23 answers

How to Motivate the Husband

My husband is a great man and a wonderful father, but I cannot motivate him to help out around the house at all! I have a half built deck (the other half is in the garage) a swamp cooler in the window (and its going to get down to 40 degrees!?) and a lawn that desperately needs to be mowed and he just won't do it! I'm so frustrated. I recently went back to work full time and he said he would help "pick up the slack" but there's been no help. Its like pulling teeth. I just don't even know what to say any more without making him pout and me the bad guy. Argh!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you for all the feedback! Turns out he is so overwhelmed at work that he is exhausted when he gets home, but he felt like he couldn't tell me because it wasn't a "manly" thing to do. "Men are supposed to be able to handle it." We had a long talk about it and both promised to work harder at keeping the house moving for the whole family. I told him that I really value his work and his help and that I knew we could make this work.

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I read a book once that seemed to address some of that. It is called "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. I'm sorry I don't remember specifics. I'm not married so don't have any personal advice but maybe that will help with some tips.

DITTO, Susan W, that is what I do, most the time I finish it on my own, BUT he seems to feel guilty if he see's me struggle, so he'll get out there and do it!

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You know, my husband gets motivated when I take it upon myself to learn about what he is doing and then start doing it myself...or call someone who can! Most recently, we have a picnic bench in our backyard. He had not weatherproofed it in over a year so it wasn't even in any condition to sit on (splinters...ouch!). I decided to figure out his sander and I started sanding it when he was gone on a trip. I didn't have time to finish it, but when he got back, he was so suprised! Next thing I know, he had sanded the thing, weatherproofed it and then even did our entire deck and the play equipment! Another time was our toilet...yes, our toddler flushed the top of a can down the thing! I didn't know what would solve it (and he had not taken any steps to solve it and I was sick of it) so I looked up toilets on the internet to learn about them. I went to Home Depot and started taking steps to fix our toilet. In the end, he stepped in place of where I'd left off and ended up replacing the toilet. Hooray! I could go on and on with examples like this around the house...yes, even when it comes to things made of wood...I found out that if I have the measurements, Home Depot will often cut them for me...and when it comes to my husband, I've never ended up having to finish any of these jobs if he's around! Oh...and one great thing that's come of it...I cannot believe the stuff I'm capable of...I came from a home where I had no idea people even painted their own houses instead of always hiring someone...I have actually gained a huge amount of confidence in myself and in my abilities from all this stuff...it's pretty addictive! Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful

Does your husband work full time too? If so, maybe he is just as frustrated with himself and drained from work. You know, life is so much more pleasant when the mom is home taking care of the kids, cleaning, cooking and all that it takes to be a mom and wife. Everyone has their reasons of why they think they need to be working full time, but really, it takes away from the family. You put all of your energy into your work, and have little left to create a warm home environment, you have little left to enjoy loving the guy you picked. I love surprising my husband every couple of weeks or so by mowing the lawn so he doesn't have to when he gets home from work. The smile on his face makes it so worth all the sweat, plus it's great exercise. I know you're not going to quit your job because one mom to another says you should, but have you thought about mowing the lawn to help out? It sounds like he has a lot on his plate too. You sound a bit like my own mother. She and my dad both work full time (kids all grown) and she still complains that the lawn isn't mowed when she wants, or the patio isn't finished when she wants, he hasn't done anything in the time frame she wants. By the way, my dad does the laundry sometimes too. All it would take is for her to do something kind like mowing to make him happy. Marriage is about what you can do today to make the other happy and want to stay in the marriage. I always say, if you are the one that really wants it done, do it yourself. I'm just suggesting you do one of the things on the long list to help out (mowing is easy) and maybe your guy will want to help out too. Men don't get very motivated by their women nagging that something isn't done. I'm just saying.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't know if this would work but, buy the book "Sex begins in the kitchen" by Dr Kevin Leman, and leave it out somewhere. Make it look like you had just been reading it and left it somewhere (where he is sure to see it) to get up and do something else. The title is SURE to get his attention, and of course he won't be able to resist picking it up and reading the inside to find out what the title means. Then just maybe he will feel more motivated to help out a bit more???? Just an idea :)

You can't motivate someone else to do things. You are not his boss, so don't nag. Sorry he is driving you crazy. Find a happy place in your mind so you don't want to slap him silly every day.

