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How Do I Get My Lazy Husband to Help With Housework?


Is your man a good-for-nothing, lazy, TV-watching slob? Okay, that may be harsh, but maybe he's just an ordinary Joe, a card-carrying member of the Sofaholic club. While you bust your hump to finish the dishes, laundry, and cleaning, your husband channel surfs and falls asleep on the couch.

He doesn't even notice that you are one dish towel away from a physical meltdown or that you secretly want to string him up by his big toe. If this describes your predicament, join the club. Women across the nation are exhausted, beaten down, and in dire need help. They need their husbands to step up.

How to Get Your Husband Moving

Here, in no particular order, are six thoughts about men and housework. If you want help, study these ideas and make them your own.

  1. Don't tell him to do more than one thing at a time. Tell him one thing he can help you with and leave it at that. Don't, under any circumstance, give him a list. Men are genetically wired to reject all lists. If you do this you are doomed to fail.
  2. Don't nag. It's an issue of stubborn will and you will not break him. The more you nag, the less he will do. Just ask once and leave it that.
  3. Let him decide the timeline. This may sound counter intuitive, but it works. Men need to be in control. The minute they feel threatened they flee. If your man runs, then there is no way he will ever complete the job. Besides, when he completes the job, his pride will be surely let you know that he did it before the time elapsed.
  4. Notice what he does, not what he doesn't. Let me put it this way. Imagine if your husband pointed out all of the flaws in your appearance and never noticed your good points. You would eventually break down and stop caring about your appearance. It's the same way with men and housework.
  5. Don't asses or redo his work. If you want a job done by your husband and his work doesn't meet your expectations, do the job yourself and don't ask him to do it in the first place. The problem may just be your expectations and not your husband.
  6. Let your man be the hero. A man loves to do heroic things for his wife. The problem with housework is your man doesn't understand how it important it is to you that he helps. In many cases, especially if you work, day to day house work is incredibly tiring and draining. It's a burden. He doesn't see the slow burn of exhaustion as easily as they see other threats to your well being. For him to truly understand your difficulty, you need to make a point of explaining your predicament, not in a condescending or angry to tone, but in a manner that conveys your predicament and desperation.

In the case that your husband is a total brick head and doesn't respond to any of the following tips, then it's time to buy a sledgehammer. Don't jump to conclusions; you're not going to use it on him. Buy the sledge hammer, unplug the TV and drag it out to the driveway. When he comes home from work, just as he turns into the driveway, lift up the sledge hammer and smash the crap out of the TV. He may just get the message.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Lala on May 20, 2020:

Article TLDR- manipulate your lazy A** spouse into doing housework. Yah, that totally sounds like emotional empowerment and a mature way of handling things.

I was trapped in a marriage like this. Guess what... I left. My house is cleaner than ever and I somehow gained 4 hours back into my day. It’s amazinf. Oh, and on top of the 270 pounds of deadbest I lost, I know also fit into my skinny jeans.

Stop telling women they have to deal with this like slaves. Ladies, you don’t.

guest2020 on April 16, 2020:

The maid should be doing the housework. If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em!!

Shelly Carmich on September 23, 2019:

Dumbest article I’ve ever read. Emotionally healthy responsible adults do not need to be treated like children. This article Puts the responsibility on the woman to tiptoe around their childish behavior. Seriously?!

Shaz on August 06, 2018:

I run my own admin company from home and my husband doesnt work except for a couple hrs a day helping me with a few admin tasks. I used to be a clean freak but our apartment bow looks like Chernobyl because I work insane hrs and he barely lifts a finger. He packs the dishwasher each day and makes runs to the grocery store or to buy booze and believes that is his job done. If I try to talk to him about it, somehow I am a "slave driver" or I am "always telling him what he does wrong". He doesn't seem to be able to stand back and realise the incredibly huge imbalance of work between us. He has actually told me he doesnt like having to do washing etc. NO ONE DOES! But the worst part is that he CREATES so much of the mess! Cigarette ash on the tables, clothes on the couch, rubbish left where it lands etc. So, as a result of me being too tired to keep cleaning up the abomination and him preferring tv and video games over helping, our apartment is a mess. :(

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Whatever on March 21, 2014:

