Husband Won’t Help Around The House

10 January, 2017
Q Salaam, Thank you for providing this service. I am a wife and a mother and also have work. I often feel so very tired and as if I have no time to even think. I am constantly running from one task to another. And when my husband comes home from work, he refuses to help me with some of the chores of the house. He says that this is my duty and his duty is to provide. I also contribute to the expenses of the family. But am expected to do it all and I am so tired. Can you tell me how I can approach my husband in trying to get him to help around the house and with the children? Is this something I shouldn’t ask him to do at all? What is the Islamic approach? Thank you very much for your input.

Answer

Asalamu Alaikum Kiran,

Thank you for sending in your question to our website.

I feel for you and totally understand what you are going through.

This is because I also hail from Pakistan, and am well aware of the cultural ethos prevalent here, especially as far as gender roles and duties in marriage are concerned.

Sister Kiran, you need to keep in mind a couple of things. The first is that, boys in Pakistan are raised with a certain skewed mindset regarding masculinity and manliness.

This mindset is a product of ideas and beliefs that have little connection with the religion of Islam.

Usually, by the time a boy turns 10 to 12 years old, these gender-related beliefs and attitudes on which he bases his interactions with females, especially those in his immediate family, are pretty firmly set in his mind.

His mother’s own personality and role in the home, and the nature of her interactions with his father are a major influence upon a boy.

Additionally, if there are grandparents in the home, their presence and the way they fulfill their roles and duties in the house also affects a young boy’s mindset about gender roles.

He takes these ingrained beliefs and ideas with him well into adulthood, and they largely remain unchanged, even if he relocates to other countries, and/or acquires higher education.

As an example of our local concept of “manliness”, take the case of how many young Pakistani boys habitually raise their voices when talking back to their mothers in a state of anger.

Few are harshly rebuked for such behavior by the elders of the family, even though this action is a major sin in Islam.

Boys will be boys”, onlookers (including even the mother) shrug, as they casually dismiss this abhorrent behavior. Many elders might even admire the little boy for being so “manly” at such a young age, that he even stands up to his own mother!

When the time comes for such a boy to marry, he usually desires to have a wife whose role in the household and family closely resembles the one that he witnessed his mother or grandmother play during his childhood years, 2 or 3 decades ago.

Consequently, helping a wife out with the household chores is concerned by most men (and women!) to be an emasculating trait in Pakistani culture, as is listening to the wife’s opinion and doing anything in accordance with her wishes. This is a sad and true fact.

The second thing that I want to point out to you is that, according to Islamic Law, you are not obligated to contribute a single paisa to the household expenses, even though many wives nowadays work like you do, and willingly chip in.

So, what happens is, that working wives take on a double burden: housework plus job. It is no wonder, then, that you are tired all the time and rushing from one thing to the next.

As far as the Islamic viewpoint is concerned, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to do housework. He is the role model whom all Muslim husbands should emulate and follow.

But the problem lies in the fact that many Muslim husbands coming from Eastern cultures nowadays refuse to change their way of thinking and put into personal practice those aspects of Islam that require them to sacrifice their desires, benefits, and ease.

So, husbands refuse to help their wives with any housework, even if their wife helps them out in their role of providing for the family, by contributing towards those expenses that they should be paying for.

They don’t consider her sharing their burden of being the family provider emasculating at all, but perceive their helping her with the housework to be emasculating and against their inherent manhood!

It is a quintessential example of having their cake and eating it too.

However, for a truly righteous Muslim man, the opposite is true: he tries his best to help out his tired wife with housework, and dislikes it a lot if she offers to contribute financially to the expenses of the family.

Since you live in Pakistan, you have the option of hiring domestic help to help you with the housework, especially cooking and cleaning.

Other options are: invest in a fully automatic washing machine and do fewer laundry loads per week, hire righteous evening tutors for your children to help with their homework, and/or a full-time maid/driver, depending on which chores tire you out the most.

Offload, delegate, or outsource those errands that you least enjoy, in order to reduce stress.

Sister Kiran, I am sorry to say but it is very difficult for a Pakistani wife to change her husband’s mentality in this matter i.e. him helping her out with the housework. Complaining about his lack of help will only make the marital relationship even more strained.

I am speaking from experience of counseling many married women about this. Asking a husband to read any Islamic articles or books about this topic might also backfire. He might then seek out bias information in order to demand more than his rights from her. 

So, I would suggest that you gently and intermittently invite your husband to study the Quran, because only the sincere study of Islam from its authentic sources can change a person’s heart, mindset, habits, and relationships with others.

Also, make constant dua (supplicate) to Allah to make things easy for you, and to guide your husband to become a more understanding and compassionate partner to you, as the Quran directs us to be to our spouses.

Lastly, you could consider switching to a more part-time work schedule or a freelancing job, in order to lighten the many burdens that you are carrying on your shoulders right now.

If your husband misses the money you bring in from a full load of work, then maybe you can suggest that if he helped you, it would make it possible for you to help him!

You should also recite the tasbih’s of Fatimah bint Muhammad whenever you feel too tired and fatigued.

I hope that this helps you out, and answers your question. Please keep in touch.

Wassalam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Men Who Do Housework

It is not compulsory upon the wife to do the housework

Husbands & Housework

For Desperate Housewives: Tricks for Happiness

Prophet’s Family Life: It’s Peace and Harmony