Portland Marriage Counselor: 4 Ways to Get Your Spouse to Help Out Around the House

January 7, 2014 by

A stack of dirty dishes. An overflowing trash can. A trail of muddy footprints leading in from the backyard.

What may seem like a list of minor housekeeping annoyances can actually be the root of conflict, bitterness, and frustration in a relationship. If one partner feels that he or she is bearing the burden of cleaning, cooking, and domestic chores, that partner may end up feeling resentful and underappreciated by the other person.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in a brand-new relationship or a 30-year marriage, household chores can be a big source of conflict. Listed below is a guide to motivating your partner to help out—sans nagging—while avoiding argument and restoring peace to your relationship.

Ask for help nicely. Your partner may become defensive if you accuse him or her of neglecting to help out around the house. If you order them around, you will only build resistance and resentment. Instead of being accusatory or bossy, make your requests in a clear and specific way.

Write a list of chores together. Ask your partner if there are chores he or she particularly likes or dislikes doing, and draw up a list of chores together. This way, your partner can feel a valued part of the decision-making process rather than a victim of nagging and unfair demands. Keep this list in a prominent place so you’ll both have a clear idea of what you expect from each other.

Praise him or her. Instead of nagging, try out the opposite tactic—if you notice your partner making an effort, show your appreciation with lots of positive feedback and gratitude. Praise the good things rather than focusing on what they don’t do. With compliments, you can encourage your spouse to do far more than with insults and nagging.

Be open-minded. Your spouse might have his or her own ideas about what needs to be done or who is doing the bulk of the work around the house. Even if you don’t agree with everything, keep calm, listen, and be open to your partner’s ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

If you’re struggling with housekeeping conflicts or other communication issues, consider paying a visit to a Portland marriage counselor. Little domestic quibbles can lead to bigger, long-term relationship damage—seek help before minor housekeeping problems have a chance to escalate into something bigger.