For years, I have embraced the wrong mindset. I admit that when I thought about doing housework, I was attempting to help my wife. As she and I talked through our perspectives related to housework, it would inevitably come up that I was not “helping enough.” Somewhere along the line I had come to the conclusion that the home was her responsibility and that I needed to chip in along the way. And being a pretty good talker, I convinced her and myself to some extent that I was right.
Honestly, that way of thinking didn’t sit real well with me because I couldn’t get my emotions around “having to help” someone complete their job. I didn’t ask for help in my responsibilities. Why should I feel guilty for not helping her with her responsibilities? Not sure where I picked that mindset up. Maybe it was from growing up in a single mom home where she did everything and the kids pitched in from time to time, or maybe from living with my grandmother in my late teen years where I was king of the castle. It has taken me a while to see that maintaining our home is as much my responsibility as hers. I was born in the 60s but my mindset was very much out of the 50s and Leave It To Beaver. Sorry Sweetie!
I don’t think my mindset is an uncommon one. But I do think that it is an unhealthy one, especially when you consider the enormity of the task. To maintain a relatively clean home (with or without children) takes a lot of work. Keeping a home with multiple people living in it organized is much bigger than any one person can handle. In fact, if you don’t believe me just take on one of the major repetitive task in the home for the month: pickup, dishes, laundry, or food preparation and see how much it kicks your butt. They never end and are unbearable if your roommates don’t see their part in pitching in.
Gentlemen, one piece of advice I would give that is beginning to work for me is to take a fresh look at the housework around your home. How would I manage it if I were completely in charge of it? How would I break down the responsibilities? How would I tackle each area? What kind of routine would I develop? Part of taking responsibility for something is developing a master plan of how to systematically master it. When a man begins to think of the housework like that, all of a sudden it becomes a mountain to climb, a challenge to overcome, a battle to win and a destiny to fulfill. (This is where we cue “The Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky). But, really the only way that most guys can stay engaged in house work is to make it a challenge.
Let me illustrate: A while back I decided to take on the laundry. First I started with my own. Then I added my son’s to that list, and I am beginning to dabble in washing my wife’s clothes (by the way, I don’t wash anything of hers that might shrink). Over that time I have begun to develop a plan and a system of how “I do laundry.” I don’t do it like my wife does (and she is wise enough not to interrupt my way of doing it), but rather she lets me do it MYYYYYYYYYYYYYY WAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY. Over time I have figured out a system that help me crank it all out in a single day with just a minimal amount of interaction. Sweet system and it works for me.
On a side note ladies, if you want your husbands to step up, let them do it their way. If they have to do it your way they may say, “NO WAY.” A criticizing, critiquing wife who didn’t think their help was good enough has chased many a well-intentioned husband out of the kitchen. Most guys will just say, “Screw this, do it yourself.” Not mature, I know, but it’s true.
Whose responsibility is the housework? Guys repeat after me: “It is my responsibility to be involved in doing the housework around my home.” Now keep saying that till you believe it.
Dr Slacker Rx: Men need to develop a new mindset of responsibility.
Dr Slacker is a real guy who is committed to helping men maximize their effectiveness around the house and serve their roommates and families (especially their wives if they are married). With twenty plus years of marriage experience, Dr Slacker is uniquely qualified to give advice because of how he has done it wrong for years. If you can win at home you can take that momentum on the road and let it carry on through your other responsibilities. Though written for the married man with children at home the principles and mindset can have an application to any kind of living situation. Feel free to add your two cents worth in the comments section. Would love to know what you think. Especially, you super stud husband types. We slackers would love to hear how you are making it happen. But be truthful, because we can smell a phony a mile off.
Image credit: Trevor Manternach
Tim Howington is is a thinker, encourager, and seeker. A former full time minister, he is currently in the restaurant business by day and a part time writer by night. You can find him blogging at www.thehowitzerrants.com and ReadyAimLife.com. He lives with his wife of 20+ years and son in NW Arkansas with two cats and golden retriever.