The following are some helpful hints for those of you who are managing the home front. It’s a tough, tough job, but someone has to do it.
Running a household is no piece of cake. When I think about the tasks that generally fall on a woman’s shoulders, I sometimes want to scream, “Time out!” Why am I the one who is in charge of the laundry, the bills, the dinner, the housecleaning, the grocery shopping, and the kids’ activities? Of course, your responsibilities may not be exactly the same as mine. Every couple’s situation is different, which means the division of household responsibilities may be different. We each come into marriage with our own preconceived ideas about the duties of a husband and a wife. We also have different levels of responsibility outside the home.
Managing the Home
There’s no right or wrong way to figure out who does what. The important thing is for you and your husband to have a mutual understanding of one another’s roles as you work through the responsibilities of your household together. At a time when you’re both relaxed and comfortable, prayerfully discuss what a healthy balance of responsibilities would be in your home. Decide what each of you can do to support your marriage. And discuss the proper running of your household. Work together to divide the load as best you can.
Both of you will have to compromise. Even so, the way the tasks break down between the two of you may not seem completely fair. As a positive wife, be willing to take on more than your fair share. Here’s why: No spouse sees the entire weight of the workload that the other spouse carries during the day. If you’re going to err, err on the side of giving, not getting. Be faithful to keep up with your responsibilities and do your part to make the household run smoothly without focusing on what your husband is or isn’t doing.
If your husband is the sole breadwinner in the family, you can take on the major part of managing the home front. He can be more effective in his job if he’s supported by a well-run home. Part of your role is understanding the struggles your husband may face in a typical day and recognizing that he may be coming home tired and weary. Perhaps he had to deal with a challenging situation or a difficult person at work. Maybe he had to drive through an hour of bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Time Communicating Concerns
When he walks in the door, the last thing he needs is to be hit with a list of chores or a litany of complaints. (You can tell him your gripes and concerns later. Maybe they won’t seem so important to you by then.) Instead, great him with a smile and a hug and help him to feel glad to be there.
If both of you are employed, you’ll have to work harder to find a healthy balance between you. Consider each other’s time and workload expended outside the home. Look for solutions to make your life together less stressful. If possible, pay someone else to do a chore, so that your time and energy can go into activities that you need to do yourself.
For years I cleaned my own house. But when I reached the point of writing almost full time, I started paying a maid to do what she does best. That is so I can do what I do best. I also used to cook dinner every night of the week. I felt guilty if I didn’t. But on those afternoons when I was in the car from 3:30 to 7:00 P.M., shuttling the kids to and from all their activities, I couldn’t get dinner on the table until just before 8:00.
I finally realized that my responsibility is to provide a dinner for my family, whether I cook it or not. Sometimes takeout from a local restaurant works just as well as home cooking (and tastes a whole lot better). Consider the cost. Look for coupons, but pay for help when you can.
When dividing domestic tasks, take into account the unique gifts, abilities, and talents each of you possesses. In our family Curt is the decorator, both inside the house and out in the garden. He’s gifted at it, and he loves it. I don’t; so gardening, lawn maintenance, and decorating the house fall into his domain. On the other hand, I write the bills, do laundry, and handle household maintenance.
After the two of you have determined what is right, reasonable, and fair for both of you to do around the house, set in your mind that you will always do more than your fair share. Don’t grumble, nag, or complain (how unbecoming!). Instead, move forward prayerfully and cheerfully in God’s strength. The blessing of a well-run home will be your reward.
I should probably say a few more words about nagging, because it’s such an easy thing for wives to fall into. Let’s face it. Our husbands don’t always keep up their end of the bargain. And nagging seems to come naturally to us in those moments. Maybe your husband is sitting on the couch watching TV, even though the kids need their bath (the job he agreed to do). Maybe he hasn’t taken out the garbage yet, and tomorrow is trash day. You mention it once: “Honey, it’s almost time for the kids to go to bed, and they really need a bath first.” Or, “Sweetheart, did you remember that trash day is tomorrow?” But he hasn’t moved an inch.
