How Do I Get Hubs to Accept Help While I'm Laid Up?

Updated on September 10, 2012
J.F. asks from Bloomington, IN
13 answers

My surgery is Thursday morning. We have Grandma coming Wednesday night. She will stay through until Friday evening to put the oldest on the bus and watch the youngest (ages 2 1/2 and almost 5). She will then take the girls to her house (an hour + away) and keep them until Sunday evening. I should be released on Saturday.

My concern is the following week. He doesn't plan to work for a few days and can work from home if need be, but I'm worried that he won't accept the help that is being offered.

He will have to take care of me and a 2 year old, put the Kindergartener on the bus each day, pack her lunch, make all the meals, and keep the house up. We just went through with all of this a couple weeks ago when I first had my migraines. Things did not go so well.

Several people have offered help, but nothing specific. I keep asking my husband if I can schedule people or ask for meals, and he doesn't want me to. He thinks he can handle it himself.

We have no idea what my recovery is going to be like or for how long. I have 3 days to get things in order, but I don't feel the best and can't count on feeling well. Right now, I feel kinda punk and my head is pounding (has been for almost 3 weeks daily). I'm entertaining the 2 year old with a dry-erase board and have the tv on. Hubs is working from home.

So, how do I get him to realize that we may NEED help and get him to accept it? I'm going to be down-and-out and won't be able to reach out for help, and almost everyone we know is through part-time job co-workers, people I volunteer with, neighbors I associate with, my friends and family (2 hours away). He only has his mom (hour + away). He doesn't have close co-workers or friends here.


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So What Happened?

He actually does a VERY good job taking care of everything and has already admitted to how overwhelming the nitty gritty parts of the day can be. I'm not worried if the house is a complete wreck, if it is done my way, or at all. My biggest concern is that he will kill himself doing it all AND not feed the girls as often as they need to be fed. I won't be eating much, and he doesn't feed the girls unless he is hungry. He can, and will, run on Diet Coke and a snack here and there.

The evenings are going to be the worst. He will have 3 of us to take care of. The girls need baths, dinner, and put down. He can do this by himself, well actually.....but he hasn't had to deal with taking care of me, too at the same time.

The medical bills are sucking the life out of our savings. Each meal out is like a dagger, and we've done that WAY TOO MANY TIMES in the past 3 weeks already. We did go grocery shopping yesterday and bought some quick meals. Also prepped a couple of other meals....but, he has had to do most of that too.

I guess I'm just feeling bad that he will have all of this on his shoulders at once.

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answers from Wausau on

Let him handle things, and try hard to not micro-manage. He has to get the job done, but it doesn't have to be the same as how you would do it.

People don't become proficient if they don't get the practice. He needs the opportunity to fail and learn from it, or to succeed and prove to you that he's competent.

If he was really a completely helpless doofus, you probably wouldn't be married to him, right? Chill.

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Charlotte on

You can't get him to realize it. He'll have to get overwhelmed enough to realize it, Mom.

What I would do if I were you is call these people who are offering help. Tell them that your hubby thinks he is superman. Laugh about it a little, and then get serious with them. Tell them that you will not be able to call them or ask for anything, but you hope that if he freaks out and calls them, that they will not be offended.

Keep a list of names and phone numbers up on the refrigerator for him. At least he would have it.

It is okay if he screws up the schedules or lunches or whatever. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. What matters is YOUR recovery. So the last thing you can do is worry about your husband. He is an adult and he'll muddle through. He also might appreciate what you do in your home, once he has to do it too.

I'll be praying for you and hoping that your recovery goes well and that at some point, you will write us back and tell us how you are.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I have never known a man who won't accept help. The disconnect comes in when he doesn't accept help as you want him to. So just lower your standards for a bit and everything will be fine.

So what if one night he doesn't seek out some meal someone offered but instead takes them out to eat, let it be, it won't be the end of the world.

I guess I am saying let him make his schedule, define his needs, and you relax.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Why not just schedule meals? If people are offering, it is because they want to help.

I have had surgery several times. And the dinners that friends brought over were the best. Nothing to think about!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

When I was on bedrest for a pregnancy a few years ago my husband didn't have a choice. I didn't either, actually. A friend came over the morning after I was told that I wasn't going anywhere for 2 weeks and brought a pad of paper and said "we're cooking dinners, sending a cleaning lady and doing your shopping. So you can either cooperate and get things that you'll eat and need or you will have people showing up with random dishes. So what do you want for dinner?" If you have an assertive friend, have her set up a Lotsa Helping Hands site for 2 weeks. It's a free website to coordinate those "if there's anything I can do to help..." offers. On there she can put what day you want meals brought over, family dietary restrictions, favorites and what you don't eat. What days you want someone to come over in the morning and help get your daughter off to school. Some people might chip in for a cleaning service (having a friend or colleague actually clean your house themselves is a little weird but family might do that). If your 2-year-old doesn't go to daycare, definitely accept offers for baby-sitting.

