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I've been asking DH to share the burden of housework for ten years now, AIBU to issue an ultimatum?

320 replies

WiggyClawsThe2nd · 21/05/2022 21:14

Just that really. Have tried every single way of asking. I've shouted and screamed in frustration, I've burst into tears, I've quietly and calmly asked, I've made reasoned arguments as to why it should be an equal division of labour (at different times!) Every time he agrees to do more. And then does even less. If I raise it now he acts like I'm being a nag, or hysterical over something unimportant. Am now at the end of my tether. AIBU to give him an ultimatum?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

1019 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
WarOnSlugs · 22/05/2022 04:09

STBXH eventually admitted that he had no intention of doing more, despite earlier lies to the contrary, as he doesn't believe he should have to do any of those things. Pure entitlement. Anything he does round the house, or packing for holidays, or getting stuff ready for the DCs parties, it's all him helping me because it's all my responsibility.

Glad to hear you are divorcing him. What a pig.

All we can do really is

  1. Not accept this behaviour from men; and

  2. Raise our sons to understand that no women worth having will accept this behaviour from men
WarOnSlugs · 22/05/2022 04:12

Basically do you wish to be his servant? If no, then tell him it's not happening anymore. His choices are to do his share or leave. If he then leaves, that is HIS choice, not yours: his choice that he wasn't prepared to do 50% of the work in a household with two adults and expected you to be his servant.

Bye! Shut the door on your way out.

WarOnSlugs · 22/05/2022 04:21

2) Raise our sons to understand that no women worth having will accept this behaviour from men

And this part requires leading by example. Modelling to young boys that if men don't behave like adults and do their fair share then they lose their family, their relationship. They compromise their relationship with their children.

We need to make it understood that the expectation is 50/50 and anything other than that will have to be negotiated based on circumstances.

Young boys I think especially need to see this, that this is expected of them. They want to be like their dads. So their dads need to step up and stop being shit role models. Either be a good role model or get out of your child's life entirely. The best thing obviously is for them to have a great dad (can be fine co-parenting, as long as both parents have respect and never say crap stuff about each other and work together, communicating about DCs needs properly etc). But it's worse for them to have a shit non-resident parent than no non-resident parent at all in their lives. I wish people would put the DC first when they decide what to do.

WarOnSlugs · 22/05/2022 04:24

And it's definitely better for them to have one good parent than a shit one and one who is miserable.

So yeah, in your place OP I'd have walked ages ago. Try to talk to him. Give him the ultimatum. Explain why. If he doesn't get it now he never will, so leave.

Ottersmith · 22/05/2022 05:11

You need to go on strike for at least a week.

Stellamar · 22/05/2022 05:54

A cleaner will be a lot less expensive than a divorce, no matter how tight money is.

Just get a cleaner.

If that's the only problem, that is.

Stellamar · 22/05/2022 05:56

And get a dishwasher.

knittingaddict · 22/05/2022 05:57

Samarie123 · 22/05/2022 03:01

Never nag! It’s the most off putting thing ever

What's your definition of nag?

Women asking? Women standing up for themselves?

Your post is misogynistic.

daisychain01 · 22/05/2022 06:07

@WiggyClawsThe2nd please don't use the word "silly" - it's the word men use to gaslight and minimise concerns.

Same as hysterical and nagging, that vocabulary is based on misogyny and the notion of woman as an irrelevant tick under their skin who just needs to shut up and stop highlighting how useless they are.

After 10 years, forget trying to have a useful conversation about fair division of housework, your DH knows he can (as he sees it) let you have your rant safe in the knowledge that there are no consequences and he can leave all that boring stuff to you.

daisychain01 · 22/05/2022 06:10

Totally agree @knittingaddict nagging is only ever associated with women. If it's ever used to describe a man, it's normally accompanied by them being described as "you old woman". Vile.

Goodskin46 · 22/05/2022 06:16

WiggyClawsThe2nd · 21/05/2022 23:02

I reckon you're right.

There's a toddler in the mix and right there is the reason it's come to a head. 2 adults can
a) Live in a shit hole
b) Make much less mess
c) Collecrively have more time.

Makes all rhe difference. The 10 had me fooled actually this is your first year back after maternity leave I'd say this was bang on schedule.

sammylady37 · 22/05/2022 06:24

Someone’s DH doesn’t clean his own vomit from the sink for 2 weeks and she describes him as ‘a great Dad’ ? Jesus Christ. Such low standards. He’s a shit Dad. He’s showing his children that he expects others to clean up after him, that he doesn’t care if his wife and children have clean environments and homes, that he deems basic hygiene measures to be beneath him etc. Not a great Dad at all.

