He Won’t Take Out the Trash!

He Won’t Take Out the Trash!

“I’m from the South and it’s almost as if women are trained to henpeck their husbands. I was taught this by my mother, grandmother, and aunt, by example. I don’t know why this happens because it not only makes the men feel depressed, it also depresses the women. I try not to do that; however, I don’t know how to get things across without henpecking. For example, my husband will never take out the trash unless I ask him. And I’m an extremely headstrong, dominant personality and he is not really a leader or teacher type. He is more the engineering type. I love my husband and we have a great relationship though I could be ‘nicer.’ Any words of wisdom?” (Virginia)

This was asked on my post “Become Lifelong Students of Your Husband.” There were some great replies to her which I am going to share with you.

“I just take out the trash myself. I expected my husband to when we got married because my father always did. When I asked him why he didn’t take out the trash my husband looked at me like, ‘Are you handicapped?!’ So, I have taken it out for over 20 years and it isn’t so bad. In fact, right now we don’t have trash service so I have to take it to a dumpster. Sometimes I look forward to taking it out so I can stop at the thrift store, etc.” (M)

Instead of getting offended and angry with her husband, she obeyed him and found good that came from it! Instead of tearing her marriage down because her husband wouldn’t take out the trash, she decided to take out the trash and build up her home.

“Oh, I totally understand this! I have a fairly dominant personality as well, and there have been times when I have had to take charge. I was raised by a woman who, in later years, would tell my father that she wouldn’t have to nag if he had listened the first time.

“A meme I saw on Facebook the other day said: ‘If a man says he’ll fix something, he’ll fix it. There’s no need to remind him every few months!’

“In my marriage, I no longer ask my husband to do anything, if I can help it. If I want the trash taken out, I either do it myself or I tell one of the kids to do it. This doesn’t mean my husband does nothing around the house – he’s very domesticated as his mother raised him to be – but it means there is no more bitterness with me feeling annoyed that I have to keep asking him to do stuff, and him getting annoyed at my nagging.

“It’s not something I have been consciously doing for long so I still slip up, but it’s making a huge difference to the peace in our home.” (KAK)

She has decided that instead of nagging a husband to do something, she will do it herself since she desires a peaceful home over being a contentious wife. She is pleasing the Lord as she serves her husband.

“Hi Virginia, my situation is similar to yours. Ever since finding Lori’s blog and delving back into God’s Word, I have been working on holding my tongue at the (yes, engineering-type) husband, and just keeping silent (not silent-treatment, just a pleasant absence of hen-pecking!). It’s not always easy for me (I, too, was brought up watching my mother ‘nag’ and my father getting moody over it – and we’re northerners!), but the more I practiced it, the easier it got, and God rewarded my efforts!

“For example, I would just do normal chores without commenting or complaining about it, and over time my husband became much more attracted to me. He would not only express appreciation over little things (which he never really did before), but even became more physically intimate over what seemed to me the smallest matters – and I don’t think it had anything to do with me completing the task, as I had done it many times in the past (hello, clean clothes in the drawers, not exactly news!), it’s just that I did it without grumbling!

“It’s been so encouraging, and totally worth keeping my mouth shut, just to see the difference in my husband’s attitude, which of course affects the vibe of the whole house and family. I was so floored by it, I told my mom all about it and she was so impressed, SHE started trying the same thing after years of hen-pecking through 50 years of marriage! Give it a try and stick with it in prayer, and God will bless your efforts, too!” (D)

It’s NEVER too late to begin obeying God by serving your husband. As you serve him, you are serving the Lord! Henpecking and nagging never make a marriage better. No, they only serve to build up a big wall between husband and wife, thus tearing the marriage apart.

The above comments in quotations were written by women. This last one was written by a man.

“Different husbands lead (and delegate) in different ways. Some husbands will just tell their wives what they expect of them, what they desire, what they prefer, and what they don’t prefer. For example, they want their wife to be responsible for taking out the trash. Other husbands will let their wishes, preferences, and desires be known through indirect comments and/or through their actions. M’s husband expressed his wishes with a ‘look’ and M got the message, submitted to her husband, and has experienced blessings (from God and her husband) for doing so every day since.

