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How do I get DH to listen without telling me I'm trying to start an argument.

(24 Posts)
shutthedoor Mon 01-Apr-13 20:32:48

We've been married for 8 years, and we have a very good relationship. The problem is, he's just not proactive when it comes to doing stuff around the house. If I ask him to do stuff, he'll do it straight away, but I would love to not have to ask!

So, today, we have our conversation which we have at least once a month, where I say 'I want you to help me more with housework, I want you to do x, y, z.' And his response is 'Alright, I'll do it, don't nag me.' If I try to explain how frustrating it is to have to ask again and again, he just says 'Well, I don't want to argue about it,' and I'm left feeling guilty as he makes me out to be grumpy/nagging etc.

How to I deal with this? I just can't get him to understand that it's knackering for me to have to do everything, and so frustrating to be told I'm trying to start an argument when I try to discuss it with him.

Fairenuff Mon 01-Apr-13 20:41:22

I want you to help me more with housework

Do not say this! This implies that housework is your responsibility and he is the helper.

There are several things you could do. The most effective is to go on strike and when he asks why such and such isn't done, you say 'because' you haven't done it darling (with a sweet smile on your face).

But I suspect you won't do that.

tumbletumble Mon 01-Apr-13 20:53:30

Agree with Fairenuff. You need to decide together which chores are his responsibility. Then don't nag him but don't do them either. Don't cave - be strong!

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Mon 01-Apr-13 20:53:55

What about making a list of all the tasks that need doing and saying I thought we could go through these and pick which ones we'd prefer to do. I thought if I pick one and you pick one and so on, we'd divide up the jobs and both know what we're doing.
I'll take the dishes, which would you want?
That way you are not giving a to do list but deciding together and you are clearly setting it out that it's a joint responsibility not something he can 'help' you with.
And, if he doesn't then do something on his list, it doesn't get done.

Hopefully the mere act of writing everything down might make him realise just how much needs doing.

shutthedoor Mon 01-Apr-13 20:56:39

I do this, so for example, divided up household chores years ago, so I have one broken tap in the bathroom (five years), broken heater in the bathroom (one year) broken washing line (two weeks) damp in the bedroom (four years) peeling paint all over the kitchen (five years) I could go on.
So I haven't nagged, and it isn't done.
Could do the same with cooking, washing up etc, but I know what will happen.

Fairenuff Mon 01-Apr-13 21:07:23

When you divided up household chores, which ones did he get? The only things you have mentioned are repairs and decorating. Which daily jobs are his:

Planning what to eat
Shopping for food
Cooking
Washing up
Washing clothes
Ironing
Putting clothes away
Wiping surfaces
Hoovering
Cleaning
Responding to mail
Responding to email
Filing
IT
Mowing the lawn
Weeding
etc.

And then, the bigger jobs:

Cleaning the cooker
Sorting cupboards
Finances
Planning holidays
Redecorating
Arranging repairs
etc.

What are his jobs, and his alone?

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Mon 01-Apr-13 21:08:45

Ah. So basically he just can't be arsed and thinks a good silencing technique is to label any attempt to get him to do those things he should do 'nagging'

My husband uses "don't be like your mother" as an attempt to silence me whenever I say anything he doesn't want to hear.

Fortunately I learned the above phrase - "silencing technique" - on here and have been able to use it to my advantage. grin

I think then that if he's not sticking to an agreement and any attempt by you to get him to pull his weight is met with accusations of nagging then yes, all you're left with is withdrawal of your own labour for anything that is for him.

That or hiring people to do those jobs. So call in a plumber, a handyman, a decorator.

Even if all you do is get quotes and say look, you were supposed to do these things, I have been asking for years and you basically now just attempt to silence me by calling me a nag, I am left with no other choice but to sort it out myself. Since I do everything else, I have no intention of cracking on with a paintbrush etc as well, so I am going to get someone in. Or maybe I'll ask your mate X if he can sort it out. He's quite handy and I'm sure he wouldn't mind.

UnEggspectedItemInBonnetArea Mon 01-Apr-13 21:13:02

He sounds a nightmare.

There's nothing stopping you from sorting these jobs yourself, but that doesn't solve the problem that you don't feel he's pulling his weight.

shutthedoor Mon 01-Apr-13 21:18:02

He will do any of the everyday household chores, when asked, but he won't do them without being asked. Many, many times before we've drawn up lists, but it just doesn't get done.
I can't afford to get anyone in to do things.

How do I deal with the accusation of 'trying to start an argument' when I bring this issue up?

Fairenuff Mon 01-Apr-13 21:24:11

Many, many times before we've drawn up lists, but it just doesn't get done

Again, I ask you, which jobs are his?

Hassled Mon 01-Apr-13 21:26:53

He says "you're trying to start an argument" and you deny it, and keep denying it, because you're not. Tell him - you're not trying to argue, he knows that, so just do the fucking thing he needs to do. He knows he's taking the piss and taht the argument thing is just a deflection - call him on it.

shutthedoor Mon 01-Apr-13 21:31:12

The ironing, cook three times a week, wash up the other nights, sort the washing and put it on, clean the bathroom and hoover.
When he says I'm trying to start an argument, I say I'm not, and he needs to do his fair share, and he says 'I'll do it, stop going on at me.'
And if I say any more, he gets angry, especially if I point out we have this conversation every month.

DameFanny Mon 01-Apr-13 21:32:21

Yy. Stop engaging. He does out poor he doesn't. You point out what he's not doing - don't apologise. Say 'you're letting us down' for example, then walk away. Stop making it ready for him to twist things into being about you.

