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My Spouse Won’t Do Their Share of the Housework! Part Four

In this post, we will examine the fourth assumption we made about housework, namely that if he chooses not to do part of the housework for whatever reason, it means I have to do it. So he has effectively forced me to do it. He gets a choice and I don’t which is very unfair.

This assumption causes power struggles and stalemates.

We’ve all been there, and it isn’t pretty. So, what do we do instead? First of all, let’s understand that one person’s definition of clean is not another person’s definition of clean. I know that can seem incredible. How can a person think things are clean when there is laundry all over the floor, dishes all over the kitchen, etc.? All I can say is “clean” is a subjective term. What may be obvious to you is often not obvious at all to your husband (or your wife!) Instead of talking about cleaning, get specific. Say, “I would like for the only thing on the bar to be this plant, and this bowl of fruit. Please remove your jockstrap and dentures, my darling angel. Thank you.” You get the idea. Do not assume even the most basic definition of “clean”. In fact, just toss that word out of the discussion.

Secondly, even if your husband (or wife) has been specifically trained on exactly how you want the house to look and function, there are still two impediments we need to discuss.

The first one is he may not know HOW to do the housework.

This is absolutely true. He may not really understand HOW to make the bed, wash the dishes, put the laundry in the washer, turn on the dryer, fold clothes, put clothes in a drawer, etc. He may not know HOW to use a broom. If that is the case, please know that your husband (or wife) is not the only person who is a grown up and has no clue whatsoever how to do any housework at all. This is more and more common. he good news is whatever he doesn’t know he can learn. Which brings me to the second impediment. Even if you have told your husband several times that you would like for him to stop leaving his smelly socks on the top of the dining table, it may take some time for him to really really change. He may not SEE his socks on the table. He may not see them even if you leave them on there, and put fruit on top of them, and use them as a centerpiece. He may not see them even if you mention them every day. He is disconnected and does not see his socks until you point them out.

If this is your situation, he will need visual training and it may take some time. Continue removing everything that shouldn’t be out. Continue tidying up. Eventually, when he looks around he will notice that something is out of place and he will (wait for it) actually go and pick it up and put it away! I understand that you will be the one who is doing all the tidying for awhile, but the payoff is that someday, you will both basically be on the same page about housework.

The other payoff is that you get to live in a tidy house in the meantime. The mistake I see people make is in executing visual training. If you leave the socks and dentures out thinking that it is so disgusting that he will eventually be forced into putting them away, it doesn’t work because he is fine with socks and dentures sitting around. He is disconnected and doesn’t see the problem. Use visual training by showing him how it should look until he can see that there is something on the bar that shouldn’t be there. I know these solutions will not provide a quick fix to this very frustrating problem. But your marriage and your house are worth the trouble.

Be patient, be consistent, and be kind to yourself and your husband. Just because he’s not perfect doesn’t mean you can’t love him and treat him with kindness. That goes for you too.