Monday, November 7, 2011

To the frustrated wife: Nine ways to get your partner to do his fair share

I found this article on Baby while doing some research on chores, and thought I would share it...for those wives who are still doing all the chores by are the tips they suggest to get your spouse to help out!

Talk to him.
While you may find it hard to believe that he can't see anything's amiss with the layer of dust covering your furniture or the mildew growing on the shower curtain, the truth is if your husband's not complaining, he's probably fine living that way. "The average guy feels like if it ain't broke, don't fix it," says psychologist Coleman, a self-described lazy husband in recovery. Take the time to let him know what you mean by a "clean" house.

Instead of quietly stewing with resentment or complaining to your girlfriends, tell your spouse you need more help keeping your place (relatively) clean. Be firm, but resist nagging. "Nagging isn't very assertive — it's humiliating to the person doing the nagging and annoying to the person being nagged," says Coleman. He suggests a friendly approach: Tell your husband that you've been feeling overwhelmed and that you really need and appreciate his help. Start by creating a short to-do list for him, suggests Coleman, and pick the tasks that have been bugging you the most. You might specify jobs such as cleaning up after dinner, making the bed on the weekends, and taking primary responsibility for the baby at least one weekend morning so you can sleep in.

Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime.
This old adage can hold true for household chores too. "While some men feign incompetence, some genuinely have never learned how to do housework," notes sociologist Coltrane. Before your mate takes on a chore, demonstrate it for him, talking him through it as you go.

Don't be a control freak!
One of the reasons men don't help around the house as much as we'd like is that we can make them feel like they can't do anything right. So once you've shown him how to separate whites and colors, and to dust before running the vacuum, consider that his standards may never meet yours. Decide what you can live with: If the choice is to do every task yourself, or to live with his less-than-perfect housekeeping skills, you may more readily settle for adequate. A little restraint and a heaping of praise can go a long way in his wanting to be involved and useful.

Choose chores he'll want to do.
It's much easier to motivate someone to do something he likes, so if your mate's more inclined to cook than to clean up, ask him if he'll prepare more meals during the week. Of the "big five" household tasks — cooking preparation, meal cleanup, shopping, laundry, and housework — men are more likely to do the first three and least likely to do the last two, says sociologist Scott Coltrane. So strike some new deals with your spouse. If you've been doing all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning, let him troll the market aisles, cut up the vegetables, and toss the salad for dinner. He may even enjoy it. While it may seem unfair that he gets to choose jobs he wants to do, consider that it's better than the alternative — doing everything yourself!

Do a little at a time.
Splitting chores between you and your spouse over several days will keep weekends from turning into nonstop drudgery. "We used to jam all of the housework into Saturdays, but now my husband and I have designated weekdays for certain cleaning jobs," says Kate Richardson, mother of a 2-year-old. "By spreading chores out across the week, keeping a (fairly) clean house seems less overwhelming — plus we've freed up more weekend time for family fun," she says.

Appeal to his charitable side.
Show your husband that getting rid of the toys collecting cobwebs in your living room and the forgotten clothes in your closets is a great way to help a good cause and save your family money. Ask him to oversee a "giveaway box" to which he and the kids can contribute, and then put yourself on a calling list for a couple of charities and thrift stores. "They call every other month to see if we have anything to donate, and we gather up books we've finished, clothes and shoes the kids have outgrown, and toys they're bored with," says Ann Struckman, mother of three children, ages 13, 9, and 2. "The charity picks up the items and leaves a donation slip for tax write-off purposes."

If you can, make some cuts in your budget, and use the money to hire cleaning help. (Cost will vary depending on where you live and the size of your house, but the national average for someone to clean every week or every other week is around $75 to $110 per visit.) "We hired a housecleaning team after our daughter was born, and it's worth every penny, not just in time, but also arguments avoided," says Catherine Holecko, mother to a 3-year-old and a newborn. "Cleaning ranks way below family, work, and personal time in my order of priorities. Also, having cleaners come every two weeks forces us to do a round of picking up and de-cluttering on the day before they come."

And if he still doesn't pitch in...
"If you're still being ignored, it may be time to play hardball and say, 'I'm not going to keep doing all the things I'm doing,'" suggests psychologist Coleman. Take something off your plate that you know your mate relies on you to get done. For instance, if you usually pay the bills and your husband can't stand them to be late, tell him you're no longer paying the bills. Coleman points out that tough-love should be your last resort, but it can be surprisingly effective.

Take time to reconnect.
Finally, if you've been more irritated than usual by dishes collecting in the sink, consider whether it's merely the grimy plates that need attention. "In all my years of working with couples there seems to be this pattern: When men aren't paying attention to their wives, the housework issue becomes more of an issue," says marital therapist Michele Weiner-Davis, author of The Sex-Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido. "It becomes less of an issue if men are making an effort to be closer emotionally." Weiner-Davis frequently sees a vicious cycle: When women aren't getting help, they become less physically affectionate with their spouses, who in turn withdraw more emotionally. "It would ease tension if couples took the time to reconnect on a regular basis," says Weiner-Davis.

So at least once a month, do the things you used to enjoy together before you had children (and a messy house). Send the kids to Grandma's overnight so you can have a romantic evening in. Or hire a babysitter and go out for a relaxing dinner. Besides remembering what made you a good couple, the next-best part is that neither of you has to clean up the dishes afterward.


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