I know that people think that they can do it all, but there is no need to make your recovery even more stressful when there are people who are ready, willing and able to help. People WANT to help. I would just go ahead and ask a friend to run with this and tell your husband that help is coming, like it or not. If your recovery is shorter and easier than you planned then great! But if not, it's good to have dinner and some baby-sitting covered.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I say let him try. Most men get overwhelmed at the thought of doing it all, but they are more than capable of doing it when the time comes. My husband is famous for feeding the kids when he is hungry (which is rarely ever) and leaving the house a mess, but everyone survives. I have to travel sometimes, and he always manages to keep things going.

So I vote for letting him try.

Either that, or tell people some meals would be nice, play dates, etc...and just let them pop over to grab the kids or drop off dinner.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Have you asked him why he feels this way? Does he think that you don't believe he's capable? Because from your post, you don't seem to think he's capable of taking care of you, your child, and the house. He needs to know that you trust him.

I would get out a notebook and write down your child's basic schedule and anything else that he would find helpful that he might not be aware of. Keep it organized and in categories. If he cooks then jot down some of their favorite recipes so that he can make them. For the nights he doesn't feel like cooking, jot down the numbers of everyone's favorite take-out places and restaurants.

Also keep a page specifically for contact numbers for people who have offered to help. If he starts to feel overwhelmed he can call them. Or you can call them. But you can't really make him do it.

Whatever happens whether he asks for help or not, you guys WILL get through this. You could request ahead of time of certain people to have them "drop in" to "check on things" very casually and innocently so that they can have a chat with you or give him break. He'll want and need a break, even if right now he won't admit it. Aside from that, make sure that the fridge and pantry have enough of the foods that everyone likes and are easy enough to grab and eat or heat up easily. Get as much done ahead of time as you all can.

I had a similar situation when I had my breast reduction surgery with three young children. It wasn't easy, but I made sure that my friends and family planned ahead and didn't really give my husband a lot of choice. I didn't ask him because it HAD to be done for both of our sakes. He was working two jobs and couldn't take much time off and we didn't know how long I'd be out of commission. Luckily, he was thankful.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I would write down all the big things that you think he will forget, and I would also make a list of easy dinners that he could make just so that in the moment when (if) he gets overwhelmed he can revert back to that list and pick something off of it. It makes all the difference let me tell you. Post it on the fridge.
You could write a list of whatever together too so that you both are on the same page and feel ready and organized.

If it were me, and the hubs wouldn't accept help then I would have a good friend pop by a few days into recovery just to "see" how things are going and offer any help. I would have her bring a casserole or something easy for dinner. It will help, and even if he says he doesn't want the help now, he might feel differently in a few days.

When someone watches J, I always cut up fruits and veggies, and little meats and cheese, just things that I know he will eat for sure and put them all on the top shelf in the fridge so that they can just grab and eat. I also make a few Pb and J's in there too, along with juice boxes or water bottles etc. Whatever the girls favorites. That will help Dad out a lot.

When I had my surgery I also put all my comfy clothes that I wanted to wear in one drawer so that hubby knew where they were too when I needed to change.

Try not to stress, you have 3 more days to figure all this out.
Tell him that you really think it's good to have back up and someone can be or will be by every few days to check in just because and that he can just deal! ;)
Remind him that you know that he can handle it all but that you are worried that he will run himself ragged and then what? You need him to take care of himself too. And that EVERYONE needs a break every now and then. So just stop being a man and let someone help!

Everything will be fine, and somehow you will all manage and all this will be over before you know it, and you will be better! And no more migraines! Yay!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

If you feel up to it, just schedule the help, then give him the schedule :)
No man wants to admit they need help. They are wired that way, but to ensure that he is not overwhelmed, just go ahead and plan it out for him.

That way you can recuperate without worry, and he will, in the long run, appreciate the assistance.

Sending you lots of hugs and positive thoughts.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from El Paso on

I agree with letting him have his go at it. AS A BACKUP, have a list of people who have offered to help with their phone numbers so that if he decides he can't do it all, he can call and ask them. As far as making sure he feeds the girls when they need it, maybe you could get him to set a timer for x amount of time (2 - 3 hours) and feed them every time the timer goes off? Obviously, when the 5 year old is home, it will be a little easier because she can just tell him she's hungry, but since I don't know how verbal your 2 year old is, a timer might work.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

try to identify (with his help!) the 3 major areas in which you think he'll need help. don't present it to him as lack of confidence in his coping skills, but it is important to have some idea of the type of help you'll need most, eg meal assistance, driving someone somewhere, shopping or getting the laundry done.
then let him know that you'll have some assistance lined up that he can take advantage of if needed. you could have a couple of folks standing by to run dinner over and do the dishes, or to check in on you while he does the girls' evening routine, or to be bedtime story readers while he spends some time with you. if you are both confident that he's doing fine, the calls won't have to be made, but at least you can get a little peace knowing the help is there if needed.
after you're recovered you do something nice for your standby crew, whether or not they were actually called upon.
good luck, hon. it sounds like a stressful time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

Just let him try...don't already start doubting him.

And expect everything not to be up to your standards. Cut him a little slack too.

Good luck and best wishes to you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You could always reach out in preparation and ask them for help. assuming your husband will not later talk to them and talk them out of it. Why do you think he will not listen to you? I know what you mean though, my husband never takes me seriously when I am freaking out. He is like your just freaking out, everything will be fine ! lol. So maybe if you write everything down, even the nitty gritty details of what you do all day, he will get it.

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