How do I get my husband to start cleaning up after himself?

My husband’s messiness is getting on my nerves so much. We’ve been married for 3 years, parents for 2. I swear it wasn’t always so bad, or maybe I didn’t notice until we had our son. Now it feels like I’m constantly picking up after 2 little boys!!!

I’ve tried gentle parenting him (with all the skills I’m learning for our son) but it’s coming to a point where I’m going crazy at having to chase after him to remind him not to leave dirty socks on the floor or dirty dishes. It’s as if he expects some magical cleaning fairy to come and tidy up behind him (we have a weekly cleaner already) but I already have so much on my plate and feel like I’m suddenly expected to work, parent AND do all the household chores. How do I shake some sense into him?!


Let me preface this by saying that managing a household, raising a tiny human, and juggling work responsibilities is incredibly overwhelming. 

You no doubt entered into marriage looking for a partner through all of this domestic circus business, not someone who would just throw more mess into the mix and leave you hanging.

Unfortunately, marriage and long-term relationships often breed a little complacency. I noticed that you mentioned how this didn’t seem like an issue in your past (or maybe you were less conscious of his lack of domestic input), but have a think as to whether you can track a noticeable reduction in his involvement in household chores…or if he has always been this way.

If it’s clearly the former and his willingness to get down and dirty has decreased over the years, you’ll likely have an easier time getting him back on board. He knows where the socks go (even if he’s not putting in the effort to ensure they get to the laundry basket), so you won’t have to teach him the ins and outs of basic household chores

If you’re more inclined to say that he’s always been a bit of a limpet when it comes to pulling his weight, and it’s just gotten even harder for you to burden with a little one to deal with too, you might then have a harder time.

So yes, if his socks have always magically traveled from the floor to the laundry basket thanks to the sock fairy’s diligent input (your previous role), he is likely somewhat complacent and blind to how much effort you have put in to tidy up after him.

Whether this cleanliness issue is one of active decline, or he was never too good to begin with, consider the suggestions below to help navigate the situation and get him back on board.

At the end of the day, you want to feel like teammates – not a maid in your own home.

1. Communicating

You mentioned ‘gentle parenting’, which is a lovely way to approach parenting your little one. Use the tools you’ve learned from this to approach conversations with your husband with calmness and composure, but remember; he’s an adult! Babying him is unlikely to lead to any satisfactory outcome in which he actually starts pulling his weight.

Nonetheless, stick to “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory, and instead express how his messiness and lack of input are really taking a toll on you and your wellbeing.

So, as much as you might want to say, “You’re messy and lazy, and it’s getting on my nerves”, try out “I‘m feeling overwhelmed by all the clutter. Can we work together to try to improve upon how we collectively manage household duties?”

2. Setting Shared Responsibilities & Motivation

Socks going to the laundry basket might be common sense to you, but unfortunately, not everyone was raised with basic etiquette when it comes to household duties.

He might well be turning a blind eye (think weaponized incompetence: knowing you’re performing a task badly and pretending to be bad at chores so you won’t be asked to do them again), but he might also just lack the understanding of what constitutes a good level of cleanliness and organization.

Make the standard known and resort to timetabled rotas if need be – there’s no shame in skipping back to college cleanliness tools!

Positive reinforcement is also a great way to reward good behavior (yes, slightly like a puppy…)

Ideally, these chores should be shared and completed without needing praise, but for now, acknowledging and praising him for completing chores on his own will help motivate proactivity for his participation.

3. Working Together

After an open discussion, if he’s now aware of how his lack of input affects you and wants to improve, tackling tasks together might be useful.

This way, he can learn from your lead, and you can gain a sense of teamwork and accomplishment from, say, a 30-minute household blitz – “You wash the dishes, I’ll hoover the stairs.”

4. Professional Input

Now, if you cover the steps above and still find yourself shouldering most of the household chores, don’t be afraid to involve professional help. Outside input from a couple’s counsellor can do wonders in mediating issues before the resentment grows too big to tease apart.

Finally, make sure to remind him that you’re partners; not one-person cleaning crews. Teamwork is the key to a happy, tidy home.

How you achieve that sense of teamwork might take some trial and error, but it sounds like you’re well on your way to making it work!



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Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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