Ask LH: Why Is My Organised-At-Work Partner So Hopeless At Home?

Ask LH: Why Is My Organised-At-Work Partner So Hopeless At Home?

Dear Lifehacker, My husband is fantastic at taking up work and IT hacks but is lacking in the “life” department. How can someone so good at career stuff be so bad when it comes to household chores?

Lazy husband picture from Shutterstock

We both work full time and have two small children. My husband is a senior programmer, arcade machine builder, light coin rig builder and PS4 devotee. He is a great dad but I am exhausted by the sheer volume of work required organising a household. My husband can’t seem to organise the kids or drive household chores forward to completion.

What's going on? Aren't the same skills used to solve games, fix plasma TVs and roll out large-scale software changes the same ones needed to plan a week worth of kids' lunches and order the groceries online? We both have jobs involving project management and technical details. It's so frustrating to see him make excuses and not solve problems around the house. Any ideas on how we can fix this? Thanks, Overtaxed

Dear Overtaxed,

Some fathers are genuinely clueless when it comes to this sort of thing. However, it sounds like your husband is just letting selfishness get the better of him, even if it’s on a subconscious level.

As I’m sure you’ll agree, there’s nothing particularly fun or rewarding about organising kids’ lunches or doing household chores. The issue here seems to be a lack of desire rather than no ability. In short, why would he bother getting involved when he knows his wife is going to take care of it?

Presumably you’ve already communicated your displeasure to him and nothing has changed. The next step is to give him a taste of his own medicine. Explain that you’re going on strike until he starts pulling his weight around the house more (try to express this playfully while still sticking to your guns). A few days’ worth of unwashed laundry and dirty dishes should ram home how much you actually do around the house.

Next up, attempt to carve out an even share of responsibilities. This may involve establishing a roster or something more casual; whatever works in your relationship. For smoother sailing, let him do things in his own way rather than expecting a carbon copy of what you do. If he prefers doing the groceries in store rather than online, so be it: the important thing is that he's sharing the load.

Do any readers have partners who were formerly hopeless around the house? How did you get them to help out more? Share your tips in the comments section below.


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  • Yep – he’s foxing and letting you do it all. You need to pull him up on his behaviour. Your husband sounds a lot like me in terms of jobs and skills. He just needs to concentrate less on his hobbies and more on the kids. You also need to stop filling in the gaps that he leaves in terms of the household duties. Let him pick some things that he can do or would like to do and get him to do them. Personally, I’m still aware that my wife does more for the household and kids than I do but I’ve got things that I consistently contribute to. My things are: I’m the one that does all the crafty things and all the computer technology thing. I do all the rough play with the kids. I feed the pets. I do the majority of the cooking. I’m on the school board and I take the kids to most of their parties and other extra activities. My wife does all the washing (dishes and clothes), she does a lot of tidying (we have a cleaner and gardener). We share school drop-offs and pick-ups. We share bin/compost duties. We both work. I pay the majority of our bills. I take pride in my cooking and looking after the kids. I like to research things for me to do with the kids and family. It’s just a matter of priorities and focus.

  • that sounds a lot like me.
    although my laziness stems from depression and emotional exhaustion.
    i push myself hard at work because it a chance for me to feel accomplishment and fell good about myself. once i get home. rather than being able to tune out i get hounded by wife which actually compounds the issue and pushes me further away emotionally. thus beginning the cycle again.

    weirdly enough, men actually need to know that they are emotionally safe and supported and that their feelings are acknowledged.

    that’s my 2 cents anyways.

    • I’ve felt the same. Its pretty hard to admit that sometimes we feel pressured and insecure by our own loved one; but sometimes you really do just need to sit down and talk it out. I found there is usually some sort of insecurity in the other half which causes them to act that way or constantly bring something up.

  • I am a little like this I hate to admit but I am consciously doing better. There are also things like my wifes OCD which don’t help; I am the kind of person who will cook, and leave a few dishes in the sink while I eat first, because I like my food freshly cooked. When she is the type who will wash everything before she eats. And so she expects me to do the same. I understand why, its just human nature to want things to be your way.

    I usually say that yes I’ll clean it after I eat but she gets frustrated and does the dishes before I finish my meal. And then I become an even worse person as she uses the fact I didn’t clean up (because she did it) as fuel the next time.

    I think it takes two to tango like most things; I am consciously helping out more with things around the house. Like I’ll hop up and help hang up the washing and we have always shared an equal load of cleaning out litter trays and feeding cats. I guess you also need to be in tune with how each of your like things to be done. Meaning I do try to wash as many dishes as I can while I am cooking and she now more often then she used to, leaves anything I leave there so I can do them.

    Unless of course I don’t… then I get into legit trouble 🙂

    I still do all of the outside work, which is fine because I enjoy getting outside and getting a little exercise and genuinely take pleasure from maintaining the gardens etc.

  • Yeah… you really don’t want to get into a ‘laziness war’ with people like me some people.

    Pro-tip: If your dude is truly lazy, that pile of dirty dishes in the sink isn’t going to bother him NEARLY as much as it bothers you. And if he knows it’s a competition, he’ll push himself to improve his already-higher-than-yours tolerance to filth.

  • Surely there are other duties and activities that you might not have time for. If you spend that much time running the house, you might get a headache that lasts an inordinate amount of time. Headaches frustrate all sorts of activities around the house…

  • “My husband is a senior programmer, arcade machine builder, light coin rig builder and PS4 devotee” sounds like he needs to grow up. seriously these are his jobs? tell him grow the F*** up and stop being a self centred lazy sob and take responsibility for his life and the things in it. I am a father of 3 and I do most things around the house and my wife is just like the article. she needs to grow up and stop being a lazy cow. simple as that. wont last long im telling you now. I cannot stand lazy people who live like pigs.

  • It’s the complete opposite in my household. My partner (female) does very little around the house while I cook, clean, do the dishes, wash cloths, do the gardening, fix things, do renovations around the house etc. We are both professionals (engineers) and work around the same hours, so it does get frustrating every now and then…

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