Reader Question: Help! I Feel Like my Husband’s Maid!

by | May 6, 2019 | Uncategorized | 33 comments

Feel Like Your Husband's Maid?
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Do you ever feel like your husband’s maid?

Every Monday I like to put up a reader question and take a stab at answering it. And today’s I think is a sentiment that many of us have had: is my whole life just cleaning up after him? This is a question I get a lot, and so I thought it would be worth answering it again since it’s so common.

Reader Question

..woke up this morning feeling more like a maid than anything!  ..woke up to a dirty bathroom..(cant even flush the the toilet!)… and laundry all over the place for me to pick up after him!…sometimes i wonder if he does this on purpose???…really the laundry basket is empty but you just find clothes around the basket and staff like that!  ..well, i guess its just one of those days…am really trying hard to be positive about everything and focus on the good…”whatever is lovely, pure,…” ..he noticed that i was quiet in the car as we drove to work…cause really sometimes i want to say all the wrong things but i would rather keep quiet… help!

Okay, I have a whole bunch of thoughts going on in my head in all different directions, so I’m just going to give a whole smorgasbord of ideas, just because we don’t know a lot of background on this question. So let’s jump in!

Is it disrespect or is it just difference?

Let’s take the clothes on the floor for a moment. I talked in both my books Bare Marriage and 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage about what to do if your husband, for instance, is leaving his socks on the floor.

There is no one size fits all approach to this, because it really depends on your wider relationship.

My husband leaves clothes on the floor sometimes, and it doesn’t bother me a bit. Every morning, after my shower, I just take 30 seconds and gather up his stuff and my stuff and sort it and put the stuff in the laundry that needs to go in the laundry, and it’s all hunky dorey.

But my husband also respects me and he takes care of a lot of other things in our family (he does the finances and all the insurance stuff and tons of other tasks). So, yes, he doesn’t always put stuff in the hamper. But he does a ton, and it really doesn’t take long for me to put stuff in the hamper, so it’s totally not a big deal at all.

On the other hand, if your husband spends most of his time playing video games, never helps around the house, and never looks after the kids, and truly just expects you to wait on him, then this could be part of a pattern of disrespect. (I had a friend, for instance, who would sit on the couch and wait for his wife to bring him his food every night. He wouldn’t even eat at the dinging table with the kids).

So when you’re ticked off, ask yourself honestly: Does my husband do a lot for me? Does my husband work hard? If so, then is this really a big deal? Or is this a sign of a pattern that’s really bad?

If it is more about disrespect, then take a look at some of the articles lately that I’ve written on changing the dynamic and asking for help.

But let’s go on now about how to stop feeling like your life is always about cleaning.

Maybe you need some systems in place

I have to say, I’m a little confused about the toilet issue. I know some men can–how shall I put this?–have messier toilet encounters in general than most women. At the same time, I really have a hard time picturing how one bathroom encounter can cause a toilet to be so disgusting that it can’t be flushed.

Here’s the thing about toilets: If you stay on top of it, it’s actually the easiest thing to clean that takes the least amount of time. If you do it every three days, for instance, the toilet will pretty much always look sparkling, no matter what people do in it. Just keep a brush by the toilet and some toilet cleaner under the sink (or in a cabinet above the toilet), and scrub away!

Here’s what I do: I turn my shower on, and it takes about a minute for the water to turn hot enough to get in. So while it’s heating up, I clean my toilet. When I’m done, the shower’s just starting to get hot. And my toilet stays great!

Letting a toilet get disgusting can be really depressing. But it honestly doesn’t need to. And if it’s becoming that much of a stressor, perhaps you just need to set up some systems to make cleaning regularly more a part of your life. If you clean your bathroom every week, for instance, it doesn’t take that long. If you leave your bathroom for two months, the soap scum really builds up and it’s pretty gross to clean.

Assign some chores and do them regularly

So what about just setting up a cleaning system? If you need ideas, the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is the place to turn, and it’s available just until midnight tonight!

It’s over $2200 worth of 104 ebooks, ecourses, printables, and more (including over $360 worth of physical bonuses that get mailed right to your house, including eye shadows, natural soaps, and more!) of ebooks and ecourses for just $29.97. Seriously. No gimmicks. I know it sounds too good to be true, but it really is that amazing! Every year they offer different resources, and they’re just awesome. I was looking through the bundle this weekend to try to figure out what might help this woman, and here are all the resources from the organizing/cleaning section:

(These are only 13 of the 104 resources in the bundle. So there are 90 others! And these 13 are worth $269, all on their own. You really have to see it).