He wants to be a lazy fuckwit, tell him he can always go home to mother.

tribpot Mon 01-Apr-13 21:33:13

So does he actually do these things if constantly reminded about them?

DameFanny Mon 01-Apr-13 21:33:34

I've no idea what that second sentence should've said. wine.

But the rest of it stands.

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Mon 01-Apr-13 21:33:57

I wouldn't do a single thing for him, and if he mentions it, tell him not to nag.

You are being played.

shutthedoor Mon 01-Apr-13 21:36:08

If I reminded him every time a job needed doing, he would do it.
But sometimes I am not there, and tbh, I shouldn't have to text to remind him to do basic stuff like empty the washing machine.

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Mon 01-Apr-13 21:36:27

grin I spent a minute trying to work out what 'He does out poor he doesn't' meant!

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Mon 01-Apr-13 21:38:17

Don't text him then! Wash your own stuff. Cook for yourself.

Fairenuff Mon 01-Apr-13 21:41:28

Thank you, op for that information. It makes things a lot clearer.

So, The ironing, cook three times a week, wash up the other nights, sort the washing and put it on, clean the bathroom and hoover

What happens when he doesn't do these things? Do you remind him? Do you do it for him, or what?

The reason I ask is because if they are his jobs, you should leave him to do, or not do them and then face the natural consequences. You do not need to remind an adult to do things (unless they have special needs).

When he says I'm trying to start an argument, I say I'm not, and he needs to do his fair share, and he says 'I'll do it, stop going on at me.'

To be fair, I think he has a point here. Stop. Just stop telling him what to do. Why do you need to tell him?

If he doesn't cook, just cook yourself something. If he doesn't wash up, just wash up what you need for yourself. If he doesn't sort the washing, just sort your own clothes. If you can't bear a dirty bathroom, clean it yourself but don't make any comment to him about it. He will soon get the message and he won't be able to blame you at all.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Mon 01-Apr-13 21:41:46

Sorry, I obviously wasn't clear. I wasn't saying get someone in, necessarily, I said "Even if all you do is get quotes"... My thinking was that if he thinks you are going to spend money - or even worse wink ask his mate to help out, he may stop being a lazy bones about it grin It's manipulative, but it's an option.

Or, how about asking him why he thinks you're trying to start an argument and what he thinks you have to gain by starting an argument. "Why do you think I want to argue with you?"

I find that when my husband starts, if I ask him questions he finds he can't justify his position and so he backs down.

Perhaps just say "I am not arguing, I am asking you to do what we have agreed you will do. Just as I do all the things we have agreed that I will do."

Or even "Look, it's within your control. If you don't want to be asked to do the things that it is agreed you will do - do them! Then they don't remain undone for years, do they?"

Getting angry with you is a good way to shut you up, isn't it? I suggest you tell him that he can't shut you up because you refuse to be intimidated into silence.

Challenge him on his anger. Ask him if he uses it intentionally to shut you up.

I don't know. They're just suggestions off the top of my head. You may well feel they are far too confrontational for you. It's just that my husband used to pull all manner of double talk and crap on me and it used to tie me up in knots. Now I've learned how to cut through all the crap and turn it back on him and he can't get away with that kind of shit any more. grin

CabbageLeaves Mon 01-Apr-13 21:42:38

Shutthedoor-he obviously isn't going to listen. Keep trying to make him to and you will fail. Do what you need to for yourself. Go on strike pleasantly and just answer 'Dont try to start an argument' when he does. Because he will.

Plan and be out a lot. Don't be there for him to engage with. Taste of his own medicine When he's had time to reflect, offer to talk.

tribpot Mon 01-Apr-13 21:48:38

So one technique might be 'what's your preferred way of managing chore reminders? We could:
- have a whiteboard in the kitchen with a list on
- each have one of those chore apps on our smartphones
- a regular to-do app would work as well
- you could have a control journal like Flylady.'

Not starting an argument, just a discussion about which method he would prefer. If he asks what's wrong with the current method, ask him what he thinks that is and then when he says 'I do the tasks you remind me to do' you can either point out you're not his PA or say 'I find having to remind you very frustrating. I don't think it's healthy for our relationship, so please choose an alternative method'.

He clearly doesn't go into work and sits at his desk waiting for someone to wander by and say 'hey, you should write that report now' or 'go to meeting [x] after you've absorbed the following facts which will be pertinent to the discussion .. '. He doesn't need spoonfeeding in his job, why does he need it at home? It's all work.

Fairenuff Mon 01-Apr-13 22:01:44

He secretly (or possibly blatantly) believes that housework is women's work. That's why he doesn't do it until asked. And that's why he uses the term 'nag' which is usually directed at females.

There are lots of women who live with partners like this and most of them complain about it regularly. But very few actually do anything about it. That's the bit that I don't understand.

He knows it will all blow over until the next time. Even I know that op and I don't live with you. You're just one of those types that refuses to help themselves.

Sorry if that sounds a bit harsh but it's not really a difficult problem to solve is it. Most posters on this thread have unanimously voted for strike action, but you won't do that.

What you have to remember is that he will never, ever change unless you change how you react to him.

The worst that will happen is that you have to live in a mess for a few weeks. If, after that, he still doesn't bother to wash his clothes or cook himself a meal, I think it will be safe to let this one go. I think 8 years is enough time to realise what someone is like, don't you?

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