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Old 02-11-2007, 11:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Problems with a lazy spouse

Good day,

I'm looking for suggestions on how to deal with a spouse who doesn't feel the need to do a whole lot around the house. This has been an ongoing issue that has been discussed on a number of occasions, and I'm getting to the end of my rope. Today while washing the kitchen floor, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms & doing a couple loads of laundry, Mrs. Foil successfully accomplished keeping the couch firmly in place in the living room, just in case gravity went out for a few minutes. Oh, and I took care of the spawn's breakfast, lunch, bottle and various diaper changes.

Hell, getting her to water plants often takes longer than simply doing it myself.

She's not currently working, so it's not as though her weekend is her only downtime and the spawn goes to daycare 4 out of 5 days a week, both for the interaction with other children but also so we don't loose one of the few daycare spots in the only daycare that will deal with children using clothe diapers. We're hoping Mrs. Foil does get another jorb.

I'm not terribly picky about cleanliness in many things, other than dishes having to be done nightly, so I don't believe I am asking for much for atleast help with half of the work. Hell, some days I am content with her simply cleaning up after herself, which seems to be a chore in and of itself.

The ironic bit is that a year and a bit ago, my sister and her son lived with us and my wife often complained that my sister would do nothing to help out.

As I mentioned above, it has been discussed and after discussing it, things are fine for a few weeks up to a month or two, and things return to normal. I've tried just letting things go, but her ability to ignore things far surpasses mine, it would seem.
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Last edited by tinfoil; 02-11-2007 at 11:52 AM..
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Old 02-11-2007, 02:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Have you ever thought that she might suffer from depression?

That is one of my biggest symptoms of depression--no desire to better my living situation either by cleaning my home, caring for myself in more than the basic ways, and I largely ignore my personal business/pestering from other people to improve myself.

It might be something she's always had and so she's never really thought about it as being out of the ordinary, and neither have you, but that kind of laziness is abnormal. Counseling, a visit to the doctor--all of these things may be in order--counseling especially since this seems to be putting quite a strain on your marriage.
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Old 02-11-2007, 02:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Depression is a possibility. Still, as a partner in the marriage she shares the responsibilities with you. She should clean, and you should clean.
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Old 02-11-2007, 03:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onesnowyowl
Have you ever thought that she might suffer from depression?

That is one of my biggest symptoms of depression--no desire to better my living situation either by cleaning my home, caring for myself in more than the basic ways, and I largely ignore my personal business/pestering from other people to improve myself.

It might be something she's always had and so she's never really thought about it as being out of the ordinary, and neither have you, but that kind of laziness is abnormal. Counseling, a visit to the doctor--all of these things may be in order--counseling especially since this seems to be putting quite a strain on your marriage.
Now ya know, I hadn't thought of that. As she was recently laid off, I do suppose that is a very real possibility. I can certainly understand that. Thanks for the thought, I will talk with her about that. Having suffered from it myself for a little while, I can understand how it interferes with that. However, during my depression, it went the opposite way, but each to a different drummer.

Thank you very much for the insightful reply!

Willtravel, a part of me believes that as well. At first all of it did, but after onesnowyowl's post, there is another part of me kicking myself for being such a twat. Still, I agree with you. At some point one has to stop ignoring one's responsibilities around the house.
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Old 02-11-2007, 04:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Hmmm. Sounds like something my wife pulled. In my case, I asked her to go to the grocery store being that it's an activity that needs to be done AND something that she seems to like.

Today she said she wasn't feeling well despite the fact that I've gone for the last times including two weeks ago when I was sick as a dog. Well, in my case she gets a day off now and then. I'm just glad that gravity didn't go off.
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Old 02-11-2007, 07:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Does she get out at all and does she have friends? This is connected with the depression thing, but staying cooped up (even if it is her choice) will make her uninterested in her surroundings. If she gets out, she will see the bigger picture.


