Do you feel like you do everything, while your spouse just isn’t carrying his weight? You work, take care of the kids, do the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning and just about everything else you can think of.
You are completely exhausted and overwhelmed, and cannot comprehend why your spouse can’t see that you need help.
Division of labor is one of the biggies when it comes to problems in a marriage. Often, it was never discussed, and you sort of each just fell into certain roles and routines within the household.
But, over time, the burden has grown and grown, and you are feeling like your spouse is not carrying his weight at home.
In a perfect world, your spouse would be attune enough to know when you need help. He would even be wise enough to figure exactly what you needed help with and how exactly to do it. But, in reality, there are many reasons why this won’t happen.
The good news is that there is hope. With effective communication and just a few important skills, you can get your spouse to help.
5 steps to get your spouse to help
IDENTIFY WHAT YOU WANT AND NEED
It is important to figure out what exactly it is that you want and need from your spouse. What do you actually want him to help you with? Maybe you want him to help with the kids baths and bedtime, but don’t really want him anywhere near the laundry. Maybe you want him to clean out the garage.
You need to figure this out, so that when you are ready to communicate about it, you are very articulate and clear with your wishes.
TALK ABOUT IT
Like anything else in a marriage, you need to open the lines of communication. Explain to your partner, without blaming, how you are feeling. For example, “I am just exhausted. There is always so much to do around here. With work, kids, and home, I’m feeling overwhelmed and at my wit’s end”. Notice that there was no mention of “you never help” or “I do everything around here”. It is best not to go that route, as it almost always causes defensiveness, which is counterproductive.
ASK FOR HELP
Once you have talked about how you’re feeling, it is very easy to ask for help. Since you’ve already identified what you want and need help with, it should be quite easy at this point to express this. You must be very clear in articulating exactly what you would like your spouse to do. You cannot simply say, “You need to help more”. It is much more effective to say, “Tonight, can you please bathe the children while I clean up the dinner dishes?”.
DO NOT CRITICIZE
Absolutely, no matter what, do not criticize anything about the efforts to help. If the dishwasher is loaded completely backwards and upside down, do not say a word. Seriously. If you criticize efforts to help, he will stop helping.
Yes, sometimes, when help is done wrong, it actually creates more work for you. I get it. Reload the dishwasher later and don’t complain. Perhaps another time, when you are talking, you could simply say, “When you get a chance, I’d like to show you how I prefer to load the dishwasher.” The truth is, the dishes will most likely get clean no matter how poorly the dishwasher was loaded.
This is the part where you show thanks and appreciate your spouse’s help. Making a positive statement and even nurturing his ego a little goes a long way. You could say, “Thanks so much for helping with the kids. I’m so excited that we have more time together with each other now”. Do not forget this step.
When something we did is acknowledged and recognized, and we feel appreciated, we are more likely to do it again. It also just feels really good to hear thanks and know that we might have made someone else a little bit happier with our efforts. Gratitude and positive feelings are contagious, so go ahead…show some!
If you follow these 5 simple steps, you will be on your way to a more satisfactory marriage. You will begin to get the help you need and feel a shift in the marriage. There will be more honest, open communication, more feelings of goodwill, and more positive feelings of love and appreciation.
What is the one thing you really want your husband to help out with? Share below!
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Lori Freson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Southern California. She has been working in the mental health field since 1997, and has been a licensed therapist since 2002. Lori currently works in her own thriving private practice in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where she serves the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas. Contact Lori at lorifresontherapy.com or call/text 818-514-LMFT