Do you ever ask your husband to do a little something and get into a fight few hours (or sometimes, days) later when you discover he still hasn’t done it? Or worse, find yourself doing it all over again because he didn’t do it just right?
This constant chores-battle is not uncommon in modern households—especially the ones with working women. Sadly, this battle never really comes to an end in its entirety. And what’s the fun without a little fight now & then, right? Luckily, there are ways to get him to help around the house a tad more.
As a working married woman, if there’s something I wish I’d known sooner, it is this—how to get my husband to contribute to household chores. And now that I know a little (still getting there), my two cents of wisdom might be of some help to all the ladies who are still struggling at it.
Ask, don’t nag – This is something I learnt the hard way. Nagging helps you achieve nothing except frequent arguments, frustration and resentment towards each other. Husbands hate when their wives nag. Period.
Be specific with requests – As much as you’d like them to, men are not good at reading your mind. If you want them to do something, you’ll have to tell them so—clearly, loudly, and sometimes repeatedly.
Tell him how - Most husbands, these days, understand and acknowledge the dual pressure of work and home. They really do want to help. At least sometimes, they do. Their problem? They just don’t know where and how to start. They might need your help in figuring out how to do a certain thing. Just don’t overdo it. Tell them how and then let them do, experiment and learn. A little mess will do no harm.
Create a routine – It’s easier to get him to do the same set of tasks every day rather than something new every day. Once he falls into a routine, you probably wouldn’t have to ask any longer.
Start by delegating the smaller, easier tasks – He may not be able to prepare a 3-course Punjabi meal, but he can certainly make the bed and water the plants. Starting small can lead to a big change, especially in mindset. And delegating several smaller tasks could unburden you of a lot of anxiety arising from undone trivial things.
Let him choose his chores – This is important, especially in the beginning, to make chores somewhat enjoyable for him. When we are asked to do what we don’t like, it is more likely for us to not do it. Invest time in finding out his interest areas and things he enjoys, then engage him in tasks related to those areas. If your husband is a pet lover, you could ask him to walk the pet and take him for regular vet visits. If he likes cooking, invite him to help you in the kitchen.
Play up his strengths – You may be good at certain things and he may be good at others. Figure out his strengths and use them to give him the right things to do. If he wakes up earlier, he could fetch the milk or take the pet for morning walks. If he is taller, he could help clean the fans.
Shift the weight gradually – One mistake most of us make is expecting equal distribution of workload from the first day. Although a fair expectation, it is a little unreasonable. In most countries, men are still not conditioned to do household chores and they will take time to adapt. It might be a smart decision to start small and shift the weight as they begin to acknowledge and own more responsibility in running the household.
Appreciate his effort – Nobody is perfect. But pointing out imperfections can be dissuading. Instead, encourage them to put in more time by appreciating their efforts and not focusing on the result.
Take a step back – Once you’ve told your husband what and how to do, don’t follow it with a string of instructions or constantly watch over as he works. Trust his skills & intentions, sit back and let him own the task. As a matter of fact, we women are conditioned to own household chores to such an extent, that we find it hard to let go even when we want to. But you need to step back and let the work be done (or not be done).
Be patient, persistent and appreciative. Let him learn everything, at his own pace.