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Man Help = No Help!

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Why is it that when my husband "helps" me with something, it always ends up being more work for me?

Husband and wife folding laundry

Radical Mommy: My husband is a freelancer. When he's not working, he stays at home and looks after our son. During these times, he often tries to "help" with things around the house. I hate to say it, but his brand of "help" is something I really don't need.

Here's an example: The other night I came home from work and arrived to an empty house. My husband was still at the park with our son, so I thought I would throw some (frozen) dinner in the oven so it would be ready when they got home. Nice of me, huh? He's been home all day, but yet I still have to make (read: defrost) dinner. Annoyance # 1.

I turned the oven on and waited for it to reach 400 degrees. At about 150 degrees I opened the oven to check how hot it was (I have no idea why), and low and freakin' behold, Helpful Hubby had emptied an entire (toxic) can of cleaner into the oven. To say I was pissed would be an understatement. I debated about just shutting the oven door and ignoring it until he got home and telling him to deal with it. But because I had turned the heat on in the oven, the noxious, toxic and maddening fumes had begun to permeate the whole house.

Even at the best of times, I don't like chemicals being used in the house -- but to put industrial strength cleaning products into an enclosed space where I cook FOOD was just too much for me to handle. Needless to say, I had to finish the job he had started. I was forced to scrub that toxic oven at the end of a very long day at work. Grr!

My husband also tries to lend his assistance doing things like laundry. Here's how that usually works out for me. He does wash and dry things, but he always asks me to get the clothes out of the dryer when they're done. I used to fall for this trick and bring the stuff in from the dryer and fold everything (because who just leaves clean clothes in a heap on the bed, right?). But I recently took the hard line with Hubby and told him, "No, I will not get the laundry out of the dryer because I am not doing laundry right now -- you are." It didn't really change anything. I'm still folding the majority of the laundry, and putting it away (the absolute worst part).

My final complaint about my hubby's "help" is when he decides to "organize" my sh*t" -- meaning the kitchen. My husband does not cook. He doesn't even know what is in the fridge or the cabinets, because when he opens either one, he gets "man blindness" and can never find anything to eat. Anyway, he occasionally decides to assist me by organizing the kitchen. This infuriates me. (After all, would I "organize" his bloody tools? No.) It also forces me to rearrange everything so that I can find my pots and utensils and use them efficiently. Ugh!

I know some of you are saying that I should be happy that my husband helps with anything at all, and I am. But, as I say to my husband all the time, help is only help when I need it -- otherwise, it's just something you want to do AND should finish.


next: Marriage: Are You Over It?
16 comments so far | Post a comment now
The Mother February 25, 2009, 5:01 PM

Rearranged your Stuff is grounds for divorce, on any continent.

Are you still married to him? And he’s not on his knees, begging forgiveness?

IL February 25, 2009, 5:06 PM

Ah, I so hear you! My hubby isn’t always the most “helpful” either, and sometimes generates more work for me, ie, his attempt to clean the kitchen or do the laundry winds up being more work for me. There have been times where I’ve gotten super mad, but that didn’t solve things either, just made things worse. So now I try the gentle “nudging” effect, hoping that along the way, hubby will eventually get it! I try reminding myself of the positives, that at least he tries to help, and with some things, he does accomplish the task. I mean, there has to be at least one thing that your hubby does ok, right? Even if that’s not the case, I guess it also comes down to scaling down the expectations…he’s a different person, and he’ll probably never do it the way that you prefer…but at least he still tries. Whenever I get super annoyed, I remind myself of that and it helps a bit.

RMX February 25, 2009, 5:13 PM

I’m a 27 yr old son of a now single father (imagine that,mom died of heart failure before daddy, despite a cover of a Reader’s Digest that screamed WOMEN LIVE LONGER).Anyways I can attest to the fact some-,NO most of the time it’s best just to ask for no help and carry on with the chore alone.It makes for great “me/alone” time.And yes my mom had the very same fustration while alive with both my dad and my sister, who’s much like my dad.

Laura - www.metrogirl.typepad.com February 25, 2009, 5:21 PM

My hubby has MAN BLINDNESS when looking in the pantry or fridge too. He has NO idea what we have or don’t have in the house. lol Love it!

Cristina Mathers February 25, 2009, 5:50 PM

the love of my life has no idea how to load a dishwasher! or wipe down a counter. or how to find anything.

AmyAnne February 25, 2009, 5:57 PM

I like how you got more and more mad as the article went on :-)

A good friend of mine looks at it this way: She says men are (for the most part) weak and disorganized. If we can just accept them for who they are our own lives will be filled with less aggravation.

I agree with her totally. HOWEVER, I am NOT a saint and I find myself spewing the exact same rant as above.

I come home to husband having mopped the floor - only to find all of the cleaners on the counters, the dirty mop propped against the clean wall, all the carpets thrown in the courtyard and all the chairs upside down on the tables. Comic really.

I’ve gotta laugh and laugh hard or I’ll be ranting until eternity.

