I Can’t Do It All By Myself

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wifey's Q and A

Dear Wifey:

Love your blog! I was hoping you and/or your faithful readers could help me.

My husband and I have been married 9 months, together 6 years and living together 4 years. The problem: he doesn't help around the house nearly as much as I'd like him to. From time to time, my husband comes home and tells me about the wonderful women his coworkers are married to and the ends they go to in order to please their husbands at home. It makes me feel like this is his way of telling me I'm not being a good wife and/or that I'm not doing enough for him. Why would he think this? Well because 1.) I don't do his laundry; and 2.) I only cook about 5 days a week.

My point of view: I don't live by myself and I'm not a maid. I feel like he should lend a hand sometimes. I understand he works long hours and travels for work. I'm not asking him to come home everyday and start busting suds. I'd just like him to help me out a little sometimes and pick up after himself. I do 99% of the cooking and cleaning. He leaves pots and pans all over the stove and lets the sink pile up with dirty dishes. He leaves cups and snack packages in our bedroom. He lets his shoes pile up in the living room. He leaves his opened mail scattered all over the couch. He lets his dirty clothes pile up sometimes for weeks at a time. (By the way, he was sort of a clean freak when I met him.) I work full-time just like him and even though we don't have kids yet, I'm tired of doing everything around this huge house by myself.

His point of view: He's on the road for work nearly every day working about 60 hours a week. His only day off is Sunday. He spends his days driving between three different states to manage multiple locations. Sometimes he drives 5-6 hours a day just to get to and from work. He's tired. The last thing he wants to think about is household chores. Those are the wife's responsibilities. He pays the mortgage and is the breadwinner. He shouldn't have to worry about much else.

I have expressed my feelings to him in the past. Usually he'll help me out for about a week, then his old ways set in again. Am I missing something? Am I being unreasonable? I don't know how to get through to him without it turning into the same old argument.

I'd love to get some feedback from you. Thanks in advance.


Mrs. I Can't Do It All By Myself

Dear Mrs. I Can’t Do It All By Myself:

First, let me say that you are not alone. This is such a common dilemma that couples face. Are you being unreasonable, I don’t think so. Are you missing something, perhaps the conversation about what you and your husband expected before you got married, but don’t feel bad, most of us missed this convo, too! Often couples tackle the big issues before they get married – kids and money – but who’s going to cook dinner or take out the trash is normally just assumed. It’s those assumptions and expectations that often find us on different pages.

The fact that your husband was a clean freak when you met him and has since changed his ways, coupled with the fact that he’s told you he believes household chores are the wife’s responsibility lets you know exactly where he stands. It sounds like you have communicated your stance, too. Quite honestly, you both have valid points, but unfortunately, have different expectations. Neither one is right or wrong. You might not understand or agree with each other but both of you are entitled to your point of view and you both should respect that. Here’s the fun part, you both need to find a common ground that will work for your marriage. Because your views are so opposing, one person giving in will probably lead to resentment. Decide what you are willing to compromise on then present it to your husband and ask him to do the same. Approach him positively, letting him know that his point of view is important to you and that you’d like to figure out how you both can feel comfortable with the outcome. Be patient, it might take a little while to work this out but it will definitely be worth the effort.

Winks & Smiles,

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Alright ladies, she’s asking for your help. Would love to hear your thoughts!

The advice on this site is intended to be helpful, but is not meant to take the place of marital counseling, legal advice, financial advice or any other professional service. If you feel you need professional help, it is encouraged for you to get some.


Marcia April 26, 2010 at 8:46 AM  

Welcome to The Club...this is a typical issue that comes up in marriage. Like Wifey said, usually we discuss children and money, but rarely do we discuss expectations when it comes to household duties. Question?-what was he like for the 4 years you lived together? next, I strongly suggest you make a list of what you can deal with and what are deal breakers with respect to him helping with the household duties. Then have a realistic talk with him and see if you both can come up with a common middle ground. With regards to the comments about "other wives" well, I personally would leave that alone because NO other wife is married to your husband and we all have our own unique ways of "wifehood". Become secure and confident in your wifely ways--and don't compare yourself to others--it will drive you crazy. Also...I STRONGLY urge you to work hard on this because when the children come---it brings an entire set of "whose duty is whose". Good Luck.

