How Do Get Through to Him or Just Let It Go?

Updated on December 10, 2009
C.M. asks from Hurley, WI
27 answers

Just to start, I want to say that I have a very loving husband. He's a very nice man and he works hard to support us so I can stay home with our son.

With that said, I feel like I have two children and not just one. I'm constantly picking up after him when he used to be a very neat person. Its like a gigantic role reversal because I used to be the messy one but now I'm home every day with our son and have been doing all the cleaning. Now he acts like he should be elected into sainthood for changing a diaper and actually getting the diaper the foot and a half distance from the changing table to the pail (and that's if I can even get him to change the diaper), thinks its perfectly okay to leave his clothes wherever they drop (this includes being about 3 ft away from the dirty laundry hamper in the bathroom) because "well you pick them up every day, what's the big deal?" leaves dishes everywhere. None of these things hurt anyone, but they very much annoy me because while he'll say thank you to me for making sure the house is clean, his actions tell me that he doesn't appreciate or respect the fact that the house is clean every day, that I pick up after him plus take care of our demanding 8 month old son.

I feel like in the past 6 months or so the only role I play is the bad guy in this relationship. I'm always asking him to pick up after himself, always having to bug him to help with our son. I do understand that he's working too, but does he really think that he gets to come home and just be a bump on the couch or be on the computer the rest of the night? I work too, I just have the option of doing it in sweats! I try to give him a few hours break after he gets home from work where I don't ask him to do anything unless its really necessary, where is my break? I'm tired of being upset about this, I'm tired of feeling like all we do is fight. It gets really bad when we talk about getting a house this coming summer and he wants more kids. Why does he expect me to take on more when what I have right now is frustrating??

Any words of wisdom?

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answers from Waterloo on

maybe try the "Have a new husband by Friday" book by Kevin Leman psychologist and marriage counselor. I am reading another one of his books right now and it is very good!



answers from Des Moines on

You need to make him understand that you both have jobs, but at 5:00 or so when he comes home, you should share equally in the care and feeding of the children and house.



answers from Green Bay on

Make a list of who does what - it is eye-opening. Then ask for more teamwork.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Yes, I've got a few words of wisdom. First of all, you are partners. Or at least, you need to be. That has to be the goal -- that you are in this together, as a team, as equals.

Here's how to think of it: you both have jobs. His is outside the home, at a regular workplace, and yours is in the home. Your regular workdays last as long as he is gone from the home, so something like 8 to 5. When he is gone for the day, you are doing your job, just like he is doing his, and everything at home is your responsibility.

When he is home, then you guys are BOTH done for the day with your jobs, and now you are BOTH home for the day, and everything at home that needs to be done is going to be done by BOTH of you.

That means you cook, he washes the dishes. He watches TV for a while and you play with the baby, then you watch tv while he plays with the baby. One night he zones out in front of the computer, then the next night you go out with your friends. You do the laundry, he folds. He reads the baby stories, then you put the baby to bed.

The baby is not your job, he is your son. He is also your husband's son, and your husband should be as involved as possible.

Think about it this way -- how fair is it that your husband's job is 40-50 hours a week, but yours is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? How fair is it that your husband comes home and relaxes for a few hours, but you never ever get a chance to relax? Or put it to him this way -- using a humorous tone of voice and a smile on your face -- if he ever wants to get laid again, making his wife happy would be a good idea!

As for having more kids, you could do what my mother did. My parents got married in the 60s and had a really traditional marriage at first. My dad started talking about wanting another child and my mom said, very calmly, "No way." My dad was shocked, but she said, basically, why would I want to double my workload when you don't do anything at all to help me with K.? So he started helping her take care of me, and eventually she was willing to have my little sister. He is a fair person, and was much more involved with us than any other dad I knew back then. It meant a lot to me. You could ask your husband what kind of relationship he'd like to have with his son.....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from La Crosse on

