Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Honeymoon is over, bride finds herself doing all the housework
Somewhere, USA: I have been married for six months and it's just not as fun and interesting as I thought it would be. I love my hubby and know he loves me, but a part of me is so not excited about spending the rest of my years like this.
We are trying to save for a house and figure out housework — pretty much I do it all until I ask him to help out. I guess I am resentful of him slightly, but I'm also resentful of myself. Any suggestions on how I can find joy in doing the simpler things?
Carolyn: Agh, you do not ask him to "help out." It's his responsibility as much as yours.
1. Take a close look at what he does, to make sure you're not discounting it.
2. If the imbalance is clear, then tell him it's not okay with you.
3. Ask him to suggest ways to make yours an egalitarian household. There's a better chance he'll change if it's his idea.
4. If he balks, ask him if it's the mess he's comfortable with, or the idea of your doing all the work. If he's just fine with chaos, then you're going to need to work on finding a level of mess/neatness you both can live with. One easy fix is to stop doing his laundry, since it forces his hand and frees you for other priorities.
5. If none of this quite does it, punt: Hire someone to clean. This is really just a Band-Aid, but if you fix the bigger ailments — especially the resentment, which is toxic even in "slight" quantities — then a Band-Aid's okay for the rest.
If things still aren't "fun and interesting" once you're resentment-free, then consider a conscious effort to "date" — which is really just making time to enjoy each other.
Somewhere, USA, Again: Do you have any suggestions for asking No. 3 without sounding like a nag? E.g., "Bob, do you realize you take no initiative in doing chores?" "Yes." "Would you mind cooking dinner or cleaning the bathroom?" "Sure." Two weeks later, nothing. What is my next response?
Carolyn: Tell him exactly how this makes you feel — angry, frustrated, resentful, depressed, betrayed, whatever captures your state of mind.
A nag is someone who issues forth an endless stream of small requests. You are asking for something big — respect — and you won't stick around to keep asking, because "no" is not an answer you'll stand for. Please say that and be ready to back it up.
You back it up by demonstrating that elves don't do the housework, you do — and that his accepting this is tantamount to his accepting you as his maid. You are not his maid, so don't act like one.
Your No. 3 has been to assign him chores. My No. 3 is to solicit his ideas. If he says, "I don't know," you say, "I am really upset about this. Surely you can do better." Assigning chores isn't much of an improvement over doing them.
This is ultimately about his ability to empathize with you. If he won't do that, then it's officially a Much Bigger Problem, one to take to a pro. (Counselor, not housekeeper.)
Tomorrow: Readers' suggestions.