Do I Expect Too Much from My Husband?

Updated on November 07, 2011
M.B. asks from Eugene, OR
24 answers

I am a stay at home mom to 3 kids, 5 1/2, 2 1/2, and 6 months. My husband and I decided that I would stay home when my 2nd child was born. When we discussed me staying home, we agreed to take more traditional roles when it came to the household. My job was to take care of the kids and clean the house. I also deal with all the school stuff, activities, finances etc. Well I soon learned that being a stay at home mom was A LOT more work than anticipated! I had a hard time keeping up with everything! I'm trying to get better, but being at home wasn't the fairy tale i saw in my mind :)

I keep struggling with the thought that my husband should help me more but then the other part of my brain tells me that I am at home and I should just stop whining and do my job. Know what I mean? He is a great Dad and does help with cooking. But he doesn't to ANY cleaning and there are things that need to be done around the house that I need him to do. But I keep asking and asking and he doesn't do it. He works 30-40 hours a week but is always paid for 40 hours (works the family business). I just wish that since I am working long hours at home that he would step up and work his full 40 hours plus maybe some overtime. we sure could use the money.

What do you think?

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answers from Seattle on

I remember when my kids were that age and I had made the same bargain with my husband. It seems like you will never catch up. It has a lot to do with the kids being the age that they are, you never having enough sleep, you never having enough time to think things through, and finally, the things that you do have time to clean and pick up never staying cleaned or picked up more that five minutes. Eventually it will get better, but it would be nice if you could get some more help from him.

Perhaps you could renegotiate the arrangement?

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answers from Richmond on

I work from home, so I'm in your shoes PLUS some.

What works for us: a 'reset' button. When my husband gets home, he has 30 minutes uninterrupted 'wind down' time. After that, he takes over helping with the homework while I kick everyone out of the kitchen, put on some music, and cook and have a drink, uninterrupted, for 30 minutes.

It helps sooo much just to have that 30 minutes to clear your mind and get your head back on straight!!

You both work hard; you both deserve the break. Talk to him about it and try it for a week... I'll be EXTREMELY surprised if you both don't feel a whole lot better!!

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answers from Chicago on

I too had fantasies of what being a stay at home mom would be like. My house would be spotless, homecooked meals everyday, I would be in peak physical shape, the kids and I would do exercise, science, music, art everyday - All with perfect hair and makeup, of course.


That said, I'm now home w three kids, drowning in laundry, dirty dishes, and dust bunnies. I weigh more now than ever, all our dinners come from the freezer and the kids? I'm not even sure where they are right now (j/k).

I get overwhelmed and I feel like everytime I say anything, his standard answer is simply "ok, get a job". Not sure how that would solve anything. Would I magically get a chef and cleaning lady? No. But it does sort of snap me out of my funk.

So what I've kind of settled on is this: I take care of the day to day stuff (laundry, dishes, carting kids around, bills, groceries, etc) but I expect him to help with anything above and beyond that. And I've had to stress to him I'm not HIS mommy. I'm not cleaning up after him. He can put his own dishes in the sink, clean up his own garbage. I fold his laundry, but he has to put it away. And if we're having a party or something, I'm learning it's ok to ask him to help clean/prepare.

You'll have to find what works with you two, but hopefully it helps to know you're not alone. Besides, if you had it all together you would be bored, right? ; )

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answers from Seattle on

Okay... you know how easy you THOUGHT it was going to be?

That's how easy your husband THINKS IT IS.

I'm sure you had people tell you different, before you actually did it, but you obviously believed them as much as your husband believes you. Meaning, I'm sure you believed them to a degree, but NOT to the degree that it is actually the case.

Unless he does it himself, he's probably never going to understand. Nor help.

Back when my marriage was good, I lost it. I FINALLY got it through to my husband this way

"It's not fair that you get a 2 day weekend, and I get a 0 day weekend."

"But you're HOME."

"But HOME is my job."

So we started trading days. We EACH got a one day weekend. I got to sleep in until I woke up, and then LEFT THE HOUSE.

First Sunday: I came rushing home when he called

Second Sunday; I answered all his phonecalls (at least 3 an hour, sometimes once every 2 minutes), all begging me to come home, or wanting to know things like "Where's the laundry soap?" (really???)