Here are just a few that I think would help this woman:

    • Homekeeping and Cleaning Kit by Clean Mama (normally sells for $10) helps you get systems in place so that cleaning doesn’t take so much brain power. If you’ve struggled with cleaning and homekeeping or have a great system in place, this simple format is perfect to get your home clean and organized–with Clean Mama’s proven method! You can use this either to organize your own chores so they go a lot quicker, or you can assign chores to your husband as well. My daughter and son-in-law have a chore system on their fridge, and it works great. A lot of new husbands (and even new wives!) aren’t that great at figuring out what to clean when, and so things can get gross pretty fast, and then one person can feel like they do all the work. But setting up a chore system makes it quickly visible who should do what, and stops a lot of the nagging!
    • Journey to Clean Workbook by Leslie Lambert ($15.99) is an awesome system that can help you organize your cleaning, so that your house can stay clean and organized in just about an hour a day. Again, you can assign the chores to yourself or assign them to other people in the house, too!
    • Anchored Woman Meal Planner: A Simplified System by Kayse Pratt ($17). This simplified system and workbook helps you meal plan to save you time and money. Often meals are one of the things that most exhaust us and make us feel like maids, so if you can get this under control, you’ll often feel a lot more peace, too!

All of those together would sell for $43, but you get them–plus 101 other things–for just $29.97!

When my children were younger I didn’t have systems in place, and the house often got really messy. I remember one night, when the girls were maybe 4 and 6, Keith sat down with me and said, “I just don’t like coming home to such a mess.” And I was really ticked off. Did he honestly expect me to do all of the housework? Besides, the reason the house was a mess is because I was spending so much time taking the girls to the library and doing fun, educational things with them.

But then I got thinking: It only takes 10 minutes to tidy the living area if we do it consistently. It’s honestly not that much time. And maybe all I need is to get organized!

I didn’t know how to do that, to tell you the truth, so I took all the books in the library I could find on organization and tried them. And I got organized! I would have loved something like the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, with all of the printables and checklists so many of these resources have.

But the Bundle sale ENDS tonight at midnight! So check it out now.

Whether you want to get more productive, clean more, feel more relaxed, start new habits (and stick to them!), parent better, keep your cool better, or anything like that, the bundle has some great tips for you.

Sometimes we get so intent on “what’s fair” that we miss the bigger picture

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am very, very big on mutual respect in marriage. I do not think that it’s good for a woman to do things for a husband that he should do for himself, because it teaches those in your household that it’s okay to treat mom with disrespect, when it’s not.

But at the same time, I think it’s all too easy to get our knickers in a twist (to use a UK expression) about something which honestly isn’t that big a deal. I’ve done the vast majority of the housework in our marriage because I have more time and I’m better at it. Keith has done the finances about half of our marriage, and I’m so grateful he does them now because he’s better at it. To get super upset about something which seriously only takes 30 seconds to solve, or which only takes a few minutes if you do it regularly, isn’t really the best strategy for your marriage. 

If your husband deliberately leaves junk everywhere and never puts anything in the dishwasher and treats you like a maid–then, yes, have a talk. And if that’s the case, it’s totally okay to take all of his clothes and put them in a pile by the bed, and tell him, “I’m more than happy to put wash and fold if you’ll just sort what’s dirty and put it in the hamper.”

But it may not be that he doesn’t respect you. It may simply be that he’s different and doesn’t mind the mess as much. And if he does a whole lot of other stuff for the family, do those 30 seconds really matter that much? It is to big a deal to serve your husband? 

Get a system and Don’t sweat the small stuff

So that’s my big advice, really: get a system, and don’t worry about little stuff. It’s not worth it. Stay on top of cleaning, and these things don’t seem that big a deal. And as long as you’re not in a big pattern of disrespect, then seriously: your marriage is worth more than getting upset over a hamper.

Let me know in the comments: how do you negotiate chores in your marriage? Do you sometimes find that you get upset over things that aren’t that big a deal in the long run? Or is there really a pattern of disrespect? Let’s talk!

