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The text that started it all.
“Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live)” is book Eve Rodsky feels she was born to write. A Harvard-trained lawyer and former foundational manager at JPMorgan Chase, Eve found herself in a marriage and partnership that was more than just a little uneven.
After she and her friends, accomplished women and mothers, compiled a list of over 1000 things they do, invisible work, that gets no recognition, she knew that she was on to something larger than just a text about buying blueberries.
The myth of 50/50
In thinking on her marriage and life partnership, Eve realized that 50/50 is a myth and she speaks on how unions should act more like business partnerships to get the work and parenting done in an equitable fashion. She devised the Fair Play card game to help partners work through their values and their roles.
“Fair Play became my love letter to men and women on the move. All over the country, men were saying to me, ‘I would do more in the home, but I just can’t get anything right,’” says Eve. To Eve, proper partnership goes beyond splitting things down the middle and trusting each other to do them with care.
Great partnerships benefit everyone
For women, sharing household responsibilities creates a space that Eve calls Unicorn Time. When women have space to be themselves and be creative the results are astounding.
In this episode of Women on the Move, Eve praises the courage of women to fight back on societal norms, to reclaim their space and time from invisible work, and how both men, women and children benefit from the fair play of great partnerships.
Eve Rodsky: I like to say, let's focus on ownership. Let's do as our best businesses do and treat our home like our most important organization. Let's treat it with some respect and rigor that it deserves. All these decisions that we make on the fly, we would never do that in our workplace.
Sam Saperstein: Welcome to the Women on The Move podcast from J.P. Morgan Chase. I'm Sam Saperstein. Women on The Move is a global initiative designed to empower female employees, clients and consumers to build their careers, grow their businesses, and improve their financial health. Each episode will feature successful and inspiring women who are breaking the mold. They're sharing their career journeys and leadership lessons, talking about their professional and personal goals and making a difference in the lives of others.
Sam Saperstein: This season, I'm taking you to the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, where I caught up with many of the women who inspire me every day. Today's guest is really shaking things up on the home front. Eve Rodsky is the author of Fair Play, A Game-Changing Solution For When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live). Eve is a leading thinker on the division of labor within marriages and she's rewriting the rules of how to share work at home. She's galvanized hundreds of couples into rethinking their roles and responsibilities. Eve and I talked about her new approach to sharing domestic work and how it can free up time for women to discover, what she calls, their unicorn space. I hope you enjoy the conversation.
Sam Saperstein: So Eve, thank you so much for being here. It's great to see you.
Eve Rodsky: Thank you for investing in these messages early. You're one of my most amazing and early supporters of Fair Place, so thank you.
Sam Saperstein: It's our pleasure. So you were one of our featured speakers in the fall at our annual women's leadership day and you brought the house down. There's no question. And not only would the women, although every woman in the audience was shaking her head when you were talking, but with the men too, there were men there and so they really got the message. So I'm sure people listening know all about the book, but tell us again what the book is about.
Eve Rodsky: Well, I like to say that Fair Play is a book I was born to write. I grew up in New York City in Alphabet City, in Avenue C and 14th street, to a single mother who was a social worker. It was hard, Sam. Around 7:00 we would get eviction notices under the door. I started to, around the same time, get to know the difference between utility bills and final shutoff notices. So I tried to help my mother organize her life. It's probably why I became obsessed with organization and management later on.
Sam Saperstein: Young age, yeah.
Eve Rodsky: But even back then I had vowed to myself I would have an equal partner in life, that I would do it differently than she did, even though it wasn't a choice for her. And then I did. I married that equal partner and we were just killing it in life, in business. He helped me get my dream job at J.P. Morgan.
Sam Saperstein: Wonderful.
Eve Rodsky: I remember we stayed up all night interviewing for questions for-
Sam Saperstein: He was prepping you?
Eve Rodsky: ...the job as a philanthropic advisor in your private bank and I'm a lawyer trade, so I would markup his operating agreements as he was growing his business. So free legal advice. It just felt fair. We would take turns doing dishes, we would take turns ordering in, takeouts.
Sam Saperstein: And this was before kids.
