I have lived with my other half for over 40 years, most of them being married. One thing I have learnt in that time is that a man will only change his behaviour if he wants to change. No amount of begging, pleading, shouting nagging, cajoling, talking etc will make him change.
When we were both working full time, and had small and then larger children, most of the housework fell to me. It was easier that way. The pile of dirty clothes left by the side of the bed would never make it to the laundry basket if I hadn’t shoved them there after tripping over them every day to make the bed. Exhausted by the treadmill of work and childcare, I put forward the suggestion of a cleaner. He rubbed his chin, looked thoughtful for a moment or two then declared it was an expensive idea and couldn’t we just carry on doing it ourselves. I nearly broke a rib or two laughing at that one. When I wasn’t laughing I was dreaming of how I could stab him with the carving knife and make it look like an accident (that is a joke by the way)
We staggered on with me asking him to do this task or that, and he would do it after a fashion. So the ironing would be done but not put away. Or the request to bring the washing in if it started to rain resulted in just that. The washing, bungled together, often with pegs still attached, dumped on the nearest chair. Often still damp. Each time it happened and I asked why didn’t he put it in the tumble dryer or fold it and put it away was met with “but you didn’t ask me to do that”. Or shopping was short of vital ingredients but heavy on the crisps and beer.
His reasoning was that as he does all the DIY, he should have lighter housework duties. Fair enough but it’s not like he spent every free moment with a spanner or paintbrush in his hand.
Fast forward twenty years. Now, in the house without children, he has scaled down his housework responsibilities and has accepted a list of weekly tasks. There are his “jobs” and I do the rest.
Currently our kitchen has recycling items on two work surfaces and two bins full in the expensive kitchen with built in recycling boxes. The rubbish in the general bin is overflowing and beginning to pong. But as it’s Thursday and he empties the bins on Friday....... His clothes from yesterday managed to find their way to the washing machine, but not in it. The work surface has teaspoons trailing tea and splodges of milk after he made various cups of tea. Crumbs from breakfast add to the scene.
As he is last out of bed, he makes it. Nearly. With covers vaguely dragged approximately on top of the bed. His chair is surrounded by newspaper, notebooks, crumbs and remote controls (we have 8-dont ask). I think he does his jobs poorly so that I give in and take over. I have just paused in this thread to empty the bloody bins so it’s working. And it’s still only 10.15.
So 40 years on. Nothing’s really changed. Endless rows and nagging didn’t work. Asking, begging and pleading work on one occasion but then needs repeating. I once tried leaving the housework. Oh dear, disaster. Me and the children scrabbling around for clean clothes amidst a sea of clutter.
I think I have scaled down my expectations as low as they can be. What is the answer? Any ideas?
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