PS: The Bundle has some really, really great parenting resources this year–the best I’ve seen in the Bundles so far! And the physical bonuses, like eye shadows, are super fun. Check it out, because the sale’s over tonight at midnight!

Check it out!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Andrea

    Honestly, Sheila, this sounds more like a long advertisement for Bundle than a genuine attempt to help this woman who is clearly feeling disrespected. And, I thought we were finally getting away from gender stereotypes starting last week, but you are better at cleaning than your husband and he is better at finances?

    • Lindsey

      Just because those things are stereotypical to their gender doesn’t mean that they aren’t true to them as individuals. Stereotypes exist for a reason – because it’s a common theme in whatever “group” you’re talking about. I am also better at cleaning than my husband is – I just see extra stuff that he doesn’t notice. But he is better at fixing electrical/mechanical things than I am. There is an element of training/practice involved in both, but there is also a natural inclination.

      Even though this article was advertising the bundle (which ends tonight), she did link to a lot of her other articles that deal with a disrespectful spouse scenario. Even though I’m not interested in buying the bundle, I don’t begrudge the fact that Shelia earn money from her blog. I think a lot of work goes into it – from many people – and it helps a lot of people, why shouldn’t she be able to do a post every once in awhile advertising for a product that she believes can help people?

      Just my two cents. Have a great day!

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Thanks, Lindsey! And, yes, I don’t think people understand how much this blog costs to operate. My hosting alone is $600 a month. If you add up everything technical, I’m at over $2000 a month. Then there’s my staff. So I do have to earn money. And I figure that I provide free information 5 days a week, and I write the equivalent of 5 books every year FOR FREE on this blog, so people do get a lot of free information. It’s important that I earn some back so that I can keep it going.

        As for gender stereotypes, that just is Keith and me. I’m better at cleaning (though he sweeps way better) and he’s better at finances, because he’s naturally more a detail person. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be like that in EVERY relationship!

  2. Lynn

    I’m going to put my two cents in here regarding the toilet….

    When my husband goes poop, the bathroom/toilet isn’t left a poopy mess. However! Almost every single time he does go poop, it’s so much or something that it clogs the toilet and he needs the plunger to get it down. Even if he flushed halfway through. Also, he needs to flush once or twice again, after the poop is flushed, using the plunger to force the water down. Otherwise it may overflow, and at the very least often the water rises to the toilet rim, and the plunger must be used.

    Now, he always takes care of getting his own poop flushed (although poopy smears are often left behind in the toilet bowl), but sometimes (rarely) doesn’t flush again after so I have to deal with rising water when I use the bathroom next.

    But I would be very VERY unhappy if I went into the bathroom and there’s a huge mass of floating poop in the toilet, right up to the rim or even overflowed, and can’t be flushed without using a plunger or even quite difficult with a plunger. And I would be letting him know it!!

    So I bet that’s what this woman was facing. A huge mass of poop that can barely be flushed that he just left her to deal with. If he’s doing that often that is extremely rude and disrespectful. Heck even just once is rude.

    • Molly

      Yes! The only person whose poop i should clean up is the kids. Yuck.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Okay, that is really, really gross. I guess some guys just make bigger messes than others. Like wow! I’m glad your husband cleans up. 🙂

      • Lynn

        Yup! Me too 🙂

    • Natalie

      This literally had me rofl it’s so detailed and disgusting. Blah! hahaha.

      My husband is similar, except THANK GOD he’s good about taking care of his own feces lol. 99% of the lasting toilet streaks are his, so toilet bowl cleaning is something he regularly does and something I do once in a blue moon, which I’m very thankful for.

  3. Maria

    I am a bit of a clean freak, and mess beyond a certain limit stresses me out. When my husband and I got our first apartment, I would sometimes get completely frazzled by the seemingly never-ending to-do list in my head. My husband would notice and ask what he could do to help, which would cause flustered me to lash out. (“What do you mean, WHAT SHOULD I DO?! Can’t you see the MESS everywhere?) As it turns out, he actually couldn’t see the mess–he’s just not programmed that way. To fix the problem, I asked myself, “What needs to be done, and how often, to make me feel like I can actually relax at home?” I then used Excel to make a spreadsheet of chores that should be done weekly and those that should be done monthly, printed it, laminated it, and put it on the fridge with a dry-erase marker. It has worked miracles. None of the chores are assigned (though we each have the ones we typically do); whoever completes any chore just crosses it off. The list has changed and been reprinted several times as our lives have changed and we have added or removed items. Some weeks are great and we get everything done–many weeks we do not. But it gives us an attainable goal and a way to measure it, and now anytime my husband sees me getting stressed, he doesn’t need to ask what to do. He just goes to the fridge, picks a job or three, and gets started. (He has even asked me to add his own items to the list so he can feel the accomplishment of crossing them off 🙂 )

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love this so much, Maria! That’s great. And I think many women want their husbands to notice, but they really don’t in the same way. Getting a system that works is so much better.

