Is my husband the only one who

Elizabeth - posted on 01/10/2013 ( 19 moms have responded )

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And it's time for another enthralling round of "Is my husband the only one who __________ ?" (ecstatic applause ensues)

Ok, seriously, all kidding aside: I genuinely can't tell if I am the only one in this situation or if this is common or if it's become more common in recent years.

Hubby and I are 25 years old, both college educated and have a 14 month old. While I lived on my own since 15 because I HAD to, he was living at home until we got married (sorry, I don't consider dorming at university to be living on one's own when 24/7 pizza and mac n cheese is pre-made at the cafeteria downstairs and no real responsibilities make up your day). So, I cut him some slack with many things and try to be firm on others.

But I can't help but feel that he is either pretending to be outrageously smart, eloquent and articulate outside the home OR he is pretending to be outrageously dumb to avoid having to do anything when at home. Either way, his incredible intelligence makes no sense when it comes to household chores, childcare or anything that *should* be common sense.

He never notices chores needing to be done, never picks up his things and all he has to do, from my perspective, is get up, go to work and come home to enjoy food, slack off a few hours and go back to work when he's not on his two days off. At his job where he works 6.5 hours of an 8 hour shift due to breaks. Unlike him, I stay at home because I lost my job right before baby was born, we can't afford childcare and I don't get to even pee in privacy or feed myself a real meal or do ANYTHING I want without interruption or guilt.

For example, I've heard of many men doing things wrong on purpose to not have to do them when it comes to chores, but it's like my husband is either an immaculate actor or he really has absolutely no idea how to do ANY of the things his mom nagged him about while living at home. Take the dishwasher, for example, I can tell him 9,000 times to not load things certain ways or they will melt or to not put certain things into it and it's like he either does it on purpose or "forgets" even after the 9,000 reprimands and reminders.

He never notices dirt, counters piled high with garbage, dishes or things precariously balanced on other things preventing cabinets from opening or things being accessed. He can trip over crap and never think to pick it up.

Or tonight, with parenting. I was feeling outrageously sick because I'm pregnant with our second. I ask him to feed her so I can sit for the first time in hours. Something he SHOULD know how to do by now and it's like "Dur....what I feed baby?" Um....hello? It's been 8 months of her eating food. You're telling me that you being home every night for dinner, you can't possibly figure out a SINGLE option for her to eat, when I ALWAYS leave food for her in HER containers on the top shelf? So he brilliantly says to her in a threatening way "Well, if you don't eat, you're going to bed!" So I remind him that threatening bed to be a negative thing will only make her think sleeping is a punishment when we don't have that problem. So he gets all mad that he was "criticized" and instead says to her "Well, I guess if Lily won't eat then she will go to bed without a cookie." WTF?! WHAT COOKIE?! She doesn't get cookies before bed! Never was a cookie mentioned! Never does she EVER get a cookie- ONLY at his parents' house. So then I lose it and tell ask him if he's out of his mind and tell him, I guess loudly at this point, that he can't tell her the word cookie and not expect a problem- she's overtired, yelling and cranky. Of course he gets all defensive and angry and childish, he throws a fit (which she will learn to emulate) and then stomps away saying "Fine! I guess YOU can do EVERYTHING yourself since you're never happy with how I do anything!" He also accuses me of "insulting his mother" because what I'm REALLY saying is that she was wrong in giving her kids cookies. Great. He punishes me to do EVERYTHING by myself which is no different from any other night because he has been immature and refused to do chores.

It's like pulling teeth to even get him to recognize there are chores, let alone do any.

It's like I have to treat him like a toddler, make him a chore chart and give him shiny stickers to get ANY help. (I kid- of course he would be a baby about it and get all mad). I've tried talking, explaining, yelling, crying, lists, e-mails, everything. It's like he will NEVER remember and needs to be treated like a child and I'm the only adult in the house.

So how many fathers are like this? If your husband was, did you work through it or fix it?

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[deleted account]

Nope, not alone. My hubs lived on his own for 10 years before we got married, and he was in the Navy before that, but his domestic and parenting skills needed some serious tuning up. I'll tell you how I "fixed" mine.

As a sahm, I don't expect him to do any real cleaning or chores, but I do expect him to take care of and respect what I do. Basically, if he makes a mess all on his own, he needs to clean it up--clothes go in the hamper, shoes go in the mud room or closet, dirty dishes go in the dishwasher, etc.