Thats my input, keep us all updated! Snowy owl, very unexpected response but very very insightful!
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Old 02-11-2007, 09:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinfoil
Good day,

I'm looking for suggestions on how to deal with a spouse who doesn't feel the need to do a whole lot around the house. This has been an ongoing issue that has been discussed on a number of occasions, and I'm getting to the end of my rope. Today while washing the kitchen floor, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms & doing a couple loads of laundry, Mrs. Foil successfully accomplished keeping the couch firmly in place in the living room, just in case gravity went out for a few minutes. Oh, and I took care of the spawn's breakfast, lunch, bottle and various diaper changes.

Hell, getting her to water plants often takes longer than simply doing it myself.

She's not currently working, so it's not as though her weekend is her only downtime and the spawn goes to daycare 4 out of 5 days a week, both for the interaction with other children but also so we don't loose one of the few daycare spots in the only daycare that will deal with children using clothe diapers. We're hoping Mrs. Foil does get another jorb.

I'm not terribly picky about cleanliness in many things, other than dishes having to be done nightly, so I don't believe I am asking for much for atleast help with half of the work. Hell, some days I am content with her simply cleaning up after herself, which seems to be a chore in and of itself.

The ironic bit is that a year and a bit ago, my sister and her son lived with us and my wife often complained that my sister would do nothing to help out.

As I mentioned above, it has been discussed and after discussing it, things are fine for a few weeks up to a month or two, and things return to normal. I've tried just letting things go, but her ability to ignore things far surpasses mine, it would seem.
How old is the baby? I ask because for up to two years following birth, post-partem depression can occur. What is her sleeping pattern like? Does she spend 'quality time' with the baby, ie; reading, playing, etc. What does she do while the baby's in daycare?
Are you living where there is winter? She could be in the midst of SADD.
Is she also letting her personal appearance fall apart? Have her eating habits changed for the worse? Her sleeping habits? Does she 'complain' of maladies, such as stomach or headache, heartburn? Is she combatant at all? Or just not at all communicative?
Any more than one 'yes' to the above, and she's in a depression; it could very well be post-partem. In any case, you need to speak with her without anger or frustration and help her to get help. If you can't, enlist the help of a trusted family member, preferrably her mother or sister-anyone she'd relate to. Good luck.
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Old 02-11-2007, 10:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Something that worked when I had flat-mates was to keep a chores diary - just jot down what you do and how long you spend doing it.

Psychologists tell us* that men note how long they spend or how hard they work (i.e. washing the car is more of a job than doing the laundry), but women count tasks (so separating the colours and whites, loading the wshing machine, transfering to the dryer, and then folding the dry clothes is for times the work of painting the outside of the house).

This may help her to realise how much work each of you is doing.

It is vital that this is a participative, non-confrontational activity.

NOTE*: This is a gross oversimplification - please do not pick holes in it; it's illustrative, rather than total.
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Old 02-12-2007, 05:08 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Wow, these are some very good and insightful responses.

ngdawg, I can answer yes to many of those. Very interesting!

I'll keep y'all updated.
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Old 02-12-2007, 07:23 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Maybe she's just lazy ...
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Old 02-12-2007, 01:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Well, as one really lazy person, I do just enough to make her happy... But, when I was without work, I did nothing, zip nada. I won't admit it, but I probably was a bit depressed. I say that loosing a job is one way to put you in a different state of mind in a hurry, and without realization. Good luck with this.

Give her a few days, and see what becomes. Start asking her to do small things, maybe a list. Reward her for doing things if it comes to that.
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Old 02-12-2007, 04:08 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Update!

Mrs. Foil and I chatted a bit last evening about this and she offered up nothing really about being depressed or such, however she wsasn't able to offer any real reason for not helping out around the house.

I came home today to find laundry done, vacuuming of floors & furniture done! After picking my jaw up from the floor, I thanked her very much.

She did ask why her mother and I are always surprised when she does housework. I chose to ignore that one.
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Old 02-14-2007, 01:05 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I was reading over this earlier and your predicament came to mind while doing so.

Quote:
Nagging Spouse? You May Have An Excuse For Not Responding

New research findings now appearing online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology began with a professor's desire to understand why her husband often seemed to ignore her requests for help around the house.


