How Do I Get My Spouse to Help Me? – Part II

communication marriage personal growth relationships Sep 28, 2021
How do I get my spouse to help me?

Today I will continue to address the complaint I hear from (mostly) wives about carrying a disproportionate burden of maintaining and managing their home. If you missed the first part, please check out my last blog post. I also want to reiterate that, in some couples, it is the husband who is more concerned about household chores than the wife is, and the principles I’m sharing can work for either partner. 

First, the best solutions to life’s challenges are always those built upon solid principles. One of those principles is that husbands and wives are partners in their relationship and, consequently, share responsibility for managing and maintaining their home. 

What I’m about to share with you today is built on two additional principles. First, the principle of being open, honest and direct with your thoughts, feelings and needs and, second, seeking to first understand your partner, then to be understood. 

I know it’s a big assumption, but for the sake of moving forward, let’s assume your husband understands and agrees with the mindset that your marriage is a partnership and responsibilities need to be equitably shared. 

Before you try to execute a new plan you have to make sure everyone involved is on the same page. In this case, your husband needs to understand what it is you are recommending, why you are recommending it, and how it will ultimately benefit the marriage.  

The conversation might go something like this, “Steve, when I’ve asked you to help around the house there were times you were willing to do so and I appreciate it. But when that doesn’t happen, I’ve realized that repeatedly asking you to help with household chores doesn’t work for me anymore because it has caused me to feel frustrated and, at times, resentful of you. I think we can work together on a plan to accomplish this. 

Steve, we are equal partners and, because of that, I believe we need to agree on how we can share in the responsibility of managing and maintaining our home. I would like us to sit down together and make a list of everything that needs to be done around the house on a regular or semi-regular basis and then divide these responsibilities between us based on our availability, interest and skills. Ideally, I would like to have an agreed-upon list with three categories – mine, yours and ours. 

We will then agree on when and how often each task will be completed and give each other permission to request assistance from the other if something comes up for either of us. If we are successful at sharing responsibilities in this way I think our home will function more efficiently, we will have less conflict, more time together and we will both feel a greater sense of cooperation. Will you agree? 

Asking your husband to agree to a specific plan is vitally important to your success. Keep in mind that you may have to revisit and rethink your plan multiple times in order to come up with an arrangement that works best for both of you.  

Once you have an agreement it is important that you hold each other accountable when it comes to sticking to it. You don’t want to “police” or “parent” your spouse, but if you sense that responsibilities are being neglected it is appropriate to respectfully speak up and address the issue. 

Next time we will talk about what to do when you ask your husband to agree to adopt the partnership mindset and he says, “No!” This is when most women acquiesce and convince themselves it is just easier to do the work themselves and go back to being a frustrated and resentful Volunteer Coordinator.  

Don’t despair. There are other options for you to successfully move forward in finding a solution to this challenge. Until next time, 

Live, Work and Relate Well! 

Dr. Todd  

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