When your Husband Does not Help around the House


Many men still think they live in times when doing housework was solely a woman’s job. While division of labor may have had its advantages centuries ago, with women now forming a significant part of the labor force, it is a physically impossible for wives to do it all. So here are a few things you can do when your husband does not help around the house and leaves you to take care of everything.

Make a specific request

Sometimes the simplest approach is the most effective. So instead of silently waiting for your husband to take the trash out or do the laundry, ask him if he would please do it. Making a direct and simple request not only saves you all that plotting and planning about the right time and the right way to ‘have a talk’ but also saves your husband from having to act as a mind-reader, in other words, to guess why you are fuming and chopping the vegetables with such a vengeance.

Avoid nagging

The surest way to make your husband switch off mentally is to start nagging at him as soon as he walks in through the door. By going on and on about how he has yet again forgotten to do the dishes and fold the laundry, you will do nothing to motivate him to help you around the house. On the contrary he is likely to escape behind the newspaper or turn up the TV volume so as to drown out your voice. Again if you need your husband to take care of some major tasks around the house like fixing a leaky faucet or painting a kitchen closet, first ask him about his plans for the weekend and then let him know of the things that have to fitted in as well. And even if he protests that he simply has to catch up on his golf or go for a soccer game, don’t break into hysterics or gripe at him for having a good time and leaving you to slave away. Rather use a polite but firm tone of voice to get the message across that some things have to be done around the house and you could use his help.

Let him choose

If nagging doesn’t work and if your husband shows no interest in repeating his first act of helping you with the chores, what options are you left with? One is to ask him directly but casually what are the chores that he would like to be responsible for, on a regular basis? If necessary, draw up a list of the things that need to be done around the house and tick the ones that you are already doing. Then ask him to tick off, with a different-colored pen, the ones that he would like to help with. The obvious misbalance between the respective numbers of chores might motivate him into helping more around the house.

Resolve communication gaps

If you and your husband are not communicating on the same wavelength, then the practical business of running a household is bound to suffer. So, when your husband gets home from work, don't barrage him at once with a list of things you want him to help you with. Instead give him a hug and kiss and ask how his day was. When he starts telling you about his work day, don't zone out even if it is boring. Really listen to him and comment on what he is talking about. Showing him you care about his day will lead him to care about yours with the result that he might be motivated to take on some of the chores that may be stressing you out, such as the vacuuming or the kids’ homework.

Resolve underlying relationship issues, if any

Often a partner will stop doing his bit around the house as a way of showing that he is offended at some other aspect of the relationship. However by keeping the channels of communication open, not only will you and your husband be able to share the domestic responsibilities but more importantly thrash out relationship issues before they go on to negatively affect other aspects of your marriage.

Give a little

Let your husband know that there is something in it for him too if he is a little more helpful around the house. For instance you could cook his favorite dinner more often when it is his turn to do the dishes. Or appreciate what he is already doing with a smile and a kiss, even if it is not as much or as perfect as you would have liked it to be.

Be realistic in your expectations

It is important not to set too high a standard for your husband to follow. While some men are naturally meticulous and tidy in their work, most of them are just happy to go through the chores and be done with them. So if you repeatedly criticize your husband for not taking on as much as you do or for not doing the chores as perfectly as you do, he will most likely stop doing whatever little he is helping you out with. If he has not stacked the dishes exactly like you or if his pancakes take too long to appear on the table, let it be. Or you may find your partner purposely doing slow or sloppy work, knowing that a perfectionist like you would rather take over the chores herself, thereby leaving him free to enjoy his beer.

Prioritize work

Despite your best efforts at appealing to your husband’s sense of fair play, if he still does not offer to help around the house, the only thing for you to do is cut down your own workload. Determine which of the chores is more important – like giving your baby her bath or dusting the furniture. Once you are able to prioritize work, you will find it much easier to go through the day.

Finally consider hiring help

Consider getting paid help if you can afford it. This way you will not only be able to escape the stress of pending chores but in fact have some leisure time for yourself. However if resources are tight, you could look at once-a-week cleaning services or other part-time help options.

Housework is an inevitable part of having a home and family. But when the division of labor gets skewed it can also become a significant source of stress. The trick is to take on only as much as you can comfortably manage. Nothing, no amount of dirty dishes, is worth losing your peace of mind over.