How do you ask your significant other to help more at home without causing conflict or causing him to get annoyed with you?

Sharing household chores and responsibilities is often a frustration I hear from the couples I work with. One partner (usually the woman) is feeling like they have to take care of every aspect of running the household whilst the man gets to live life. This leaves them feeling frustrated and there is often underlying resentment which leads to conflict in their relationship.

Remember a relationship is a partnership and therefore you are both equally accountable and responsible for your contribution to the relationship, mentally, emotionally, physically and financially.

Every relationship is different so you need to take into account what your needs are from each other and in your relationship.

This is a conversation couples should be having in the early stages of their relationship and regularly thereafter as your relationship and life evolves and you move through different life stages as an individual and in your relationship.

Sit down and have open and honest conversations with each other as to:
  • Your views on what you each consider a ‘man vs. a women’s job’ – a lot of our perspectives are pre-conditioning from our childhood and how does this apply in your relationship. This way you get to manage expectations.
  • In most cases couples are not in a position to contribute equally financially so discuss the different ways you can each contribute to the relationship so that it does not get overshadowed by money e.g. laundry, grocery shopping, taking the kids to/from school etc.
  • Understand each other’s strengths and how you can utilize these in your relationship and home e.g. one of you may be good at organizing so you manage the social calendar, travel plans etc whilst the other may be good at budgeting and managing finances.
  • Who has more flexibility when it comes to work, commuting distance, flexible working hours etc – this can be key when it comes to fetching kids etc

Once you understand these aspects about each other, it is much easier to ask each other for help in areas you may not be good at or where you can support each other because you have that deeper understanding.

Knowing these insights will give you good guidance on how to ask your man to help around the house.
  • The first step in having this conversation is to not have it when you are both in a bad space, are being defensive or during an argument.
  • Start with listing everything that needs to be taken care of and who currently does what. This will help to highlight any major imbalances between the two of you.
  • Share where you both need help with things based on your different strengths and preferences e.g. one of you may prefer to do the cooking than washing the dishes.
  • Recognise, appreciate and acknowledge each other’s contributions – you’re both in this together.
  • Are there some chores you can do together, this helps create the feeling of being on the same side, the same team and it gets the job done much quicker.
  • Recognise that if you both help with the chores, it can free up time for you to spend more time together as a couple, and it may even lead to having nooky!
  • Because of our traditional stereotyping, your man may not have done some types of chores before so it may involve a learning process e.g. ironing, cooking etc
  • If your man does help around the house, acknowledge his deeds and that he has helped as opposed to pointing out that it wasn’t done according to your standards. What’s more important the fact that he’s helping or that it’s 100% perfect?

The key thing is to remember that behavior change takes time so it may take a while for him to really get on board with helping. Be gentle and kind to each other, start with small baby steps, use the process to grow together as a couple and to build your relationship as opposed to what can end up destroying your relationship.

Paula Quinsee is a Relationship Expert speaker and author of the self-help guides Embracing Conflict and Embracing No. Paula has been a consultant to Married at First Sight SA TV show. She works with individuals and organisations to cultivate healthy relationships in both their personal and professional relationships. More info: www.paulaquinsee.com

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