We have an admittedly unique approach to getting your spouse on board to help with housework in Hot Mess to Home Success.
But it works really well.
You should know though, that just like you have a unique personality that we have to work with…
So does your spouse.
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There’s a wide range of reluctant spouses too. From someone who’s narcissistic or even emotionally abusive all the way over to someone that wants to help, but is either chronically disorganized or severely overwhelmed.
It’s hard for an overwhelmed spouse to find the motivation to help. Because he just doesn’t have faith that there’s anything he can do to make it better.
The process to get a reluctant spouse on board is always the same. But the exact spot in that process that they “get it” and insert themselves into the system is going to differ. That’s what determines how tough of a case they are.
I talk about this in the video below, but there’s a few highlights I want to make sure you understand…
How to Get your Spouse On Board
Start on your own.
Don’t tell them you’re doing a new program. Let the results speak for themselves.
Hot Mess to Home Success teaches you to manage the entire house by yourself in one hour a day. We remove hours of “stuff” from your life that doesn’t need to be done and teach you how to work with your unique personality. This way, you never need to have the motivation to do it (which is why nothing else has ever worked).
We want to show them the proof that this works so they can see the difference in the house and how much less stressed you seem.
When your spouse can see that, that’s the time that we tell him there’s a new system and that it’s based on bare minimum effort on a consistent basis. It works with your unique personality so you don’t need to rely on willpower or motivation and it buys you more free time to spend as you want.
About half of our reluctant spouses will want to jump on board at this point. These are the guys that mostly want to help, they either lack faith in anything working, are overwhelmed, or are chronically disorganized themselves.
Seeing that it works, understanding that it’s built for them, that it has rewards built-in, and that it’s an already set up system that they can just plug themselves into is all that they needed.
For the other half… these are considered our toughest cases of spouses.
I’d want you to continue doing the system on your own (while reaping the rewards of additional free time).
While we slowly work on them over time through the following steps…
Explain how this makes you feel.
Your spouse needs to understand how this affects you and which of your needs aren’t being met when he doesn’t help. You shouldn’t explain this in a way that criticizes him or puts him on the defensive (because then his brain shifts from listening to you to defending his actions and dismissing your views as wrong.).
We need to find out why your reluctant spouse resists helping.
There’s tons of plausible explanations… from deep-seated views on gender roles in the home from watching what his mother did around the house to years of feeling like he was “trained” to not help if he was criticized when he tried to help.
The goal in compromise is to listen to the other person without judging. Then bring what both of you want to the table, weighted equally (that means that neither of you are right, even if it feels like you’re right).
And find a way that you can both live happily in the situation. Even if it’s not completely fair and equal.
Real-life example: Sydney felt like she had to do it all while Matt didn’t help. Matt really resisted traditional chores but could live with bringing the kids to school, picking them up from their after school program, and doing the grocery shopping every week. That saved Sydney 8 hours a week and she felt like that was an even trade since it only took her 7 hours a week to manage the home. They’ve kept that up for years now.
You’re both right. I promise.
Even if your beliefs are at opposite ends of the spectrum. You just have different perspectives on what’s occurring and how it affects you both. That’s normal.
If you need to, you can make a Compromise Board that visually shows you what you both want and what possible solutions are.
Explain the rewards for helping.
Just as important as a compromise, your reluctant spouse needs to be able to see a vivid picture of what the rewards would be like if he did help.
Because no one does chores for the sake of chores… including you.
And what his version of success would look like is just as personal to him, as yours is to you. That’s why it’s so important to listen during the compromise phase so you understand what his version of success is.
Here’s several examples of the “winning rewards” that got their spouse convinced to help. You can clearly see that these are personalized to them and wouldn’t work at all on a different spouse.
- “Wouldn’t it be amazing to sit down to a movie and a cocktail every night and not have to do anything after we eat dinner at 7?”
- “If I had more help, that would leave me more time to work, which would take a lot of pressure off of you to work overtime.”
- “Wouldn’t it be amazing to just have lazy Sundays? We can stay in PJ’s and play video games and eat pizza because we don’t have a huge list of things that we have to do?”
- “Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to host parties or have your friends from college for the weekend with a clean house that they’ll actually be impressed by? We could do a monthly dinner party”!
- “If we can get the house under control, I could take the kids for a walk when you get home and give you some time to destress by yourself and give us some much needed exercise and fresh air.”
Ask for help but keep control of some tasks.
As a general rule, I want the person who bought the course (or who is the most interested in home management) to always be in full control of the foundation (which are dishes, laundry, and schedule book). While that’s only 15 minutes a day of work combined, it also doesn’t mean that you actually have to do that work.
You just have to manage it being done.
That means you can ask him to help with specific instructions (like Hey baby! Can you take those clothes out of the dryer and fold them for me?) Or you can train him (or any of your kids) to completely do the chore for you (I’m a big fan of training kids to start laundry, switch laundry, and put their own clothes away into a system that they help set up (like they choose where their pants go, etc).
But ultimately, you’re responsible for making sure it gets done and the natural consequences for it not getting done fall on you. So when you train others or ask for help, you’re really just managing them to do the task for you.
Give up control and full responsibility for other tasks.
For anything else, you have the option of giving your spouse full control of the task and accepting full responsibility for the natural consequences of the task.
For Sydney and Matt- that means that Matt’s in charge of getting the kids to school in the morning. So if Matt’s bringing the kids to school late, it has nothing to do with Sydney.
