Getting a spouse to do his share?

Confession: I am always tempted to start each post by addressing you as "Hey, loveys." Which is how I greet my friends, kids, and cats, and other mammals I like. So if it slips out some time, it's just because I like you.

Today's question is from Alicia:

"I would like to ask your readers for
advice on how to get your spouse to be a more equal partner. I do almost
everything in the house. Early in our relationship, my husband informed
me that he didn't care if the house is clean and that if I care, I
should clean it. And I should probably have known this did not bode
well for the future, but I was 26. Now I am 51 and we have two kids. If
I ask him for help, then I am nagging. I do all the dishes, almost all
meals, grocery shopping, paperwork, laundry, errands, and more than half
the childcare. Plus I work full time. He does fun things with the kids
but I do all the schlepping to doctors, buying clothes, all the things
that are not fun.

I would love to regain that youthful
ardor/affection in our relationship, but first I really need him to take
some of the load off my shoulders. I'm often so exhausted I feel sure
at times I am going to get sick and die. We've talked about it in
counseling but everything he has agreed to do he almost immediately
stopped doing after about a week.

He is also incredibly resentful
that we don't have enough sex and especially adventurous sex. He would
like to have sex 2-3 times per week. We're lucky most weeks if we have
it once. We have gone more than a month without.

The Mommy workload vs sex equation is completely messed up in our relationship.

Please help! I would love especially to hear from people who have been there and who figured out how to turn it around."

Since you've talked about it in counseling, and are in counseling, I'm going to assume that your husband realizes how hurtful this is to you.

What I'm going to say is based on the negotiation techniques I've learned in business school and in life, and is based on the terminology in the book Getting To Yes (a classic, and also a fast, chunkable read):

You need to know three things: What you really want (your "ask"), what's the least you'll accept (your "reserve"), and what your alternative is if you can't make an agreement (your "best alternative to negotiated agreement" aka "BATNA").

It feels to me like in this specific situation, your BATNA is the part you need to clarify. Right now you're just living with not having an agreement, so in some ways your BATNA is the status quo. But it doesn't sound like you want to live that way anymore. Which involves clarifying your boundaries and then making them a priority.

I was talking about boundaries and this kind of negotiation between spouses (which I never experienced in a healthy way) with my friend Wokie Nwabueze of Manifest Moxie. Wokie works with women on clarifying what they really want and then learning how to find their clear voices to ask for those things in all kinds of professional and personal situations. She said, "One of the most powerful things a woman can do for herself is to
understand her boundaries. And it is not enough to simply have
boundaries–you must clearly articulate them and provide quick and
consistent feedback when lines are crossed. Speaking up takes courage
but it is the way we teach others how we want to be treated."

And that was something I sometimes miss–the idea that enforcing our own boundaries TEACHES other people what we want and expect. So I'd say that you need to keep speaking up. And if your husband doesn't care that he's treating you in a way that you don't want to be treated every day, then you may need to decide what your BATNA really is. Or, as Wokie said, "When we get to a point when we feel like the cost we are paying or will
pay exceeds the benefit, we should make a decision about whether or not
to walk away. Knowing your BATNA helps us understand what our options
are if we choose to walk away. Clarity equals courage and smart choices."

Readers? Have any of you been in this situation and come up with a solution you are happy with?

99 thoughts on “Getting a spouse to do his share?”

  1. Wow! What an important post! I would also love to hear more about this. My husband does the cooking and cleans the kitchen when he is home (mostly) and takes our daughter when I work but otherwise I do almost everything. I am exhausted.

  2. This is a complex issue and I think Moxie gave way better advice than I ever could.My one minor contribution to this topic, and I may be projecting here, is that you should ignore other women who say stuff like, “Oh, MY husband does so much around the house. My husband is so great! He does more than half the work! My husband would just need to grow breasts and lactate and then we could fully share the childcare load 50/50!”
    Those people probably aren’t giving you an accurate picture of their real lives. I would venture to say that a lot of women feel like they’re doing more than their fair share, it’s just not politically correct to admit it.

  3. This exact situation is why I’m currently separated and headed to divorce. I did everything plus working full time and my husband hated that I asked him to do more & we didn’t have “enough” sex. Long story short, he decided 6 months ago he didn’t want to be married anymore and we separated. Everyone seems so surprised at how well I am handling everything…but I think it is because I was just so freaking tired all the time. Yes, I am sad and angry at my husband, but it’s a relief to not be living a life where I wasn’t valued at all. No real advice for the OP, except to say you’re not alone.

  4. Wow. That someone would actively and purposely not understand that exhaustion and lack of respect leads to no interest in sex makes me wonder if he really wants it or if he wants an excuse/freedom to find it elsewhere. It seems so clear and obvious that no one wants to have sex with someone who disrespects their time/feelings/caretaking work that it seems like he can’t be doing it unknowingly. I really hope he’s just clueless. But holy cow, it seems so blatant. 🙁

  5. I struggle with this, too, and have found a lot of useful advice in the book “The Lazy Husband” by Joshua Coleman – available used on amazon. It’s not a husband-bashing book, but is full of strategies to change the imbalance. Highly recommend reading it to see what applies to your relationship.

  6. The only (not terribly clever) question I have to ask is whether outsourcing e.g. housecleaning or meal prep is an option and if so whether it could be assigned to DH — not just paying the financial cost of having it done from whatever resources are “his” (and of course that assumes some division of finances that involves each partner having some spending money of their own), but the logistics of setting it up and managing it (at least, I would want both those things to be assigned to whomever’s responsibility these were decided to be).My mother endured the sort of behavior the OP describes for years before she finally divorced my father (and thrived). She waited until we kids were out of the house and it is without question true (in their case) that he would have put the family and us kids through absolute horror had she not (waited), but that reflects a pretty serious level of dysfunction on his part and probably isn’t generalizeable. As we kids got older but before they separated, she did sometimes do thing like just take herself out to dinner (i.e. leave the house, making feeding himself my dad’s responsibility) when he was being flaky/obnoxious, but by then (a) we kids were old enough that we were either out for our own activities or capable of mustering our own meals in a pinch and (b) it was obvious to everyone but my dad that unless he did an about-face the marriage was over.
    I’ve managed to develop pretty low standards for what constitutes a clean house, etc. (to my husband’s dismay), but I’m not how to achieve this if one’s not already there. It does make my life a lot easier, though.

  7. OK, if you tell someone how your husband isn’t pulling his weight, and she responds with how great her husband is and how much he helps, then she is a fucking bitch and you should stay away from her. And as a sideline to OP’s question–sorry if this is hijacking (maybe we should save it for its own post? What say you, Moxie?)–I’d be curious to know readers’ data points for how often they have sex. We have been fairly consistently once-a-weekers since my oldest was born, 6 1/2 years ago, unless somebody is sick or newly delivered of a baby or something. Now that my younger is 3 1/2, we’re up to about twice a week, which is where I think it will stay for a while. Like many men, my husband would probably like to do it every day, where I’m OK with 1-2x a week (been meaning to find out if my tragic libido is normal for me or the result of low hormones or something). Anyway, I think the OP’s husband has unrealistic expections, PARTICULARLY given his lack of help or realization that it’s a problem. Good luck, OP.

  8. Moxie’s dead right here. This is all that has worked for me. In fact, I often have a hard time getting my spouse to listen without the BATNA — which is me leaving. It’s not a great dynamic, but we’re working on him taking me seriously before it gets to that point.

  9. I don’t think there’s anything you can do to change someone else’s behavior – he has to decide to change it himself. Right now he has no incentive to do so; you do everything, and the worst he gets is some complaining. I’m not saying this to criticize- I understand how these situations come about! – but that seems to be the net effect. He is counting on the fact that you care about your house functioning, and he’s pretending he doesn’t. If clean laundry and food and washed dishes stopped appearing, I bet he’d realize that he cares that these things exist, he just doesn’t want to accept any responsibility for making them happen.I agree with Moxie’s ‘boundaries’ advice and would also advocate that you decide what the maximum (and also minimum!) is that you can sustainably do and slowly work toward that. Like washing only your OWN clothes, if everyone else is old enough to do it, or just NOT doing the dishes any more.

  10. Also on sex, I have a one-year-old and it’s more like once a MONTH. I don’t think 1-2x/week counts as tragically low libido with small children!!!

  11. Well, this might sound a little…retro? But it sounds like the wife “has” something the husband wants (more sex). I wonder if it would work to whisper in his ear, hey lover boy, if you do this for me, I’ll rock your socks off tonight. It would have to be very specific, like clean the kitchen by 8 pm or something. If he doesn’t care if the house is clean, he probably doesn’t notice what needs to be done, so a general “I need help around the house” wouldn’t work. Linking a specific task to a specific “reward” might change that dynamic a bit. Because if we’re talking about negotiations, strictly speaking they both have something the other one wants.

  12. My husband and I used to have this problem. In my situation, he wanted to help but didn’t know what to do, was afraid of doing it wrong, and sometimes I truly think he didn’t see what was bothering me. So we did work on relaxing my standards and also I learned to really communicating what I felt needed done. We never did an actual list of what needs done (maybe that would help) but we’ve worked it out so that if one of us is doing the bath with the kiddo, the other is getting dinner dishes done up. Or the trash taken out.It did take a while to get to this point and there have been many problems and set backs and we still have our fair share of other issues but overall I’m more comfortable with his contribution level.
    Also, with regard to nagging, does he say you are nagging or do you feel like you are nagging? I felt like I was nagging by having to ask him to do xyz thing but my husband really didn’t view it as nagging and actually needed me to remind him of what needed done (especially at first).
    But overall, I think you’ve done your best to communicate what you need and now it’s sort of on him to decide he wants to change.

  13. I wish I had advice but I don’t. Just wanted to let the OP know I am in the EXACT same situation. I have a 1 and a 3 yr old and I am constantly exhausted. Husband will (regularly) announce he’s tired and then sleep all day. If I dare question it, he blows up at me. We are also in counseling but not much has changed. Needless to say, I think Moxie is right – I am actively figuring out and creating some options for myself. I don’t want to hurt my kids but I can’t continue like this. It’s hurting my health.

  14. I don’t have much in the way of advice, just commiseration. My husband works crazy long hours, and I am unemployed, so the housework/child wrangling falls to me. I do not mind right now, but once I am working again, things are going to have to change, and I’m worried that they won’t. But I will cross that bridge when I come to it.As far as practical solutions, since you are overwhelmed and your husband has no interest in changing his behavior without a “nuclear” option it seems, how much of the chore load do your children shoulder? They are likely old enough to do the dishes, sweep/vacuum the floors, change their bed sheets, and probably even do their own laundry (and I do suggest you stop doing your husband’s laundry. Natural consequences, baby!). I know it’s a bitch to make sure your kids do the chores at least half-assedly (HOW can my child not see the glasses on the counter while he is loading the dishwasher, and WHY does he miss enormous sections of the floor while he is sweeping? but I digress), and it seems like one more thing on your list, but the payoff will be worth it. My kids are 9 & 5, and they do enough of the housework that it actually does take some of the pressure off me. Plus they are boys, so I like to think I am training them so their future partners don’t have to.
    I am sorry that you are going through this, and I hope you can work out a solution that is acceptable and fair to you.