  4. Adrianne

    My hubby is also one who uses the laundry hamper very little. I never know what is dirty or clean. I wash our laundry every Saturday, and hubby and I fold our own, on Sunday evenings. My children wash and fold their own. After he finished mowing on Saturday I had to say, ” Hey can you come in our room and pick up what is dirty, so I can get it washed.” He came in threw it in the basket, and it was done.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s great, Adrianne! Glad that your kids do their own laundry, too. I’m amazed at how many parents always do their kids’ laundry. Kids need to learn to do their own!

  5. endlesscleaner

    I try to have another approach to this than this woman. My wife is messy. I cant say I am so much better but I try. My wife leaves her shoes everywhere. She just throws her jacket wherever, when she takes a shower she leaves all clothes and towels on the floot and etc. Every sunday is a mess when she is looking for clothes to the kids. I am thankful she finds what they can wear but its always a catastrophy in the house afterwards. Which I have to try to fix in the evening.

    I am the one who does most of the chores at home. Cleaning, laundry, and etc. but I havent gotten that upset because of it. But I guess thats because I have tried to look at it from an ephesians 5:25 perspective. What does dying for my wife mean? It means dying from myself. I wish I didnt have to do chores but if I do them and make my wifes life easier than I am dying from myself and showing her love. If picking up things after her makes her life easier even if it can be tough sometimes then I am dying from myself.

    Sadly I am realizing this cant go on forever. A couple of weeks ago you mentioned that this wasnt going to end well and I would be exhausted. I got to that point shortly after. I just feel like I cant do as much. I try to do my best and do the basic things. Clean the kitchen, living room, cook when its needed and do the toilet(a chore I actually like to do, nothings better than a well cleaned toilet) and laundry but I am struggling. And sadly the house is a mess. This casues me stress and I feel guilty for not doing enough. I actually was proud for being the husband that was doing everything, showing my wife love and challenging the stereotypical gender roles but I dont have strength to do it anymore.

    I know I have to get better because our home cant continue like this its a serious catastrophe but everytime I try it goes very slow. Its really difficult to clean with the kids (1 and 3). They do more mess while I am cleaning. The only good thing is that they like the vacuum cleaner so they follow it when I use it but its so exhausting just to try fixing things with them there. And the pile of laundry never stops.
    I sometimes wish my wife would take the kids to my father-in-laws home for a weekend so I could clean everything in my own pace. Right now its not very fast.

    I hope I will get back to the same rhythm as before. My wife actually for the first time ever talked about us getting a schedule and divide chores. I guess she understands that after a couple of years like this I cant do this anymore. Specially now that I am getting busier at work. At the same time I feel like a failure for not serving her in everything. Its been my thing for a long time and I have been proud of being that husband. It makes me insecure how I can show her that I truly love her and want to do anything for her. I mean doing small sweet things is easy. This stuff is the real deal. I dont like gender roles but I sometimes think Im mentally still stuck in them. Its like “im not supposed to do so much chores because im a man”. Its a stupid way of thinking but I think its unintentionally there. Hope to get rid of it so I can strive to do my best here at home.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, what a breakthrough that your wife is ready to talk about splitting the chores! That’s wonderful! I hope you can work on this and get a system that works, especially if she’s willing to talk about it now. Remember that loving your wife sacrificially does not mean wearing yourself out so that you’re no good to anyone, or enabling her to be selfish. We each are to “carry our own load”, as Paul says in Galatians 6. So let her carry her load!