Eve Rodsky: Before kids and then cut to two kids later and I find myself sobbing on the side of the road over a text my husband sent me and it just said, "I'm surprised you didn't get blueberries." And that's how Fair Play starts because that day was a seminal day for me. Thank God he sent me that text because it sent me down an amazing quest. But you can picture the scene, Sam, right? I was... Just, after my second son, Ben, was born, I had a diaper bag and a breast pump on my passenger seat.
Sam Saperstein: Of course.
Eve Rodsky: I'm driving with it. Gifts for a newborn to return in the back seat because the policies are five days or you lose your credits. As I said, I'm a lawyer, so I had a client contract on my lap with a pen that was sort of stabbing me in the vagina because it was in between my legs. So I was trying to mark it up at every traffic stop. I was zooming to go get my older son at his toddler transition program, which in America, because we really value working families, costs-
Sam Saperstein: An arm and a leg.
Eve Rodsky: ...so much money and it lasts 10 minutes. These preschool programs. And I just felt like, "Okay." I'd been texting and driving but this was too much. The crying was going to get me into an accident. So I pulled over.
Sam Saperstein: So you're already doing 12 things and then you get this.
Eve Rodsky: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I just started sobbing, thinking to myself, "Wow." Because I had left J.P. Morgan at this time and I said to myself, "I used to be able to manage employee teams and now I can't even manage a grocery list. And more importantly, how did I become the default?" Or as I call them in Fair Play, the she-fault, for every single household and domestic tasks for my family. It wasn't supposed to happen to me, as I just said, I had vowed it wasn't going to happen to me. And also I'm a Harvard trained mediator. I'm trained to use my voice, so I kept thinking, "If this is happening to me, it's probably happening to other women."
Sam Saperstein: Absolutely. And tell us about what you call, in the book, the shit list. Shit I have to get done list.
Eve Rodsky: Yeah. So, right after this realization, I ended up finding myself on a breast cancer March with 10 of my close friends, because my mother is a big social activist and marching is in our blood, so instead of fancy birthday gifts, we would go on marches every year for my birthday. We would take a Greyhound bus ticket from New York City to-
Sam Saperstein: [crosstalk 00:05:11].
Sam Saperstein: ...Washington D.C. It was so cold. We marched for the Equal Rights Amendment. We'd March for civil rights, whatever was happening that we could go to it around my birthday. Because my mother used to always say that Gandhi quote, right, "Be the change you want to see in the world." So marching is in my blood. I'm marching with my adult friends with a stroke and trauma doctor, business leader and award-winning, actually at Oscar winning, movie producer and we're covered in glitter. We're having this empowered day and that is until the texts started coming in around noon. My husband's friend, his text said, "When are you coming home from the parade?"
Eve Rodsky: The parade?
Sam Saperstein: From the parade. Yes.
Eve Rodsky: Because we're out there having a really good time. We're marching in the band.
Sam Saperstein: Right, we're not trying to make change, right? We were marching for courage, strength and power and more funding for breast cancer research. "When are you coming home from the parade?" But Sam, it was like a anthropological experiment because the second that she got this text, all of a sudden all of our phones blew up from our partners saying things like, "Where is Hudson's soccer bag?". "When's the babysitter coming in?". And my all time favorite was, "Do the kids need to eat lunch?"
Eve Rodsky: I don't even know where to go with that question.
Sam Saperstein: It's like, [crosstalk 00:06:18].
Eve Rodsky: Should we feed our children?
Sam Saperstein: [crosstalk] do your thing.
Eve Rodsky: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So this whole day just got deflated and my friend Katie said, "Maybe we left our partners with too much to do. We should go home." This was around noon and we did, Sam. We went home to find that soccer bag, to make the kids lunch and I felt so deflated that day, especially after the blueberries text. And then I decided that I was going to figure out what was going on. I'm a trained mediator, I'm trained to use my voice. I'm also trained to research. So I put my researcher hat on and I figured, "What is this that's happening? What am I witnessing?"
