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Top 7 Keys to Getting Help around the House for the Holidays

Top 7 Keys to Getting Help around the House for the Holidays

Posted - Nov. 27, 2010 at 5:57 p.m.



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1. Assume that your partner does care.

A lack of action does not always equate to not caring. Your partner probably does care; they just may show it differently. Rather than assuming that your partner doesn't care, assume that he/she cares differently, is easily distracted, or has a lot on their mind. Assuming they don't care only disheartens you and turns their lack of dishwashing into a bigger problem.

2. Manage expectations.

Most breakdowns in balancing household chores are usually a breakdown of mismanaged expectations. Each partner brings to the marriage a set of expectations about how the house will be taken care of and who will be responsible for what work. Take some time in your marriage to discuss what you expect from each other when it comes to helping and sharing the household chores. The sooner you do this in the relationships the better off you'll be. Remember the distribution of household chores may need to be adjusted as your world changes. For example, changes may be necessary when you start having children, if one partner stays home with the kids, or if one partner's work loads changes for a period of time. I have also seen couples readjust for other issues like during times of unemployment or when one partner is unable to help because of physical disabilities. The key to managing expectations is having healthy open conversations long before the chores need to be done, not in the middle of your Saturday cleaning ritual.

3. Get their attention!

Remember that most men are not multi-taskers so unless you have his undivided attention, he probably is not listening to you. Find a time to talk about doing chores when your husband or wife is not focused on anything else. Keep the conversation short and sweet. I jokingly tell couples the rule, "If you aren't looking at each other, the conversation doesn't count."

4. Say what you need done...don't make them guess.

Men are very literal. We tend to talk on the lines, and women talk in-between the lines. For example if a woman wants the garbage taken out she might say, "Honey, the garbage is getting full" or "Ewww that garbage really stinks." He would then graciously agree with her and then go back to watching the basketball game. If you want the garbage out, literally ask him to take the garbage out. "Honey, the garbage is getting full, could you please take it out at the next commercial?" Now I've had many women argue that they "shouldn't have to say that" or that their husband "has to be the big boy and notice those sorts of things." And I couldn't agree more. However, if they don't notice the garbage and you want it taken out then you've got to two choices. One, hope he gets your non-verbal message and sit and wait angrily until he does. Or two, calmly state your need directly and ask him to meet your need.

5. Give a choice and a time frame.

People love freedom, so give them a choice. My wife has learned to give me a list of things that she would like done and then she asks, "Babe I've got about seven things I really need to get done today. Can you pick three off the list and get them finished by noon today so I can relax with you this afternoon?" She then stacks the list, knowing full well which three projects I will take on. By giving me a choice and a deadline, it's very clear to me what needs to be done and by when. I also like the idea of having time with my wife at the end of the day when she can relax.

6. Let them do it their way.

Men and women both need the freedom to do the task their way. The minute you tell someone how the job has to be done, he or she would rather not do it. Half the fun is to figure out how to do the job and to have the freedom to do it in your own way. Also, whoever determines how it has to be done is responsible for the outcome. Most people don't like to do things where they can't control the outcome. By giving the freedom to do it their way they can have the satisfaction of knowing that you trust their abilities to figure things out. The only time I would give advice is if my partner was asking me for it.

7. Find what they do well and brag to others.

Positive reinforcement usually works with most people. If you want them to keep doing what they're doing, then you've got to notice what we do well, point it out and even brag about it to others. "Man, my husband helps out so much around the house. He's always there when I need him." "My wife is so good at pitching in when I need her!" Being sincere and truly appreciative with your husband or wife will go a long way in getting more stuff done around the house.

Helping each other with the household chores brings a sense of shared benefit which is very important in a relationship. If you want to be in a long-term relationship, both people have to be benefiting. Long-term relationships demand that both parties are benefiting equally if you want the relationship to last long into the future.

Click Here to learn more about Matt.
Click Here to learn more about strengthening relationships.

CLICK HERE to hear Matt's seven keys for getting more help around the house. (Depending on the speed of your internet connection, this could take a few minutes to download the audio.)

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