He wasn't great with the dishwasher either. I just tossed everything that was not dishwasher safe and replaced it with stuff that was. It cost a lot and he was mad, but now he can't screw that up. Glass bottles and containers are healthier, and they last longer anyway. In fact, I still have every piece I purchased and that was over 6 years ago--I'd have definitely replaced the plastic crap by now anyway!

He still doesn't really notice when things need to be done and I'm too busy to do them, so I have to ask for help. Here is the Secret Formula for asking for help, and actually getting it without a hissy fit.

"Babe, would you please empty the dishwasher while I give baby a bath, or would you rather bath baby while I get the dishwasher?"

Using an affectionate name and the word "please" sets a pleasant tone and makes him eager to keep you happy.
ASKING for help, as opposed to demanding it, puts him in control (people automatically have an urge to protest or refuse if they feel they are being forced to do something.)
Naming TWO chores at one time does two things: First, it gives him a choice, which lets him feel in control & thus more cooperative. Second, it simultaneously explains to him why you cannot complete the task yourself. Unless he is a lazy, self-centered douche, he will not be able to justify sitting on his butt at the computer while you are working and have more on your plate than you can do alone.

A few pointers to keep him from postponing and forgetting to do the task.
Ask for help with things that need to be done on a schedule, such as bathing or feeding baby.
Ask for help during commercial breaks, and only ask for one thing at a time (still give him the choice, just don't give him a list of things to do), and point out that he can finish before the commercials are over.
If he has a question about how to do what you've asked him to, patiently teach him--that way he won't have that excuse next time around. Instead of making mean spirited remarks like "are you out of your mind" or "This is common sense!" calmly show him where you keep the baby food and how to heat it up. Next time, he'll know, and if he pretends not to know again, show him again. After one or two tries, if he is faking, he will learn that it's faster to just feed the baby than pretend he doesn't know how and listen to your lesson again.

19 Comments

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Kat - posted on 01/21/2013

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I really don't expect him to since he is gone all day. He deserves his downtime like everyone else. I don't mind cleaning much though. I've always been the type that kind of likes to clean. Anyway, I don't ask him to unless I am really sick. Sometimes he does it anyway but that is really rare. Now that we have a dishwasher he does the dishes here and there on his own. He is not at all a good cleaner and I would rather do it myself but I do appreciate when he surprises me. I make sure our son picks up after himself or we take away his privileges so it's pretty easy to keep up. We also have one child so I imagine it is a lot easier than 4 children.

Veronica - posted on 01/20/2013

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I am 40yrs old with 4 kids youngest is 14months the oldest is 17yrs old. My husband and I use to have the same issue. Then one day I read an article a few years ago on yahoo about people taking people for granted. So I thought well let me try this and see what happens. So, I started using different words with my husband. I would use words like, I would really appreciate if you could.... or I feel that if we worked together we could get this done faster... and I would make sure I said thank you even if it something as simple as changing the toilet paper roll. After doing that. I found that he is doing more work around the house then I do, and I found out why. He said it was because I did make an effort in noticing in the simple things he did instead of critizing everything he didnt do.

As for him asking what to feed your child. I am sure your husband is simply asking you because he isnt sure what you may of fed her throughout the day. Or perhaps he isnt familiar with all her likes and dislikes. Where you are with her 24/7and know all the food she enjoys or which food will upset her.etc. My husband still asks me to this day with our youngest on what he should prepare him for lunch or even supper. I asked him once why he does that and those were his reasons on why. My guess that would be the same for most husbands?

Cecilia - posted on 01/19/2013

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oh! no, no that wasn't it. I was just saying your way is just your way and that is fine.

Cecilia - posted on 01/19/2013

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Corey, do you have a child yet? Truthfully most of us aren't asking for much We're saying if you see something on the floor. simple right?

You can feel free to live your life and run your home how ever you like. I do agree saying thank you does go a long way with our husbands. I actually thanked mine for taking out the diaper pail bag ( i'm ignoring the fact he didn't put in a new bag cause i will take what i can get)

Julie - posted on 01/19/2013

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Hi there,

I don't wish to sound like I'm boasting because it's not meant this way but my husband is brilliant around the home. I'm 44 and so is he. I've worked full time, part-time and am now a full-time Mum. And I can tell you which is the hardest job. It's being a full-time Mum to two young ones.

