Struggle in marriage


My husband and I have been married 4 years, and although we still love each other very much, we have been struggling with an issue that doesn’t seem to have an answer. I stay home with our 2toddler boys and my 8 yr. old son, who is from a previous marriage and has severe cerebral palsy. We intially felt we were very compatible – even though we’re different on some levels, we click on the most important things, such as how we want our boys raised, basic moral values, etc. But … we’re the Odd Couple … he’s very messy, I’m very neat. For the most part, I like to get things done now; he procrastinates EVERYTHING. We’ve always known it, kidded each other about it … but as time goes on it’s increasingly causing a lot of tension in our relationship. He procrastinates EVERYTHING, even projects that aren’t usually considered work. So I feel resonsible for making sure things get done, and I end up feeling like a mother more than his wife and partner. He’s very laid back – a trait which I loved from the start – but that very characteristic is at the root of why we end up arguing. He thinks I nag and resents it; I resent him putting me in the position of having to chose to ask and ask and ask or just do it myself, which has been wearing me out. I’ve explained everything to him repeatedly (even in a calm environment outside of our arguments), and he acts like the understands and says he knows he’s a slob and he needs to work on it, but nothing changes. Or he “works hard” on it for a day, or two, but stops. He’s asked me to be patient with him, that he’s not used to having a family/responsibilities – but my goodness, he’s 36 yrs. old, we’ve been married 4 years!

It’s OUR house, yet I’m responsible for remembering everything – he forgets things, so even when he says he’s going to take care of something, I can never relax until I check to make sure it’s done. (More than once, I’ve found the deep freeze door open because he accidentally forgot to close it, or the garage lights were left on all night, etc.) It’s not that he’s slow! He’s very intelligent, but seems to be preoccupied! He spends a lot of time online reading about his hobby and can tell you fact after fact about it, the history, etc.

Anything outside of his FT job is my domain: chores, projects (other than mowing the yard), paying bills, any type of paperwork such as refinancing our home, any DECISIONS that need to be made, etc. My husband does usually give the boys baths every other night, takes out the trash sometimes, or makes the bed, etc. It isn’t that he doesn’t do anything, but if there are 20 things to do in a day, he’ll be pleased with himself if he does 2-3 things, even if that leaves me with 17 things to do while caring for the boys. And it isn’t that I watch soap operas during the day and don’t keep up with my housecleaning and play with the boys. I have dinner on the table every night, keep up with laundry, clean house every single week, pay all the bills, etc.

It’s the simple things he ignores: He will walk by a burned-out lightbult without replacing it, step over a piece of trash that needs to be thrown away, not replace the toilet paper roll or paper towel roll and ignore an article of clothing that should be placed in the hamper. So I constantly walk around making sure everything is how it should be, even if I wasn’t the one to use the last sheet of TP, I change it! He would tell you I’m a perfectionist – I disagree because our house is lived in, I let the boys scatter toys around the LV during the day. I just like basic things done that make everyone feel better and happy, like have the beds made, food in the house, etc. I feel like I do a good job with that. Anyway, I just wish he showed more initiative. ’

Sorry so long, but I wanted to explain that I don’t expect him to do more than his fair share so I can sit around. I’m a hard worker, like to stay busy, so I’m not expecting him to work all day then come home and do my work. I want him to do his fair share, but we disagree about what is HIS FAIR SHARE.

I know there are things I need to work on (as in how I talk to him when I’m mad and frustrated) and that I’m not perfect, but I know what it takes to run a home with this many people in it and everyone has to do their part. We’re both stubborn and he doesn’t want to change (and has told me so) and I absolutely couldn’t take living in a messy, dirty house (which is what our home would be if I didn’t work so hard to counteract what he does – you should see his junk room in the basement). But I’m resentful, mad and feel like a martyr (which I don’t want to do). I love working in my home and wish my husband enjoyed it, too.