Eve Rodsky: Well, turns out the she-fault, as I call in Fair Play, as I said, has a name. A couple of names actually. Mental load, emotional labor. But my favorite was invisible work, because invisible work was a term coined in 1986 by a sociologist named Arlene Kaplan Daniels, about all the work women do that goes unpaid and unnoticed. But what I loved about that term was there is a modicum of a solution in there. Because how can you value what you don't see?
Eve Rodsky: And so, I decided to call it those women from the march and all of my friends, and friends of friends, and started asking them, "What do you do that takes more than two to three minutes of your time? Actual work? Invisible work that may not be noticed by your partner or your kids." And then, I ultimately compile it into a 98 tab Excel spreadsheet, with about 10 to 20 items of sub tabs. So over a thousand items of invisible work. And I titled it the Shit I Do spreadsheet.
Sam Saperstein: Wow. So everyone had something to say about that. [crosstalk 00:07:49].
Eve Rodsky: Everybody. It took me nine months. Yeah.
Sam Saperstein: That's incredible. So how did you take a thousand and whittle it down to a more manageable group, which is really the foundation of the book?
Eve Rodsky: Yes, exactly. So the evolution of the Shit I Do list, because what you realize is that lists alone don't work. And I learned that because I ended up email bombing my husband that 98 tab spreadsheet in the middle of his workday on day.
Sam Saperstein: Did he read it?
Eve Rodsky: He did and I just got that one sad monkey, the see no evil monkey covering its eyes. So my house was see no evil but other homes, it was actually more insidious, actually. And women were texting me things like, "WTF, I had no idea I was doing it all." A woman from the Jewish Federation of Arizona, you can't make this stuff up, left me a message. She had received the spreadsheet from her friend because it had sort of gone viral amongst communities of women. Not social media viral.
Sam Saperstein: Right. But picked up amongst friends.
Eve Rodsky: But picked up amongst friends.
Sam Saperstein: [crosstalk 00:08:40].
Eve Rodsky: Yeah, very shocking spreadsheet to see. And this one woman left me a message saying, "I got your number but I'm not staying in my marriage."
Sam Saperstein: Oh goodness.
Eve Rodsky: So I think you realize that there is a do no harm when you raise consciousness. One professor, who I love, and including my mother who is a professor who works on social change, they both concurrently agree that for change to happen, you have to go from pre-consciousness to consciousness to solutions. Fair Play is about solutions. But why can't just be a card game because ultimately, it's a card game. You play a system, you enter through a card game with your partner. But it had to be a book because I had to write all this pre-consciousness, that consciousness that I and my friends awoke to across the course of about seven years.
Sam Saperstein: Yeah. You really lay out the reasoning behind that. That whole invisible work.
Eve Rodsky: Yes.
Sam Saperstein: The research behind that and what that does to people. But the foundation, as you say, is this card game where you divide up labor more equitably. And what I love about this is you say, you don't necessarily divide the cards equally.
Eve Rodsky: Correct.
Sam Saperstein: But you divide them in a better way. So talk about what these-
Eve Rodsky: Do more of less.
Sam Saperstein: Do more of less. What are the cards about? First of all. And how do you advocate actually sharing them?
Eve Rodsky: I think you got it totally right. One of my main messages, I think 50/50 is a wrong equation. I think it's held us back for years. I think it leads to disappointment and some amorphous way of whatever 50/50 means to you. It doesn't always mean the same thing to your partner. We don't have any discussions over expectations. So this 50/50 notion leads to a lot of disappointment and resentment. So instead, I like to say, let's focus on ownership. Let's do as our best businesses do and treat our home like our most important organization. Let's treat it with some respect and rigor that it deserves. As opposed to like, "Who's doing this today? Who's doing that? Who is moving here? What should we do? What kind of things did I feed them? What should we be doing this weekend?"
Eve Rodsky: It's just all these decisions that we make on the fly, we would never do that in our workplace.
Sam Saperstein: Right, it's true.
Eve Rodsky: We would never walk into our boss's office and say, "Hey Sam, what should I be doing today? I'll just wait here till you tell me what to do." Right? You would fire me that day.
Sam Saperstein: Or I don't want to do some of those things [crosstalk 00:10:49].
