Marriage should be about partnership. You’re not your husband’s boss and you’re certainly not his mom. You already have people who call you by that name.
But when the partnership starts to feel one sided, then there really is no partnership at all. Just resentment.
So, in this post I will be sharing 8 ways you can create more partnership in your marriage so that you’ll feel like you have a partner and he’ll feel like he’s not being constantly nagged at. Win win, right?
So to start, let’s break down what it means to be partners.
Partnership requires both members carrying their own weight. It means each person is contributing to the common good (family). There’s trust and everyone has a voice that is respected.
Those should always be at the foundation of all your interactions in your marriage. Trust that he has a good reason for doing (or not doing) what he does and knowing that if he isn’t doing something, that it’s because there is a reason.
1 - Transparency
Women tend to assume a lot. We assume it’s obvious to our husbands what needs to be done. We assume that they know what we need.
Well, what happens when we assume? It makes an ASS out of U and ME right? So let’s just stop all that mess. Stop assuming and start being more transparent.
What does transparency look like?
Know what’s going on with each other’s day! Try planning the week out together to share what’s going on for each of you.
Maybe on Sundays you talk about all the projects, activities and commitments your family has.
This will help give a full picture of the bandwidth you each have available so that you two can tackle things TOGETHER. Maybe he’s more free next week than you or maybe both of you are tied up with things so you let things slide a little or outsource for help!
2 - Create a list
List out eeeeevveerrything that you think is necessary to keep the house and family running. Think… breakfast, getting the kids ready for the day, trash, dishes, bedtime routine, you name it.
Let him contribute to the list too!
This will help everything be seen on paper instead of floating around in your head and give him a full picture of what all needs to be done. Heck, you might even learn that some of the things you’re doing don’t even need to be done because you’ve just assumed he needs it done.
When people have more buy in, the more willing they are to own things.
Once you have the list, take turns picking out things you prefer to do and divide up the rest to keep it fair!
3 - Create opportunities and enable ownership
When your husband signs up for a task, detach yourself from HOW it get done. Don’t hover. Don’t criticize. Just let him do his thing. You want the RESULT. You are HAPPY he’s helping, remember?
Also, give him the opportunity get figure things out! We’re “better” at things because we assumed the responsibility and figured things out along the way. Well, if you’ve been doing things, then he hasn’t, which means he didn’t get the same practice you did. So let him figure it out! He’s a smart man.
So let him do things how he sees fit, but be available for questions. Let him have the freedom to decide how he wants to do something so that he’s more willing to do it!
4 - Be specific and direct
Again, with assuming…. it just doesn’t end well. None of us are mind readers! No matter how long you’re with someone, we are not mind readers.
If you want him to help with something, be specific and clear on what it is that you want him to do! Tell him you need help getting the boys ready for bed. Ask him to do the dishes. If your kids don’t understand what you’re asking, then you need to get more clear.
With the way my husband works, I have to be very specific or he starts making assumptions and I don’t get the help that I need.
Do you need him to takeover the bedtime routine a few times a week? Set which days work for you two! Do not be afraid to ask! He is your PARTNER. He is there to go through this crazy messy parent life WITH you.
5 - Play to his strengths and thank him!
We all have our own preferences and things we’re better at. We feel good when we do things we’re good at. Think of things that come easy to your husband that he can start doing to help the family! When it comes to our household chores, that is exactly how we decide who does what. I’m a MUCH better cook than my husband and I actually enjoy cooking, so guess what I do? I COOK! He’s great at vacuuming because he’s very detail oriented and OCD and he prefers vacuuming, so he does the vacuuming!
And of course, praise him! Show your appreciation for how he’s helping out. People like their efforts acknowledged and it encourages them to continue doing it because it’s making an impact. Ultimately, he wants you happy so if he sees that when he does A, B, and C, that you become more pleasant and relaxed and fun, then guess what he’ll continue to do? A, B and C! Nice right?
6 - Stop enabling him
Women have a tendency to swoop in and do things for people when things aren’t being done or if things are being done “wrong” (differently). I strongly urge you to stop doing that. Sure the thing gets done, but you know what you’re unintentionally teaching them?
That if they do it wrong or wait long enough, you’re going to do it!
The point of this whole effort is to relieve your workload so that you can breathe. So, give him the ownership and let him do it! DO NOT SWOOP IN. I repeat, DO NOT SWOOP IN!
We teach people how to treat us, so if you’re teaching them that you’re going to do it anyway.. then they’re going to think, “Go ahead! Why should I even bother?” Nobody actually wants to do chores. Or at least I don’t think so… If you know somebody who does, can you send them my way? Thanks! Haha
7 - What are his objections?
If he’s still resistant to helping… could it be that there’s a reason? Is it that he’s afraid of failing or disappointing you? Is there a deeper issue that he needs help with exploring so that you can help him get through it? I have a client whose husband did not want to help her with the kids in the middle of the night. He would tell her no and say that she can just nap later on in the day if she’s tired. One might assume that he’s an ass for not helping. Well, years later she figured out that it was because he was afraid! He was afraid that he wouldn’t know how to care for the kids on his own because he never learned how and therefore didn’t feel comfortable doing it. Had she known that, she could have walked him through it with her to help him feel more confident and address the fear instead of resenting him for not being there for her when she was exhausted and drowning.
8 - Ultimatum
Hopefully you won’t need to get to this point, but if you do… then it’s time to set some boundaries. You need to be very frank. You are looking to have a marriage with partnership. You are not looking to be a mom to him or a manager. You want to ENJOY your relationship with him. You don’t want to nag him and feel like you’re the only one responsible for all the things. You need him to pull his weight and when he doesn’t, you feel alone and resentful. Explain your emotions, rather than express them.
You can frame the conversation like this:
When you don’t do (the thing you want), I feel (disappointed/resentful/hurt/lonely). I need you to (what you want). I need a partner and I’d like that person to be you, but if you can’t be that then please let me know.
If you get to this point, you'll want to check in with yourself to make sure you approach the conversation fairly. Check out this blog post to get your mindset prepared before initiating the conversation.