[RELATIONSHIP] Introducing Dr. Slacker

I can still remember the night like it was yesterday. My wife and I had a trusted friend spending the night at our house while he was in town for a business meeting. This friend knew us both pretty well and had been a great source of advice over the years. He jokingly asked my wife, “so what does your husband need to work on as a husband?” My wife looked at me and asked, “Can I tell him?” I knew exactly what she was asking.

You see, we had been a five-year argument over my role around the house. Some call it the chore wars, and our war was beginning to escalate into a full-scale battle royal. I reluctantly agreed and soon found myself engaged in a very helpful discussion where our friend became a mediator and helped us sort through some of our expectations.

I learned some really important things that night and have added some other insights in this critical area – an area that causes a lot of disharmony in many home. After 20+ years of marriage and 20+ years of failing miserably in this area, I would like to share some of my experiences with you; hopefully you will succeed where I have failed. Believe me, winning in this area is big and will help you in your marriage. Here are some things I would like to pass on. These observations may not apply to every marriage but they are accurate in many cases:

  1. Men and women look at household chores differently – you need to figure out what these mean to your wife and adjust to her expectation.
  2. Men have a tendency to be passive in the repetitive chores around the house – laundry, pickup, dishes, and food preparation- we like the projects that occur periodically (yard work, trash, auto, etc).
  3. Men tend to exaggerate what they actually do around the house – in most homes if we were keeping score, the ladies win hands down
  4. Men don’t like to be controlled by their environment – especially at home. We want to crash or do something enjoyable when we get home and wonder why our wife can’t allow the house to take care of itself. What we really want is for our wife to clean it up without making us feel guilty.
  5. Men tend to resent wives who nag about housework. They didn’t like it when there mother did it and they still don’t. Women tend to resent their husbands who force them to nag like their mother did. Vicious cycle!
  6. Men who don’t pull their weight around the house are shirking one of their responsibilities as a leader.
  7. Men who pull their weight around the house enjoy better sex lives than those who don’t. (Documented studies on this one).
  8. Men can make some big progress in this area by taking emotional responsibility for areas in the house without being asked — and then just doing them.
  9. Men who wait till tomorrow to get started pulling their weight around the house are making a big mistake.
  10. Men who take little steps are headed in the right direction. Men who take no steps heap trouble on their own heads.

I have earned the title Dr. Slacker by years of neglect and hope to give you some ideas that will help take it to the next level. These articles are not designed for you super stud husbands. You can feel free to add some comments for the rest of us slugs. But some of you boys are worse than me, and you need help. Stay tuned for some really simple ideas for making a real difference around your house. If you want to add something, feel free to leave a comment below.

Today’s Rx: Take some steps towards increasing your role in the chores around the house.

Image credit: Trevor Manternach

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2 Responses to “[RELATIONSHIP] Introducing Dr. Slacker”

  1. Jeffrey Levine
    September 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm #

    I absolutely loved this post – first because of your honesty about your own shortcomings and struggle, second because of the humor, and third because you are right on target. There is a very funny book, “Porn For Women” that shows a man vacuuming on the cover (to your point #7). Underneath all of this really is the need to communicate honestly and authentically with your partner – and this is true of women as well. It’s the assumptions and resentments, building over time, that drag a marriage down. So we men have to be willing to make it safe for our wives to tell us how to be better husbands – and the reverse is also true. Thank you for a great post.

  2. David Paull
    September 1, 2009 at 6:33 pm #

    For me it comes down to a simple truth – caring for one’s home is not the woman’s job or the man’s job, but rather the family’s job. I know that in general men have the reputation of being the slackers around the house and I get why, but its very unfortunate. There are endless projects and chores to do in the average home, especially a home with kids, and it should very simply be a 50/50 thing.

    Couples should work out what each person wants to take responsibility for and those are their jobs. Of course, helping one another out from time to time is a given, but day to day everyone knows what their responsibilities are, and that includes the kids. Once the kids are old enough to chip-in, even by simply making their bed, clearing the table, or taking out the trash, they should get involved. In our house we have a “divide and conquer” mentality and everyone knows what they need to do. When we’re all doing our part, no one gets resentful and all is well in the world.

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