My husband does not help at home

What you need to know:

Every time he returns from work, he sits on the couch; watches TV, gets busy on the phone or laptop. He does not help with the baby, does not do dishes, cook or even clean up. He sits, waits for dinner and immediately after eating, he dashes to bed

It has been a month without a househelp. We have a three-month-old baby who keeps me busy most of the time. I understand that my husband works and comes back home tired. But is it selfish to ask for help? Every time he returns from work, he sits on the couch; watches TV, gets busy on the phone or laptop. He does not help with the baby, does not do dishes, cook or even clean up. He sits, waits for dinner and immediately after eating, he dashes to bed. Even when the baby cries at night, he is not bothered. How can I politely ask for his help?  

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

A number of women are frustrated when their husbands do not help out with chores at home. Why does this happen? In our modern era of gender equality (or at least we hope it is equal at this point), why is there still such an imbalance when it comes to chores around the house? Let us try to explore a couple of big reasons why your husband might not help with anything, and what you can do about it.

It is difficult to break an old habit. Many years ago, domestic chores were considered “women’s work.” Men worked outside of the house, so the household was the wife’s domain. She was generally responsible for cooking, cleaning, and looking after children. This dynamic exists around the world, and still holds sway in many places, especially in Africa. Remember that women working outside the home have only become commonplace in the past 50 years.

Furthermore, depending on cultural upbringing, many families still have a partnership in which the woman is the default housekeeper. More so, if your husband was raised in a family where his mother took care of the domestic duties that could go a long way to explain why he sits back and lets you do the housework.

After all, if he was not raised while doing household chores and responsibilities, he probably thinks it is a feminine thing to do house chores. This may be especially true if he is living with a woman other than his mother for the first time. He may simply place you in the mother/housekeeper role because that is all he knows.

It is also possible that he does not realise what he is doing or not even doing. If someone has been raised with a particular family structure, and only ever witnessed that dynamic firsthand, it would be very difficult for them to consider anything else.

You might relate this to a person who has been raised in a particularly religious household, where they have not had exposure to someone of a different belief. They would not have learned of other faiths, nor had any idea that there are other religions out there. As a result, their minds are blown when they discover that people in other places believe differently than they do.

This means they would have to consciously rewire everything they have ever known including everything they have ever been taught.  You may be feeling incredibly frustrated about this situation, but try to stay grounded and rational about it.

It is easy to get upset or passive-aggressive, but those approaches rarely help anything. Instead, be proactive and rational. Nagging and whining will only shut your husband down, whereas a rational problem plus a solution approach is far more likely to result in real change.

Some of the ways you can change the household dynamic to something more equal could include coming up with a timetable, which could be helpful since a lot of men do well with visual cues rather than abstract concepts. In the first column, write down all the chores that need to be done at home. These include meal preparation, dishwashing, laundry and making the bed, among others.

In the second column, write the name of the person who takes care of those chores more often. Sit down with your husband and show them just how much each of you has been doing, and explain why there needs to be more of a balance. Be prepared to meet instant resistance and defensiveness. From his perspective, he might be doing a lot, since he likely does far more housework than his father ever did. To him, he is being proactive and a huge help around the house.

Try to be patient with him during this process, and explain your stance without being aggressive or emotional. If you have ever been in a management position at work, approach this conversation as you would with a colleague. After all, the two of you are life partners, right? So, approach this as a partnership of equals, with respect and efficiency. If all fails to yield, then discuss the possibility of hiring a house help so that your load is lessened.

Reader advice

Talk to your husband - Martin Ssebyala

Talk things out when he is in a good mood. A good wife will always know the right way to their husband’s heart. I will refer you to the book of Esther in the Bible.

Maybe she also works - Winnie Adero

Why is everyone assuming she does not work? She could be on maternity leave. Do you know whether she had caesarean section or not? Do you know that this could drive her into postpartum stress disorder? Would it be nice to walk in one day to find her body hanging lifeless because she needed a little help?

Communicate - Fred Mungudit

This would have been much easier and faster if you talked this through with him over dinner. The man youmarried is obviously not a chauvinist and would understand the workload.

Tell him you are tired - Adeola Onitolo

The communication gap between the two of you is the bane of your current plight. Let him know that you are busy taking care of the baby and are exhausted.

Talk to him when free - Jimmy Wester

Find a time when he is not tired and suggest it to him. It is important to suggest because if you remind him, it will cause him to build a defensive wall.

Reduce expectations - Isaac Edu High expectations are always too dangerous in a marriage. The more you ask for help, the more nagging you are likely to be perceived. So, just try to handle one at a time.

Educate yourselves - Aziiza Nyevu Giriama

You and your husband are speaking different love languages, the reason you do not feel like he appreciates you if he is not doing house chores. If he really and truly loves you, and likes reading, you can both read The 5 love languages by Gary Chapman.

Friendship is key - Katrina

That is what happens when you do not get married to your friend. Friendship is the key to a happy marriage because it is only through it that you know how to handle and talk to each other. Make your husband your best friend and you will not have to beg him to do anything. Helping you will become natural.

You know the reason - Eunice Mushinga

It is a lesson to those who are still single, please marry your best friend. Communication will be so easy. He is your man and you know him better than anyone else. You also know why he is reluctant to help around the house. I do not think it is because he does not want to but maybe the way you are asking. Talk to each other and together find a solution.

Evelyn is a counselling psychologist with Sermotherapy Counselling Foundation

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