Help me to get my husband to help around the house. Any advice how to light a fire under him to help me out? Sarah – 20 something – Akron, Ohio
Good question Sarah! This issue has been an argument starter for a very long time. So, in addition to our resident panelists, we added in three men’s opinions for this important question. Read on to what they all have to say…
From the Women…
So for me it is all in the timing of my asking! I have learned how to read my husband and know when he is will be receptive to some constructive criticism. If I approach him with honesty and talk about what I need instead of what he isn’t doing the end result is good. I also have to keep in mind that this won’t be a one time conversation, but rather a topic that will get revisited many times as stages and ages change. Heidi – 30 something
Lighting a fire is one way to get him moving! A less risky way is to get his perspective on what he feels are his responsibilities. See if you can get to the root of his behavior. Does he neglect housework because he works more, isn’t good at it, doesn’t like it, doesn’t see the mess, fill in the blank?
That’s where I’d start. Approaching him in a curious way vs. a nagging way should yield some good info you can work with. Good luck! Amy B. – 40 something
I find that a man’s mind works in a straight line: in order to get your point across, it helps to be direct and specific. Since we are talking about men, a sports analogy is probably appropriate: the quarterback has to tell the rest of the offense what to do on every single play, right? There is no denying that the woman is — more often than not — the quarterback in the house, and therefore has to lay out the plays. Not just the first one of the game, assuming he’ll pick up on the pattern. Nope, every play. Yes, it can be tiring and somewhat mind-boggling to repeat yourself. But my experience has been that a man’s mind will wander away from a household chore not out of spite, or laziness, or general scheming on his part, but because his mind is on a one-way-track, off to the next thing that has caught his interest. Amy C. – 40 something
Clear information and discussions are what are needed to keep a marriage happy. The sharing of household duties are an important part of keeping a relationship going. Ask your husband when is a good time to talk about what is important to you. Perhaps after the kids are in bed when you will not be interrupted. Make sure you aren’t both too tired so the discussion doesn’t flare up. (As you can see I know that this is a possibly a volatile subject and you don’t want to start a big argument) Begin with an “I” statement. Perhaps “I am feeling overwhelmed by how much housework there is to do.” Make it a simple statement. Wait for him to respond. Don’t push. Be careful because he may feel that he already does a lot of work at home. He may need to say “I feel overwhelmed by how much work I have at work.” Now you both need to say something caring to each other. You can then actively listen back to him “I hear that you feel that you have lots of work.” Use the time to problem solve what needs to be done and how you can help each other. Good luck! Ann – 50 something
This is a big question wives have been asking ever since the lines of responsibility were blurred by the social changes of the past few decades. There are many variables. It is difficult to give a clear answer that would fit most situations.
Don’t finger point, don’t blame, and neither one of you should claim a bigger day to day workload than the other. Household drudgery is not fun, never has been and never will be. It is what it is and is more easily tolerated if shared.
Together draw up a list of household duties. Separate them into columns for each of you and what each would be willing to do, will not do, and what you can trade off doing. Make a column for what you can hire out. It is worth foregoing a movie or dinner out to have someone else mow the lawn or mop the floors if it keeps peace in the family.
Be tolerant of him and what he does do for you. Unless he sits around all day in his underwear, drinking beer and belching, he must be doing something productive you can appreciate. It’s difficult when you are struggling under a mound of laundry or when the dishes are all dirty and you are eating out of flower pots, but keep your sense of humor and learn to let some things go. Don’t feel you have to be perfect and you won’t expect it of him! Marge – 70 something
And now from the men…
The easy answer at our house is to have a continual stream of company over for dinners, parties, etc. Being a hospitable couple virtually guarantees husbandly compliance. The social pressure of having a messy house is far greater than the proverbial “nag attack”. Plus, I “get” to vacuum because I am “better at it”. Mrs. McPherson is good at playing up to the ego right there! Jason – 40 something
Here is the reason I believe men will not do their share of the chores. We hate to be told we are wrong! If a wife gets on us for not doing our share of the work around the house then we as men feel that our spouse is telling us we did something wrong. Call it pride or ego, but if the wives could find a way to ask us without it sounding like nagging, then it would make a huge difference.
She could ask, “Would you mind vacuuming the living room today?” Don’t make a big deal out of it. Then if a day or two goes by and it still is not done, there are bigger problems that need to be addressed.
When all else fails, hire a housekeeper and tell the husband how much you are spending on it. If he doesn’t want to spend the extra $$$$ on it, he will need to reconsider how much he is not helping around the house. Mike – 40 something
In my humble opinion, most men are (at best) ambivalent about housework. The best approach is to motivate him by asking him (nicely!) to help you with the chore. Once the chore is started, make an excuse to leave him alone to finish.
Three very important tips:
1. Don’t try to motivate by guilting him into it. (“You never help with the housework!”)
2. Do NOT criticize his work! In case you hadn’t heard, men don’t like that!
3. Be sure to thank him for the effort, even if he didn’t do the chore to your standards!
Jeff S. – 50 something