The article was good. The issue I have is that, from my experience, stay at home moms typically sit on their asses all day and then rip out the housework a couple hours before their working spouse gets home. Then lie and say how it took them all day and complain when you don't want to come home and cleanup the house after working outside the home all day. I watched my mother do it with my dad when I was growing up as well. My current girlfriend works maybe 8 to 10 hours a week, all of our kids are in school during the day. I work 40 plus hours a week and come home to find the house trashed and her lounging around. When I say anything at all about it, she says she doesn't have enough time and just can't keep up with it and I should help. Which I do, mainly because it bugs the crap out of me. But the fact of the matter is, she has plenty of time, she only needs to take a little time each day...most of the time, she just lets it go for several days and then it takes an entire day of everyone pitching in to straighten it out. A few days later...completely trashed again. She is the one with the most time on her hands and does very little, while expecting me, who has less time to do more. Not fair at all.

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Mimi on February 28, 2014:

Why do men get the special treatment. I don't get it. I am past all the BS. He sees me breaking my back to keep the house, cook, do yard work, and take care of the pool and our dog. Why do I have to treat him special to get help. BS with all of this wired different. What are women called when they sit on their ass and do nothing. It isn't the format that we are expected to use to get men to help. But...when I want to cook on special occasion for my son and family his response is quote, That is just to much for you to do. I am about to blow my lid. I am 71 and just worn out. When I look at him just sitting I want to run away and never return. If I were 20 years younger I would be gone.

Kathy on February 27, 2014:

I feel sorry for women that say things like, "That's why I'm not married....."That's why....." Really!? So......divorced women......did they beg to stay!!! I doubt it! It takes two!!!!

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bella on March 20, 2013:

just put him over your knee it works

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In my experience you can't make anyone do anything they don't want to do, it is as simple as that. The only answer is to get them inspired. And inspiration will be different for each of us.

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Lucy on June 19, 2012:

Who the F%$k wrote this Sh%t, why should we freaking praise men for having common sense. I'm so sick and tired of these stupid books that talk about only give them one task, praise them when they do it, don't critizie. Shut the F%$k up with that nonsense. I agree with one of the comments, mothers show your boys how to help you around the house and stop catering to them hand and foot. Men just need to get off their lazy asses and stop pretending they can only handle one task at a time and half assed at that. If they did that shit at work, they'd get fired.

michaelheemson on June 10, 2012:

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Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 05, 2012:

I have to say that my husband is the total Brickhead. Hey, workworkwork, that works in reverse, too. I work and the Brickhead stays home. Now I'm having to pay to have the lawn done because "it hurts his knees" to run a self-propelled mower. Once I even made a formal introduction to a broom: "Brickhead, this is a broom, Broom, this is Brickhead." Fat lot of good that did. Men don't have a monopoly on lazy stay-at-home spouses!

work work work on April 18, 2012:

Ok I work 14-16 hrs a day I come home and the wife wants me to do my share ok she is a stay at home mom and can't keep the house clean WTF she says I'm tired ok and you think 16 hr day doing physical labor I'm not tired at all I wld love to see her do that then come home and do house work (WOULD NOT HAPPEN) if your man works and your at home do your job or get out sounds like a lot of women just want something to bitch about. And then you sniffle about us wanting sex then you can't figure out why you husband is boning the girl next door use the brain God gave you.

Yikes on March 03, 2012:

I just spent two hours reading all these comments and it just breaks my heart that so many women out there are forced into wifely slavery. My husband is lazy, but so am I. My husband hates to clean, but so do I. My husband works a long day, but so do I. So, why would I entertain the notion that his needs, wants, expectation, likes, and dislikes are more important than mine? I DIDN'T!

We talked about cleaning and chores before we moved in together. I told him what I hate, he told me what he hated. I told him that I fully and completely expected him to assist with any and all chores, animals, and kids in our relationship future, not because I'm a modern woman, or was a rah-rah man-hater, but because I wanted him to be my partner, my equal, my best friend, my other-half, and that those titles all required mutual respect. I told him, very plainly, that I wanted him by my side for the rest of my life, and that I wanted to build a life, a family, and a home with him, but that I would not, could not, and should not, be expected to tolerate any disrespect from someone who claimed to be my partner in life, and that he shouldn't be expected to either.

I told him I realized my worth and wasn't willing to waste my one and only lifetime being overworked, unhappy, stressed out and tired.

He agreed.

