Monday, October 20, 2008

Getting an Aspie Husband to Help Around the House

As some of you may know from reading my blog, I'm pretty convinced that my husband also has Asperger's, although he won't admit it. I'm proud to be an Aspie, so it's not like I'd be judging him, but I digress.

I don't know if this an Aspie thing or not, but he is lousy at helping me with anything around the house! Even traditional "manly" type stuff such as mowing the lawn. He has a strong sense of justice, and somehow this is justified in his mind. I think because I work part-time and he works full-time. Of course, I spend much of my time when I'm not working doing ALL of the household chores, taking care of our pets, and taking care of the baby. But somehow, in his mind, this doesn't count as work.

I've tried getting angry, I've tried being extra nice. I've tried taking video of me working to show how hard I work around the house. Nothing.

But, I finally found a trick that works, a little! He's very interested in secret agent and spy movies, so I made a little laminated sign that I post on the fridge. It says, "Your mission, should you choose to accept it..." It also has a picture of a bomb, and the phrase, "This message will self-destruct!" Under that I write (with a dry erase marker) one job that I would like him to do that day. At first, I made them really easy, like picking up one piece of trash off of the bathroom floor. Once he got used to the routine, I gradually started making them bigger jobs. They now usually take up to ten minutes. He does complain, but he acutally does it!

Just wanted to share in case this is something you could use. If you have any other tips, please share them here! I'd love for him to do a little more around the house. :O)

Thanks and have a lovely day!



abfh said...
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abfh said...

I think it is a guy thing in general. There are many guys who think that because they work all day, they are entitled to sit on the couch and watch TV all evening, regardless of how much work their wife does. This attitude probably goes all the way back to prehistoric times, when the cavemen came home from hunting and sat around the fire with their buddies all evening, telling exaggerated stories of how they almost got eaten by a sabertooth tiger, while their hardworking wives got the food ready.

laurentius rex said...

I wouldna ken, I want an aspie wife, and not just any aspie wife either.

Sam said...

This sounds so much like my situation. I think hubby's on the spectrum and he is quite firm that he's not. I've not been diagnosed as on the spectrum but I think I'm close to it. My husband won't do any housework without much fussing on my part or any of the traditional manly stuff. His father is much the same way with house work and his mom seems to be one of those who think it is right and proper for a wife to do all of the housework and that a husband's responsibility begins and ends with bringing home a paycheck.

I don't know what to tell you except that it seems to me to be an extreme case of all the things that women grouse about with their typical husbands. I haven't found anything to get him to consistently help out around the house but he does take out the trash every week (because his dad always took the trash out when he was a kid). The only problem is getting him to recognise what is trash. I readily confess to being a pack rat but I've got nothing on him.

AspieMama said...

Thanks for your comments! It's good to know it's not just me. :) I think that's a good point about our caveman days.

Sam, you mentioned that your husband takes out the trash because his dad did. That's funny, because my husband's mother did most of the cooking and housework, even when they both work. His father does a lot more than my husband does, but that's interesting. It seems that we might grow up to do what our parents did. I'll have to make sure that our little boy sees it everytime that my husband does something around the house, so he doesn't grow up thinking that he doesn't have to do anything!

Thanks again for your responses.


Becca said...

Wow! From your other post about spouses I was for sure to say your husband has Asperger's too! And then I see that you already think that in this post! Oh, it is so true with my husband that he can't seem to do ANYTHING to help around the house either. I like your bomb idea thing. I have to put sticky notes all over the computer of jobs he must do BEFORE he can turn the computer on to play, or one time I hid something and had a list of jobs for him to do and I wouldn't tell him where his it was until he was done.

This is always when I'm working, so it is hard to motivate when you aren't there.

It is sad, you don't want to nag, you don't want to be mean, but you just want some help and they are clueless to it.

Good luck!

The Emery's said...
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Anonymous said...

I guess that makes my mother s lucky woman. Dad did all the cooking, handiwork, and a good deal of the cleaning. I suspect his ADHD helped.He always needed to be doing something.

Anonymous said...

I have much the same issues with an aspie husband who does not see these chores are something within his jurisdiction. By jurisdiction, in addition to the usual sense, I mean something he feels he has control over and is capable of doing well. My husband and I have many talks about us both being able to feel like we have jurisdiction in our household, and it's not an easy thing to accomplish, especially when things are constantly changing.
Your main problem here is that he sees this as temporary, which it may be, but he needs to think of it as permanent. If you communicate to him that this may be permanent, and you need for him to take over these chores entirely, he may be spurred to adjust things to a point that he feels jurisdiction. Let him take ownership of these things, and don't interfere if he does things differently. In addition, try to understand that he's feeling probably a little emasculated, but there's no need to talk about it. Just let him know that this isn't punishment, it's an opportunity to be a stay at home dad.

Anonymous said...

My husband is also undiagnosed aspie. We joke about it when his behavior is obvious, but he won't go near a doctor (and sees no need to- he's perfect in his own mind). What has worked for me is negotiating the routine chores and being specific about miscellaneous things.

Early on in our marriage, we sat down and talked about who should take care of what. I was sure to ask, "Do you think this would be fair?" then listed it out: if I take care of all the laundry, grocery shopping, most of the cooking, etc., you take care of loading the dishwasher (I unload), vacuuming the house (I mop) and edging the yard and mowing the back yard (I mow the front), and taking out the trash and recycles (I take the empty bins back into the garage).

As for the random things that pop up, I have to be very specific and it has to be something he can do right now. For example, I'll ask him if he will put all the empty toilet paper rolls in the kids' bathroom in the trash can. Somehow, throwing them on the floor is sooo much easier than leaning over to throw them away! He and the kids are the only ones who use the bathroom. If I don't ask him, he will not notice it, or will otherwise not be bothered by it. Sometimes, if I remind, remind, remind frequently over a significant amount of time, it becomes natural for him and I can stop nagging (finally!).

Another thing that helps is to state that I will do something if he does the other thing: "I'll weed the garden if you scoop the poop". Since he sees that I'm not just lounging around barking orders, he is more likely to cooperate.

Still, he often responds to my requests with, "Yes. But not right now. I want to read this article/check my email/ watch this show, etc. When this happens, I usually just approach him a little later, reminding him that he did say yes.

It's an ongoing process. It makes me nervous and a little sad that if I let go and just wait for him to do something himself, it will likely not get done. There is an upside, though. He will never come home and say, "The house is a mess! What have you been doing all day?". He simply doesn't notice.