  15. I think Moxie is spot on that you need to clarify what you are willing to do if your husband won’t change. Would you leave? Is this a deal-breaker on your marriage?I hesitate to write this given some of the comments above, but my husband and I do have a fairly equitable split. I cannot give advice on how to get there, because we started there. However, I also know that for me, an arrangement like yours would be a deal-breaker. I would divorce a man who acted like your husband. And yes, I know that shocks some people, but it is my truth, so there it is.
    Anyway, I am only posting because this topic puzzled me for a long time, and I finally posted about it and I think the comments were amazingly informative. There were comments from women at all points on the spectrum and even a couple of men. There were comments from a few women whose partners don’t do much work around the house, and they describe how/why they made peace with that arrangement. There are comments from a few people who managed to make things better, too. There were comments from women who were once the partner not contributing equally, talking about why they changed. So here is the post:
    There is a link at the bottom of that post to a post I wrote later summarizing what I’d learned from the comments, but I think that if I put it here, my comment will get hung up in Moxie’s spam filter, so sorry- you’ll have to click through and then scroll down to find it (it is right before the comments). The short summary, though, is that I think you have three choices if you want to be happier: 1. care more (decide you’d actually leave if this doesn’t improve), 2. care less (decide the house can go to hell in a handbasket), or 3. stop caring (decide to accept the status quo and stop feeling resentful about it)
    Good luck. One thing I learned from writing that original post is that you are far from alone in this situation.

  16. Ok, so even though my initial reaction is that this husband is kind of a jerk and she may be better off without him, I do want to encourage her to take one good honest look at what he might do that does contribute to the household. I get really frustrated because I do all the day to day stuff (groceries, laundry, cooking), but when I stop and think (hard) about it I realize there are a lot of things my husband just sort of does that keep our house running smoothly that saves us a lot of time and money. Things like fixing the leaky toilet, taking the cars for oil changes, fixing the computer. I hate that these fall under such gender-role stereotype lines, but the point is that I have to give him some credit. Then I can start conversations mentioning what I do notice and appreciate and I think it helps keep him from getting super defensive.Also, my husband has told me that it really gets his cooperative juices flowing when I approach things from a “me and him against the world” approach. So I try to engineer conversations about household effort equality from a team perspective, and make the chores themselves the “enemy.” Maybe your partner has a different button but I would try to find it and use it to your advantage (do you have a daughter? Ask him how he would feel if she married a guy like him someday and ran herself ragged doing all the chores).
    I can’t help with sex, because my husband has always been the oddball who only wants sex once or twice a month. I can see the resistance you would have to creating a dynamic where sex and chores become currency for eachother. If things are bad enough though, I might give that a shot – what would you have to lose? Try offering a carrot of hot sex in exchange for some serious household support. If it isn’t helpful don’t continue, but I tend to be a “try anything once” kind of gal.
    Good luck and I definitely feel for you – you are not alone.

  17. Allowing your children to see you being treated badly is hurting your kids, too. And teaching them that you don’t matter, which by extension means that they don’t matter.

  18. We’ve been working through a very toned down version of the same thing. We also don’t have children, so there is simply less work to be done, and having the extra work of kids must make it oh so much harder. I’m sorry and I feel for you!I think the hardest part to get past is the hurtful attitude of “I don’t care as much as you do and therefore you need to do the work”, and unfortunately I don’t have any suggestions there. I hope that with therapy, he can come to see that even if he doesn’t care about the house being clean, he does care about you and about the things that are important to you. But until he wants to find a solution, too, I am at a loss.
    My husband also felt that I was nagging too much. And to tell you the truth, I was starting to feel more like his mother than his partner (a dead giveaway that yes, I probably was nagging too much). So we made a list of everything that needs to get done around the house on a regular basis, along with how much time it takes each week. We then divided it equally between us. He has a list of what he needs to do each week, and I don’t need to “nag” anymore. So! Much! Better!
    Just the exercise by itself was helpful, too. I don’t think my husband really understood why I felt that the workload was unevenly split until it was right there, written out. He seemed surprised at how uneven things were.
    Like I said, obviously that is not helpful unless he decides that he wants to come up with a solution. Until then, I agree with Moxie and others: Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

  19. After this many years, I think your only option might be to say that either life has to change or you’ll be asking for a divorce. I would definitely meet with a lawyer before you state this out loud to your husband, so you know what that threat means and you’re prepared to take the first steps towards carrying it out should that be the option.Unless you’d rather stay in the status quo than divorce…because it seems like your husband is making it pretty clear that that’s all he’s willing to give. The thought of losing you would hopefully crystallize his feelings one way or another.

  20. I wasn’t going to post this but Moxie convinced me that it might be constructive after all. To be blunt, I can’t see a way of making this work.Once you’ve been in a relationship with someone this long, each of your roles in the relationship are solidified. Some people are capable of recognizing this and faced with the reality (through talk, therapy, or intervention) can change, but these people are extremely rare.
    Based on the fact you and your husband have been together for this long and that his responses & attitudes towards you have been dismissive or self-serving, I don’t believe he’s one of those rare people. I honestly believe you both have completely opposing needs and you need to sit back and figure out a) how you feel about that, b) how much you’re willing to tolerate for the sake of the relationship, and c) if there’s any workarounds that alleviate the problem enough to both of your satisfaction.
    A good example is from my own relationship with my wife. We otherwise get along very well, but she and I have completely different ideas on the concept of “clean”. I’m quite clean, and she’s not.
    In the past it’s been a low-level but growing source of resentment and frustration for both of us: I felt like she wasn’t doing her part, and she felt like I was being a bossy ass. Ultimately we both realized that we couldn’t change, so we worked around it by hiring a cleaner. The house is reasonably clean, and we’ve both made efforts to tone down the behaviour that annoyed the other person.
    If your problems are too big for a workaround like this to work then you’ll need to face the decision of how much is too much and if the relationship is worth saving.
    None of this is easy and I wish you the best no matter what you decide to do. Good luck!

  21. After 25 years, I have a hard time imagining this dynamic successfully changing. So decide if you can continue to live with it or not.Personally, this would be a deal-breaker for me. Not just the lack of engagement on the work itself, but the lack of willingness to even engage on the topic.
    I feel like this situation is one that women in relationships need to take *very* seriously before having kids. Having kids triples or quadruples the amount of both housework and administrative juggling. An unhelpful significant other is unlikely to change simply because a baby is born. So the burden gets even higher, and the resentment builds faster. It kills a lot of relationships, and is often entangled in the sex life of the relationship.
    Instead, I see a lot of young women (early 20s) that I work with thinking it’s “cute” to assume the traditional gender roles and do all the cooking and cleaning while working full-time and trying to invest in their careers.

  22. Quite honestly, I am sure if he helped out more, you would have more energy to engage in sex or put it at a higher premium. It’s really ver simple-however, changing a man’s behaviors after 25 years of complacency is not. I think unfortunately, this is the way to approach him: let him know in no uncertain terms that once he realizes that the sex suffers because of both resentment and legitimate tiredness, he holds all the power to get what he wants-if he gets off his old-fashioned, lazy butt and helps out.

  23. I read through the other comments and wanted to add a couple of other thoughts.First, I love the idea of writing out a list of all of the tasks that have to get done to keep the house running, both yours and his. You may find that he does more than you think (for instance, my husband does all the yard work, car stuff, tech stuff, keeps our fireplace going all winter, etc.). And if not, he’ll see how much you’re doing compared to how much he’s doing and it may be an eye-opener.
    Second, I think it’s important to really drive home the point that even though it’s unfair for your husband to say, basically, “I don’t care if the house is clean, so take care of it yourself,” it really could just be a matter of different standards. You still have to find a way to compromise on those standards, but I think it’s funny that we (myself included) are so quick to label a husband a jerk for not wanting to keep the house clean, but slower to label a wife a jerk for not making more of an effort to keep up with her husband’s sex drive. At root, aren’t both an issue of one person having higher standards and the other needing to do more to meet them? (Of course, this isn’t a direct relationship since sex isn’t just a simple quantity issue, there’s a quality issue and a lot more emotion tied up in it as well.)
    Baby is crying in the background and I need to go get him out of his crib, so sorry if this is rushed and doesn’t make sense. I’m afraid I’m putting my foot in my mouth and not expressing myself well at all.

  24. Okay, a little annoyed at the whole “i want to have sex more” from the husband! Does he not know that a clean house is a powerful and potent aphrodisiac?When I read this story, I was reminded of a friend’s mother who one day just stopped cooking and doing the dishes. It was a shock to the system, but it got that point across. How did she do it?
    When dinner time came round and there was no dinner, and when asked what was for dinner, she simply said “what do you want for dinner? and then “that sounds nice, why don’t you make that happen?” He went to the store, bought supplies (roasted chicken, lemon pie, and mashed potatoes, all from the prepared foods section), and that was dinner. She made no comment, no complaint. This was his dinner and his plan, and she said nothing bad at all. Just, “thanks, that was great”.
    Repeat. Every night, for weeks.
    Change happened, with no nagging (which doesn’t work), no judging (which undermines the efforts of the husband), and I am sure it took great resolve and discipline on her part to NOT do the work. She didn’t try to change everything, just one thing (the cooking and dishes). [I believe she did buy paper plates during this transition period]
    Although working spouses can come up with different allocation of labor, cooking and dishes are some of the easiest tasks to share with a spouse. They can even be shared with the children!
    I think she recognized that the pattern of her cooking and cleaning up after dinner was so long ingrained, that it would take a clear NEW boundary being declared (but in a nice and non-confrontational way).
    I think she would have accepted dinner out, peanut butter sandwiches, soup, whatever, anything but her making dinner and being in the kitchen.
    I think that Moxie is right on about deciding ideally what you want (husband makes dinner), and thinking through the path that will get her to that point.
    Also, totally agree 100% about the LIST. Making lists has saved my sanity. I used to get stressed out anytime before we went on a weekend trip to grandma’s with the kids. One of these times, when I was doing all the things I do, I actually wrote every single thing down. When I got back from the trip, I typed a word document, entitled LIST TO DO BEFORE LEAVING THE HOUSE, and posted it. Then, the next time we went on a trip, my husband actually referred to the list THREE days before we were supposed to go, and started working on the list! (finding lamp timers for the light, pulling out the bags from the storage closet). I since revised the list (it no longer diapers, since my kids are now all over age 4).
    My husband reminds me, that when my workload increases (I’m an independent contractor, so my hours can shift), that I just need to make him a new list, and he’ll do his best to help out. LISTS are brilliant.
    But I think that if he doesn’t respond to direct solicitations of specific help, in list form or otherwise, something is wrong here.
    Stay Strong, Sister!