Eve Rodsky: Correct, right? Or like, "No, I prefer not to." That was my realization because organizational management, would I teach my day job... My clients are highly complex family foundations and family businesses and if no one understands what that means, you just have to picture the HBO show Succession, because those are my clients. But what I do is I bring, to their very complex family structures, a sense of domestic harmony and we do that through shared values. And we also do that through explicitly defined expectations.
Eve Rodsky: So the card game is really a way to get to values conversations and explicitly defined expectations in a way that makes them fun.
Sam Saperstein: Yes.
Eve Rodsky: Because gamification is fun and ultimately, we need to have these new conversations about the home. I'll explain. So for example, what I say about the card game is that, when you hold a card, you hold it with full ownership. The way we do, again, in our businesses. When we're a DRI for something, which is the directly responsible individual, Apple coined that term. Or as Netflix says, the rare responsible person who doesn't wait to be told what to do, who has context but not control. That's why I want you to be in your home. Someone who's proactive, who owns your shit.
Sam Saperstein: Yes.
Eve Rodsky: Doesn't have to be 50/50 but when you're holding a card, you hold it with full conception, planning and execution. And what I mean by that is, I like to say that everything you need to know about Fair Play you can learn from mustard because it's very basic. If someone has to know your second son, Johnny, likes French's Yellow Mustard with his protein, or he chokes when he doesn't dip it in your French's Yellow Mustard, that's... In sort of project management, organizational behavior, we call that the conception phase. Then someone has to know that you're running low on French's Yellow Mustard and put it on a grocery list with everything else you need for the week. That's the planning stage in organizational management or project management. And then someone has to get their butt to this store to purchase the French's Yellow Mustard. Now that's the execution stage.
Eve Rodsky: Now, I interviewed over 500 men and women that mirrored the U.S. census, for this book, for Fair Play. And what I found over and over and over again, regardless of socioeconomic status, regardless of ethnicity, was that men step in at the execution stage. Get the ass to the store to purchase the mustard. And what happens is they bring home spicy Dijon, the gross kind with the seeds. They don't bring home French's Yellow. But why Fair Play ultimately became my love letter to men, like the ones in your audience, and Women on The Move was because, all over this country... And men were saying to me, "I would do more in the home, but I just can't get anything right. And it doesn't feel good to always be wrong."
Eve Rodsky: And so, you have to understand that. But women were also saying to me things like, "What is this estate planning card in your deck? I'm not going to trust my husband with my living will. The dude can't even bring home the right type of mustard." So obviously... Mediators, we often say, "The presenting problem is not the real problem." So is this about off-season blueberries? As I started this podcast? Is this about French's Yellow Mustard? No, but it's about trust and it's about how we communicate. And if you just let those resentments seed because you're seeing the spicy Dijon and you start going down a trust spiral of, "Well, he never cares about us." And, "He's sitting at dinner and he has no idea what our son..." If you go down those crazy trust spirals, then what happens is we end up divorcing over the unfair division-
Sam Saperstein: And those build ups.
Eve Rodsky: ...of work. 30% of divorces are attributed to these issues.
Sam Saperstein: It's unbelievable. It's so important then. So in the cards that you present, you've really outlined every facet of domestic life.
Eve Rodsky: Yes.
Sam Saperstein: A hundred cards, things that people can actually own end to end. And I do love that ownership end to end. What have you found in talking to people about the book? Where do men and women really tend to gravitate? Do people own the same cars? Is it different for every couple? What have you found out there?
Eve Rodsky: That's such a good question. We're thousands of people now, with feedback. I started, three years ago, really beta testing the system on my own set of cards. Now we have the book and you can download the cards at fairplaylife.com for free. But what I found is that, the biggest aha moment, for couples, was the idea of the daily grinds. So let me explain what those are.
