Do you ever feel like your husband’s maid?

Every Monday I like to put up a reader question and take a stab at answering it. And today’s I think is a sentiment that many of us have had: is my whole life just cleaning up after him? This is a question I get a lot, and so I thought it would be worth answering it again since it’s so common.

Reader Question

..woke up this morning feeling more like a maid than anything!  ..woke up to a dirty bathroom..(cant even flush the the toilet!)… and laundry all over the place for me to pick up after him!…sometimes i wonder if he does this on purpose???…really the laundry basket is empty but you just find clothes around the basket and staff like that!  ..well, i guess its just one of those days…am really trying hard to be positive about everything and focus on the good…”whatever is lovely, pure,…” ..he noticed that i was quiet in the car as we drove to work…cause really sometimes i want to say all the wrong things but i would rather keep quiet… help!

Okay, I have a whole bunch of thoughts going on in my head in all different directions, so I’m just going to give a whole smorgasbord of ideas, just because we don’t know a lot of background on this question. So let’s jump in!

Is it disrespect or is it just difference?

Let’s take the clothes on the floor for a moment. I talked in both my books To Love, Honor and Vacuum and 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage about what to do if your husband, for instance, is leaving his socks on the floor.

There is no one size fits all approach to this, because it really depends on your wider relationship.

My husband leaves clothes on the floor sometimes, and it doesn’t bother me a bit. Every morning, after my shower, I just take 30 seconds and gather up his stuff and my stuff and sort it and put the stuff in the laundry that needs to go in the laundry, and it’s all hunky dorey.

But my husband also respects me and he takes care of a lot of other things in our family (he does the finances and all the insurance stuff and tons of other tasks). So, yes, he doesn’t always put stuff in the hamper. But he does a ton, and it really doesn’t take long for me to put stuff in the hamper, so it’s totally not a big deal at all.

On the other hand, if your husband spends most of his time playing video games, never helps around the house, and never looks after the kids, and truly just expects you to wait on him, then this could be part of a pattern of disrespect. (I had a friend, for instance, who would sit on the couch and wait for his wife to bring him his food every night. He wouldn’t even eat at the dinging table with the kids).

So when you’re ticked off, ask yourself honestly: Does my husband do a lot for me? Does my husband work hard? If so, then is this really a big deal? Or is this a sign of a pattern that’s really bad?

If it is more about disrespect, then take a look at some of the articles lately that I’ve written on changing the dynamic and asking for help.

But let’s go on now about how to stop feeling like your life is always about cleaning.

Maybe you need some systems in place

I have to say, I’m a little confused about the toilet issue. I know some men can–how shall I put this?–have messier toilet encounters in general than most women. At the same time, I really have a hard time picturing how one bathroom encounter can cause a toilet to be so disgusting that it can’t be flushed.

Here’s the thing about toilets: If you stay on top of it, it’s actually the easiest thing to clean that takes the least amount of time. If you do it every three days, for instance, the toilet will pretty much always look sparkling, no matter what people do in it. Just keep a brush by the toilet and some toilet cleaner under the sink (or in a cabinet above the toilet), and scrub away!

Here’s what I do: I turn my shower on, and it takes about a minute for the water to turn hot enough to get in. So while it’s heating up, I clean my toilet. When I’m done, the shower’s just starting to get hot. And my toilet stays great!

Letting a toilet get disgusting can be really depressing. But it honestly doesn’t need to. And if it’s becoming that much of a stressor, perhaps you just need to set up some systems to make cleaning regularly more a part of your life. If you clean your bathroom every week, for instance, it doesn’t take that long. If you leave your bathroom for two months, the soap scum really builds up and it’s pretty gross to clean.

Assign some chores and do them regularly

So what about just setting up a cleaning system? If you need ideas, the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is the place to turn, and it’s available just until midnight tonight!

It’s over $2200 worth of 104 ebooks, ecourses, printables, and more (including over $360 worth of physical bonuses that get mailed right to your house, including eye shadows, natural soaps, and more!) of ebooks and ecourses for just $29.97. Seriously. No gimmicks. I know it sounds too good to be true, but it really is that amazing! Every year they offer different resources, and they’re just awesome. I was looking through the bundle this weekend to try to figure out what might help this woman, and here are all the resources from the organizing/cleaning section:

(These are only 13 of the 104 resources in the bundle. So there are 90 others! And these 13 are worth $269, all on their own. You really have to see it).

