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Husband not doing chores..

(32 Posts)
LPickers Thu 28-Apr-16 11:28:45

This must be a really common problem. Had a big row last night with my husband about him not taking ownership of chores, and would like some thoughts/feedback/views please.

To provide background - I had a career and now a stay-at-home-mum (work a couple of evenings). Two kids aged 3 and 6 months. Husband has a high-level job but home 6pm each night.

At home my DH takes responsibility for emptying bins/recycling, making own sandwiches for work, sometimes ironing his shirts, and mowing the lawns. He also is supposed to trim back the garden hedges but I have to nag. He helps watch the kids.

I am turning into a nagging wife who is very stressed because I literally do everything else. Unfortunately we have moved into a house which needs a lot of work doing to it - everywhere you look there are jobs. I am doing all of the DIY - sanding, painting, organising tradesmen to repair and replace, buying and building furniture, basically anything DIY. If I see something broken I fix it. If something is dirty I clean it.

He doesn't do anything unless he is asked - several times. For instance, I do not like emptying the hoover bag (spider fear), but he will only do it once I have asked about 6 times over a few weeks and its escalated. I also also him to get stuff out of the garage for me - have to ask a million times. He never looks at something in the house and thinks - that's broken, I'll fix it. That's dirty - I will clean it. If we need something for the house in order to do jobs - a new drill, paint, a tool, he will make no attempts to arrange to get one/order one. He gets stuff out then leaves it lying around as if the fairies are going to come and put it away (I end up doing it or nagging him to tidy it),

He does not organise anything - I do all family holiday planning, kid stuff, packing to visit people, etc. At weekends he only thinks about going out on fun family days out - never about what needs to get done in the house.

Basically I feel that nothing will get done, unless I do it. It's as if he literally keeps no information in his head - no plans to do anything, or sort anything outside this stuff I've listed that he does. A HUGE ISSUE is that - I feel as if I am the parent and he is the child. His mother used to do everything for him, and it's as if he was never taught how to think about what needs doing. I find it unattractive.

We have a newborn baby and my days are absolutely packed with looking after the kids, yet I still manage to get stuff sorted. What I would really like him to do is to take ownership of some more stuff - like looking after the garden for instance. I would like for stuff to be done without me having to ask and nag....because he saw it and did it.

I used to have a professional career and I am worried about going back because I won't be able to manage it on top of what I do. We are no longer living in the fifties, surely men should now take on more of a partnership role??

NapQueen Thu 28-Apr-16 11:35:51

How was he with chores pre kids?

With a newborn and a 3yo I think you need to scale back what you do to housework only. Any diy really needs leaving until you can both do it together or of there is an opportunity for one of you to take the kids out for the day. Or pay to get someone in.

I know when I am home on a weeks leave/off on mat leave with my two I was capable and happy to get all the laundry, cleaning and shopping done and cooking was done when dh got home and could be with the kids. What I didnt do was any diy or any big jobs like going out and spending a few hours in the garden (unless they both magically napped together which may have been twice).

LPickers Thu 28-Apr-16 11:44:21

Hi NapQueen,
He was also the same before we had children. The thing I don't get is how he does not keep any planning info in his head at all. He relies on me to keep all organising and planning in my head. He won't even remember when I've asked him to do something - in one ear, out the other.

I know what you mean about DIY. I am just sick of the house looking such a state. I want the rooms to look nice. It was rented out for a long time before we moved in and had no central heating and some leaking windows plus porch needed replacing. We've had to refit stuff.

He will take the kids out for the day so I can get stuff done. But I feel that kind of makes the situation worse - he thinks all the jobs are mine! There I am, doing them again! Maybe I should take the kids out and leave him with jobs. But you know when you've already been with them every day in the week, you kind of want the head space! x

Josian Thu 28-Apr-16 11:46:24

I hear you, OP. I'm afraid I can't offer more than that as I'm dealing with a similar problem (only mine's worse - I have to do all the outdoor chores as well). If yours is anything like mine, he's quite content with the status quo and will resist any attempts to redress the imbalance.