Isn't it great having a husband with the heart of a child?! Isn't it wonderful that he wants YOU to be his mommy, too?! I say this with all the sarcasm I can muster. Frustrating doesn't even begin to explain the feelings. Advice: part of him will always want to be a child; part of it is jealousy of your child and how much love and attention you give your son; you'll have to bear with it, but don't let him walk all over you. Leave his mess - just like you would once your child hits about 2-3 and needs to start to learn to clean up after himself. Part of this is that he also sees you as superwoman. Yep, even in all the frustration, he is actually complimenting you! Pick your battles carefully. Treat him like an adult even when he acts like a child, but use praise tactics to get him to do the things you need him to do. Say stuff like, "Honey, I just love it when you put your things away, it really helps me out ALOT!" "I know you are so tired after a long day at work, I really appreciate when you take the baby so I can get little things around the house finished." A little praise can bring about great results! Good luck!

Lisa, mom of 4 boys (14, 11, 9, and 3)



answers from Duluth on

mark gungor.
he will help you understand the differences between men and women in how we think and operate, and that might help.

one very important fact that i had to learn;
your husband very likely doesnt want to work either.

my point is this:
your husband gets up every morning and goes to work. right? its likely that less than half the time he actually wants to go. you get up and you are a stay at home mom, a position that your husband likely is envious of. who wouldnt be? from eating when you want what you want to playing with toys to watching tv, to the infamous nap time, its an idea thing. unfortunatly, it also comes with a downside: chores.
no one wants to do chores! and yes, it is overwhelming! i was in your exact same position and i was doing in home child care on top of it. it seemed that someone was always pulling on a leg or yelling or wanting to eat or drink or potty at all hours of the day. its exhausting. but i finally realized that i dont want to do chores, and my husband doesnt either. he also doesnt want to get up and go to work. he works outside, rain or snow or clouds or sun. and some days he just doesnt feel like it.

if most men had the chance, they would just sit in their "nothing box" all day long!

so although its exhausting, and frustrating, part of the responsibilities of being a stay at home mom is taking care of your home. its not always fun, its not always easy, but its the way it is. i have found that the happier i am about doing chores, the more my husband helps out. seems wierd but its so true! im not guaranteeing anything, some men will just be like, "shes happy with it, why would i need to help" LOL

you would really love mark gungor's story about men and laundry.
"dont men see laundry?" LOL. its so true.

also mark talks about the fact that if you want to get a man to do something, you have to ask him more than once!! yes you do!! seriously. mark says asking a man something once is the same as never asking him at all. OH, and asking the right way helps; there is nothing wrong with "bribing" and giving positive reinforcement. its likely your husband has and does help out in the house here and there. and what happened? nothing. you just found something else for him to be responsible for and asked him to do that. no thank you, no rewards. you really really need to check out mark's movie! LOL. the one i highly recommend is "a tale of 2 brains". its awesome.

be the sweet and loving wife that you know you are, and your husband will be more willing to help you out. the more negative you are, the more a man will steer away from doing anything you want them too. they are stubborn! LOL

and another thought, when it comes to your son, let your husband spend time with him without your direction. dont make him spend time with him, just let it happen. step back. dont tell him how to do it, when to do it, what to do, anything. just let it happen. when you see your husband playing or doing whatever with your son, just walk away. take a walk outside, read a magazine (or your Bible if you are into that), hop on the computer, grab a tv show. whatever. then you automatically have time to yourself. even if you have to go in the bathroom, shut the door, turn on the fan, and just sit in there reading or whatever. that can be your time. and the less you schedule or direct that time the better :) your husband will feel more confident in doing things with your son, and will be more willing to do it again. when we direct our husband's time with our children they feel resentful and dont want to do ti anymore.

hope some of this helps.



answers from Minneapolis on

Both my husband and I worked full-time after our son was born. As usual, I ended up doing most of the housework. Because of work schedules, I "let it go" all week. But on Saturday mornings, both of us would catch up on cleaning.

With many husbands, you need to be crystal clear about what you want: "It's cleaning day, so would you please vaccuum the living room and bedrooms, while I clean the bathroom?" I learned to ask, not tell (it took awhile!)

Later he was laid off (and still is). I still work full-time, but still ended up doing most of the work. So the roles changed. He turned into your husband! So once again, I had to be crystal clear: "When you clear the table, please put the dishes in the dishwasher, not on the counter." And everything else.