Been there February 25, 2009, 6:22 PM

We have all been there and it makes us furious. However, we should be glad that they want to help at all. I found that what helped was to sit down and talk about how I felt. Thank him for doing what he does and tell him how it makes you feel. More communication and positive feedback. It does make you laugh though, but it will get better when they learn how he can help.

ame i. February 25, 2009, 9:14 PM

Hmmm, ever pondered the possibilty that he “accidentally on purpose” makes mistakes and only half-azz does things soyou will throw your hands up and do everything yourself? That is a common man trick, lol.
I was widowed almost 6 years ago. He was well-trained by an obsessive step-mother (lost his mom when he was 8) and could clean like nobody’s business. The man would use a scrubber sponge on the toilet bowl, sticking his arm alarming far down in there.
I married a wonderful 46 year old man last year. This is his first marriage, my kids(9 & 11) are his first. Not only was he accustomed to taking care of his own household, he is the son of a former hotel manager. If a member of the cleaning or kitchen staff quit or if they were especially busy or behind, he was expected to step up to the plate. He drives 90 minutes to and from work, so I seldom ask him to help around the house, but he does.
So, I don’t buy it when a man acts all enept when it comes to housework. If you think your man actually is, it is time to sit down and have a long talk. Dogs can be trained and so can men.

coloradomom February 25, 2009, 11:25 PM

I am just now learning about this man-trick of theirs, being married for almost ten years now. My DH cannot find the ketchup right in front of him. And he was so neat when we were marrying. But now I find dirty socks everywhere. Now that we have two kids it has actually gotten worse. LOL go figure. When I need the help the most… he’s gotten much worse. Then if I say anything he decides to “organize” as well, throwing away a lot of important stuff of mine, and making lots of threats. Just when I think he’s finally stepping up I get threatened that all my stuff is going in the trash unless I help him.
Well, at least his socks usually make their way downstairs all by themselves after he takes them off. I joke that one of them looked right at me and said it would be my “bessssttt frrriiieeend” as it slithered its way into my washer.
Seriously gross!

Jenny February 26, 2009, 9:43 AM

I can tell you from all the wives of deployed soldiers, we would be thrilled if our husbands screwed up our entire household, sprayed toxic cleaner in our stove and made us finish the laundry. That would mean they were home and safe, that we definitely won’t become war widows. Get your priorities straight, accept your husband for what he is and be grateful you can reach out and touch him on a daily basis.

my say February 26, 2009, 10:38 AM

you hit the nail on the head Jenny.

Ingrid February 26, 2009, 4:00 PM

I really found this post rather offensive. If this were written by a man about a woman it would be howled down by the sisterhood. I have fibromyalgia and my husband, and I have 5 children. Time after time, my husband has helped me without complaining. One of his gifts to me is vacuuming the entire house thoroughly once a week, which is a huge help because of my muscle pain. He has never once made me feel guilty about the things he does, but cheerfully helps lift the load. No, he’s not as good at some things as I am, but then again, seeing me try to change the oil on the car or trying to do some of the things he does would be just as bad. I don’t understand the sneering disregard women have for their men these days. They claim to want help but then complain when they get it. None of us are good at everything. Marriage is teamwork with each complementing and working to help the other. It’s that mutual respect that makes a marriage work.

Helpful & Unappreciated Husband February 26, 2009, 10:02 PM

WDF?? If he wasn’t there you’d be picking your son up from a carer and still be fixing dinner. and your oven would have been dirty. give us men a break
i cook great tasty food that the kids enjoy and is actually good for you. my wife comes in telling me she picked something up.

BE HAPPY YOU HAVE A MAN THAT IS THERE FOR YOU.

Glad I'm single again February 26, 2009, 11:39 PM

Nice bit of stereotyping.

My wife was a strung out drug addict who lied about her habit, refused treatment when it was discovered, and ran up tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt before we finally split. So I guess that means all women are like that, right?

What a load of tripe this post is.

Ju February 27, 2009, 1:31 AM

Though, yes, it does sometimes make more work for me, but only because it wasn’t done MY way. I’M the disorganized one in the relationship and it does drive him a bit batty(I’m getting better, promise!). My DH actually gets mad at me if I try to do housework when I have homework or if I’m just worn out. He doesn’t fold laundry the way I do. I had to learn to accept that. He doesn’t clean things the way I do. I learned to accept that. The kitchen counter is neutral ground. He doesn’t complain about it having dishes or empty containers, I don’t complain about the spit cans. Even if my DH left the oven the way yours did, I’m overjoyed everytime he spends time with our little girl. She is our treasure. On the weekends, all of us (mostly me and my hubby) help clean the house and get together. I am grateful for the husband I have and that he helps around the house, even if he doesn’t do it my way.

Anonymous February 27, 2009, 8:32 AM

Get over yourself! The man was taking your child to the playground! He attempted to clean the oven! He’s supporting you in your career! Stop whining and start appreciating that your son is lucky enough to have a father who wants to spend time with him doing something healthy and outdoors. Stop emasculating the man and give him the credit he deserves.


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