WRITTEN BY Felicia Kashevaroff

Fair Play Reconsidered: 5 Reasons It Might Not Work for Everyone

Let me start by saying that if you love the book and card game, Fair Play, you can stop reading right now! If you’ve found the advice helpful and have seen positive changes as a result, fantastic! Don’t change a thing!

Fair Play Reconsidered: 5 Reasons It Might Not Work for Everyone
Picture Credits: Pexels.com

If however, you’ve read Fair Play and you find yourself frustrated, confused, or overwhelmed, you’re not alone. In this article, I’m going to lay out common complaints I hear from my clients about the Fair Play system, and other things you and your partner can try to start moving toward more balance in your partnership.

Let’s backtrack for just a moment here, maybe you’ve gotten this far and you have no idea what I’m talking about! Fair Play is a book and card game conceived by Eve Rodsky, a lawyer who worked with high net-worth families and charitable foundations to maximize their operations and distribution of funds. After an epiphany in her own relationship about an unbalanced division of labor, she realized that her expertise in organizational management could be applied to regular households that were trying to seek more harmony and a better division of labor.

Rodsky then compiled reports from a wide range of couples about their “shit I do” list and categorized them into 100 task cards broken down into five categories; Home, Out, Caregiving, Wild Card, Unicorn Space. 

These 100 cards are then dealt between partners while keeping the following four rules in mind: 

  • All Time Is Created Equal
  • Reclaim Your Right to Be Interesting
  • Start Where You Are Now
  • Establish Your Values & Standards

The holder of each card is responsible for the entire task, including conception or thinking about the necessity of doing the task, planning the task, and execution of the task. 

Cards are then re-dealt regularly according to the preference of the couple.

Without a doubt, Fair Play is a brilliant system. It’s also an incredibly complex one.

For those corporate, efficiency obsessed couples, Fair Play can feel like a miracle. Yes! I want my home to function more like a business! Organizational management is my jam and this makes perfect sense to me!

On the other hand, those of us whose brains don’t work that way, might feel overwhelmed by the rules and the cards and the steps and the redeals. If you’re more aligned with the second group, there is nothing wrong with you or your household. In fact, a recent study shows that couples who do tasks together, rather than splitting them are happier and more satisfied with their relationship.There is no one right way to balance your partnership, or divide labor in a way that feels aligned and equitable. You and your partner have to find a system that works for you.

Here are five reasons that my clients have shared that Fair Play didn’t work for them and why it might not work for you either.

Fair Play Reconsidered: 5 Reasons It Might Not Work for Everyone
Picture Credits: Pexels.com

1. My Partner Won’t Read Fair Play

This is the most common hurdle I hear. For the Fair Play system to work effectively, both partners need to be equally invested in reading and understanding the concepts. If one partner isn’t on board, the system can quickly feel one-sided. You might try summarizing key points or discussing the benefits, but ultimately, both parties need to be committed to change for the system to be successful.

2. Fair Play is Too Much Work

Many find the system, with its detailed rules and task cards, to be overwhelming. It requires a lot of upfront work to distribute the tasks fairly and understand each other’s responsibilities fully. For those who are already stressed or short on time, setting up and maintaining this system can feel like adding another job to their to-do list rather than simplifying their lives.

3. Our Home is Not a Business or a Game

 Fair Play applies principles of organizational management to household tasks, which can be a mismatch for some people’s values or lifestyle. The idea of treating home life as a business or a game can seem impersonal or overly structured to those who prefer a more organic approach to sharing responsibilities. This can lead to resistance or discomfort with the system.

4. We’re Stuck on One of the Fair Play Cards and Can’t Move Forward

Sometimes a particular task card can become a sticking point. Maybe it’s a task that neither partner wants to take on, or one partner feels strongly about the importance of the task and the other doesn’t agree. These bottlenecks can halt progress and create friction, making it difficult to see the benefit of the Fair Play system.

5. I’m Already Doing Too Much, Now I Have to Enforce Fair Play Too?

If one partner is already shouldering a disproportionate amount of work, the process of implementing Fair Play can feel like an additional burden. The need to enforce rules and ensure that tasks are being completed as agreed may fall on the partner who is already overextended, which can exacerbate feelings of imbalance and frustration.

Though Fair Play offers a structured approach to balancing household duties, it’s not the perfect solution for every couple. It’s important to find a system that fits your unique relationship dynamics and lifestyle. 

Communication is key. Discuss what works and what doesn’t, and be open to trying different strategies until you find one that feels right for both of you. If you’re committed to getting the Fair Play system to work for you, try hiring a Fair Play facilitator. There are brilliant coaches and therapists that have been trained to facilitate the system more effectively. If you’d like to try another approach that is more customized to your needs, reach out and schedule a free Balanced Relationship Breakthrough Session with Tend Task. 

Remember, the goal is to achieve a partnership where both parties feel valued and supported and you and your partner are the best ones to decide how to move forward!