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How to Get a Hands-On Husband

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Even after all these years, your husband has no problem getting hands-on in the bedroom. But when it comes to the kids, well, that's a different story. Getting your husband to "help" you sometimes feels like a bigger task than the task(s) themselves! You know that your husband is a good father and is totally capable of taking the reigns a little bit more -- but he's so resistant. Well, we asked author, writer and relationship coach Charles Orlando to give us some clues in to ways we can get our husbands to pitch in with out having to bitch in.


Charles says: Many men are driven by primal instincts to solve problems based on evidence and/or hard data. And when it comes to child care, that instinct can sometimes quell the possibility of knowing what a child needs, when they need it and how often. As a result, men oftentimes take a voluntary step back from child care, leaving the mother with the lion's share of the workload. Women wanting to change this cycle have a few options... some commonplace (and unsuccessful), some to perhaps think about and try.

Hoping it fixes itself. This has the most chance of failure. Wants and needs need to be communicated clearly ... and most times, consistently.

Complaining: Men are prepared for the inevitable "I-know-you-just-got-home-but-I've-been-doing-this-all-day-and-you-need-to-help-me-out" statements. The result is usually more withdrawal, or passive-aggressive "attempts" at doing something to "help".

Change the approach with "Thought Seeds." As discussed in my book, The Problem with Women... is Men , perhaps the best approach to convincing your partner of the extreme importance of recognizing your needs, is planting the idea in his head, and then reinforcing it over time. Careful phrasing and calm discussion from the woman is paramount ... and the key to this is to "get on the man's side." That should not be understood to mean that she must agree with him, or "fold" (read: be cowed into silence when she encounters his opposing views). Her job in this step is to plant an idea -- a so-called "thought seed" -- in his head, and then to add to that idea on a daily basis. The premise behind this tactic is simple: It's a lot easier to convince people of things if they think they thought of it first. By germinating new thoughts that lead to new actions, she can effectively create an atmosphere of healthy change.

Short-term example:
Instead of: "I need a break! Get in here and take over for me!"

Try: "I'm tired... and I need a break. Do you want to take over for me now, or in 20 minutes?" This provides a response the woman controls. While not forcing the man with an ultimatum, this statement provides the illusion of choice and has a positive expected outcome.

Long-term example:
Instead of: "Hey! Why do you need me to explain every little thing to you? Use your brain and figured out what our child needs! That's what I have to do."

Try: Talking about it. In a non-confrontational way, go over things with the father: schedules, food, and the thought process behind how you (as a mother) eliminate what is needed (or wanted) at a particular time (feeding schedule, check diaper, child is bored/needs playtime, etc.)

This process takes time. (Ever attempt to box train a cat? Did it work the first time?) The main message to get across to your husband is that it's not a man's job to "help" with caring for children. "Help" implies that it's the woman's job to do it, and he's doing her a favor by lending-a-had once in a while. It IS his job...

More can be found at Charles' website:

next: Cougars on the Prowl
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Hollie January 5, 2009, 1:08 PM

I have to say I’m one of the lucky ones in this area. My hubby does a great job of pitchng in. He wanted kids too. This isn’t the 50’s anymore and he knows that. I work as well so there’s plenty of stuff in the house that has to be shared. My heart goes out to alot of other mom’s (some of which I am friends with) who’s husbands don’t lift a finger.

elizabeth January 5, 2009, 11:21 PM

No amount of complaining i ever did helped him help more. Actually I think the reason he is more involved now is because they are now old enough to wipe their own behinds and for the most part can be taken anywhere and/or be told “no” without causing a tantrum. That’s mostly because they are now 6 and 8.

Maggie January 8, 2009, 11:47 AM

I think alot of women deal with this problem. It’s an even bigger problem when you are a stay-at-home mom. Most people assume you are sitting on your butt all day watching T.V. There are days when I would forget to eat.
This situation is more stressfull for women who have a special needs child,ie..,autism. I have an autistic son who is 12 and still in diapers. In addition to caring for our sons, I was the handyman of the house. My husband literally could not change a lightbulb. I tried those suggestions and even wrote him notes expressing that I needed help with the house and our sons, never got the help. After awhile, you just get tired of talking, it’s like having another child. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, the husband has not changed one bit for the better. I thought it would be obvious to him that I really needed help now, unfortunately that didn’t happened. Sometimes, it’s more stressfull trying to get your husband to help out.

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April February 18, 2009, 6:46 PM

I’d have to say this is a real issue in my relationship. I have tried every approach yet still i find myself having to do everything on my own. When i use the approach “some time today could you please (_____)” it doesn’t even get done. Even now being 8 1/2 months pregnant i have to practically beg for help.

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