Third Sunday; I shut my phone off (and came home to a very angry man... and told him I was switching my day to saturday, because if I was going to be called into work all day long, then my weekend day would be the next day)

Fourth saturday; he decided to "show me" by having the house sparkling. He was on his hands and knees in the kitchen with a screaming baby and the house a tornado crying.

Fifth saturday he STARTED to get into the swing of things.


Not until our marriage hit the rocks and he stopped watching our son and taking care of the house once a week did I become "lazy" in his mind, and the comparison of my job v your job started coming up again. Don't get me wrong... by this time he KNEW how hard my job was... but for his own reasons CHOSE to be a jerk.

ALL of the things I do for him aside from take care of our child and clean up after him, if he was a single man, he'd have to do his durn self... JUST LIKE OTHER SINGLE MEN. There is no one washing their clothes, picking up after them, buying and cooking their food. These are not tasks that don't happen without a wife. These are LIVING tasks. If someone ISN'T grateful that you're doing those things for them... BIG RED FLAG.


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answers from Houston on

Well if he is working 30 to 40 hours a week, then you need to "knock of" What I mean is after a certain time in the evening if he says something say "I'm sorry, I will have to do that tomorrow, I'm off. I did this to my husband and he was like "what do you mean your off"? Well, I said, "you told me this was my job. You don't pay overtime so I'm not working overtime". I have also told my husband "I don't work for you and if I did, you couldn't afford me!" They get it!

Personally, I don't feel like I have to justify my worth. If I say I need help then I need help. I am not going to write down everythig I do and then negotiate agan. This is a family and I am asking for help.

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answers from New York on

Like any other contractual agreement, if it's not working then it's time to revisit the terms.

I would suggest listing out everything that you do in a day. For a good two weeks write down a daily agenda of "what you do and when". Then take a look at any adjustments YOU can make to your daily activities. Take a look at what is getting done after 6:00 pm. Are those things he would want to help with? Are there some things that you are doing during the day that could be done in the evenings?

Then talk with him about it. Be honest and let him know that this is much more work than you anticipated and that you need his help. Ask him which chores/activities he would be able to take-on himself. Then leave those chores to him. If he volunteers to be the one who put the folded laundry away and it doesn't get done... let it go. I know that's tough, but if you step in and do it then you aren't helping yourself in any way.

As for working overtime, is that an option that really makes sense? If he's working longer hours, that doesn't help you at home and may actually put more pressure on you to do things by yourself.

If you want him to work longer hours and make more money, then don't bring up the "oh- and you need to help me more too" thing for a while. One or the other. Ask yourself which is more important right now.

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answers from Salinas on

Ahhh the post below, such a breath of fresh air. A man that can handle a SAHM's job so easily and expects sugar and honey with each household request. Of course being pleasant and respecting your husband is better that ragging or barking out orders but if he is only working 30-40 hours a week and doing little else I can imagine your frustration.
I have done both, professional with no kids and SAHM. I now run 2 small businesses and take care of most everything else with a huge amount of help from my husband who works outside the home 35-40 hours per week. The absolute toughest time in my life (also one of the best times) was having two small children along with all the other home responsibilities. To do it well, the way my family wanted to do it, I needed help from hubby. Sure, I could take care of everything myself if needed but did I have time to be the Mom I wanted to be?
The extra time I had due to having an engaged and involved Papa was used in ways that I feel as so very important to developing kids. I breastfed both up to 2 years, read to them every single day, took them on long walks, volunteered at their schools, cooked homemade meals, did art projects, had playdates, let them "help" with household chores and had a positive attitude (most of the time ;) because I was getting help with the 24 hour a day job that providing the basics to young children requires.
It just depends on what kind of family you want. We wanted everything and that means a 40 hour work week for either parent is just not possible. Make a new family plan based on what you know now. My daughters are 9 & 13 now and I am so glad we did things the way we did. They are A students, with great attitudes, lots of friends, involved in activities, love to read etc. Best of all they both have an incredible relationship with their Dad who was very involved from the minute they were born. Parenting is not a job where you can divide up the responsibilities and be done with it, it's a process and development of relationships that will last a lifetime and it takes a whole lot more than 40 hours per week.

