Household chores: Get your man to pitch in!

Divvying up the housework needn’t trigger marital strife, not when you follow these handy hints!


Let’s face it, mothers tend to bear the brunt of the housework in any home. When working mums feel resentful that they are doing the bulk of the chores, as well as cooking compared to their spouses, this is bound to become a source of stress between husband and wife. But it does not need to be so.

Dr Hana Ra Adams, psychologist at The Change Group Counselling and Eugenia Koh, a working mother of two, suggest nifty ways to get the mister to help more on the homefront.

1) Discuss the allocation of chores rationally

Pick the right time to have that conversation. Dr Adams says, “Starting a conversation like this when you know the kids are going to be home any minute is not helpful.” Try this: Tell him you need his help with something and ask when’s a good time to talk.

During the discussion, don’t let your tone of voice or choice of words show your frustration. Dr Adams advises, “Use I-statements to really tell him how you are feeling and what you need exactly.” As I-statements emphasise the speaker’s thoughts and expressions and not the listener, this lets you be assertive without assigning blame, which prevents him from getting defensive.

Dr Adams notes that just as women like to talk, men like solving problems. So, explain to him how the chores are a problem and that you need his help to resolve the issue. Then, be specific about what you’d like him to do. Dr Adam stresses, “The more specific you can be, the easier it is for him to help.”

I-statements lets you be assertive without assigning blame, which prevents him from getting defensive.

2) Start small

Help him craft a list of simple tasks he will be able to manage ― add items like doing the dishes, folding the clothes or watering the plants. Stick with simple tasks that are easy to correct lest he gets them wrong. Dr Adams points out, “The most important thing is that you want him to realise that he is your partner, that he can help you. If you go into the talk with a pre-determined list, there’s the chance you might not get the cooperation you are looking for.”

3) Compromise

Mother of two Eugenia Koh reckons that one of the best ways to resolve the disagreement over chores is to compromise. Try this: Split the number of tasks between the both of you. If you are doing most of them, perhaps he can do the one you don’t want to. Otherwise, scribble down all the household tasks on different pieces of papers, then scrunch up each piece. Take turns to pick each task until none is left. For tasks with no takers, alternate them between the both of you.

4) Split up the work

Certain chores can be broken down into its parts. For instance, making dinner involves shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning. Strike a deal ― you’ll cook and clean, while he can do the shopping and prep work. Remember to swap the roles, so that it’s fair to both parties.

Find out how to get your spouse’s buy-in on doing chores ― click!