We were both independent before we got together and both capable of looking after ourselves so I guess this helped a great deal. But, if you have a partner who won't help, I think you should explain, calmly, when you are in GOOD mood, that being a full-time Mum can be more emotionally and physically demanding and draining than going to work full-time, when you get breaks, adult company etc.

If you needs jobs to be done, don't think he is a mind reader. My husband and I have different levels of tolerances. Basically, I'm a perfectionist and like a tidy home. He could happily live with a lot more mess than me.

But when I need something done, I ASK him to do it. I never assume he'll notice what needs to be done. If I'm really fed up I sometimes say: Look, I can't do everything myself. I'm not Superwoman even if you think I am. Today, please could you.....do this...do this...do this. I'd really appreciate it. It would make a big difference. (Praise goes a long way!)

Even if he doesn't do the job to your standard, try not to criticise as he won't want to do it again, if he thinks you'll moan at him.

Once he's in the habit of doing certain jobs to help (even if you have to request nicely each day), ie regularly putting the hoover around, clearing the table and stacking the dishwasher, you can move on to asking for more help.

The adage: 'slowly, slowly catchy monkey' might work with him?

Perhaps, another tack, but only when you are in a good, non-defensive mood, is to say something like: I'm not your Mum. I'm your partner and we're in this together. And togetherness means sharing the good things, but also some of the dull, boring things like hoovering and washing. We are equals in our partnership and that means you work full-time when you are at work, I work full-time when you are at work and, when you are home, we SHARE jobs and responsibilities.

Good luck honey.

Chelsea - posted on 01/19/2013

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In my opinion, it sounds like his Mom babied him a lot. So maybe he needs more structure. You might actually have to treat him like a kid. I understand he's grown and educated, but it really does sound like he was babied tooooo much while at home. Was he an only child?

What I would do is start giving him options of chores until he gets into a routine. When he gets home from work "I cooked dinner. Would you mind doing dishes, or would you like to feed the baby?" Or, "The baby needs her bath and the floors need vacuumed. Would you like to bathe her or start vacuuming?" And when he starts doing things that aren't your way, tell him "I would do it this way, because..." in more of a gentle tone. And 'praise' him when he's done a good job, since he feels 'criticized'.

I know it sounds like raising another kid, and it can be draining (Im going through something similar, I understand). But this is just what I would do.

Gina - posted on 01/15/2013

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I should have known what I was getting into before I got married,but I guess it just never crossed my mind,or maybe I thought it would change once he saw how full my plate would be with our first baby.....WRONG-O!
let me take you through some of my hub's antics---
I should have run for the hills when i saw his "apartment" for the first time, whitch was really a basement bedroom of his bestfriend's house, covered in dirty clothes,soda cans covering every coceivable flat serfice,sometimes 3 or 4 high, and several piles of dog poo on the floor, but i didn't . I was the enabler- i cleaned up EVERYTHING. I walked and trained his dog.
When our first daughter was about 6mo old, we got into a huge argument over his lack of help when he is home after work,and to make a longer story short-er, I ended up throwing a wash cloth full of DOG POO at him that i was cleaning out of the baby's toes when she went through it while in her walker. Pretty much everything is my job,because I don't earn a paycheck. And to make matters worse, his mom lives with us as of Christmas 2012.
I don't want to discourage you that your man can be trained better then mine, but 8 anniversaries and 2 children later, nothing has changed for me...So ya, you're not the only one going thru things like this with your very needy, selfish, toddler with a wedding ring.

[deleted account]

I say you are all lucky!!! I can't get mime to do anything but cook (well bbq, with the grill), I gave that up a long time ago...I stay home, he works 60 plus hours...I say pick ur fights, just like ur kids, ask ur self is it really worth fighting over

Cleaver - posted on 01/14/2013

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the way i see it its my job to clean and do chores the only thing i ask my husband to do is clean the toilet (if it werent for his 'forgetfulness' when it comes to flushing it would be clean) and garbage its a routine he wakes up has his breakfast then takes out the garbage oh and his computer desk he needs to keep that clean

Jill - posted on 01/14/2013

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It is common in husbands with micromanaging wives. I should know, I struggle to not be one. I actually leave the room when my husband is cleaning or something, because he doesn't do it the way I do it and it is hard to not say something.

You need to zip your lips and let him make mistakes and decisions that you would not make. Unless it is a serious safety concern, your only advice should be, "I know you can figure it out."