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answers from Houston on

My husband stays at home with our little one while I work full time. I do not leave him to do it all since it's not fair. Realistically we both work full time so we both split the housework as evenly as we can. He can't do it all nor do I expect him to. Besides if I don't pitch in, then we get less family play time which means we all lose. Sounds like it's time to talk to your husband so your family can find a better balance.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Each man is different. Just like each woman is different.

Before we got married, my wife asked that I graduate college and get a good enough job so she could be a SAHM. I did and she did. She is a really good SAHM. She does and excellent job and always has. I do some things around the home better than she does, and she does most things around the home better than I do.

But I was a manager of 52 prima donnas and 52 holier than thou's and a couple of hundred, "If you were as good as I am, you'd be doing my job."

I bought my wife some airline tickets, for her birthday, so she could go home and visit her parents. She hadn't been home to visit them for several years. I ended up watching 7 kids for 10 days over the Thanksgiving holiday. I found being a SAHD much easier than my job.

I find that if my wife wants me to do something, I am much more willing if she asks with sugar and honey, rather than p*ss and vinegar.

I've read the first 13 posts and it seems there are more people telling and demanding and saying it with p*ss and vinegar, rather than being sweet and kind and asking (!!!) with sugar and honey.

There are some things I just hate to do, like washing dishes. There are somethings I do really well and don't mind doing at all. Laundry, putting the clothes on our solar clothes dryer, cooking, shopping, gardening, feeding the animals carrying the garbage out. I repair things really well and manage kids really well.

Sugggestion: make a list of the things you want help with. (I would include a massage if that pleases you.) Ask him to pick two or three things to take responsibility for. Let him choose and let him do it. Reward him when he does them.

Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from Charlotte on

It's kind of like when your boss tells you that he or she wants you to take a different position in the company. It's different, you think that you want to do it, you think you understand what is to be expected of you.

Then reality hits, and you are working longer hours, taking work home, writing reports til 11:00 at night, and tired and discouraged. You see other people in the office who leave at 5:00 everyday, never take work home with them, and they actually make more money than you do. You feel used.

That is what is happening with you. You thought you were getting a job that you could deal with. You instead have 2 jobs and your husband ignores that.

I would sit down first with him, with a list in hand, and tell him how you feel. Explain that you no longer feel that this is all YOUR job. It is his family and he has to put more effort into the home. If he simply will not, then HIRE SOMEONE and pay money to them to do it. When your husband figures it out, he will hit the roof. Don't fight with him. Ignore him, other than to say, "Well, I told you it needed to be done, and you didn't do it. If you won't pull your weight in this home, I will pay someone to do it for us." Hand him an updated list - AGAIN.

I promise you, if you do this, regardless of whether or not you two can afford it, he will man up and do what has to be done. Or he will start working overtime to pay for it.

Stop feeling like you are whining. You aren't his servant or his maid. You are his partner. And he needs to act like it.


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answers from Seattle on

I totally know what you mean. I also feel like taking care of EVERYTHING around the house is my job as a stay at home mom, but I've also learned that my own perfectionist expectations contribute to my feeling overwhelmed and the easy way out, is to blame my husband for not helping more.

It is ABSOLUTELY OK to admit that being a stay at home mom is harder than you imagined and that you need more help. But you should also think about how you might be pressuring yourself to "do it all" and if this could be leading to some of the resentment.

Start by seriously reviewing what you need to accomplish at home vs. what you want to accomplish. Is it happy children who are clean, fed and have a loving environment to play and learn in? Or is it more than that? Are you putting pressure on yourself to provide art projects and gourmet meals that would make Martha Stewart proud? Do you say yes to too many requests from schools/playgroups, etc. because you think it's what you're supposed to do, not that you have the time and energy to do? Or do you simply find you don't have the energy to do everything because you don't have enough downtime to get recharged from day to day.

Once you've thought about what you really need to accomplish as a stay at home mom, have a real conversation with your husband to figure out how many of these things you can reasonably accomplish on your own and where you need him to help.

Don't assume that because he's "only" working 30-40 hours a week that he's not overwhelmed with life as well. He could very well be avoiding responsibilities at home because he's relieved to have a wonderful wife at home who takes care of everything. You might be so good at playing the perfect mom that he may not even be aware you're feeling overwhelmed sometimes.

