Getting Husbands to Help Around the House
Your question is a good one and, unfortunately, still is relevant. It is amazing to me that, almost 40 years after the women's movement, women and men are still being socialized into a male-normed culture. Despite the fact that many women hold two jobs—one paid and one in service to the family—while men generally hold one (or more) out-of-the-house paid jobs, both are typically assigned the old, familiar roles of men as heads of the household and women as the keepers of the hearth.
What we don't realize is that this assignment of roles debilitates both men and women and the families they create together. Our primary task is to work toward both women and men valuing equally the contributions each makes to the support of the family:emotional, practical and financial.
No, it is not wrong to want your husband to help with the care of the children you share, the house you share, the well-being of the family. But it is difficult to work against childhood's lessons.
Once you believe that what you are asking is reasonable, your next challenge is to assure yourself that you have a right to request and to expect support—both emotional and practical—from your partner. Then you need to talk openly with each other and find ways to work together. Maybe he thinks it's not man's work to feed a baby, or maybe he's afraid he'll "break" the baby.
How we work to make change shapes the kind of change that happens. For example, it would be valid to demand that your husband help you. It also might be feasible to get his help by crying or acting like the helpless female, which might result in him feeding the baby or changing the diapers but keeps him in the position of being the strong male helping the hysterical, overwrought wife. Better to help him see that time spent with the family—sharing the tasks, joys, challenges of growing together with your children—is priceless and, if missed, can never be recaptured.
Try to identify together ways your partner can, and is willing, to help you. What requests will bring positive responses? What do you most value about him as husband and father? What do you prefer to do yourself? How have you worked cooperatively in the past and how can this translate to child raising together? What rewards are there to being a team?
Is it better to divide tasks on a somewhat permanent basis? Is it helpful to make a chart, or does that seem too structured? Is it possible for each of you to choose things you like to do, or is it necessary that each of you take on some tasks that you would prefer not to do? How can these tasks become opportunities to share your life together?
What is the general level of communication in your relationship? Do you make time to talk together? Do you talk about how parenting has affected you, individually and as a couple? Many people behave as if, once married, things will stay the same for the next 50 or so years, or, if it's not working, it will end. But relationships must be built every moment of every day: relationship with oneself and with every other person in one's life.
A partnership can be only as mature as its participants. If you seem to be drifting apart, would you be willing to meet with someone, separately or together, who could help you sort out whatever seems to be getting in the way of being healthy adults, a healthy couple, building a healthy family?