Our house is not always super tidy, I quite often step on Lego, find dirty socks under the couch, or A few dirty plates in the sink, but that's ok. We have a special needs son together, a dog and a cat and while we have some mild chaos in the house, it's pleasantly chaotic and my husband and I can giggle together about it, and spend one day a month really cleaning the house like crazy together.

All you other women with these boorish, self-centered, disrespectful assholes of husbands make me want to gather you up and bring you to my warm topsy-turvy kitchen and give you a hug. Your husbands treat you in a way that any employer could be sued for treating you as. If a friend treated you that way, they'd no longer be your friend. If a family member treated you that way, they'd be estranged. If a stranger treated you that way, you'd tell them where to go and how to get there. But the man who is supposed to SHARE your life with you, share your hopes, be your companion, friend and lover, treats you like this and gets away with it?!?

I understand that everyone's situation is different, and that leaving isn't always an option, and trying to reason with him, isn't always an option, and hiring help isn't always an option, and letting everything go in the house isn't always an option, but maybe try cutting back a little bit? So you do some laundry, dishes and cooking each day, but don't do as much. So maybe there's an unmade bed, or toys on the floor, big deal, I guarantee every living creature in that house would be happier and more content if the tension, stress and misery levels in the house went down.

Just stop. You can't do everything forever. Let a little chaos into your life, as long as the rest of it is pleasant, then life should be a bit easier. And if your husband complains, explain to him that you just didn't have enough hours in a day to do everything and that everyone is much happier now. If he doesn't agree, then tough titty baby, let him do the extras on his own.

Nicole on February 22, 2012:

I am sorry, are we talking about men or kids. This sounds like how I teach my kids to learn to be ADULTS! If you see something needs to be done do it!!! Laziness is my pet peeve!!!

coby on February 21, 2012:

My husband (who's mother dóesn't work and did everything for him) doesn't help me with housekeeping and children, I don't care. I don't nag about it. When I was alone (divorced) I also had to do it alone and when we divorce, I still have to do it alone, no that's not true, I've got three men who love helping me with washing dishes and cleaning up -they're 5, 3 and 2 years old. I clean up for them. What I do get angry about is that when the toilet isn't working, he yells and tells me it's my fault (it's an old rotten house)and tells me to do it. Finally he does it and I have to help, which is okay if he doesn't yell that I don't do it correct. When he doesn't fix things that I can't, I ask my father of 76. He has been unemployed for 3 years and now has to work. Solution for unemployment and not doing the laundry: eat dry bread with cheese all the time and give the children good food with the little money there is and just let his laundry pile up for months, so he gets a bit mature and has to fix it himself. I'm not too lazy to do it, it's the only task he has now. If you don't treat your husband like a child, maybe he will grow up eventually. And lower your expectations a lot.

anonymous on February 13, 2012:

Ryan6. Your predicament is mine as well. My wife has stopped or somewhat halted on housework. I know she can do it. She claims she never has time for anythign. Whatever! She expects me too much (at times) to keep the up on housework. I see her more of a sofaholic or bedaholic when she comes home from school or work. I can't seem to to have a our relationship get better. I wanted a moment with her last night. Instead she wanted to finish her tv show. So I gave her the cold shoulder and went to bed. My snoring seem to pay off a part of a cold plate while i slept last night.I want her to l know i still love her. I want her to understand her position to do housework instead of tv. I use to come home and see the house is not cleaned. I get mad that i do the dishes all the time. I have no electric dishwasher to wash that soapscum away. Yes. Alot of women take adavatange for the men to do everything. I happen to be a christian and i see that good christian women can do a good job of taking care of there homes and children. Men who are home with there kids can only do only a little bit to keep the kids in line and in order. My son is now cleaning more and will start cleaning his room everyday. He will do more to help me out more and my wife. How to get my wife off of tv and start doing more to not have daily chores on certain days? It is going to start. Here in the next 6 months. I am executing cable tv and more family time and husband/wife relations willl happen. Having a wife who desires not to do housework is going to cause a family relationship problem. It even effects fsmilies now. So , I still love my wife. Here in a few to 6 more moths of school and work. I can see a change. I love the fact that a woman is more cleaner than a man. It m akes me feel better when I see my wiofe pitch in and give time to clean a house. Now if i can get a collar on my son to do the same thing with his room.

Tired on February 08, 2012:

@Ryan- you sound like a real catch! I'm jealous of your wife!

