Ask For What You Need

My husband and I have pretty clear domestic responsibilities. He’s the cook, I’m the cleaner and we both do laundry when it needs to be done. It makes life easy for us. We’ve always had this arrangement pretty much since we moved in with each other. Until recently I’ve always had pretty clear work hours, where The Mister works until the work is done. It’s just the nature of our jobs but that changed when we moved to Vancouver because my hours changed during tax season and I was working 70 hour work weeks from February until May. It was a HUGE change for us.

For the first few weeks of busy season, I was forced to clean less. I was getting antsy about how messy our place was because The Mister was working too, and he wasn’t used to having to do the daily cleaning so he was doing minimal cleaning because he was tired after working and having to cook AND clean. Instead of being grateful for what he was doing, or seeing all the things he was doing for me, I yelled at him about all the things he missed cleaning in the kitchen. I should’ve been straightforward about my feelings, I should’ve asked for the things I needed to not feel anxious about our messy apartment, but I didn’t. He didn’t yell back, he just calmly said, “If you told me what you wanted and needed from you, you know I would’ve done it.” Oof. Lesson learned. ASK FOR THE THINGS YOU NEED.

I’m sure that I’m not the only wife to not ask for what I need from my spouse. To expect, that they can read your mind and emotions. Very often, wives don’t ask for the things they need. Things like a break from the children or a help with household chores. Sometimes, they don’t know it’s okay to ask for what they need. At other times, their lives are so busy they haven’t figured out what they need. And one that I’m guilty of, countless times is not asking for it because I believe The Mister should know without being asked. Whatever the reason, needing things and not asking for them creates a lot of stress and frustration, and usually leads to anger and resentment in their marriage.

Here are 3 tips to ask for what you need:

1. Make a list.
Making a list of some things you need so you don’t forget when you are talking with your spouse.

2. Be specific in your needs. 
Your spouse will be more likely to respond well if they know exactly what is required of them.

3. Know your worth.
You are worth it. If you’re overwhelmed, reach out to your spouse and family. Your spouse should be willing to help because they love and appreciate what you do for them and your family.

Be specific about what your needs are, and don’t expect your partner to guess. The only way your spouse can know what you want and like is if you’re clear about it. Speak your needs in a way that is respectful and shows your spouse that you know your worth.

So tell me, do you have trouble asking your spouse what you need? Are you like me and think he should just know what I need and want? How do you ask your spouse for what you need?

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16 thoughts on “Ask For What You Need

  1. Duuuuuude I feel you on this! The only clear standard we have as far as cleaning is he cleans the bathrooms, I do the laundry, and we do whatever we see needs to be done when it needs to be done. The problem with that is I see the dishes in the sink WAY more than he does, and we have had many an argument about that. Asking is so much more helpful, though! I find if I’m going to be out for the evening and he’s at home, if I say, “Hey would you please do the dishes?” They get done. But if I just leave and come home expecting him to see the dirty dishes, they won’t get done. Communication strategies are SO important – esp in housework!


    1. I think when people have different expectations of what clean or dirty is, it can be difficult. I usually bite my tongue if I see a garbage juuust about to overflow but isn’t overflowing because, my husband is an adult and should see that it needs to go out before it overflows. We’re still working on it!


  2. Your husband sounds so patient and wise 🙂 I do most of the chores around the house and I’m usually the one to cook, too. I’m very type-a and controlling, so I don’t mind because if I’m doing it it gets done MY way. That said, I’ve learned to ask K for help when it’s something that’s I’m not picky about. He changes towels from the washer to the dryer and he knows to put his dirty dishes in the dishwasher. The problem is with me, though, not him. I just need to ask for the help.


    1. As long as your happy with the way the division of labour is, more power to ya, Audrey! I’m not controlling about cleaning but I do have a “routine” of sorts so nothing goes too long without being cleaned like cleaning out the fridge every week so we aren’t eating spoiled food or wiping down cupboard doors because our white cabinets get dirty SO easily but those are things that are overlooked for my husband. He’s more of a garbage is out, kitchen is swept and there are no dishes in the sink kinda clean.