“Virginia, your husband is expressing his desire and delegating that task to you through his actions. If he wanted (and felt that it was his responsibility) to take out the trash, he would be doing it without you asking… over and over and over again like a continual dripping (Proverbs 27:15-16). Because he is not doing it, even after you have indicated to him (how many times?) that you feel that it is his responsibility, his actions are showing you that he wants it to be – your responsibility. Even though he might not have said those words, his actions are ‘speaking’ loudly and clear. Words of wisdom? Submit to your husband’s demonstrated wishes and (without a word or a look or a huff or a sigh, preferably when he is not even there to see it). Take the trash out yourself.

“Feminism has taught (rolling pin to the head and no sex in the bed) many husbands to hold their tongues and not say everything that they would like to say, but a husband should not always have to speak to lead, delegate, or make his preferences known.

“Many women complain that their husbands don’t lead but if a wife makes herself a student of her husband, (mouth closed, eyes and ears open) she will find a lot of unspoken (or mildly spoken) leadership and direction is already there.”

For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.
1 Peter 3:5

27 thoughts on “He Won’t Take Out the Trash!

  1. There was a time in my life when I would have complained bitterly about my husband not taking out the trash…and other things.
    But that was the attitude of an overbearing large and in charge career woman who expected “equality”.
    Now that I’m a very grateful full time keeper of the home, I take out the trash. I mean, really…
    I’m home… the trash is full. I take it out. Who cares? LOL!

  2. I actually don’t mind taking out the trash but it must be taken out the minute “she who must be obeyed ” says it should go out and not a minute later or the consequence will a round of “you NEVER take out the trash ” and a joyless wife. After 39 years I believe celibacy might have been an easier course.

  3. Anyone struggling with these attitudes should read Created to be his Helpmeet. When I read it years ago, I made changes in my marriage – mainly my attitude and the way I viewed the little things. Like why can’t he pull out a T-shirt without unfolding the whole pile -lol.

    I realized these things were not an intentional disregard of my time on his part and I cheerfully started doing anything and everything I could do on my part to make his days/evenings easier.

    My kids and I have grouted tile, cleaned the garage hundreds of times, power washed/stained the deck yearly, stacked wood and many other things.

    I have learned to love cutting grass and weed eating as well as…yes, taking out the trash:)

    Life is simply too short to worry about some of these things that do not matter. Also, I have to say as a type A, get stuff done yesterday person, this has given me control in my life that I value. He used to cut the grass when he got around to it, where as I like it short where you can’t tell what day it was cut on. ?

  4. These are great responses! We must remember that expectations ruin relationships. Too often we confuse traditional gender roles with Biblical gender roles. Yes, there is some overlap – BUT our goal is to adhere to Biblical gender roles. The Bible says women are to be a help meet to the men in their lives. If taking out the trash helps them, then do it! No, its not traditionally a woman’s “role”, but that doesn’t matter.

    Just this morning I was out in our garage cleaning it out and gathering up trash. It was hot (July in Texas!) and I got decidedly yucky. I was hot, sweaty, and red-faced when I came in – definitely not the picture of feminine loveliness. But you should have seen the look on my husband’s face when he saw that instead of nagging him to clean the garage I had just taken care of it myself – to help him knock one more thing off his to-do list. I may not have looked good to him at that moment, but our garage sure did. And my appearance was easily remedied by a shower! Help your husbands ladies. Help them in any way you can. It is God’s purpose for your life.

  5. @Kathryn, I wanted to click “Like” on your comment! I took over some of the out-door as of last summer. Totally worth it! My husband has been so appreciative of this. As a byproduct of the work getting done, I lost some excess weight and have maintained that loss. No need to look for extra time to exercise; it is built right into my day. It is so much simpler to look at the “problem” this way and just take action!

