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How can I get my husband to do more around the house?

By Anonymous March 23, 2009 - 4:34pm
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Do any of you feel like single Moms, even though you are married? that's the way I've been feeling lately. My husband works and I'm very grateful for that. He's a kind man and a good father in his own way. but when he is home, he does very little other than surf the web and watch TV.

I do 99 percent of everything, and I mean everything. I work part time and have a flexible schedule, so I can understand doing a bit more of household chores but not like this.

At night and on weekends the kids stick with me and we play games, read books, watch TV and hubby sits at the computer. He never asks them to play, or asks to join us. He will play if they request it. I realize that it takes two to allow this to happen--him to do it and me to put up with it, so I am going to talk to him and ask him to be more involved because I don't like feeling resentful, and that's what's been happening lately. I am hoping some of you who have been there/done that with this can offer ideas on how I can approach him. what worked for you, what didn't, or even just words of support as I'm feeling very low right now. thank you for listening.

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Nice advice Alysiak! Anon, I am just wondering if your husband understands his role in the parenting process. You do not mention the age of the children nor do you mention how long you two have been married. Did you talk about this matter before getting married? Has he always been like this?

Most men are programmed to be the hunters and bread winners and beyond that, they assume it is the woman's role to do the parenting. I suggest you sit down with him (privately) and ask him some tough questions without any emotion involved. Ask him what he believes to be his role at home at the end of the "bread hunting" day. Ask him if he considers to be a viable influence on building the children's character. Ask him for examples if he says YES. Ask him if he believes he is intentionally denying quality time to the kids by choosing the web or TV over them, even if his intent is not that but the children's perception of his behavior will be important.

Challenging him to ponder over those questions but not to answer right away. Set up a second private meeting with him later on in the week and then listen to him without judgement. Based on his answers you may want to suggest some parenting classes which both of you can take together

Parents leave a long term "imprint" on children's future. What they see at home will be recycle later in their lives. It is important for you to address it sooner than later and before you become more resentful. You may want to consider a compromise. He works all day and he may be stressed out from a long day at work, he needs to unwind but by mutually deciding what is best for the children, you both will learn to identify activities that can take second priority over those activities that nurture the children's emotional and physical health.

Several years ago I went through a similar experience but I used to work full time and would come home to cook, take care of the kids needs, parent them and etc, etc, etc. I began to resent him and the light went up with day and set up the time to talk to him. He had a chance to reflect on this and we made changes by setting up rules. We limited TV for one night per week (except weekends), we set aside "family reading and quiet time" and my son got 30 minutes of carpet wrestleing 3-4 nights. Eventually he volunteered to cook dinner 2-3 times per night and learned to love it to the point that I did not have to do it anymore. He and my son got the trash out and picked up dog poop. My daughter and I did other activities like dishes, laundry, etc. By the way, my kids started to do household chores since they were 5-6 years old. It has come handy now that dad is totally paralized.

I wish you well.

March 23, 2009 - 9:21pm

Hi, Anon:

BTDT (been there, done that) with my hubby. He's a workaholic and has difficulty walking away from his PC. At the same time, he doesn't hesitate to tell me to take a break from my laptop to see something he wants to show me. The world is supposed to operate on his time.

We women tend to use language like "I wish you'd..." or "it would be nice if..." I learned to talk to him the way he talks to his colleagues, directly, decisively and with a sense of purpose. Men don't ask, they tell you what they want.

But, the most telling statement my DH ever made was when he said he felt as though I didn't need his help because I did everything. So, I had to change my approach to house and home management. It's like running a business and you are partners.

As far as sharing housekeeping duties, I "let" him do the things he enjoys, like the laundry (it's like a lab experiment to him, and I don't let him touch my clothes, LOL!) or cleaning things in the kitchen (like polishing the stainless steel sink or using the dishwasher). It will take him forever to pick up papers he scatters all over our home office, but no time to whip out the furniture polish. There's a definite "trend" in what he likes to do.

When the kids were little, he had absolutely no patience for playing games and watching videos. But, he loves the History and Discovery Channels. So, we figured out how to spend some quality time by doing things the kids could learn from. The kids also figured out what they could learn from their dad that they eventually turned into their own pursuits.

Bottom line, I think that communication is the key to changing how your household is run and your family interacts. Chances are your hubby feels a little left out and unneeded, but has difficulty either admitting or expressing it.

Hope this helps!

March 23, 2009 - 7:25pm
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