  6. Noel

    My mother-in-law is famous as a clean freak in her family. She is insistent on having the floor washed by hand at least a couple times a week, the window sills being wiped, and never leaving a dish in the sink. To her family that constitutes clean. To me- her house is one of the messiest I’ve seen. Nothing is ever put away (except dishes.) I have literally seen her put her purse down on the floor in the middle of the dining room as she came in and leave it there. For days. So, when my husband leaves things everywhere (dishes, clothes, his bible, tools,) I figure you can’t fight early training. On a good day I shrug, “oh, well, he takes after his mother”; on a bad day, I mutter “he’s just like his mother!”
    On the other hand, I do leave dishes in the sink, and while I sweep most days, and try to mop at least twice a week, I have a toddler and my floors are often sticky. I know my husband notices, but he almost never says anything. Sometimes he will sweep himself, but he doesn’t complain. So I figure we are both making an effort.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a good compromise, Noel! And I do find there’s a big difference between being a neat freak and being a clean freak. They’re not the same thing at all. Glad you guys are figuring this out together!

  7. Beth

    Hahaha! The toilet will stay clean for three days! Not with little boys in the house.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I hear you! Have you ever tried to have them learn to clean the toilet? That was actually my kids’ favourite chore when they were 4 and 5! All the scrubbing and sudsing!

  8. Emmy

    I have done most of the house chores myself and I don’t mind to do them as long as I don’t need to listen to complaints and disrespectful remarks that are disguised as “advice”. I don’t need praise seither, or Mother’s Day speeches of what a wonderful housewife I am. I just want to do my best to keep everyone fed, clean and happy, and I want to do my work in peace.
    But I’m glad to tell that criticism and disrespectfull remarks are something of the past. My husband still does not help much with household work but I’m OK with that. He now understands I’m doing as much as I can. Some big eye openers where those times when I was in hospital with a nwe born baby and he had to run the house and kids and everything. After one of such episodes he did even say something like “I did not realize it was all so much”.

    Yes, sometimes I wish he would take his plate and cup to the sink or even to the dishwasher. And to put his cheese and tuna fish and stuff back to the fridge after he has made himself a sandwich. I have not yet found a way to tell it in such a way he will understand. Actually, jokes work the best: I have sometimes made “parking tickets” for his plates and cups. He thinks it’s funny, and after having a ticket, he brings his stuff away for a few times. After a while, I can start all over again. But, well, as long as he does not criticize ME for the mess HE is making, it’s really not that much trouble for me to clean the table myself.

    As far as the butter and tuna fish goes, we have two dogs that provide for swift natural and logical consequences if anyone leaves anything edible on the table for one minute…

    • Kate

      My word! Sometimes when i read how childish husband’s are i say to myself, i better not marry a man like that. Taking the dishes you ate off of to the sink is common courtesy that an adult male should have been taught when he was 2 years old! What the heck is wrong with men sometimes, man. I swear if my future husband is that slobby and trapped in a child’s body then i’ll refuse to cook for him. I’m sorry but this type of behavior just pisses me off. Get a grip and grow up men!

      • Andrea

        In my capacity of amateur psychoanalyst, I would say that Freud got it right, but the other way around: it’s not that boys want to have sex with their mothers (Oedipus complex, yuck), it’s that they want the woman they do have sex with when they grow up to be their mother (pick up after them, cook for them, prepare the clothes they wear… I don’t know what kind of complex that is, but also yuck).

        Among the couples I know I’ve noticed that the ones who married in their 30s share household tasks more evenly, whereas the ones who married in their 20s are more likely to have a wife who plays the maid (and by maid I don’t mean that she cooks or does the laundry, but the humiliating picking up after someone, like clothes on the floor or food not returned to the fridge). I think it’s because the guys who married later had to live on their own as adults for longer, whereas some of the younger ones went from their mommy’s house to the college dorm room to having a wife. So, Kate, you don’t have to worry 🙂 Seriously, though, you’ll see how he keeps his apartment and himself as the two of you, to repeat Sheila and Rebecca’s advice, “do life together.”

        • Emmy

          I believe you are right, it must have something to do with childhood patterns althouhg I’m not sure what and how. My husband was living on his own when he met and he did his own dishes. He certainly was not served by his mother either. On the contrary, my mother in law is a strong woman and she did push her children to help with chores. I would say, she pushed them a lot. She had to. She lost her husband when hybby was about 10 years old and she had to work ant take care for a big family all alone.