Eve Rodsky: So there's a hundred cards, but there's 30 cards that are what I call Double Weighted. Scientific terms but in average terms it just means that they have a coffee cup stamped on the card. And what those are, are the cards that, traditionally, according to science, women take. Because what science shows, and I lived in a domestic division of labor lab, at USC, with a professor named Darby Saxby. I mean, she was a consultant on the book and was amazing. What we came up with together, what her research shows and her colleagues research show, is that men often take domestic tasks that they could do at their own time table, like lawn and plans, reorganizing your 401k. But women are doing the domestic tasks that they can't do it their own timetable. So picking up children from a pediatrician's office, God forbid there's some sort of glitch in the matrix with an illness with a child or a parent, they're the ones diving into those things.
Sam Saperstein: Which have to be done immediately.
Eve Rodsky: Immediately, yes. Or at least, if not negligent, you have to start thinking about them right away. If a doctor says you have to think about something, your child has an ear infection or adenoids that have to be taken out, you need to start researching how to get those adenoids taken out right away. So making school lunches, things that have to happen on a different time table other than your own, is what women take on.
Eve Rodsky: So I was able, with Darby Saxby, to double weight the cards based on cards that she also knows are ones that women take on. There were 30 of them and they have a stamp of the coffee cup on them. So the most beautiful thing is watching men have an aha moment that those are the cards that they hadn't been taking and wow, those suck.
Sam Saperstein: Yeah.
Eve Rodsky: Yeah, they really suck. "Oh yeah, maybe I'd take out the garbage, but, oh yeah, dishes do have to get done every single day." Homework has to be done, pretty much, on a constant basis. And they're like, "Yeah, I don't take that, I don't take that." So, I think, to me, the beauty was the awakening of men saying, "I don't want the unfairness in my home. I don't want my partner to have to take on all the daily grinds." So watching men take those on, that's been my most interesting and beautiful finding. The consciousness over the daily grinds and watching men step in to say, "I will share these cards with you."
Sam Saperstein: And what does that [crosstalk 00:16:59].
Eve Rodsky: Deal, we deal them. That's what I mean. You do weekend meals, you take Saturday, I take Sunday, but full ownership. Conception to planning to execution.
Sam Saperstein: I really do love that. So it's not just about cooking that dinner.
Eve Rodsky: No.
Sam Saperstein: It's buying the groceries.
Eve Rodsky: Yes.
Sam Saperstein: It's making the list to buy the gross then doing that.
Eve Rodsky: Full thing.
Sam Saperstein: And what does that mean for women that now, they might have more time to do other things. Especially what you call unicorn time. Time to rally be the person you want to be.
Eve Rodsky: Thank you, and no one asked me about that because it's always system based questions. So I appreciate you letting me talk a little bit about unicorn space. It's a concept that came out of this idea that, like the mythical equine, space for women to just be ourselves and to be creative and to do things for ourselves, it doesn't exist.
Sam Saperstein: So it's really sad you had to give it that name, right? Because it doesn't exist like in your card...
Eve Rodsky: Yeah, it doesn't exist. It actually doesn't exist. We just have to reclaim it, I guess, for the unicorns to start popping up in your life. But it also came from science. It came from a concept called eudemonia, eudemonic wellbeing. And what unicorn space is, is I ask the question, "What makes you uniquely you and how do you share that with the world?" Sometimes it could be your work. Creative people often say their work as their unicorn space and there's a little test for that. It means you have to think about it only with excitement on a Sunday night. You would be willing to do it without pay.
Sam Saperstein: That's a high bar. Yes, very high bar.
Eve Rodsky: Right. So it's a very high bar. So most people, unicorn space, is not their jobs, especially people who identified, in my data set, as working class. They had unicorn space but it wasn't their job. But the beauty of it is that it's really the key to longevity for women and the key to mental health. And so ,we often lose, in midlife, any images of women living in their full power like that. Maybe Meryl Streep getting an Oscar once. But in our popular culture, we see women, in certain milestones, we see them at engagement, we see them at wedding, we see them at their first baby. Second baby is usually invisible and then women sort of disappear because then we become hashtag, Brady's mom.
Sam Saperstein: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Eve Rodsky: And our identity becomes so wrapped up in being a mother or society has that happen to us, that we become invisible. And when we become invisible, there's a lot of problems associated with that, mental health, physical health, affairs, marriage endings, a lot of problems with that. And there's a lot of new popular culture books. So I haven't read Three Women yet, but someone told me there was a unicorn space fail, a unicorn space gone wild story in there about someone who was seeking out their ex-boyfriend as they're sort of antidote to-
Sam Saperstein: What was going wrong.