I agree with the other mom who said the money thing is a separate issue. Be careful not to make your husband feel as though he's only providing the family with a paycheck. He needs to feel valued for not only providing money, but also love and happiness to you, and your children.

Oh, and for the record, I take care of everything except the bills, and Daddy does the dinner dishes every night. He knows I expect this of him and just like me, sometimes begrudges having to do the same drudgery every night. When he's feeling this way, instead of getting resentful that "I only ask him to do this ONE thing," I'll give him a break and do the dishes and magically, he'll feel compelled to help with mopping, or some other task that I find boring.

Good luck, and hang in there! It really is hard work!

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answers from St. Louis on

Hi Mandy,

Probably, I am the minority here....I see this from this perspective. I am at home, my husband leaves home at 7:30 am and return about 7 pm, most of the week ; he is also a M.A instructor 3 times a week, days when he comes back at 9 pm. He also travels because of his job. As I said, I am at home, a decision we took together when the kids were born. I do everything here and I home educate my children. So, I just ask him, nicely, to keep his clothes and things organized, and maintain what I have done the whole day at home which means put dirty dishes in the dishwasher, put his clothes in the laundry basket, help me sometimes with the kids at bedtime or with the garden during weekends whenever he can,etc. He does it whenever he can. We talked about it when we decided I would leave my job and stay home, we agreed. Also, every time I need his help, I ask him in my very best mood because I need (not I demand) his help . I also accept the help he is able to give me; he won't do things the way I do it, (sometimes better, sometimes worse, or just different) and that is fine with. My husband helps me around the house probably not that much, but I am the one who is here most of the time...somebody has to do things at home while the other one is working outside. Cooperation and nice communication is the key in my opinion..many things would be solved instantly if couples would communicate and speak clearly especially when it is about men. It is well known that men and woman think totally different and their priorities are totally different. I don't know, but I love doing things for my kids and husband, keep things cleaned and organized, have my house smelling nice, and just take care of them even when is a full time job. I am not perfect, I also feel overwhelmed, and I need my "me" my husband and I take turns to have time for myself, that is very important, otherwise I wouldn't be so happy...LOL!
My advice: do not ask and ask, just have a deep and nice conversation and ask him about it just right there, agree about specific things that you need help with...but be sweet!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Perhaps it would be fair for you to do as much of the childcare and house upkeep as possible during the 30-40 hours DH is at work. Basically you are each working one full time job. What's left afterwards should be shared equally.

A huge problem women have is the perception that we should 'ask for help' with the kids and house. The underlying assumption is that these are the woman's job and men are helping. This is COMPLETELY different than the assumption that the home and children are a joint responsibility and that a husband and wife are PARTNERS who need to fairly divide the work. That does not necessarily mean that everything needs to be split down the middle - fair often means that each partner does the things they enjoy/are good at/don't completely despise and then negotiate the chores that are left.

So perhaps 8KidsDad might do all the laundry but his wife might do all the dishes.

I also think the comments that SAHM is way easier than 'working' to be condescending. Both DH and I are professionals working full time outside the home. We BOTH believe that days we spend alone with DH (currently 5-1/2) are way more challenging than our days spent working with adults. My employees rarely need to be read to, fed, played with and taught. I almost never do art projects with them, build things or sing songs - all things that until recently were completely out of my comfort zone.

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answers from Anchorage on

I am a stay at home. There is no way I spend 40 hours a week cleaning, in fact in just 1 hour a day I can get done most of what needs done, and can use the rest of the time for kid stuff. If there is something I did not get to I don't think it is my husbands job to do it for me, but I do expect him to be a dad and take the kids while I get said job done. He helps with dishes or cooking sometimes because he wants to do something nice for me, but when he works 40 hours a week to put food on our table and a roof over our heads, I don't think expecting me to keep that home clean or cook that food is too much to ask. JMO.

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answers from Chicago on

Can you get a part time job to help with $$. Also, I see it that if you are home then the majority of the house does fall to you to take care of as well as the kids....However, at some point like after dinner when he's had time to unwind he should step up to help more. I also suggest you get a break and go do girl time or something on your own...If you are always there then it is tough to come up for air. I would suggest sitting down with him explaining all the work you do and that you reall y need his help. See if you can ask him to do one or two major things and agree to a deadline.

