This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features. If you’re a woman married to or living with a man who isn’t as involved with the housework as you are, here is exactly how to create a more equal division of labor—even if you’ve been stuck in this unbalanced dynamic for the entirety of your relationship: 1.
Acknowledge how necessary this is.
«The first step is to acknowledge and process your existing anger and resentment,» clinical psychologist Lina Perl, Psy.D., tells mbg. «After years of an unbalanced division of labor, you are likely to feel very frustrated, unappreciated, and even hopeless about the possibility of change. This is why so many women don’t start this conversation. They imagine that if they start it, the emotion will be explosive and destructive. But tamping it down and alternately blaming your husband for not doing more and blaming yourself for not saying more is not the answer.» The conversation will likely be uncomfortable for both of you, but on the other side of it is something better. You can get to an easier, more satisfying place with your partner. Step one: Have a direct conversation about this. Yes, it’s time to sit down and do it. 2.
Lead with how you feel.
«Trying to force your partner to do anything rarely succeeds in the long term, even if it is successful in the moment at getting what you want (or maybe even need),» Joanna R. Pepin, Ph.D., a sociologist whose research focuses on gender inequality within the family, tells mbg. «Talking with your partner about how you are feeling, such as the sources of stress and anxiety, offers your partner a way to show up for you rather than feeling defensive for what they haven’t been doing.» Ask for what you need to feel how you want to feel, Pepin recommends rather than making this about how your partner has been failing you. What would make you feel more equal and supported?
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features. 3.
Avoid the blame game.
Here’s Perl’s recommendation for how to structure this conversation, in her words:
- State the problem in the most objective, factual way possible. «I feel like I’m doing a lot more of the nonwork tasks related to taking care of our family.»
- State how this makes you feel. Use «I» statements. Don’t say: «You don’t do anything around here!» Do say: «This leaves me feeling overwhelmed and sometimes resentful and angry.» Newsflash: This will likely not be surprising to your partner. He probably knows you’re upset.
- Set a reasonable goal. «I’d like us to start talking about how we can both be aware of what needs to get done, so I don’t feel like it’s all falling on me.»
- Explain what’s in it for everyone. «My goal is to feel closer to you and more like a team. I love you, and I don’t want to be angry and overwhelmed.»
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features. 4.
Acknowledge why it’s hard.
It’s OK to admit the truth: Sexism, patriarchy, and gender inequality are alive and well in your household. It’s OK. It’s not your fault or your partner’s fault. This is true for most heterosexual relationships, and no one person or couple is to blame. This is the culture we live in. «As women and men in this moment in history, we are in the unique and difficult position of renegotiating long-standing gender roles, and it’s not easy,» Perl says. «Repeat after me: This is happening to both of us! We are both the product of a society where gender roles have been polarized.» Have this be part of the conversation you have with your partner. Acknowledge out loud how unfair gender roles are hurting your relationship (and your own personal well-being), and agree that it’s worth trying to work against them. Make equality an open priority. 5.
Stop saying women are just «naturally» better at this stuff.
You’ve probably heard some variation of this: «Well, women are just better with kids!» Same with cleaning and organizing, and meal prep, and so on. Back in the day, we used to say women did more housework because men were the primary earners for the family, Pepin explains. But now that more women are becoming the breadwinners and couples typically share financial responsibilities in the household, she says we’ve reached for another excuse: personality. Couples will actually «amplify personality differences, which are often based on myths about gender differences.» Pepin’s own research has demonstrated that people still believe women are better caretakers and homemakers than men are, even though other research has debunked the myth. For example, studies have shown that women are not better multitaskers than men are1 and that men’s perceptions of how messy a room is are virtually the same as women’s perceptions of that room. Ladies, you’re not naturally better than your man at doing house stuff. You’ve been taught how to do it, you’ve been taught to care about doing it, and you’ve now been doing it for so long that you are very good at it. Explain that to your partner, and give him the opportunity to learn and get good at it too if he’s not already.
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features. 6.