Eve Rodsky: ...identity loss and midlife. Exactly. With her husband. So I say, let's not get there. Let's not wait till we're fed up or searching for ex-boyfriends on Facebook. Let's actually reclaim our right to be interesting and say, "I have a right to an interesting life." And I don't care if there's guilt and shame there, what I call domestic encroachment. Every single time. I'll give you an example. The gender division of labor is my unicorn space. This did not start as my job. As I said, I have a day job as a mediator for highly complex family foundations, which I do like, but it's not my unicorn space.
Eve Rodsky: But I became obsessed with this topic and I wanted to read about it every moment I could. I wanted to watch videos on it. I wanted to write what I was seeing and wanting to interview on it.
Sam Saperstein: That's great, actually.
Eve Rodsky: But there was nothing paid about it. So every single time I did it, I felt guilt and shame because I called the [inaudible] of domestic encroachment. I would ask my kids, I'd sign them up for daycare after school so I could read and write.
Sam Saperstein: So you could work on this.
Eve Rodsky: And then 2:50 would come and I'd say, "I might as well just pick them up from school." And I would just take that two hours, it would wash away from me. And so it takes a lot of courage to fight back against these cultural norms to say, "I deserve time for eudemonia." And this is not a CBD oil pedicure. I'm not talking about beauty. I'm not talking about the soul cycle. I'm not talking about anything that's self care, even though that's super important too. I'm talking about the active pursuit of what makes you, you.
Sam Saperstein: These creative pursuits, the thoughtfulness, just being able to be in flow with something that you love to do.
Eve Rodsky: Exactly.
Sam Saperstein: Any and all of that.
Eve Rodsky: An active pursuit. So reading is a passive pursuit. Writing a book is a active pursuit. Eating a pie, which I do all the time, I'm obsessed with candy, as you can see from my Instagram account. Eating a pie, maybe that's self care, but the baking of a pie is the active pursuit.
Sam Saperstein: Tell me what this means for children also. So obviously we can see huge benefit for women and men and mental health is a great one.
Eve Rodsky: Yes.
Sam Saperstein: What about kids who are seeing this better division of labor?
Eve Rodsky: Oh, that's a great question. An interesting statistic, when a lot of women and men will ask me, "How do we get kids involved?"
Sam Saperstein: Can they take cards, by the way?
Eve Rodsky: Kids can absolutely take cards. But the most important thing for kids to be involved in the Fair Play system, is modeling. There is a statistic that women are twice as likely to hand off a chore to a child than to a spouse. That's because we haven't learned how to communicate about domestic life, which is what [crosstalk] necessary.
Sam Saperstein: We can boss around the kids a little bit more.
Eve Rodsky: Yeah, exactly. Or these chore charts that never work. And so, it's really about modeling. So I'll give you an example. When Seth and I first started playing Fair Play, we entered the system, we would explain to our kids, we usually do a Shabbat dinner in our house, but we'd say, "We'll be home for Shabbat, we'll be with you to eat. But actually we're going to go to dinner at five at..." Somewhere near our house, like a $5 tacorito or whatever. And we're going to sit there with a margarita and we're going to play our Fair Play system. We're going to deal out the cards for the week. We showed our kids all the hundred cards that are required to run a home. And the ones that we've decided to keep in our deck, as a values exercise, and ones that we decided to throw out and why, as a family, we decided to do that.
Eve Rodsky: And so, it was a really interesting exercise for them to see us talk about our values. And then they started hearing us talk about this game. So much so that, now, they're using the language.
Sam Saperstein: That is great.
Eve Rodsky: So the Fair Play system, ultimately... Because a lot of women will say to me, "Well, what if my husband doesn't do a card the way I would want it to be done?" So, I think there's a lot of shaming language for women, in our culture, around lowering our standards. But I saw a lot of crazy things in my research. I saw a knife in a car seat, a gun in the backseat of a car. I don't want that happening. I'm not lowering my standards. But what the good news is, is our legal system and our medical system are based on this idea of a minimum standard of care.