  25. No advice…but I validate your frustration. You are not crazy. I agree that life/relationships are about balance. Once that balance tips to the point where it is non-negotiable- there is a problem. If you are willing to negotiate but the other party is not- we have an even bigger problem. I agree that there could be alternative solutions (outsourcing). But, what are you willing or able to compromise?

  26. Since the couple is in counseling, this is serious business. Moxie has great ideas about boundaries and whatnot.How about quid pro quo trading? Is he directly motivated? If you unload the dishwasher and usher 3 loads through the clothes washer, I will give you one…XXX (tripe X-rated whatever) XXX. If you make dinner and clean up Tuesday night so I have free time after 9pm on Tuesday, on Tuesday, I will XXX(rhymes with snow blob)XXX, etc.
    After 25 years, it’s going to take bluntness, I think. There’s no finesse. It’s you do this, I do this, or this (where this can be status quo or separation, etc).
    At a minimum, I would stop washing my husband’s clothes, changing his shower towel, paying his bills, making his lunch, clearing his plate from dinner. It’s not like you can’t cook for him if you’re already feeding the kids, though.

  27. Oh, Alicia, what an unpleasant situation! Here are some of my thoughts, maybe useful, maybe not.I also will throw in with some other posters about trying not to listen or be affected by other women friends who use your situation to crow about theirs. This has TOTALLY happened to me, and it was so hurtful (and frankly, obvious) that I backed away from the friendship (no regrets). We never know what other peoples relationships are like behind closed doors–not really.
    I have, as another poster said, a “toned down” version of this. No sex issues, but just your basic, run of the mill inequity regarding housework. 2 things happened recently that I feel I have changed things. The first is that a few months ago we had a small party and during the evening I was talking to DH’s best friend (a very manly dude) and it came up that DH doesn’t do any laundry. Friend was pretty shocked. I changed the subject. Friend has given DH no end of sh#t about it ever since. I owe Friend big time. Now, DH still doesn’t do laundry, but that’s not a big deal for me–he does help more around the house since then. The other thing that happened is that DH and I were talking about marriage recently–just a general conversation about why marriage works, or why it fails, and I said something like, “Well, I enjoy doing things for you–like your laundry, and cooking meals. And then you don’t have to do those things.” I said it without an agenda. DH got a thoughtful look on his face and said out loud, “That makes me wonder what I do for you that makes YOUR life easier.” The silence that followed said pretty clearly, “Not that much, bub.” I truthfully was pretty amazed that this kind of point never occurred to him before. But also since then, he’s been doing a lot more around the house. I think it was some kind of lightbulb moment for him.
    Can you make these occurrences happen between you and your husband? Probably not, but my main point is that despite wrangling over this issue for years and years, sometimes there are breakthroughs. It could happen. Keep the conversation going.
    For your situation, I do agree with other posters that this is a pretty entrenched pattern, though. And Alicia, my heart really goes out to you. Stick with the counseling.

  28. I wonder if your husband really does understand how important this is to you? Sometimes I think women just try to do everything and do it quietly and wait for someone to notice, but they don’t because they are clueless. I think you need to flat out tell him that one of the reasons you don’t have more sex is that you’re exhausted from everything else. And then think about very specific things he can be in charge of (my husband is always in charge of the grass, the trash, the basement, the pets, the fireplace, etc. He needs a list or he just doesn’t think of it, so having these things as habit is helpful). One of our rules is that the other person can’t complain about the way something is getting done unless they want to help with it (this will only work if your husband is putting reasonable effort into things; if his job is to clean the toilet and he doesn’t for a month, then he’s not holding up his end of the bargain. If you complain because he cleaned the toilet “wrong” because he used a cleaner or method you didn’t like, but the toilet is in fact clean then you aren’t holding up yours).I mean, I can’t help but think that on some level this is a communication issue. Because if it isn’t a communication issue, then this guy is a jerk. Either way, I think it’s bigger than workload?

  29. I ask my husband EVERY day for more help. I just keep asking and asking and asking. “Can you do the dishes?” “Can you grab the laundry?” “Can you empty the dishwasher?” I realize I’m probably going to spend a lifetime asking, but he helps when I ask (granted sometimes on his own schedule), and so I’m just going to keep doing it. Hands down, it’s the only thing that has worked.

  30. What great comments! As others have said, what particularly strikes me is that this has been going on for 25 years…that’s a long time & makes it very difficult to change the patterns of behavior (his and yours).One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that many of the typical “male” tasks (someone mentioned fixing the toilet, troubleshooting the computer) are not nearly as repetitive as typical “female” tasks. How often does the toilet need to be fixed compared to how often the laundry needs to be done (and folded, and put away)? This isn’t always true (see shoveling in a cold climate or lawn mowing, but still they are more or less weekly, not daily), but it’s true more often than not. It’s what, when responsibilities are unequal or skewed along traditional gender lines, makes it so exhausting to handle all the “female” jobs.
    The other thing that struck me is that the early 50s are a prime time for self reinvention, formerly known as a midlife crisis. The kids are (presumably) older, you’re nearing the end of your career (perhaps less so in today’s economy)…maybe your husband is feeling some of this…and maybe you are too, or you should be! What could your life look like if you made some big changes?
    I also want to ask if this is a problem you could solve by throwing money at it, for example getting a cleaning person (if the budget allows) or if this a problem that’s a symptom of something larger, such as not feeling like your husband listens to you or values everything you do? I’m leaning towards the latter, given that you said you’re already in counseling.

  31. Although this may not work for Alicia’s issue, one tactic that works well for me and my husband is the “this or that” question.Do you want to clean up after dinner or give the kids a bath? Do you want to run to the store for milk and fruit or vacuum the main floor? etc etc etc
    We both do it to the other, when there’s a number of things to get done and one of us has kind of tuned out of ‘getting things done.’ It gets us both back on track and solidifies what needs to get done.
    I also second the LIST suggestion. A few years ago, I made a to-do list for myself and happened to leave it on the kitchen counter. My husband started working on a number of the items, completely unprompted. It made me realize how little value there is in me keeping my to-do list internal. Making it external really helped my husband understand all the things it was taking to keep the house running, and was more than willing to help once he knew what needed to get done.

  32. This is a challenge that our household faces as well, and one that we are trying to address before we decide if we will try for child #2.My husband is very “in-his-head” and has said that he is not the kind of person who can look around and notice that xyz chore needs to be done. It just isn’t in his makeup. I should have known this from the first time I saw his apartment when we started dating. Whereas, I don’t want to nag someone, I want them to just see the need and take care of it.
    We discussed putting a detailed list of everything that needs to be done in the house — daily, weekly, occassionally. And then assigning him set tasks that can become ingrained. For him, he agreed that would be best for how his mind works. I just made the list over the weekend, so we haven’t implemented yet.
    In my mind, it would be utterly masochistic to have another child given our current division of labor, and I am fairly certain that either our marriage or my sanity would not survive it. At the same time, I don’t want to resent my husband if I get to the place where I really want a second but we can’t make it work because of the household division of labor. We’re not at decision time yet, so I think we can keep working on solutions.
    I would echo that it is important for the OP AND her kids to work on this. In my family, my father doesn’t help as much as my mom thinks he should, and she has spent A LOT of time complaining to me about it for the last two decades. As a result, I don’t really know how to have a non-adversarial relationship with my husband at it comes to household chores, since my only model was my mom doing everything while rolling her eyes and complaining to me. She rarely mentioned anything about his good qualities (there are many), so I have this vision, I am sorry to say, of the stereotypical “useless husband” that pops up from the reptilian part of my brain whenever I am feeling stressed about household tasks. My mom must recognize the good qualities because they’re still married and like spending time together, but she has never shared the full picture with me, just the complaining. I think this dynamic has impacted both my brother’s and my sense of what is “normal” in relationships — I doubt that my mom has any idea of this, she was just so frustrated that she needed to tell someone.
    Best wishes to the OP and everyone working on this!

  33. We made a comprehensive list of things that need to be done to make the house run and then negotiated as a family to assign responsibilities. We also let some housework go because we are in survival mode with parenting right now. My husband does more housework than I do, but I am up at night with our son and go to bed early to compensate. We have an understanding that we will re-negotiate housework when our sleep situation improves.

  34. Great suggestions here. For us, we got there by doing couples therapy (worth every damn penny!) where the balance of chores was among several issues. And therapy helped us focus on fundamentally liking each other, wanting a more harmonious relationship, seeking to show more care and respect toward each other, etc. That was a key piece. It’s sort of chicken & egg, in that realizing we did share those feelings helped each of us concretely DO more things that are meaningful to the other person, and then doing those things fed the feelings of friendship and commitment. Now it sort of moves along in the background, but it did take therapy shining a bright light on it for awhile to get us on track.The other useful thing was talking about Love Languages (mediated by the couples therapist originally). “Acts of service” is a huge one for me! (My 20-something self would not have said this, but my parenting self, YES.) Somehow that helped us accept that we have different things we value, and our partner can respect and speak to those things because they love us (or want to have sex tonight). It diffused some of the control/nag aspects out of the chores issue for my husband, I think.

  35. Two things – First, as a newlywed, I read somewhere that your partner’s apartment when he/she is single represents what his/her “standards” are. When I get a bug up my butt about how well my husband can tolerate filth, I think back to his bachelor apartment. Indeed, the evidence was there that he CAN tolerate filth, rather well!!Here’s my suggestion for the OP. IF you are aiming to maintain the relationship, IF your job is NOT a huge part of your sanity/identity and IF the financial implications are workable, you might try quitting your job, or going halftime. Financially, the loss might be equal to hiring a cleaner/cook/sending the laundry out, and you would have more time to accomplish all these things. It could be explained by simply saying you don’t have the stamina for the status quo, and the tradeoff has to come from somewhere — either you do the work or you pay someone else to do it (assuming none of the solutions for getting him to pitch in actually work). Seeing how you’re willing to put a PRICE on the work might get through to him. Or it might be ok with him to contract it out. Or it might be ok with him for you to cut back on work hours. Would it be ok with YOU?
    This is the situation we have set up, but without the initial “no-helping” alternative. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, and appointments are my department, mowing/shoveling and finances are his. I work professionally only 15 hours a week. The difference might be that this is the setup I wanted because I hated my fulltime job and like keeping house.

