How to Get Your Husband to Do the Dishes


It is a Thursday evening and you are exhausted.

You contemplate calling in sick to work tomorrow, but you know you can’t because you cannot afford to be out of the office. You are slumped on the couch and can feel the dishes from dinner in the sink calling out to you, “If you don’t wash us now, you will have to deal with us tomorrow too…”

Their threat is real and you know it.

You sigh, gather just enough energy to rouse yourself to your feet and shuffle to the kitchen, determined to get those damn dishes done before you go to bed. Your husband does not move from his position on the couch. It as though he has reserved this seat for life: eyes glued to the screen, game controller in hand and a chilled beer on the coffee table, no coaster, of course.

You longingly and loathingly look at him.

You wish you could have his lack of concern for the daily chores of the house, but you also wish he was more aware of them and how much energy it takes to run this house. It feels as though he thinks a dish fairy comes in each night after he eats a meal, prepared by you, and does the dishes.

Or maybe he just doesn’t give a shit who does the dishes, just so long as it does not infringe on his playtime.

Where the hell is your playtime?

When do you get to chill with that book you bought seven months ago and have not even gotten through the first chapter of? When will you get to finally join your friends for an evening stroll, which you have cancelled every day this week because you have simply had too much to do? When is your time?

If this is you and you have felt very much heard yourself in this narrative thus far, my questions to you are:

What have you asked for in your relationship?

What have you accepted in your relationship?

What have you allowed in your relationship?

How have these decisions impacted your day to day life?

Have you ever asked your husband to do the dishes?

If so, what was his reason for not pulling his own weight in the house? Is it because he thinks it is a woman’s job? Is it because he thinks his job outside of the house is more important than yours, so his decompression time is deemed more valuable? Or have you simply never asked the question at all?

What have you accepted in your relationship?

Have you accepted doing all of the household chores, with no qualms thus far? Have you ever uttered that you feel running a house is a two-person job? Have you accepted the fact that your husband comes home, dumps his stuff at the door, leaves his work clothes on the floor and expects to be fed and cared for like an infant?

What type of marriage have you allowed to be created?

Are you resentful of your partner now? Do you feel lonely when you are with them? Are your feelings validated? Do you feel validated? Do you two actually talk anymore? When was the last time you told your partner about a goal you wish to accomplish or hurdle which you have been struggling to overcome? When was the last time that they were your cheerleader? Were they ever your cheerleader to begin with?

When did your relationship go from exciting to excruciating?

Maybe it all started with those damn dishes.

What would happen if your partner did those dishes tonight?

How would that make you feel about your relationship?

How would that make you feel about yourself?

How would that make you feel about your relationship?

Go right now, ask your husband to pause that game for five minutes.

Tell them you have something important you need to speak with them about. Tell them how overwhelmed you feel. Tell them that you are in need of some consistent and daily support around the house.

Tell them what an ideal living situation looks like to you (i.e. a house where the dinner dishes are washed and put away before going to bed). Clearly tell them how they can support you with your current situation. Tell them how it would make you feel if they spent fifteen minutes loading the dishwasher and clearing away the dinner dishes every night. Ask them if this is something that you can rely on their support for.

Also, before you give me a plethora of excuses for why this conversation will not work out, just go and actually have the damn conversation. Do not be your own enemy by not even asking for what you want out of life.

Now, if you have actually had the conversation with your partner read on.

If you have had a civil, respectful, honest conversation with your partner about how you feel, there should be no need to read on because they are up and doing the dinner dishes.

If you are still sitting in front of your laptop, never having even asked for what you wanted because you know the answer, your problem is not the dirty dishes, your problem is your (Shitty? Problematic? Controlling?) relationship.

“But he’s a great guy in so many other ways…” I don’t want to hear it.

“You don’t understand, he is under a lot of pressure…” So am I, I have worked multiple jobs for the past decade, you don’t see me skipping out on dish duty.

“It’s just the way it is and I have to accept that…” That is very troublesome to me and makes me worry about your wellbeing.

If your partner cannot adjust their life to make time to support you bettering your own, you have a problem.

Therapy can help. Open communication can be very useful. Sitting down and creating a plan to deal with the management of the house is always time well spent. However, what I have learned is that the relationships capable of doing this, having healthy, supportive mechanisms in place, are typically already doing so.

So my (honest) answer to you is, quit blaming the dishes for your problems because they are not to blame.

You need to start communicating what you need, directly and clearly. You need to start establishing boundaries to ensure that your needs and wants are being respected in your own home. You need to start putting yourself first if you expect others to consider your worth at all.

If you are not the most valuable person to yourself, you are teaching others that they can treat you as though you are worthless.

By creating boundaries in your life and having expectations of your partner, you can infinitely grow your daily happiness.

You will be shocked and amazed to realize that a simple act, such as your spouse doing the dishes, can change how you feel about the day, your relationship and your life.

Do not let your demise be the dishes, you are bigger than that, but it will take discomfort, honesty and rigid boundaries in order to be successful.


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I write about issues that are near and dear to my heart, with the hope that my stories, experiences, and struggles may empower others:

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