Men and Housework

How To Get Your Husband To Help

You’d think if it was just about the sex, men would be more responsive.

After all, respected relationship expert Dr. John Gottman has found that men who do more housework and are more involved with the kids are more likely to wind up playing chesterfield rugby.

This might be why my wife jokes she should seduce me on the spot whenever I clean the bathroom.

So as you strive for sanity between diapers and day planners, and with the reward of more nooky dangling in front of your husband like a slinky pair of garters, why the hell isn’t he doing more?

Here are three possible reasons:

It’s in the genes.

If society gives us any credit for having parenting ‘instincts’, it’s for protecting and providing. In other words, men can love their kids more than life itself but still feel their primary role is to make money.

Don’t agree? You can be the most successful businesswoman on the planet, but deep down, don’t you feel society still judges you by how good a mom you are?

 If you are married to a man who can’t put the blackberry down, start any conversation about getting him more involved at home by acknowledging how hard he works for his family.

Blame our fathers.

While you are lamenting that we aren’t scrubbing under the toilet seat, we think we are doing a pretty good job.


You are comparing our domestic efforts to what you do; we are comparing our work on the home front to what our dads did.

A father from thirty years ago was doing his job as long as he was earning a decent salary and not beating his wife or kids.  So by those standards, doing the odd load of laundry, or stopping by the grocery store the way home should make us husband of the year, right?

Without scorekeeping, consider sitting down together to draw up an equitable chore list.  Don’t ever ask him to “help out” lest you want a helper for a husband rather than a partner.

Could it…ahem…be you?

The official term is “maternal gatekeeping.”   Some call it female chauvinism. Basically it comes down to the fact that women want more help on the domestic front (understandably), but some don’t want to give up control.

Do you ever ask your husband to do something and then act like the job supervisor? Do you ever redo a task he has just completed? Are you critical when he dresses your two year old with checkered overalls and a striped shirt?

Bonking or no bonking, your man isn’t going to be an enthusiastic contributor if he’s just going to be criticized.

If you recognize those traits in yourself, try and give up some control. Talk about finding some middle ground if you have differing cleanliness standards. But mostly, you need to recognize the “what” and not condemn the “how.” 

Next time you do that, he just might seduce you on the spot.

Cameron Phillips is a former national CBC Radio Host, and the creator of Bettermen Solutions—a company designed to help business improve recruitment and retention by recognizing the changing needs of working fathers. Check out his web site