Anonymous,  April 26, 2010 at 9:13 AM  

I had a similar problem and the easy solution is to hire a maid. If you can't do it all, hire someone who can. There are plenty of people out there that do laundry, clean, etc ... I won't accept all of the cleaning as my duty. I do all of the cooking because I'm picky.

MOMSWEB April 26, 2010 at 12:04 PM  

Oh my, I dropped by on the wrong topic! Wifey, your answer was in your first sentence..."You are not alone." My husband believes because he works outside of the house and I don't, I should do it all. I agree I should maintain the home, but there is a difference in a help mate and a help maid. Lots of prayer, more prayer, and then some more prayer for my old school husband.

Anonymous,  April 26, 2010 at 2:49 PM  

I think if my husband came home telling me how great all these other wives were I'd tell him "Their lying". Maybe as you are cleaning you could say "Honey could you give me hand vacuuming while I do...". Because of that sentence I think my hubby has a fettish for the vacuum cleaner and I don't stop him.....EVER!!!!!

Kat @ For the Love of Chaos April 26, 2010 at 8:36 PM  

I obviously feel differently than the other ladies who commented. I have to say I side with the husband. From what she says, he works A LOT... I think it's only fair that she handles things at home. My husband is the same way; he will occasionally do things around the house but I don't ask or expect him to. I don't work, so my "job" is taking care of the kids, the house, and essentially - him. His job is to make sure that we have the financial ends for me to do those things. I guess my husband would be one of those guys that are bragging about what their wives do at home lol

I honestly believe that it's selfish to expect him to do things around the house when he spends SO much time working. Only ONE off day per week? Driving to multiple locations within a tristate area? Working an average of 60 hours per week? He deserves to be able to leave his shoes and cups around. Not saying that housework and tending to the kids is easy work by any means, but I have five young children and if I have free time despite everything I do, I'm assuming this woman has much more free time than her husband does.

I admit I'm a lot more traditional than most people are these days... but that's how I was raised. My grandmother NEVER would have even dreamed of asking my grandfather to help with her tasks... my grandfather - like my husband - was a great man, wonderful husband/father/grandfather, respectful and loving... But in their marriage (like my own) they each had their own specific role. He worked, provided, supported, protected, loved, lead. She mended, cooked, cleaned, nurtured, laundered, loved, supported. We all benefited greatly, as I expect my children will.

Unknown April 27, 2010 at 7:37 AM  

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your views and comments!

RobinLK April 27, 2010 at 11:48 AM  


My perspective: I wasn't put on this earth to cook, clean, and manage another person. For this reason, I'm neither parent, nor maid, by choice.

My husband and I both work FT, and like Angela, my husband seems to have a deep, personal relationship w/ the vacuum cleaner (Funny!). We each do our own laundry and manage our own finances.

The kitchen is, however, OUR nemesis, as he stays out and gripes when he goes in to 'clean up' after me (about once every three months). He throws everything away (including the leftovers that are supposed to be my lunch the next day) and grumbles while he scrubs. I HATE when he goes in there!

Moral of the story: Pick your battles. And stand your ground.

From... an over-40 gal who's been married before. :)

Aiyana Maat April 29, 2010 at 11:30 PM  

Amidst the various differences, perspectives, and preferences I think the most important thing to remember is what Wifey so brilliantly said: There is no right or wrong. There truly is more than one way to do and see things. I think compromise should be the focus here. What we usually do, as human beings, is judge each other's perspectives instead of negotiate our differences. But, it can be done. :-)

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