How to Get Your Husband to Help With Housework



The question “How do I get my husband to help with housework?” has been floating around A LOT lately.  I can imagine the frustration.  While I am VERY lucky to have a husband who honestly does A LOT more housework than I do, I fought this battle over and over with my ex-husband.  Of course, my advice is not to get a divorce :), but I understand how to try to fix the problem.  I can tell you my second marriage is MUCH better because of what I learned in the first one.

Too many women are asking how to get their husbands to help with housework.  I might not have all the answers, but I have a few!

What Does Work

1. Asking for help

For the most part, I have noticed women, and particularly stay at home moms feel like we have to do it all.  While I don’t have kids, I do work, and the last thing I want to do after working all day is come home and cook or clean.  The general consensus seems to think it’s ok for a working mother/woman to want to relax a bit, but for some reason stay at home moms seem to justify home making as a 24/7 job.

Why?  Your working husband gets two days off a week.  If he is not at work, why should you not have some free time as well?  There is no harm in ANY woman asking for help with chores in the home.  Obviously, if you’re a stay at home mom, SAHM, it IS your job to run the majority of the household.  However, it is also fair to sit down with your husband and delegate out a few tasks to him as well.

Additionally, children of all ages can help with chores.  There is no shame in assigning kids a certain set of chores as well.  I remember “helping” wash dishes before I was 5 without a dishwasher.  I remember sweeping, washing down the table, setting the table, and all kinds of other small chores that took a bit of stress off of MY mom who was a SAHM.

2. Deciding where you really need the help

I absolutely cannot handle the smell of spoiled food.  My husband knows this and if something is bad, he throws it out for me because he knows I WILL PUKE.  He’s scared of snakes, and I am scared of spiders.  Guess who handles which critters?  Yes, I have had a snake IN my house before.

Do you need 1 day or night a week off for some you time?  Do you need your husband to take out the trash or mow?  Would it help if he bathed the children at night while you wash dishes or do you want him to help with bedtime?

Rather than getting mad because your husband can’t read your mind, you should probably sit down and think about what you REALLY need help with, then ask for it.

3.  Communicate Communicate Communicate

“Honey, the kids have a baseball game tomorrow at 6 pm.  Can you either make sure they are ready on time, or clean up after dinner so I can get them ready?”

See? You’ve asked for help. You also gave him advanced notice so he knows it’s going to happen. He is prepared and knows what you expect.  You also gave him a choice in the decision-making and that allows HIM to have some control.  Instead of telling him, you’re ASKING for help.  WIN WIN.

4.  Praise

I once read in a book a quote along the lines of “If you want your husband to help more, praise him like a toddler who used the potty the first time”.

It’s true.  Can you imagine how pleased you would be if your husband came home and really praised you for a clean house?  What if the first thing he said to you was along the lines of:

WOW!  Honey!  The house looks SO AMAZING today!  You must have really worked hard!  I love coming home to a house this clean and I am SO LUCKY to have you as my wife!!!

Sound cheesy?  SO WHAT!  IT WORKS. If you are not praising each other you’re missing out on a good chance to really make their day.  The more you praise them, the more your husband will want to help!  Still cheesy?  Ok how about this:

Honey, I am home.  Here are the bills you need to pay, and I know you’re in the middle of cooking dinner, but I thought I would let you know the yard needs to be mowed, and you should really wipe that flour off of your face, it looks stupid.

Which would you rather hear?  I know already being angry can make it hard to be positive, but give it a try and see if it makes a difference.  It has in this house.

5.  Therapy

If all else fails, go talk to someone professionally.  Even if HE won’t go, you might find some insight in to how to make the situation better.  Maybe after you go a few times, he will decide to go with you.

What doesn’t work   

1.  Withholding sex

Sex is not a weapon to be used to manipulate your husband.  Please stop advising this.  It’s not healthy for your relationship and it’s not funny.

