Family Relationships: Household chores should be a shared responsibility
Q. "I am having problems getting my husband to help around the house. We have two kids, and I feel like I do all the housework, take care of our kids and work a full-time job. Whenever I try to talk to him, he just ignores me. How can I get him to listen to me and help around the house?"
A. Unfortunately, this situation can be a major source of conflict with couples. I often hear from women that their husband or partner does not help around the house. You may feel as if you have another full-time job waiting for you at home. Working women do spend twice as much time as men on household chores and taking care of the children.
Before the children were born, the odds are that it was easier to keep the house clean. However, with children, there is more laundry to do, more meals to cook and more messes to clean. All the while you continue to beg your husband to do just one thing: take out the trash. One of the biggest mistakes women make is asking their partners for help with household chores. Asking for help tends to imply the chores are your responsibility to complete. However this couldn't be further from the truth. Chores should be a shared responsibility.
Being a couple is a partnership which includes not only sharing financial responsibilities, but also household chores and raising children. It is important for couples to set priorities that you both agree on and work toward. It will require both of you to do your fair share. Doing your part is a way to show respect not only for your partner but also for the relationship.
Some ways to get your partner to do his or her part include:
-- Talk. Your partner is not a mind reader. You might feel like you shouldn't have to tell them what you want him or her to do, but this is exactly what has to happen. Take the time to explain how much it means to you to work together as a team and then listen to his or her response.
-- Let go of control. If you and your partner agree on certain household chores then let him/her clean how they want to. If you go behind your partner after they have completed a chore and clean it again because it doesn't meet your standard of cleaning, then you might as well have done it yourself. This behavior might make your partner feel less than adequate and not motivated to complete the task in the future. There might be times where you have to settle for his or her less-than-perfect cleaning skills.
-- Choose chores that each of you like to do. If there are certain chores that each of you like to do, then assume those tasks. It is much easier to motivate not only yourself but also your partner to do something that he or she likes, as opposed to a chore he or she doesn't. Also, do a little at a time over several days. This will keep the weekends or your days off from becoming nonstop housework. Spreading chores over several days will help keep the house reasonably clean and will seem a lot less overwhelming. This will also allow more time for family fun.
-- Contract out. If all attempts fail to compromise on some of the household chores, then look at your budget and make some cuts. Instead of having constant conflict over household chores, hire someone to help with the cleaning. If you cannot afford to have someone clean weekly, then look at bi-weekly. Keep in mind that having some free time for yourself and being able to spend time with your family is priceless and would be well worth the cost of hiring someone to help with the household chores.
Michelle Aycock is a licensed psychotherapist. Her office number is 912-233-4294. Her website is coastaltherapist.com. Submit a relationship question at firstname.lastname@example.org.