Now that our son is almost 5, the boy can clean up after himself. So after dinner, I ask BOTH of them to "please clear the dishes and put them in the dishwasher." It's part of living in a house together: we all have to do our chores.

Summary: It's a long journey, but it's ultimately about communication. Don't assume that your "other half" knows exactly what you want. Life's not fair, so it's ok thank him for every diaper change. Err on the side of gratitude, not resentment.



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi C M
I just wanted to tell you what worked for me. When I stayed at home with my son things started to go the same way. so one day I made up a resume of all the things I did with my son on daily bases and then when my husband came home I asked him if he could give me a discription of all the things he thinks I do or should do as a stay at home mother. when they did not match it made him stop and think about what was really important and then I talked to him about all the things I need him to do. Make sure you only use I statements or this will become a heated arguement because he will feel attacked. you may want to go as far as asking him what he thinks his job is around the house and with your child. and then you may be able to compermise on what each of you does. Hang in there the first year of the first childs life is a stressful time in a relationship. Good luck If you would like some more ideas or for me to clairify something please let me know T.



answers from Minneapolis on

do what i did...dont clean for a week...take a break..if he comments..say your tired.worked with my hubby-hes taking full advantage of you.and it will continue if you let it.i worked 3 jobs on top of family life-he worked one..put the ball in his court-tell him its everyones job to pitch in as a family.



answers from Rapid City on

It sounds like he has reverted back to the old way of thinking husbands had (mine is in that era also) of the man makes the money then comes home and doesn't worry about any of the "woman's work" because he is the hero who supports the family. He also could be harbering a resentment that you get to be home and he has to support the family and wants to make it as uncomfortable for you as he can, even if he is doing it subconsciencely.

Fist thing that needs to be done is sit down with him and have a Meeting of the mind. Make the rules of having to pick up the dirty diapers if he misses the trash, having to change the baby when you are busy elsewhere. He takes care of the bathing and diaper changing on weekends or even one day during the weekend. He takes care of his own clothes as far as getting them into the hamper. If he doesn't make them into the hamper, leave them where they lay. It might be irratating for a bit but you really can win this one. I always had the rule with the kids and my husband that if the clothes that don't make it to the hamper will not make it to the washer. They had dirty clothes on their floors for a bit but sooner or later they wanted to wear their favorite outfit or needed clean clothes and found it is easier to put them in the hamper to begin with then picking up all the clothes and dividing them out into the different hampers at once. I had three hampers which I had one for the light colored clothes, one for the dark and one for towels which they had to put the clothes in the correct hamper.



answers from Minneapolis on

I wanted to let you know that I too disagree with the poster who said let it go. Getting laundry into the basket (if you are standing within feet of it) is not difficult. Getting the diaper into the pail is not difficult. I might not expect him to take the diapers out - but would for sure expect him to get it in the basket.

I think the best thing you can do is just talk it over. Maybe try to do it out over dinner? Try not to do it as a nag, but rather explain how it makes you feel unappreciated and wears you out. He should understand that.

Good luck!



answers from Sheboygan on

I have the same problem with my DH. He is a great guy, and works very hard so that I can stay home with our 10 month old twins and DD (12), but has no idea how hard it is to have to clean up after 3 kids, and then have to pick up after him also! I finally stopped picking up his messes for about a week to see if I could get through to him - it didn't work. At the end of the week, I took all of his messes and threw them outside into the lawn (it was raining!) and left them there until he got home from work the next morning. Needless to say, he was pretty upset - but he picked them up. I told him that if he thought staying home with the kids was so easy, I would be happy to get a full time job and he could stay home - he declined. I then told him that even though I am home all day, I am not his maid - or his mother - and he could start picking up after himself or he would continue to find his stuff in the lawn. He now makes an attempt (which is better than nothing) to pick up after himself, and will even help with the babies for a little bit when he gets home from work. I make sure to let him know that I appreciate the help, and do little extra things for him a couple of times a week. We are both happier now - and he doesn't have to clean his stuff up off the lawn! lol I don't suggest you do this to your DH - I was at the end of my rope when I did it, and it was a HUGE argument when he got home - but am just telling you what I did.
Good luck to you!



answers from Minneapolis on

I wish I had the perfect answer. Adding a baby to what was just the two of you is the most challenging time in a marriage. There is no "winning" this issue, as if it were a competition, and keeping the love in the marriage. You won't get what you want with demands and chore lists.