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answers from Dover on

When you are both home, you are both responsible for parenting/household items that need attention. You are SAHM and are responsible for parenting/household duty soley during your "shift" and jointly when you are both home. Does that make sense?

However, even us mom's who work outside the home tend to do more than our "fair share" once we get home.

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answers from Seattle on

I work 24 hours a week, off hours so I can spend more time with the kids. My husband works a traditional 40 hour workweek, bankers hours. He takes care of the kids for a good part of the time I am at work. We have a sitter for those weekdays when I work evenings before he gets home. He probably does more housework overall than I do, although I do more of the invisible stuff like meal planning, grocery shopping, dealing with school stuff, etc. We usually rotate cooking and clean-up. So no, I don't think you are being unreasonable to expect him to do more!

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answers from St. Louis on

When I was a stay at home mom all I asked of my husband was to clean up after himself and little easy things. Like clearing the table after dinner so I could do the dishes. Really little things that would help tons. He didn't, shocking that I divorced such a fine man.

The thing was he would make messes, his clothes everywhere, never put anything away, left his plate at the table, just little stuff that added up. That is not fair because you are a homemaker adding that stuff makes you a slave.

If he is salary, which is what it sounds like, working extra hours will not get you more money. You get comp time. My ex worked for a family business. Heck when my son started they wouldn't even pay him overtime and he was hourly. Great way to teach someone not to work overtime.

Sorry if I am not much help.

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answers from Honolulu on

A grown up Spouse, is not a kid.
They can clean too.
Even if you are a SAHM and he works.
Hubby is a part of the house too and its his house too and his family and his kids and his Wife.
Helping in the household, means, he is also caring for his Wife. Not just letting her toil. Even if by choice. It is just, being nice and helping. ANY person, no matter their "role" in the family... CAN help.
And do more.

Your Husband, does not work much.
So I would think, he CAN indeed, do more around the house.
Why not?
He doesn't live in a hotel. This is not a dorm. And... if he picks up after himself and helps... then he would be providing a good role-model to his kids...about what a Husband and Man... is. And that, he can do anything and everything too. Not just the woman. AND that is what a family, is.

So if you want or need him to help, then just tell him.

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answers from Portland on

Figure out exactly what tasks you 'd like your husband to take on, and their frequency. Most men do better with specific tasks that general requests for help. Sit down with him and tell him you just can't keep up, and this is what would make things manageable for you.

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answers from Las Vegas on

EVERYONE should participate. We just had this discussion last night.

My husband wants to play with our 6 year old and thinks I do a wonderful doing homework with her.



answers from Chicago on

I feel the same way! I have 3 kids as well and stay at home. It's the hardest job I have ever had. I don't have advice bc I am trying to figure it out too but want you to know youre not the only one!!



answers from Seattle on

I don't think you are expecting too much of your husband, but I do think you are expecting too much of yourself. I find that even getting dinner done is nearly impossible when I need to watch the kids and cook dinner. It's one or the other. So, for you to watch 3 kids, and get all the other household chores completed is a lot! They are so young and need your constant attention, not to mention you are still trying to figure out how to balance your 6 month old's needs with the rest of your family. Oh, and you are 6 months post partum, not a lot of time.

You are doing great and you will figure out a way to balance it all, just give yourself some time and ask for some help in the meantime. You're balancing a lot of needs, it is not easy.



answers from Spokane on

My husband had a job where he was working 60-70 hours a week - and he still found time to sweep the kitchen/dining area and run a vacuum a couple times a week without me having to ask. He also sat with our three year old at bedtime to help him sleep, and on the weekends managed to keep the garage and yard clean and organized.
He has a tendency to leave dirty dishes out and forgets to put away the PB&J after making a sandwich, but definitely helps out in other ways. Take a step back and see if his messes are more than his help, or if it's the other way around. When I would get irritated at yet another dirty dish sitting out when the dishwasher is *right there*, I would stop and remember all the things he had done for me that day, and I would decide to do that one thing for him.
This may not be your situation, but I did find that looking at the big picture and changing my attitude really did help! Now that he has been gone with the military for ten months, I would do anything to have his dirty dishes cluttering my clean counter!

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