I wish I could help!

TheCrumpettyTree Thu 28-Apr-16 11:47:03

He helps watch the kids

You talk like he's a babysitter. There is no 'helping' watch the kids when they're your own children. You're a parent. He should be fully capable of looking after them as you are as you're supposed to be a team.

ElspethFlashman Thu 28-Apr-16 12:02:03

I agree this is not the time for renovations. It's not sensible. It may be driving you crazy but if it's running you ragged then it's not adding value to your life right now.

I also would take a big step back from anything that isn't going to be disastrous to not happen. The garden for example.

Even holiday planning. Tell him he can do that this year. And if he doesn't do it? No holiday. Don't charge in on your white horse at the last minute to save the day.

Tbh I suspect you never sit down and find it very difficult to let things pile up. But that rarely results in an equal partnership as the lazier one "lets" the other one work away.

His life has to be inconvenienced in some way before he will step up. Right now he has his Mammy taking care of everything so he's not inconvenienced.

So you have to get lazier. I don't know if you'll be able to do that though.

blueberrypie0112 Thu 28-Apr-16 12:48:17

You are describing my life. My husband does some things, but I have to nag him trim the hedges.....which still haven't happened. And a few other thing. Someone once suggested to make a honey to do list and let them go off of that instead of nagging but I never tried that.

I think more than anything, he should spend more time with the kids. It is healthy for the kids to be with their dad and unhealthy for them to stay with one person all the time (they need "diversity" of you get my point)

RandomMess Thu 28-Apr-16 12:56:51

I delegated the food shopping and cooking when I went back to work because it directly effects him. I also let him get on with it without criticism and was patient during his learning curve.

I used to wash clothes in the evenings and it was his job to hang them up.

I think it's a case of you tell him it's his job and expect him to get on with it.

Saturday morning - "you need to go clean the bathroom whilst I ..."

I also suggest reading the book "wifework"

blueberrypie0112 Thu 28-Apr-16 12:58:11

Oh one thing that does not make sense and your husband is probably thinking the same is that why you have to ask him to empty the vacuum cleaner (i am in the U.S. Hoover is a brand name to a vacuum cleaner so we call it vacuuming instead of hoovering) when you do all these DIY projects, I find more spiders from fixing things around the than in the vacuum. This is one thing I would let it go and do it myself.

I do ask my husband to do the mowing because I get asthma every single time I try to mow.

Joysmum Thu 28-Apr-16 13:01:46

I had similar but the hours I put in to parenting and chores still didn't come close to the hours my DH was out of the house so there wasn't much I could do. Since then he's cut back and after several very heated sessions he is now busy proving that he can take on more if it'd make me happy to return to employment.

When munchkin was younger I did point out the costs of childcare and remind him we didn't want her in childcare do he'd have to revert to predictable hours and a 40 hour week to allow me to return to work. I think that rattled his cage.

bonzo77 Thu 28-Apr-16 13:15:04

*blueberry" hmm. She asked him to empty the bag in the vacuum cleaner. Not sure why you've picked up on this. Op is scared of spiders. It's not rational. It just is what it is! And why the pedantry regarding Hoover / vacuum. This is a uk site. Hoover is local parlance. We know what it means.

Op. I get it. I have no answers. Wish I did. This link was posted once (or more) on MN. Rang many bells. Still not sure of the answers!! drive.google.com/file/d/0B0UUYL6kaNeBTDBRbkJkeUtabEk/view?pref=2&pli=1

blueberrypie0112 Thu 28-Apr-16 13:25:56

Not a big deal about Hoover/vacuum...I just don't know how to put it in the right sentence if I never used the word Hoover.

I was just saying I find more spiders when I am fixing up homes. I know about fear, I have fear of vomit and cleaning it up (so much that I vomit on top of it) so my husband typically clean it up for me. Unless no one is around so I do not have a choice for my kids sake.

But yeah, you are right, it can not be explain. It just fear.