Cecilia - posted on 01/12/2013

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at least I'm not the only one laughing. Mine is a little different though. He uses the baby as an excuse not to do thing. Mind you half the time when he's using the excuse she is asleep ( she's 4 months) Everyone was home today, I am also sick. Chore day is Saturday in my house, always has been. My kids get up and do theirs.( i also have 3 teens so they have to do a few things and straiten their rooms) I do laundry, clean the bathroom, do the dishes, clean the living room, made lunch for all the kids. all while sick with 100.5 temp and a 2 year old "helping" me. His only job was to straiten the bedroom up, since it is his mess of clothes on the floor and dirty dishes in there. I go into the bedroom to get a diaper for the 2 year old.. guess what he is doing? Sleeping!! I had to look like some sort of cartoon with my eyes popping out and steaming coming from my ears. He sits up with crust in his eyes and tells me he wasn't sleeping. "oh so you were snoring while awake.. neat trick"

I think they do it because we let them get away with it. Mine also plays dumb like he has never ever heard this from me before.He tries to say "oh... well you do it better than me" like cleaning a pot was some magical skill i was born with. or "I thought you liked doing it" Yep, I really enjoy my time on my knees scrubbing the bathroom floor, it's just wonderful!"

Like Katherine, with the parenting flops I try to give tips and let him go at it. In general he does okay. He knows to listen to my suggestions since i raised the teens on my own( from a previous marriage) and they turned out okay. He's actually gotten better at some things than me, like getting her to eat something. (okay some times he makes chicken nuggets when i cook meatloaf for dinner.. but i'll ignore that fact) He will put the 2 year old in the bath every other day. I would say he gives her a bath but he doesn't. She plays the whole time with no cleaning. I let that slide. It means my baths must be done right is all. He will not and does not bath the 4 month old yet. He doesn't like to do it at that age.. It means getting on the floor and actually doing something other than playing. I figure i'll take the help i can get.

If it really does bother you and you feel unappreciated or what ever, sit down and talk to him and tell him you need his help. You're supposed to be in it together.

Liz - posted on 01/12/2013

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I'm very sorry, but I had to laugh at your post because I felt like I was reading something that I had written! My husband and I are 26 and 25 and we have 4 kids with another on the way. When I found out I was pregnant, I flipped out and went into semi-depressed mode. How on earth am I going to take care of another child?! My husband is just sort of like, "hey, yeah, we're having another baby! Just another reason to stay at work longer!" I feel very overwhelmed almost all the time, to say the least.

Having said all that, I have found a couple of techniques that seemed to have helped us. One is that the ONLY chore that my husband has that I shouldn't have to ask him to do, is take care of the dishes. Now, mind you, I DO have to ask him, nearly every time, but he will do it. He is also pretty good about doing something I ask, like taking out the trash. But if I ask him to give the kids a bath - forget it. Not going to happen (which I think is ridiculous, but we will get there I guess).
Two is that I have learned, as Katherine said, to let him do things HIS way. It takes time to learn to hold your tongue, but it is worth it. When my husband wants to wrestle with the boys in the house, I have to just walk out of the room because all I see are broken bones and a destroyed living room! But I know that he is not going to let one of the kids get hurt. I didn't believe that at first - like I said, it takes time. Men don't do things like us. If my husband wants to unload the dishwasher before he unloads the drying rack, and I like to do it the other way around, so what? As long as the job gets done, I have learned to keep my mouth shut. I think this is a big thing - while we think it's ridiculous to tell them what to do all the time, we have to be willing to let them make mistakes without complaining about it. Someone once told me that wives need to be their husband's biggest cheerleader. It is so true. When I make myself feel like an idiot and compliment my husband on taking care of the dishes when I didn't ask him to, he grins like a little boy. I think it's ridiculous to have to tell him what a good job he did, but that's another place where men and women differ. I don't need someone to congratulate me every time I clean up a mess, but our men sure do.