Sam Saperstein: And that's where you're saying we need to get to [crosstalk 00:23:14].
Eve Rodsky: Exactly. But those are values conversations and those are hard.
Sam Saperstein: Yes.
Eve Rodsky: So for example, weekend meals, we had a minimum standard of care conversation and it was actually against me because my husband thinks I have no nutritional value in the things I eat, back to my candy obsession, which I can eat three meals a day, and he wants our kids to eat relatively balanced meals.
Sam Saperstein: Vegetable.
Eve Rodsky: Exactly. Or something. And so we talked about a minimum standard of care, but I was traveling for a while. He was holding all the cards when I was gone. A very different person from when he expected me to be-
Sam Saperstein: At the start of this.
Eve Rodsky: ...fulfiller of his smoothie needs. So I'd come home, I'd taken weekend meals back and I went to McDonald's because they were having this cool Pokemon Happy Meal special.
Sam Saperstein: That sounds good.
Eve Rodsky: And the cards look really cute. I brought all these Happy Meals home and my older son, who's 11, just took his and dumped it in the trash.
Sam Saperstein: Wow.
Eve Rodsky: And he said, "This is just not meeting our family minimum standard of care."
Sam Saperstein: Unbelievable.
Eve Rodsky: He's like, "I just need something healthy. I have my basketball practice this afternoon and McDonald's is going to make me feel sick and daddy would never do this."
Sam Saperstein: Oh my goodness!
Eve Rodsky: So it was a really interesting thing about modeling. And then, of course, once they're modeling and you say, "Well, what is your minimum standard of care for your room? How do you want it to look?"
Sam Saperstein: That's right.
Eve Rodsky: So we had to talk about the why and then I bring out statistics and I show them the value of a tidy house or a tidy room to their educational benefits. You have to get to your why because people don't do things when they're ordered around, but people are willing to do things, or to be part of a team or a system, when they understand why, the context, not the control.
Sam Saperstein: And they're internalizing this for themselves.
Eve Rodsky: Exactly.
Sam Saperstein: So do you still take Friday nights, or whatever day of the week, and divide up the cards? Is this part of your normal routine now?
Eve Rodsky: Yes, we do it every single Friday because we're so steeped in the system now, year after year. It would be fun to keep getting drunk on Friday nights together. But we didn't actually need all of that time. We really only need about 20 minutes now, because actually, we found that we pulled a lot of the [crosstalk 00:25:04]-
Sam Saperstein: Same cards from week to week.
Eve Rodsky: ... every week to week. Exactly. Seth likes cash and bills, I like VIP gifts because I love buying teachers' gifts. Things that don't happen every day. The daily grinds, we have to really talk about more often. But the good news is that it only takes 20 minutes. 20 minutes to invest in your marriage.
Sam Saperstein: That is nothing on a weekly basis.
Eve Rodsky: Every single week. The practice is important. Just like the practice of exercise, the practice of meditation, you have to commit to that practice. But once you get into a habit of checking in, every single week, when emotion is low and cognition is high-
Sam Saperstein: Before things are going wrong.
Eve Rodsky: Exactly. But when emotion is high and cognition is low, it's just basically domestic life after kids.
Sam Saperstein: Right.
Eve Rodsky: It changes the game because what happens is... My biggest tool for communication in Fair Play is, do not give feedback in the moment. I had 20 pages of justification for that from different types of scientists, behavioral scientists, behavioral economists. But my editor made me cut it back to about five pages. But just trust me. Don't give feedback in the moment.
Sam Saperstein: So for example, if you don't like how something was done, what should you do?
Eve Rodsky: Well, you put it on your list for your check-in. So I'll give you an example. So, one week I woke up with a check-in and it said like, "Dirty rag, Teddy bear, birthday gifts." It had all these random things on it that, obviously, I was so angry about it, in the moment, that I wrote them down in my notes in my iPhone to talk about during our check-in. And look, if it's an emergency, if your husband or your partner is putting butt cream on your infant as sunscreens, is it zinc oxide? Which actually happened in a real story that I heard, then you can say something in the moment.
