This article introduces the concept of ‘household governance’ and investigates empirical differences in governance practices among Dutch households. It stresses informal household rules and conflict-handling strategies of cohabiting couples as important means to govern daily time allocation. The leading question is to what extent the concept of household governance contributes to our understanding of the way households combine the demands from paid and unpaid work. Empirical analyses based on a sample of 809 Dutch cohabiting employees and their spouses (Time Competition Survey 2003) show considerable differences in the use of household rules and conflict-handling strategies among households. A linear regression analysis confirms that the demand to govern daily time allocation by means of household rules and conflict-handling strategies is influenced by the earner type of the household, household characteristics (e.g. the presence of children) and job demands (e.g. frequent requests for working overtime). In this context, the interaction of household demands and job demands plays a major role for the type of household governance that is used in the household. Moreover, we found characteristic differences in conflict handling between men and women.