My husband and I got married young and we had our first child less than a year after getting married. I made some mistakes in those first years that have haunted me ever since and have put a strain on our current relationship. My biggest mistake? Trying to fill his mother’s shoes.
My husband lived with his parents until the day we got married and moved into our first home. His mom had always done his laundry, made his bed and cooked all of his meals. What giant mistake did I make? I picked up where she left off, in an attempt to be a good wife. Did he ever ask me or demand that I do all of the housework? Of course not. I just did it with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.
Fast-forward 10 years and three kids later, and now? I’m old. The spring in my step is gone and my smile is fading. As a stay-at-home mom, it was my job to clean the house and take care of our kids, but now that my blog and YouTube channel have grown into a real job that takes up a lot of my time, I find I am resentful that the household job division has remained the same. I do everything, and he does nothing. Truth be told, even before the blog, I ran a home day care when my children were little, so I always put in full-time hours, while also doing everything else around the house. What the hell was I thinking?
I want to go back in time and slap my former, perky self. “Make him do his own freaking laundry” is the advice I would give myself now. Expecting him to just wake up and change now, after 10 years, is ludicrous. I created this problem. I let him get away with this. I enabled him to think that this was normal and acceptable. Now that I have morphed into a screeching banshee, demanding that he do housework, he feels blindsided.
So where do I go from here? Not backwards, I can tell you that. I can’t be the family’s maid anymore and I never should have been in the first place. That being said, expecting my husband to completely change overnight is not fair to him and has strained our marriage. A happy marriage is more important than clean dishes. I am not suggesting that we all just give up on housework, but I am suggesting that we give up on nagging about it. I have stumbled upon another solution. It is not a quick fix, but it works and slowly, my husband is getting there.
So this is what I did when I was stuck in a rut as the family maid: Bribe him with love. No, not that kind of love — though that may have worked, too — but the kind of love that he wanted and needed. When he does some small (and probably half-assed) cleaning gesture, I gush over his awesomeness. I know — it’s nauseating to think we have to thank our husbands for doing the things they should be doing anyway, but a “thank you” and an acknowledgment is the best way to ensure that my husband does it again.
“You emptied the dishwasher? Thank you so much. I was feeling overwhelmed and that helped me so much. You are an awesome husband.” Guess what? He always empties the dishwasher now.
Does this method happen overnight? Nope. But it does happen. My husband wants to please me, he wants to make me happy. Which is why this method worked for us.