  6. My husband actually WANTS me to ask him to help with certain things. As in, ask politely – not nag or say “why do I always have to remind you, why can’t you ever remember on your own…” he loves helping me out with little things like the garbage and emptying the dishwasher but he rarely thinks to do it on his own. It’s been something I’ve had to work on since I used to get so irritable that I always had to ask but really, I’ve learned that a lot of men just don’t think about things all the time. He can open the trash can with it full 5 times and never notice it’s full. It’s not him trying to be annoying it’s just how it is. And when I ask and am appreciative, it makes him feel really good that I’m so grateful. Now when he remembers on his own I super gush about it, still hoping he will more often haha 😉 but we are both happy with how much less nagging there is when I just ask him nicely. I have a wonderful husband!

  7. I feel you, brother. Sometimes after a long day at work, coming home feels just like going to another job where an unhappy boss awaits you, and you don’t even get paid. Very stressful! Oh, to be able to come home to a meek, loving helpmeet of a wife!

  8. I don’t ask my husband to do anything around the house unless it is something I’m physically not strong enough to do or something like electrical work. It’s funny one of the things I continually ask him to do is take out the trash because he likes to keep a big trash can in the house(the can is about three feet tall) and he asks that we pack as much trash into it as possible so the bag gets very heavy. I’m barely five foot tall so imagine a little woman trying to pull a heavy bag out of a can almost as tall as me. I tell him very nicely that I need my big strong manly man to take out the trash because I’m just not strong enough. He is glad to do it every time!

  9. There are some things that I have to ask my husband for help. Being 5ft nothing is difficult at times! But you can ask in different ways. One is a demanding one, which will never get you anywhere but resentment, or a please can you get me down xyz because I can’t reach it. We sometimes have to work as a team because of it.

  10. Kathryn,

    Something similar happened to me but it had the opposite effect! I walked back in sweaty and panting and my husband told me next time just leave the bag tied up and ready for him and he will start taking it out in the mornings before work 😉

  11. Lori, my mother told my sisters and I about a wife who, married and moved to a village where all marriages were happy but hers. For years, she tried and tried to make things work, but her husband seemed to be working against her.

    At her wits’ end and as a last ditch effort, she went to consult with the oldest woman in the village (who was reputed to have been married the longest and was said to have the happiest marriage of all) regarding her unhappy and crumbling marriage. In frustration this young wife related her tale of woe in detail to the elderly woman with nary an interruption and with many bitter tears. She told of how her husband never did this and instead always did that, she cried as she retold all their daily shouting matches, how he was controlling and unfair, ungrateful and inconsiderate and that lately he’d taken to avoiding home as much as possible, leaving early for work and staying later thereafter. After getting it all off her chest, both women sat quietly for a while as the young wife continued to sob and wipe her tears away occasionally.

    The old lady then cheerily declared that she had just the thing to solve all this woman’s problems once and for all. She assured the young wife that indeed there was a secret to her own long and happy marriage and that it had worked for all the marriages in the village without fail. Needless to say, the young wife was eager to get her hands on it.

    Placing a small ordinary earthen pot onto the palm of the young wife’s right hand, the old woman instructed her saying that in the little pot was a small amount of water from a famed well that dried up the year the old woman was born, but her great grandmother had saved some to give to struggling young wives who were in thoroughly horrible marriages like hers and in need of desperate measures to save said marriages.

    Growing very somber, and in the sternest tone she could muster, the old woman instructed the young wife to see to it that she was never without a mouthful of the precious water whenever her husband was home. Furthermore the young wife was to see to it that she neither swallowed nor let out a drop of the water unless her husband was asleep or away from home. At the end of the fortnight, the young wife was to return for more special water. Once more, the old woman stressed how crucial it was that the mouthful of water be held intact in the young wife’s mouth, the whole time the husband was “in residence” and awake. The young wife thanked her hurriedly and wondered how hard it could be to keep such simple instructions. She was anxious to see the solution at work, surely now that ungrateful, unrepentant husband of hers would get what he had coming to him, just like all the other husbands in the village had been “fixed”.