If the school staff is upset, they can speak to Matt about doing better. The kids may end up talking to Matt about how embarrassed they are when they always show up to school late. But it’s not Sydney’s job to make sure that Matt gets the kids to school on time.
That chore is completely off of Sydney’s plate and she doesn’t need to think or worry about it.
Some students could never do that. They couldn’t just let that go and let Matt be in charge of it. So the rule of thumb is to never give up control and full responsibility for anything that really affects you.
But to also balance that with… choose wisely what affects you, because you’ll never know the relief of being able to take things off your plate (and usually when students start with us, EVERYTHING is on their plate) until you can learn to give up control of some things.
An example from my own house is that Jon has full control and responsibility over the trash. Jon isn’t perfect and forgets to take the trash to the curb to be picked up by the garbage trucks every few months. When that happens, the trash cans get over-filled and my 8 year old (who’s trained to take the trash out to the larger bins every day) can’t fit those in the bins so he puts them to the side of the bins.
The natural consequence of that is that birds or animals break into the bags and make a big mess. It’s Jon’s responsibility to clean that mess and work with our 8-year-old to find a solution to where to put the bags. He may need to take a trip to the dump, but ultimately he’ll fix it in whatever way he feels is right.
He made what would have been a simple job (dragging trash cans to the curb) a much harder (and grosser) job next week.
So, it’s Jon’s job to deal with and fix the natural consequences and it’s my job to let those natural consequences play out without interfering.
Some students are used to managing things for their spouses so they feel the need to “help”. By setting alarms so he doesn’t forget to take the trash out, by reminding him that morning, or by doing it for him as a “special favor”.
Resist that urge at all costs. I know you think you’re helping, but what you’re really doing is taking away that win from him and giving him a vote of no confidence.
If the trash gets done that week, it’s not because he managed it, it’s because you reminded him. Which is your win and not his. And you don’t have the reward of having one less thing to think about.
I want you to give up full control. And don’t even think about the consequences. They’ve got this under control… And if they don’t… they’ll figure it out and learn from it.
What if I can’t give up control of anything?
For some students, the idea of giving up control of anything makes them anxious. That’s ok too. Again, this is highly personalized to you and your specific spouse. If you like being the one to manage things, and just want more help, and that works for your spouse too… that’s ok.
You just have to be aware that you’re trading the relief of having less things on your plate in order to have that control. This means that you can’t also play the martyr and complain that no one else manages as much as you because that’s a choice that you’re making.
But that works well for some students and there is no one right answer.
What if he never deals with natural consequences?
Natural consequences help us get the important things done. We do the laundry so we have clean underwear. We wash the dishes so we have a clean pan to cook with.
But some people are able to deal with a lot more mess than others.
In our example, Jon cares very much about what the neighbors think. He’s not going to let the house turn into a giant trash pile and never fix it. So he’s able to take over the trash.
And I’m able to give up full control. Because I know that at worst, it’ll be bad for a week or two. But eventually, he’ll handle it and get better over time.
But some of our readers’ spouses have no problem letting the trash pile up at the side of the house for months and months and they’d never fix it.
In that case, that wouldn’t be a chore that you’re able to give up control and responsibility for. (But if you have kids, I’d work really hard to train them instead).
Can you have him take over something different while you work on those skills?
- Taking the kids to school?
- Getting the cars serviced?
- Helping the kids with homework?
If all else fails, is there something else you’d want in order for the exchange to feel fair to you?
- Time away from being the primary caretaker in the evenings for a bit?
- Extra spending money?
There really isn’t one right answer. The right answer is the one that everyone can live with and be happy. We’ve seen some pretty unique arrangements with students. And those work just as well as the traditional split of chores.
The thing I need you to understand is that regardless of who you’re married to, I’m 100% confident that we can get you both into a situation where you’re happier. And, where you both feel it’s fair.
But the how is going to be completely unique to you and your spouse.
If you’re ready to get your home (and life!) back under control, you can jump on the waiting list to enroll in Hot Mess to Home Success right here. It teaches you how to manage your home (and life!) with bare minimum effort on a consistent basis. And it works with your unique personality so you never have to rely on having the motivation to do it. (because that’s not going to happen!). If you’re on the fence, here’s what our students had to say.
Not Enough Time to Manage Your Home?
P.S. If you’re feeling like no matter what you do you can’t get your house under control (not to mention your budget!) we completely understand. If you are sick of spending all day “catching up”, only to have it completely trashed again in a few days, then you should check out our FREE training “Why Your House is Trashed: The 3 Step Shortcut to Transform Your Home For Good With No Extra Time” which will walk you through how to break that cycle once and for all.
The training will walk you step by step through the three foundational routines that will help you manage all aspects of your home no matter how bad your situation is right now.
Implementing this core foundation allows you to work with your personality (and your specific situation) to create a custom plan to manage your dishes, laundry, schedule book, meal planning, budgeting, and a cleaning routine in less than one hour a day. You read that right, ONE HOUR A DAY.
If you want to take it a step further, we can teach you how to automate a ton of stuff in your home (without paying for it), giving you back HOURS of your life (yes, even your crazy life!). Then once you get the foundation set, we move on to more complex skills like meal planning, budgeting, and cleaning.
This is a proven system that’s been field-tested by thousands of people. People that have tried everything and could never keep their house clean or stick to a budget.
If you are ready to get started, you can sign up for the FREE one-hour training “Why Your House is Trashed: The 3 Step Shortcut to Transform Your Home For Good With No Extra Time” here…
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