"My husband, while very charming in many ways, has an annoying tendency of doing exactly the opposite of what I would like him to do in many situations," said Tanya L. Chartrand, an associate professor of marketing and psychology at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

When Chartrand envisioned a formal academic study of people's resistance to the wishes of their partners, parents or bosses, her husband, Gavan Fitzsimons, became not only her inspiration, but also her collaborator. Fitzsimons is a professor of marketing and psychology at Duke who, like Chartrand, is an expert in the field of consumer psychology.

Working with Duke Ph.D. student Amy Dalton, Chartrand and Fitzsimons have demonstrated that some people will act in ways that are not to their own benefit simply because they wish to avoid doing what other people want them to. Psychologists call this reactance: a person's tendency to resist social influences that they perceive as threats to their autonomy.

The team found that people do not necessarily oppose others' wishes intentionally. Instead, even the slightest nonconscious exposure to the name of a significant person in their life is enough to bring about reactance and cause them to rebel against that person's wishes.

"Psychologists have known for some time that reactance can cause a person to work in opposition to another person's desires," Chartrand said. "We wanted to know whether reactance could occur even when exposure to a significant other, and their associated wishes for us, takes place at a nonconscious level."

The researchers undertook a set of experiments to determine whether reactance might occur unintentionally, completely outside of the reactant individual's conscious awareness.

In the first experiment, participants were asked to name a significant person in their lives whom they perceived to be controlling and who wanted them to work hard, and another significant and controlling person who wanted them to have fun. Participants then performed a computer-based activity during which the name of one or the other of these people was repeatedly, but subliminally, flashed on the screen. The name appeared too quickly for the participants to consciously realize they had seen it, but just long enough for the significant other to be activated in their nonconscious minds. The participants were then given a series of anagrams to solve, creating words from jumbled letters.

People who were exposed to the name of a person who wanted them to work hard performed significantly worse on the anagram task than did participants who were exposed to the name of a person who wanted them to have fun.

"Our participants were not even aware that they had been exposed to someone else's name, yet that nonconscious exposure was enough to cause them to act in defiance of what their significant other would want them to do," Fitzsimons said.

A second experiment used a similar approach and added an assessment of each participant's level of reactance. People who were more reactant responded more strongly to the subliminal cues and showed greater variation in their performance than people who were less reactant.

"The main finding of this research is that people with a tendency toward reactance may nonconsciously and quite unintentionally act in a counterproductive manner simply because they are trying to resist someone else's encroachment on their freedom," Chartrand said.

The researchers suggest that people who tend to experience reactance when their freedoms are threatened should try to be aware of situations and people who draw out their reactant tendencies. That way, they can be more mindful of their behaviors and avoid situations where they might adopt detrimental behaviors out of a sense of rebellion.

Not surprisingly perhaps, Chartrand and Fitzsimons, as wife and husband, also take home some slightly differing messages from their experiments.

Chartrand believes her husband "should now be better equipped to suppress his reactant tendencies." Fitzsimons, however, believes the results "suggest that reactance to significant others is so automatic that I can't possibly be expected to control it if I don't even know it's happening."

Source: Duke University, By Laura Brinn
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Old 02-14-2007, 08:57 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Ch'i - that is so interesting! Thanks!

But at the same turn, I wonder what we do to deal with this since this could be the case? does this prove nagging does not work? or do this prove you have to be more fun and forget the house chores?

I wonder....
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Old 02-14-2007, 10:21 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Well, you always catch more flies with honey...if only to kill them afterwards.
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Old 02-14-2007, 01:33 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onesnowyowl
Have you ever thought that she might suffer from depression?

That is one of my biggest symptoms of depression--no desire to better my living situation either by cleaning my home, caring for myself in more than the basic ways, and I largely ignore my personal business/pestering from other people to improve myself.

