Always has a solution, but never an answer

dances_in_gardenMay 27, 2002

Things recently hit critical level. It led to me crying like an idiot while he stood there in shock, pretending he had NO idea why I was so upset. He says if I need help (housework, yardwork, whatever) to just ASK.

But when I do ask, he DOESN'T help. He either puts it off, promises to do more then doesn't, gets angry when I ask him to do specific things, or tells me something will change the situation when it won't.

For example. I have been really really sick (virus which led to double ear infections, dehydration, and exhaustion which was medically diagnosed). The doctor wanted me in the hospital, but I was worried that DH wouldn't be able to handle DD on his own and would send her to stay with MIL. I did not want that, so we came to the arrangment of diet and drinking so many ounces of fluid and resting. Literally doing nothing more strenuous than eating, bathing, etc. I could go to work for now because my job is sedentary, but even that was iffy.

The house fell apart. No groceries have been bought, nothing has been cleaned. I couldn't cook so he got take out every single night (and left the wrappers and bags sitting there).

I asked him to please at least clean the kitchen floor. Nothing was done for a few more days. I couldn't take it anymore, so tried giving him a little direction (he tends to get overwhelmed with tasks that seem more complicated than they are).

"Please clean the kitchen floor. It's easiest to start by picking things up, then sweep it, then wet swiffer it. Thank you for your wonderful help". Two days later, the floor has STILL not been swept, I have become a nag, and he still doesn't get it.

So I said we were going to get someone in every once in a while to help with the big cleaning (mopping floors, scrubbing tubs, etc.). His response? We don't need help. Other people can do their own housework, so we can to. If I need help with something just ask! Which led to me screaming at the top of my lungs "I am asking you, begging you, SWEEP THE G*****N FLOOR!". And that was it. Total breakdown over the stupid floor not being swept.

So, up all night talking, crying, and fighting. I feel like a wrung out dishrag. We had other issues before, which I think we were starting to work out....then I got sick. And I think I realized how much more I was doing, to sort of cover how much less he was doing. We decided to take a "break" and talk about it more after work today. But I do know that if the floor isn't swept I might have a nervous breakdown LOL.

Does anyone else feel that they just can't seem to keep up, and wonder how other people do it?

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I could not, would not, put up with that crap. Tell him to get off his a$$ and help you. If my DH didn't do his share (and he does, sometimes more than his share) there is no way anything would get done. You work full time and so does he. What makes him think that when you get off work it's O.K. for you to go home to another full time job and he can sit on his butt! I will get off my soap box now but I see so many of my friends in this same situation and they put up with it! It makes me FURIOUS. Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2002 at 8:58PM
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Hi Dances...well, he is just not getting it...if you are up all night talking about this..then he is not listening!!!

I'm feeling for you! If you have to....get a housecleaner in there and pay for might make him realize that YOU are not in a position to do it right now..and if he can't do the right thing, you'll make sure it gets done without his help. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2002 at 11:55PM
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Well, got home last night, and guess whose floor was not swept? Sigh.

So, I swept and washed the floor, and let DH know that since I did this, I didn't have time and energy to make his lunch nor get the groceries nor clean up after dinner. Last night he woke me up at 1am and told me to get the "maid" and he will pay half.

It wasn't the money - I work. If I want to hire a cleaning service I will do it and pay for it anyway. But I wanted him to understand that we needed it and WHY we needed it. I don't want him thinking in the back of his mind that I'm a lazy slob. All the women in his family worked in the home, that was their primary job. So even though I also work full time outside the home, he doesn't understand why I can't get the same things done. I guess he figured his mom watched TV all day and didn't do anything until he came home from school?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2002 at 8:14AM
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Reassure him that it's ok to not be like 'other people.' Other people do and don't do lots of things, but 'we' might have our own relationship needs and some things like housecleaning support (paid and organized) might be good for us.

A guess is, he might feel crushing pressure to be 'like other people' if that's why he was sure he didn't want to hire a service. Hiring a service like that might have him feeling like a failure in his capacity to 'perform' or to provide adequately so that you could 'perform.'

