A common dynamic in relationships is that there’s one “more responsible” partner that’s first to notice things – whether it’s a stain on the carpet or that it’s time to renew the car registration. That partner is faced with two choices – they can deal with the issue themselves, or ask their partner to deal with it, stepping into the role of a domestic autocrat giving orders to their peons. Either way, resentment ensues on both sides. And predictably, when enough resentment builds, it can turn into bursts of rage or pervasive passive aggressiveness.

In 80/80 Marriage, Nate and Kaley Kemp point out that socially proscribed gender norms no longer dictate who’s responsible for what – we now have to figure this out for ourselves. If we don’t, there’s role confusion, leading to what military strategists call VUCA: a state of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

The Kemps offer a framework for avoiding this state: a structure of clear roles and responsibilities for each partner, buttressed by a spirit of shared success. These are their five guidelines for building this new structure (excerpt from Chapter 9):

Guideline 1: Skill

Let’s face it, some people are just better at hanging a picture on the wall. Some are better at childcare. Some are better at climbing up a ladder and nailing Christmas lights to the roof of the garage. Skill matters when it comes to structuring your roles. So as you think through your division of labor, consider: Is one of you significantly better and more efficient at certain tasks than the other?

Guideline 2: Interest

Just as you each have unique skills, you also have distinct desires and interests. Some people find washing dishes intolerable. Others find that scrubbing crumbs off the plate is a pathway to meditative bliss. Some people love yard work. Others have an allergy attack the moment the first blade of grass gets cut. So it’s worth asking: Does one of you have significantly more or less interest in certain tasks?

Guideline 3: Standards

It’s important to account for each partner’s expectations for what counts as satisfactory… We call these standards. Your standards define the point at which a dirty toilet, a sidewalk with unshovelled snow, or a disorganized vacation itinerary becomes a problem. In each relationship, partners have higher or lower standards for various tasks. If you can’t stand the sight of a single dandelion popping up on the grass in spring and your partner doesn’t care, you have higher standards for landscaping. If your partner spends hours each month creating elaborate financial reports on family spending that you find unnecessary, your partner has higher standards for finance. Once you identify these differences, you can begin to take into account the central insight of standards: the fact that, all things being equal, the partner with higher standards for a particular task will do a better job completing the task or outsourcing it to someone else.

Guideline 4: Shared Success

By now, you’re familiar with the primary structural insight of the 80/80 marriage: structure your life not around fairness or your competing individual aims, but around your values of shared success. Nowhere are these shared values more important than in creating your roles. The ordinary 50/50 approach to roles, after all, is to try to make everything fair—to find the perfect 50/50 midpoint of task distribution. In the 80/80 approach, by contrast, we let what’s best for us—our shared values—determine the structure of our roles. This means it’s not always about equal division or fairness. Consider the couple with a high-earning partner who loves her work and a lower-earning partner who wants to scale his time back to take on more of the childcare. Their division of household roles might not be “fair” in the 50/50 sense. The husband might take on more of the domestic work, while the wife takes on more of the earning potential. This approach might work best for them. The point is to let shared success–not 50/50 fairness–determine your structure of roles.

Guideline 5: Outsourcing There are some task in marriage that neither person is particularly good at and neither person wants to do. There are also times when one person’s standards are higher across the board, and no matter how hard the other partner tries, he or she can never meet expectations. In these cases, if you have the financial resources to do so, outsourcing can be an excellent option. If you can’t get aligned on bathroom cleanliness, hire a housecleaner. If neither of you wants to weed the backyard, hire a gardner. It’s also worth noting that outsourcing doesn’t always cost money. When it comes to childcare, for instance, grandparents and other family members are often happy to provide outside support.

They also offer this practical advice:

Limit your shared roles. While most couples maintain some shared roles after this exercise (things like cooking, doing dishes, or picking up the kids from school), make sure this category doesn’t grow too large. We recommend sharing no more than 25 percent of your roles. The more roles you share, the more room there is for conflict.