How to Ensure You Do All the Housework Yourself

  1. Don’t ask for help. Instead play a game and see how long it will take before your spouse pitches in without you asking.
  2. Make sarcastic remarks whenever your spouse does anything around the house. For instance, let’s say your spouse puts dirty clothes in the hamper, you might say, “The world must be coming to an end. You just put dirty clothes in the hamper. What’s next? Will cows fly?”
  3. Criticize your spouse’s technique. No matter what your spouse does–from loading the dishwasher to dusting the television to vacuuming–make sure he/she knows that you would do it differently and that your way is much better.
  4. Ignore whatever your spouse does. Refuse to notice that the carpet has been vacuumed or the trash can is now empty. Whatever you do, definitely don’t thank your spouse.
  5. Be exceptionally vague. For instance, if you want your spouse to clean the fish tank by the end of the weekend, say, “Do you think you could do some housework at some point?”
  6. Give your spouse a deadline that conflicts with his or her life. For instance, if your spouse is watching a big Formula One car race, march into the room and say, “I want that kitchen cleaned up in the next half hour!”
  7. Talk for an hour about how unfair your life is. Make sure to go on and on for so long that your spouse loses interest and starts daydreaming about what you might cook for dinner. At that precise moment, ask your spouse to please fix the toilet.
  8. When your spouse asks for clarification, go silent. For instance, lets say your spouse texts, “What kind of vacuum bags does the vacuum cleaner take?” Ignore the text. After all, if your spouse was worth anything, he or she would know this information without checking with you.
  9. If your spouse requests specific household tasks, assign him different ones. For instance, if your spouse wants to do the laundry, tell him you expect him to clean the kitchen instead.
  10. Make fun of whatever your spouse does–especially in front of other people. For instance, let’s say you are at a work party. While his or her boss is nearby, say, “My husband/wife couldn’t clean a window correctly even if Siri walked him/her through it step by step.”
  11. Make sure your house is always clean and orderly. That way your spouse won’t be able to find anything to clean, fix, or straighten up.

Have you used any of the above dysfunctional communication techniques? If so, how have they worked for you? Why do you default to them? Are there other ways to ensure a spouse doesn’t help around the house? Talk about it in the comments.

16 comments… add one

  • anonymous April 18, 2012, 2:51 pm

    Aw, dang. All but 2 or 3. Any suggestions, because no, not

  • Stephanie @ Our Marriage Adventure April 18, 2012, 4:33 pm

    The other side of the coin is – do all the right things, still don’t get help and accept it. Your man is a total dunce when it comes to being useful around the house. So either ignore the idiocy and do it all yourself or be prepared to wrangle over this issue for awhile.
    Stephanie @ Our Marriage Adventure´s last blog post ..Marriage Truths

    • Carla April 19, 2012, 11:26 am

      this is totally me. My husband will so things around the house, but he never accepts what I do because it is never good enough for him and I can have the house emmaculate and not sweep something and the one thing I don’t do, he harps on me about it. I do’nt need thank you, I just don’t want to get yelled at for the one little thing I do.

  • Kerry April 18, 2012, 7:46 pm

    How about do something that is typically his responsibility, just to be nice, and then watch how it magically now becomes your responsibility.

    • Carla April 19, 2012, 11:26 am


  • Bern April 18, 2012, 8:06 pm

    Very entertaining! Reminds me of what used to go on when I was married!

