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28 Feb 2003

Cannot cope with this situation anymore
I've got three small kids, have a full time job and doing all the home chores by myself. My husband is willing to bath the children. I must always tell him to help our child with homework - he can’t think that it must be done. He always seems tired. (He does have a stressful job – or that is what he tells me). He does not help me with cooking and cleaning, but go on moaning about how dirty the house is and directly after he said that, he will go lie down in front of the TV. I get a maid once a week but with kids your house is always a mess. When we have guests, the only thing that he does is braai. Even when there are not enough chairs he doesn't even bother to get one - then I do it (I think he doesn't even notice it). He was brought up in a home where the mother has done everything and the father just sits and delegate. I'm not willing to have the same life. I'm not a lazy person and will do most of the chores in the house, but I am not somebody's slave. I am unhappy and it shows and I begin to throw things around and screaming on the kids because I don't know how to change the situation because I am afraid to cause eruptions - I hate confrontation, because I always think afterwards what I could have said - I'm not good with debates - and sometimes, just sometimes I think that he might be really really tired and stressed up.
Answer 447 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear Unhappy,
Maybe he is really tired and stressed-up after a day at a difficult job. SO ARE YOU. It took both of you to ave the children, and i's fair that both of you should share the duties of caring for them ; and, as you share the house, you should be sharing the chores as well. There's nothing whatever unreasonable about you expecting that he do his own fair share --- we all face such duties and chores, and try to be brave about it.
I understand that you don't want confrontation, and angry, aggressive confrontations rarely achieve much. But a quiet, calm confrontation in the sense of sitting down and jointly facing the facts, is worth trying. Maybe his mother did indeed do more of the house-work --- but I srongly suspect that she didn't work at all, and is she had a job, it would not have een one as stressful and demanding as yours. And didn't his father pay for a full-time servant to share the work ? Things have changed, and his expectations must match reality, not a dimly remembered and unreachable past.
The discussion needs to be directed towards a fair sharing of tasks. Would he like to hire a maid for more days a week ? Which chores will he do --- and when ?
When he complains that the house is dirty / messy, you could say : "Yes, it does get that way, especially with young kids --- how shall we share the tasks ? Which rooms will you keep tidy, and which ones shall I care for ?"
When there are guests, you can say "I've jotted down some of the things we'll need to do to prepare for them and entertain them --- which of these will you be doing ?
And if he doesn't agree to share the work-load, or to do what he agreed to do, leave his share undone. Make a list of tasks and allocations, and do your fair share. Maybe include in your half the taks you're good at and enjoy, and the things that matter to you, and maybe seem less important to him ; and include in his half, things he's reasonably good at, and especially those which bother him the most, and those where he contributes most to the mess. If he's worried that friends might pop in and find the lounge in a mess --- include keeping the lounge tidy in his share of the work. Then, when he fails to pull his weight, he has no-one to blame for what bothers him, but himself.
What tactics have other readers found useful in this sort of situation ?
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