Ask The Good Enough Guy My Husband Won’t Help Around The Home

men housework

Hi Will,

Love all your great no-nonsense advice.

My husband and I are currently fighting over household chores.

Jon works a full time job while I’m at home with our 4-year-old son. Here’s the issue – when Jon comes home he expects the house to be clean and for me to cook dinner.

I know my husband works very long hours but I’m tired too. Do you think it’s unreasonable for me to expect him to share the housework and cooking too?

Yours truly,

Susan, San Diego

Hey Susan,

Of course, you’re being unreasonable! This man works a hard forty-hour week, and all you have to do is all of the cooking, all of the cleaning, wash, dry, fold, and put away the laundry, run the house, run the errands, and be a teacher, a doctor, a playmate, a guardian, and a maybe few (hundred) other things to one four-year-old boy. How hard could that possibly be? Heck, your husband watched his mother do it with (add any number of) children, and she made it look easy and never complained.

Before you light the torches and break out the pitch forks… yes, I do know better. My younger children are two years apart. I “helped”, but I still don’t know how my wife did as much as she did. Try as you may to stop the world at wine-thirty, in reality, there are no breaks, no vacations… no time when a mom’s mind turns completely away from being a mom. So…

HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO: Explain to your husband that you understand that he works hard for eight hours a day, but that you work just as hard at home for eighteen hours a day, including all weekends and holidays. Explain to him the chores that you need him to help with and how helping will benefit him, you, your son, and your family as a whole. This will without a doubt solve your problem… if your husband is one of the 10% of men (my own estimation) who are capable of higher order thinking in this particular area. Try it.

…Didn’t work, huh? Hey, it was worth a shot. Well, for the other 90% of men (and I’m in this group) try these:

HERE’S WHAT YOU WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO DO:

1. Motivate him… The old carrot on a stick. Tell him that giving junior a bath is a good way to spend time with his son, and that cooking dinner or at least helping you cook makes you feel closer to him. You may even offer him “favors” in exchange for help: dishes earns a back rub, vacuuming earns a foot rub, etc (especially etc!) Higher thinking or not, a man will do tricks for a treat. Have fun with it.

2. “Warn” him…. If he won’t follow the carrot, beat him with the stick. Tell him that if you have to do all of the cooking, he’ll be eating more microwave meals, and that you have enough time to do your son’s laundry, but he’ll either have to wash his own clothes or wear Friday’s undies right on through until Monday. Explain to him that, because you are frazzled after your day, that it’s much harder to change gears and become the naughty cheerleader at night.

3. Help him… Sometimes, men don’t do chores because they don’t know how and are afraid of looking foolish. He may not cook because last time he tried, his mother, or ex-girlfriend, or the fire marshal told him that he shouldn’t. He may not understand why washing machines are segregated, forcing whites and colors into separate loads (seriously… some men really don’t know this stuff). If you teach him, you’ll know that he knows how, and he’ll no longer have that excuse. Plus, time alone together in a laundry room can lead to all kinds of fun new things!

4. Show him…If all else fails, find a reason to excuse yourself for the weekend and leave the house. Give your husband a taste of what it’s really like to handle the house, the chores, and your son, all by himself. WARNING: leave your husband a list of contact numbers and stay close to a phone, and WHEN he calls, if you hear threat level orange in his voice, go home. While a four year old may be just a handful to a mom, that same child can lead an unpracticed father right into one of those white coats that make you hug yourself.

As men, most of us are far more involved in house-hold duties than are fathers were but are still far less involved than our mothers were. I have great faith though! It will be a long and treacherous road, filled with burnt bacon, shrunken sweaters, and broken vacuum cleaners (“…it picked up pennies just fine in the commercials…”), but I truly believe that, with the right motivation, a little help from real moms, and a whole lot of patience, in time, some of us dads may even climb to the prestigious status of Good Enough Mother!

William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing.

 

Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create GoodEnoughMother.com. When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.

13 Comments

  1. m.e. johnson

    March 26, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Will, I do so love your witty writings. I have to add that if he does do something (ex: dry/put away the dishes), don’t let him catch you going behind him doing it the ‘right’ way. Who wants to hear, “That’s not the way I do it” or “That’s not where I put those”?

  2. Auntie Lisa

    March 26, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Fun piece, Will! You are a very funny guy, and you gave some helpful tips. :-) My favorite parts:

    “He may not cook because last time he tried, his mother, or ex-girlfriend, or the fire marshal told him that he shouldn’t.” — Hilarious!!

