting as a way to deal with household disputes, which is more than any other city in the UK.

Sharing a home with other people can be challenging, and disagreements are bound to happen at one time or another. However, it’s important to try and deal with disputes in a calm and rational manner, without losing your cool. The best way to resolve a problem is to discuss it openly, and reach an agreement that leaves you both feeling better about the situation.

Methodology

All data taken from a survey of 2,118 homeowners / renters that do not live alone (18+), carried out between 31/07/23 - 02/08/23.

Anna McEntee - Insurance comparison expert

Anna’s all about delivering fantastic insurance products at a great price. Value is the most important thing for Anna, as she cuts through the jargon and finds what’s most important and worth your hard-earned money.

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