:blush: OMG, your husband is ME :blush: I know that women are typically known as the ‘neater’ ones, but I walk over clothing on the floor in our bedroom, don’t change lightbulbs, let garbage in our bathroom overflow. I do clean a lot, but then there’s this side of me that just procrastinates. My husband and I have struggled with these things–my husband is a neat freak, and very organized. We have a new car, and I use it to commute to work, etc…and he will get in it, and be like…we should have bought you a garbage truck, honey.:blush: He will grab the Bible at times and look for the passage that states…‘get your house in order.’ I said, that can’t possible mean THAT.:smiley:

Anyways, I’m trying to bring some lighthearted humor to your situation. But, I think if you let your husband go a little, let him be the procrastinator he is–he will snap out of it on his own. My husband used to argue over the housework with me, and I just got worse.:blush: Then, one day, he stopped harping on it, (we clean the house together, as we both work fulltime) and I started cleaning the bathroom, and so forth–without any urging. He was always doing his part, and perhaps, after a while, seeing him keeping up with his end of the bargain–made me feel ashamed (yes ashamed) for not keeping up with mine.

I did laundry and cleaned the entire kitchen yesterday–with no urging from him! Proud of me?:smiley: My husband said…should I pay you an allowance?:wink: Truthfully though, opposites attract, and I love the fact that he is a neat freak…and he loves me the way I am. But, it can be a struggle in the beginning. Just keep meeting each other half way, and things will smooth out. (Don’t change the light bulb or pick up after him–trust me–this is coming from a reformed slob–that if it gets bad enough, he’ll do it!!):slight_smile:


You just described my husband! :stuck_out_tongue: So I can definitely relate to your frustration. On the practical side, the one thing that has helped my hubby most is to make a daily to-do list, actually write it all down, then go down the list. No, it doesn’t ALL get done the same day, but eventually it does. Other than that, it’s just a constant process of reminding him. The difference is, I’m not a neat freak, so our house can get a little wild until we both get sick of it and spend all day cleaning up. :shrug:

As for the bigger picture, it seems like the two of you may have some difficulty communicating how you really feel to each other, and feel like the other one doesn’t understand you. Have you ever heard of Retrouvaille? It is a program to teach married couples how to communicate better with each other. I know it works, because it saved our marriage. Go to: to find a program near you. I’ll be praying for you!


A previous poster mentioned this but I think if there is something that can wait, even though it eats at you, just leave it alone until he does it. If every light in the house goes out then someone has to change it and if it is not you then it will be him. Don’t you think that he is comfortable in his situation letting you do everything (not everything, but you know what I mean) so he doesn’t feel the need to change it. People are very different and take care of things in a particular way. I would leave some things up to him. I don’t think he lets you pick up the slack on purpose but if he is naturally the kind of person who will wait 3 months before he changes the light bulb than you’ve got to let it get to the 3 month point or he won’t ever do it. He is just never pushed to that time when his sensors react. :). Maybe if you had a sitdown with him and just let him know how you feel and tell him that you are going to back off and leave certain things up to him and actually do it. Tell him what you expect and then leave it alone. So at least he was warned or knows. So tell him that you feel lightbulbs are in his department and don’t ever change them. Of course unless you need the one on your nightstand in order to read your book that he’ll probably never get to…hehe. But you see what I mean. You gotta let go a little and let him take care of it. I’m no expert but this is my opinion. It might work. I think when people know they need to do something it eats at them until it passes their threshold and then it triggers them to do something. But if someone is constantly on to them about it I think it makes them not want to do it even more and for longer. It makes them add to their threshold :).

Good luck and you’ll be in my prayers!


Yeah, Yeah, that’s me. (Raising hand sheepishly)

But, I don’t like it any more than my wife does. I feel lazy and loutish and so stereotypically male. I work on it, but it’s a long, hard road to walk down.