Gatekeeping can be a big barrier to an equal division of labor. That can look like constantly criticizing the way your partner does certain chores, swooping in to «fix» his completed work, or monitoring him as he does them because you don’t trust him to do it «right.» These behaviors discourage your partner from being actively engaged in the work and taking initiative. Trust your partner to get the job done. If something falls short, try not to criticize him or argue with him about what the «right» way is to do things—that will cause defensiveness and frustration. Instead, explain to him why you care about a certain way of doing a certain task. For example, organizing the laundry into colors helps preserve your delicate whites; cleaning the dishes immediately after use avoids a buildup later, and the buildup is what stresses you out. Ask him to care about the things you care about, as a way he can show you love. Additionally, learn to let go where possible. There will be some inefficiencies at first, and that will annoy you. But recognize that allowing your partner to take charge of responsibilities is more important in the long run than getting everything done as fast as possible today. 7.
Use positive encouragement instead of complaints.
«Research shows that happy couples actively look for positive traits in their partner. In times of stress, it’s easy to focus on what isn’t going well. But most people are much more motivated by positive encouragement than avoiding complaints,» Pepin explains. Say thank you, often. This can be a practice you institute as a couple to make yourselves more conscious of how much the other person does. Whenever either of you notices the other has done a household task, directly thank them.
- «Thank you for putting the laundry in the dryer.»
- «Thank you for unloading the dishwasher.»
- «Thank you for putting the baby to sleep last night.»
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features. Yes, there will be a lot of thank-yous every single day, and you’ll repeat the same ones over and over. That’s the point. It’ll create a lot more positivity around the house, and if one partner is doing more than the other, it’ll be pretty clear right away. The partner doing less than their fair share can then take the initiative without being asked. 8.
Do things together.
Often when couples want to encourage a more egalitarian dynamic in their housework, they’ll sit down and try to divide up the chores down the middle in the fairest way they can. But Aliya Hamid Rao, Ph.D., a sociologist and author of Crunch Time: How Married Couples Confront Unemployment, points out that these individual-level changes can feel like an unsatisfactory solution when pitted against centuries-old gendered dynamics. You’ll often find that even though on paper it looks like the tasks are divided up equally, oftentimes men will gravitate toward tasks they find more desirable—like yard work and taking care of the car—rather than the more tedious daily tasks. Or otherwise they’re doing half of the chores, but the woman is the one in charge of making sure it all gets done. Dan Carlson, Ph.D., a sociologist who studies gender dynamics in the household, recommends doing tasks together as much as possible. «In order to avoid having one partner overburdened, or to avoid one partner slacking on their assigned tasks, try to do tasks together,» he wrote in a recent Twitter thread. «When couples divvy tasks between them (e.g., I do laundry, she does dishes) inequities can develop, especially if tasks are of unequal desirability. Though not always possible, if you can do things together, your division will be more equitable and satisfying.» One possible way to do that: When one partner is doing dishes after dinner, the other partner takes that time to grab the laundry or tidy the living room. Or maybe you both set aside a chunk of your weekend for tag-teaming on chores, alternating who does which task each week. That way, you’re ensuring that you’re each generally spending the same amount of time doing chores. This isn’t always feasible, of course, but trying to do things together as much as possible can at least create an atmosphere of teamwork. 9.
Address the mental load.
If divvying up tasks between you feels like your preferred system, go for it—but don’t forget to take into account the «invisible» or «cognitive» labor, Rao says. «Examples of this are that even when husbands do unpaid work (like housework and child care), they still depend on wives to tell them what to do and when. So let’s say a husband is going to grocery shop for the family. The wife will be the one who looks at their fridge, their pantry, thinks about what they are missing, what they will need in the next week or so, and makes a list. The husband goes and shops, often even calling the wife if he can’t find an item to get her to guide him,» Rao explains. «Any negotiation of housework should incorporate this kind of work too.» Some people refer to this as the «mental load.» Here’s a helpful comic about the mental load that can help you further understand what this looks like. Share it with your partner so they know what you mean. How can you not only divide up tasks but also the responsibility for managing all the tasks? Whatever strategy you come up with that works for you as a couple, remember to be flexible with it. Unexpected tasks and special situations will come up that you hadn’t allotted for—that’s OK. «Stick to the adage: structure with flexibility,» Perl says. «You need a base to work from, but you also need to see this as something that changes with you and your changing lives.» It’s OK to have to swap tasks or do something outside your decided game plan sometimes. Be gracious, generous, and forgiving. Most of all, be patient. You are not going to solve this in one conversation. This is something you’re going to have to return to time and time again before you get to a place that truly feels good, easy, and natural for both people. Perl recommends setting a weekly check-in time to see how things are going and how you’re both feeling. Scheduling those check-ins can also help you both take this seriously and really commit to making changes. «When in doubt, come back to this idea: ‘We are in this together,’» Perl says. «You and your partner are not adversaries.»
