Busy Housewife

July 21 2021 | by

DEAR DR. POPCAK: I’m really struggling with my husband. We have six children and I’m a stay at home, homeschooling mother. My hands are certainly full all day, but I still do my best to keep up with everything, especially the laundry and the cleaning. But my husband still comes home from work angry that the house isn’t perfectly clean. I’ve tried to explain to him what I’m doing all day, and I’ve tried to get the kids more on board with helping, but it feels like I can never meet his standards. How can I get my husband to understand and/or be more active in helping out around the house?


It certainly sounds as though you work hard and you are doing your best to meet everyone’s needs on a daily basis. It seems that part of the difficulty here, however, is that you are struggling to manage the balance between self-donation and hyper-responsibility.

Our faith reminds us of the importance of self-donation – of using our gifts and talents to generously work for the good of others. But we are also reminded that for a relationship to be healthy, it must be mutually self-donative.  That is, both people in the relationship – you and your husband – have to be equally committed to giving all they have to work for each other’s good.  Even Jesus models this. He offers all of himself to us on the cross, he holds nothing back. But he doesn’t force himself on us. For us to actually benefit from Christ’s free and total gift of self, we must respond by giving ourselves freely and totally back to him.  He doesn’t drag us, kicking and screaming into heaven against our will. He stands at the door and knocks, but it’s up to us to open the door and let him in.

This is where it will be important for you to speak with your husband and involve him in the process of meeting the needs of one another and your family. This might be difficult as hyper-responsible people often struggle with asking for help, especially if the people they have asked are less than enthusiastic about giving it. If this happens to you, don’t assume that it automatically follows that you have to do everything. Either find some other way to get the help you need – even if it is not your preferred way to get it – or, if worse comes to worse – decide what you are capable of doing without help and stick to that. When your husband complains that certain things aren’t getting done, simply tell him that you are doing all you can without his help, but if he would like to pitch in, then you are sure you could accomplish more together. It is not your job to make everything work to an ideal standard on your own power. Even God doesn’t build his Kingdom by himself. He insists that we partner with him, not because he can’t do it, but because it would not be respectful of our free will or the dignity of our personhood to do it all for us. 

Make it an ongoing discussion – setting a time to talk daily or weekly – about how you both will work together to meet each other’s needs and the needs of the family. What role will you both play in accomplishing the work that needs to get done and how will you work together? The bottom line in this, however, is to respect your limits, and get the help you need. 


Updated on July 21 2021