How do you get your partner to help out around the house and start sharing household chores? This is a question most women find out the hard way: in an argument.
Without constantly nagging your partner and having it be a source of conflict, cleaning is something most women have a hard time getting their man to do. Household tasks can be a huge source of conflict for many couples, so getting into a routine that works for both of you, right from the start, will make all the difference in the world. Dividing up housework often comes down to clear communication, like most other elements of your relationship.
It’s very rare to find a man who finds household chores equally important as his wife does because most men, whether it’s consciously or unconsciously, look upon housework as women’s work. He, of course, appreciates a clean house and meal on the table but he usually won’t make the effort to create it without being asked.
Setting standards is so important, simple ones like “In our house, we all help clear the table,” or “Hang your coat up in the closet when you come through the door,” can be so helpful later on. Set the standards right from when you start spending most of your time at each other’s places when you’re dating, and later it won’t be difficult to share the chores.
According to my husband, the laundry is the wife’s job, the household ‘fix-it’ tasks are the husband’s job, and the rest should be divided up equally, not that that actually happens…. but at least he thinks that’s how it should be.
Here are some ways to get him to help out without turning it into a source of conflict:
1) Ask, in a respectful and loving way, for what you want and present the issue as a problem for which you need help. Don’t criticise him right away and say things like, “You’re lazy,” or “You never do anything around the house.” That won’t get you very far since it’s going to make him feel angry or ashamed, both of which will not work in your favour.
2) As childish as it sounds, make a list of the chores that need to be done every day, week and month. Divide up the responsibility first by each choosing the chores you each don’t mind doing. Maybe you don’t mind doing the laundry and cleaning the kitchen and he doesn’t mind doing the garage and taking out the garbage. Once you get those tasks out of the way, divide up the tough ones. Write them down on a whiteboard if you need to, or make a chart – it’ll be worth the amount of arguing you won’t do as a result.
3) Don’t call a special meeting – try talking about household chores while you’re out for a walk or having dinner. Otherwise, he will immediately get defensive and start an argument. Make sure you make it personal when you have a conversation about chores. Something like, “Sweetie, it is really important to me to have the kitchen clean before we go to sleep. It would be very helpful if you could clean up the dishes on the nights that I cook. Would you be up for that?” That would be an ideal way to ask without making it sound like a criticism.
4) Don’t belittle or criticise your man for his failings. Do compliment and praise him on the things he does do and build on the great things that he does. The more you nag him, the less likely he is going to be to want to help around the house. Which means the more you’re going to feel like you’re the only one doing any chores, which will make you angry and cause an argument that puts you right back where you started.
By doing the test on the five love languages, I found out that one of my top love language is “Acts of Service.”
This means that, for me, actions speak much louder than words. I feel like my husband loves and respects me when he does help around the house without me having to ask him. This shows to me that he understands when I need help around the house. This is so much more important to me than receiving gifts or hearing words of affirmation.
Image Courtesy of Ann Kuperberg
It’s helpful for you to understand what your top love language is, so that you can discuss the division of chores with your husband in a constructive manner. Leaning to share household tasks right from the beginning of your relationship, rather than trying to start after you’re married is so important. Try the test for yourself and maybe it will help both of you understand why certain things are more important to you than others in your relationship.