Ladies, if it feels like you do your unfair share of chores around the house, it’s not your imagination. A 2020 study by the Pew Research Center found that 55% of men in a domestic relationship were happy with the division of household chores, but only 38% of women felt the same. In general, men are far more satisfied with communication in the relationship and their spouse’s approach to housework. That disconnect extends to how men and women view the amount of work each person does. The study revealed that 59% of women said they do the most chores, while a mere 34% of men agreed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it turns out the wives are correct. Compared to their husbands, women work over one hour more every day on chores, raising children, and taking care of the family. The numbers tell a story: women are overworked, and men are oblivious. It’s the perfect formula for heated arguments when it’s time for chores. And if you choose to do it all without speaking up, it fosters some hard-boiled resentment. Neither of those scenarios encourages a positive family life, nor do they promote your mental health. If you’re starting to feel the stress, it’s time for your husband to help with housework.
How can I get my husband to do chores without nagging?
When you’re ready to get your husband to take on his fair share of household responsibilities and child care, your communication style is crucial. After all, chores are a medium that we use to express feelings about household dynamics. The reason we fight over chores is that we interpret unequal chore-sharing as a result of a power struggle, traditional gender roles, or personal neglect. When your partner forgets to load the dishwasher, those deeper emotions can lead to explosive arguments. It’s easy to jump on your husband when he falls short in doing housework. But that’s also an easy way to put him on the defensive. Before you react aggressively and initiate a fight, take a deep breath and try to understand why you’re upset. Your husband will be more receptive to the message if you communicate in those terms. When you express how the disproportionate share of responsibility affects your feelings, he’ll feel needed rather than attacked. Whether you’re working full-time or you’re a stay-at-home mom, the man in your life could stand to do more around the house. But since many husbands don’t notice the issue, nothing will change if you don’t start the conversation. From there, you can use these tips to instill better habits and break the vicious cycle of arguments.
Stop asking husband to help with chores
You’d think that married moms would have more spare time than single mothers left to raise children by themselves. But according to a 2018 study, it turned out that wasn’t the case at all — married women had even LESS leisure time than single moms. So do men not contribute anything to child-rearing or household chores? In truth, they probably do at least a little bit, but they also add more housework for you to manage. A 2005 University of Michigan study found that men created seven extra hours of work each week. But does your partner contribute at least seven hours to cleaning the house? That gets to the heart of how you should view the responsibility of household chores in marriage. Everybody contributes to the mess, everybody enjoys the benefits of a clean home, so everybody should be responsible for cleaning it up. And if everybody bears the responsibility, that means you shouldn’t have to ask for help from your spouse when there are chores. Your partner isn’t doing you a favor when he does housework. He’s simply doing his job. Asking for help makes it sound like he’s going above and beyond, and that won’t do anything to help you establish a new normal around the house.
Let him own his housework
Household chores are a shared responsibility in relationships, something involving two partners, not an assistant and a boss. It’s not on you to plead for help or assign chores like you’re his mother. You can start the discussion, but the two of you need to collaborate on chore-sharing. That means that while you shouldn’t have to ask for help, you also need to respect your partner’s agency in his chores. It’s his job, so you need to limit the criticism and try not to insist that he do it your way. If you don’t like how your husband handles certain tasks, you can make suggestions and try to understand why his way makes sense to him. That will create a more productive dialogue that finds a compromise. But when a task is his responsibility, he deserves a say in how he does it. It can lead to some adjustment as you accept how he carries out different tasks, but you have to weigh the pros and cons of his job and decide what’s important. For example, you may love that he handles the dirty laundry on Saturday mornings. It gives you tons of time to work on getting the kids ready for the day, but you can’t stand how he folds the clothes. You can discuss it, but if you can’t agree on a solution, you may have to swap chores with him to get satisfaction. Or you could let it go and accept his way of doing it.