          Sometimes I have the feelinh hubby behaves like he does because he want’s to show me I’m NOT his mother, and because he is not living with his mother any more he does not need to listen when someom´ne tels him to put something somewhere.

          To be fair towards him, I need to tell he does help me with !big” things such as carrying fire wood or moving furniture or gardening or other kind of work where you need to use your muscles. He is always happy to give me a ride and when we do groceries he wants to carry the heavy bags.


        • Blessed Wife

          Not always!😂 My husband was 37 when we married, and when I came over while we were dating, his house was always very clean.

          Not now! Now he wears an item of clothes once, and it either goes in one of three piles (none of which is in the hamper) or just stays where it fell til I come through and gather the laundry. Then he inevitably complains because I put something in the wash that he intended to wear again.
          Yes, dishes left beside and around his favorite chair in the living room. Yes, unflushed toilets covered inside and out with hair and pee, as is the surrounding floor. Stacks of newspapers and magazines everywhere, some read, some not, some of which I’m “allowed” to throw away, but some of which he really wants to keep, only I have no way of knowing which is​ which. The irony is that mess and clutter causes him intense stress! He notices the mess alright, and it drives him crazy! This kind of thing makes me want to lol whenever I hear someone assert that men are the “logical” gender!😂 I’ve concluded seriously that he probably has OCD with a hoarding component.

          So, my solutions:

          *Teach our three kids to take their dishes to the sink after each meal. It’s a process.

          *I put a four-bag laundry sorter in our bedroom, and bathe everyone in our bathroom. The kids (all under 7) are about 50% at putting their dirty clothes in the sorter when they take them off. I put my clothes and my husband’s home-washables in there, and if he wants to fish an item out to wear again, they’re sorted by color.

          *I clean up the things that really matter to me- bathrooms, laundry, and cycling the dishes twice a day, and do a few small things that really matter to him, like making the bed.

          *Age-appropriate chores for the kids!!!

          *Kids responsible for picking up their own books and toys. If I have to pick them up, they go to a box in the garage.

          * Once or twice a week I gather the newspapers and save them up for blocking out next year’s kitchen garden. He still has access to them if he really wants to get something out and read it, but they aren’t littering the living room floor.

          *I allow my husband to experience natural consequences for his mess, as long as it doesn’t interfere with everyone else’s comfort and general management of the house.

          *Some things are just faster to fix than to fight about, especially when a fight isn’t going to change anything. So I pick my battles based on long-term importance.

          *I give thanks daily that I have a kind, loving, healthy, sober husband, who works very hard so I can be home with our kids. This puts me in a much happier frame of mind​ at cleaning time!

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            That sounds like a great attitude and plan! And I love how you’re teaching your kids to clean.

  9. Deborah Lucas

    I have a solution that works in my house; we have 3 toilets; one in the master bathroom (mine), one under the stairs (his) and one upstairs (my stepson, who lives in our home). They don’t use or clean my bathroom, I don’t use or clean theirs. My husband’s toilet room is also the guest bathroom, so it gets cleaned regularly.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      We did something very similar in a house I rented with 3 other girls, actually! 🙂 It worked really well! I find that sectioning off areas so they are very clearly each person’s responsibility often works well.

    • Natalie

      We do a version of this in our house too: the garage and office are my husband’s spaces since I rarely use those spaces, and the laundry room and kitchen are mine since he rarely uses those (although he does clean the pots and pans and his plate and utensils after dinner 4-5 out of 7 nights a week since I cook every meal every week). Since I’m home all day, I vacuum and dust the living room and bedrooms as needed (anywhere from once a week to once a month depending on the season and if we’ve been visiting out-of-state family for an extended period of time). We both help pick up our son’s toys each evening, since he’s still a little too young to understand and do that completely on his own. My husband really stepped up his toy clean-up game when I was later in my pregnancy with a huge belly… he even did so after stressful days at the office without complaining! I was very surprised and impressed, given his track record on chores and complaining lol.

      My husband used to be literally the worst at pulling his weight in chores around the house. For him, I think it took becoming a father & realizing that he had to pitch in and help his children too that caused his change. Before, he felt like he could do his stuff and I could do mine and that that’d make things even (when really he was totally underestimating how much “his stuff” actually included). So marriage and fatherhood have been good for him. They’ve forced him to grow up and leave behind a lot of the bad habits & poor hygiene (though we’re still working on his personal hygiene) that were never addressed and corrected by his parents when he was growing up.