No kids for me yet, but I have been with my boyfriend for 6 years (living together for 5). I am the breadwinner and still take care of all household chores- cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes, paying the bills, taking care of the pets, etc etc etc. I've tried every tip on that list to get him motivated and NOTHING WORKS. On top of THAT he has the AUDACITY to tell me that he feels like he never does enough because I complain all the time. OBVIOUSLY I complain! I'm exhausted- and he does nothing but sit around and watch me work! I can sit down with a basket of clean clothes right next to him- do you think he actually helps me fold? Nope- he continues to watch TV while I fold all of it.

Ryan on February 06, 2012:

Could you please do a piece on women in the inverse situation. I work full time, do dishes, all the cleaning, laundry, get the kids ready for school. My wife has no sense of time, cleanliness, priorities...she's clueless. If it was just me and her, I would have left a while ago. It's driving me nuts and my house is SOOOOO chaotic. Not sure what to do here.

monkey on February 04, 2012:

After 22 years of marriage, I can tell you that a lazy husband will always be a lazy husband. I've tried asking, nagging, to-do lists, leaving the work undone in the hopes that he'd get the hint and help, and nothing works. If your husband is like mine, just resign yourself to the fact that you have to take care of him as if he's a child, and you will have to do everything around the house yourself. That's why women shouldn't have to work outside the's not fair that we have to go to work AND take care of the house while the husbands only have to go to work and do nothing else. That's what women's lib got us.

The dad on February 02, 2012:

Your husband sounds like my wife:) I'm kidding, but only slightly, we both have similar incomes, with hers only slightly larger and with more prestiege, but the balance of everything from child care, to cleaning, to fixing the car, or planning the holiday falls to me. You points are useful, and likely not gender specific

Onepissedoffmom on February 01, 2012:

You know what I scoff at? I scoff at men who think they know what the hell a woman who is pregnant is going through. If you think your wife is whining while she is pregnant then you need to get your testes burned off and get out of her house (you'll be doing her a favor). It's disgusting to see how little men know of pregnancy and the enormous strain it puts on a woman.

If you work outside the house and your wife is a stay at home mom consider yourself LUCKY. Why? Because your wife is willing to put in a 12 hour work day 7 days out of the week for zero dollars. If you don't think she is working while she is home then do this:

Wake up at 6am. Get a cup of coffee to start your day. Go get the babies out of bed. Dress them. Help them brush their teeth. 7:30 am, start breakfast. Get the kids on the table, feed them. Clean up their mess as they drop things, spill things. Pick the kids up, clean their hands and their faces. Get the dishes washed up. It's 9am. Do the laundry and vacuum up the floors while the kids are entertained with toys. 10:00-10:30 am, get lunch ready, food prep time and get some snacks on the table for little ones. 11:30am Cook lunch. Feed the kids, clean up after them, clean them, wash the dishes. 1:00pm time tog et the kids ready for a nap. Say the kids are good and nap for 2 hours. This is perfect time to sit down right? WRONG. Pre-prep dinner if it's going to be busy. Many women do this days in advance! But there's still much to do- remember the laundry? those have to get put away. Toys have to be put away (if they haven't been put away before nap), counters have to be cleaned, floors have to be mopped (nows a good time with kids out cold), organizing bills would be good, bathroom has to be scrubbed down, sinks washed, tubs cleaned, windows wiped down, doorknobs disinfected, cupboards and shelves dusted. By the time all of this is done the kids are awake and want attention. Time to break out books and read or play with some toys. Don't forget dinner has to be cooked.

By now hubby's home, mom's exhausted and kids are excited. Table gets set, food gets served. And the routine starts all over again.

That outlines a bland day in the life of a woman. We don't include the freak moments when toddlers have accidents, get sticky and need baths, demand more time, go to the park or when we have errands to run outside of the house (groceries, shopping, etc) we also don't discuss managing children when they get into fights with each other.

Do you know how much the pay rate goes to have someone do all of that work? And yet a stay at home mom does it because she loves her family, adores her children, imagines a world of appreciation and support from her husband.

We don't get a thank you. We don't get a hug. We don't get to lay down and hve our feet rubbed. We don't play play station. We don't fall asleep before the kids are in bed. We don't sleep in when we are tired. WE don't have someone who rubs our heads, give us medicine and pampers us when we are sick with a cold.

Our husbands expect us to just grit our teeth and bear it. I told my hubby if he didn't change quickly I was leaving him. I work too hard to be treated like nothing- i know my damn worth.