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You Asked: He Won't Help With the Chores

You Asked: He Won't Help With the Chores

Dear Sugar--

I've been with my boyfriend for two and a half years now and we've been living together for a year and a half. The things is that we always have those kinds of arguments that people have when they live together - about things he's left around the house, about the bathroom being messy, and about him not helping with the dishes, etc.

Yesterday he told me that he wanted to get his own place for a while since we're always arguing about household stuff. He wants to see if things improve in our relationship. I know that he is certainly not thinking about breaking up with me, but I feel bad about him moving out. I'll miss him, and I like sharing our home. On the other hand, I think that I should let him go so he can miss me and not take me for granted.

What should I do? Let him go for a month or two, or insist he stay??

-Loving Living Together Laura

To see Dear Sugar's answer

Dear Loving Living Together Laura--

You are describing the problems that all couples have who live together. If he takes a "break" and moves out for a while, it won't magically solve these problems. As soon as he moves back in after missing you for 2 months, your problems will still be there. I suggest that he doesn't move out.

The only way to fix these problems is to be proactive about it. You've got to sit down together and set up some guidelines and a cleaning schedule so you each know who is responsible for what. You should both be in charge of cleaning up after yourselves, and when it comes to other household chores, you can either take turns or assign certain chores to each person. Maybe he does the vacuuming and takes out the trash, and you do the dishes and clean the bathroom.

It sounds like he's freaking out about having to answer to someone and he doesn't like being nagged. When he lived alone, he could do what he wanted and leave his dirty underwear on the bathroom floor. Now that he's living with you, it's all about respecting the space that you two share. Cleaning the house is no fun for anyone, but it's just not fair when one person is doing all the work. Once you guys work out a schedule, you'll be able to focus on the fun parts of your relationship.


