Avoiding Conflicts over Housework: My Husband Called Me a Dictator!

My husband and I have been married for two years. We both work full time and I am in graduate school, but I do 80 percent of the cleaning around the house. Yesterday he knew we needed to clean the house, but as soon as he started, he decided to watch hockey instead of vacuuming. I was upset with him, and he was furious with me because he said that I put the house before him and that I always tell him what to do -- like a dictator! I grew up in a home where the house always had to be clean, and I don't want to be taken advantage of. I feel you have to stand your ground. What should I do? --from iVillager marlanerom

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Brenda Shoshanna

Dr. Shoshanna is a psychologist, therapist and certified divorce and family mediator. She has written five books, including Zen and the... Read more

It sounds as if your husband has a problem with feeling controlled -- and especially by a woman. You need to sit down with him and create a schedule that both of you can feel comfortable with regarding cleaning and anything else that is important to you. Let him know that you don't want to be bossy but that it is important not only what is done but when it is done, as well. Do this calmly, not in the heat of frustration, and then let go of the issue.

Some men become agitated if they feel a woman is controlling them or bossing them around. In this type of situation, the way you ask for something, the tone you use and how you couch your phrases can make a big difference. But he also must do his part and not passively make you angry and frustrated by "not doing" what he knows needs to be done. Not doing what is needed then blaming the woman for being controlling is "passive aggressive" behavior. This is a bad pattern to get into, so do your best to nip it in the bud. All must be respected in a marriage.

Do you have a question for the Relationship Saver? Join Dr. Shoshanna on the Relationship Saver message board and bi-monthly chat (every other Monday at 8pm ET).

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