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How to get him to help more around the house

THE STANDARD INSIDER
By Chris Hart | August 16th 2020

Hi Chris,

My husband and I had our own places before we married, and as we both have demanding jobs, I’d hoped that we wouldn’t end up like the ‘traditional’ couples where the wife does everything in the house. But we seem to be going that way! Especially since we had our first baby. Can you give me some tips for getting my husband to take more responsibility in the home? Or is it a lost cause?

Not so Traditional

Hi Not so Traditional,

It’s true that in most couples, it’s the wives who take responsibility for the housework, and do far more of it than their husbands. Even when the men say they’re willing to help. And don’t imagine it’s just a local issue, because the same thing happens everywhere, regardless of women’s status and equality levels.

But sharing responsibilities is quite possible, and good fun if you do it right. Couples who succeed don’t fall into the trap of trying to maximise their income, agreeing instead to balance working hours against their time together.

They’re also flexible about their roles in the relationship. Neither argues that their career’s more important, or insists on controlling any other aspect of their lives, like bringing up the children. They act as a team in everything: running the home, raising the kids and earning the money.

But that can be surprisingly difficult for women, who almost invariably want to set the standards for housekeeping and childcare; and have a hard time accepting that that’s what creates most of the inequalities in their marriage. Husbands are put off helping when their wives insist on controlling the standards in the home. Like when he washes up, she re-stacks the plates her way. Or must have her choice of groceries. Not a good way to motivate him! Instead, encourage your husband to take part in child-rearing and housework by complimenting his work, rather than criticising.

Not finding fault can be hard at first, for example letting your man put the children to bed his own way instead of yours. And in his own time.

Wives are often very critical and have high expectations. Let them go. Don’t assume you’re a better parent than your husband and don’t expect him to agree with your priorities, or to notice things you think need doing. Instead ask, and bargain. Like a lie-in for a lunch out with your friends.

There are real upsides to succeeding; like the children will become much closer to you both. You’ll be surprised how much more fun you’re both having. And how he becomes better than you at some things!

All the best,

Chris

——

My wife is always flirting with other men, what do I do?

Hi Chris,

I’m forever spotting my wife making eyes at the men around us. It really makes me angry, and so after every incident, there’s a row sooner or later. I feel disrespected, and I’m worried about what might be going on when I’m not around. What do you suggest I do?

She’s Making Eyes

Hi She’s Making Eyes!

Everyone knows you shouldn’t flirt with anyone else once you’re in a couple. But it’s hard not to notice people who turn you on.

And think of the times you’ve been on the receiving end. That glance that’s just a moment too long feels good, doesn’t it? Not only that, flirting’s an instinct, which makes it very hard to control. So when your wife’s eyeing a stranger she’s actually doing something that’s completely automatic. So automatic that the same gestures are used all over the world.

So it’s pointless trying to draw the line at the noticing stage. And anyway, it’s how your wife behaves after that that really matters. But again, where do you draw the line? Is it alright to talk to someone other than your partner? What about steamy e-mails?

Everyone has different ideas about what’s OK and what’s not. Some argue that being faithful means not having sex with someone else, but otherwise anything goes. But even the expression ‘having sex’ is ambiguous, remember Bill Clinton! While others agree with you that they feel uncomfortable with even the mildest flirting.

So agree on some limits with your wife. Once you have, there’s a good chance you’ll see eye to eye about what faithfulness means in the future.

Have you noticed that if you truly adore your partner, people never ask you out? It’s because all your unconscious body language’s telling everyone you’re taken. But it also works the other way round. People suddenly appear out of thin air when you’re feeling discontented. You’ve started advertising your availability again, even if you’ve not admitted it to yourself yet.

So the best way to prevent flirting from going too far is to make sure your wife adores you. Does she really know you love her? Tell her! Often. And give her far more appreciation than criticism. Notice what’s good about her, and whenever you spot something, say it out loud.

And when you do catch her flirting? Well, resist the temptation to start a row. Instead, enjoy the fact that someone else thinks she’s attractive, get real close, and tell her how much you love her.

All the best,

Chris

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