Moistly Thu 28-Apr-16 13:32:33

My Dh is similar. I've even sat down and asked him why he doesn't seem to notice mess. He replied it just doesn't matter to him the same way it does to me confused. His own mother wasn't exactly encouraging about him doing chores at home so it's no surprise he's ended up this way. He doesn't bother to wash up, empty bins, hoover, tidy. It caused huge grief between us until I eventually decided to just take ownership of it all. I do it all better anyway.
He does the food shopping which is good cos that's something I hate. He cooks a lot too.
I think there is a lot you really just have to let go and accept. Maybe a sit down and a chat about it too.

buddy79 Thu 28-Apr-16 13:37:03

I sometimes feel very similar, though not to the same extreme. I think the frustration is that I often feel responsible for all the 'thinking' side of running a household which is not recognised at all. DH never learnt how to do any housework growing up either and always says he just doesn't think of it. I would suggest talking to your DH, calm, not an argument, translate all the tasks you are doing into how it makes you feel - unappreciated, stressed, unequal. That Its bad for your relationship. Then say specifically what you would like him to do and how that would really help you to feel happier. This actually worked really well for us when things like total etc ended up just being totally ignored!! And yeah I don't change the Hoover bag either! X

buddy79 Thu 28-Apr-16 13:38:46

Rotas not total!

Baconyum Thu 28-Apr-16 13:47:57

Ugh why do women have children with men behaving like this? My ex tried it on for a short while when I was between jobs and at home but then when I was working again he assumed I'd STILL be doing everything! Er nope! It was actually HIS mum (who had absolutely not raised him this way not had his father or stepfather) who said 'well bugger him, leave all his stuff for him to do'. As we'd no dc at this point I also didn't do his food shopping cooking anything! Within a week he apologised and pulled his socks up!

Do the essentials for you and dc and the rest he learns to do or suffers! Holiday - plan one for you and dc if he wants to come he bloody well stops being so lazy and organises!

Friendlystories Thu 28-Apr-16 14:12:22

It's as much the fact that they just don't see what needs doing as the unequal split of work I think, the lack of initiative to just do what needs doing. I hate having to ask for something to be done when, to me, it's obvious it needs to be done so why hasn't he just done it? It makes me feel like a nag when I have to ask and I hate being made to feel like that so it's not just about him not pulling his weight, it's the way it makes me feel about myself (because I have to ask) and the way it makes me feel about him because he doesn't take responsibility automatically, you know, because he's an adult! My DH has improved massively, I don't nag and I don't ask him to do stuff, I do sometimes point out the fact that things need doing but only if it's something that will affect the rest of the family. I try to confine the jobs I do to things which benefit me and DD and leave the things which affect mainly him so that, if he doesn't do them, it's him that suffers. It felt petty to begin with but it has worked because he has started thinking for himself, I've made it clear I'm not his mum and I'm not responsible for managing his life or our home. It's not a matter of an equal split of chores for me, he works more hours so I do more in the home, it's about taking equal responsibility for managing family life and not assuming I will take full responsibility for that. It sounds like that's your problem too and it might seem like my strategy wouldn't work for you because it's mainly diy/garden stuff but it's about him adjusting his mindset so it might be worth giving it a try, even with general household stuff, in the hope that it might make him realise he has to think for himself and that might then spill over into the stuff that's really bothering you. I've had to make adjustments too, I suppose I've met him in the middle because I don't stress if things don't get done quite as quickly as I'd like but I can't refuse to micromanage him and then complain when things don't get done my way or on my schedule iyswim.

lucy101101 Thu 28-Apr-16 14:24:29

Have you seen this thread:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/2543620-Incompetent-husband-anyone-else

Strategic incompetence... there is an interesting link to a blog of a divorced man somewhere in the thread. He talks about every time he left a dirty cup on the side he realised he was effectively saying "fuck you" to his wife.

I shared the links with my husband. I also wrote him an email explaining why we could not continue with me becoming the parent to everyone... it isn't sexy to start with... and I hated being a nag.

It has got better but of course may slide back again....