Offer positive reinforcement
Many couples fight over chores, yet few take time to point out how much they appreciate each other’s effort in keeping a clean house. You can help your husband stay motivated to take care of his household chores with the power of compliments and recognition. That doesn’t mean you should thank your partner for every minor task he handles. Again, he’s not doing you a favor by managing his part of the housework. Thanking him too much will both devalue the praise you give him and make it seem like he’s putting in more effort than he needs to. Stick to complimenting and thanking your husband when you can be sincere and specific. Most men like it when their spouse notices what they do, and being specific shows you’re paying attention. For example, instead of telling your partner, «Thanks for doing the laundry,» you can point out, «I liked the way you had the towels folded and organized. It opened up a ton of space in the closet.» These bits of positive reinforcement can be good for sustaining a positive routine and a happy marriage in general.
How can I get my husband to help around the house?
Communicating and complimenting are crucial to keeping your partner motivated to do chores and spend time with the kids. It will ensure he knows what you expect and vice versa, and you’ll have more success cutting arguments out of the process. But sometimes, talking isn’t enough to inspire a gung-ho attitude toward household tasks. If your husband needs a boost to get him to take care of his household chores, try these simple approaches.
Tip #1: Make a list of household responsibilities
When you have to manage kids and housework, you’re likely pretty good at keeping everything stored in your head. A mother has an innate ability to stay on top of appointments, the kids’ activities, and just about any need the family has during the week. By contrast, men need a little extra help to manage chores. Blame it on social conditioning if you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that you may need to find a solution to your husband’s absentmindedness. Enter the to-do list, a tremendously helpful tool to keep your partner focused on his commitments. Sit down with your partner and revise tasks on a weekly basis. Give him specific chores around the house, discussing the expectation and deadlines.
Tip #2: Try to make chores fun
As much as each person is responsible for the mess in the house, few are happy to do unpaid work. Stir up some excitement by finding fun ways to get your husband mentally involved in the chores. Here are a few ideas to help get your husband to do housework:
- Make meal preparation fun with a favorite playlist or a small TV in the kitchen
- Reward yourselves with a date night after a deep clean
- Plan out your meals for the month, trying something new each week
- Bet a little money on who can do more chores in a certain amount of time
- Fold laundry in the family room while watching a movie
Making household chores fun for your husband is a chance to make it better for you too. Your partners are your best friends, and with all the time you spend raising kids and providing for the family, there isn’t always a ton of time for the other person. Chores can be a perfect time to spend together away from the kids while getting something accomplished.
Tip #3: Get the kids involved
Speaking of children, their involvement in chores should be a given. A family mess is a family job. Once your kids get old enough to take direction, you can mobilize them to help with simple tasks. Give your children age-appropriate chores to do around the house. Find ideas to get them involved by talking to other parents about how they divide work and keep their family engaged. Getting your little ones started on housework at a young age is a great way for them to become comfortable with responsibilities. They’ll have a better work ethic and fundamental skills needed to make it out in the real world. Of course, getting your children used to doing household chores is a huge help for you in the present as well. It’s easier to delegate tasks when your kids are older if you make it part of the norm early. Families that grow up with responsibility will give you fewer eye rolls and arguments when they need to get to work. What’s more, by getting your children to own some of the housework, your partner has more reasons to pitch in his share. If they happen to see mom and the kids doing work, men won’t enjoy feeling like they’re the only ones not contributing. And motivating your spouse to share housework with the family can be more satisfying for him as well. Doing work with the kids is an excellent way to spend more time with them. Your husband can catch up with them when they stay home to do laundry and organize the garage, or they can help him run errands and go grocery shopping. It’s a prime opportunity to connect as a family, accomplish essential tasks, and even have fun.
Tip #4: Hire a house cleaning service
Sometimes, there isn’t enough time for either of you to get housework done. With so many women working full-time, it’s harder for families to accomplish everything on the to-do list, even when everyone is doing their best. Equality in responsibilities is fantastic, but you’re not doing anyone any good if you and your partner are cramming your day full of work. You’ll both stay stressed out and find the same arguments creeping back into everyday interactions. Circumstances like new parenthood or career changes can jar you and create an adjustment period. But once being overworked becomes a new normal, you and your spouse may need to look beyond each other to find relief. A house cleaning service can be just what you need to give you and your husband room to breathe. A house cleaner can help your marriage in several ways, but the worry over money keeps many couples from taking advantage of outside help. Fortunately, there’s usually a way to get the help you need and stay within budget. The great thing about working with a house cleaning service is that you can generally customize the kind of work you need. If you have a limited budget for maid services, you can prioritize the stuff stressing you out. A little help can go a long way toward taking off the pressure for everyone in the house.
