How to Get Your Husband to Do Housework
I hear it all the time, ‘My husband does not do enough around the house,’ ‘My partner does not spend enough time with the kids,’ or ‘My wife spends way too much money.’
The reasons for these relationship frustrations are all unique and strikingly similar at the same time. The bottom line is that these individuals are seemingly unaware or unbothered by how their actions or lack of action is impacting their partner and household.
There is nothing worse than having an amazing day, suddenly having a terrible spat with your partner, over something small, stupid or silly, and then spending the rest of the day with a dreary tinge tainting everything.
Fighting with your spouse impacts your daily happiness, mental health, ability to engage with others, energy to practice self-care, your sleep and an endless list of other things.
I hate nothing more than when I am trying to fall asleep, but I cannot because my mind keeps circling around the fight my partner and I had. It does not resolve the fight, nor does dwelling on the negative situation make my spouse magically come into our room to apologize for all of their wrongdoings; all it does is make me lose sleep, feel shitty and end my day on a really low point.
So what do we do?
What do we do with these lazy, selfish, inconsiderate partners who are running us into the ground?
I say we do nothing.
Observe. Spend some time seeing what your partner does and does not do. Perhaps they do a lot more than you were aware of or perhaps this period of observation will allow you to validate your feelings with facts.
Yes, maybe they leave their socks on the ground every night, but you might realize that they taking out the trash after dinner each day. Yes, they forget to put things back where they belong, but they also shovel the snow each time it falls.
Before running into battle start determining which hills you wish to die on and which are actually worth the battle.
Perhaps the dirty socks on the floor are not that big of a deal, considering the fact that your partner takes out all of the trash in the house each evening. After reflecting, maybe you realize that picking up his dirty socks is not that big of a deal since he is hefting out the family’s trash, which is something you loathe doing.
In a relationship, everything is not always going to be equal, but some form of equity should be sustainable.
Perhaps your wife is a bit of slob, but spends ample amounts of time with the children, allowing you to decompress and rest after a day of work. Weigh out her strengths and weaknesses because perhaps her sloppy habits can be overlooked because of her enthusiastic efforts with the children.
On the other hand, perhaps this is the hill you want to die on. If so, find a way to formulate what you plan to say, so that they can hear your need and not just your needling. Remember, the goal is a changed behaviour, not shaming your partner by pointing out how lazy or terrible they are.
Utilize this observation period to unbiasedly assess what your spouse actually does and does not do around the house. Try to not simply focus on what is not being done, but try to spend more time seeing what is being done, that was never realized by you either.
Once you have determined what issues you do want to address, find a time to speak with your partner and allow them the space to understand that you wish to have their undivided attention to discuss a serious matter.
Next, kill them with kindness.
We have all tried the tactic of pummeling our partner with all of the proof of how bullshit they are and how has that worked? It results in your spouse becoming defensive, argumentative, combative and unwilling to listen to your needs.
This time, try a new tactic: Kill them with kindness and ask for help.
Start off by letting them know all of the wonderful things they are doing (and actually mean it). Stroke their ego by showing how invaluable they are and that the house would not run as smoothly as it does without them and their continual, consistent hard work. I cannot help but stress that if this step is done disingenuously, the whole process will collapse in on itself.
Once a foundation of gratitude has been laid out, let them know how they can help you be more successful.
Explain to them that you need additional support in certain areas and lay out how they can be the shoulder you need to lean on. There is no shame in asking for help and most people respond quite positively to being the provider to another person. For example, tell them that if they would put the kids down for bed, three days a week, it would allow you a bit of time to get a three-mile run in before bed, which will alleviate some of your day’s stress. Let them know that this will make your days more enjoyable and you will feel less resentful towards them overall. Explain to them why their help is needed, what you will be using the time for and the benefit of it. Saying you simply need the free time to do nothing is completely acceptable as well, do not feel pressure to be doing something to justify the support.
“Men are overly sensitive to being told what to do. If they are persuaded to understand that they’re making you happy by doing more, they’ll be a lot more interested than if they’re doing it because they’re being told.”
― Joshua Coleman, The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to Do More Parenting and Housework
If done from a place of honesty, respect and kindness, this process can work wonders in your marriage, but take things slow.
Do not dump sixteen changes on your spouse in one sitting. Start with one change and allow time for the change to become a routine and thereby a habit for your partner. Avoid lashing out if they forget, ask for help or are overwhelmed in the initial stages of the change. If they forget one day, gently remind them and get them back on track. If they are overwhelmed on another day, lend a hand, so that they know you are on their team and not their opponent. The whole goal is for a positive home environment, so be willing and eager to put in the necessary legwork to support your partner’s changed behaviour.
When your relationship is going through a difficult time, remember that the person you are in disagreement with, angry at or resentful towards is your teammate, not your opponent. The sooner you two start seeing one another as allies instead of opponents, the stronger your relationship will become.
If these tactics do not work, I think that the problem is much bigger and troublesome than laziness.
If these steps do not mitigate at least a few hiccups in your relationship, allowing your workload to decrease somewhat and your stance on your relationship does not brighten a bit, there might be other issues, much bigger issues brewing. This is a much more serious issue that you should take considerable time to understand, research and find suitable support for.
Utilizing these steps in your relationship will make the tough days fewer and further between. These steps will also empower you so that when you do face a difficult day it will not control you and weigh you down because you know you have the tools to overcome the troubles your relationship is facing. Good things take time and this process is not an overnight change; some changes may take weeks, months or even years to become successful.
Be there for your partner, cheer them on and awknowledge their positive changes. The journey of marriage is long and cumbersome, but if we are willing to adapt, understand and be empathetic the good days will heavily outweigh the bad ones.