  10. EM

    I think what Sheila said about the overall pattern is so important. As the stay at home parent I do way more of the household chores, and I like it that way. My husband works so hard, he is a great provider, and he is a super involved dad. Plus if he tried to run a load of laundry it would mess up my “system” and I would get annoyed anyway lol. However, it was starting to drive me crazy that he would just drop his laundry on the bedroom or bathroom floor when there is a hamper *right there.* It felt very disrespectful of how hard I worked to keep our home looking nice, which is actually really important to him. Every six months or so I would ask him to please put his laundry in the hamper (hello Love & Respect!) and he would do it for a few days, then go right back to leaving it on the floor. Finally I told him that I was more than happy to sort, wash, dry, fold, iron, and put away the laundry, but I would not be his maid anymore. It piled up for a while, and I made myself leave it there. But guess what, after about 4 months he puts it in the hamper (almost) every time. And if he’s having a particularly stressful week at work and forgets, I don’t mind doing it for him because the pattern is now one of respect. Now that feels better!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s awesome, EM! And it is really about the pattern, absolutely.

  11. Hannah

    Ahhhh laundry. When we first got married, my husband left his clothes *everywhere*. Drove me nuts, because I really did feel like his maid. I did a lot of asking and reminding over several years, and now the laundry goes in the basket.
    I feel a lot more gracious about it when I see him taking initiative about housework in general. It’s definitely the idea of social capital in play.

    His parents did a really good job of teaching both how to do housework and that he should, in fact, do housework. I’m glad for that. But we’ve also talked about the concept of emotional labor and how exhausting it is when he doesn’t take initiative for stuff. I’m transitioning into working more hours and him fewer hours, so I definitely anticipate a shift in how much housework we’re both doing!

    Also, Sheila, I think the letter was saying “can’t even flush the toilet” as in, “the toilet was full because he can’t be bothered to flush the toilet.” At least, that’s the way I read it.

  12. Raquel

    When I married my husband I absolutely knew he was messy. That is how we connected in fact, I was helping him clean his apartment. So I makes me sad when women describe messy men as child like and rude. My husband does work hard and I take care of our home. As long as I stay on top of it, it never gets out of control. When it does he helps me. I guess others might find this gross burning smell my husband’s clothes to find out what’s dirty! I also monitor what clothes he owns so finding mind washing the fabric type and the amount never gets out of control. Basically I choose his clothes! It works perfectly for us! I would never regret marrying my messy man.

  13. Clarissa

    I’m struggling a lot to know what my Biblical reaction should be to a lot of hurtful situations in my marriage. My husband is a pretty selfish guy and he admits it but he never changes. My priorities are not important to him. We eat in front of the tv bc that’s how he wants it. We have zero time to talk bc he watches endless hours of tv. He comes to bed very late or often he sneaks out and goes on his phone. He sat in the dark at 1:25 when I came down to get something, I asked him if he was just sitting in the dark and he said Yep, after i went upstairs and pretended to close the door He turned his phone back on. He has left me alone in bed countless times and sex is barely existent. He is a nurse and revealed to me that he had been asking his aides individually to lunch to show his appreciation. He made sure to take them where no church people would be, his words. He has had a history of porn use ,but claims he is free from it. He has lied to me before to protect himself from looking bad ( he let me thin k his car was stolen when it was repossessed)My pastor counseled us, but a lot if it was my husband defending himself for his temper fits ( because we used his expensive toilet paper!!) Or complaining that I defend my daughters when he gets irate with them. He has many issues, I’m at the end of my rope. I know who I am in Christ and want to honor Him above all. Help!!!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Clarissa, this is not a healthy marriage. He completely disregards you. He is on the phone by himself in the dark, which likely means he’s watching porn, whatever he may say to you. He’s taking women out to lunch one-on-one in a way that is secret. He’s lying to you. He has no sexual relationship with you (again, likely because of porn).

      You need to decide what you will tolerate and how you deserve to be treated. Right now, he’s treating you this way because he can. There are no repercussions for him. I’d invite you to take a look at my book 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, because it deals with what to do if your husband is being selfish. And I’d also recommend reading Boundaries in Marriage, because that may really help you as well. This isn’t okay. It really isn’t.


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