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Dilemma: My retired husband thinks he helps with the chores but doesn't actually do much

Dawn French / 30 September 2019

Agony aunt Dawn French advises a reader who is frustrated that her retired husband doesn’t seem to understand how much work is involved in keeping a house clean

A woman happily watches her beloved husband do his fair share of the household chores

Dilemma: Retired husband thinks he helps around the house but doesn't

I’m nearly ten years younger than my retired husband and I still work full-time. The deal is that he is supposed to be the house husband now, but I find myself every weekend cleaning, shopping, doing the laundry etc. He thinks he’s cleaned the house if he’s run the hoover round.

He just doesn’t seem to see what needs doing. What can I do?

Dilemma: My retired husband won't do ANY chores

Dawn's advice

If it were me, I would devise a weekly list of ten necessary demands, and invite him to reject five, and promise five. That way, he will believe the five agreed promises were his choice. Win, win.  My list would be something along these lines:

1 Daily hoover (upstairs one day, downstairs the next, etc.)

2 Worm the cat

3 A bit of light dusting

4 Whittle an entire nativity scene for Christmas

5 Put a wash on

6 Make chronologically accurate photo albums from every family photo, and every trip or holiday

7 Clean windows

8 Build a new state-of-the-art outhouse in the garden and install a mini-spa

9 Empty the ironing basket (by ironing the clothes in it, obviously)

10 Embroider ten cushion covers for craft stall at local fete, then nit-comb the grandchildren’s hair, then pick up all dog poo in the garden, then organise all the pencils in order of length, then rod the drains.

His choice. Entirely.

Of course, if that doesn’t work, I would dump him and marry a kind-hearted, hard-working woman, who will be less likely to take you for granted, and who would probably value the parity in a relationship full of mutual respect.  You would likely also benefit in the hair-product department, hugely.

Your choice.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.