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Useless Husband. Or is it me?

(100 Posts)
AutumnMadness Sun 28-Oct-12 17:06:15

I seriously need help. I am so sick of fighting with my husband about housework. I really do not want a divorce. My complaints: He cannot do nearly anything besides his job and his hobby. We both work full-time, doing the same job, and have a toddler son. We've been together for nearly five years. The problems were less visible when we did not have a child and lived in a small rented house, but really intensified since I gave birth and we bought a house.

We just had another fight, so forgive me for being incoherent as I am very upset. Substance of fight: I am feeling rather shitty today because of a cold. DH gets up with the DS (good). But immediately sticks him in front of the telly (we previously agreed a million times that DS is only allowed about 30 min, max an hour of cartoons in the evenings before dinner, but DH routinely uses telly as a babysitter). Then DH decides to clean the kitchen which is a tip since yesterday as I was not feeling well and went to bed early. DH empties the dishwasher and puts dirty dishes in it. Then he cleans the stove. I come down, praise him profusely, and ask him to wash the floor as it is caked with food. A bit later I come into the kitchen, find the stove and the floor still caked with food after DH "washed" them. There are still dirty dishes sitting here and there and the wooden counters are soaking with water. At this point, I am not annoyed as this is rather routine. I proceed to clean the kitchen while feeding DS lunch. In the afternoon, I ask DH to take DS for a walk as he really needs some exercise and is going crazy in the house. DH proceeds to whine about how rainy it is (it's not) and suggests that we put DS in front of cartoons (see above on telly). Then we dress DS. DH starts zipping his shoes before DS's foot is fully in them. I point this out. DH has a hissy fit about how "wrong" the shoes are. At this point, I've had enough and I explode.

I just hate this endless arguing, especially as DS invariably ends up as a witness. But it seems the DH just cannot do anything right. He cannot complete a cleaning job. He very rarely cooks and is utterly insecure about cooking (still cannot tell when sausages are done despite me showing him a million times). He cannot do DIY (I do it all). I look after the bills, car and house insurance. He has been promising me for years to sign up for driving lessons (I ferry him to his hobby). I deal with things like findings tradesmen to do work on our house and manage their work.

I just don't know what to do. DH has good sides (e.g. looks after DS at least once a week when I go to my hobby in the evening), but this generally child-like helplessness is driving me mad.

NoWayNoHow Sun 28-Oct-12 17:11:33

I'm probably going to get flamed for this, but I don't think it's your DH in this particular instance. He sounds like he did A LOT in the morning for you, but yet you still came down, asked him to do more, and then got hacked off when he didn't do it to your own standards.

If you both work full time in the same job, why aren't you doing some of the housework too?

TBH, it sounds like there's a lot more going on besides this one fight - it sounds like you've built up in your mind that he doesn't do anything right, and therefore he's onto a losing streak unless everything he does is perfect.

If your feelings are rooted in years and years of incidents other than this, then maybe you're justified, but it's difficult to judge based on the one example you've given here...

Romilly70 Sun 28-Oct-12 17:12:37

Sorry you have had a rough weekend.
Just one quick thing which leaps out at me; why are you driving your DH to his hobby? If he cares so much about it, get him to learn to drive and say you are not taking him anymore.
he sounds quite useless and quite happy to let you do everything

NotAnIdiotHonest Sun 28-Oct-12 17:16:39

He does sound a bit useless tbh. What other good points does he have? Being prepared to look after his own child once a week does not count as a "good point" IMO, he's a parent fgs, it kind of comes with the territory.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but are you perhaps someone who has to have things done in exactly your way, otherwise it's "wrong" and you have to take over and finish the job yourself? That's one explanation I can think of for his behaviour, especially if he seems "insecure" about things like cooking.

AKissIsNotAContract Sun 28-Oct-12 17:16:40

Why don't you get a cleaner? If you are both working full time it will be money well spent and free up your weekends for more enjoyable things.

NotAnIdiotHonest Sun 28-Oct-12 17:25:20

The shoe zipping incident does sound a bit like you're watching him like a hawk to see if he does it right. You sound a little like you're attempting to "manage" your DH, rather than letting him be his own person with his own, valid ways of doing things.

Though I can see how him leaving kitchen surfaces dirty and wet would piss you off if he does it all the time. (I assume you split the housework 50:50?)

izzyizin Sun 28-Oct-12 17:29:29

How did this useless tool incompetent manage until you rescued him from the reject bin and why was his 'child-like helplessness' not so apparent when you were living sans dc in rented accomodation?

Could it be that your hygiene and other standards have taken an upward turn since you've given birth and climbed onto the property ladder?