I have recommended the book "Sink Reflections" by Marla Cilley to many people as it helped me greatly. Not just with routines that helped me feel competent in house-keeping, but in the approach she suggests to take to household chores and your husband.



answers from Milwaukee on

Dear ?,
The first 12 months of having a child was by far the most difficult for us as well. Everything from grocery shopping to laundry to getting out the door is 10 times harder. In order to be happy in your new roles, you and your husband need to learn how to express your needs and expectations to eachother in a loving and respectful manner. For example...tell him that you don't want to be a nag but you are feeling overloaded and want to create some guidelines as to whose responsibility is whose. My husband and I have a rule that I get up early with the kids on the weekend and let him sleep in, but then I get to take a nap in the afternoon. Also, when my husband comes home from work I let him take over in the childcare department and I get my cleaning, dishes, & packing lunches done. Your husband might also feal inferior to you in the realms of cleaning and parenting since you are a full time pro. So, as much as it erks you, he might need a pat on the back for changing a diaper or throwing in a lode of laundry. A little kudos goes a long way! If all else fails, pray that God will change his heart to be more sensitive to your needs. Hang in there...



answers from Minneapolis on




answers from Minneapolis on

I'm not good at confrontation - so I'm probably not much help. But - if you've brought it up to him in the past, and he is still not cooperating I would have to suggest a couple of things.

1)Sit down and divide some of the household chores, like cooking dinner, grocery shopping, vaccuuming, bathroom. In my family, the person who doesn't cook, cleans the kitchen. And we are almost every other night, so if it's my turn to clean the kitchen tonight, I know that not only will I have a dirty kitchen to cook in the next night, but I also have breakfast and lunch to make in it as well.

2) A bit more extreme: make him responsible for his clothes and his dishes. Leave them on the floor and in the sink. Go get him a seperate small set of dishes, on the cheap of course, and don't wash any of them. If leaving the clothes on the floor is too much for you, put them on his side of the bed, so he has to touch them before going to bed. If he moved them to the floor, put them right back onto his pillow the next morning.

Oh, and find a mom's group to get into! Whether it's during the day or at night, you need time by yourself away from your boys! Start a meetup group in your area ( or find a MOPS group - it's not healthy for you! Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

What worked for me was hiring someone to come in twice a week for two hours each time to clean up after my husband and help with the laundry and picking up. My husband didn't think it was necessary, but I just went ahead and did it, and he got used to it. It really helped our marriage!! I no longer resent having to face the drudgery of cleaning alone and was able to let go of my resentment.

My husband actually started helping more when he finally got it through his head that help with the cleaning and picking up really does make me happy, and that he wanted a happy wife. Letting go of the resentment on my part also allowed me to be more appreciative of what he brings to the family in ways other than taking care of the house.

It is expensive, and it may seem intrusive at first, but hiring someone to help was worth it for me and my family! Good luck. Let us know what happens.



answers from Minneapolis on

I've just read through all the posts and want to send you a quick note. A lot of the advice is along the lines of "you have the right to be respected", "men just don't get it" "you need to make him do what you want", "if you want to win this..."

Your marriage is not a contest. How happy will you be if you win this and your husband now picks up after himself and changes diapers, but the two of you do not have a loving, caring, vibrant, "in love" relationship?

I would encourage you to start looking at your marriage in a new way. When the two of you got married, you are supposed to be no longer two individuals seeking after your own personal goals, but one new being working toward mutual goals. Look at the big picture. What are you trying to accomplish in your marriage right now? Is your goal to teach your son that you have to scratch and fight for everything you get in the marriage or will you teach him that through lovingly serving eachother you can be wildly more happy than you ever thought?

I would suggest that you stop focusing on who should be doing what (he earns the money, you stay home) and instead focus on why you are doing what you are doing. So your husband drops in laundry on the floor. In the scheme of things, it is NOT A BIG DEAL. Will it drive you crazy sometime? Absolutely! Will you get overwhelmed and tell him that you can't keep up with him and everything else? Yes! But, make sure that your frustration doesn't define how you relate to him.

