Do you find yourself exhausted because of chores, kids, work, etc. while complaining that your husband doesn’t help around the house?
I get you mama. I used to get so triggered when I see that my husband can’t even help me with the simplest chores, like putting his plate in the sink. It’s just a few steps from the dining area, what is so hard about that!
Eventually, I’ve learned what to think and do, to become a less angry, more relaxed spouse, especially when it concerns household chores. And I’d like to share some of those lessons that hopefully, will help you deal with a husband who doesn’t help around the house.
What To Do When Your Husband Doesn’t Help With Chores
Check his past behavior
Look back at how your husband was with chores BEFORE you married him.
Did he use to help you out? Did you divide household chores with him? Was he good with cleaning? Has he ever taken the initiative to clean the house or at least, after himself? When you visit his family, have you ever seen him clean up at the house he grew up on?
If the answer is mostly no, then chances are, he probably will stay that way, indefinitely.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s always a chance for someone to change but if your husband grew up in a traditional environment where his mom does all the chores and he carries and embraces that stereotypical belief, whether consciously or unconsciously, then it would be very hard to change his views about it – if you are aiming to change his attitude about helping you, to do the chores.
Know the reason why he can’t or won’t help with chores
Ask him straight up, without starting a fight, without sounding resentful and fault-finding.
He might have some valid reasons for not helping. You can check out some of the other men’s explanations on why they’re not proactively helping in the house here.
I did this with my husband, the night before I thought of writing this article. And he told me two reasons.
The first one was, he was tired and he works all day and even at night. I work from home, for only 5 hours a day, so I can understand where he was coming from.
However, his 2nd reason made me snicker. To which my husband just sheepishly grinned, joked about it, and gave me a big hug. This signals to me that he didn’t really think through his answer and only realized how it sounded when he actually told me and felt guilty for letting me know.
He said, it’s because I work less and I stay at home more.
Don’t add another layer of meaning to his reason for not helping
If I was my old negative, resentful self again, I would have put more meaning into his 2nd reason for not helping around the house.
If I hadn’t learned what I knew now about becoming a happier mom, I would have been so offended, so furious and I would have started a fight.
But I’m in that place where I’m more chill now about everything. Well, almost everything.
I would have interpreted his 2nd reason for not helping in so many different ways: belittling my “work” as a stay-at-home mom, trivializing the work and effort it took to maintain a house and take care of a kid, degrading my role as that of low earning part-time worker/ lowly housewife, him not really caring about how I feel, him not really seeing my worth, him not really loving him the way I want to be loved and so on and so forth.
Fortunately, I’m not in that place anymore.
My husband is not helping me out simply because he doesn’t want to help out. Because he doesn’t want to do the chores. As simple as that.
I don’t associate (anymore!) his lack of effort and initiative in cleaning with how much he loves and respects me. I don’t tie my self-worth or self-opinion to someone’s opinion/ treatment of me.
Because I know my worth and I know how lucky he is to have me, lol.
I’ve seen him not help his mom with chores but I know how much he loves his family.
He just doesn’t want to do the chores, period.
So don’t put any more meaning to your husband’s words or lack of initiative in cleaning.
It’s not about you, it’s about him.
Communicate your needs properly
While my husband doesn’t really help around at all in the house or with taking care of our kid, I have to give him credit for stepping up when I really needed him to.
When I’m sick, when I need to go for a job interview, when I need some time off, I ask for his help in a simple, straightforward manner and he always helps me out. He looks after our kid, he washes the dishes, he orders food, etc.
He still hates doing major chores but he does his absolute best to help, in the best way he knows how.
If you’ve asked your husband as nicely as you can and he still isn’t budging to help out, then proceed to the next tip.
Manage your expectations
I truly believe that this and learning the art of being grateful are two of the key things to happiness. And I had to learn this during a pandemic!
One of the ways to stress yourself and to get yourself all riled up, angry and resentful, is to keep expecting your husband to help you out with the household chores, only to end up getting disappointed and angry when he doesn’t help out or when he does clean but it’s no up your standards.
I know how hard it is to be drowning in chores, errands, taking care of the baby, pets, working, and whatnot. I’ve been there and I know how frustrating and maddening it can be to keep expecting the help you want to get from someone who can’t give it to you.
The only way you can turn that around is to stop expecting help.
Yes, just stop expecting it. Stop asking for it, stop thinking to ask for it, stop thinking about your husband helping you.
I know this might sound like the worst advice ever, especially if you’re looking for a tip on how to make your husband help around the house, but hear me out.
If you take away that pressure in your relationship, if you take away that pressure from your husband to help out, if you take away that pressure from yourself to expect help, then if you don’t get any help at all, you will feel okay.
If you get any help, you’ll feel better. But if you don’t expect any help and your husband doesn’t help, you will feel okay. You won’t feel mad, you won’t feel exasperated, you won’t feel resentful.
If you don’t expect help and he doesn’t help, you’ll think, “Ok, I need to do the dishes.” You won’t think, “fuck it, why do I always have to do the dishes around here?!”