  36. We had this problem in reverse – my husband felt he had too many jobs and I wasn’t pulling my weight. I truly didn’t care as much about several things as he did and so let him do them to his standard because… well, why would I bother doing something so that he could tell me how not good enough it was? Oh, and sex was on his list too.So, some things that have helped? me making a list of the things I do that are important but less visible (banking, insurance, healthcare, all meal planning, and so on…) and leaving it posted on a chalkboard in the middle of our home. It reminded ME I was useful and valuable and reminded him I was doing my “share”. I also added a few things to my rhythm that I knew were going to make a big difference to how he felt, but didn’t cost me much – mainly moving all the kids’ toys to a place we can’t see them when we’re in the living room, and vacuuming the rugs while he puts the kids to bed. He *sees* a difference and he’s happier and oddly enough, now I am too. Win, win. Not perfect but a major improvement. Effort counts as it turns out.
    As for the sex, I also wanted a better sex life, so that helped. And so did this book: A LOT. Actually, it has helped with all my Turning 40 This Year life change plans.
    Good luck out there. If I can improve, I have to think just about anybody can.

  37. I’m going to make a somewhat radical suggestion here: give him the sex. For a short amount of time (2-3 weeks?), give him what he wants with nothing expected or demanded in return – even though you’re exhausted and a little angry. And see what happens. Is he happier? Does he eventually respond in kind?I think sometimes relationships just get stuck (as someone else said, me vs. you instead of us vs. the world) and you need to do something radical to get them unstuck.
    I took this approach at a point when I was obsessed with 50:50 split (which I think can be death to relationships) and I said, “okay, I’m going to make it 100:0 for the next few weeks and give everything I can”. And it was a wonderful turnaround. And now it ebbs and flows; some weeks I give more and some weeks he gives more but if you’re both always trying to give more to the relationship rather than an equal split (or less), things should work out. Now of course, you need the husband to respond, but try something radical and see what happens. Best of luck

  38. I am really depressed at the number of people who are talking about husbands “helping.” It is his house; the things he does are not “helping,” they are just doing chores, the way grownups do. Every time you call it “help,” you are validating the belief that it is a woman’s job and anything a man does is a bonus for which we should be thankful.I don’t know how to get someone to change after 25 years, because for 25 years you’ve been sending a message that you are willing to tolerate his behavior, and he is probably thinking, “I told her where I stood, so what is she complaining about?”
    And yet divorcing over household chores seems awful.
    I will say that if the problem is that he doesn’t know what needs doing, it can be helpful to have a list posted somewhere: Things That Always Need Doing — Empty trash cans, laundry, recycling, going through mail, etc.
    Is he hopeless at any sort of chore, or is he just bad at cleaning bathrooms and floors?

  39. It is very much worth considering what your children are learning in this situation. My Dad did and does a lot of housework/child rearing and I wouldn’t have tolerated anything different for a second, because that’s the standard my parents’ action taught me.If you don’t want to divide out chores, another approach that I’ve read about has both partners giving the same amount of time. Set a timer for twenty minutes, and both work on what they would for that time (dusting, sweeping, folding). If he isn’t accustomed to housework, that may not be as useful, but at least he’d be working as long as you would.
    Mostly, though, it sounds to me like you want new boundaries. Could you go to individual therapy? Individual therapy could change you, and a change in you will ripple through the systems you live in.

  40. I haven’t read most of the moments but…here’s my 2 cents: Put the sex first. Make that a priority. A blogger I read a lot (Cecily Kellogg of the Uppercase Lowdown) talked about “f*cking it out” on Babble recently and it makes sense. Have more sex and you’ll want more. Maybe skip a few chores one night a week to “make” the time.The sex is married stuff. The chore stuff- that’s roommate stuff, separate from your relationship, to quote from the blogpost. Maybe if he feels he’s getting his needs met, he’ll help more. Maybe there are other solutions (kids, hiring chores out). And maybe I am presuming you really want this relationship to work, when really you’re ready to just leave. But there ya go- my thoughts in a nutshell 🙂

  41. This idea probably isn’t popular, but what about going ahead and having more sex and more fun sex and see if that improves his cooperation. If he is happier with the amount and quality of sex then maybe he will be more than willing to give more to his wife in terms of housework.Not sure more sex will solve the respect issue though.

  42. Hey Cloud, didn’t mean to imply that you or anyone else here shouldn’t mention their more equitable arrangement–sorry, I can see how my comment might have come off that way. Here the OP is explicitly asking us for advice so I think it’s a little more OK (also because I think it’s useful for her to know that some people DO have a better division of labor). And also, you and your blog are awesome and I’ve been reading you for years, so pretty much anything you say is OK by me. 🙂 As for my tragic libido, just because someone above mentioned it, 1-2x/week is how often we have sex, but I’d probably be OK with once a month, or maybe even less. I enjoy it when I have it, but for me it’s more about keeping my husband happy and maintaining that aspect of our relationship than my physical need. I want to be wanting it more, ya know? And now that my kids are older I would prefer to be more into it. Anyway! More than anyone wanted to know, I’m sure.

  43. This is an amazing discussion, really helpful.A few things that occur to me.
    1. I’ve had to either decide to take responsibility for or let go of my standards for things my husband does differently or not as well. I do all the laundry, because he sucks at folding and putting away and separating, and he works very long hours and just doesn’t really have time for it. So I don’t resent him for not helping with it. I just do it. On the other hand, whenever he washes the dishes, I remind myself to be thankful that he did it, rather than complain that some of them aren’t as clean as I’d like. So if you have different standards, then you can’t blame him for doing it “wrong.” It’s not “wrong” to him. I try to remember, “If you want it done your way, you have to do it yourself.” Unfortunately, this means that you end up doing everything (unless there’s something he does better than you), or that you let go of your “right” way and just be glad it’s done.
    2. When someone asks me over and over to do something, I feel nagged. However, my husband told me that if I need him to do something and he keeps forgetting, I need to keep asking. To him, it’s not nagging, it’s reminding. I hate repeating myself, and I don’t want to feel like a nag, but to my husband, it’s necessary or he won’t remember to do it! So maybe a gentle, “Honey, could you wash the dinner dishes tonight?” every few days might help?
    3. I’m not so sure you should or can bargain sex for housework. To him, it could be, “Well, if you have more sex with me, I’ll do more work;” and all the while you’re thinking, “If you do more housework, I’ll give you more sex.” That gets neither of you anywhere. What if you just decide (yourself) that you’ll have sex every (Friday? Sunday?) night, regardless. Get yourself in the mood, set your mind to it. When he feels that he’s getting the appreciation he needs (sex), then maybe he’ll be more open to hearing what you’re saying. It’s a two-way street.
    4. I echo the “Can you hire a housekeeper?” sentiment. We have someone come just once every four weeks to really clean well, and it takes a huge burden off of both of us knowing that neither of us is responsible for any heavy scrubbing or major dusting; we just have to do maintenance in between maid visits.

  44. Can you get a maid?I seriously believe a maid is required for some couples to free themselves from the resentful dance of chores.
    If you felt like you had someone to help, maybe the daily pain would subside. After that, maybe you could find agreement or work on other problems in your relationship.
    I think outsourcing things can be good therapy.

  45. Hmmm, well I am usually the one who will say, Kick him to the curb!, but this time I think you have something to work with. If you do most meals, does that mean he does some? Or are you just accounting for times when you eat out? If he does do some cooking, I would work to get him doing more cooking. I would negotiate it to a regular thing, such as he cooks one dinner per night. If that amounts to canned tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, then so be it. At least you didn’t have to deal with it. Then I would negotiate to two meals a week, and possible even make one night Pizza Night. If you could get down to cooking only twice during the work week, I think you would feel much better about things.I also think you should pick what makes you more stressed about the childcare, and see about getting him doing it. Put on his calendar when the childrens’ next appointments are, and ask him to take them. Just say this is how it needs to work. On the chance that he actually can’t get away from work during the week (ie no paid leave, or would have to make it up on the weekend etc.) then fine, he needs to take them on their next clothes shopping, shoe buying, gear accumulating trip ON A WEEKEND. Men can indeed handle this, and I see nothing wrong with saying those three magic words, It’s Your Turn. I feel he hasn’t really heard them before, and so he thinks it never HAS to be his turn.
    He might balk, but you will need to stand your ground and say, that was then, and this is now…TIMES CHANGE. It does sound as if you have come to dealbreaker time. If you get to a conversation where you talk about leaving, you can remind him that when he’s alone, ALL of these household tasks will fall to him and there will be no one to take his crap about how housekeeping “just doesn’t matter to me so do it all yourself”. Maybe you need to Netflix “Hope Springs”. Spoiler: Meryl Streep does indeed lower the boom on Tommy Lee Jones that yes I lived like this, but I don’t intend to do it any longer. He gets with the program.
    If you are really that super angry with him over it all, I do not recommend that you just throw a bunch of sex his way, just yet. I think it would be too hurtful to you to give in when you’ve had 25 years of giving in and never getting what you wanted. While it’s a shame that you let it go on this long, I think you need to give yourself some space here to feel like he really is changing his ways. What I recommend is to ramp up the affection in daily life as he does better. Catch him doing good and praise. Brag about him to the kids and family. Sweeten things up and see if that helps you get good feelings again. No matter how you slice it, I really can’t get behind forcing yourself to have sex with somebody that is making you unhappy. I don’t see how that can make you feel good at all. The point is to get to a healthier place in the relationship.
    Good luck, and please let us know how things go.

  46. I can’t remember how I came across this blog, but it’s The Happiest Mom. Here was the post I ran across, and it really struck me, particularly the part about “Only You Can Make Yourself Happy” Unfortunately, it already sounds as though Alicia has told her husband in no uncertain terms what she would like him to do. I’m not good at that, personally, as my mother preferred the martyr approach rather than confrontation. I did think that there were some good thoughts in the post, though, that might be helpful.

  47. @Jen, no worries! And thanks for the kind words. Believe me, I know that my set up is unusual and talking about it annoys some people. I have on occasion been accused of lying… there is a whole set of posts that came out of one of those times, starting with one about how my husband isn’t a unicorn (i.e., a man who contributes equally at home is not a mythical creature, they do actually exist).On the fact that it seems sort of ridiculous to divorce over chores: to me, it wouldn’t be divorcing over chores. It would be divorcing over a lack of respect of me and my time, as evidenced by his unwillingness to work with me to find a solution to a problem that is clearly bothering me. To me, the chores issue would just be a symptom of a deeper problem that I could not tolerate.
    I know that sounds harsh, and I am not necessarily advocating that the OP divorce- just that she think carefully about what the chores issue means to her, and what she is willing to do to change it.