Here are just a few that I think would help this woman:

    • Homekeeping and Cleaning Kit by Clean Mama (normally sells for $10) helps you get systems in place so that cleaning doesn’t take so much brain power. If you’ve struggled with cleaning and homekeeping or have a great system in place, this simple format is perfect to get your home clean and organized–with Clean Mama’s proven method! You can use this either to organize your own chores so they go a lot quicker, or you can assign chores to your husband as well. My daughter and son-in-law have a chore system on their fridge, and it works great. A lot of new husbands (and even new wives!) aren’t that great at figuring out what to clean when, and so things can get gross pretty fast, and then one person can feel like they do all the work. But setting up a chore system makes it quickly visible who should do what, and stops a lot of the nagging!
    • Journey to Clean Workbook by Leslie Lambert ($15.99) is an awesome system that can help you organize your cleaning, so that your house can stay clean and organized in just about an hour a day. Again, you can assign the chores to yourself or assign them to other people in the house, too!
    • Anchored Woman Meal Planner: A Simplified System by Kayse Pratt ($17). This simplified system and workbook helps you meal plan to save you time and money. Often meals are one of the things that most exhaust us and make us feel like maids, so if you can get this under control, you’ll often feel a lot more peace, too!

All of those together would sell for $43, but you get them–plus 101 other things–for just $29.97!

When my children were younger I didn’t have systems in place, and the house often got really messy. I remember one night, when the girls were maybe 4 and 6, Keith sat down with me and said, “I just don’t like coming home to such a mess.” And I was really ticked off. Did he honestly expect me to do all of the housework? Besides, the reason the house was a mess is because I was spending so much time taking the girls to the library and doing fun, educational things with them.

But then I got thinking: It only takes 10 minutes to tidy the living area if we do it consistently. It’s honestly not that much time. And maybe all I need is to get organized!

I didn’t know how to do that, to tell you the truth, so I took all the books in the library I could find on organization and tried them. And I got organized! I would have loved something like the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, with all of the printables and checklists so many of these resources have.

But the Bundle sale ENDS tonight at midnight! So check it out now.

Whether you want to get more productive, clean more, feel more relaxed, start new habits (and stick to them!), parent better, keep your cool better, or anything like that, the bundle has some great tips for you.

Sometimes we get so intent on “what’s fair” that we miss the bigger picture

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am very, very big on mutual respect in marriage. I do not think that it’s good for a woman to do things for a husband that he should do for himself, because it teaches those in your household that it’s okay to treat mom with disrespect, when it’s not.

But at the same time, I think it’s all too easy to get our knickers in a twist (to use a UK expression) about something which honestly isn’t that big a deal. I’ve done the vast majority of the housework in our marriage because I have more time and I’m better at it. Keith has done the finances about half of our marriage, and I’m so grateful he does them now because he’s better at it. To get super upset about something which seriously only takes 30 seconds to solve, or which only takes a few minutes if you do it regularly, isn’t really the best strategy for your marriage. 

If your husband deliberately leaves junk everywhere and never puts anything in the dishwasher and treats you like a maid–then, yes, have a talk. And if that’s the case, it’s totally okay to take all of his clothes and put them in a pile by the bed, and tell him, “I’m more than happy to put wash and fold if you’ll just sort what’s dirty and put it in the hamper.”

But it may not be that he doesn’t respect you. It may simply be that he’s different and doesn’t mind the mess as much. And if he does a whole lot of other stuff for the family, do those 30 seconds really matter that much? It is to big a deal to serve your husband? 

Get a system and Don’t sweat the small stuff

So that’s my big advice, really: get a system, and don’t worry about little stuff. It’s not worth it. Stay on top of cleaning, and these things don’t seem that big a deal. And as long as you’re not in a big pattern of disrespect, then seriously: your marriage is worth more than getting upset over a hamper.

Let me know in the comments: how do you negotiate chores in your marriage? Do you sometimes find that you get upset over things that aren’t that big a deal in the long run? Or is there really a pattern of disrespect? Let’s talk!

PS: The Bundle has some really, really great parenting resources this year–the best I’ve seen in the Bundles so far! And the physical bonuses, like eye shadows, are super fun. Check it out, because the sale’s over tonight at midnight!

Check it out!

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