Join The Conversation
trixiefire trixiefire 9 years
I say, dont ever tolerate a lack of reciprocation on house work. If a guy refuses to clean up after himself yet expects the home to be clean, he is being chauvenistic and its a lack of respect. Dont tolerate it, just dont. I call it for what it is to my boyfriend. I tell him if we're going to play the gender role game then he better be financially supporting me, putting a ring on my finger, and taking out the trash while he's at it.
d_ford d_ford 9 years
Dear is right. Don't have him move out because it won't solve problems. You've got to solve them together, while living together because you will fall into the same patterns once you are living together again. My husband's mother did everything for him and that's what he was accustomed to when we moved in together. It took awhile, but he's getting better with helping out around the house. Since we've moved to a different city, I'm not working so the majority of stuff falls on my shoulders, which I don't mind since he's working and paying the bills, but he still does help out. Simple things like dirty clothes in the laundry basket or loading and unloading the dishwasher, cleaning out the sink after shaving...they all help me out and he's contributing. When I was working full time he would be in charge of the dishes, cause apparently I don't do them well enough. I am also very obsessive about cleaning. I like cleaning and I do it a particular way and even if he does something, I'll go back and do it over because it's the way I want it. Sometimes it's best to do it to avoid an arguement.
getstinko getstinko 9 years
relationships are about compromise, communication and understanding, not avoidance. He sounds pretty lame if you ask me, if it's important to you than he should buy into it. I think this is a critical flaw - not about the cleaning, about the avoidance and inability to compromise.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
In adding to DCRoamer... If he was as excited as you to be living in your own place together, he would probably be more than happy to keep it looking nice and cozy...his not wanting to help even after you have argued....not good...
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I agree w/ DCRoamer that this is not a great sign for your relationship. I mean, instead of trying to work out this issue you two are having, he just wants to leave. If you two are in it for the long-term, he's going to have to learn to address problems head on instead of running away. Personally, I would sit him down and call him out on his behavior. I would say that it feels like he's copping out of dealing with an issue instead of resolving it. Then you can maybe suggest a cleaning schedule or a way to stop arguing about it. If he's unwilling to sit down and work this out with you, and unwilling to hold up his side of the cleaning bargain, then let this guy go.
ClassicsDiva ClassicsDiva 9 years
Seriously. If the two of you can't come to some kind of reasonable compromise about chores, then either you're too demanding, or he's an a**hole. If you're both mature, reasonable adults, you should be able to work it out. Since I'm a passive-aggressive beyotch with a high tolerance for grime, if he refuses to help out, I'd let him wallow in his own filth until he saw how important it was to pull his own weight. If that didn't work, I'd dump his ass. If he doesn't respect you enough to create a living environment that's comfortable for you, he doesn't deserve you. I would tell him that. Repeatedly. My fiance and I have been living together for 10 weeks. In a series of blunt conversations (Who's going to clean the toilet? How often does the toilet need to be cleaned? Which chores do you enjoy doing? Which chores do you hate?) that lasted probably a grand total of 20 minutes, we divied up the labor. Everything is getting done to everyone's satisfaction.
Dating-Coach-1 Dating-Coach-1 9 years
Since you don't have control over him (or anybody else), you'll be happiest when you figure out what YOU want! Want a cleaner place? It's simple. Hire a maid or live by yourself. It's certainly not FAIR that your boyfriend doesn't help around the house, but you've tried the "let's be fair and divide the chores" route and all it's done is driven your boyfriend away. So try something different -- don't worry about what's fair, just concentrate on what makes YOU happy. p.s. I love the BLOW-JOB swap idea, although I'm a bit more subtle in my approach. I bought my husband a tool belt from Home Depot and tell him that it turns me on when he fixes things around the house. On Saturday mornings, he's Mr. Fix-it and we have great afternoon sex!
DCRoamer DCRoamer 9 years
I think the issue here is a lot deeper than just the fact that you have different standards of tidy-ness. I find it very strange that he wants to move out after two and a half years of dating and co-habitating for more than a year. Have the two of you discussed marriage? If you see this relationship as heading down the 'marriage road', then you might want to have a serious talk with him about where he sees your relationship heading. It certainly seems like he is moving backwards rather than forwards. Many couples learn to deal with housekeeping issues without having to keep separate homes.
rubialala rubialala 9 years
People grow up with ideas about who should do what in regards to household chores - whether or not they are conscious of it or not. Perhaps his mom did ALL of the cleaning and his dad did nothing, or he did the yardwork, or he was the "handyman" when something was broken. And in being raised a certain way, we have ideas of how it will work in our own relationships. OR, if your hubby was expected to do all of the household chores as a kid, perhaps he wants a break. Or if his mom nagged him all the time, maybe he feels like you are acting like his mom. I think the best way is to sit down and talk about those gender roles and expectations and then decide - who is going to what based on what works in your relationship. Also, don't be surprised if your boyfriend just flat out doesn't notice stuff - one of my husband's jobs is to empty garbages. And with the kitchen, he's really good about it, but if I don't tell him about the bathroom garbage, it would be all over the floor before he took care of it. He just doesn't notice when it gets full. He'll do it when I say hey it's full but if I don't mention it, he doesn't "see" it. It's give and take. Take time to sit down and work it out. If you come to an agreement then you won't have to nag him all the time. And if you do come to an agreement and he doesn't keep up his end, then you can have another talk, because then he's just taking and he's not giving anything and that's not fair.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
My husband is the kind that will eventually "get around to " cleaning, but i cannot wait around for him to get wind in his sails. I also do not believe in "bribing" someone to do what should be equally distributed like chores. So i just have silently cleaned, and he had picked up on the fact that when he helps i am a much happier person. He will never be on my level of cleanliness and i know i will forever be frustrated with him not: Cleaning the litterbox Putting a new roll of toilet paper on and throwing the old tube away putting dirty dishes in dishwasher
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 9 years
I agree with blingbling!
laura6567 laura6567 9 years
My sister used to get really annoyed because her husband refused to clean--his entire childhood his mom did everything. So they ended up getting a cleaning service, and it's really helped. They come over other week, and will even do dishes if they're left. Something like this might help--if you look around you could probably find a fairly cheap service!