If you don’t expect help and he does help, you’ll think “Oh hey that was nice of him.” You won’t think (hopefully), “why didn’t he wash the dishes properly, do I need to spell out everything for him?!”
See how that works?
Managing your expectations takes a lot of work and believe me, it took me years to come to a point where I’m pretty chill about a lot of stuff.
So take your time. If you think this might work and will help you feel less angry and frustrated, then try doing it. Reframe your thinking, change your mindset, manage your expectations.
Don’t force your husband to do the chores
You can certainly talk with your spouse about it, come up with a plan, be honest about your needs and try out tips like this to make your man help out but for me, I believe in not forcing or tricking them to help around the house.
Personally, I think forcing or tricking your spouse to help out seems kinda demeaning, if not exhausting.
If I were the husband and my wife is double-crossing or pressuring me to help, I would absolutely hate that.
I would feel like I’m a child, a teenager, that doesn’t know shit and needs to be told what to do. And I would feel less inclined to help out. I might help out but I’ll do it grumbling, complaining and I probably won’t do a good job in helping, just so you’ll get fed up and not let me do it.
Don’t make it into a deal-breaker
I’ve read this so many times in so many forums, Facebook groups, blogs, social media, etc.
I can remember this one unforgettable article (ironically I can’t remember from which website), where the author was giving advice to men on why they should do the chores. It was heartbreaking when he shared that, that was one (if not many) of the reasons why his wife left him.
He wrote that, when he doesn’t do the chores, it’s signaling to his wife that he doesn’t value her, that he doesn’t see her as a partner, that he merely sees her as someone who cleans up after him.
And I get that, I get his wife. Because I used to feel that way.
I used to feel that, whatever action or inaction my husband does, that’s his reflection of his love and respect for me. If I expect him to do the dishes, but he doesn’t do it, I’d feel like he doesn’t really care about me.
It might seem small and insignificant but that feeling builds up. It can slowly but surely turn into something worse that will eventually destroy a relationship.
But I’ve eventually learned what it is that I really feel, how to assess and address my recurring thoughts and how to look at the big picture.
I don’t want to get into details as one, I’m not a trained psychologist and two, I’m not an expert in mental health and three, I’ve stopped listening to Shetty as I’m now more focused on building my blog and listening to related podcasts that can help with that but I digress.
My point is, not doing the dishes nor the chores for that matter is not a deal-breaker for me.
Because I decided that it’s not the thing that’s going to make me unhappy, it’s not going to be the thing that will break up my marriage and it’s not going to be the main thing that will stress me throughout the day.
A legit, major deal-breaker for me would be cheating, physical/mental/verbal abuse, and drugs.
We all have our own nuances and issues and what might be a dealbreaker for one, might not be taken so bad by another.
But for me, I chose not to make this trait (of my husband not helping with chores), as a deal-breaker.
Talk to him about what you feel
I cannot imagine though having multiple kids, working a full-time job, and having to clean up after everyone, even for my husband. That would really piss me off big time.
If you’re in that situation or you’re feeling burned out by juggling everything on your plate, talk to your husband and tell him what you feel.
Tell him how tired you get at the end of the day and that makes your fuse shorter, thereby making you quick to anger. Tell him how a full trash can make you feel gross and how worried you are about attracting insects that might land on the food you just prepared in the kitchen. And so on.
Talking about how you feel versus what you need him to do immediately takes away the blame and the fault-finding in the conversation.
Time the talk. When you know your husband is not distracted, not too tired, not working, let him know what you feel.
Of course, men wouldn’t know what to do with feelings. There’s no easy solution for that. And your husband might not even be aware that you’re feeling that way! So if they ask how they can help, tell him exactly what you want.
Be specific. Divide chores according to each of your strengths. If you know your husband is shitty with washing the dishes but is quick to throw the trash, then let him do it. If you know your husband struggles with grocery shopping but is great with putting the kids to bed, then make him the bedtime routine with kids.
Be very clear about the division of chores. And again, manage expectations. Your husband can’t clean as you do, so don’t expect him to do so. Stop criticizing and micromanaging him if he can’t do it your way.
If after a few weeks and the flow of tasks doesn’t seem to work, try talking to your husband again. Print out chores and put it up for everyone to see. Find a rhythm that’s easy and manageable for the both of you.
If your husband isn’t willing to help you in any way, then hire help. If it’s possible, physically and financially, tell him you need someone to help you with the chores, even if it’s on a part-time basis.
I still sometimes wish that my husband will help more. Or that I didn’t take on the ownership of doing all the household chores, unconsciously. Imagine if he could help out, he would have been the perfect husband!
But he’s not. He’s a good man though. He’s kind, responsible, trustworthy, incredibly generous, super patient, extremely intelligent, sweet and I can rattle off all the other positive traits that would make him an ideal husband.
He just doesn’t help with chores. And that’s okay, because I’m okay with that now.
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