Sam Saperstein: Yes.
Eve Rodsky: But typically, they're not emergencies. So I had all these weird terms on my check-in list, and really, only the one I could remember that I wanted to talk about was birthday gifts because it had been left on the counter and it made me sad that I'm in charge of gifts and it wasn't going to the birthday party or whatever.
Sam Saperstein: It didn't go to the birthday.
Eve Rodsky: Yeah. So we're just talking about how we make that system better. But the point is, I had all these other random triggers that I would have yelled at in the moment, about eight of them, and I kept thinking, "Wow, these would have been eight arguments. Eight arguments in the moment of things that don't freaking matter. They just don't matter because I don't even remember what they mean."
Sam Saperstein: So you can save that for another time.
Eve Rodsky: Save it.
Sam Saperstein: You're calmer. Maybe it even gets dropped or at least there's a safer space to talk about this.
Eve Rodsky: Yeah, Seth likes to joke, even if I'm saying like, "I'd love to have sex right now." But I'm saying it in the context of the moment and domestic... When things are crazy and emotion is high, cognition is low because our kids are fighting and they're all around. He hears it as nails on the chalkboard. It doesn't matter what the words are. In the moment, it's very hard for him to hear.
Sam Saperstein: So you are partnering with Reese Witherspoon's production company, Hello Sunshine, as part of this rollout, what are you going to do from here?
Eve Rodsky: So the goal this year is really to come to the table around some policy about the value of care and, hopefully, do some documentary work around real leaders who are working on bringing the idea of Fair Play, the idea of taking agency in your own home and what the value of care looks like for society. Paid leave, pay equity, flexibility at work, paying care workers more. Just a lot of suite of policy that we're trying to move the ball forward on. And that's why I'm here at Davos.
Sam Saperstein: Oh I love it. So after you go out with this book and continue on the tour, you're thinking about how do you move forward on the policy front with other players? So not only in the home, but outside.
Eve Rodsky: Exactly. I like to say, "I wish Fair Play was not just a two player game." With the solution [inaudible] just you and your partner, but that way it's a three player game including your employer. It's a four player game, including your state policies. It's a five player game, including federal policies. We can have an impact on a broader level. I really am here at Davos because I believe in corporations. I believe in corporations as leaders. Unfortunately, I think our federal government is not as woke as corporations are right now.
Eve Rodsky: So I think the leaders in this country really are the J.P. Morgans of the world who say, "This is how we're going to model value and care for our employees."
Sam Saperstein: Thank you so much for the work you put into this, for sharing this with people. I think it is resonating with so many of us out there, men and women, and it will end on this. So there were men, as I mentioned, in the audience who heard you and you start with a story about a drunk guy leaving a jacket and some bottles on your lawn that you have to come home and pick.
Eve Rodsky: That I have to clean up, yes.
Sam Saperstein: And so, this man actually wrote and said, "Obviously, I'll pick up any drunk guy's jacket left on my lawn and I'll look to hurdle that low bar a bit better."
Eve Rodsky: Oh my God, I love that! That's a great pledge.
Sam Saperstein: So thank you for having the men come to the table and the women find real tools to actually be better together as partners.
Eve Rodsky: Yes. It starts in the home and then we're going to do some amazing things in policy because we will value care.
Sam Saperstein: Thank you.
Eve Rodsky: Thank you, Sam.
Sam Saperstein: So good to see you, Eve.
Eve Rodsky: Thank you.
Sam Saperstein: Congrats.
Sam Saperstein: Thanks to Eve Rodsky for sharing her insights on the emotional and physical burden of household labor and the ways in which couples can improve their relationships through a fair division of responsibilities. Thank you for joining us today. The mission of Women on The Move is to help women in their professional and personal lives. Our goal is to introduce you to people with great ideas, inspiring stories, and a passion to make a difference.
Sam Saperstein: If you enjoyed this episode, please rate, review and subscribe so you won't miss any others. Thank you to our partners at The Female Quotient at Magnet Media for helping us tell these stories. For J.P. Morgan Chase's Women on The Move. I'm Sam Saperstein.