Are you wondering why your husband hasn’t been helping you do anything around the house?
Chores are a part of a household’s daily routines and in relationships where both partners live and share a life together, it makes sense for couples to split the responsibilities.
When it comes to healthy relationships and understanding men, most people see “being a man” as synonymous with testosterone, masculinity, and pride.
These aren’t necessarily bad traits. However, when it comes to relationships, we can also be known as “know-it-alls”, too prideful, and lacking in being proactive with domestic responsibilities.
For example, you may be expecting us to start the laundry for the entire household. However, our pride might whisper, “Let’s just take care of my own laundry, and that should be considered helping out.”
Or maybe you’re expecting we’d take out the trash without being asked or reminded a few times because it smells. Seems to be pretty reasonable. However, we look at the trash and say, “There’s still some more room in that bag; I’ll wait till we fill it up more.” And, eventually, you have to remind us all over again.
And maybe you expect we’d take the initiative to start making dinner without waiting for you to get home. However, you receive a phone call with those dreaded words, “What are we doing for dinner tonight?”
Consequently and understandably, this turns into frustration for you. And that’s partially because we aren’t being proactive in the areas you’d expect.
We hear your frustration both explicitly and implicitly. Although we may not know, initially, why you’re arguing about the toothpaste cap being left off and how that’s linked to you having to do everything at home without any help, eventually we get it.
And, for that, we sincerely apologize and thank you for your patience (or at least what’s left of your patience).
Therefore, here are 5 reasons men in relationships aren’t helping their partners with the household chores and family responsibilities (and how to help them).
1. We still embrace some stereotypical beliefs about domestic responsibilities
As men, we tend to believe certain jobs in a relationship are ours and some are yours. And, unfortunately for you, the ones we don’t like are yours. We may not always be fully aware of these beliefs all the time, but sometimes, we are.
To help us with this, engage us in a discussion about how we saw our parents handle domestic responsibilities and household chores. And explore if that’s the same way we envisioned it would be with you.
Let us know what you had envisioned as well so that we can both develop a way that works for us.
2. Past criticisms still hurt even though you didn’t know we were hurting
Pride has always been our Achilles heel. And when we complete some domestic responsibility and are met with some form of criticism or you correct us, we consider this a challenge to our sense of manliness which hurts our pride.
What’s worst is even if the results are the same as yours, you still offer criticism about how we did it as if that is more important than the result. Consequently, we make a decision to simply stop helping for fear of criticism or an argument.
To help us with this, please give us some positive feedback about what we’ve done. Unless we completely miss the mark, give us a “thank you”, and how happy you are that we did it.
Expressing gratitude goes a long way for us. We like to feel like we add value to your life. And even if we do things differently or do it incorrectly, the intention is always to help you not hurt you.
3. We simply don’t think of all that you think about
When we think of what needs to be done and by when it needs to be done, admittedly, we get lost in the big picture items (i.e., car repairs, home repairs, work promotions) and overlook what we consider the smaller items (i.e., scheduling appointments, taking the trash out, cleaning the bathroom).
So, yes, we admit you have a better idea of the important things that need to be done at home.
We do need your help with this. In some cases, it may just take reminding us that the issues we deem smaller are in fact very important. In fact, describe to us the significance of adopting that task and how it impacts you and the family.
If it frees you up to do more things for us or the family, tell us. And if it helps save us some money, that’s good to know, also.
4. We’ve gotten used to you taking the initiative
Although you may not have intended to, in some cases, you have enabled us to not take the initiative. You probably were conditioned at some point to believe that being a great wife and to have a healthy marriage means you should be doing some specific tasks. And you do them. And you do them very well.
But, now that you want us to help, we don’t know how to help nor how to do those tasks as well as you. We’ve never been conditioned that way, and we’ve not had to think about those tasks because you have been doing them.
So while you were conditioned to be great at doing those things, we’ve been enabled to not have to think about or take the initiative on those tasks.
One way to help us with this is to help condition us to do these tasks. For instance, instead of thinking that you have to prepare all meals per week, tell us which days work for you and which don’t. Or if you want us to plan date night, let’s make a deal where we alternate planning/coordinating date night.
Ideas like this will help take some pressure off of you while also empowering us creating a win-win situation.
5. We really don’t know where and how to start
Ok, so we’ve heard you speaking and telling us how fed up you are with being the only one to clean, cook, or go to kids’ appointments. And you’ve said you do everything and you wish we’d do more. And, yet, we still do nothing.
Just like you’re overwhelmed with everything you describe you do, we’re now overwhelmed with thinking about all that you do and what you want us to help with.
To help us out, prioritize the top three issues that are stressful for you, first. It’s not that everything else is unimportant, but to make sure you are supported in the best way emotionally, allow us to focus on a few items at a time.
We want to help. Just point us in the right direction, give us some positive affirmation (i.e. a simple “thank you” is fine), and allow us some time to improve on this.
Although we may not take the initiative, it doesn’t mean we don’t care or no longer love you. There are just some areas of the relationship we may not think of in the same way as you.
And while that doesn’t make the situation better for you, but it does mean we can make the necessary adjustments to support you and the household with your communication, patience, and constructive feedback.
We didn’t choose you to be our partner just to have you serve us or take care of everything while we help minimally. That is not what we’re thinking.
In fact, in many situations, we’re just not thinking at all. We love you and appreciate you. Help us make sure we are communicating that through our actions by helping us become more proactive.