Some people just don't handle change well, and need more than just a verbal list of steps to clean the floor. He might have to be 'taught' through the process with patience and support at the completion of the steps _and_ in a nonjudgemental and nonpatronizing way. When you shared your pain and anguish about the situation, and then mentioned the floor and how to clean it... he may have just received that he was a failure or somehow the cause of your pain (that experience, as you probably know from your own experience can lead a person to just not be able to function).

Can he work from a written list of 'to do's'? That way he could have a listing, and it could be findable and he could have it as a reference when shopping or doing some new chore. You might have be more literal, and without hinting (especially if you know he doesn't seem to get hints) about what you need, as far in advance as possible. It's a challenge to find a workable (for you both) system. He might actually have problems shifting his attention from a task at hand, or thought at hand which can lead to delaying new verbally delivered tasks. He might have problems changing his established routine in general. Start pitifully 'small' so that a stronger foundation for future patterns can be built. This might require maybe step 1 of cleaning the floor (not the whole process). That allows him to be able to change in a smaller, perhaps less threatening feeling way with less pressure. It allows you to feel and express more 'success' because it is more likely to happen than a bigger change would... and that should gradually be encouraging for him to feel, and it might be better to build up to the full repertoire of the floor cleaning.

the main tip is to work with what you have what you know of you, and of your husband first; try not to expect either of you to be or to demonstrate being someone other than who you both are (and retain the sensitivity to just know that people who are 'supposed' to change often feel like they are being asked to do just that)

P.S. Take some time out to comfort or soothe yourself as needed so that you can have enough alone/me time to consider your own personal needs... so that you can articulate them to him, literally and simply so that you can more effectively coach him to be able to work with you. You can, in this way show him how to be supportive in coaching you if/when he expresses his own needs which might require change from you. It can also be surprisingly effective.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2002 at 10:52AM
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Even with all of the modern conviences available, I'm not convinced life is getting any easier. We may not have to chop wood and churn butter anymore but we have so much more to do, namely work outside the home (many of us, anyway). There is still the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, bill paying, home maintenance, laundry, etc to be done. Oh yes, child care for some.

And while some of you may be blessed with DH's who are willing and capable to share the chores, some of us forgot to look for these qualities in our men beforehand or else underestimated the difficulty in training them.

If you can afford it, get the help. Why not have a little more time to do the things you enjoy?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2002 at 4:30PM
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I think while each of us is upset and complaining about not getting help from our men, we need to realize what we need to do to change the next generation. If you have kids, make them learn that they will need to help and not to have the metality that the wife will do it. It seems so many women complain about how their husbands are and yet raise their sons to do the same for their wives. My little one is still quite small but I'm hoping to make life easier for his wife in the future. His father does help out around the house with some things but I'm a SAHM and most jobs are done by the time my fiance' gets home at night. I've also learned that in most realtionships things won't be 50/50. The bulk of the housework does fall on the woman. It's sad but it's the truth for so many people. I had to change my attitude and deal and it's stopped a lot of fighting!

But Dances, I do agree that your husband should have been a lot more helpful since you were sick. It wasn't as though you were making it all up~ your doctor actually insisted on the rest. I rememeber being in the hospital when my DS was 6 months old and well I had a mess when I got home after 4 days. My fiance' never did have our son alone at home because one of our parents would take him but still never got any of the simple things done. He would show up at the hospital starving because he hadn't eaten in a day and yet never opened the fridge or cupboards for food. This is the same man that will go on and on about how he was alone for how many years and fed and took care of himself! If they only knew what it was like to be a woman and all that is thrown on you, huh?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2002 at 4:43PM
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Nadastimer, well said!

You all have made me appreciate my sweet husband a little bit more. (And I appreciate him so very much.) I complain, half jokingly most of the time, about how messy my husband can be. But he never really complains if I don't keep the house spotless as I am a housewife. He is happy as long as I am happy. I couldn't ask for a better guy. If I do dishes in the evening he usually jumps right in to help, but always at least askes if he can help me. He may not always take the initiative himself, but he will help whenever needed.

