Are you resentful because your husband doesn’t help around the house? You are doing all the work at home. Your husband isn’t helping with the kids as much as you like, whether that’s helping them get dressed or even holding space for their big emotions. He’s not washing the dishes, emptying the trash, generally it just feels like you have another child to take care of.
In episode 12 of The Authentic Wife Show, I talk about how to get more help from your husband by creating a fair (not equal) plan for how you’re going to work together to run your household.
What are your husband’s (and your) strengths and challenges when it comes to helping around the house?
What is his capacity? What does he enjoy? What is a struggle for him? If he has ADHD, the executive functioning type tasks that come easily for you may be a massive challenge for him: The fundamental skills related to executive function include proficiency in adaptable thinking, planning, self-monitoring, self-control, working memory, time management, and organization.
Your first course of action is to both be very honest about what tasks are required to run your family successfully, and then which of those tasks do you either like doing or dislike doing?
This doesn’t work if you’re attacking them with shame while you’re doing it. Just because you’re super self-reliant and can and will find a way to do anything that’s a challenge for you, that doesn’t mean that they have the capacity or the desire to do those tasks.
You may enjoy changing the oil in the car. He may not. Or neither of you might. Once you find a task that neither of you wants to do, when you can afford it, you’ll outsource it. This is exactly how successful businesses are run. We outsource the tasks we don’t enjoy doing or don’t do well as soon as we can afford to do so.
Find a way to make helping to keep up the house fair
Once you find the division of responsibility that is going to work with your strengths and weaknesses and that are left over after you’ve done any outsourcing that you can afford to do, you have to find a way to make that division fair. a. If largely all of the jobs in the home are in your camp, then what’s fair is for him to provide the resources for the home. In other words, if he can’t or won’t contribute to the tasks in the home, then he is going to sign away more of his time for producing income.
So what if you really need both of your incomes? Well, you’ve got to challenge that.
What can change in your lifestyle? What can you downsize? You both have to be honest about what’s actually viable in your home.
I was looking at my old engineer income the other day and realized that I worked 40+ hours a week to bring home all of $1700 after daycare costs. So not only was I not the one raising my babies, I was trading most of my time for only $1700. I was basically working for about $10.62 an hour. And I was incredibly stressed because when I got home at 5, I still had to do ALL of the tasks in the home!
I would ask nicely, then beg, then plead, then fight because he wasn’t helping and I was drowning, which is when we figured out that he has ADHD. And then it became like, well get the meds and fix it so you can help, but guess what? Meds wore off right about the time he returned home.
So they gave him an additional med, and after a few months, I had this skinny, tired, angry, depressed guy because he was never tired and never hungry and would stay up all night and never realize that he was eating like a 10th of what he’d always eaten.
He was always tired and hungry — two things you never want your spouse to be!
Have an honest conversation about how your husband can help around the house
So to sum it up, you have to first get honest about what you both need and want to run your home.
There are so many jobs that if you were a millionaire, you would just outsource and call it a day.
And if you’re listening to me, I would be willing to bet that you, the wife, are doing the vast majority of those jobs in your home. Let’s be honest, you’ve probably been doing them much of your life because you either couldn’t count on your parents to them, they were physically or emotionally absent, or you did them to get approval points with your parents.
When you learn each other’s capacity, then you have an honest conversation about how you’re going to make that division fair. It may feel like you’re assuming traditional roles in this case, but honestly, at this point in my life, I feel pretty confident that those roles are less driven by culture and more driven by our innate strengths and challenges.
If you find yourself in this kind of division, you are just more traditionally aligned people where the woman is stronger at nurturing and homemaking, and the man is stronger at acquiring resources and protecting. Don’t come at me. Just be honest about who you both authentically are.
To discover how your spouse having ADHD can affect your marriage and what you can do about it, please read this. If you’re struggling to get your husband to help around the house and feeling underwater, ADHD is probably a great thing to look at seriously.
You can also download my 30 Texts to End His Resistance and Get More Help to learn how to start getting more help day-to-day.
This way of asking for help appeals directly to this smart, problem-solving brain and inspires more support than making a specific request.