  • anon April 18, 2012, 11:31 pm

    Ok I’m going to go out on a limb here because this is an area of relationships that likely inspires more acrimony than any other. Money, sex, in-laws, child raising…they all pale in comparison to the division of household labors. When a couple has the right formula it’s still a constant source of checking and rechecking our egos and self-inventories of our accuracy. When it’s not working, it can be worse than the actual labor itself!
    I applaud you, Alisa, because this is not an area where women want to look inward to find the answer to the problem as they have borne the burden of housework for…well, forever. So changing up the inner dialogue is a wonderful way to get at things from a different perspective.
    I realize the topic is division of housework. but I think it’s necessary to broaden the subject to include all things that we do to help our spouses make it thru daily life. If we cut the list off at strictly household chores, the story is incomplete. Men are guilty of (well, we’re guilty of a WHOLE LOT of things but more on that later) ignoring their spouses help on traditionally “male” chores like when my wife tells me the car is “running funny” and I don’t hear the noise and I ignore it usually to her pain at getting stranded…or the oldy but goody, not listening to her about getting lost. Sometimes just listening when one of us has had a bad day can make all the undone chores seem like not such a burden.
    But…they HAVE to get done. And any guys reading this, come on face it, we stink in this area. No, we suck big time!! We know we get away with it for whatever reasons or excuses we tell ourselves (or not if we choose not to allow any insight to hit the radar screen) because our spouses are giving, caring souls that want to keep marital and family harmony. But hey guys, that’s even worse. Taking advantage of another’s good intentions, that’s a good formula to keep your spouse happy. NOT.
    It’s important to make sure we have an accurate “list” of what needs to be done. In all fairness to guys, sometimes the lists seem to exclude or minimize the traditional “male” chores, and what are left to be divided are the “female” chores. I read a marriage self-help book about this where a point system was applied, and cleaning the counters was equivalent to mowing the yard. Well, maybe if you live in a brownstone in Manhattan that is true, but in Texas we have 1/2 acre lots! And it needs to be comprehensive. It’s easy to say that one spouse pays all the bills while the other gets no credit, even though he or she may spend 8 to 12 hours at tax time.
    And a good rule of thumb in my mind is #3 above…if it HAS to be done your way, then you own that chore. (Yes, I know “your way” is the “right way”) This leads to less acrimony and to more getting done. It also keeps us from being overly particular, lest we only have ourselves to blame for our burden. This is not gender directional. I insist on car maintenance to be done my way, so it’s mine. She can’t stand the way I load the dishwasher. Why fight about these 2 issues? (Curious that the dishes get done and the cars fixed even when the one of us who owns that job is away!)
    But as I read your book Alisa, I couldn’t help but say to myself, “why doesn’t she just NOT do the things that aren’t done and let it build up until he finally GETS IT”. The baby has to be fed and the bills paid but if women would let us starve because we didn’t take our turn at the grocery store, or had us wear wrinkled, stinky clothes at an important meeting because we weren’t grown up enough to pick up our own laundry, eventually, maybe, some of us would GET IT!
    Now my wife would roll her eyes at my self-description at being even close to equitable in the household chores, and I’m not, I admit it. But I do care about her and appreciate her and thank her almost every day for what she does for me. And I try. I try. So, if we are trying, please be patient with us and give us the benefit of the doubt.
    I am convinced that the surest way out of this dilemma is to raise good sons and good daughters that know in their hearts that there is only one couple and one family, and what needs to be done needs to be done because we all love one another. So I try to do something for her with love in my heart, and it’s no burden at all.
    Shoot, forgot today is garbage day, gotta hurry up and get it to the curb!
    Thanks for reading all of this, those of you who did.

  • Rosemary April 19, 2012, 10:25 am

    There is no danger of #11 happening at my house!
    Rosemary´s last blog post ..Financial Honesty

  • Suz April 19, 2012, 11:04 am

    Alisa, you’re awesome. I just love this list. It’s very, very true. :)
    In my house a genuine “thank you” goes a long way.
    Also, seriously people…ask for help. Don’t assume or get passive aggressive about stuff. I learned this lesson when my 2nd child was born and getting out of the house took 2-3 hours of prep work due to some medical complications with my newborn. Once I realized that I didn’t need to do everything myself, life got much easier. If you ask your spouce for specific help, he/she will gladly do so. Sometimes people just need clear instructions.

  • Carla April 19, 2012, 11:24 am

    This is totally my husband. It doesn’t matter what I do, it isn’t good enough. When I ask him to help with something the answer I get – yes I will do that too along with everything else in this house. I can’t tell him thank you because he doesn’t accept it. I tell him that I don’t need thank yous. All I need is to not get harped on about what I don’t do. my husband is awesome at #3. and since he is controlling he has to do everything and than he gets on me about he everything is his responsibility. I try to tell him – well I can do it if you will just let me, but I don’t want to hear about how bad I do (bad as in, not his way). I am not allowed to wash laundry, but he will never fold it or put it away and than he yells at me when laundry is sitting in the laundry basket for 2 days because I haven’t had time to fold it.

  • Priyanka April 19, 2012, 12:02 pm

    Would you believe it if i said i don’t do only 1 or 2 of the things you listed? I mean, really! I am such an idiot! And then I expect my husband to do chores around the house! Thanks for pointing these obvious things out!

    I have been a regular reader of your blog for quite sometime but this is the first time I am commenting. This post rang too close home! Keep up the good work!

  • sarah henry April 21, 2012, 7:53 am

    Ha! Love how you tweak these kinds of lists and tell ‘em from the other POV.
    sarah henry´s last blog post ..Culture Clash: D.I.Y. Yogurt vs. Mass Market

  • Rose Byrd April 23, 2012, 3:44 pm

    Alisa, some of the blogs that I follow seem to fall into these traps in the way their poems and/or essays are composed. I have had it implied to me that I should be more “authentic”–more complaining, is what they actually seem to mean. I am applauding this post until my palms are stinging–that is how strongly I agree with you. I see so many younger women (at my age, that leaves a lot of decades open!ha!) engaging in almost all of these steps. And when the women have a monthly meeting at our church? Numbers 7 and 10 seem to be all they can talk about! Thank God my daughter and daughter-in-law are much more appreciative of all homemaking participation by my son-in-law and son. I will carry all of this in my heart to caution me every moment I am with my own hubbie! He is a great cook–no problem for me to clean up with all that wonderful food to fuel me–(and snack on later!)
    Rose Byrd´s last blog post ..“…….and why does The Light keeping changing shapes?”