2.  Yelling/Screaming/Nagging

If you cannot sit down and have an honest and open discussion with your husband without yelling/screaming/nagging then you need to learn to use your words. 😉  Your husband IS NOT a child and he won’t find it amusing to be treated like one.  It is much better to calmly look at him and say “I feel like you’re being disrespectful to me when I ask for help and you don’t give it” instead of “I’m sick and tired of asking you over and over to help.”  See the difference?

I hope this helps a few of you out!  Good luck!

Have you tried any of these techniques before?  Tell me how they helped or didn’t work!




Author: Jill Stewart

I am a 37 -year-old woman from Arkansas who is happily married to a Scottish immigrant aka “the hubby” “the hubs” or if I am calling him directly “YO YOU!” We’ve been married for 3 years and it’s been a crazy ride, and unfortunately our finances have been beat to death in the last few years. We have two dogs and a cat, no kids. The Blog- What’ll you find: Financial Information as we try to become debt free My attempts at working and trying to maintain a home to the standards I like My adventures in learning how to sew Arts and craft projects Funny tidbits from my life including living with a Scottish person, the dogs, and other oddball things that happen to me. What you won’t find: Much on children. I don’t have kids and I can’t have kids. Recipes- I don’t mind cooking, but unless it’s something really special, don’t come here looking for the weekly recipe! You won’t find it- unless you ask my husband. If you’re interested in what you see, please follow me on Facebook or sign up for emails! Most of all, leave a comment or ask a question! I am always happy to hear from you!

16 thoughts on “How to Get Your Husband to Help With Housework

  1. lol. This has been on my mind and we haven’t even talked about it! Funny thing is you said withholding sex doesn’t work and it definitely doesn’t work. What does work is giving good sex. Then they want to do anything and everything for you! Guys are SIMPLE!!

    • Haha no kidding! I never thought of it from the standpoint of making sure they are overly happy in that area, but I bet it does work! And yeah, guys are pretty simple when it comes to this stuff.

  2. I guess I’m also lucky. Sean and I split the house work. It’s not something we ever discussed, not something I had to force him to do, we just automatically started doing it when we moved into this place and it works!

  3. I tried looking for a contact button and couldn’t find an email address to email you directly so forgive me for going off subject. Your site looks great! I like this!

  4. Many woman think they’re superwoman and can do it all. Like you said, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help!

    I totally agree that communication is key in marriage – not just in getting our husbands to help around the house. :O)

  5. Pingback: Saturday's Pick Six - Thrifty T's Treasures

  6. I don’t w/hold sex, never even considered it, I am fine with having to say “hey would you mind” or “could you please?” i don’t remind him in the same day even if i can tell he’s not going to get around to it, because yeah then it turns into a “you’re always nagging me” situation. however, what often happens is if it’s say the day after i asked him to do something and i say “oh did you remember to?” and he says “oh no” then i say “okay can you get to it tonight?” he’ll say “well now that you’re not busy why can’t you do it?” a lot of times when i do ask for him to do something (aside from things like changing the air filter, hanging a towel rack) i get one of two responses “what are you doing that you can’t do it?” or “why are you asking me to do this, what have you done tonight?” it’s really quite frustrating, i don’t feel like i should have to say “um i just cleaned the bathroom so can you change the sheets?” it feels so tit for tat to me and not like we’re a team. he has personal hobbies he likes to work on and if he spends say two hours on that he’ll tell me he’s been busy all night doing stuff he can’t or hasn’t had time to get to chores. he doesn’t see the difference between spending time on his interests and spending time helping around the house. i’ve tried calmly to explain it to him, that my hobby is not cleaning, but without help it’s all i have time to get to and my interests get pushed to the side which feels quite unfair. a couple of weekends in a row i had done the leaf blowing so i asked him if he could do it as i was sick of it. he did, but when he was done came in and said “it’s not perfect don’t say anything. btw that is a horrible job you are going to have to do it from now on”. we’ve since disucssed this further and i’ve explained i hate it as much as he does and still think it’d be nice if we could switch off, he says even if i hate it as much as he does that i have a better tolerance for it. i always praise, never criticize when he does clean. he told me to start leaving to do lists so i did that, then he changed his mind and said that it was emasculating and i could only leave him to do lists if he could leave lists for me. only problem was my lists were about doing common household tasks his were about me doing whatever picky thing he could think of so i gave up. at some point he decided he was emptying the dishwasher more often than i was so he insisted we go to a your turn/my turn set up. i agreed because i didn’t see what option i had and because i figured he at least then would empty it straightaway when it was his turn and we could keep the dishes from piling up. it worked for a while, but now when it’s his turn to empty the dishwasher he’ll let it sit for as long as he feels like. if his turn lands on a friday it’s doubtful if he’ll touch it before sunday more like monday and then he complains that only some of the dishes in the sink are his and why should he have to load them all. if i try and say anything to him about needing help or how i think he needs to do more around the house he tells me to stop because all i’m doing is trying to say he’s lazy and to make him feel bad. i don’t know why he’s like this. he isn’t an unkind or ungenerous husband and he’s not terribly lazy in other aspects of his life. his parents never had any of their kids do chores at all, they just cleaned up behind them as they went and still do w/out a word, he was never even shown how to make a bed so i believe that he lacks the discipline most people have because of that. however he is a grown man at this point and i feel he needs to step up. i follow all the rules, steps, suggesions listed here and everywhere else but nothing works. the sex thing does say for that day but that’s it and really it’s not practical for me to have to get him into bed everytime i need him to do something not to mention he’s pretty smart and would catch on to that quickly. if anyone knows anything i could do to change the siutation please let me know. for now my house is always in a moderate state of disrepair because i refuse to spend all of my time cleaning and cleaning up after someone.