    That evening, she had the meal ready and kept an eye on the path leading up to their home. As soon as her husband appeared, she quickly did as she had been instructed. He walked past her in the usual way and she was aghast that he didn’t say so much as a hello so she got ready to tell him off but for the sake of the precious water, she kept her mouth shut. She made him a plate and anticipated all his needs and comforts that evening to avoid him “starting a quarrel” because she couldn’t speak. The whole family sat down to an unusually quiet and peaceful meal and a calm night. Her husband asked her if she was poorly because she was not moaning and nagging about anything or complaining about something he did or didn’t do, but she sat there quietly, seeing to the children and refreshing his cup as and when he asked. Keeping the old woman’s instructions was proving to be much harder than she had expected because her husband was being his usual annoying self but as time went by she got better at anticipating his ways. If and when he expressed displeasure, she quietly and quickly did what he wanted because she was determined to see the fortnight through if only to inform the old woman that some men are simply lost causes.

    After a fortnight of similar days, the young wife sat before the old woman regaling her with what magical powers the special water held and how her husband had showed signs of amendment from the very first evening. She further mentioned that her entire family life was transformed now, the children were mild mannered, her husband spent more time at home, he was not cross anymore in fact he was attentive to her, smiled and didn’t provoke her with his little annoying remarks about her moaning and complaining. In fact, he found ways to make life easier for her at home with ingenious handmade installations here and there. She was surprised how much her husband knew about life just hearing him speak so often and happily the last fortnight. She was sure that with another fortnight’s supply of special water, she might just succeed in perfecting her husband once and for all. At the end of her enthusiastic narration, the young wife handed over the earthen pot for a refill.

    The old lady looked her straight in the eye and calmly but firmly explained that there was no such thing as special water and that the trouble was that this wife was destroying her marriage with her own mouth. Her incessant criticism, nagging, her want of gratitude or respect for her husband, her desire for her own way, and refusal to submit and listen to her husband, had been evident on that first consultation with the old woman. The water only served to keep the wife’s mouth shut at all times in her husband’s presence rather than to vent the first thought that popped into her mind.

    The young wife was stunned, embarrassed and deeply remorseful. “So you mean to say, all these wives in our village who are happily married….” the young wife’s voice trailed off as the old woman smiled and nodded in agreement. “Yes, I taught them the same key to happiness in marriage, as I did you” the old woman patted the younger’s hand “now you know, so go and do right by your husband. One day, you will help out a young wife too, but only if your marriage is exemplary enough for your help to be sought after.”

    It is better to live in a desert land Than with a contentious and vexing woman. (Proverbs 21:19, NASB)

    And the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping. (Proverbs 19:13, NASB)

  12. We definitely have certain jobs around the house that each of us does without question.
    I cook (he spent most of his life managing kitchens and declared he was ‘retired’ from the kitchen years ago! LOL).

    He does laundry.

    Our children and I clean the inside of the house and our front porch.

    He keeps the garden, yard and garage in tip top shape, makes sure all plants are watered and flourishing and that the house is nicely painted and kept.

    There are certain responsibilities that are established, and others where when we see the other needs help, we dig in and pick up the slack. My husband’s motto is “divide and conquer” and then we will be able to rest together! It has taken me years to come to a place of being his true helpmeet, but everyday I grow into more of the woman God wants me to be for my husband (not without some setbacks, hence prayer is KEY!).

    We started to have housekeepers in our home during my teenage years, the years in which I should have been training to be a wife and mother. As such, I developed some very bad and careless habits that assumed someone would always clean up my mess behind me because for many years, our cleaning ladies did! I brought these habits into marriage, and man, I wish I could speak godly sense to my newlywed self, but I and my husband have seen the Lord’s hand in our marriage, and how He has grown both of us to be what we are supposed to be in our God-given roles. It’s been a wonderful, freeing ride since I’ve figured it out, and my marriage has never been better. I look forward to more growth and continued joy in this awesome, blessed journey!

