Dealing with a Lazy Spouse

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Dealing with a Lazy Spouse

 
 
   

You have had a long day at work, and you come home to find your spouse hunched over his X-box controller. Or you find your wife mindlessly watching soap operas. While it is understood that everyone needs a break to do the things that they enjoy doing, it can be infuriating to come home to a lazy partner day after day. When you confront your partner about it, they will probably make excuses, but rest assured that this kind of behavior is not excusable. All this behavior does is put strain on a relationship, and it needs to be corrected for the relationship to continue in a healthy manner. But what should you do? Here are some tips for dealing with the lazy spouse issue.

Some partners will say that they just forget to do their chores. While this is a pathetic excuse, to say the least, you should devise a plan to help them remember. You could simply say when you want them to complete a chore, but this can become redundant, not to mention your mate should be able to determine what needs done when. However, if they are not able to complete chores without your guidance, then one thing to consider is a chores list. While this may seem childish, it can be a happy compromise. If you write down the chores for your partner to complete each day, then you no longer have to verbally remind them. Also, the excuse of forgetting to do their chores or not knowing which chores to do becomes invalid, because it is posted in black and white.

Another option is a verbal agreement between yourself and your spouse. Sit down and talk to them, tell them how strongly you feel about this issue. It is possible that your partner truely doesn't understand that what they are doing is wrong. If your partner is truly mindful of your feelings on the subject, they will take what you say to heart and become more aware of the chores that need completed around the house. With time your partner may be rehabbed completely, and will help with the house hold chores without you even telling them to. 

So how to begin to work on this problem before it breaks up the relationship is the question. There could be a number of reasons why your partner is unmotivated. If they used to be an active person and this is new behavior then depression could be an issue. Some of the main signs of depression are withdrawal from society, friends, activities and jobs. Then it moves on to lack of motivation. You see the commercials on television advertising depression medication. The people are just laying around with a far off look and. That is how depression effects a person in the lack of motivation department. It is like you know you should get up and do something but you just cannot seem to make yourself do it. This is not an excuse it is really and truly a big part of depression. If this sounds like your spouse, a person who once took an active interest in life and now has none, then you should try to get them to see a doctor. If they balk at the idea of a psychiatric doctor suggest the family doctor first and then maybe he can refer and encourage the person on to the kind of treatment they need. So there is one situation when you may find your self with a lazy spouse and it is not really their fault. In fact they probably know they are letting you down, thus making them feel even worse. In this case the best thing to do is be patient, understanding and do all you can to get them some help.

Now as bad as it is there are people who are what are generally referred to as sponges. They take what they can get and do as little as they can get away with. These people can come no where close to claiming depression! They play video games all day. Have their friends over and sit around laughing and drinking beer all day. You come home to this after a hard days work and all this is going on, the house is a mess and he/she has not even thought about looking for a job. This my friend is your classic sponge. Now I am not saying that it is impossible for this type person to change but it is not very likely. The number one factor in whether or not this person does anything to begin in the right direction is really up to you. You heard me right. If you are willing to put up with it then they are going to keep on doing it. If you are not firm when you tell them that they are going to have to contribute more then they won't. If you keep buying that they will look for a job next week, or they meant to some things around the house but just didn't get to it, and if after you prod they get a job and quit after a week or two and this is their pattern then your situation is not likely to change if you keep letting them get away with this behavior. You give them a chance or two but if they keep doing the same things and you keep letting them then they have no reason to change.

When it comes to keeping up the house and managing family business, there is a lot to be done. It is nearly impossible for any one person to do it all by themselves. That is why it is so important for married couples to work together, as a team. Otherwise, you have one spouse doing most of the work, and eventually they become burned out and fed up at the lack of help from their husband or wife.

When one spouse stops pulling their weight around the house, it is hard for the other spouse not become resentful and eventually become angry. If you find yourself in this very situation, frustrated and tired at the imbalance in the division of labor, here is a bit of advice for you:

  • Do not assume that your spouse does not want to be helpful. Most spouses really want to help their husband or wife but fail to because they are unaware of the need.

  • Understand that not everyone is keen on clean. People have varying degrees of what they consider dirty. It maybe obvious to you that the garbage needs to be taken out or that the toilet needs to be scrubbed, but it may not be obvious to your spouse.

  • Do not take it personally if your spouse is messy. They are not out to get you by leaving their socks on the floor or by leaving the dresser drawers hanging wide open.

