Why Your Husband Lets You Do All of the Work and How to Fix It
Your husband thinks that you do more for the family because you want and like to do it. This might surprise and confuse you. You have told them often enough that you need help. But it doesn't change anything. Here's why:
Understanding why they think this way will help see why the strategy I'm going to share will work.
They think you like doing more because:
- You swoop in to take care of chores if they don’t do them.
- You “fix” things after they finish a chore.
- You complain, but still do the work.
- You’re sad if you miss out on activities like putting the kids to bed or dropping them off at school.
- They wouldn’t do an extra chore if they didn’t want to.
If any of these apply to your situation, your husband believes that you do the extra work because it you want to. They might phrase it differently, but it is really what they believe.
Even if you complain about it Every Single Day. Even if you get mad at them because they don’t do more.
You might be surprised to realize that you are sending these messages to your husband.
I know you have different reasons for taking care of everything:
- You don’t want your kids to suffer.
- You don’t want your husband to do a half-ass job.
- It’s painful to see jobs unfinished.
- You feel guilty for the time you spend away from your kids.
- You wish for something better for your family.
But, something has to change because you are exhausted.
Today, I’d like to share the solution to this problem.
The way to solve this problem (and get your husband to step up their game) is for you to manage your discomfort when a job isn’t finished. Then you will be able to let your husband learn the lessons they need to so they can do the job well.
This is tricky work. You are going to have to choose which chores you can let go of to prove that this tactic is effective. Once you see the power of it, you will be able to shift other chores to your husband. You will be able to break this false belief in your husband. But, the first ones are the hardest.
1) Choose a chore that you believe needs to be completed, but you don’t have strong feelings about how it gets done.
2) Alert your husband that you will no longer be doing this chore and that you are turning it over to them. If it makes you feel better, you can give them a few reasons, but in the end, it won’t matter if you do or not.
3) Don’t do the chore. I repeat, no matter what happens next, don’t step in to do the chore. I know you will resist the urge, no matter how strong it is. Because your husband needs to figure out how to get it done in their own way. They will fail or make a mess of it before they figure it out. You will need to let them figure out how to clean up any messes that they create along the way.
4) Practice managing your feelings about the whole process. Their struggles will make you feel very uncomfortable. In fact, you will want to rescue your husband because you are a caring, empathic person. You will want to offer support, advice, or help. But, you need to stay out of it or you will send the message that you like that job and want it back.
Here are some examples of how you can manage these feelings:
- Don’t check on their progress.
- Take a walk or run an errand when they deal with this chore.
- Remind yourself that they are an adult who can handle this chore. They haven’t had the practice that you have, so they need to learn some of the basic lessons to learn how to do it well.
- Remember that you are hurting them by helping them. You are preventing them from becoming competent at a basic life skill.
- Spend your extra time doing some much needed self-care. Do the things that you usually ignore or neglect because you are so busy taking care of everyone else.
5) You can give advice or suggestions only if they specifically ask for your thoughts. You can give them two or three ideas, then BE QUIET. This will feel physically painful for you. Again, practice managing your feelings using some of the suggestions above.
6) Once they start to get the hang of this chore, you can repeat this process.
I know this process is hard. Every time I use these steps with my husband (and older children), I have to work though my feelings again so I don’t step in to “help.” Of course it would be easier, faster, and more efficient to do it myself. But, if I do, I will reinforce the idea that I do extra chores because “I like to,” which is 100% not true.
This is one of the steps I use in the 1:1 coaching I do to help women let go of the resentment towards their spouse. This resentment is born from the hurt, disappointment, and frustrations in the relationship. Resentment will kill your feelings of being in love.
1) Identify the ways that this relationship has let your down and how you are sabotaging your efforts to change things.
2) Set boundaries that allow you to claim your rights as an equal partner in the relationship. The goal is to shift the work so your husband takes his share of the responsibilities and you feel rested and reclaim your energy. This is when you start to feel better about the relationship.
3) Troubleshoot and support the changes for 4 weeks so you can feel close and loving towards your spouse again. You will be surprised how much they will respond to that change.