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Ask the Oracle – My partner won't do any housework

Ask the Oracle – My partner won't do any housework

Dear Oracle

I love my wife but she barely lifts a finger around the house. The battle over chores is a constant source of fighting and a big problem in our otherwise great relationship. I’m the one who does all the cooking, cleaning, yard work, laundry, etc. She drops damp towels on the bed, leaves clean laundry on the floor, and lets things like dirty dishes and garbage just pile up around her. She freely admits to being a slob and always says I’m overreacting. I’m not a clean freak but she’d live in a pig pen if she was left to her own devices. She grew up in a household where she was never expected to do any chores but it’s time for her to grow up and take responsibility. 

Every time I get fed up and we fight about it, she apologizes and says she’ll change her ways. She’ll be super helpful for a couple days but the she’s back to her messy old habits. We’ve talked about starting a family sooner than later but I’m worried she won’t pitch it then either and I’ll be doing all work for three people. How do I get her to change for good?

Tidy Tom


Dear Tom, 

First of all, you’re not alone. I’m sure there are some lucky couples out there who don’t fight about chores, but I haven’t met them yet. It’s a sore spot in most households. There’s often an imbalance in who does what and a serious imbalance like the one you’re experiencing just isn’t sustainable. At this rate, you’ll burn out and the toll it’ll take on your marriage will only get worse. 

Since your wife is using the house, eating the food, wearing clothes, and so on, then she has an obligation to do her part to clean that house, wash those dishes and do that laundry. Plus, marriage is a partnership and it requires each person to be respected and equal. You need to approach things as a team, chores included. 

One effective approach to the division of housework is to write down all the chores then divide them up based on your skills, preferences, and schedules. Put it in a chart, a calendar or a list you can post where you’ll both see it on a daily basis. Now that you’re both responsible for a set list of chores, stop picking up the slack for her. If she’s on laundry duty and ends up without any clean clothes, let her deal with it. Stop enabling her messy ways!

Yours in light and love,

The Oracle