  • Do not expect that your spouse should know what to do. Stop telling them, "You should know what to do and do it." Instead, simply state exactly how you need them to help out or which of their habits cause you stress.

  • Remember to be polite and say thank you when asking for their help or making requests.

  • Be patient. It takes time for a person to change their habits and learn new behavioral patterns. Your spouse may always need you to help them by gently pointing things out to them that bother you or asking for their help in specific ways.

If you have never told your spouse that you are frustrated with their slacker habits, start talking. It will be very hard for you and your spouse to achieve progress in any area of your marriage if you do not talk about it. Keep in mind that you will accomplish next to nothing if you go at it while you are angry. If you need to vent about your frustration, do it before you sit down to talk to your spouse. Try not to be too hard on your spouse and forget about trying to make them feel bad. They will probably feel bad enough once you begin to explain your frustrations and desperate need for a helping hand. Keep in mind that they do love you and are not trying to hurt you with their slothfulness. Once you begin discussing the subject, steer clear of blame and drive towards solutions. This will require creativity and willingness to compromise, as you work together to think of ways to get your house in order and keep it there.

The bottom line if you think you have a lazy spouse is to see if you can figure out why and then go about doing the things I mentioned above to see if you can solve the problem.

Are you lumbered with a lazy husband?
Many men are still domestic duds, but a new book offers ways of licking them into shape around the house. Melissa Whitworth reports 

Chances are, you married one. If not, you definitely know one. The Lazy Husband is as common a domestic species as the household cat. 

Research from National Statistics showed yesterday that men are getting lazier; they spend an average of eight and a half hours asleep each night; they watch television or DVDs for three hours and spend just 18 minutes taking part in sport or meaningful exercise. With all that sloth, it's no wonder they don't have time for housework or their children.

The fact that men are so useless around the house is a standing joke - no, a terrible cliché - for most women. At parties, in pubs and on circular e-mails at the office, the subject wouldn't be funny if it wasn't so true. 

But it ceases to be amusing when women find themselves running a home single-handed, with no help from their spouse. So what can you do to make your man pull his weight? The trick is to identify the type of man you have married and lick him into shape accordingly. In a new book, The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to do More Parenting and Housework, Dr Joshua Coleman, a psychologist and marriage expert from San Francisco, has identified not one, but four different breeds of shirking spouse.

The categories of laziness were observed during his years as a marriage counselor, says Dr Coleman, a self-confessed former lazy husband.

Perhaps you have married a Boy Husband. He will exhibit childlike neediness, and probably came into the marriage not knowing how to take care of himself. He will expect his wife to do everything for him - even making sure he is up in time for work. If you have children, your husband will feel like an extra child.

The Boy Husband may have been over-indulged as a child and, as a result, think he is above household chores.

The Perfectionist Husband has high standards for how his wife and children should behave, and how his house should look. He has an old-fashioned view of a wife's role in the home and expects her to do everything, which may lead her to suffer from depression and anxiety. 

The Angry Husband bullies his wife into doing things and uses intimidation as a way of getting out of doing housework and parenting duties. Often, his wife will give in to avoid conflict or because she doesn't want the children to witness an argument.

And finally, the Worried Husband, the least common of the four, says Coleman, doesn't do things around the house because he feels inadequate. He is similar to the Boy Husband, but lacks the sense of entitlement and is therefore completely hen-pecked. He has low self-esteem and is anxious that, if he tries to help out, he will do something wrong. 

Even if your beloved doesn't fall into one of those four terrifying categories, watching him wrestle with the ironing board or answering his inane questions about what to do with the left over bolognese sauce might send you into a rage.

I have watched with pride as my own Boy Husband, Roger, has re-wired lamps and put up shelves that show no sign of falling down. But why does the prospect of changing the duvet cover paralyze him with fear?

Outside the home, of course, times have changed. Three-quarters of households in Britain now have dual incomes, according to a report published last month by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Between 1979 and 2002, the number of mothers (with pre-school children) in full-time work doubled. The number of men in employment - and the hours that they work - has fallen. The pay gap between university-educated men and women is narrowing, but it's still women who are doing most of the work around the house.

Working mothers put twice as many hours into housework as their partners. Sixty per cent of women who earn the same or more than their partners take time off work to look after sick children, the same study found.