You’re not going to nag, are you? Let’s identify nagging so you know what it looks like. How else can you guard against it? Typically nagging shows up in one or a combination of the following, depending on the circumstances:
1. Repeating a command or demand more than once
2. Using a disrespectful or whiny tone
3. Huffing off when he doesn’t do what you want him to do
4. Grumbling and complaining aloud or under your breath
5. Standing over him with your arms crossed, tapping your toe on the floor, or wagging your pointer finger in his face.
6. Giving the silent treatment
If you can’t nag, what can you do? Here are a few simple rules for getting your husband to do his part around the house.
Rule #1: Clearly communicate the details of what you expect.
Most nagging can be eliminated from the onset through good communication and realistic expectations. Often, nagging is the result of trying to get our husbands to do things they never agreed to do in the first place.
Be reasonable and realistic in your expectations of what “must be done” by your spouse. And recognize when you need to back off. Some things can wait. But for some unknown reason we want them done now. If the need isn’t immediate, relax a little and determine a reasonable time frame for finishing the task. The more you bring your husband in on the thinking process, the less imploring you’ll need to do.
Rule #2: Speak in a kind, soothing, and respectful voice.
A rude tone of voice can cause your husband to dig in his heels all the more. You can be firm, yet loving. Serious, yet kind. Use your voice and tone diplomatically to get the best results.
Rule #3: Explain the consequences.
Say, “If you don’t stop by the store on your way home from work, we won’t have any milk for your cereal in the morning.” Or, “If you don’t put out the trash tonight, our backyard will smell like rotten eggs until the next trash day.” It doesn’t hurt to set a humorous tone! For example: If the garage isn’t cleaned out by winter, you’re not going to have a place to put the car. And you’re going to get very cold scraping the ice off your windshield every morning.”
Rule #4: Be open for a good trade.
Instead of nagging, offer to trade one of your jobs for his. “Hey, honey, I’ll make a deal with you. If you can’t give the kids their bath now, I’ll take care of it tonight, and you can take care of writing the bills for me tomorrow night.” Guys love bargaining power!
Rule #5: If applicable, offer to pay someone else to do it.
Depending on what needs to be done, suggest paying someone else to do the task. This will accomplish one of two things: It will either shift him into high gear because he’s a miser and doesn’t want to pay money out of his pocket; or it will make him happy because the job’s off his shoulders and you’re off his back. Either way, the job gets done.
Getting Organized: On my bookshelf I probably have 10 books telling me how to schedule my days, organize my household, and get a handle on housekeeping. Each book is packed full of wonderful, creative ways to use my time wisely. It will keep my home in tip-top shape. Unfortunately, most of the books could have the same subtitle: Thousands of Great Ideas That Nobody Actually Puts into Practice.
I don’t want to overwhelm you with a myriad of ideas. I just want to share a few solid, practical tips that can make a lasting difference in our homes and in our lives.
Even a naturally messy person like me can learn to maintain a neat and tidy environment. How? By following these three simple steps.
1. Remember the adage “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”
When you know where a certain item belongs, it’s easier to return it to its place. Think of yourself as a placement expert, getting all the lost articles in your house to their proper homes. You can even have a location for all the items that you want to deal with later—just make sure you also choose a time each week to eliminate the junk pile. which leads me to my next point.
2. Designate a time to kill piles and annihilate clutter.
Set a specific time each week for dealing with outstanding piles and help yourself by being clutter conscious throughout the week. Stuff can pile up so quickly! Mail is one of the biggies. When the mail arrives, stand by a trash can and go through it. Throw away junk mail and things you know you will never read. Then place place bills in their proper place and read the letters you need to see right away.
Make it a nightly routine to clear the kitchen table and countertops of excess stuff and put utensils and appliances in order. You’ll go to be feeling you’ve accomplished something, and you’ll wake up to a clean kitchen. It’s the best way to start the day!
3. Create a personal game plan for cleaning the house.
You may choose to clean half the house one day and the other half another day. Or maybe you’d rather clean the bathrooms one day, the bedrooms on a second day, and the kitchen and living room on a third. Laundry can also be done by routine. I usually do my husband’s laundry on Monday, mine on Tuesday, and my daughters’ on Wednesday and Thursday.
(For more help getting a handle on household cleaning, I recommend two excellent Internet sources: the FlyLady Web site at Flylady.net and Sidetracked Home Executives at Shesorganized.com.)
This article came from the book, The Power of a Positive Wife written by Karol Ladd, published by Howard Publishing Company. You can read this book for your own personal growth and enrichment. Or you can use it in a group study with the women in your church or community.
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