The thing about it is this. My wife is a stay at home, and sets the agenda for the family and the house, because it’s her office and she’s always there. When I try to show initiative and go and do something, it doesn’t fit into the schedule or or it’s not the right time or whatever. It’s a no win situation for both of us. She doesn’t want a slug for a husband and I don’t want a mother for a wife.

So, we talk about it. We come up with a specific issue and a specific thing for her to do and for me to do, and then work on it.


I’m laughing reading whatevergirl’s reply, because she is so me. I have all of those same bad tendencies towards procrastination and just being somewhat at peace with things being kind of cluttered/messy. Although I do also understand how you feel too, because when I was married I was responsible for everything. All my husband had to do was go to his job, and even then he brough paperwork home for me to do.

As far as all of the things like lightbulbs, changing the toilet paper, etc. I think the best advice in general is to not harp on him, because I think it does have a tendency to makes us go kind of passive aggressive. It makes doing that small thing seem all that much more irritating and irksome. I think it is better to just stop bringing it up, but at the same time, maybe don’t change the light bulb. Let him see that the reason you do that is so that you aren’t in a dark house. Use a flashlight for a day or two and see if he gets it. Bring the toilet paper in the bathroom and hide it. Let him see what it is like to go in there and have no toilet paper…maybe you can take your time in bringing him a roll if he is stuck. It might give him some time to think about how it really is a good idea to change the TP when it runs out.

But yes, a good non-blaming sort of a talk in advance, where you are just going to let him know that you are not going to do everything anymore and he can look for himself for opportunities to pick up the slack would be a good idea. Then, as difficult as it might be, just try to see the humor in it all…


My husband and I have been married almost 12 years, with 3 sons, and you sound a whole lot like me! I felt a lot of the time like I was responsible for everything and he was along for the ride… I use to ask him if he wanted me to write him a to-do list and he said it just made him feel like a kid, but then he wouldn’t write things down for himself, so he would just forget anyway! I use to nag, but then I would feel bad about nagging, and angry about having to nag him about something that he should have remembered all on his own! I mean, he’s a big boy, I shouldn’t have to remind him of everything!
Well, I finally figured out a few things. Men don’t think like we do, and they have to feel needed and appreciated. Once I accepted these as facts and adjusted my thinking, life became easier in our household. For example, I’ll ask him to do something, say, put his shoes (that are all over the house) away. I usually ask sweetly, kind of like he’d be doing me a favor, and then thank him afterwards and let him know how much I appreciated his help. And I know you’re thinking " Why should I do that when it’s something he should do because it’s his responsibility and something I shouldn’t even have to remind him of?!" and " I do stuff all the time that he doesn’t even notice, and I don’t get thanked for it!!" Trust me, I know, I’ve been there. But I’ve figured out that if he views whatever he’s doing as something that is helping me, he’s much more likely to not only do it with a great attitude, but to remember on his own next time. Also, let’s say he leaves lights on, instead of saying " You left the lights on in the basement, again!" I’ve switched to " Honey, are you done in the basement?" That way he doesn’t feel nagged or get defensive, and usually goes, " Oh yeah, I totally forgot about that!" For me, it came down to being right vs. being happy. Yep, I’m a hundred percent right that I shouldn’t have to remind him of his own responsibilities. But sometimes I do. That’s probably not going to change, so I needed to figure out how I was going to deal with it. Also, he has gotten better over the years. Sometimes I even thank him for remembering to do something all on his own! Not in a condescending way, though…
By the way, as the mother of sons, it works very well with them as well. As long as they think they’re helping out their mama, all sorts of things get done! Shoot, all I have to say is " I wish I had a strong man to help me carry all this stuff into the house…" and they race to see who can carry the most! I know it’s frustrating, but try to smile and look at the big picture! I’ll pray for your family! And your sanity… :slight_smile:
God Bless,


YAY HIGH FIVE! Another woman who can relate to moi.:smiley:

You know, in part, I think that we can look at our childhoods for a lot of our present behaviors. I was NEVER TAUGHT TO BE SELF SUFFICIENT. The only thing I was taught to be concerned with growing up, is to get good grades–to go to college. I didn’t have chores that were set–and we had a cleaning service growing up. My parents died, and there was an inheritance for me, and my sister did a lot to ‘coddle’ me so that I would be insulated from further things. I love my sister to pieces–and she did her very best, and probably thought that was the right thing–but I never learned how to cook or clean a house. To this day, I still beg my husband for us to hire a cleaning service–why? Because I had this growing up. My husband was one of nine kids, and everyone pitched in. Sometimes, these problems will transfer onto one’s children too–for those of you who remember my threads about getting my kids to clean–I also treat(ed) them like they shouldn’t do anything, but their studies. (Which is why I’m a very organized and independent business woman, as opposed to being this way in my home–although I’m getting better!!!) I would never think of my office looking shabby, etc…and I am highly organized in business, but not at home–because I was never taught to focus on chores and taking care of a home, as a kid. My sister, was taught those skills, from our mom. So, goes to show, how our childhoods will resurrect themselves if not dealt with–my husband said though that my childhood is an old excuse. (as he hands me a mop):blush:

My dh’s solution was to literally just stop cleaning up after me…he told me one day–I wanted to see how long it would take before you emptied your bathroom garbage can (we have his/her sinks, and we have our own garbage cans) and it took about two months.:rotfl: I am getting better though…I wash the sheets weekly, and fold laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer. My husband came up to me last night and pretended to be taking my temp. as I voluntarily washed and folded all of the laundry.

So–to the OP–Your husband is salvageable…just give him some room, and he will come around. And as hard as it will be–don’t change the lightbulb, or get the toilet paper–when people stop doing things for us procrastinaotrs–we realize that hey, we need to do this. No one is going to do this anymore for me. :blush: Even us highly procrastinating slobs can redeem ourselves!!!:slight_smile:


Well, I don’t know…I did have regular chores and responsibilities growing up. I split up taks with my sister, every other day loading and unloading the dishwasher, setting and clearing the table, did all of my own laundry as a teenager, cooked…So, I don’t think that is my problem. I don’t mind working at all, in fact, I can be totally happy cleaning and doing household tasks. Just I am pretty easy going and fine with letting it go too…and I procrastiniate because I know that I work just fine under pressure and can get something done in no time if I need to.


**I would like to add that I am not making light of this ‘problem’ within a marriage. I am just trying to add some humor. Truthfully, it was a HUGE thing between my husband me. This, and money. I like to spend–and he likes to save. I loathe cleaning, and he (I really think he does) loves to clean. Growing up again–I look back to how money was discussed in my household, and really --it wasn’t. If I wanted a particular clothing item, or whatever, my sister bought it for me–the money that was left from my dad. Well, even though the money was left there for me, I should have learned to save. My husband wore a lot of hand me down clothes growing up–something I can’t relate to. So, when you have such polar extremes coming together under one roof–there are bound to be some struggles. But, over time–and through my faith–I started to see how my behavior affected my family. And my husband saw how ‘fathering’ me was not going to work, either. So, we both moved an inch. I prayed about it a lot too–for God to make me a better wife, and He did. I just wanted to add that–because it’s important to know that these things are not jokes–they sound funny now after years of being married and having passed some of these stages–but really, I remember a time when it was not so funny, and a lot of arguments ensued.:o


It’s a give & take–no doubt. I laughed pretty hard reading thru this thread. Ah, memory lane. One piece of advice that might help all parties involved, is that nothing is worth getting so upset, that it starts disrupting your marriage. After YEARS of these types of discussions (fights) w/Sharon (Whatevergirl), I just stopped getting mad, and just left things alone. (didn’t ignore it, but stopped fighting)

Debating & arguing led nowhere. If anything, it made things worse. One day, Sharon said "you’re not my dad,’ and that was it. A turning point. I didn’t want to be my wife’s dad. That irked me that she saw me like that, but I was possibly starting to treat her like a kid. But how could I get thru to her? (I stopped cleaning up after her):cool:

Eventually, things got much better. Sharon is a great wife, and I accept her for her. I have quirks and things about me that she could start a LONG thread about. (please don’t honey:blush: ) She accepts me quirks & all. If this is the worse thing about her, so be it.