  48. Only got through some of the comments but don’t want to lose this thought. Han said “Whereas, I don’t want to nag someone, I want them to just see the need and take care of it.”I know I really had to come to grips with this myself and along the Getting to Yes formula, figure out which was more important to me: getting him to do the task (and my not having to do it) or getting him to do the task WITHOUT MY ASKING.
    Once I determined that, for me, it was more important to get some of these tasks off my shoulders, I got better at making specific requests: Please empty the dishwasher. Could you get that load of laundry folded while I pay the bills? It’s really important for me to get back to yoga, so would you be willing to take kiddo to XYZ every week while I attend yoga class?
    Where I think many people shut down is when the request is coupled with a criticism or complaint “You never empty the dishwasher” or “I do all these things, can’t you just take care of the laundry”. Because then, you are putting two things out there (request and complaint) and you are more likely to have your complaint addressed than the request met. And the complaint address is more likely to be in the form of the-best-defense-is-a-good-offense: Attack!
    You may be completely entitled to your complaint but will it be successful in getting the desired behavior? Probably not, so time to change strategy.

  49. He may not want to be “nagged”, but you don’t want to do all of the household and childcare work on your own. I wonder if you’ve done it just to keep from being told you are a nag? I say take away the power of the word nag. If he tells you that you’re nagging, say, “So? This work still needs to be done, and it’s too much for me to do alone. Once you’ve got it accomplished, we don’t have to discuss it.”. Take the emotion out of it, and make it about The Work.

  50. Hiring help is probably much cheaper than getting divorced–it might be a good first step to try and see if it helps change how you feel.

  51. My husband and I shared the household work almost 50:50 before kids. When the kiddos came the amount of work increased more than any of us ever thought possible. My husband does almost the same amount of household work as he did before kids and then he stops. The rest is up to me. Or it will be left unattended. His intentions are good, but once he hits his limit he just stops. Maybe that is the healthy, sound thing to do, but as the mother it is impossible to accept. So I take on more and more and more.I was angry. For a long time I was angry and felt it was sooo unfair. But I few years ago I came to terms with that HE is not going to change. When I don’t pretend that it is going to be a shared load I can plan much better. We talked (and talked and talked) and agreed that we would try it with me in charge of planning. He will only say that he is going to do things he will actually perform (since I used to spend a lot of time nagging and making sure that he would be able to do the things he said he wanted to do. Now if he says he is going to do something I need to be able to not think about is anymore.) When I say I need HELP he will realize that I need help right away. I expect him to be emotionally invested in our lives and the day-to-day decisions we make (even if I do the research and implement it).
    It works for us. It is not fair and I WILL get domestic help as soon as our budget allows and I WILL teach our kids to be able to do all of this for themselves.

  52. The “oh, I just don’t notice when things are messy, my brain doesn’t work that way” bit would hold more water with me if the divide between those who notice and those who don’t didn’t seem to fall so neatly along gender lines. Not that I’ve done studies, but anecdotally, the pattern is pretty striking, and I’d pick systemic pressures over gender essentialism as the explanation. I mean, I’d say that my own predisposition is to not notice messiness – that would certainly be the conclusion of anyone who used my university living conditions as evidence – but oddly enough, I learned to notice it. Because, y’know, I grew up.I wish I had something more constructive to contribute regarding what to do about it. Hearing/reading about douchey, lazy behaviour like this makes me see red. I definitely don’t think it’s on the OP to start making MORE concessions in an attempt to fix it.

  53. I’m going to second the “Five Love Languages” recommendation that a few other people have mentioned
    Best of luck to you. My previous marriage involved a case of “if you want it done, you should do it” which included a lot of ordering pizza for dinner because if I cooked he would feel obligated to wash up and he didn’t feel like it…and if I washed up he would feel guilty, so lets just run up the bill on our credit card ordering pizza.
    I would be really tempted to buy a month’s worth of paper plates & cutlery at a dollar store, hire a weekly cleaner for a month, fill the freezer with frozen pizzas and focus on the sex to see if that made things better.

  54. One practical solution is a chore chart, where everyone writes everything they do in the household down and gets a check mark whenever they do it. My husband and I kept this up for about 18 mos a few years ago and it really opened our eyes to how much the other did– it was a good self-monitoring tool.But the reason that tool worked for us is because my husband treats me like an equal human being in our relationship and I also regard myself that way. From the description in the original e-mail, the OP’s husband does not treat her like a person deserving of his respect and consideration and she has allowed him to get away with it for 25 years. I whole heartedly second the poster who suggested just going on strike for a few days and seeing what happens. Hit the reset button on your husband’s expectations and let him know the old way is out (or you are– or both!).
    I also completely and totally disagree with the folks who are saying she should make deals to trade housework for sex. That, to me, is totally appalling and insults the wife (by implying her only negotiating tool is her sexuality) and the husband (by implying that he’s such a helpless, hapless moron that he can only be induced to participate in the household by dangling sex in front of him). Dude is not a cave man-child– he is a grown man and this is 2012. Dude should do housework because he loves and respects his wife and because adult human beings who eat, sleep, play, shit and breath together in the same space should clean up after themselves and not expect one person in the household to behave like a servant.
    Finally, the “oh you care more, so you do the cleaning” line is the oldest bunch of BS in the book. When two people co-habit, the person with lower standards always has to accomodate the person with higher standards, period (FWIW, I was the messy one when my husband and I met and now we’re equally neat.). It’s unacceptable for a smoker to just light up indoors and say, “You’re the one who is worried about smoke, YOU go outside”, it’s unacceptable for someone to stroll down the street naked and say “You’re the one who is all concerned about clothes, avert YOUR eyes”, it’s unacceptable for food companies to sell rotten food and say “You consumers are the ones all concerned about food safety, so you have to figure out what is safe and what isn’t”… there are a zillion other examples where everyone agrees that the people who don’t actually care much are the ones who have to step up to accomodate the people who do. It’s not up to your husband to accomodate some insane OCD level of cleaning, but doing some dishes and running the vacuum is well within the realm of normal home maintenance and he has to step up.
    I approach marriage and family as a TEAM situation– we are all in this together. Everyone has to pitch in. Mom and Dad are co-captains of the team, but everyone has a role. With two working parents and kids, family life is an all hands on deck kind of situation. To have one person hang back and let other people do all the work messes up the whole team dynamic and is a horrible example to the kids. I second Moxie’s sentiment that the husband in this situation is teaching the kids to disrespect Mom and she’s letting him. Time to call a team huddle and have a come-to-Jesus speech with your husband– develop new strategies, new plays, new ways of working together to make the team function. Otherwise, let your husband know he might be released from his contract…

  55. Boy could I write this…my husband is beyond disengaged, oblivious to how imbalanced our workload is..
    he comes home from work, immediately sets to playing and rough-housing with kiddo, while I cook, clean dishes, fold laundry, wipe counters, etc etc etc
    If I say anything, I am a “nag” with “an anger problem”
    this is becoming close to a deal-breaker for us. And I hate that I now have a youngster in this mess.
    I have married the wrong person and the depression is worse than the fear of doing it alone. I would rather face the future alone than constantly cleaning up after another adult, who should know better, and not be allowed to ask for meaningful help with the household chores.
    In my case, my husband is just too busy to notice, and too distracted to care.

  56. …I don’t notice when things are messy, particularly late at night. My husband does, and it drives him nuts that I can walk by a table with dirty dishes on it and not see them.Also, one thing my husband and I have fallen into, which sounds a little like your husband, is that the spouse who cares more about Z does more of Z. He tends to care about the yard looking nice, and I don’t care at all, so he does that. I care a lot more about childcare, so I do a much larger amount of it than he does. It averages out to my doing rather more than him, but that’s okay with me — if I cared less I’d do less.
    Anyway. I too wonder if there’s some communication issue going on. If you framed it as the two of you as a team, and regular sex being something you wanted to prioritize, and identified your being run off your feet and being exhausted as something that gets in the way of that priority, *not* asking him to do anything at all (which may not be the answer in any case) but identifying, “If I did X hours of household chores a day instead of Y hours, then I think I would feel more rested and it would solve the problem. I’ve broken down what I do, and here is why it takes Y hours. What are some ways we can fix this?” And maybe come up with some ideas that don’t involve him doing more work — like people have mentioned hiring a maid, or you working less, or buying paper plates and ready-made food so you don’t have to cook and/or do the dishes — so it’s not like he feels you’re trying to talk him into something — anyway, would that be worth a shot, or is it too far gone for you to want to do that?

  57. Something else I wanted to say — I don’t notice mess because my parents never made me clean up when I was a kid. My husband notices messes because his parents made him do chores. I suspect that for a lot of couples it’s the other way around — I definitely know a lot of men whose moms never made them do chores, and women who did learn how to do them. I’ve always thought that one way to solve this for the next generation, at least, was to make sure our sons have at least as much experience doing chores and picking up after themselves as our daughters.

  58. In my home, husb sometimes helps me with dinner because I am, for the most part, in charge of keeping us fed. Sometimes I help him with laundry because that is his domain. We were lucky – dividing up the work was fairly intuitive for us and there was never a question that the work would be divided. Our lines are sometimes blurred – he hasn’t been feeling well the last several days, so I’ve shouldered more of the load. When I’m feeling overwhelmed he’ll ease my burden.I guess my point is that we work this way together because we genuinely like each other and we are both fiercely committed to moving in the same direction together. It doesn’t seem as if the OP’s husb is invested in the relationship; he seems to view her as a maid/escort service for whom he does not have to pay. That may be a grossly unfair assumption, but I can only go on what she wrote.
    My first marriage was not unlike hers.
    The DB (rhymes with froosh sag) didn’t profess to have such low standards of cleanliness; rather, he insisted they were quite a bit higher than mine but whenever he consented to doing housework it was with a lot of sighing and “Look at me! I’m helping! Don’t I get x-rated sex for this?”
    Speaking of, it was never _____________ enough for him. Often. Wild. Varied. Filmed. Whatever. He had a problem with porn. The two issues are not unconnected.
    When I got to a point where I realized I didn’t like myself very much and that nothing I said or did would make him love me the way I deserved to be loved or treat me the way I deserved to be treated, I knew it was time to leave.
    OP, I wish you all the best. I hope you are able to clarify what you truly want for yourself and that you can find a way to get there. I hope you realize that you are worthy of love and respect and that anyone who doesn’t treat you as such does not deserve your time and attention. And finally I hope that you will have peace with whatever decisions you make.