  3. I agree that it’s important to communicate clear expectations to one another. I also agree that we should focus on what our SO has done correctly instead of complaining about what they forgot.

    But I also think that when it comes to housework, putting the mental burden on one person to keep track of everything is unfair (and usually gendered). When my husband and I first got married, we were both working full-time. I was doing about 80% of the housework. I kept talking to him about it, because obviously that was an absurd and unrealistic division of labor. He said I should just tell him what to do.

    In much gentler terms than this, I told him that a grown ass man who worked as a freaking *janitor* in high school should know when shit needs to get cleaned without his wife having to nag him about it. When we were dating and I was working two jobs, sometimes he visited me on the weekend even when I had to work long hours. I would come home to a sparkling clean apartment, a fridge full of groceries, and dinner in the oven. But somehow we got married and he stopped seeing dirt? Hell no.

    Now that I’m not working full-time, I have no problem doing most of the housework and most of the mental burden of keeping track of how often things have been cleaned. But the mental stuff alone is still *work.* It’s invisible labor, but it’s still absolutely vital to having a house run smoothly. For example, I often ask Dan to collect the trash from around the house the night before pickup. (I do this myself just as often as I ask him to do it). On multiple occasions in the last 3 years, he misses multiple trash cans around the house. Now when I ask him, I specify all each room in the house with a trash can. He’s simply not taking on the mental labor of keeping track of all the trash cans in the house. This is just one little thing, but when you’re looking at keeping an entire house clean, little things add up to a lot of labor.

    Now that I’ve written an essay on invisible labor… I’ll see myself out the metaphorical door.


    1. I LOVE what you’ve written, Brita. It’s definitely something to think about. The Mister didn’t do any chores until he went to college, because the way his mom was. I on the otherhand always had chores and things that had to be completed before hanging out with friends, like keeping my room clean or cleaning the kitchen before I went out so my mom never came home to a disastrous house after work. It’s been ingrained in me to do the “invisible labour” of paying bills or how many trashcans we have because I grew up that way but my husband had to learn it as an adult. He still does the cleaning even without prompting, we just have different definitions of what clean is? I guess is the best way to explain it. I think that when there are equal work hours between spouses, division of labour should always be equal but in my marriage it makes no sense for my husband to do all the cooking and cleaning when he works at least 45 hours a week at his day job on top of at least 10 hours of freelance work every week and I only work at a max of 35 hours.


  4. Ugh I am so guilty of assuming Pearson should know what I want. It’s so obvious to me, why isn’t it obvious to him? And if I have to tell him, it means less. I’m working on it…


  5. I have definitely have periods where I feel like, “well, he should just know what I need. Or notice so and so, because it is sooo obvious to me.” I’ve found that just coming straight out and asking for what I need makes it a whole lot easier for him and then I don’t get as annoyed when things go undone, especially as it relates to household tasks.


  6. I love these tips! My husband works longer hours than me and does all of the outside stuff, car maintenance, home projects, etc. I tackle laundry, cleaning, and cooking. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with working a long day and coming home and feeling the need to prepare some glamorous dinner. A few months ago my husband said to me “You know, if we need to just order a pizza or have chicken nuggets sometimes, that’s totally fine.” It was then that I realized that I was putting all that pressure on myself!


    1. I definitely put a TON of pressure on myself too. It’s great that your husband acknowledged how much you do and helped you come to a great solution to feel less pressure to get dinner on the table.


  7. oh you are in my brain. that literally happened today. i got really short with him and he paused to say “don’t talk to me that way. what are you needing to feel better?” he allowed me a minute to gather my thoughts and i was able to say “take atlas, feed her and i need to shower.” why is it so hard to remember that we aren’t married to mind readers?!


    1. That’s awesome that Ravery acknowledged that something was obviously wrong and helped you out, Chelsea. I really do wish sometimes we could be mind readers so we don’t even get into these situations.


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