It might be something she's always had and so she's never really thought about it as being out of the ordinary, and neither have you, but that kind of laziness is abnormal. Counseling, a visit to the doctor--all of these things may be in order--counseling especially since this seems to be putting quite a strain on your marriage.
I also immediately thought of depression. I suffer from depression, as well, and I know somedays it seems a feat to even get out of bed in the morning. I am generally a very busy and successful person, but depression makes me VERY lazy and whiny and like onesnowy said...I ignore my health and appearance.

Remember to keep communicating with your wife, and if the "laziness" continues, make sure you ask her what's up. I'm sure she could benefit from counselling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinfoil
Update!

Mrs. Foil and I chatted a bit last evening about this and she offered up nothing really about being depressed or such, however she wsasn't able to offer any real reason for not helping out around the house.

I came home today to find laundry done, vacuuming of floors & furniture done! After picking my jaw up from the floor, I thanked her very much.

She did ask why her mother and I are always surprised when she does housework. I chose to ignore that one.
Woops, I guess I didn't read this update.

Last edited by la petite moi; 02-14-2007 at 01:34 PM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 02-14-2007, 09:12 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Sultana - giggle. I feel like this has happened at certain places of employment for myself.

*back to issue at hand*
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Old 02-15-2007, 07:03 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Not to thread jack but I have a very strong suspicion my wife is experiencing post partum. She always says nothing is wrong or that she is just tired but I hope that there is something and she hasn't stopped loving me.

Is there anything at all I can do to help her? She says nothing is wrong so her talking to a professional is probably out but what can I do on a daily basis to help her?

Again, sorry to threadjack but the more I read here the more it made sense to me.
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Old 03-14-2007, 10:26 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinfoil
Update!

Mrs. Foil and I chatted a bit last evening about this and she offered up nothing really about being depressed or such, however she wsasn't able to offer any real reason for not helping out around the house.

I came home today to find laundry done, vacuuming of floors & furniture done! After picking my jaw up from the floor, I thanked her very much.

She did ask why her mother and I are always surprised when she does housework. I chose to ignore that one.
Your choice to ignore that comment was probably a good one, but it also speaks directly to the point. Your wife may be feeling a counter-pressure to 'do her part' since you 'thank her very much' when she simply holds up her end of the bargain. Rather than thanking her, you should both expect that the other will do their part. This is not to say that you shouldn't be kind and happy that she is doing her part in the household. Just that overtly thanking her may make her feel like she is only doing this as a favor to you rather than doing it out of pride and respect for herself. Perhaps I am reading too much into it from my own situation.

Depression is an already stated possibility. I can understand how difficult this is to deal with. If the other party is not willing to recognize the problem as depression, how can you get them to seek help?

Keep us posted.
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Old 03-14-2007, 10:54 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braisler
Your choice to ignore that comment was probably a good one, but it also speaks directly to the point. Your wife may be feeling a counter-pressure to 'do her part' since you 'thank her very much' when she simply holds up her end of the bargain. Rather than thanking her, you should both expect that the other will do their part. This is not to say that you shouldn't be kind and happy that she is doing her part in the household. Just that overtly thanking her may make her feel like she is only doing this as a favor to you rather than doing it out of pride and respect for herself. Perhaps I am reading too much into it from my own situation.
Truth! I struggle with this too, sometimes I feel like the hub wants a medal every time a minimal task is done...so much praise, all the time! It doesn't help when I get snarky and think him for flushing the toilet and wiping his butt, lol.
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Old 03-18-2007, 06:54 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I tend to be on the lazy side of things. I'll admit it. In my defense I work 10 hours most days. So that when I am actually home I'm not in the mood to do much of anything.

Luckily Alpha phi and I have a new agreement since our move and my new career. I do not want him to work full time. If he wants a part time job, fine. He stays home, cleans, cooks, etc.. Yeah I'm spoiled I help out if he asks me too or I notice he needs help with laundry ect...
Constant communication is the only thing that can keep it working. It may seem like nagging her but you may have to bring it up many many times to get through.
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Old 03-18-2007, 07:49 PM   #22 (permalink)
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It certainly sounds like depression.

Keep talking, keep badgering, but most of all, LISTEN.
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