04 July 2016

Five Simple Tips To Get Your Husband to Help Out Around the House

Paige threw her hands up in frustration. “My husband rarely helps out with the kids,” she grumbled. Her friend Elise chimed in, “Mine too. And I feel like I'm completely alone in cleaning our house. You would think he doesn’t even notice the mess.” Unfortunately, this is all too common.

As any good counselor would tell you, you can't change your husband’s behavior, but you can change your own. Although in some cases it certainly could be due to a lazy, selfish husband who may never change, I’ve found that’s usually not the case. Most of the time a husband truly wants to make his wife happy but he often don’t know how to help. Or his wife has completely pushed him out from helping, whether or not she realized what she was doing.

I think we can all agree that there’s no such thing as a perfect wife. So let’s each go into this with an open mind to see if there could possibly be, just mayyybe, an area that we can each make a positive change to benefit our marriage. It’s worth a shot, right? So read on for five simple tips that could be the ticket to get your husband to help out more.

1. Avoid nagging. For how often wives do this (myself included), one would assume that nagging must actually work. Dictionary.com’s definition of “nag” is “to annoy by persistent faultfinding, complaints, or demands.” If it worked, a wife wouldn’t have to keep nagging! There would be no need for the persistent, on-going complaints. There must be a better way.

2. Don’t insist on your idea of perfection. When we had our first baby, I was so excited that I had a husband willing to change diapers. One day, I noticed him fastening the adhesive strips in an odd spot, resulting in a bunched up diaper. I almost said something, assuming my way was the correct way, but thankfully stopped myself. Is it really going to hurt our daughter if her diaper is on a bit different? No. Hubby diapered our baby without me having to lift a finger. I consider that a win! Decide now – do you want everything done “perfectly” (i.e. your way) or would you rather an enthusiastic, willing husband?

Similar to all snowflakes being unique, I’m convinced there’s no two people in the entire world that load the dishwasher the exact same way. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that has opened the dishwasher to load a plate, only to proceed to take several minutes moving items around until I got them to my liking. Over time I’ve become much better about letting that go. I try to remind myself there are dishes in the dishwasher that I didn’t have to load. And they will come out clean, even if they are not in my ideal formation. Hurray!

Besides learning to be okay letting my husband do things his own way, there have been times where I’ve found his way to be (*gasp*) even better! Guys sometimes have a different way of viewing things, often outside of the box. Females have been taught standard ways of doing things that get passed down from generation to generation, often without questioning the status quo. When I’ve actually stopped to ask Hubby why he does something a different way, it often makes even more sense than the way I do it! Take a step back, let go of the reigns and expectations that things need to be done a certain way, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

3. Ditch the criticism. I know this can be a tough habit to break, but this can be toxic to a marriage so it is important to practice biting your tongue. If it is a common theme in your marriage, you should go as far as asking for forgiveness before moving on. Back to the diaper example, imagine if I had said to my husband, “No, that diaper is on all wrong. That looks ridiculous the way you did that!” Can you guess how eager my husband would have been to change another diaper? I would have instantly become the sole diaper changer in my household. Guys hate failing. If they feel like they can’t do something well, they often won’t attempt it at all in order to save face. Don’t be the reason your husband gives up helping out because he knows you will criticize his technique.

But what if he really doesn’t know how to do something correctly that is important to be done a particular way? Sometimes situations can be a safety issue. For example, if your husband isn’t correctly fastening your precious baby in their car seat. In those situations, you should…

4. Teach gently. Most females are natural caregivers. But somewhere along the way, even we had to learn some tips and tricks. No matter how simple it may seem, we aren’t born knowing how to change a diaper. It’s not intuitive to know how to scramble an egg or even do laundry if no one has ever shown you how to do it. I actually had to call my mom from college, staring at the coin-operated washing machine in the basement of my dorm, and ask how to wash my clothes. Yep, that happened. Things that seem common sense to us are not always intuitive.

Some caregiver traits have been modeled for us over time, which is why we often pick them up faster than our husbands once we try them. And other household or child-rearing tasks we have learned over time through trial and error, yet we don’t give our husbands the same grace to figure it out on their own, making some mistakes along the way.

When we first got married, Hubby thought he just wasn’t talented in the cooking arena. I knew I didn’t have it in me to cook three meals a day, seven days a week, so I gradually taught him how to cook some simple meals. We would put on some music and cook and laugh together. I’ve always liked the quote: “I love to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food!” Basically, make it a fun learning experience, whatever that looks like for you.

After Hubby learned some cooking basics, he quickly surpassed my skill level. Apparently he was a natural! He now makes breakfast almost every day, which is super helpful since I’m usually tied up nursing our little one first thing in the morning or am still groggy if she kept me up at night. The key is to gently and lovingly teach, just the way someone once taught you.

5. Give positive reinforcement and encouragement. I do not mean to manipulate your husband or give false flattery. I simply mean you should celebrate the wins. Give praise where it is due. When your husband raves about a meal you made or says, “You are such a good momma”, it feels GOOD! Why not return the favor and spread some joy? A bit of positive reinforcement can go a long way, especially if it is your husband’s first time attempting something.

If it feels awkward at first to praise your husband, try texting it to him. A quick, “You looked so sexy today when you vacuumed” could result in him wanting to clean the floors daily! Or tell him, “I really appreciate you bathing the kids and putting them to bed tonight. Now I have extra energy for you (wink, wink)!”

Let’s discuss:

Wives, which of these tips do you already excel at? Which ones do you think you may need to tweak? Other thoughts?

Husbands, are there other tips that could be added to the list?

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