So what can we do about it? Dr Coleman says: "Women have to lead the charge on this. It isn't fair, but men have never had it so good, so why would they want the situation to change? The current arrangement works really well for them.

"Women need to take charge in a way that gets men to change and not just shut down." He adds that the book was written for women, rather than men, because the chances of getting a man to read a self-help book were, frankly, nil.

Dr Coleman has three essential tips for making your husband do more: 

First, be willing to compromise and negotiate. If you can bear it, try to lower your standards a little bit. Most men will say: "You want it done that way? You do it then."

Second, approach with affection. Studies show that men do much more housework and child rearing when they feel liked and loved. Don't back him into a corner.

Third, be assertive. Don't let men take advantage of you at home. Set clear guidelines and if all else fails, play hard-ball. This means you go on strike, start withdrawing benefits and refuse to cook.

Such strict techniques might work with troublesome pets and toddlers, but do they work on men? 

Charlotte Handley, 31, a fashion director in London, says: "My husband, Will, is a professional rugby player and he comes home with muddy knees and wants to sit on our cream sofa. I have started using the health of our one-year-old baby, Arthur, as a way of negotiating. I say: 'The germs are not good for Arthur', and it seems to work."

Amanda Baird, 26, who works at investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston, is the not-so-proud owner of a lazy husband, Andrew.

"Is he bad around the house? He is horrific," she says. "He doesn't know how to use the washing machine. His idea of making the bed is nothing like mine. He used to leave his pants on the bathroom floor every night despite my constant nagging. To get things done now, I ask nicely and I definitely use my bargaining powers."

Women aren't blameless lambs in this situation. We often harbour laziness by insisting that our way is better. Sociologists call this "gate keeping" - being the only one that can put things away in the right place or iron a shirt properly or bathe a child gives some wives a sense of authority.

Dr Coleman believes that once men realise the benefits of being better around the house, things will change. What's needed is a complete cultural re-think.

He cites a study that showed men who do more housework have wives who want more sex. Another study found that the children of men who do more around the house do much better socially and academically.

Until the penny drops, don't be afraid to manipulate and get tough if you have to. It is just like riding a horse.

"Getting men to take on more is sometimes a matter of climbing on their backs, grabbing their reins, and spurring them on," Dr Coleman says. "If you are too timid, they're more likely to keep munching the grass beneath their feet." 

The Lazy Husband by Dr Joshua Coleman will be published by Piatkus next month 
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How to get your man to do more

  • APPEAL to his sense of fair play. If he cares about you, he should be motivated by such a principle. Many men are aware of the disparity in the division of household labour and feel guilty about it - but they don't want their wives to use that guilt against them. 

  • SUGGEST that changing his behaviour will benefit him in some way. For example, if he does more, he'll get a happier wife in the process. 

  • CASH IN on a favour. Marriage and family life are about give and take. Remind him of what you've done for him and explain that he owes you one.

  • SHOW HIM how much you are contributing to the family. Write a list of what you do. It will help you feel more confident and demand more of him. But don't communicate in a victimised, burdened way. Your tone should be affectionate but unmovable. 

  • TELL HIM if you're unhappy with the current arrangement, tell him. Let him know, without whitewashing, how exhausted, resentful, or discouraged you are. Some women who grew up watching their mothers take on too much responsibility find this difficult.

  • CONSIDER eliminating some of the chores. Look closely at what is really essential to your wellbeing and which activities you do out of habit or to please others. You can't accuse your husband of laziness if your standards are so high that he can never meet them.

Can't live with them: the four types of lazy husband
The Boy Husband He never grew up, was never taught how to look after himself and is more like one of the children than a responsible grown-up. Just as he expected his mother to tie his shoelaces, he expects his wife to do everything for him around the house and would be lost without her.

The Perfectionist Husband
He has an old-fashioned view of marriage and believes that it's a woman's job to run the home while he is the hunter-gatherer. He can be hard to live with, has high standards, but won't lift a finger to maintain them. He may not be a perfectionist in his own life, but has perfectionist expectations of his wife and family.

The Angry Husband If he is hostile, his laziness might be the least of your worries. He bullies his wife into doing things and uses intimidation as a way of getting out of doing housework and parenting duties. Often, his wife will give in to avoid conflict.

The Worried Husband
He is unable to relax at home and is too frightened to take an active role in child-rearing for fear of getting things wrong. He constantly worries that something bad is going to happen to his family. He is intimidated by his wife but paralysed by his fears.


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