Quit your job. I used to work FT too. Men that don't help now will not help later. Been married 12 years, husband has never helped me clean. There is nothing you can do but give yourself less things to do.

Take care!

Cut corners elsewhere and simply hire the work done.

Long term, it is not worth the battle.

In the future for big projects write down a finish date and then save to have it completed if it is left undone.

I know that this can be frustrating.

DITTO, Susan W, that is what I do, most the time I finish it on my own, BUT he seems to feel guilty if he see's me struggle, so he'll get out there and do it!

Men are not motivated by nagging, so just give that up.

I'm sorry that you are frustrated, but what I have found is that I just can't get my husband to do the things that I think he should do. When I finally accepted this, I felt much better. I started researching how to do things and I'd say I'm probably just as handy as he is now.

I still would prefer that he did more around the house, but I refuse to let it upset me anymore. I will just continue to do what is necessary because I love my family and my home and myself. I deserve to have a clean home. I deserve to not have unfinished projects all over the place. I'm going to do it for ME and not nag him because I don't like how I feel when I do.

I'm hoping that someday he'll learn by my example, but who knows if he will. In the meantime I just remind myself of all that he does do for me. He may not do much around the house, but he goes to work at a stressful job every day. He is a fantastic father and spends time with our daughter. He never complains when I need alone time and dump the kids on him and go off on my own. I make sure he knows I appreciate what he does do. That way I get a tiny bit more of it.

You can only change yourself. So change your expectations of him, and then you won't be disappointed. Take care of things yourself and you will feel empowered and proud of yourself when you see what you can accomplish without help! Your marriage is too precious for you to undermine it with bad feelings.

One other thought (sorry this is so long): when he gets home from work or after dinner give him alternatives. Say something like "Would you like to clean up the kitchen and get the kids ready for bed, or would you like to mow the lawn?" Let him choose, then you do the other.

Good luck!

so do it yourself..not realy. hire help and then give your hubby the bill.

Ask him for a check for $3,000, that should cover getting the deck finished, the yard mowed and the cooler taken down or winterized, if he asks why, just say "well if you don't have the time then you need to pay someone who does" and be serious!!!! If he says he will do it, then simply say "it needs to be done by this weekend, not to put pressure on you but the weather is going to get cooler and if you really don't want to then let me pay someone who does"..that way you aren't the bad guy but also getting things done can either be his choice to do it or pay someone else!! Men don't like to part with money so I am betting that motivates him!! :) Good luck!

First let me say, congratulations on your little one thriving that must have been hard to have her so small.
Secondly, I find that praise and positive reinforcemnt works for me with my husband. If I need two to three things done for example I will pick the easiest thing, say unloading the dishwasher and say "You know what would really help me out today is if you could unload the dishwasher" After he does it, (95% of the time) I say "Wow that was so helpfull that really saved me some time" and give him a big hug/kiss. And at the end of the day I sometimes even thank him again. Now it is important not to sound condescending. I find that by over praising him he then is motivated to do or even ask what else he can do to help. I swear it works!! It may sound like I am playing a mind game but let's face it at the end of the day if I don't have to do the three chores than I am happy and thus a better wife. Men can be simple creatures, they love to be needed, respected, and admired.

You need to sit down and read, two books should so it. Men are From Mars Women Are From Venus and Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts. Learn how to quit nagging and get him happy to please and pleasure you. You'll have a lot more more fun!

I read a book once that seemed to address some of that. It is called "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. I'm sorry I don't remember specifics. I'm not married so don't have any personal advice but maybe that will help with some tips.

Have you read "The Five Lauguages of Love". It talks about meeting the emtional needs of eachother and it motivates husbands in the process. If nothing else it will help your marriage.
C. B


As someone that also doesn't like to mow and grow up that that was man's work, I am still willing to ask the question:
Why can't you mow the lawn?

Since both of you are full time working perhaps you both could use some assistance with projects that get to be done.
It sounds like its time for you both to figure out how to get the house and yard looking like you both want it.

Best of luck,

Hire someone to do his chores. Those things can be done by any handyman. Most likely, your husband will either feel bad that you spent the money, or feel bad that you had to get someone else to do his work. Maybe he'll keep up with his share after that.