  59. I’ve never understood what parents have to do with it– this line of reasoning has always seemed just preposterous to me. We are all capable of learning from people other than our parents, and becoming different people than our parents were, no? Taking responsibility, even when conditions are less than ideal, is part of being an adult.My parents are not lawyers, yet I have learned to be a lawyer. My parents never made me pay the mortgage as a child, yet I manage to “see” and pay it each and every month! My dad, not my mom, mowed the lawn, yet amazingly, even though I am female, I am capable of mowing the lawn and even of noticing when it needs to be done.
    Imagine telling your boss that you don’t “see” assignments, or Verizon that you don’t “see” phone bills. It sounds so stupid, doesn’t it? Yet, when it comes to chores, women are expected to accept this as an adequate explanation for persistent failure to pull one’s weight and live up to one’s commitments.
    When my husband tries to use this infuriating pseudo-excuse, I point out that my parents never made me have sex as a child, so….

  60. This post and this discussion are so important and amazing. I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments yet, but I will! I’m one to read books to try to solve problems. I found myself at an impasse with my ex-husband on some issues that felt really important. I read Dance of Anger and Dance of Intimacy and found the way of thinking about the issues and the examples really, really helpful. There was one example about a very similar issue, and it was great! I hope you find a way forward that works for both of you, but especially that works for YOU. Best wishes.

  61. First, I bet he cares if he has clean clothes or not, so you can stop doing them at any time. If he complains, you can tell him where the laundry soap is and tell him you were too tired to do his clothes and don’t plan on doing them anymore.If there is anything else that you do for him that he depends on for basic survival, it’s up for negotiation. Making his appointments? Ironing? Cleaning HIS dishes? I know it’s late in the game, but if these things stop getting done, it will force him to either DO them or TALK about it. If you can really open the discussion then you can let him know what has to change and how it will improve both of your lives. Things change. It’s worth at least a try.

  62. This was my life for years. Things didn’t change until the day I had to wake my husband up YET AGAIN for work (instead of catching up on my own sleep with a newborn), because he was too f$%&ng lazy to set his alarm…..and I had spent the night before doing dishes, folding his laundry, writing Christmas cards to his family, washing baby bottles, getting up multiple times with baby, etc etc etc…..I told him that he was an adult, and I was no longer responsible for things that he should be capable of doing for himself. I presented him with a detailed list. He thought I was joking.
    Well he discovered how stubborn I can be after he went for 2 weeks with no dinner made, 3 weeks with no clean laundry, and missed the bus for work 4 days in a row because I refused to wake him up. His family wondered what had happened to us, because I refused to send out email updates and pictures of the baby. None of his nieces and nephews got birthday cards that year, and no one in his family got a single Christmas card or gift because he forgot. When I went grocery shopping, I bought only what I would need for the baby, and to make quick nutritious meals for myself. He was on his own, unless he offered to cook for all of us.
    Harsh? Maybe. But things changed. And the best part? I don’t have to nag, ask, beg for his help. Logical consequences. If he doesn’t do his laundry, he wears dirty wrinkled clothes. If he doesn’t help with the grocery shopping, I eat sandwiches all week and he has to make toast for supper. I don’t have time or energy to look after another fully grown child!

  63. I’m skipping over the comments because they were throwing me off track… oy.I’m all for finding the goal – what is it that you need to NOT do, what do you need to own (even if you don’t do it, you own how well it is done, measuring if it is done right, etc.), what do you need to do yourself (don’t actually want someone else doing), and how much are you willing to spend on those things? I agree with the ‘nag/ask’ issues – not having to ask (manage) the process is very different than not having to do the task. Ep hates the management part (he doesn’t have employees for a reason, and when it comes to household stuff, I’m a bad employee who needs to be reminded and have their job reiterated and get direction All The Time).
    It’s like the oxygen mask thing with kids – if your kid isn’t sleeping and you’re sleep deprived, the first problem to solve is your own sleep, not the child’s. So, how do you get to your own breathing room, not solve for your husband’s helping? Because really, few people learn well under that kind of pressure, and resentment will build faster under it, too. So, solve for ‘need to not have to do this all myself’. Need more break, more me time, more rest, more sanity, and hey, MORE PLAY TIME WITH THE KIDS, so you’re not only the house manager.
    Looking at the entire household role set and seeing what else he does that balances (in other ways), also may help. Or might not, but clarity is good.
    You can also enlist his help in getting the ideas for how to make it easier/simpler/less burden for you, without it having to be him helping – see if you can get him to engage on ‘this is too much for me, can you help me figure out how to offload some of the work somehow, not necessarily to you, but at least not on me?’ and come up with a lot of different ideas (brainstorm, no bad ideas, and include improbable ones along with it to keep it open). Just having him engage on solving your problem might help with the resentment, EVEN if he is not part of the solution in a physical sense.
    And know the last boundary – where is the ‘sorry, I’m done’ line? I was in a twins club with a mom who had spontaneous quads, and was a single mom – because she divorced her husband very shortly after the kids were born. She had four micropreemies in NICU, and he stuck with his ‘I don’t do housework or cooking’ line, so she figured she could take care of four helpless babies, or five, and four was less work. Having higher order multiples will clarify your thinking REALLY fast. There’s no leeway for anything less than than really clear boundaries. But you need to have a clear sense of what else is in and outside of those boundaries along with it. Because as much as I suck at housework, I’ll do whatever is needed in a pinch, if someone points me the right direction. I suppose it isn’t really a parallel to the poster situation, since I was always willing to, even if it took some overcoming on my part.
    Not sure if that was any help…

  64. Oh, and I’ll raise my hand as a female who doesn’t ‘see’ mess. And anyone who has a child in school knows that skills show completely differently in one environment than the other, and it might not be for lack of effort or caring, it is about meaning and context and a whole lot else.I can cook a meal with 2 inches of counter space and not think ‘hmm, maybe I should clear this first’. I can put something into a trash can and have it roll off the top and not think ‘I should take that trash out’. The grooves in the task I’m already on are so deep and non-transferrable that the item that is not in the direct path of my current track is unlikely to be noted at all. And yes, that also affects my kids (they’ve learned how to interrupt me effectively because I can’t hear them talking to me when I’m on a track, either – seriously, no sound comes in.) All that could be aspergers related, or personality, or both.
    We had chores growing up.
    My mom taught us how to clean.
    Yeah, nope. Didn’t stick. One of my mom’s seven kids grew up to be an adult who could keep a tidy house like my mom did. The rest of us, notsomuch.
    One of my four kids spontaneously keeps her desk clear, tidy, organized. The other three? Notsomuch. Born that way, and I don’t know how to teach them to be otherwise, since all efforts to that end failed on me. And I even tried therapy to help with the housework (seriously). Nope.
    On the other hand, as we’re working on executive function assessment with one of the kids, I’m thinking that the ‘not seeing’ and ‘deep tracks’ are related to that, so if it IS a mental (executive function or other function) issue, then the spouse may also have other areas of function difficulty, and learning more about how to manage that effectively might help in a lot of ways unrelated to the housework, but related to the sense of ‘him not getting it’.

  65. My dad took the attitude of the OP’s husband a bit further – he professed his ideal living situation to be in a tent on a beach or in a concrete cube with a plug hole in the middle so it could be hosed down. Therefore household chores were not for him. My brothers followed suit, refusing to ever clean up after themselves. I helped my mum, indignantly. After we all left home, my parents’ relationship improved, mostly I think through supporting each other through bouts of serious ill health, where they discovered they did care a bit for each other and my dad found he could bear to take on a bit more housework. My brothers flatted in disgusting shared houses with flatmates who would not share housework, and complained bitterly (this was very healing for me and my relationship with them, haha). I shacked up with a well trained guy, but now we have a baby and I am full time at home baby carer, things are a bit out of whack. It’s a work in progress and I know he wants it to work out too.My only suggestion is that the OP gets sick (as in sick of doing all the work!) and takes to bed or better, goes away for treatment if the kids are old enough to look after themselves for a while and see how the husband copes.
    As for sex, isn’t the gold standard enthusiastic consent? If you can’t muster that, the partner wanting more sex is just going to have to deal. If you’re in it for the long game you should be able to accept that sometimes there will be less sex just like sometimes one of you might be getting up to the baby at night more often – it’s when it looks like becoming permanent that you need to take stock. Life’s not usually fair, but your partner should care about making your life together as fair as possible. I wish the OP all the best in resolving this unfair situation

  66. My husband had become rather wedded to the narrative that our sex issue was “not enough of it” when in fact mismatched libidos wasn’t really the full story. Things improved when I made a point of taking my turn to explore my fantasies/interests with him.

  67. Maybe it is just me, but I am not able to have sex with someone I feel is doing me wrong. Inviting someone into my space and my body while they were being a jerk to me would be feel like relinquishing my self-respect. Not EVER going to do that.

  68. I was kind of raised by wolves, can easily walk past/not notice/not care about huge messes. BUT, I am adult who cares about my tidy, helpful husband and I learned to make a learned habit out of it.He told me how much clean meant to him, and WHAT clean means to him. It wasn’t enough for him to say I want a clean kitchen. He had to tell me that, to him, clean means no dished on the counter, dishwasher running at night, no leftovers out overnight, doors closed, etc, etc.
    I thought about the amount of energy I wanted to invest in his happiness via this project, and I made myself a list of things that feel clean to him. Now at bedtime, I walk into the kitchen and ask myself: are there dishes on the counter? is the dishwasher on? are the lights off? etc.
    I honestly might not notice if I didn’t consult my list.
    Frankly I don’t care either way & would never think to look for myself & could easily walk past a stack of 40 dirty dishes if I hadn’t set myself the goal of actively looking for them.
    So now my husband is happy that the kitchen is clean, happy that I take the time to care for him in this way & he does a bunch of stuff for me that isn’t intrinsically important to him.
    So for me, it wasn’t about standards or the ability to see. It is about what you want to invest in your relationship. If you want to, you can learn to see or create a system that makes you see.

  69. I’m with hedra and others as a female who doesn’t see mess. I like a clean house but I have a terrible time getting and keeping it that way (it’s actually something I’m trying to work out in the workbook…). My husband, though, is the same way. And while we’ve had fights about it, we fundamentally realize that we’re not doing it AT the other person, so we have to try to figure out how to work it out. As it is, I SAHM, so I use naptimes to do my best. He helps on weekends and with daily dinner pickups and we keep it generally livable. Both of our moms tried too, and both of us have siblings who are very neat. I don’t know, maybe it’s something with us both being firstborns who are smart but somewhat flighty/lacking in attention to detail. But it’s nice that we understand each other that way.Re: the sex thing – yeah, I’m all on board with the whole more sex = more wanting sex thing but I can’t get on board with trading sex for household favors nor with forcing yourself to do it with someone you’re not feeling attracted to. I think that’d be more likely to cause more wounds than heal any.