    • Dottie,

      Thank you for coming by. I’m sorry you’re really having this bad of a struggle with your husband. At this point, I honestly think a therapist or counselor would help. If he would go, but based on what you’ve said here, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      Your other option might be to say, we’re not going to do housework on THIS day of the week. On the other nights, a day ahead of time, I would say, tomorrow WE are cleaning the kitchen, which part would you like to do to help? The next day, tomorrow WE are cleaning the living room. WE are cleaning this WE are working in the yard. See if that helps!

      • Thank you so much for responding to my post. Sorry if it was a bit of a rant, it’s the first time I’ve really let lose my frustration. I like the sound of the “we” thing I will give it a try. I’ve thought of counseling I guess it just seems so expenisve and I don’t really have any other complaints about him or troubles. Anyway like I said he never had to do a single chore growing up nor did he even have to pick up after himself so I think for him chores are just painful, but if he’s motivated to spend time and energy on his hobbies each night I feel he can be motivated to pitch in. It’s a slow battle to hack away at, but I’ll keep hacking and like I said I’ll try the “we” suggestion. As a sort of funny aside when we first met I told him he really needed to clean his toilet and in all seriousness he told me he had absolutely no idea how you go about doing that…couldn’t even fathom how one uses a toilet brush…if we have kids, if anyone has kids you’ll be doing them a big favor by giving them a little chore discipline. Again, thanks for listening and responding.

      • I always try to reply in some way to people! I understand your frustrations. Unfortunately, I went through a lot of the same things with my first husband. Unfortunately, it was a never ending fight. Notice, I said FIRST husband….lol.

        Therapy is a bit expensive, but even if you are happy with everything else, some times a counselor can help bridge the gap without anger and resolve issues. They DO help!

        May I ask for the age range on you and your husband?

      • Hi, I’m 36 and he’s 35. I agree that counseling is a healthy thing to do, aside from the cost (going rate in our area about $100 a session) I just want to see if we can figure it out on our own first I guess. We’ve been married a little less than two years and lived together for a little less than three so I think there’s still a lot of growing, learning and negotiating to work out. Sometimes I think I get ahead of myself and think we should be like the perfect machine. I do think your “we” approach is spot on, he seems much more willing to help out when he sees that I am cleaning too. Last night I was cleaning the kitchen and living room and asked if he would do the bathroom and he did 🙂

      • Oh that’s great! I am glad to hear it’s helping some! I hope it continues for you!

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