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Answering Your Questions: How Can I Get My Husband to Help with Household Chores

By Christina Pay, Extension Assistant ProfessorMan cleaning

Stress levels in your home can increase when household chores are not allocated fairly.  Prevent arguments and strengthen your relationship by sharing household responsibilities.  According to Pew Research Center, 56% of adults in the United States ranked sharing household responsibilities as being among the top three things that make marriage successful. Following having shared interests (64%) and a satisfying sexual relationship (61%), sharing housework is of greater importance than having children (43%) or having an adequate income (42%) when it comes to marriage satisfaction (Geiger, 2016). Given the importance to couples of shared household responsibilities, what can couples do to equally share the load? According to marriage consultant, Sheri Stritof, there are several steps couples can take to divide up household chores:

Learn about priorities. As a couple discuss what is truly important to each of you. You may like a neat and tidy home while mess does not bother your partner, so in this instance, you will need to compromise and find a solution that will satisfy you both. Discuss and share opinions on home cooked meals vs. quick meals, paying bills, the differences in how each of you cleans, making the bed, etc. Share everything you can think of so that you both understand what each person feels is important.

Anticipate roadblocks.  Make a list of chores each of you hates to do. What one hates the other may be able to tolerate. If you both hate the same chore, figure out a way to compromise to get the task done or do it together as a team.

Agree on a timetable. Be considerate of each other’s body clocks. Not everyone is a morning person! Projects and chores forced on someone when they aren’t ready to do them only creates tension. Timing is important.

Touch base on a plan each week. Discuss the upcoming weeks schedule with one another then decide who is going to do what, make a list, and post the list. Then let it go. Don’t nag each other about what you chose to do. If a task isn’t completed by the following week, that is the time to bring it up and discuss expectations. 

Keep reevaluating. When one or the other of you doesn’t follow through on doing the work, try to discover why there is resistance. Did you overcommit? Did he or she underestimate the time it takes to get something done? Don’t blame, instead discuss, reevaluate, and adjust your plan as needed. If you can’t come to an agreement then make some choices. Are there items on your plan that you can cut back on? Do you perhaps need to organize your home better? Reevaluate then plan so that chores become less draining emotionally and physically.

Hire help. If you don’t want to lower your standards and your budget can handle it, hire some outside help. You can create a list of tasks and choose in which areas of the house you’d like help. This help should be directed towards both partners, not just one.