So, practically, what can you do? Try this experiment. Don't complain to him at all. Decide for how long you will do this--a week, maybe two. Start telling him how much you love him, how happy you are, how grateful you are that he works so you can be home with your son, how he really turns you on when he does such and such.

Remember why you fell in love with him in the first place. Send him texts and emails during the day. Create some romance in your marriage. Tell him you are looking forward to him coming home. Remind him why he fell in love with

But be very careful in this time that you truly decide to let go of any annoyances. Would you have gotten so mad at him when you were first dating? Why not? Because you were so in love.

I'm suggesting this so that you can start to put together who the two of you are as one new person in your marriage. In the process, you can take yourself out of the adversarial role that has been set up and you can start moving closer to each other. You'll both start to feel joy and excitement in doing things for each other.

Another little tip I've learned in my marriage. I'v learned to recognize when I am being petty and apologize for it quickly. Believe me, it diffuses many arguments. And, I know it is VERY HARD when he doesn't instantly change his tune, too. But, it reaps HUGE rewards.

Hope this helps!



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi CM - I agree w/ the poster who stated that your communication has totally broken down.... she offered good advice re: how to work to fix that.. it's very hard to do but you really need to try.

I also think that on some level your husband is not happy wit either the fact you get to stay home or that you are no longer bringing in an income. Good luck.



answers from Madison on

You have every right to demand respect and appreciation for what you do. You may tell him that it hurts your feelings when you have to pick up after him in addition to everything else you do. Use the "I" statements and he'll be less defensive. Also, be sure to include that you are appreciative of his efforts so you are able to stay home with your son, that you want to get a house and have more children, but are apprehensive thinking about all the additional work without the respect and appreciation you deserve. If none of this works, I would suggest counseling for you, at least, if not the both of you. Best of luck to you.



answers from Minneapolis on

In my opinion, you need to just let it go. I am also married, have 4 kids (ages, 9, 6,6,& 6...yes, triplets) and one one the way. I also do licensed childcare in our home.
If your husband works out of the home, that IS his job. What he does/should do when he gets home is just being part of the family and taking care of his home & child. If you are a stay at home mom/wife, you have the time during the day to do the cleaning and caring of your child...that IS your job. After he gets home, you both should share what ever else needs to be done. If you clean/pick up daily, there really shouldn't be that much that needs to be done each day...leaving the rest of your time to spend with your child and husband when he gets home. If you've talked to him, then it's up to him to help out more...anything else you say beyond that will just be considered nagging. Is it worth the argueing that results from you WANTING him to help? I'm not saying I agree with him being a slob, he could put dirty dishes in the sink, he could put his laundry in the hamper...but is that REALLY what you are upset about?? Do you resent the fact that he works out of the home and you are left to clean and care for your child alone each day? Are you missing the social interaction you used to have before your child was born and you worked out of the home also? These may be the REAL issues, not the under-lying issues of dirty dishes and diaper changing. Just something to think about. Good luck to you.


answers from Green Bay on

Awww. I really feel for you. I have been very lucky in how much my hubby helps out. It sounds as though you've said things to him but have you two REALLY talked? I know how hard it is to find the time with everyone's schedules (including the baby's) but the talk needs to happen. If it's hard to get started, you could each take a piece of paper and write down the things that really bother you. Him too - then talk through each point. Make a list of responsibilities and put them under your names to SHOW him how much more you're doing around the house. Once we got the kids on a consistent schedule, we started having our time. We'd watch our favorite show together over a glass of wine. Make sure you have some couple time :-) I hope things work out for you. Good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

There are ways to negotiate happily so you both get more of what you want. Nagging and complaining may get you some of what you want, but there's a price. If you shift your focus to gratitude, and tell him daily all the things you're grateful about, he will probably feel more inclined to participate. When you nag, you're not telling him anything he doesn't already know. When you ask for something, ask lovingly, and offer something substantial in exchange for it. It sounds as if you both think you're doing your share or more. Can the two of you talk about who does what and how much of it matters? If you want to know more about negotiating, send me a message and I'll be glad to tell you more.



answers from Minneapolis on

Hmmmm...My husband and I both work full time but with a twist -- I am the primary breadwinner. And 99% of the time this is a non-issue. But when I am stressed about the loss of equity in our home, lay-offs at work, poker nights...Then this imbalance becomes a burden. So perhaps he is reacting to financial stress. And his behavior is sub-conscious way off "sharing the joy". Which is not cool -- Just a possible explanation.