If you continue to take it on yourself to do it all he's never going to learn, is he? Buy him a Reader's Digest Complete DIY Manual, a copy of Teach Yourself To Drive, and sign him up to Which? or similar so that he can discover how to compare/pay for services such as heating/lighting, car/house insurance, mortgage repayments etc.

Btw, why does it take 2 of you to dress one toddler?

Beamur Sun 28-Oct-12 17:35:00

I sympathise. But I suspect it's you that has changed the most since the arrival of your son, not him.
To some extent you also need to stop enabling his 'uselessness' - set a limit on how much longer you are prepared to taxi him about for example.
If you're both working and can afford it, I'd suggest you get a cleaner.
Also, you need to sometimes just leave him to get on with it - especially around your son - leave him to sort out getting dressed/shoes on etc - he may not do it the way you want it done, but you need to step back a bit for your own peace of mind.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 28-Oct-12 17:35:50

YANBU - he would drive me nuts. He needs to grow up. I'm not sure what you can actually do about it though sad

NoWayNoHow - He sounds like he did A LOT in the morning for you Are you serious?? He bunged the kid in front of the TV, shoved some dishes in the dishwasher and left the kitchen in a right state... and for her... seriously? This is not 1950.

colditz Sun 28-Oct-12 17:39:36

Maybe he has different standards to yours? Wooden surfaces sound rather impractical, could they not be replaced?

As for the tv thing, you may say you've previously agreed, but it doesn't sound like your husband does agree. I think you need to sit down CALMLY and agree on the house rules, and this means compromise from you as well as him, especially as he is the one being moaned at.

The shoe thing ... I do understand how irritating it is to watch someone being incompetent, but I also know how it feels to be watched like a hawk and then exploded at over something really fucking trivial, and that feels way worse.

Kundry Sun 28-Oct-12 17:41:07

I suspect you have never managed to agree a parenting style or what constitutes a clean house. And he knows that if he doesn't do something, you will pick up the pieces - so why should he do it in the first place? It's not like he'll be dealing with the consequences.

Cleaner is a good idea if you can afford it. As is leaving him with your DS so when DS is mental with excess energy from watching cartoons all day, it's your DH that has to cope with ALL of it. Let your DH experience the consequences of his actions - be that stroppy DS, no plates to have dinner on, or not getting to his hobby because he can't drive there.

NoWayNoHow Sun 28-Oct-12 17:53:03

chipping you've taken a couple of words from my post and put a spin on it that I didn't intend. If I'm having a lie in, then when DH tidies and cleans in the morning, I feel like he's doing it for me. If he has a lie in, and I tidy, then I consider that I'm doing it for him.

This is because on a normal day-to-day basis, we share responsibilities in line with how much we both work.

This whole "I praised him profusely for his cleaning" line in the OP smacks of condescension and if I were the OP's DH I'd be irritated too.

I have a friend who does nothing but bitch and moan how bad her DH is with their DD, he never helps, he doesn't know how to deal with her, and I've even heard her say to her DD in front of her DH "Oh, I know sweetheart, you don't like to go to your Daddy, do you?"

She's like this with him all the time, but the irony is that the SECOND he tries to help out, look after DD, take responsibility, my friend is hovering over his shoulder for the 14 seconds she lets him get on with it, and then she just huffs and clicks and sighs and says, "Oh for pity's sake, just let me do it".

She doesn't give him half a chance. Needless to say he just doesn't bother anymore.

As I said in my first post, it sounds like there's A LOT more going on in this relationship that we don't know about.

suburbophobe Sun 28-Oct-12 18:36:47

Stop driving him to his hobby - his hobby? his responsibility to get there.

He sounds like he's trying, but pretty useless at domestics.

I'd put DS in front of the tv for half an hour while I'd whizz round the house cleaning and organising the basics - LP here.

I agree with getting a cleaner in.

mutny Sun 28-Oct-12 18:47:34

I think its both of you. I suspect when you say 'we' agreed about the tv its actually case of you said and he went along.
It does sound like he is a bit of a pain, but you sound like everything must be done your way. See my point about the tv.

Snazzyspookyandscary Sun 28-Oct-12 18:49:38

Compromise needed. You need to lower your standards a bit and he needs to up his game. I would concede on tv in the morning as long as your son gets out in the afternoon - personally speaking I find tv more useful as a babysitter in the mornings than the evenings, so I would be inclined to switch that round. Get him to do half the cooking, but let him work up to harder stuff - I take the point about the sausages, but people are anxious about cooking meat sometimes. Could he do pizza, salad and garlic bread, or spag bol, or jacket spuds and beans? Let him get on with those and give him a month's grace before pointing out burnt bits, unless it really is inedible. Stop driving him to his hobby, but chill out a bit about the general state of the house.

