Husbands and Housework

A woman in my group today posted an article from Scary Mommy, which I love. They speak the truth and they’re very real. The article was asking, why do we have to ask our husbands to help with the housework? They should just know to do it. We’re tired of asking and being nags and getting into that cycle and pattern. It’s frustrating and we don’t think it’s fair. I want to talk about that today, and I also want to give you some solutions for this issue, because there’s no point in talking about problems without solutions, as many men would say (there’s a little inside look into the male brain).

So, then another person commented. There was a great lively discussion in the group, and someone said, “My mind is boggled by how grown men can literally step over a laundry basket of unfolded clothes but not see or take initiative to fold it.”

Okay. Here are some of my philosophies that aren’t always popular, but hey, they’re the truth; and accepting some of these things is what gets you to the marriage that you’re really craving. One of the truths is that people are good. I look at this article and I don’t see a lazy husband or someone who’s intentionally trying to harm his wife. I don’t see someone who is just having selective ignorance. What I see, is a person who is not a woman! A person who is a man.

The quicker we can come to the understanding that the genders are different from each other, that we’re not better than each other, the better our relationships will be. Quite frankly, if I’m very honest, I see women doing this way more than men. Men don’t generally pick at their wives because they’re not thinking the same thing that they are thinking.

So, about that laundry basket he’s stepping over… listen to me.

Here’s the truth: they do not see it. From an evolutionary perspective, women were the ones who had to do the housework and keep things organized. We had to keep everyone happy and build relationships and community. We also had to think of our children’s complex needs in order for them to survive because little baby humans don’t survive on their own like the majority of mammals do. The husbands were out hunting; that was their job. They would provide for the family. If they didn’t do that job well, the family would die.

They are not biologically programmed to see the laundry basket that they’ve just stepped over. You making that assumption is causing you to miss out on a lot of intimacy because you’re wasting your time thinking, “I wish he was just another woman.” Your husband will not be just another woman, and nor do you really want him to be because the truth is that men and women complement each other. The quicker that we can come to that realization of what each person brings to the table and what their strengths are, the better it is.

I am not at all saying that women should be in the kitchen and men should be at work, and husbands should just come home and their wives should just be in the ’50s apron asking, “How can I serve you, my dear?” Not at all… but let me be really specific.

For years, my husband and I fought about housework

I was totally in this trap of, “Why can’t he just see what needs to be done? Why can’t he just clean the bathroom? Why can’t he just do the dishes when I’ve done dinner? Can’t he see it? Does he not care about me? Does he think I’m his slave or his maid?”

Then, gradually over time, I saw my husband’s sincerity. He was in fact really willing, when I made a request, not a criticism, to… I don’t want to say help me out, because he’s not helping me out. He’s not babysitting our kids. He’s fully part, he’s 50%… but, he needs my brain. My brain is really good at holding many different things and juggling different areas of improvement in our home. It’s good at seeing that laundry basket on the floor and knowing that the bathroom hasn’t been washed in two weeks. My brain is good at remembering that our daughter’s choir practice is coming up and we need to make sure that she’s ready for that.

His brain is really good under pressure.

If I’ve been obsessing over our kid’s birthday party and it just has not been on his radar, I’ll text him and I’ll say, “I’m catching myself obsessing over our daughter’s birthday party. I need you to XYZ. I need to talk tonight, decide what we’re going to do, what our budget is, and who we’re inviting. Then I need you to go to the dollar store and get decorations and do this and that.” Then his skills – his great male brain – kicks into gear. He’s like, “Okay, I know what I’m supposed to do,” and he goes and does it while I’m a puddle on the floor just overwhelmed by all the details in my brain.

In terms of circling back to housework, the way we’ve worked it out in our relationship (and it works brilliantly, we haven’t fought about housework in a very, very long time, and it used to be such an issue), is that we all do housework on the same day on the weekend. Usually, it’s a Saturday morning after sexy time. The whole family gets involved in the cleaning. We have different assigned sections of our home, so my husband always does the kitchen, the living room, the vacuuming, the floors, and the carpet if you have to clean up. I do the bathrooms and the bedrooms.

I always take care of decluttering, so all our closets. He takes care of the recycling on Thursdays. I do the cooking most days because I personally don’t enjoy cooking. He gets home and does the dishes and he packs the kids’ lunches. Laundry (which we both hate with an equal passion), we both do together or, quite frankly, it’s just stuck in one stage of completion. Like right now, our living room is covered with clean clothes, but they need to be put away.

How can you call on each other’s strengths?

How you can see each other as you complement each other. You’re not better than each other, and how can you get around that feeling, that interpretation you’re making, that he sees the laundry basket but he’s choosing to ignore it? I would really like to offer the reality that he literally doesn’t see the housework. This is so stereotypical but let’s be real here. Are you thinking about when the car last had an oil change?

Frankly, I don’t. I have no idea how many more kilometers until our next oil change. I’m not thinking about that funny noise that’s happening right now. I’m not calculating the last time we had sex, quite frankly, but my husband is, although we’re on a pretty good schedule (you see, schedules work!). But that is good. That’s a strength because he’s keeping that intimacy alive and that passion alive in your marriage.

How can we step away from feeling like we’re better than men? Yes, I always do say, make a clear request. If you’re frustrated that you have to make the request in the first place, just know that it’s your strength. What a gift you have to your marriage that you can do that!

This perspective might not be popular with everyone, but frankly, it’s the truth. The quicker you can come to this conclusion, the happier you will be.

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