19 answers

My Husband Won't Clean

Please someone help me to understand the male mind. I have been with my husband for 10 years, and I have lived with him for 7 years. Since we have been together he has probably done dishes no more then 10 times, and the laundry maybe 3 times. I have mentioned to him several 100s of times that I need help cleaning, he will help for a week and thats it. For the last month everyday I have been getting more and more angry about this. I need advice on what I should do. I am a very unhappy wife lately. When I ask him about cleaning his claim is that he is tired. I understand this because he works midnights 3 times a week and then is home with our 2 young kids. But I am tired also, I work 40 hours a week and I am in grad school. I know I am rambling, but I am really FED UP. Don't get me wrong my husband it an absolutely great husband and father, but this is 1 major flaw that I hate.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your advice. Well what I did is " I WENT ON STRIKE" Not completely, but just enough to get my point across. Every Sunday, I make it a point to wash clothes. After he said he didn't want to help with laundry, I decided not to wash his clothes. I made a nice pile in the basement and left it there for him. On Monday, I said if you need uniforms you may want to wash. Of course he didn't, but when Wednesday came he had no clean uniforms. He wore mix-match uniform. Finally he came to me and said " WE need to talk" He took all the blame of not cleaning "YEAH". He said that all he can do is try. I told him that is all I want. Do 25% and I will do the other other 75%, but I don't want to feel that all the chores are mine. The next 2 weeks will be a test. Will he keep his word. Once again thanks for the advice, it's nice to know I am not the onlt slave wife around, and that others do feel my pain.

Featured Answers

Everyone must be going through this right now. I just had this exact conversation with my neighbor two days ago. Good luck!!!

Samantha has the right way of doing things. Honestly, my hubby helps out a lot. But, there are times when he gets lazy. I dont get mad, I just mention the bathroom needs cleaned, can he do that please, and he usually jumps right up. They honestly dont know sometimes...and he wont know what is bothering you unless you tell him.

More Answers

Dear D.,

sounds like you are both very busy and doing the housework is not always a priority for him but it is for you. My suggestion is this. Have a heart to heart, let him know that this is something you need to work out together. Make a list of things that need to be done. If he can't live with that then hire a cleaning company. It's not worth having an unhappy mom and wife over something you can let go of and have your free time be valuable time to spend with the kids or your family. The resentment won't get better until you let go of it and it can be easily solved by hiring someone else to do it. If you can't afford it then he should understand and make a more concerted effort

Samantha has the right way of doing things. Honestly, my hubby helps out a lot. But, there are times when he gets lazy. I dont get mad, I just mention the bathroom needs cleaned, can he do that please, and he usually jumps right up. They honestly dont know sometimes...and he wont know what is bothering you unless you tell him.


Hire someone or ask a friend(s), family for help. The male mind can not conceive of child birth or cleaning.


I believe close to 100% of all women have been in your same position. We have all had the slow, burning anger that builds up over this issue. I generally agree with Renee - the male mind "cannot conceive of housework or childcare" - this is because most men in our age range were not raised to think of cleaning as a "male" activity or challenged to think independently/take initiative with these particular chores/tasks, etc. Nor are many of them particularly great at multitasking like women need to be to get through the day. Sometimes I swear my husband is blind when it comes to noticing things that need to be done at home. I don't have particularly high standards when it comes to an orderly house, but for goodness sake, I do enjoy a clean bathroom counter in the morning (this is only fair!) after he is done shaving and getting water and stuff all over it - you would think he was the only one who used that bathroom. I would also like a clear path out of our bedroom so I don't trip and fall over his mountain of dirty clothes (this is not too much to ask). To me this is an issue of respect and also thinking about how actions affect "the other guy".

Thus, you should sit down with your husband and very plainly state that his time is NOT more valuable than yours, but that he acts that way by failing to do his share around the house, that you feel like he does not respect your time (or you) and that it has to change and then explain how it is going to change (so you need a plan). Try and let him know how he would feel if he stood in your shoes. Maybe this sounds a little bit militant, but I am tired of men making excuses for themselves and am also frustrated with women who make excuses for men who sit around and wait for things to be done - this perpetuates the cycle. This isn't the 50s - we work hard, they work hard - both parties have to work together at home where you both live, eat and make messes. This is pretty simple. Things may get out of balance from time to time, but on the whole, the departmental chores should be split up according to ability and interest (although you will probably end up fighting over whose turn it is to clean the toilet). I had this very fun conversation with my husband about two years ago - things have been better since then, not perfect, but better. Good luck to you - I think we will all be interested to see what happens!