  70. This reminds me of a conversation I had to a (male) co-worker whose wife was complaining that he didn’t “help” around the house. He and I spoke and I asked him what would make him do a load of laundry. He said that running out of socks, shirts, or underwear would make him do laundry. I said, “Aha!” I told him that I thought his wife thought that was too late. Her cue to run laundry was a full hamper. I also told him that in a house of 4 people, by the time he ran out of socks or underwear, there would probably be 6 loads of laundry to do. He didn’t know. He hadn’t realized. She was running a load every day and he never knew how quickly it would add up or why she was washing when there were still clean clothes and towels. So, sometimes, it’s just a matter of adjusting your triggers.

  71. I am also questioning the “well, he pays bills, fixes the toilet, mows the lawn and so it all evens out” idea. If one partner is doing daily tasks and is responsible for all child-care related planning, and the other is doing only weekly or monthly or seasonal or ad hoc tasks and not taking responsibility for planning – that is not an even distribution of work.I am also firmly against having sex if you are feeling tired, angry, and resentful of him. I am further against trading sex for household work. No.
    Write down all the things you do on a daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal/ad hoc basis to keep the household going. Include scheduling the kid’s appointments and activities. Be honest. Don’t leave anything out.
    Write down all the things he does on a daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal/ad hoc basis to keep the household going. Be honest. Don’t leave anything out, but don’t give him full credit for anything that YOU MUST ASK HIM TO DO FIRST. Like do you have to ask him to mow the lawn? Do you have to ask him to fix the toilet. If so, then responsibility for planning that goes on your jobs list.
    Now, take a look at your lists. How many things on his list could you afford to hire someone to do if you were only going with your salary? Could you afford your house on your salary alone? If you had to hire someone to do his stuff too?
    If you choose to divorce, it’s not over chores, it’s over lack of respect. If you choose not to divorce, make sure that the change comes not from him doing more, but from his valuing you and what you do.
    And let him do his own damned laundry.

  72. When we first got married in 2001 my husband was a slob and didn’t do many chores beyond yard work. By that point though we had been living together for 5 years and I knew this about him. We did do a lot of household renovations in those years that he spearheaded. But day-to-day cleaning and tidying was not something he seemed to notice or participate in. I was angry a lot about chores. Then I decided to do flylady and only please myself through having things clean and tidy. That was bullcrap for me, I was still angry. And so I gave up housecleaning for the most part. I still did laundry but let everything else go. It took about a decade for him to decide he would like to live in a cleaner house. He recently brought up the issue of the messiness of our house and I told him I too prefer to live in a tidy house, but I’d rather live in a mess than be angry, and that if he would do an equal amount of cleaning I would be MORE than happy to take part in cleaning and organizing and whatnot. You do get a lot of delicious free time when you don’t clean.

  73. I too am quite shocked at the notion that husbands/spouses need to be convinced, nagged, cajoled into “helping” with the household chores….This is not help, you got married to be partners with someone, to share the work and the joys, not to be someone’s house slave.My husband was raised in a very patriarch-driven family and culture, where the women did EVERYTHING household/child related. I told him flat out when we started dating that if he thought that would fly with me, he was dreaming. There was no flipping way I would do his laundry, make meals if he wouldn’t participate, etc. The boundaries were very clear from the start, and when we moved in together the “LIST” got negotiated and revised as needed. So I totally don’t buy the “well this is how I was raised” business.
    It is about respect, and valuing someone’s ability to be self-reliant and an active participant in the running of a household. Shouldn’t be an argument about picking up clothes or emptying the dishwasher. I told my husband when we were expecting our first baby that I would need time to myself to recover, and re-charge, and that we would need to decide what wouldn’t get done, in order for that to happen. And I stuck to my plan, so he would see that I wouldn’t totally sacrifice myself for him, or anyone else.
    In my opinion arguments/disagreements about household chores, and money, are usually symptoms of a much bigger problem in a relationship, often about valuing someone’s person, appreciating their worth, respecting their needs.

  74. We have the chore discussion endlessly. I work at home; he works long hours out of the home. On our single weekend day we clean. Sort of. We both hate it. Then I want to get it done ASAP and have the rest of the day free; he wants to chill out and get around to it, then we wind up rushing through tasks (and skipping things) at the end. Yuck.We have had a cleaning lady in the past (1x week, when I was a SAHM). At times it felt like she the most important adult in my life 🙂 But the stress that comes the day/night/hour before the cleaning person shows? Was terrible. This is where my husband and I radically diverge because I think surfaces need to be clear in order for the cleaning to take place. He can’t be bothered, yet is FAR FAR BETTER at the putting away/organization aspect of cleaning when we do it ourselves.
    Now we’ve moved countries, so our beloved cleaning lady is 6000 miles away. And 2 years ago we got a dog, so nobody wants to clean our house anyway.
    No answers here, just sympathies for it all.

  75. If you cannot ask your husband directly (in a nice way) and him accepting with appropriate response, the issue is bigger than housework! Most men after work get in a routine and it takes a good conversation to make them modify that routine. My wife made a list of what needed to be done around the house and asked to make assignments for example. There is a lot of things need to be done around the house that we (men) think it does itself. If he really wants to be your partner, he should be able to gage your energy and stress level by looking at you across the room and feels the need to help. After all you are not his slave. In the animal kingdom, the male showes his ability to take care and romance the female before they engage in sex, not guilt her into it or demand it.

  76. I almost did not post because, as a woman with a husband who does way more work in our home than I do, at least two commenters here have already accused women in fully equal partnerships like me of #1 being a liar: “Those people who probably aren’t giving you an accurate picture of their real lives” and #2 being “a total bitch.” Hmm…What’s up with the misplaced rage some of you commenters have? Why do some women in unfair marriages blame anyone besides themselves and their chosen partner for their own problems in their own home? Those “lying bitches” out there like me aren’t your problem – no, it’s the lazy man you chose to marry and your unwillingness to set some boundaries that is to blame. Full stop. It’s the choices you’ve been making for years on end to be devalued in your own home. Quit blaming women like me.
    Amen to everything @Cloud, @Slim, and @hedra said in their comments.

  77. hush, as I read it, the “total bitch” comment was about women who would brag about their more equitable situation in response to the OP’s worries. Something akin to one mother fretting about her non-sleeping baby and the stress that caused and another responding by raving about how hers has slept perfectly from Day 1 (which also may or may not be 100% accurate- sometimes yes, but many times not quite so much). It’s not the fact of the good sleeper or the husband that does his fair share- it’s about a particular unsupportive behavior on the part of the listener, if that makes sense, one that was *not* perpetrated by the women who responded here about being in partnerships like yours.

  78. I think I might get slammed for this, but hear me out. I have little sympathy for the letter writer. He was clear twenty + years ago about where he stood with regard to these tasks. He has not changed but she married him with the expectation that he would. But in fact she is the one who has changed in a way that is unacceptable to the other partner. Sex matters to him and a clean house does not. He made that clear. What if sex is a dealbreaker for him? Why are we undervaluing that? And why is the mommy workload attached to the sex? They are not acting like equal partners and she is just as responsible for that as he is, if not more so. I also wonder, at the age of 51 how little her kids really are and why she is the only person in the household doing all this work? Five year olds can load dishwashers.If this is really a deal breaker she should leave. I’m not arguing this is a perfect marriage. But she has responsibility for this situation and her way out of the dirty dishes and laundry does not automatically have to involve increased participation on his part. She also may be undervaluing his contribution to the children and family life. She’s pretty dismissive of him doing “fun” things with the kids. Speaking as the less fun parent, that fun parent is invaluable. That’s where the bonds occur and memories happen and not appreciating that is also fairly short-sighted.
    As I said – I don’t think this will be a popular view but I thought I would throw it out there.

  79. Thanks, -k-, that is just what I meant. (I think my comment is one of the ones @Hush is referring to.) Just like if a friend tearfully tells me she is switching to formula, I’m not going to be all, “Well, I exclusively BF’ed both my kids until they were 2, and so should you.” Because I am not a bitch. Mostly. 🙂 In fact, my husband is an equal partner, and it’s possible he does more of the household tasks. We definitely both do plenty. But I looked for that in a partner, and if he were not willing to work things out with me so that we were both satisfied, I would not have married him. I agree with the commenter who said look at how he keeps his bachelor apartment. I got off easy because he had lived with a previous girlfriend, and he did a lot of tasks while she was in school/working, plus he grew up in a not-so-tidy house and wanted his own place to be cleaner. That was just luck. But also, I value myself and expect him to value me too. Early in my SAHM days, he half-assedly did something (washed a skillet, maybe?), and I pointed out that it totally wasn’t clean and he more or less said since I was home, I could just do it over. I replied that I had better things to do than redo something he had done crappily, and that “my time is not less valuable than yours.” And wouldn’t he want me playing with the baby, say, instead of redoing his shit? I admit that sometimes I fear I am henpecking him. In my view it’s like, if I could just get him to do XYZ, he’d be PERFECT. But no one is perfect and I need to remember that and focus on his many positives. Sometimes it’s hard when he beats me to the couch for tv-watching a full half-hour or more before I do, as I’m cleaning up, making lunches, etc. I have a secret goal of making it to the couch before him one of these days.I have to agree somewhat with MLB, too. OP is partially responsible for the situation she’s in now. But I don’t think it’s fair to say she’s stuck in this contract for life. People change. Situations change. Our bodies change. Maybe she was able to deal with it OK until now, and now she just can’t take it anymore. ABSOLUTELY she needs to get her kids involved with household stuff if they aren’t already. My parents made my brother and me load the dishwasher, handwash pots and pans, wipe down the counters, etc. after dinner. When we complained our parents said, “Well, we worked hard raising you and now it’s your turn to help out.” We didn’t do much housecleaning, though, and I honestly think they should have made us do that too! We also did our own laundry from about jr high-high school age (although I believe I did mine more than my brother did his). OP’s family will likely complain about the new regime, but I think it’s fair for OP to just say she’s worn out and she is not the household drudge. She’s doing her kids a favor by getting them to do their share. They’ll have to do their own laundry someday.
    (As a side note–Cloud and Hush are two of the few mommy bloggers I read, and they both referred to my comment! I feel so noticed! Love you guys.)

  80. Men are clueless. OK–MY man is clueless. I spent years thinking, “How can he not know it’s time to clean the floor if it’s sticky!” I also hate nagging. So lists have absolutely worked. Put them on his Google calendar. *Beep *Beep *Time to take out the trash* Not me nagging– It’s that blasted calendar.I also second the maid. If you can’t afford one, cut something out of HIS budget. Cable TV, sports tickets, etc.