Btw, why are you so adamant you don't want a divorce? If you really feel that way and he knows it, all your complaining is so much hot air. Actions speak louder than words.

endoftherainbow Sun 28-Oct-12 18:50:54

I think we change once we have dc's. We forget about what attracted us first our DP/DH and get bound up in the day to day grind of life. I'm a bit of a control freak, DH can never really cook, launder or clean to my expectations but that's not why I married him. Take some time out together as a family and try to explain how you feel and find a way of meeting each other half way that fits with everyone's strengths/weaknesses.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 28-Oct-12 19:02:00

NoWayNoHow - Sorry. Your second post makes it more clear how you feel, your first post didn't and so as I had no idea about your 'take' on 'doing it for her' it came across as very 1950's. I still don't see how it's 'for you' or 'for your DH' - it's simply because you live there and it needs doing, but I can understand you feel differently. I think we all have a friend like that - I know I do, I feel for her DH - he's a lovely guy, does loads more than she does, is better with the kids than she is and all she does is moan at him sad

Lavenderhoney Sun 28-Oct-12 19:04:08

Hope you are feeling better. Tbh, I stick the tv on if I am cleaning, you can't amuse dc - how old is your ds- and clean if they are very young. Maybe ds wanted attention and he just decided ds was more important?

Agree get a cleaner if you can afford it, and make a plan for him to learn to drive. Plus maybe leave him with ds to build a relationship without you. I learnt to leave them to it- ie dh and dc go out for tea etc and I stay home but not to clean necessarily! If he doesn't like his shoes, next weekend what about a trip without you to get the right ones? And you just say great whatever they are.

Cooking, let him cook what he likes and just eat it really. It's practise lke everything. Maybe he and your ds could do it together? Follow easy scone recipe to start with? And you go out for bit. I know I got very controlling myself and had to learn to let go. Wine and a good book helped .

You need a plan with your dh, little steps, and lots of talking not confrontational iykwim

JustFabulous Sun 28-Oct-12 19:09:00

Why did you "praise him profusely"?

DH will tell me he has done X and I find myself saying thank you and it bugs me every time. He is only telling me so that I know it is done and I don't have to do it but I never tell him I have done X (unless it is iron his shirts and I want a thank you.)

The baby is his too and if he thinks more than 30 minutes of tv is fine for his son then that is his choice. It sounds like you micro manage him and act like you are in charge of him. You aren't.

Maybe draw up a rota of who does what if you can't just both get on and do what needs doing without being told.

AutumnMadness Sun 28-Oct-12 19:34:48

Hi Ladies. Thank you for all your responses. You are all right in many ways. I don't even know where to start answering. I definitely have issues of my own. DH is not my first marriage. ExH was even more "useless" (i.e. did not have a job AND did not do anything around the house AND left me for another woman, but in hindsight it was my own stupid fault for falling for him).

I know I SHOULD stop watching DH like a hawk. We should not have been dressing a toddler together, but the said toddler was tantruming and I was trying to help. But I should not have done it.

I MUST stop driving DH to his hobby. I promised myself this a million times, but every time he manages to charm me into doing it.

I don't think I am being terribly picky about the housework standards. I will honestly eat anything that DH makes and say thanks. I am just genuinely grateful and happy when somebody cooks for me. I "praised him profusely" just because I was really happy to see him do something for us. I don't think it was condescending, although I did joke about "men at work" (MUST stop this).

You are right that I hate how he does pretty much everything. He folds the laundry wrong, loads the dishwasher wrong, hands out laundry wrong, etc., but I keep my gob shut about it 90% of the time. But there are probably vibes in the air. . . There are sometimes consequences of this - e.g. we both really want to go to a particular concert. DH said he would buy the tickets. It is coming up very soon, I reminded him several times. No tickets. Most likely, we are not going.

Why did I marry him? He is kind, funny, we share interests, we want (at least seem to) same things from life. I fell in love. But these things are so complex, I am never sure. Things were better before we bought the house because there was simply less housework. We did not need to do any DIY in a rented property. Now we do. And there is loads of it. And I am the one doing it.

Usually, things are ok. I explode when stuff piles up. Like today. Or when I simply feel the pressure of being responsible for everything - I do probably 70% of the housework, most of the childcare (although DH is very good with DS), ALL the DIY, ALL the finances, etc.

Thanks for listening.

izzyizin Sun 28-Oct-12 20:14:43

I don't see it as a big deal that you're the driver in the family but instead of ferrying him to his 'hobby', I suggest you drop him off at woodworking or painting & decorating classes or some other course where he'll acquire practical skills that will be of use around the house.

