“My husband won’t do anything. He is so lazy. Everything ends up on my plate, and I am drowning in responsibility. I can’t keep living like this.” Does this sound like you? Do you feel like your husband is lazy?
If you’re struggling with a husband who doesn’t seem to pull his weight or care about helping you in your day-to-day life, I understand how frustrating this can be. When my husband left the army several years ago, he spent two years unemployed, doing nothing but playing video games and eating junk food. And here’s what I said to him: “Rob, seriously, please get up and do something with your life.” Or I would say, “Rob, can’t you see that I’m doing everything and you are doing nothing?” And finally, “What if we just split our bank account so that you only get the money that you make?” Okay, I didn’t say that last one. But I thought about it a couple of times.
What You Need To Know
I did all of the wrong things. Is it how I felt? Yes, I was frustrated. But was it going to change my “lazy” husband? No. Because here’s the first and most important thing you need to know: You cannot change your spouse. Here’s what that means. You cannot change your spouse. You cannot force or dictate them into doing something they don’t want to do. And you probably shouldn’t force them into it, even if they appear to want it, because no one wants to feel controlled. We see that played out a lot here at Marriage Helper.
Start A Conversation
So then, what do you do? Just accept that this is your fate? No. You can have a conversation with your husband about the situation. But start with curiosity. Most of the time, when people present as lazy, it is likely because there’s something deeper going on. Depression, hurt, anger, physical issues, health issues, and even trauma. Being yelled at makes it worse. It further solidifies the voice in their head already telling them, more than likely, that they are not good enough. It’s up to you to be the voice of hope and encouragement. So, start with curiosity.
As Dr. John Gottman told me in an interview on my podcast, It Starts With Attraction, curiosity is the key to a long-lasting marriage. Don’t just assume that you know what your spouse is thinking or feeling or why they are thinking or feeling those things. Ask. So one way to do this is to say, “Hey, I see that you have been struggling, and you seem down. Like you’ve lost some enjoyment. What’s going on?” They may not want to talk about it at first. And that’s okay. They could be embarrassed, ashamed, or walled off. Maybe they’re not even aware of their own emotions at the moment. But keep inviting conversation in your questions, actions, and tone of voice.
Ask about your husband in other ways as well. Maybe start by just asking them to go out and do fun things with you that both of you enjoy. Then, get them out and doing things. You can even ask for help around the house instead of trying to put it on them and guilt them. Just ask for help.
Something Else May Be Going On
Earlier I mentioned that when my husband was getting out of the military, he took two years where he was trying to figure out what he wanted to do. But in those two years, he was doing absolutely nothing. And I handled it in all the wrong ways. But I didn’t realize, because I wasn’t asking the right questions, that my husband was going through major depression.
He had just undergone a significant shift in his life, seven years being a part of the military. He knew what he was supposed to do and what they expected of him. And even though he was excited to get his freedom again and leave the military, it was a challenging transition for him. And from what we know about depression, loss, and grief, grief can happen anytime someone experiences a change in their routine. So when all of us experienced the lockdown of COVID, we all experienced grief. We all shared the loss of a standard, expected range of behavior, and routine of daily life. And that is what my husband experienced.
When I understood that and empathized with him and where he was, it was so much better for him, me, our marriage, and the whole situation. And maybe that’s what it takes for you right now as well. How can you understand where your husband’s coming from but also gain empathy so that you will better know how to be his support?
Always Get Help
The last important thing to know is always to seek help. There may be times that you need to draw a line after you’ve done all the right things. For example, if there’s still a lack of responsibility and equitable share of chores and tasks, you may want to consider some boundaries. But be wise in that. Or better yet, ask your spouse to attend one of our Marriage Helper Workshops.
It will allow both of you to have a better understanding and teach you how to have better conversations on how to meet each other’s needs. If you’re struggling with how to talk to your spouse about important things, get our FREE eBook on SMART communication here.
If you’re not sure how to change your marriage for the better, contact one of our client representatives. They are not coaches or counselors, but they can recommend the best next steps for your situation, no matter what is going on.