onesong onesong 9 years
holy crap i have more to say. the other major adjustment i had to make (and you might need to make) is to notice when he DOES do things. i got so tuned into all the stuff he didn't do that i totally ignored the stuff he did clean out the pit below the sink, and unload the dishwasher, and always keep the brita tank full. i've found that thanking him for these things makes him more willing to help with other things. hahaha i'm done now. if you need to commiserate, just PM me and we'll chat!
onesong onesong 9 years
i had this same issue when my boyfriend and i moved in together. his mother had never made him do a chore in his life, and it was seriously like teaching a 2 year old. after finally explaining to him that "hey, listen, when you leave all this stuff undone, it makes me feel like you think it's MY job to take care of it all, and that makes me feel like you don't respect me," he got a lot better. something else that worked for me was setting out, very specifically, what i absolutely could not deal with...basically my triggers that if he did them i would then notice all the other stuff and just totally freak out. i explained that to him, too, and it worked really was only two or three things. there was one really gross one that i gave him an ultimatum on--"if i find this at any point during the week, your laundry doesn't get done, case closed." his laundry didn't get done one time, and we've never had the issue again. i think you also have to make the conscious decision that if there are a couple glasses left out, or the rug goes a week and a half without getting vacuumed, or there a couple shirts and a pair of underwear on the floor...that it's just not worth world war three. you also have to realize that if it IS really that important to you, you should do it yourself. it is not likely that he is going to ever have the same standards as you will. it's basically a compromise...he has to raise his standards a bit, you lower yours (or acknowledge he raised his standards a bit and then do your own thing). finally (sorry so long) i've found that being a nag about stuff doesn't EVER, EVER work--in fact, i've found that it inspires bizarre passive-aggressive behavior (oh, she wants me to do this, she won't shut up, i totally am not doing it because she won't shut up), so I give myself three chances to say something. the first starts with "could you please..." the second is a very nice "this is just a reminder..." and the third time is "i'm becoming a nag because this is the third time i've had to ask you to do something, you don't want that, i don't want that, so just do it, will ya?!" said in a joking way. he laughs, i laugh, chore gets done, no one gets mad, and he sees how he contributes to the overall atmosphere in the home (and MY behavior!). anyway, i agree with dear. no moving out, that's not a solution. just tell him that you think it would be better if you actually talked about stuff, let him know you're willing to compromise...hell, show him this column! and good luck to you :)
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I do all the cooking at home (no more then 4 nights a week though!!!) but he will take me to dinner and pay for it for payback. Sometimes he cooks! And it's SOOOO cute! I love it more then going out.
lily314 lily314 9 years
My boyfriend does almost everything around the house. He cleans the bathroom, washes all the dishes (and we don't have a dishwasher, so it's pretty painful), vacuums, takes out the trash, does the laundry. It's because I do things for him that he has no idea how to do (cook, iron), and so he does the tasks that I absolutely hate doing. He seems to think it's fair. I'm not going to argue.
blingbling blingbling 9 years
This is a perfect example why you should live together first. I personally would have a problem with a guy who refuses to help. Basically he's saying "It's your job, not mine." Why? Because you're the woman? Is there chauvinism? Because that's a bigger problem. You're voicing your needs and he's brushing them aside. Maybe he was raised this way - his mom did everything related to housework while dad watched football and occasionally did items on the honey-do list. Maybe his mom didn't work and so had the time to devote to home keeping. I don't like to clean, either. I have a job, just like my husband, so why should I be expected to do the housework? Fortunately my husband agrees - but we also are fortunate enough to be able to hire someone else to do the big stuff. So, that's my "chore" - to ensure the maid is arranged. We split the cost. Mid-maid maintenance (like keeping tidy) is both of our responsibilities. (We tidy after ourselves.) I feel like our arrangement is fair and respectful. So, if he wants to move out because he doesn't like you asking him to do his part, then let him go and say sayanara. If you can't live with him as a boyfriend then you certainly won't be able to deal when you're married. Nor should you.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I usually do most of the cleaning, but it is stressful keeping your own place tidy every single day by yourslef. I usually do things like the bathroom and moping the place. He has things that he does, and really my boyfirend isn't that bad anymore now that we live together. And I will just ask him once in awhile to do somethign the next day (like vaccum or th dishes or a load of laundry) because BOTH of us live there and we BOTH share the rent, food, etc. so I don't see why he can't help a little aorund the house too! P.S. and it's sexy seeing guys clean ;)
Brians-Girl Brians-Girl 9 years
haha... PinkSparkleGrl thats a good one.. if you clean the bathroom i will give you a blowjob!!... i think any guy would be up for that! :P
Brians-Girl Brians-Girl 9 years
I clean!! but i would almost rather have it that way.. he helps.. and if i REALLY didn't want to he would..but i just like how i clean sooo much better.. soo i tell him to go away haha.. n then we he comes home he takes me on a date!!... When i get into cleanin mod.. i just wanna be alone and do my thing! .. but thats just ME!
PinkSparkleGrl PinkSparkleGrl 9 years
Hey, my boyfriend does the same thing. He says that when I ask him to clean something, he has a problem because it does not LOOK dirty to him. So I give him the simple tasks like: 1. taking out the trash - can't argue that the trash is not dirty. 2. Keep his own desk neat and organized (it is in the living room). 3. I leave some dishes in the sink from Friday nights dinner, so on Sat morning, when I am still asleep, he does the dishes. His mother never made him do any chores, so it is hard to get him to do these things. It is important to remember that no matter if he did a sucky job or a good job, say thank you. BEST WISHES and chin up! I know that I should not have to, but I make deals with him sometimes for chores - kind of like an allowance for big kids. "If you clean the bathroom today I will give you a blow job". It seems to work pretty well. Dear is right, As soon as he moves back in after missing you for 2 months, your problems will still be there. Be proactive, or just think - if you want it done right, do it yourself.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
hmmm...this fits strangely with the to live together or not before marriage question from yesterday....i am striking this as a reason to not. why? I know that my boyfriend, when we are married, will help around the house, because he helps around his house now. and he always has...and when he visits he cleans up behind himself.
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