This week’s question: My husband’s a slob! He drops his clothes on the floor and he never picks up after himself or helps around the house. I’m exhausted and I’m tired of asking for help.
Answer: It can be frustrating to live with someone who has different habits than we do. But before we get into what you might do, I want you to ask yourself two crucial questions. First, is your husband usually caring and respectful of your feelings and needs? Second, is there a reason why he’s not helping you around the house? For example, he might be exhausted from his job, or busy helping you with the kids, or could it be he’s tried helping you in the past and you’ve not been satisfied with the way he helped so he gave up?
If you answered yes to either of those two questions, then you have a couple of options. One is to lower your house cleaning standards so you’re not so exhausted. All spouses have weaknesses and one of your husband’s is messy habits. God tells us that we need to learn to put up with one another and to accept each other, encouraging the good we see (Romans 15:7; Ephesians 4:2-3). Try focusing more on your husband’s strengths instead of dwelling on what he doesn’t do well.
Another biblical approach would be to implement the law of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7). Calmly say something like this, “Honey, I know you hate my nagging. I hate it too. So from now on, I’m not going to nag you about your clothes but I’m also resigning as your personal maid. Starting tomorrow, if your clothes don’t make it into the hamper, they won’t get washed.” Stay kind but firm. Soon he will realize he has no clean clothes to wear and will begin to put his clothes into the hamper. Hopefully as he learns this new step in taking care of his clothes, he will also start to pick up his other items around the house.
On the other hand, if your answer to those earlier questions is no, you have a much bigger problem than a messy husband or house. Your marriage lacks mutual caring and mutual respect, core elements in any good relationship. If you want to change this pattern, you must start with yourself. Are there any past hurts that have caused this breakdown? If so, own your part and ask for forgiveness. However if your husband’s basic attitude toward you is often selfish and disrespectful, you may need additional support.
I encourage you to take my free test, “Are You in a Destructive Relationship?” which is available at my website: www.LeslieVernick.com on my free resource page. You will also find resources to help you deal with a destructive relationship and initiate difficult discussions. God wants your marriage to change. Allow Him to use you, and others if necessary, to help your husband make these important changes.