How to Motivate a Husband to Share Housework

by Dr. Sonya Lott

If you’re like most wives, you are doing most of the household chores and really want your husband to share more of this responsibility. Your husband may actually feel that he is doing his fair share if he takes care of tasks such as yard work and auto repairs. However, the household chores that women are typically responsible for -- washing clothes and cooking meals -- are chores that have to be done more frequently. There are ways to motivate your husband to help more.

Don’t assume that your husband doesn’t want to help or doesn’t appreciate your effort. Just let him know that you feel stressed with the amount of household chores you have to do and that you would appreciate his help.

Let him choose the household chores that he would like or is willing to do. People are more willing to do something that is asked of them if they feel they have some free will or choice in the process. Even if he’d prefer not to do anything, presenting him with a choice will motivate him to take responsibility.

Suggest setting up a regular time that the two of you can complete some of the cleaning-related chores together. You can motivate each other and make the housework less arduous. It also holds both of you accountable for doing more of the housework.

Let him complete the tasks his own way. Don’t sabotage his efforts. It’s a human tendency to believe that the way we do something is the best way to do it. If you have this tendency and suggest that he do it your way, he will probably get frustrated. Let him do it his way. You may learn something new!

Let him know that you appreciate his help, but don’t go overboard. Both of you have responsibility for the household. So don’t praise him too much. Besides, he may see your excessive praising as being condescending.

Consider re-evaluating the chores that you are willing to continue doing if he declines to share more household responsibilities. If your husband isn’t willing to help more, then it is your responsibility to take care of your own needs. If you would like to continue cooking for both of you, that would certainly be reasonable. However, if you decide it would be easier for you to just do your own laundry, then don’t do his laundry anymore. Inform him of your decision. But do so in a way that isn’t threatening or retaliatory.

About the Author

Sonya Lott, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, who offers online and in office counseling to individuals struggling with grief, loss or a life transition. She also facilitates mental health workshops for educational, professional, and community groups and maintains a blog on her website

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