Helpless Husband

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Dear Hoopers,
I can’t get my husband to help with anything. I know he works hard all week but so do I. I’m a stay at home housewife. I take care of my mother, his mother, do all the housework do all the shopping. I take them to their doctor appointments, do shopping for them, make sure they take their meds. And my husband will not help me at all. He does nothing around the house. For example last January I hurt my wrist and I needed to take down some Christmas lights from around the garage windows. I finally paid my neighbor $25 to do it. Another example a few months back I was very sick (fever, throwing up, etc.). I still had to cook for both of our mothers. I pray neither one of them get sick again. The other day, I started feeling better but my husband called in sick to work because he had no clean work clothes because I didn’t do any laundry. How can I get him to help me?
-Helpless Husband

Dear Helpless,
You sound quite overwhelmed with all of the many duties you have around the house. In addition to taking care of the household, you have taken on the duties of caring for 2 older parents who have many practical and medical needs. Double parental care is a worthwhile and meaningful task, but a consuming one.

This level of stress and responsibility is heavy. Research has shown that consistent elevated stress can have severe consequences on a marriage and on your health. I’m not sure how your work load has gotten to this point, but it is quite clear that there needs to be some changes. Unequal household chores are a common stressor in marriage and one that can lead to divorce if not addressed.

It will be vital to communicate your stress and exhaustion to your husband. If you feel like you have been making efforts to do so but they haven’t had the impact you were looking for, it is time to make more of an impact. Helping you husband see the toll that this is taking on you and to help him see the consequences that this will have in the future is a place to start.    

Unequal household chores are a common stressor in marriage and one that can lead to divorce if not addressed.

-Dr. Ryan

I would use the “I think, I feel, I want…” approach with your husband. “I think” is a simple description of the situation (I think that I have too many responsibilities and duties on me right now including…). “I feel” is a description of your feeling from the situation (I feel overwhelmed and betrayed when I don’t receive the support from you for these duties.)

“I want” is a straightforward description of changes that he could make (I want for you to start helping with the laundry and cooking duties 3 days a week to take some of the burden off of me.) While the “I think, I feel, I want” approach may not resolve the issue immediately, it can start an open dialogue about needed changes.
-Dr. Ryan

Dear Helpless,
You are his wife, not his mom. Your husband is helpless and sounds like he has a major case of the lazies. This obviously isn’t working for you and for good reason. Instead of sitting back and watching this continue, you’ve got to address this head on. You are going to need to communicate how you are feeling, explain that you love him and need him to contribute more to the household.

Did you know your husband to once be self-sufficient? Has his ability to do seemingly simple things slipped away? If this is the case, then it seems he has gotten in such a routine of you running the household that he feels entitled to doing nothing. This must be frustrating for you.

Marriage is a partnership and your husband isn’t pulling his weight.


Have you communicated to him what your stay at home job involves on a daily basis? Everything you described takes time as well as great coordination. God forbid you fall ill and need some TLC. Oh wait, that didn’t go over so well! This is the point that really frustrates me about your situation. Marriage is a partnership and your husband isn’t pulling his weight.

Unfortunately, some people are lazy and continued effort may not fix them. Let’s hope this isn’t him. I suggest sitting down to discuss ways that he can help you around the house and how badly you need this help. If you can come to an agreement and he starts participating, then be sure to extend appreciation. Give him a verbal pat on the back and odds are this will encourage him to continue. You have more patience than me. Good luck and never forget the importance of balance in your marriage and in your household.