Where can I book a reliable maid service in my area?
Maybe the laundry is piling up faster than you can fold it, or you and your husband can’t agree on who’s cleaning the bathroom. Housework might get in the way of your job as a mother or spending spare time with your better half. And no matter how hard you try to get the effort you need, it’s never enough to keep the place clean. If that sounds familiar, let Anita’s Housekeeping help you find the personalized service and attentive care you deserve. It only takes a few seconds to connect with local cleaners and schedule an appointment with a trusted professional. When you’re ready for more satisfaction in your family life, request a booking for a house cleaning service in your area. by ParentCo. May 18, 2022 It isn’t fair. Women today make up nearly half of the workforce and yet are still largely expected to run the house and take care of the children, just like their maternal ancestors did. Don’t believe me? Think: “Nah, this is 2022 for crying out loud!” Think again. A 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey found that, on an average day, only 22 percent of men actually did housework compared with 50 percent of women. To top it off, men in families with young children only spent 25 minutes providing “physical care” (e.g., a bath) compared to the hour women spent. Considering the fact that 70 percent of women with children under 18 are now working, this just isn’t fair. Likewise, for moms who stay home, it still isn’t fair. These moms, in addition to doing more housework and child raising than their husbands, report higher levels of worry, sadness, stress, anger, and depression than their counterparts who work outside the home. The point is this: moms, whether working outside the home or not, are completely inundated, and their husbands are oftentimes just not doing enough to help. The problem, however, is that these same wives are trying to get their husbands to help in all the wrong ways. That’s where I come in. You see, I am a husband…and I regularly do housework and child rearing. (Don’t give me a trophy – it is my responsibility, but that’s a story for another day). Wives, I can help you understand your man. But before getting into the ways you can get your husband to help, you need to understand a few ground rules:
“Clean” means something different to him
Your husband’s expectations for “clean” are probably different than yours. Don’t try to convince him to increase his standards to match yours. Instead, you need to tell him that doing chores above and beyond his level of cleanliness is one way that he can love you, not because he agrees with your level of cleanliness.
Understand the rule of reciprocity
The rule of reciprocity tells us that if you treat your husband well, he is, evolutionarily-speaking, more likely to respond with kindness. Likewise, if you nag, yell, or treat him with ugliness, he is more likely to respond with ugliness. Thus, you need to treat him well. You are now ready to take the steps required to get your husband to help.
Before anything else, forgive him
Someone I respect very much once said that forgiving someone means deciding to cancel the debt that they owe you. I want you to tally your husband’s debt against you (e.g., the times he criminally failed to help you) and then, once you’ve taken a deep breath, decide to cancel it out. (Note: this process takes time.) If you try to do any of the other steps in this article without heeding this one, you’re going to fail.
Communicate your hurt, not your anger
When you (wives) get angry, we (husbands) get defensive. However, when you express your hurt, something within us wants to rise up and protect our girl, even if that means protecting you from our own actions, or inaction. If you want to spark a change in us, it starts with showing us your heart, despite what culture may have you believe about men.
Be specific and straightforward with requests
No sighing and no rants about how we “don’t do enough.” Tell us exactly what you expect us to do. Ideally, we’d sit down and both agree on a set list of chores, including a deadline for those chores.
Assume the best about us
Sometimes we aren’t going to get around to fixing the vacuum as quickly as we told you we would (true story). You have every right to be upset at us. But the best thing you can do in that subpar circumstance is to assume the best. For example, instead of assuming that we don’t care about you or your requests, assume instead that we may have completely forgotten about it. Then, ask us.
Appreciate us when we do the right thing
I’m not talking about showering us with praise or giving us one of those condescending “wow, you can actually do something right” kind of “compliments.” Just be genuine. I understand the argument that we shouldn’t be thanked because it’s just as much our job as it is yours. And you know what? You are absolutely right. However, when you stick to your principles and decide not to appreciate us, you miss out on an opportunity to love on your husband. You also miss the chance to help him associate your happiness with his helping. Finally, don’t be afraid to send your husband this article. If I’m right, I suspect this will be a welcome change for him, too. After all: happy wife, happy life.
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