Good luck to all of you!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2002 at 7:09PM
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We have chores at our house. DH is in charge of the garbage and the bathroom, plus his own laundry (Laundry is a story in itself, this was our your own). I cook, make grocery list, and my laundry, etc. This works for us as we know what is expected of us. Make the "to do"list. Expect DH to do his chores, or they don't get done (he won when you did the lost, and possible damaged your health more). Sorry, but if you do more, they do less. I hope the cleaning service helps, but often they clean, but don't pick up.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2002 at 11:18AM
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I thought we had "chores" too.

-scoops the litter boxes
-takes out the garbage
-mows and trims the lawn
-his own laundry
-dd's laundry
-vacuuming (I physically can't vacuum)
-starts dinner during the week
-sweep and wet swiffer the floors

-finish dinner
-make lunches
-bath DD
-clean out the fridge and grocery shop, maintain pantry
-plan menus for the week
-organize bills etc.
-make arrangements/appointments, etc.
-cooking on the week-ends
-my own laundry

-pick up all rooms
-all dusting
-all glass and mirrors, windows
-scrub all toilets, tub/tower, sink
-clean up after dinner
-"house" laundry

Unfortunatly it seems some of the items on his list and all of the items on the shared list have landed on me. And we have to watch, because new things brought in the house never get put away either, until I am tired of moving them around and just put them somewhere. Or any tools he has used, etc. Putting our own things away I think will be the first thing to work on for us.

I have called a private housekeeper, who says if I supply a box or basket she will put anything that doesn't belong in there, and we can put them away later. We just have to have a rule that the items MUST be put away that same day.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2002 at 1:59PM
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DH is home all day and does the dishes and all our laundry (i soon stopped buying delicates and shrinkables and he stopped putting my dark clothes in with the bleach) and cleans the fridge AND the toilet (yay!) but he refuses to vacuum or sweep or wash the kitchen floor but i don't mind doing that; i don't cook every night which he doesn't mind...he will go grocery shopping with me when it's the BIG one of the month, or when it's time to restock the dog food shelf, the weight of which i refuse to carry...i used to gripe (to myself) about having to pick up his clothes and other items that are on their way to the garage but never seem to get there, but then i remember how much i dislike washing dishes and cleaning the toilet, so i 'gave' him a big drawer where i can put his 'things' and he cleans it out when it gets too full. Sometimes i put the same items in it month after month after month, but at least i don't have to trip over them any more...altho, much to my poor toes dismay, i haven't yet trained him to leave his HUGE boots out of the way, instead of the middle of the room

I'm glad you're getting outside help, maybe he'll notice how much he wasn't helping....maybe

    Bookmark   May 29, 2002 at 2:38PM
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I can really relate to your distress about being stuck with so much responsibility around the house. It is terrible for both when the only (possibly) effective motivator is nagging. :-( My bf uses the double-decliner of I don't notice what needs to be done but if you tell me I won't do it because you are being bossy.

The "shared" list is just asking for trouble because nobody actually owns it. I notice that you have no financial chores listed, taxes, household bills, balancing checkbook, etc. Maybe work out a thorough list with him?

I had a big disappointment after we discussed having a party and all the work we needed to do around the house to prepare. It seemed to finally sink in with . He said we could be totally busy every weekend until then getting ready. Then 2-3 days later he signed up for some classes 2 times a week with a commitment of 5 hours each. Nice move. The one thing that did seem to work was starting a spreadsheet of what needs to be done and who would be responsible for it, etc. He responds to computer-related stuff. I've just started spending household money like a banshee -- if you don't want to do it, we'll pay someone to do it. He thinks it's a lot of money but if it doesn't get done otherwise, I think it's worth it.

Sorry if this is more venting than helpful...

    Bookmark   May 30, 2002 at 12:01AM
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It's so nice not to be alone! This has been an on-going
fight for 7 years now. Take into consideration the hours
worked. I work 50 hours a week, and DW works 70. So I
don't expect much on her 1 day off. But here's our list.

bills/checking account
water plants
scoop litter boxes
set coffee/timer for AM
wash windows
steam clean carpet when necessary
change oil on both cars
wash both cars
vacuum both cars
keep garage swept
wipe kitchen counters
load/unload dishwasher
ALL the laundry

Bathrooms (which haven't been done in 2 weeks)

But that is an accomplishment. As up until this year
there was nothing on her list!