Katherine - posted on 01/12/2013

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Well I learned that man cleaning is not comparable to moms cleaning in any way pretty quickly. Even though my husband had a cleaning company before, most of his household cleaning wasn't up to par in my books. Whenever I have a problem with something he does I always ask myself two things before I go to him 'Is there something I can do to eliminate him doing this problem on my own' and 'Is it really worth fighting over?' (the second question is for my ocd behaviours that like things done a certain way or put in a certain spot, sometimes I realize that its my problem not his that I'm fuming) Like the dishwasher problem you have, I would have simply gotten rid of anything that can not be put in the dishwasher and replaced them with something that can be. Now try and pull dumb to get out of that one now Mr bwahahaha. Sometimes getting at them to do lil things like put their clothes in the hamper works if you tell them your usual laundry day/days and simply if his stuff arn't in there then its not getting washed till next time. Sure he threw a couple temper tantrums cuz he ran out of socks but I stuck to my guns, its a motto in our house," help me to help you" and I don't really ask a whole heck of a lot. Pay attention to his 'clean threshold' as well! I hate cleaning the bathroom and don't mind it being a lil gross unless I know were going to have company. He likes it clean, hehe, all I had to do was tell him hes the one with the problem with it so he should take care of it himself because I don't give a damn, I'll do it when I think its time. So most of the time he does it. We also cook dinners together most of the time, its not just my job I even find things for our daughter to do, like tear up lettuce or cut up mushrooms with a butter knife, she even sets out our cutlery for supper. Just got to ask and delegate, be silly and talk about your days. "you had a bad day?! well take it out on these chicken breasts n tell me about it" don't be surprised if they're reeeeally thin.

His parenting though is a tough one, sometimes I cringe at things he says or does because I would do it differently. But I try to remember this one article I read, I wish I kept it, the jist of it was that its his child too and hes got as much right as you to do things his way. I feel, as long as it doesn't harm your child then you should let them fumble through their father-child relationship, even if its not the way you do it. I let them 'sneaking' an occasional cookie slide because I remember doing things like that behind my moms back with my dad and it was 'our special thing'. I get them some half decent healthy-ish cookies for this too. I made a few rules that are really important to me well known. Offer him tips and suggestions if you notice them having a hard time with something; my husband can't get our daughter to put her own clothes on herself, but she does perfectly well with me with no screaming and it drives him crazy. So I told him a few techniques I used to achieve this and its slowly improving. Don't be too hard on him and let him figure it out, don't get mad or try to save him all the time, hes not as well practised as you being a sahm and wont be as graceful. It can be really hard to watch sometimes but when you see them start to get it your heart will melt.

and yeah you do kinda have to treat them like toddlers in a way, Praise the wanted/good behaviour till the end of time. Thing is with a toddler you can't go up to him and say "your such a sexy daddy when you play blocks and have fun like that, can't wait for bed time" ;) Hope this helps ya out, sorry its soo long

Michelle - posted on 01/12/2013

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If he's anything like my first husband he think because you are at home all day, you are supermum and can do everything so why should he?

You need to sit down and have a calm talk to him, not nagging though. Explain that there is always something to be cleaned/done and it would be great if he could help out. Maybe even make up lists. Do a chore list and divide the chores that need to be done everyday/week. Do up a list explaining how to stack the dishwasher. If he asks why you have done it let him know it's so he doesn't forget.

If all else fails then some couples counselling should help.

Patricia Ann - posted on 01/11/2013

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Find something he can actually do,and stick with that,also he maybe doing it because he isnt getting a consequence for it,say let him feed himself dinner when he comes home,instead of you doing it,so you can do all the things he cant do.

Elizabeth - posted on 01/11/2013

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Oh man. No one has a solution to reining in unruly husbands? Not a single person? =0

Denikka - posted on 01/10/2013

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Definitely not the only one. The only things I regularly expect my hubby to do is go to work and take out the trash when it's full.
But he's just like yours. He can literally trip over things, or be the one balancing yet another dish on the pile, or have to move a pile of crap out of his way to get something, and never once will it cross his mind to pick things up, do the dishes, throw crap in the garbage, etc.

He got better for a while. I have found that when we move, he gets REALLY good for a while. The first couple months are fantastic, he's helpful and everything's great. Then we get settled, he gets comfortable and stops doing anything. On the occasions that I CAN get him to do things (usually after much nagging, bitching, complaining, etc) he generally does such a half assed job that I need to go back over it and do it completely over XP

I don't know how to help, I WISH I knew :P Just wanted to you let you know that you weren't alone :)

Elizabeth - posted on 01/10/2013

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And to clarify: he DID do chores and was even CLEAN and responsible he lived in my apartment the entire year before we got married. He even nagged me to keep the place spotless and WANTED to do chores! I have absolutely no idea why he suddenly can't be an adult in his own home!

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