Husband doesn't help at home


Husband doesn't help at home


your avatar   Billie (46 year-old woman)

I'm a mother of 5 children, ranging in ages from 6 to 23 and a grandmother of 2. I've been married for almost 9 years. This is my second marriage and his first. I love to dance, I'm younger than I look and am very young at heart. My husband is a professional man that is 10 years younger. My 6 year-old is our child. Only one other child lives with us, the others are now in college or married. I am a real estate broker and make a good living. However, my income is seasonal. So certain months of the year I do not bring home a paycheck.

During the months I don't bring in money I try very hard to do all of the household chores and things for my husband since he works so hard. My husband was brought up with a professional father who was never home and when he did come home he would sit in front of the TV and be waited on hand and foot. He is a good person. My mother-in-law did everything and would never relax. She did everything for everyone but was also abusive to the children. She studied with them constantly, took them to school functions alone. She was very involved. She died of anorexia at age 65. Her husband did not notice that she was bulimic and anorexic for 17 years, and he did not realize she was beating the children. She was very high-strung, but she was a loving person and couldn't help herself.

My husband has always worked a lot and gets bored easily. When he is home it's his time to relax so he won't help with any family chores. I want to talk and he's not interested - he's too tired. I try talking in bed - it's not the time.

I do love doing things for people and my family when I have time, but when I'm trying to get business or get very busy at work I don't feel I should have to do all the chores. My husband has probably vacuumed once since we've been together. I get the cars fixed, pay the bills, cook, clean, do the laundry, pick up the dry cleaning, do yard work, deal with the kid's schools, make the doctor, dentist, and eye appointments and work outside of the home. I ask him nicely to put away the clothes that my daughter and I wash and folded for him and he gets defensive and says not to run him and he'll do it when he's ready. The clothes will sit on the floor for days.

Depending on his mood, I have mood swings because I feel so stressed. He says I'll be the death of him. I finally just clam up and can't talk. He does not think he is the problem. I'm convinced of this. He wants me to love and cater to him and then he will be nice to me. He complains about me on a daily basis. I'm too tired to fight and I just keep doing things. What should I do? He constantly says I'm the "B" word


    Andy Bernay-Roman,

Hi Billie!

My suggestion for you is simply to notice the degree to which you love your husband and express it to him in whatever way you like that seems most likely to get through to him!

Since I'm aware that this might seem to be a ridiculous answer to your question, I'll explain....

It is very likely that your husband was taught two complete opposites about himself: That he was some sort of "king" who was "special" because he's a man, AND that he was worthless and completely unlovable! His mother's catering to him taught him the first, and her viscous brutality taught him the second. Unfortunately, the beatings probably went deeper into his psyche than the pampering, and he's grown into an adult who keeps hoping that he can get "enough" pampering to fight off the feeling of being unlovable.

He picked a wife (you) who had his mother's better traits. You do quite a bit of pampering yourself. But trying to please him by doing "enough" pampering hasn't worked and never will work, because no amount of pampering will "translate" into him feeling so loved that it overcomes all that abuse.

On the other hand, if you show your love more directly, the degree to which it gets through to him WILL help. (You can show your love in any way that feels best for you, but the best way is always through touch - cuddling or sex.)

How will this get him to pick up around the house and be more helpful? It might not! (Actually, it will work in that direction, but rather slowly... As he feels better he will definitely feel more energetic - but what he will use that energy for will always be his own choice... My guess is that he'd actually be much more helpful, but not enough to make you really happy about it...)

So, if it's not guaranteed that he'll be more helpful, what would You get out of this...? YOU would get more touch, more of a sense of being loved and wanted, more safe closeness with the man you picked, etc.... (I think you'd find, eventually, that you'll happily lower your household standards a bit in exchange for that closeness... Most people who work as hard as you do are kind of "covering up" their own bad feelings by staying so busy...)

My biggest concern, however, is that it could be too late for all of this. I wonder if one or both of you haven't sort of "given up" on your love and closeness at this point. If so, one or both of you might have built up such "walls" that the other just can't get through. Even if this is the case, however, your best shot is to notice the amount of love/touch/closeness you are willing to share and go for it.

Your problem isn't how to get help around the house. Your problem is your relationship itself.

There's a topic at my web site you also might want to check out. It deals with couples in which one person is "controlling" and the other is "passive" and it might fit your situation or it might not, I can't be sure from this letter alone.

Just click on "The Most Common Problem In Relationships" at my site or go to

Thanks for the letter!

Tony Schirtzinger, ACSW

This question was answered by Andy Bernay-Roman, RN, MS, LMHC, NCC, LMT. He is a nationally certified counselor in private psychotherapy practice in South Florida working with individuals, couples, and families with a deep-feeling therapy approach. Andy's medical background as an ICU nurse contributes to his success with clients with difficult medical diagnoses and/or chronic physical conditions. He also serves as head of the Psychological Support Department of West Palm Beach's Hippocrates Health Institute.For more information visit:


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