I pay a neighbor boy to mow the yard as that's just 1
hour I don't have! I've also considered a cleaning
service as I'm sick of doing it, then fighting because
I did it all AGAIN. So that is in the future.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2002 at 7:24AM
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When both spouses work full-time, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having cleaning help. It's three of us - DH, DD and me - so we don't make a big mess of the house. She comes every two weeks. I just could not keep up with the floors. Never seemed to get the vacuuming and mopping done. It is a big help.

Even with that, I'm still overwhelmed with errands, laundry, projects around the house, DD's dance class, etc etc etc. I have become a big fan of the Organizing Forum here. A lot of things have changed in my life due to tips and advice received there. As a result, I now have my weekends basically house-work-free.

DH has even been caught actually noticing clutter and cleaning it up, since I have gotten the house more streamlined and organized. He has even been caught putting up clean laundry.

Best of luck to you!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 8:31AM
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DH has finally agreed that it isn't a crime to get some help around the house and yard if we need it. I wanted to make sure he didn't think I was just being lazy about it all. But I seriously couldn't do it all anymore.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 9:19AM
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I know there is some chores that can't be left undone, but is the chores around the house that important? I know I used to gripe about who does more around the house and how life is so unfair to women. Then I came to realize that it's not that important. Now I turn the tv off and say come on lets go for a walk or go for coffee, wherever you want to go. Just go and spend more time together and the rest will take care of it's self. Really! I find that hubby does more around the house now so that we can spend more time together doing other things. And best of all I quit nagging and started loving, he in turn started listening. Try it!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2002 at 10:02PM
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Hi Dances:

I sometimes wonder if the "female liberation" and the "equal opportunity" push in the sixties and seventies didn't do more harm than good to working women now.

Of course I am for equal rights and equal pay for equal jobs - it just seems like NO ONE - especially the men - wanted to tackle that ever-present question of WHO'S GOING TO TAKE CARE OF THE HOUSE WHEN BOTH SPOUSES WORK??

Unfortunately, for the most part it still falls on the women to do most, if not all, of the domestic household chores. The result: Woman who now have less time than ever before; who are having to work outside the home full-time and still are expected to keep the house shining like a brand-new penny. I call it the "Ozzie and Harriet" syndrome ;)!

Our house isn't as neat and spotless as I would like. Like most families (I think), both my husband and I work full-time jobs. We don't have any kids with us (his youngest daughter lived with us until she went off to college, but that was six years ago), but we (I) have four cats.

To be honest, about the only thing he does is mow the lawn once a week. I edge, weedwhack and sweep the sidewalks. Even when it comes to yard work, I get more of the chores! I honestly don't think he would even remember trash day or recycle day, and he certainly wouldn't remember water bottle delivery day!

He does like to cook big meals when time allows, but to be real honest with you I'd rather have soup, salad and sandwich for dinner after a long day at work than to eat a huge meal and than stay up until 10:30 that night cleaning all the pots and pans he uses!

Yes - the bulk of the entire house workload does fall on me; and I am becoming increasingly more angry about that fact. Even though we both have full-time jobs, my husband earns about three times what I make, and I sometimes wonder if that's why he doesn't do more around the house. My opinion is: It shouldn't matter about the size of the income; we're both away from the house all day, and we both have the same amount of "free" time in the evenings and on weekends.

I sometimes wonder how men can just sit there and watch the women they supposedly love and care about work their fingers to the bone doing all the housework? I know I couldn't do it.

And when you ask them why they don't contribute more, most of the time the lame-ass answer is: "You didn't tell me it needed doing!". I find that hysterically funny, because you sure don't need to tell the WOMEN that the clothes need cleaning, the kids need feeding, the house needs vacuuming. I remember telling my DH that "this was his house too, and he should be able to see the things that needed doing just as well as I could!". It's amazing how they can turn a blind eye to the chores that need doing when they don't feel like doing them.