Actions speak louder than words. Don't do another single thing for him. Take care of yourself and your baby and not him. When he sees what is going on then he may appriciate what you have been doing for him every day. Hopefully it will only take a day or two of that to convince him to get off his butt and do something! Good luck!

I know this sounds stupid but it's true. Men respond better to a list, then asking them to do each thing. I hate lists, but..... if I write down what I am going to do and what he's going to do on the same paper, and he sees how I've crossed off half of my list, it motivates him (without me using words) to get his butt in gear.

That way there is no nagging involved. Also, even though this is totally stupid and I hate doing it. Praise him for each thing when he actually does it, or as he's doing it. Don't go overboard, but a simple "Thanks for doing that" and a kiss shows a man that he's appreciated, and men really dig that kind of stuff.

Hope you get the help you deserve!

I don't know what your financial situation is like (and I know the current state of the economy is concerning for us all), but if you can afford even to do just one of these things, it might be worth a try. Pay a neighborhood kid to come mow the lawn. Call a handyman service and schedule to have them remove the swamp cooler and store it wherever you normally keep it. It's probably kind of late in the year for the deck, but get a few quotes to have it finished and go over those with your husband. Let him know that you understand you are both busy parents and that, if at all possible, you would rather let someone else finish these projects so that you and he can spend that time together without those things nagging at you. If you can find a teenager who's willing to work a little, you may even be able to have them come help you clean once a week or so for a much more reasonable rate than a cleaning company would - and it would be helping you, not just doing it for you. I had that kind of job when I was 12 - I cleaned house once a week for one of my mom's friends and in return she made my gown for orchestra and we made christmas presents for my family (she had a kiln and all the supplies to do pottery). It's something that can make a big difference for a kid and help you and your husband be a little more relaxed with all you've got going on. Discuss your ideas with him. I'm sure he'll appreciate the alternatives. Best to you and your family!

I've had this issue with my hubby... He's not really trying to avoid stuff (at least not usually). He just forgets. We've talked about it a lot so we both know whats going on. I ask him to do something. He says sure but doesn't get to it. So I tell him - do it NOW, before t.v. goes on, shoes go off, whatever. Since we've discussed it, he's usually OK with it. I bet your hubby's issue is the same - he simply forgets.

Really, if you are both working full time, then what he does around the house isn't "helping pick up the slack," any more than your income is "helping pick up the slack." He lives in the house too and should do his share of the work!


I loved all the great suggestions. One I didn't see was whether your husband has a buddy or brother living nearby to come over and help. Call his wife and set up two Saturdays, one at her house and one at yours. (Her husband has trouble getting motivated, too.) Have the families hang out together and get some things done. Reward your men with a great food afterwards and maybe some dessert later that night. Wink, wink.


Hi K.
I have been there before!! I had someone else to give me advice... a woman from my church suggested that even though it would be tough to pick out anything good at all that my husband was doing whether it has anything to do with house ie. yard work or not. She said men do not respond to "nagging". They just tune it out. Men are prideful creatures and chances are if you praise him even for the smallest of things he will want more of it and do more to get it. Stop asking him about the same things over and over and he will probably do them or at least some for a start!! The more praise the more work! She also said the book The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman was a must. My husband and I did this book and it is great... You dont have to read the whole thing , although we did, You just take the quiz at the end each of you and then read the sections that apply. We read the whole thing, out of curiosity. This book really did help us. Also the most important thing you can do is pray for your husband. Jesus is bigger than any problem we face, after all, He died for us on the cross and he did it out of love!!

Well, I decided to stop nagging and "outsource". I started with a cleanning lady who comes every two weeks for a couple of hours and she does the bathrooms, the kitchen and the floors. I still have to clean but it is so nice to have those tasks done so I can keep up with the rest. Then I got a wonderful gardener to come in for a day and he trimmed the trees, mowed, and is finishing our two deck projects. I was sick of looking at it all, sick of talking and argueing about it. And now that is all looks so nice outside I am hoping it will inspire my husband to keep it up. :-)

This is how I motivated my own husband that sounds just like yours. I paid someone else to do his jobs. I paid for my new kitchen cabinents to get done and I am paying someone to finish the drywall work. The embarrasment and the loss of income was plenty to get him motivated.

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