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Some guys love to clean. Some guys clean because they want a clean house. And some guys could care less. If your husband is in group three (like mine), read on to see the surprising truths I learned about husbands and housework, and how you can be happy even if yours doesn’t do much cleaning.

Multipurpose spray, microfiber cloth, Shout color catchers, and Dawn dish soap with the words "The Secret to Reluctant Husbands and Housework: It's Not What You Think!"

I have an AMAZING husband. Seriously, he’s the best. He loves me unconditionally, picks me up when I’m feeling down, is an A+ dad, and wants to help me achieve my goals and dreams.

But the one thing he struggles with is housework. He doesn’t really like it (okay, neither do I), but more than that, he doesn’t really care. He honestly doesn’t notice when the dishes pile up, when the trash is full, or when the laundry pile is bigger than our heads. It doesn’t bother him, so he just doesn’t notice it.

I spent a lot of time being really frustrated by this. And I’ll be honest, it still sometimes bothers me. But the reality is that if that’s his one flaw, I’m seriously blessed. And more than that, he has a desire to help me, he’s just not always sure how to do so. Housework is not his strength 🤷.

So I’ve learned a few things over the years about dealing husbands who struggle with housework. Here are some important things to consider:

1. Tell him what you need help with.

It took me a long time to understand that he really didn’t notice the dishes piling up in the sink. To me it was like, “How can you not notice that? It’s staring you down!” But it doesn’t bother him, so he doesn’t notice it. It bothers me and I feel like I can’t relax when the dishes aren’t done, but that’s me, not him.

Plus, I do the dishes 80% of the time, so it’s just not on his radar. (Side note: I’m not complaining that I do 80% of the dishes. That’s how we chose to have it divided up in our house and he has his own list of things he contributes to our family.)

So if I’m super stressed and have too much on my plate that I can’t deal with the dishes that day, I can’t expect him to just do them for me. That’s just not going to happen. But if I tell him I need a little extra help right now and ask him to do the dishes? He’ll do them right away! It’s not that he doesn’t WANT to do them. It’s just that he needs a little nudge in the right direction.

As women, I think we sometimes expect our husbands to read our minds. And guess what? They just aren’t that good at it 😂. And no wonder–humans can’t read minds. So make a pledge right now to tell your husband what you need from him. I bet he’d be happy to help! He just needs some direction on what to do.

2. Let go of expectations.

I’m a perfectionist and I like things done a certain way. So when my husband does do the dishes, and inevitably does it differently than me (and, in my opinion, not as well as me 😅), it’s really hard for me to let it go. But really, I just need to be grateful he wanted to help. Does it really matter HOW the dishes were done? Probably not. The point is that they’re DONE.

Sometimes I have to fight the tendency to reload the dishwasher the way I prefer to load it, but if I undo all the work he did, can I really expect him to ever do it again? No. That’s inconsiderate of his time and effort and is frankly a waste of mine too. And if I criticize him or micromanage, he’s probably going to give up and never do it again. Instead I take a deep breath and recognize that everyone does things differently. And that’s okay.

3. Be grateful.

I’m constantly reminding myself to let my husband know I’m grateful he helped out around the house. To say thank you. To give him a kiss. To let him know how much I appreciate all that he does for our family. When I let him know how much his help means, it gives him an incentive to do it more. Seriously, this works wonders. Show enough gratitude and your husband might just do the dishes every day until you stop!

Does a messy house bother your husband?

If you want more tips on how to have a happy marriage, check out these posts:

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One of the biggest lessons I've learned over my 8.5 years of marriage centers all around expectations: the ones we have for ourselves and the ones we have for our spouse. There's one truth about expectations that changed everything for me. Read more here.

2 comments on “The Secret to Reluctant Husbands and Housework”

  1. Does he thank you and states he’s grateful for you every time you do things, like 80% of the housework?

    I just think it’s total BS that we should be grateful our husbands “help out”. It’s like being grateful for a husband who “babysits the kids” so you can get personal things done. Marriage is 50/50 and a partnership. We need to stop coddling our husbands and making them feel like they need to be rewarded for going what they are partly responsible for in a marriage.

    This is why they don’t see it as something important because they had someone doing all of this for them growing up and into their adulthood.

    I’m thankful I had parents that taught us there was no women’s work or men’s work. Granted, there may be things physically a woman can’t do, like lifting heavy things or reaching in high places, but both my mom and did cut the grass, cleaned the house, got oil changes and picked up dry cleaning. My dad got the toothbrush out to make sure the tile didn’t get moldy, and my mom used the edger to trim the grass along the sidewalk.

    This is a perpetual problem that will not go away if we keep “thanking our husbands” for doing what he should already be doing. It starts with us and how we raise our children to be different and assign societal roles based on a sexist system.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, JP! I agree completely that marriage is 50/50 and a partnership. The reason I do more of the housework is because I don’t work. If we both worked, our split of housework would definitely be different.

      That being said, I do think that even if something is someone’s responsibility, we can still show them gratitude for doing it. I’m very grateful to my parents for giving me a home, making me meals, and taking care of me when I was sick, even though those things were their responsibility as my parents. And when my husband thanks me for cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the kids while he’s at work, it makes me enjoy doing those things even more.

      I really appreciate your comment. You made some good points and it definitely got me thinking. I love to hear other people’s opinions. I feel like seeing a different point-of-view helps me re-shape my own views into a better, fuller version of my beliefs. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

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