A man can get away with a messy house and uncut lawn - but due to an awful double standard, women can't.

Make no mistake - I love my husband, but this household workload inequity is really starting to bother me.

And don't even get me started on the holidays - I'm beginning to dread holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas; simply because it means all that extra work on top of all the work that I'm already doing!

DH and I have been together 15 years; and for those 15 years, he has NEVER once taken charge of the holidays, whether it be Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas. It's ALWAYS been up to me to take care of the Christmas cards (and that includes keeping track of all HIS friends when they move!) and accompanying letter, decorating the house, getting the tree up and decorating it. It's kind of hard to enjoy the "season" when your bone-tired!

I'm beginning to feel like the "perfect" holiday for me would be a holiday where I wasn't expected to do anything - no decorations, no presents, no extra work of any kind! It's not that I don't like the holidays - I do - but it's becoming just TOO much work that it's tough to take some time out from all the hustle and bustle and just enjoy the holidays! I know that doesn't sound very festive, and I wonder if anyone else out there feels the same way I do about this.

Now, I know that there are men out there who do more domestically than their women; it's just that more often that not, it's the women to do all the domestic housework. It's almost like we were expected to go out there and have full-time jobs and careers and STILL act like Donna Reed and have a four-course dinner prepared with the house spotless and ready for "hubby" to come home!

Thanks for letting me vent, everyone! Dances - I know this doesn't solve your problem, but hopefully it will make you feel better so know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE in this.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2002 at 10:16AM
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Just reading it all exhausts me, I've been going through this in some way too and it's a complicated situation. Until a week ago, my current work situation was a max. of 30 hours per week. So I didn't really complain about being the major house "keeper." Especially because my fiance's job is physically demanding and most often lots of 10+ hour days.
For a few years now I have spent many hours being frustrated and sad, wanting him to be more considerate by cleaning up after himself more and not requiring me to ask him to do certain things all the time. But at the same time I am doing most of the chores myself because I didn't work as much as he did. I think that led to a general laziness on his part when it came to chores. A vicious cycle!

Now, I have a second job that has added about 10-15 hrs. per week so far. But so far nothing has changed.

All I want from him is to be more considerate of the fact that I've said nicely a MILLION times that I want to keep the house tidy, and that it's nice when I DON'T have to ask that he do certain things! I've told him THIS a million times too! :o(

    Bookmark   August 27, 2002 at 1:26PM
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Hire someone to clean the house. Since he doesn't participate in household chores, its your responsibility in his eyes, so there you go, you have full authority to hire a housecleaner.

It sounds like you did all the work before you got sick, so in a way its not "his fault" , the "silent agreement" had been made that he didn't have to worry about it. If you want to change that agreement, and I think you should!, you will have to spell it out in detail.
Also a big problem with men and women are that we have a different definition of clean. If he doesn't mind dishes in the sink or dust on the floor he won't clean them up for himself, which where the fights begin, he is being nagged by you to live by your standards, why sweeping the floor will never be a contribution to the house, but a favor to you.

This is why outside professional cleaning help is so great, you don't have to nag each other, your house is clean without stress, and you can live your life, well worth the money!!

Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2002 at 1:31PM
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Ladies, I hear you and I wish things were different. If it's any consolation, I'm doing what I can to even things up. My wife and I both work full time and we both take care of the house. It's not exactly 50/50, it's more like 100/100. We both do what we can to keep things running smoothly. Sometimes one of us might do a little less or a little more on any given occassion and there are tasks that each of us owns. My wife hates doing bathrooms and I won't let her wash the dishes so I take care of those. She LETS me do the laundry but only the doofus proof stuff. I've shrank one too many of her rather pricey sweaters. We both cook, I just do it more often and she has an uncanny knack for decluttering the entire place in minutes. I take care of the "mechanical reasoning" tasks only because she doesn't really know about that stuff and she does the budget 'cause she has a head for numbers and she just likes doing it.

On occassion either of us might get a little lazy but it doesn't last long. We just snap back into it and drive on.