  81. @Yet another Jen – I’m glad you’re a fan of my blog. I want to be clear with you: I do not appreciate hearing any woman, even a hypothetical one, being called a “fucking bitch.” Those ugly words demean all women, and I know we’re all worthy of more respect than that.Your first comment was: “OK, if you tell someone how your husband isn’t pulling his weight, and she responds with how great her husband is and how much he helps, then she is a fucking bitch and you should stay away from her.”
    Or, in other words, what you’re saying is your hypothetical friend here has two false choices: 1) to be a “fucking bitch you should stay away from,” or 2) she should lie to you by omission, and not share the honest data points of her life with you. Even if her situation might illustrate very clearly for you that the division of household labor does not need to be this way, you would rather your hypothetical friend omit any discussion of her own arrangements, because it would make you feel better if you could maintain the illusion that an unequal status quo in a heterosexual marriage is the prevailing norm.
    @-k- – re: “it’s about a particular unsupportive behavior on the part of the listener.” I hear you, even though that’s not how I read the spirit of @Yet another Jen’s original comment, because her use of the words “fucking bitch” were far too prejudicial for me. Certainly, @-k-, as your comment suggests there is a time and place for sharing the truth of our lives in a way that demonstrates empathy for a friend who is experiencing a particular challenge. That being said, I get very uncomfortable when women who report they are in equal marriages are labeled liars and fucking bitches. How are we ever going to change the current state of affairs if women cannot speak honestly about their lives?

  82. I’m going to stay out of the meta-discussion about relationship dynamics. That said, you sound like you’re drowning. You say you’ve been sure you could die of exhaustion, you have kids in the mix, and it sounds like your requests for help are met with refusal. You need immediate help, if only to catch your breath and figure out how you want to proceed in your marriage. Get a housekeeper, even if you can only afford someone to do half of the work you need done. You can work on your marriage, or not, when you aren’t so exhausted that you’re fearing for your health.

  83. We do a few things to maintain the peace:1. Housecleaner 2x/month. To keep it affordable, she comes for about 2.5 hours each time and we give her a prioritized list (so she hits the big things that we don’t want to do, like bathrooms). We take care of weekly vacuuming, laundry etc ourselves.
    2. When hubby quit work, he took on more of the house chores, so he does ALL dishes now and I still do all laundry.
    3. Even the 3yo has chores, though we help her with them – she puts away the clean silverware and her own clean clothes. She also puts her dirty clothes in the hamper.
    4. We do have to periodically re-review and look at what each other is doing, esp as the family situation changes with work, new baby, etc. Hubby does all the bills, and now deals with all the pet stuff (vet, daily feeding, outings) now that I am nursing a baby 25x a day.
    5. Sleeping in – this one caused the most friction. I need 9+ hours of sleep so I was sleeping in WAY late with the baby after her night wakings. This was pissing off the hubby, because he had to get up early and get the 3yo off to school. My sleeping in has generally been something that bugs him through our relationship (he can’t sleep more than 7 hours in a stretch!). We solved this by dividing up the week – he gets 3 days of getting up with the 3yo and doing all those tasks and I get 3 days and we’re all up together for breakfast on that last day. We actually have the days written out on our fridge to remind us.
    Now, I use my “mornings off” to sleep, while he’s up anyway and uses them to do whatever the heck he wants. More often than not, once he set up this system, he’s been willing to help out on “my days” and vice versa.
    The key for us was actually sitting down and having a painful, tactical discussion before it got ugly.

  84. I have eliminated dairy (and dairy fat is like lifeblood to me) for sixish weeks now, and now soy for twoish weeks in an effort to figure out some lingering digestive issues after prolonged breastmilk jaundice with my three month old

  85. I’m most bothered by the fact that she is at a point of exhaustion. Regardless of the division of labor in their household, it sounds like she needs a break, if she can’t take care of herself the whole ship is going to go down eventually. I don’t have any good experience, but I would want her to take some time away, in a hotel, by herself or maybe with a friend, so she can really think about things and relax. It would be good to see how the household manages without her too.Also, I have to reiterate Jill’s comment, that the cost of any amount of maid service will be less than the cost of a divorce. So if she is in a respectful relationship, and just bogged down with chores, throw some money at it and see if this changes anything.

  86. I think she has a right to be mad. Sure, her choices played a role in this, but isn’t that the tragic flaw of all humanity? He’s making a verbal commitment to be better and then blowing it off, and it’s disrespectful. And incredibly irritating. Friday afternoon they go to counseling and he makes promises, Friday night they have XXSex, Saturday and Sunday he totally fails to do chores. Repeat. I would be livid with rage at such behavior. She’s really struggling and he’s not being a loving partner, breaking the fundamental marriage commitment that goes way deeper than what chores he agreed to do 25 years ago.I am a woman who talks about how my husband pulls his weight well in the household. I don’t rub it in someone’s face if they are hurting, obviously, but I do think it’s important to break down the defeatist, self-fulfilling “men are clueless” stereotype. There are men who do a lot, and denying their existence isn’t fair to them, nor does it help matters. Men who don’t pull their weight in the household should realize that they are outliers and that many women would not tolerate their behavior. I never nod along with comments about men in general, because it isn’t fair to my husband and would hurt his feelings if it ever got back to him.
    And when people say I’m “lucky” because of this, I do say quite firmly that it isn’t luck at all. I am lucky in many ways, but this isn’t luck. I chose a husband with this in mind, and it took a lot of effort and interpersonal work to make it a reality.

  87. I definitely can relate to so many of the comments already posted.I just started reading this book and it’s a must read for really anyone in a relationship:
    The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by John M. Gottman
    Ironically, I was just starting the chapter on the importance of a husband accepting his wife’s influence when Moxie published this post.
    I hope others find it helpful – check it out on Amazon!

  88. I’m going to weigh in, reluctantly, because my situation is similar in a lot of ways. Hub and I have been together for 6 years, lived together for all of that time, and it has pretty much always been unequal in terms of housework. And we have “mismatched libidos”. And we fight about money (who doesn’t?) We’re in counseling, and it has helped tremendously (our therapist is AWESOME), and we are learning to recognize the pattern and stop it before it leads to a big fight. Our pattern is this: have sex, it’s wonderful, things are great for a few days/a week. Hub does stuff around house, seems in better mood, has more energy. Around week 2.5 I start PMSing (ridiculous, 2wks-long PMS every.single.month) and get moody. Start feeling resentful towards him. Don’t want to initiate sex because he looks like a big fat bum laying on the couch all night while I make dinner and do dishes etc etc after working all day. That is what sometimes goes through my head (sorry to be crude, I admit I can be a jerk). He gets resentful that I don’t initiate/set aside time for sex/intimacy, and I honestly think he gets depressed and will spend more time laying around, watching tv, disengaged from us, etc. which leads to more resentment and so on until just before I get my period we have a huge fight and have to talk about it in therapy (again). I also don’t realize that I need that physical intimacy and connection, because I feel better afterwards too.So there ya go. Not sure if that is any help at all, but we are both working on acknowledging to each other what we are feeling, like my hub saying “I’m feeling lonely, I need you” and me saying “I’m feeling unappreciated, I need you to help me” that sort of thing, to head it off at the pass and hopefully lead to more intimacy, better marriage!!!

  89. I can’t get behind the “give him more sex” wagon. It would feel too degrading to me to barter sex and I can’t imagine manufacturing the sexual desire to perform those acts, which my husband “earned” for taking out the trash. Ick!I also have no desire to become my husband’s nagging mother. He, like many partners described above, zones out the day-to-day stuff that needs to get done. What works for me is: (1) asking him, very gently, every single time I want him to do something (e.g. “Honey, could you do me a favor and cut these veggies for dinner?”); (2) tell him what I’m doing that prohibits me from getting done the task I’m asking him to do (e.g. “Can you give the kids their bath so I can finish up sorting the laundry?”); and (3) splitting chores whenever possible (e.g. “Would you mind doing half these dishes tonight?”). I love the list idea but I think it would make me start keeping score and just build resentment if I tried to implement one. Maybe I’ll do it once the kiddos are old enough for a chore list.
    Also, FWIW, my husband went through a humiliating job situation right around when our 2nd baby was born. He kept most of what was happening inside because he didn’t want to burden me more during the delivery and first few weeks postpartum. All I saw at the time, was a “checked-out” man REALLY not pulling his weight.
    Since then (the baby is now 10mo), he’s bounced back professionally, he’s started a new exercise routine, and he’s eating healthier. AND, interestingly enough, he’s doing soooo much more around the house without my having to ask. Is it possible that your husband has some hidden stressors or depression that he needs help with?

  90. oo day naa mao wla ko kaau naka online jud, kay nkiasagt dri sa Terry oi tungod cguro saka init plus cge pod laag2x drive ug motor na init daun mag ulan mao ni perti ang subaw jud as in!

  91. Well sniff, sniff Thank you so much for the very beautiful words Meg. We feel equlaly as fortunate to have your family in our lives. Over the years as Keith and I have watched you and Steph grow into the beautiful women that you are we have hoped that Ry and Ty would take note and learn from your motivation, determination and easy going personality!We are very excited for the success you are having with your photography. We love your shots, your blog, your website everything is so YOU! We LOVE our Maui shots Secret Beach is the perfect place for a family shoot. And you got Ty to smile! I can’t get him to smile for the camera ever!We are also so happy that you and Scott found each other. We have had so many good times with you guys. Cheers to many more!!

  92. Rekha ji sukha vaneko sano sano kuamarnai lukeko hun6a maile sune anusar tapailai film star banaune shreya chhabijilai nai jan6a .. so chhabijilai nai accept garera uhasanga nai naya ra sukhad jeevanko praramva garnus

  93. You are such an inspiration. I still need you to take my flamiy pictures. I’m going to school for photography as of well, Monday I attempted to take my own photos, they were horrid. In case you didn’t know, it is your images/mentality/passion that pushed me to pursue a career in photography. I can only hope that one day I’m as good as you are! (emphasize on the word HOPE!)

  94. Kudos on the new blog Brett. Looks like things are going well for ya I’ve rlaley been enjoying your pictures over the past couple months, esp. the OCF. Keep up the good work!

  95. To PDIU to dhimiourgise o Fatos Nano meso Idrizi.Tou Baggelaki tou epasise stoma LESH ,kathe mera ypostirizi ton Fatos Nano.Dhen katallavenoume pou to pai????Dhen vlepi oti to PBDNJ tha to thapsi pali sto 2013,me tis kinisis pou kani????Telika epibebeothike oti o Ntoules dhen kseri na odhigisi to Komma se nikes. Me burdhes dhillosis dhen kanoume tipota.Sta ethnika themate(ydata)me tin simaxia pou dialekse apotixe.Ti allo perimenoume?Mipos eixi erthi i ora gia psifo empistosini ston Ntoule???

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