    “Plus, time alone together in a laundry room can lead to all kinds of fun new things!” — Sure, if you believe the Cialis commercials! ;-) haha

  3. Will Jones

    March 26, 2011 at 11:59 am

    M.E.- EXACTLY! That’s what I meant by the dinner example. If you tell us that we don’t do it the way you want it done, we hear “I want to do it myself”. Better to thank us for doing it, then tell us the “one tiny thing” you’d change about how we do it, and then compliment us on how well we did after. The compliment sandwich works wonders!

  4. Will Jones

    March 26, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Auntie Lisa – I’m cracking up about the Cialis commercials! I always love your comments! And thanks for the great compliments.

  5. Irene

    March 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Susan skip to #4 …..if g.e.m.s. can do it g.e.d.s. can do it too…

    I am spoiled my hubbie took over laundry 3 years ago as I had a terrible medical issue…he completed it better than I ever did..so I never resumed doing it…

    Will your writing is a hoot! Keep the posts coming!

  6. Eliz

    March 26, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    You give such great advice that any man should want to help out at home after reading your humor (and good tips!)

  7. Will Jones

    March 26, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Irene- Give Susan’s hubby a chance! #4 is the parenting equivalent of “Scared Straight”. As far as the laundry goes, there’s a good chance your husband actaully likes doing it. For some strange reason, I actually like doing dishes, but I’ll never admit it to my wife because I get “perks” for doing them! Thanks for the compliments, and I’ll keep the posts coming as long as G.E.M. lets me!

    Eliz- Enjoy my humor and tips while they last; eventually, the husbands will find out who’s telling their wives how to make them do things… and I’ll probably end up on a missing-persons list!

  8. Patrish

    March 26, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    this was a big issue for us. we finally decided that my husband would do certain chores around the house, and that I would pick them. I gave him the things I hate doing the most…he puts the clean dishes away whenever we run the dishwasher, he cleans both toilets in the house, and he vacuums, and he does much of the grocery shopping. he is good about doing his regular chores, he know what I expect and need, and I keep my sanity. worked for us.

  9. Will Jones

    March 28, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Great idea, Patrish! To most men, I chore is a chore. Passing of the few that you hate most is a great way to devide them, because we probably won’t know the difference. Come to think of it, that’s probably why I scrub the toilets at my house!

  10. Jacki Marie

    April 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    This is the one that made me laugh out loud. “If he won’t follow the carrot, beat him with the stick.”
    Good advice.

  11. Jacki Marie

    April 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    and by good advice I meant the whole post, not just the beating with the stick. :)

  12. Bridgette

    December 16, 2011 at 10:11 am

    OK. My husband works out of the home. He is here minimum 6 days a week. I work as a supervisor in an ER – 12-16 hour days. So Hubby creates messes, destroys finances and only helps about 1 time per month with anything.

    I pre-cook meals. Grocery shop. Clean. I even get stuck with yard work.

    I have felt like a single parent for ever! I am so tired and worn out I have managed to have Strep Throat 2 times in 3 weeks.

    His schedule is always more important. (nearly NON existent) He wants sex and thinks he deserves it…He wants another baby…HELLLLO!!!!

    What in the world can I do? I beg, nag, ask…
    I stopped paying the bills and told him to figure it out, well he enlisted his mom to handle it for him.

    HELP!

  13. Steve

    March 21, 2013 at 11:36 am

    The man works (presumably) full time to pay for every single material possession you own; food, clothes, dishes, movies, etc. and every service you need;
    medical, dental, auto and home repair, electricity, cable, etc. As a homemaker you are your own boss, you don’t have to dress up for work, stress about being five minutes late, or beg your manager to leave early so you can make it to your kids soccer game. The role of homemaker is just as important as the role of bread winner, but for some reason the latter is always seen as less productive or less important than the former. Never mind the fact that the bread winner’s job is the one thing that separates you and your family from homelessness, pays for your kid’s education, and provides a nestegg for your golden years. I don’t think this gives the man an excuse to refuse to do anything around the house at all – he should help where he can and when you clearly need it, but taking care of the home is not his primary job, it’s yours, and frankly, the least you can do is keep the house clean and stick your ass in the air for him once a week (twice on his birthday) without complaint. Be thankful that you’re not stuck with some deadbeat who sits around and plays video games all day while his wife works two jobs AND takes care of the home. And if you’re reading this, and you are one of those people, then stand up for yourself and kick is sorry ass out on the curb.

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