I apologize on behalf of the entire male species. You ladies are precious and to be cherished and you deserve better.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2002 at 3:25PM
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Here's another post from the male population.

We too have the same issues. I'm a bit of a lazy b*&^*& around the house, according to her. She works full time as well as I do. Both jobs have about the same stress/responsibility level, mine pays about double of hers (different field, not because I'm a man and she's female).

A lot of this stuff comes down to expectations. Note in many of the posts above some of the items listed: dusting, parties, holiday dinners and cards, etc. Ask yourself this: Do you think that a single guy is doing that stuff? Often? Probably not. This is because most of us tended to operate differently, especially about our house/living space. Laundry? Sure I did needed. ONce in a while going on a binge and catching up. Dishes? Yep...basically used one set and washed them right then....but they never got put away, either.

The point is that different people have different expectations/priorities. If you sit down and list ALL the chores (including financial ones) and split them up, then you can come to some semblance of peace. We made a master list and split them...and we both occasionally flake on parts of it. But basically it gets done. She had to adjust to the fact that some things were not going to get done as often/thorough as she'd like. I had to understand that things shouldn't wait until they reach critical mass to be addressed.

A couple of things to note: unless you both see value in each of them, they are always going to seem like they can fall by the wayside.

Also, what was your "arrangement" when you got together? We know a couple where she is a SAHM...and the expectation is that she do ALL the work of the home, including their three kids. He does occasionally watch them at night if she does something, but not generally. Why? That is the way they understood marriage to be. Also (and I think this has some sort of merit, just not the weight they give it), the husband has not only had to work, but must constantly worry about his career path, etc. As opposed to some spouses (whether male or female) that do bring income, but don't really have to worry about being the primary income. So this added stress, in their/his book, is why she has the kid responsibility round the clock. Not my way, but a way nonetheless.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2002 at 4:55PM
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My husband and I have had this fight since even before the kids came. I work full time, so does he. We have 2 little ones, 2 and 4. The thing about this is that now it's infuriating me. I get alot of promises that are never kept. I walk around bitter and angry. I wish that I could let this go, but I can't and it's frustrating me. When it comes to cleaning, 90% is me. Every blue moon, after griping, he will vacuum a room or throw some laundry in.
I make all of the meals, do 90% of the laundry, cleaning (bathroom, bedrooms, kitchen, play rooms, living rooms, etc.), organizing (kids clothes, like removing clothes that are too small, seeing what needs to be done (pre-school, parties, events that we should attend), lawn care, grocery shopping, household shopping, linen changes, hygiene for children (finger nails, hair cuts, dressing, cleaning toys), holiday stuff (I have to get his family and mine because he won't take the time), birthdays (again, his family and mine, ditto). I am overwhelmed. I have voiced this many, many times. I too have been in the situation where physically I could not do this. Hours after my first child was born, I had a 750 ml. hematoma rupture. After hours of surgery and over 70 internal stitches, they closed off the bleeding vessle. I could barely walk. I would pass out after a few steps, terribly anemic from blood loss. I couldn't sit down, I couldn't carry my new baby. I was in constant pain. It was a few months after my surgery before I could sit in a chair. I could not physically take care of my new born. I asked my husband to get me some help since he went back to work after a week. Nothing. He said he asked his mother and she was busy, so that was his effort. I was hoping that he would know someone, or maybe hire a day nurse. I really needed help. I figured out ways to work out my dilemna. I used the stroller as a walker and put the baby in it to go about the house. I also used it to carry things in when the baby wasn't in it. But, it was still so hard, and I got so depressed.
I seem to get the same type of response that you got. When I asked for a cleaning service, we tried one for a few weeks and he found a reason to fire them, but never got a replacement.
I have gotten so bitter about all of this that I told him that I would stop doing anything and make him responsible for all of my stuff, just so that he could see what I have to do and how it would fall apart. He didn't really respond, mainly, because I have said this type of thing before and after a while, I can't live with the filth. Am I nuts?

    Bookmark   September 23, 2002 at 10:55AM
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