Helpful vs. Sharing Husband

Posted by on Mar 1, 2018 in Blog, Featured | 4 comments

Helpful vs. Sharing Husband

I read an interesting article a few years ago written by a woman. In the article, she was saying that when she asks her husband to help out, he always says, “Sure, I’d be glad to.” “Honey, would you please take the garbage out?” “Would you put the kids to bed?” “Would you do the laundry today?” “Would you pay the bills this month?” “Would you cook this evening?”….”Sure, I’d be glad to.”

But then she realizes that the responsibility still resides with her. She notices the things that have to be done. And her husband doesn’t so she has to ask him. A “sharing” husband would do those things without having to be asked. He would run to the store if there was no milk. He would do the laundry if the hamper was full of clothes. A “helpful” husband has to be asked. She acknowledges in the article that there are numerous husbands who aren’t even helpful. Husbands who never cook, who never wash dishes, who never do the laundry—I knew one guy who traveled a lot in his job who never packed his own suitcase. His wife did.

I have found that asking the question, “Are you a helpful or sharing husband?” to men or “Is your husband a helpful or sharing husband?” to women in a group always leads to a rousing discussion. Some men are truly sharing husbands—they cook, take care of the kids, go shopping, and do laundry. More men are helpful husbands. They aren’t necessarily good at seeing the things that need to be done but if they’re asked to help out, they do. And there are those who do nothing. Why this is so fascinating for me, I have no idea. I was simply blown away by that guy who had his wife pack his suitcase for him. I remember asking him why she did it and he told me, “ She knows better than I do what clothes to bring. She knows what I like and what I don’t like.” I can’t even imagine asking my wife, Farn, to pack my suitcase. She would start laughing hysterically.

I like to think I’m a mixed bag between helping and sharing. But when I hold a mirror up, I have to admit that I’m a helpful husband. Farn does almost all of our cooking. She would love it if I volunteered to cook occasionally. But I don’t….she has to ask me. When we lived in Hermosa Beach and I was working at Mattel, Farn traveled in her job. She would fly back to New Jersey every other month for a week and I took care of myself. I planned meals, shopped, cooked, cleaned up, paid the bills, everything. I learned to notice the things that needed to be done. But it’s frustrating– for some reason that learning doesn’t stick over time.

We’ve been married for almost 50 years and we’ve fallen into patterns that are hard to break. Farn is very subtle in her teaching style. She doesn’t say a word but, instead, leaves me hints– a shopping list on the counter, dishes by the sink, or laundry on top of the washer. It’s up to me to notice them and take responsibility. Maybe someday I’ll be a sharing husband.



  1. Loved this article and am so happy that your health let’s you feel like writing again. Take care.

  2. I have had this conversation many times with a dear friend of mine – about her husband and my own. Thanks for putting into words that are easy to share with others.

  3. John, great article and a good one to share with our children as they marry and start families of their own.

  4. Just your style John to be telling the truth.

    I don’t have anything to add from my first marriage and I was in my mid forties when I married again. I am more of a sharing partner but my wife would disagree. You see she has different expectations about what should be done. We have settled into a rhythm after seventeen years by assigning chores. We both buy in to a minimum standard of what needs to be done. And we both fail at times. The big advantage for us is that we know life is short. We know what matters.

    Does anyone have ideas about how to get teenagers to help?

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