Things are tons better on the homefront now, cleaning wise. After I let it go, she started cleaning more. We both split chores, I’m not a guy who expects my wife to do all the cleaning. We’re in it together.

In the first yr of our marriage, Sharon used to throw out the dishes when they were dirty. No lie. I went to take the trash out one day, and it was unusually heavy. I looked inside, and saw our dishes? :eek: Sharon’s answer? Oh, I didn’t feel like cleaning those. What? (she doesn’t mind me sharing these stories, I checked w/her don’t worry) :+)

Another funny–over the weekend, our cat started making that vomit sound. I was busy in the other room. I kept hearing it. I walk out to see what my wife is doing, and she is sitting on the couch, lookin at the cat. I said, maybe u should move the cat onto the tile. (my hands were full busy in another room) She said, why? I said, well, the cat is gonna throw up. She said, oh I know. I said, you know. You want the cat to throw up on the carpet? She said, no but I can’t stop him. :confused: I told her to stop talking in riddles lol Our daughter came in and put newspapers around the cat. He threw up on them. He waited! The cat knows my wife, 2. lol

If u want a happy marriage, laugh at this stuff, and laugh often. It’s funny. we both laugh about it. There was a time when we didn’t laugh about it. At all. It caused massive tension between us. But, my wife and I believe in working harder to understand one another’s needs. She tells me I’m anal. Maybe. If u just meet each other 1/2 way, that’s all u can ask for.

I dunno if this helps u any. Oh, and Whatevergirl, I do not “like cleaning,” but someone has to do it.

DOH! :+) just jokin sweetheart

okay pens are on, catch up later

Be good,


First of all I want to say: Welcome to the forums! I am glad you found us and hope you can find good Catholic advice here.

My initial reaction to your post is a little negative…I don’t want to criticize you or be uncharitable but will tell you my first impression: Your description of your husband sounds wonderful to me and your criticism of him seems a little much. He is a hard-working father supporting his wife so she can stay at home. Not many men are like that. Secondly, he has taken in a child with disabilities that is not his. This does not make him a saint or anything but it certainly sounds like he is a warm and decent man. You said that you agree on how to raise your children and have the same moral values, this is a miracle in this day and age! Your husband sounds wonderful!

Don’t say anything negative to him for a week. Tell him you love him. Kiss him. Compliment him on what a great dad he is. Tell him how much you appreciate him. When you have to pick up the trash after him say a prayer instead of saying something negative to your husband. When he forgets something don’t remind him, just do it and above all don’t hold resentment for an entire week. Offer up your frustration in prayer. Remember Christ and how he was. Don’t you think Christ gets frustrated with us? Don’t you think Jesus feels frustration that he tells us the right path over and over and we continue to choose sin? How does Christ treat us…with open arms, love and forgiveness over and over and over!!!

Try this, I beleive you will watch your marriage blossom. Your husband will change and so will you. Love will bring change, not nagging or resentment. Think of how much you love him and tell him how wonderful he is several times a day. I hope this helps. I will pray for you.


Great post–I love your reply!!:slight_smile:


bla bla bla bla bla…whatever!!!:stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

I agree with you though–we used to fight like crazy over these things–but we realized that we were sweating the small things in life!!! I still have bad habits in the cleaning department:blush: but I’m a work in progress.

To the OP–Please keep us posted with the progress, if you decide to take some of the advice given here.:slight_smile: Good luck to you!!


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