Hi DM,
Well, I'll try to help where I can.
I'm a man, but I can't speak for all men, but I can speak for this one.
The most attractive thing you can do is, not tell him to do it any more, and do it yourself, and I'm going to give you a plan to help you do just that, successfully, I might add.
The reason I'm asking you not to tell him that any more is, God created men to do different rolls than woman, and both are beautiful rolls, and they both together, make the family run smoothly. He wasn't created to clean houses, or do laundry. He was created to work outside and work inside with building things, and as I said, to cook.
So, if he won't clean, ask if he would cook. There are most men out there, who love to cook, such as this one, indeed!
Now, back to the housework plan. First, what we're gonna do is, we're going to have a list housework tasks, but don't do these all in the same day, because that is what is probably getting you frustrated.
So, take out a piece of paper, or, just type these on your computer. It could read like this:
1. do laundry
2. clean bathroom sink
3. clean kitchen sink
4. vaccuum kitchen floor
etc. get as specific as you can with the names of the tasks. Now, the thing to do is, do 1 task a day, or, if you have more than 7 tasks on that list, then, 2 tasks per day, no more than that though, ok?
I'm not a miracle worker here, I'm just a man who cares about your marriage.
I hope something I said helps. By the way, how old are your children?
I'll be praying for your specific situation that God will give you wisdom on how to solve it. He's there and he can help, too.

My husband is the same way, so I hired someone...They start next week! Email me and I can give you the information (They are an all green company)...

Hi! Well, I understand your pain. My husband and I have also been together 10 years, married for 5, and I have the same problem. It all comes down to repetition. Men, I've found, are very much like children. It's ongoing with the constant reminding for them, just like we have to do with our children. If worst comes to worse.....write him a reminder. I feel that if both parents are working, they should both share in the household responsibilites.
I hope that things get better for you....I truly do understand your frustration!

Everyone must be going through this right now. I just had this exact conversation with my neighbor two days ago. Good luck!!!

There is NO solution to this. I have been married almost 8 years and my husband has NEVER done anything 'inside' the house to help me. I haven't seen him do dished...even when I left town for a week I came home to the same dishes that were on the sink when I left. All I can say is hire a housekeeper to clean twice a month or just don't do it. He'll get sick of it eventually.

L. :)

Hi D. - I agree w/Samantha as well. Very early in our relationship, I ran into this problem - we were both working a lot and in school, and it seemed like I was the one coming home after a 10-12 hr day - to clean, cook and do laundry. My husband's mom did EVERYTHING in the household, so he didn't even know how to use the washing machine! One day, I sat down w/him and told him how I felt. I told him that we both work hard and have busy lives, its not fair for just one of us to be stuck doing all the house work as well. So I told him, this needs to be a 50/50 thing! He didn't even realize that I was doing everything and how I felt until I talked to him. So from that point on - we agreed we'd split things. I taught him how to use the washer and dryer (and how to SORT clothes!!) and I agreed to the folding part. Together we'd put clothes away. I like to cook, so he'd clean up after dinner, etc. To this day, we both still work, have 2 kids, and another on the way, and its still split in the middle ; ) The day I become a stay at home mom, I will willingly take on these responsibilities, but until then, its a 50/50 thing.
Try talking to your husband and tell him how you feel. Its not fair for one person to do all of that in addition to their daily lives (work, school, raising kids, etc.) Good luck D.!

My dad is the same way. One year my mom decided she had enough and went on strike. She worked midnights and dad worked 40+ hours a week. Since they were both working she felt that he could contribute more to the household chores. She wasn't asking him to clean the whole house, just pick up after himself and help a little more. When mom stopped picking up after him, he got frustrated because things were piling up. She had explained that it was his fault, if he picked up after himself it wouldn't get so bad. He still leaves things every once in awhile, but it did make him realize how much he contributed to the problem.

Instead of asking my husband to help out or telling him all the time that I need help, I tell him what I need him to do. He HATES the dishes, and I know that, so I make sure he does not do them, I HATE cleaning the bathtub/shower, and so he does that. I am currently in school also, so I tell him what needs to be done while I am gone. When we get home, I cook dinner and clean up afterwards so I tell him the other things around the house that need to be done. (not only house work, but taking turns bathing our boys, making the beds, etc.) I just dont think they really know what to do, if you just direct him to a certain project instead of just asking for help, that may help.
I hope things get better for you. Just remember you BOTH work VERY HARD. My husband had a hard time grasping the fact that I too am at work all day, he seemed to forget that and act like he is the only one that works!

Think of it this way, when he wants to have sex is it better that he complain about how little you have or is it better that he seduces you with loving words and lots of kisses. Try not complaining so much, try coercing him with loving words, "I would really like to spend more time with you, would you help clean up after dinner so that we can relax together? I miss you." I found with me that was really what was bothering me, I was in the kitchen cleaning and everyone else was relaxing. I was jealous and lonely. Maybe even just have him stay with you without him doing any work... what really is bothering you? I knew my hubby was a slob before we married. I jsut don't like to be left alone all the time while everyone else goes off and has fun.

Definitely split up the work into what you don't like and don't like worse. Nobody likes housework. He needs to stop being selfish. Also, when you divide up the chores, don't nag when he doesn't do it in the timely fashion that you would like, and do thank him when he does do it in a timely fashion. Like anybody else in life, we all like positive reinforcement and when adults are treated like children, they tend to act like children. Good luck.