HandScreen · 22/05/2022 06:39

Get a cleaner, and he pays. Problem solved.

HandScreen · 22/05/2022 06:40

A cleaner is a lot cheaper than counselling.

newnamethanks · 22/05/2022 06:41

Ultimatum? Good idea, do that in the first few weeks of your relationship and mean it. After TEN YEARS?😅

Anycrispsleft · 22/05/2022 07:03

I think before I left I might give "nagging" a try. He's said he would do his share of the cleaning if only you didn't nag, but then when you stay silent he does nothing. So now you know that a) staying silent doesn't help and b) he doesn't like it when you complain. So why not make his life uncomfortable for a change by complaining about it whenever it happens? You never know, he might hate it so much he actually washes a dish.

Alternatively, just leave. I don't know how men can be like this. You never hear of women doing this. Women see a job and they just pitch . Some men too. But some of them seem to be not quite right in the head. It's not even a good deal. I would much rather do a bit of hoovering than end up out on my ear, not living in the same house as my kids, all my wife's love and respect for me having leaked away.

Nellynoo182 · 22/05/2022 07:15

Show him this article or buy him this book!

I always remind my husband of it when he starts slacking 😂

I think it is powerful though!

Trivester · 22/05/2022 07:20

If he does the cooking and shopping every other week, could they not become his chores all the time? And if he's the only one cooking, he'll get annoyed at no clean utensils way before you do, so leave the washing up for him as well

There is no ultimatum that will work here. Your best bet is silence and action. If you say nothing, it’s harder for him to work out what’s happening and try to undermine you.

Just stop doing any cooking, dishes or kitchen cleaning. If he queries or asks you to do it, say you’re busy doing the hoovering (or whatever), or that you’ll get round to it if he doesn’t keep on at you. But never, ever tell him you’re leaving it to him, or he’ll stop doing that too.

Honestly I’m tired just writing that down. The resentment would wear we out.

Plantlifeandsoul · 22/05/2022 07:22

I had this for a similar amount of time and this is what we did and where we are at.

  1. I realised that I was carrying the load in terms of cleaning and I’d been slowly boiled. Similarly to you tried to talk about it and change it ourselves but nothing worked. Me ‘nagging’ and ‘complaining’ and him just not doing it in any sustained way.
  2. I decided to tackle it very methodically. We sat down and each secretly wrote down the frequency of when we thought each cleaning task should be done in our eyes. It included a ‘never’ option. We then compared. Where we differed we met in the middle (e.g he says windows clean every 2 years and I say every 6 months then we agree every year is our standard. It did get better but not for very long but when he says ‘I will clean the windows for you’ or ‘I don’t see why the windows need cleaning’ I can remind him that they are our democratically agreed shared standards. They are not MY standards. This isn’t for ME. It’s what WE agreed.
  3. Things still weren’t changing and other things were difficult. Counsellor - realised what is underlying his aversion to cleaning (mother son stuff) and that he doesn’t see it - just literally a perception thing. He doesn’t see it as woman’s work. He does agree it’s his job too. He wants to be an equal partner.
  4. We set a rota - agreed by both - different room for half an hour each week (list of how to clean it in a folder - all jointly agreed). We each have our own list of rooms to do so it’s clear who has/hadn’t done something. We set the day that the room will be cleaned (to fit in with our own work schedule) so it gets done weekly - only half an hour. No more. It’s easy to fit in half an hour - no ‘haven’t had time’ excuses.
  5. Used Fair Play cards to divide up all other domestic tasks. Review weekly.

Current situation around 7 years on is that it is better. The house is cleaner and I’m not doing it all anymore. I have more respect for him and I feel more respected by him in this respect. There are still things that arenot done properly in my eyes but with the fair play system you get to set the minimum standards together and then can review things so I don’t need to raise it (AKA Nag) because I know that I can bring it up at the half hour review meeting.

It’s been hard work and it’s not perfect. I still sometimes get ‘I am doing this for you because it matters to you’ rather than an acceptance that this is just the stuff that needs doing. But I now can remind him that they are ‘our’ agreed standards.

If this is the only thing making it unbearable then it might be worth you reading ‘Fair Play’ by Eve something or other. If you use the cards then you agree minimum standards together and you can re assign tasks.

Do you understand why he doesn’t do it? Does he understand how that impacts on you? Understanding that might help you to empathise with each other more. That’s a good starting place from which to then set boundaries with each other. I now don’t critique or nag him about it but have to raise it when we review things. He now can’t shirk his duty because it’s all transparent and clear.