If he can't be arsed to learn how to drive he'll have to get a bicycle/moped, or live by a bus stop/train station for the rest of his life. Or work his way up the corporate ladder until he gets a chauffeur driven car- when he retires he'll be able to afford a cab account on his pension.

He 'hands out' laundry wrong? Jeez, wtf is that about? If the laundry and the dishes come out clean, does it matter how they're loaded/folded/handed out?

DIY isn't housework and if he can't be taught how to repair/remodel/refurbish, he'll need to pay someone to do it for him - or you could play to your strengths by devolving full responsibiity for ds/shopping/cooking/cleaning onto him during the time that you get to ply the electric drill etc.

If he fucks up a few times and you end up with takeaways, so be it. Eventually he'll get the hang of it and if he begins to gain some confidence in his abilitiy to spin a few plates unaided, he might begin to excel at multitasking.

Rotas for housework/childcare/chores and spreadsheets for bill payments, clothes/gift/ticket buying/, savings etc may be your salvation. Blow them up, make sure they're prominently displayed, and get both of you into the habit of checking them on a daily basis - and checking off what's been accomplished.

If your best laid plans come to naught, console yourself with the thought that you won't be one of those who doesn't know how to change a lightbulb/pay the baker when your oh joins the choir immortal.

FWIW, never try to dress a tantrumming toddler mobhanded.

NettleTea Sun 28-Oct-12 20:30:24

why does everything have to be done the way you say? Whos to tell that he doesnt think that you fold the laundry wrong, or hand it out wrong. And if he is tidying up, why is it wrong to let the kid watch tv rather than hang on his legs?
He must feel as if every move he makes he is being scrutinised and judged, and he comes up failing every time.
You sound a bit bossy/control freakish tbh. though I do understand what you say about how all responsibility seems to fall on you regarding sorting stuff out which, once you have a toddler, can be a bit much, even though it may not have been in the past.

endoftherainbow Sun 28-Oct-12 20:31:18

Stuff piles up and yes we need to have a rant. If the foundations are there you've got something to build on, be it through a rota or simple designation of tasks. In our house the 'royal we' ends up booking the baby sitter or we'd never go out. Occasionally it winds me up but if I didn't do it I wouldn't get a good night out away from dc's. Check out the tickets on line for the concert your DH mentioned and book it together - sometimes situations like dressing a stroppy toddler, just takes 2 to get it done. Laundry - my DH is rubbish at folding it!

ivykaty44 Sun 28-Oct-12 20:54:02

ExH was even more "useless"

I feel there is a theme going on here and the theme is you rather than your husbands - sorry. I think you really want to control everything and just can't let theings go and this is a major problem in any relationship you are going to have - every husband you have will be useless.

DIY -some men hate it and some woman hate it - the thing is you don't have to do the DIY you can get someone in to do the DIY or you can do it. Think of a chore that you really really hate - how would you like it if your oh kept harping on about you doing this chore all the time?

You either need to share the tasks and get off your oh back - as you are making him insecure and feel rubbish about his parenting and household tasking.

you do it all and shut up about it


pay someone to clean
pay for DIY jobs
pay for the gardening

or a selection of the above as long as you jump down of his back and let him be - please

AutumnMadness Sun 28-Oct-12 23:42:08

Thanks again. All of this is giving me food for thought. I guess I am a bit of a control freak. Sorry about "hand out laundry". It was meant to be "hang out". DH invariably manages to hang it out in a way that it never dries.

I think getting a cleaner is unavoidable. And so is paying for DIY as I just cannot do it all myself. We are already paying for a lot of it. But we can't pay our way out of everything. We have good jobs, but that THAT good. And I can't "make him pay for it" as it is our family money after all. Exemplary episode yesterday: We drive to DH's hobby. It takes place in the middle of nowhere, over an hour drive from home. I drop DH off and drive off with DS to do our thing. Mobile reception is bad. When we return to pick DH up six hours later, DH says that he forgot a major piece of kit at home, that he tried to ring me, but could not reach me, and he ended up buying another one for 200 quid. He was very apologetic. But this is the way we get on and all these things have tangible financial consequences. 200 quid will not bankrupt us, but it's a lot for us. I was not upset and was understanding, btw.

But I hear what you are all saying. I am controlling. I also think that I am perhaps taking out on my DH some of the frustrations with my work. But I also hate to think that money seems to be the solution out of everything. What if we did not have it? Would we end up fighting all the time? Would I have a choice between divorce, doing it all myself and putting up with greasy dishes and sticky floors? Two educated adults seem to be unable to share out and do the housework . . .

We now agreed that he will do three days of cooking and cleaning the kitchen a week. We had this before, but let it slide. And I must be more tolerant or just not care.

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