I like Renee's response. To which I agree, the male mind cannot comprehend a lot of what we do - childbirth, cleaning, doing more than one thing at a time, the list can go on.

Hire someone or figure out what he WILL do - sweep, vacuum, etc. and you do the other.

D., over then next few weeks notice some little things he already has been doing (NOT the things you talked about) such as putting his coat in the closet, putting his toothbrush and toothpaste away after brushing his teeth in the morning, etc. and occasionally make a comment such as "thank you so much for putting that away, the hallway (bathroom, whatever) looks so nice when everything is in it's place - it really helps me feel relaxed and happy to look around and see a clean house." Or thank him and let him know that sometimes you feel so overwhelmed trying to take care of everything, but when he does even those small things to help you out - he really looks like a knight in shining armor to you. It doesn't have to be all the time, but enough to let him know that you notice and appreciate the things he does. It will make him want to do more. I would say use your discretion though you don't want him to feel like a praised child, just a respected partner. Also - I would reccommend reading the book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" Initially, I didn't want to read this book because I felt it would draw a sexist line in the sand - however, I found the information extremely helpful in understanding where my husband was coming from and how I could support him (and thereby myself) better, while at the same time getting some good insights on myself as well. Anyway, Good Luck!

Lists work best at my house. My husband claims he doesn't mind helping (not so sure) but never takes the iniative. I'm 8 months pregrant right now and we have a 3 1/2 year old and just moved into a new house that is 3x the size of the old house. I had a cleaning lady at the old house and do not at the new house. I make a list every Friday night with everything that needs to get done over the weekend. I do not do yard work, so I take that into account when I divy up the chores. I put initials by each job. Right now, my husband is doing most of the vacumming b/c it is hard for me. He is also doing baths each night b/c that is hard for me too. He makes the beds every morning and helps on the weekend with the other cleaning and errands-- but only if he knows I expect it. The lists have really helped. He knows what needs to be done and I get some help. I realized I need to be very explicit with what I need help with and sometimes why (i.e. it is almost impossible at 8months pregnant to bend of the bathtub and wash a squirmy 3 year old). We get the house cleaned generally in 2 or 3 hours between Friday night and Sat am.

Also, if I cook he does the dishes. If he cooks (rare, but does happen) I do the dishes. Sometimes if we have a late dinner I will do the dished while he gives my son a bath.

Good luck--

Ok, first, I don't believe that it has anything to do with a "male mind", more like a male "mindset". As women, we have been taught by our parents, society and the media that cleaning is our job and men have been taught that it isn't their job. We aren't hardwired to clean and they aren't hardwired not to. Because this difference is cultural and not biological, it gives us some hope as it is easier to change.

Myself, being the sassy feminist that I am, would probably go on strike. When I have felt that my husband hasn't been doing his fair share around the house, I stop folding laundry, that way he has to go downstairs to get his clothes and see how much laundry that needs to be done in a household with two adults and two young children. As soon as that gets his attention, he pitches in more.

I like what someone else mentioned about sharing chores and doing the ones that the other hates. I HATE doing dishes, my husband doesn't mind, so he does them. He is lost in the kitchen, so I cook. He works long hours, so I do the majority of the upkeep work. I used to cut the grass, but developed a bad allergy, so he does that now. I get the kids up in the morning and out the door, so he picks out their clothes and makes their lunches at night. We both do laundry.

Hi D.,
I have the same problem with my husband. I don't even make a big issue of it anymore because for me its just a waste of time. But I will make him clean up behind himself when makes a mess right after I have cleaned something. What really Makes me mad is that when my Husband does clean up something like mop the kitchen floor or vacuum he gets an attitude when I don't give him pat on the back or notice that he cleaned something. He behaves as if he just did me a big favor. Then he tells me he is unappreciated.

WOW!!! he did not notice or say anything when he finds all his clothes clothes cleaned and put away. Or when I spend all day of my saturdays washing clothes, cleaning toilets, going out and buying groceries then coming home and cooking them and on and on. Sorry for the rant. But I understand where you are coming from. I wish I had some advice for you.

Oh I feel your pain! But when I met my husband it was obvious he had no clue or care on what the house looked like. I dont cook much...well etc...so we made the agreement for him to do the cooking and I'd clean the kitchen it really works as I'm not rushing around after work to fix a meal I have time to relaxe and have down time till time to clean up his mess, I have the kids help as well. By no means did I win in this agreement as he can totally trash a kitchen in minutes but it did silently make him responsible for somthing without him realizing it.
As for the other chores his laundry is the last to get washed is not put away unless he does it. He caught on fast and asked if there was anything he could help with. Now I have to pick my battles on the house but it all comes down to reverse phicologly? spelling????
worse case let things go as long as you can stand it and when it's time for a outing let him and the kids know chores have to be done first. kids like helping out if presented well and if hubby wants to fish or golf he'll get the idea. Good luck.

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