Wuffleflump Thu 28-Apr-16 14:34:11

It sounds to me like you're doing a whole load of things that aren't necessary, and are important only to you.

Think about what really needs to be done.

What is the worst-case scenario if the hedges aren't trimmed immediately?

What is so bad about the kids having a good time while the house doesn't look perfect? Do you think the kids care?

And be honest with yourself: would you want to go on a holiday he planned? Are you really happy to go anywhere, do anything so long as he plans it? Or do you actually have a laundry list of requirements that will infuriate you if he doesn't think of them?

Kids need to be fed, educated, healthy and happy. That's a big enough job without piling extras on.

LPickers Thu 28-Apr-16 22:06:37

Thank you for all the comments xx

Lucy 101101: I read the blog you mentioned out to my husband!..... there is an interesting link to a blog of a divorced man somewhere in the thread. He talks about every time he left a dirty cup on the side he realised he was effectively saying "fuck you" to his wife.
He said he did not believe it was written by a man, but by a scorned woman!!
I do sometimes quote it.

Fern25: You've got it spot-on.

To be fair he is very good with the kids. He plays with them a lot and takes them out so I can have time (to clean! ha ha). It was a bit harsh of me to phrase it: "helps watch the kids".

We do not have a lot of available cash, so I can't afford a cleaner. I am also aware (particularly with the garden), that if you don't keep on top of things it then becomes costly to fix. Like, really overgrown. Our garden is quite high maintenance. It needs little and often.
I feel my house is always a state, even though I try to do as much as I can.

Have spoken to husband about this again and he has agreed to put a plan of action for himself in place. He said he needs to write things down. He seems quite excited about taking ownership and doing things himself. So we will see...
He has said all this before (we've had this conversation many times) but his time I was a bit more brutally honest (it's not attractive, I'm not happy, stressed, etc) so perhaps things will change this time.

chocolatemuppet Thu 28-Apr-16 22:44:41

See to me this is about being 'responsible' for everything rather than the actual doing of things. Feel for you OP - the weight of responsibility really weighs down on me too. And in my case I have my 3, and DH's 2. It's that 'Buck rests with me' stuff. Sorting the holidays / mortgages / bills / car etc. How nice it would be to be able to just rock up home, knowing all of that was taken care of!

TheNaze73 Fri 29-Apr-16 07:35:57

I'm with waffle The things you're banging on about, are important to you. Do you do things that he thinks are important like changing oil filters on the car, rehanging doors or rewiring. I think you need to explain why it's important rather than just keep getting on his case

LPickers Fri 29-Apr-16 20:49:38

Hit the nail on the head that its about being responsible, rather than actually doing things. He sees everything (except the things Ive listed he does) as my responsibility.

He wants for me to delegate and manage things. Its the weight of keep all this info in my head that's stressful. He keeps very little in his head - expects me to remember, remind him, organise.

TheNaze73 - who changes oil filters? Or hangs doors? Neither of us would know where to start. That's for tradesmen. I do actually do some electrics though. I sand, paint, clean grouting, reseal leaking bath, shorten length of wire of light fittings (which only matters to him - he is tall and hits his head on them). I do all cooking. He never cleans bathroom. A lot what what I do matters to him and affects him.

Id like him to take responsibility for the garden. He loves being outdoors. And of course I explain why these things are important - always.

LPickers Fri 29-Apr-16 20:54:28

And further to that, he wouldn't care about the electrics or how doors hang. He seems to care about the state of very little actually.
I even have to remind him several times about the date his car insurance expires. And guess what - this year I ended up even sorting that for him - going on GoCompare and getting him a new deal. His standard response is:"You are better at that than me".

Friendlystories Fri 29-Apr-16 21:11:06

His standard response is:"You are better at that than me".

My Dad has always used this excuse when DM asks why he never makes her a cup of tea. Makes me want to kick him repeatedly in the knackers every time angry Now I'm an adult (and he can no longer ground me!) I've taken to pointing out that he won't get any better at it if he doesn't practice, one to try on your DH maybe wink

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