The only mini-experience I get with SAHM-hood is maternity leave or sick days. And there is a mutual agreement between my husband and I that at such times, the home-care items (cleaning, cooking, dishes, laundry) are the responsibility of the person who is home that day. But that childcare is equally shared when both of us are at home.

But if what you are talking about is the truly thoughtless stuff...leaving clothes and shoes strewn around the room, leaving kitchen cupboards open, looting clean laundry baskets leaving clean clothes all over the floor, not replacing an empty toilet roll,...Then heck ya, he needs to clean up his act. Literally.



answers from Wausau on

I don't have any specific advice, since I am basically in the same boat! (except I also have to work full-time). BUT, I just wanted to say that I disagree with the 1st poster! It is so disrespectful, IMO, to throw clothes on the floor so close to the hamper, things like that. Like I tell my husband all the time - it's the little things that help so much!! You are not his maid, you are not his mom, you are his wife! I, too, am sick of being expected to praise my husband when he helps out with something basic that I have to do all the time (ie, changing a diaper, unloading the dishwasher). I got so fed up that I just stopped doing his laundry altogether. So now he does his, I do mine.

I'm interested to see what kind of advice you get, because I also feel like I have a 2nd child most of the time. I try to talk to him repeatedly to explain this, nicely, and try to get him to see the benefit of him helping out a little (without me asking!). Even just 15 minutes a day or so of cleaning up after himself, asking what he can do to help, etc. would put me in such a great mood. Why do men not understand this?! It just seems so unbalanced that he gets to come home & relax, watch tv all night, while I'm running around getting stuff done, work full-time AND pick up after him like he is a child. I shouldn't have to ask about the obvious things, and neither should you. Even if you get to stay home full time with your baby, that is a hard job as well! Good luck, I hope you get some great advice!!



answers from Omaha on

I too went through this but in a different way! When we lived in Omaha I was able to stay at home I felt it was my job to keep our home clean and run the errands! Even if that meant a little over time to get the list that I made for myself done each day! I took pride in doing them because it was one less thing he had to worry about when he got home! However, I believe that our children only say young for a short amount of time and I would rather have him want to come home and play with the kids, spend quality time with them! Then do dishes! There would be some nights that our dinner dishes would spend the night in the sink so that we could play a game as a family! I didn't stress over the little things!
But when we moved I had to get a part time job to help keep our household running! That's when I noticed he was still expecting me to work, care for the children, and keep up with the chores of the house! After 3 months I was so drained and couldn't do it anymore! I finally got to the point where I lost it! It turned into a heated argument! So I quit! I stopped doing stuff! When he finally ran out of clean underwear it hit him! If he didn't help me he wouldn't get what he wanted! It only took 2 weeks for him to notice! Now we have a day! Every sunday after church we all clean! We have our own jobs! He vacuums I do bathrooms! The kids help clean up their rooms! It works for us and I have calmed down with expectations of a clean house! I no longer care that we only vacuum once a week! Hope this helps! Have a great thanksgiving!



answers from Appleton on

He doesn't understand that every Mom is a working Mom. Raising children is an important job. It sounds like he doesn't respect you and the great amount of work it takes to run a household, much less take care of a child. Try this, plan a girls day out. I am sure that you have lost touch with a few friends and would love a day to catch up with them. Plan a day when he is home to go shopping and out to lunch with your friends. The baby stays home with dad, he's not babysitting he is spending quality time with his child. Don't prepare everything in advance. Let him find out what it is like to make bottles and change diapers and make meals and fold laundry while taking care of an active 8 month old baby. When you get home and he whines about how hard his day has been say I know I do it everyday.

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