  • Stupid Dude April 30, 2012, 1:06 pm

    Hmmm so I am a guy, my fiance is now pregnant… I do all the cleaning around the house, tyding up when she leaves things lying around or when she is finished cooking. I do the dishes, the laundry, clean the toilets, take out the trash and take it to the main bin in our complex which is down the road… been going on for a while and all she does is sit on her ass. Given she is pregnant I do all the chores plus back and foot massages… I did all this before she was pregnant too…. now I get told I dont do enough around the house, yet I do it all, plus any of her chores I help, like the cooking or once every 3 weeks she decides to do anything around the house, I am always helping her. So this weekend she made lunch, samies, I ended up taking out the trash. I then sit and want to play a bit of playstation until she is finished making samies, I get crapped out because I sit and do nothing. Wow just that 1 time i thought I could sit on the couch while she is doing something around the house. So apparently I cant sit an do nothing while she is doing some kind of little chore, but she does it all the time sitting on her ass while I have to work. So at the end of the day today I get told I dont do enough chores around the house when all she does is make the food, something I can do too, I enjoy cooking, she is just better at it so I let her do it. So now she is moving out… starts picking all her socks n shoes that she has left around the house. Now she can stay at her mothers house, where her mother cleans up after her as she seems to be a clean freak :P

  • So very tired September 26, 2012, 4:30 pm

    Now wait just one minute, let’s not paint every picture with such a broad brush now Ladies. I am a 43 yr old male professional who works 40+ hours per week, these are four day weeks were I typically work 12 hours a day, with a 1 hour commute each way. My wife and I have two children, 14 year old girl and a 9 year old boy, who both have chores assigned to them. My wife is a nurse who works night shift her schedule is 7, 12 hour shift in a row and she is off seven day in a row. Now; I understand this is a very hard schedule to work (I have tried my best to get her to change it) because she I really bone tired around the 5th day and very short tempered. Now that you have a little background let me get to it, one of our (well her) major argument areas is House work, after I work 10+ hours a day and drive an hour, to pick up the children from her mother’s we normally get home around 9 to 9:30 PM, at that point I help my son with any home work he may need help with or study for test’s and things, after that I straighten up anything my wife may have left in the kitchen, round up laundry and do it, by that I mean take the laundry from the washer that I put in the previous night put it in the dryer, fold and put away whatever was in the Dryer, this process usually allows me to do around 4 to six loads a week.( not too shabby).
    By this time it is after 10 PM and I will get myself ready for bed to get up and do it all again the next day,
    Now the problem begins during her week off, she will let the laundry pile up along with the kitchen and start a relentless barrage on me after I get home from work at night about how I don’t do anything to help her out around the house, now keep in mind she has already been off work a couple days: and I am still working and doing light laundry/housework. About a year ago when she first started telling/demanding I do more during the week, I went thru the emotions of: ok I can do more, to what you want me to do more, to wait just a minute, What the heck are you doing the other four day you are off work, I Cannot do it all. This has really become a wedge in our marriage, I simply cannot work, raise children, do house work by myself. Like last night they called her off, when I walked in the door she started in on me hard about not doing enough, and our son needed to finish his homework. So you know what I did after I made myself a bowl of soup for dinner, I help our son with homework, then took a shower, went to bed without saying a word to her. When I get home tonight I am going to find the jar that has my Balls in it and put them back on, cause this man is tired as hell and I ain’t gonna take it anymore.
    And the sex life has been nonexistent for quite some time also.

  • Jaded September 30, 2012, 8:14 pm

    Unfortunately my house is very much like this. I work late night shifts and my husband works mornings. I’m also on call on my day off. But the housework falls to me. This last week I was doing 14 hour days, but the lack of work done around the house is still my fault. I can’t do anything when he’s home because it ‘makes too much noise’, but more often lately when he’s not home I’m at work. I know I should be rushing around to get everything done in the couple of hours I have a day when he’s not home, but I’ve stopped caring at this point. Every few months he’ll decide ‘hey it’s spring cleaning time!’ and start tearing apart rooms in the house. Unfortunately he soon loses interest, and currently the only room in the house that isn’t in a state of chaos is the bathroom because I cleaned it.

    I know that not all men are like that; my father and brothers were both raised to pitch in and help out. But taking care of this one is completely draining, especially when I work more hours a week than he does. He always has time to play video games, but never ever has time to throw his food containers in the garbage.


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