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How to get your man to help with the housework: New Year lifestyle changes

Nina Spitzer is a SheKnows.com columnist and a freelance writer living in sunny Cave Creek, Arizona.

How to get him to help with housework

When it comes to housework, we gals can probably all agree that it's nice when our man pitches in with help around the house. The question is, what can we do to get him to help? I decided to go right to the source, the guys themselves, for some answers to how to get your man to help with the housework.

Young couple working together to clean their kitchen

It's traditional to ring in a new year with resolutions for positive change. You look around your home and notice the same ol' mess and mull over how tired you are of always being the one to do all the housework. Well, start the New Year off right by getting him to help around the house, but the question is... How?

My research brought up numerous sources advising the way to get your man to help is to deny sex, food and technology toys (e.g., the remote, video games, etc.). Wow! I imagine threats like that could really shake things up in your relationship... and, perhaps, not in a good way. I was curious about guys' thoughts on this topic.

The survey

I surveyed five guys from different age groups, making sure to mention the advice my research had uncovered. The gentlemen surveyed were not selected for any particular reason other than they were willing to participate. Their responses revealed, surprisingly, that they are human beings, just like us!

The Guys

  • Anthony: Age 29, Married 4.5 years, both work
  • Sal: Age 38, Married 8 months, both work
  • Chris: Age 45, Married 17 year, wife is an at-home mom
  • Paul: Age 54, Married 21 years, both work
  • Jeremy:  Age 22, In relationship, living together for 5 years, both work
1

What are your feelings on using threats of denying food, sex or technology in exchange for housecleaning cooperation?

Anthony: If anyone tried to tell me I couldn't use my "technological entertainment" I would do it anyway. I'm a grown man who pays his own bills and earns his own living, and I won't be treated like an unruly child... All threats would do is tick me off, and I'd refuse to cooperate under threat. I won't give into coercion...
Sal: I disagree. It should be a positive incentive not a negative one... Negativity gets you nowhere.
Chris: Disagree. Men don't like to be manipulated and that seems to be an obvious one.
Paul: Disagree. This is not a parent/child relationship we're talking about here.
Jeremy: Taking away those things would get me to do housework, but I do a lot on my own anyway.

2

What part of housecleaning do
you most hate to do?

Anthony: Cleaning the restrooms or taking out the trash.
Sal: I hate making the bed when we change the sheets.
Chris: The dishes.
Paul: Cleaning bathrooms and mopping floors.
Jeremy: Old food, stinky garbage, clogged smelly sinks.

clean bathroom

3

What part of housecleaning do
you not mind doing?

laundry

Anthony: General picking up/making things tidy, vacuuming, dishes (so long as people rinse them off before placing them in the sink), laundry.
Sal: I do not mind vacuuming.
Chris: The toilet.
Paul: Washing dishes, taking out the trash and some laundry.
Jeremy: Most of it.

4

To what degree do you usually
help with housework?

Sal: I help out, by washing the dishes, vacuuming usually once a week and periodically washing the floors. I also maintain all the fish tanks... I also take out the garbage.
Chris: Percentage of 45 percent... I am old fashion, and the woman should be doing the work. I work on the outside of the house.
Paul: Only a small degree... I would probably do more if it was required, but my wife seems to always get things done before I notice them.
Jeremy: I usually clean, wash clothes when it needs to get done — not daily, but often.

5

What are your views about
picking up after yourself?

Anthony: If someone made the mess, they should be the one to clean it up.
Sal: I do the best I can, but I must admit my wife is always on me to pick up things, in a good way, in fact I never thought that was important until I met her.
Chris: I am pretty good, except for my clothes, and I could do better.
Paul: Totally believe that we are all adults in the relationship and should keep a clean environment both inside and outside.
Jeremy: I try to always pick up after myself and usually am minimal about making messes.

6

Overall, how do you feel about living
in a messy or untidy household?

Anthony: I realize sometimes it is necessary to make a mess while you work on a project or sort things out, but after that, it should be picked up.... Living in a constant mess would irritate me.
Sal: I would not like to live in a mess; it is not healthy... My wife is very neat and it has rubbed off on me.
Chris: It ticks me off when I come home and it is messy and torn apart.
Paul: Not good at all. I was raised in a house with lots of clutter and don't like it much now... Luckily my spouse likes it even less, but she was raised in a house where everything had to be spotless.
Jeremy: I hate it when the bedroom is messy, and I hate getting into a disheveled bed.

7

What is the most effective way for your gal to get you to help clean?

cleaning suppliesAnthony: The most effective way I think a woman could get a man to share in the housework would be to have a rational, grown-up conversation about it and divide it up fairly and then carry it out as discussed... She could offer me extras if she'd like me to do extra things I suppose.
Sal: By doing some stuff that I like to do with me, like watching a movie of my choice or doing some guy stuff... I think it is important to talk and communicate each other's expectations, you and your partner are a team and should help one another out as much as you can regardless of how much you may not like what you are doing. With two people getting things done, the faster it will go and you will have more time together.
Chris: Do it with me. Participate with me.
Paul: Just ask if I could help or be specific about a task that she would like me to do.
Jeremy: Do it together.

Summary

After reading their comments, do we really think, "No nookie tonight, dear, if you don't clean up after yourself!" will really work at getting him to help? Being more subtle with words like, "Sorry, Babe. I'd be thrilled to cook/make love tonight, but I'm too tired from cleaning all day," might work once or twice, but still may not achieve the desired long-term results.

When it comes down to it, sounds to me like the guys are just like us in many ways. They really don't enjoy living in a mess, there are types of housework they both like and dislike doing and (surprisingly)... they value communication!

Rememeber

Talk it over calmly and respectfully. (They hate when we rant and rave.) Consider approaching it from the angle of it being a couple's resolution for the New Year. Each of you can select the jobs you most like to do (giving him first dibs, of course. Keep in mind that he probably already does his fair share of chores on household repairs and yard work.) Those cleaning chores you both dislike — Do them together.

We all want to know our efforts are appreciated, so always be sure to thank him for his help. These suggestions might get him to help, as well as keep peace in the relationship. Remember, too, that the whole idea can be more enticing for both of you with the promise of a fun roll in the (clean) hay once the job is all done.

More cleaning tips

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Tips for cleaning with vinegar
Surprising ways keep your home smelling nice

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