I am not going to tell you that this all makes our relationship hunky dory. But it has helped. But it’s been a looooong process. Hopefully you can use this to fast track your journey - I think the Fair Play book and then assign rooms might be enough?
stuntbubbles · 22/05/2022 07:30

Samarie123 · 22/05/2022 03:01

Never nag! It’s the most off putting thing ever

Oh no! Heaven forfend she puts off this lazy, dirty, disrespectful man!

Knifer · 22/05/2022 07:34

LaWench · 21/05/2022 23:14

My Mum did it. I'm proud of her for standing up for herself. It broke my Dad though as he had no idea how frustrated she was doing everything at home.

Then he deserved the divorce either way. He was married to her. Did he really not know? Really never noticed her scrubbing away, leaving herself a fraction of the free time he had? Or did he just not care that he pushed her to the limit of her endurance with his selfishness until the consequences of his inaction smacked him in the face?

Men think women owe them a standard of living in the home that they're unwilling to achieve on their own. They expect this as a given, and it harkens back to the days when men worked and women kept house on the small amount of money a man would allocate to them and considered themselves taken care of. The days are gone but the entitlement remains and it remains because everyone enables it!! Your mum said "fuck this" and every woman who has said the same has left a husband who is utterly shocked that his wife didn't have him on a pedestal while she happily scrubbed around him.

ImplementingTheDennisSystem · 22/05/2022 07:46

I gave DH an ultimatum after 15 years and he did change.
I said that, for the first time in our relationship, I was actively looking at flats to rent on my own.
I hadn't struggled with him not pulling his weight for all of that time. We lived in a small flat and then a small house with small garden, which took me just a couple of hours a week to keep on top of. Then we moved to a big house with big garden and I was doing it all. It made me reflect back and realise "actually, he never used to do his share in our previous homes".
I've finally accepted that he will NEVER notice that something needs doing, and denying that was causing me immense stress. Rotten vegetables in the salad drawer? Yep, if i dont deal with them they will sit there until they liquefy into a black slurry.
So what we've done is allocate him certain jobs which can be regularly scheduled. He does the hoovering, polishing, cleaning windows, mowing the lawn, putting out the recycling and putting out the bins and has alarms set on his phone to tell him when to do them. The agreement is that he must do the chore when the alarm goes off - no snoozing or cancelling it.
On top of that we take it in turns to do the food shop (which he has always shared with me). He also cooks dinner more often than me (as he has always done) as he loves to cook. BUT I've had to educate him that 'sorting out the kitchen' after you've cooked doesn't just mean doing a basic round of washing up and walking away. It means making sure the sink is clean, wiping down the surfaces and sweeping the floor.
If I feel like things are slipping, I just say "come on, things are slipping again, which means you're obviously willing to take the piss out of me" and he immediately ups his game.
No, it's not a perfect solution, and I wish I didnt have to act like his manager, but it's working for us.

Petros9 · 22/05/2022 07:48

Unless there are much deeper issues in the relationship, surely this can be worked through without a divorce/ departure. Can you say to your child a few years later, I left your daddy because he didn't do enough cleaning?

It amazes me how quickly some MN posters advocate divorce for relatively minor issues (like a husband not liking her cat, for instance). Marriage has to involve bearing with one another. It's a lifelong commitment.

MissLucyEyelesbarrow · 22/05/2022 07:52

JesusSufferingFuck22 · 21/05/2022 22:32

When me and dh both worked full time it was like pulling teeth to get him and ds to do any housework. I used to huff and puff and get so fucking angry about them not cleaning, or not cleaning properly.
Fast forward to today. I've been physically disabled for 5 years. I am utterly convinced they don't see the mess like I do. We have different standards. In order to survive and not destroy myself through resentment and annoyance I learned to ignore most of the clutter and jobs needing done. They don't do the jobs but they know no one else is going to do them. Some days it's like torture. They just can't see how to create order. I've stopped being personally offended every time they don't do something.
After 20 years of marriage I became disabled. They've had 5 years to adjust and they have only now made the tiniest bit of progress.

I'm sorry to hear about your difficult situation, but I don't see dust or dirt with my vagina.

Men are just as capable of seeing it and dealing with it as women. They just choose not to.

Sitonthestoopandchat · 22/05/2022 08:02

I have a husband who does nothing around the house. He works from 6am until 10pm seven days a week for our business, or near enough. So I have the drudge work - all of it - and being a parent all on my shoulders. We are financially comfortable and I think that is why I put up with it. Also, he doesn't have any spare time either. So it's not as though I am doing stuff while he is chilling out. I had a very unstable (chaotic) life before I met him and he is quite a stable person in many ways and reliable. I think that is why I put up with it. However, I do daydream sometimes about being wirh someone who cooks for me, makes me laugh and spends his evenings with me (and does the washing). In the future we will get a cleaner.

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