  13. Great topic!
    A couple times that I’ve jokingly asked the last time he changed a diaper, he always jokingly asks me when Iast took a shift at work for him. ?
    I’m a stay at home mom, so I consider the house (and everything in it) to be my responsibility. There are a few things that he takes care of, like cutting the grass and anything that’s too heavy for me to lift, but I don’t nag him about it. Nobody finds a nagging wife fun! The one time where I do remind him more than once is if he’s about to miss his turn while we drive somewhere, and he tells me he greatly appreciates it.

  14. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to household chores/car/landscaping work that I usually complete it all myself. A few friends of mine will complain about things like “The car never gets inspected on time” or “The snow needs to be shoveled” and other such things but I always wonder: if they are so frustrated, why don’t they do the work themselves? Take the car to the mechanic. Shovel the driveway-it’s great exercise! Women-if you’re so disillusioned by these expectations of your husband such as taking out the trash, why not either talk to him (he’s not a mind reader) or simply complete the task on you own? My life has been much easier that I’ve let go of expectations and work quickly and efficiently to complete the tasks I want done that day. I know my husband will eventually get around to these tasks, but not in the timeframe in which I’d prefer them to be done, so I take it upon myself to learn about simple home repairs. YouTube has great DIY videos!

  15. It’s funny that taking out the trash is really this big of a deal! I grew up in a single mom household so she ALWAYS had to take out the trash, and take it to the dump! And when I was older I would take it out too. My husband and I both do it! When one of us notices it’s full we just take it out! If one of us is really busy and cant manage to get to it, we will mention it to the other and that one will take it out! No big deal! Sure it can be gross sometimes but oh well! Wash your hands lol. It not like I don’t deal with other gross things all day long, diapers, kids potty, animals, cleaning toilets! What’s so different about a garbage bag?!

  16. Great post, Lori. The part that spoke the biggest to me was the end “Many women complain that their husbands don’t lead but if a wife makes herself a student of her husband, (mouth closed, eyes and ears open) she will find a lot of unspoken (or mildly spoken) leadership and direction is already there.” I never thought of this before. I will do this and look for the direction that is already there. Thanks!

  17. Doing chores doesn’t bother me at all. I never gave it a thought as to whether or not my husband did chores. He does car maintenance because he knows what he is doing; I haven’t a clue. He saves hundreds of dollars because he knows how to fix cars; and what he doesn’t know, he has taught himself. First thing he does is buy the tear-down manual for a car and he is amazing. He can fix anything, build anything and grow anything. Probably he could grow a tomato out of a bag of cement. He has replaced faucets entirely self-taught. Our son can do all these things because Dad taught him. When I say he’s an awesome Dad, I mean every word; he can teach the kids anything and is a thousand percent committed to them.

    Trash never bothered me. When my kids were big enough, we started rotating jobs. At present, I do the bulk of the jobs. Right now we are schooling through summer because I need to catch them up to where they need to be, so we are up very early to work and I do most of the chores. When the trash is full, either I do it or I tell the nearest kid that they need to grab it and take it out. Same with the dish drain; I find the child who is not doing anything and he puts the dishes away. If everyone is in the middle of studying, I do it. It’s just not that big of a deal to me. Everybody knows how to do everything, so they can fend for themselves when the time comes (and it always does).

    Reflecting, concentrating, and remembering all this is SUPER critical for me at this time, while the relationship is sexless and loveless. It helps me get perspective and keeps me focused. I am free of many of the burdens so many other wives have because I am married to a highly talented, creative, and committed father of our children.

  18. Thank you Lori for your kind words. It is a cautionary folktale my mother told us as girls to teach us to speak sweetly and respectfully to our future husbands. I don’t have a blog, I cannot fit it in with the ages of my little ones right now. I enjoy your blog very much and I am convinced that older wiser women have earned the stripes to speak wisdom into the lives of younger women. I’ve seen some young “mommy bloggers” fall prey to the vanity of a soap box to the extent of espousing views antithetical to the Christian faith. They would do well to interact with others on an older woman’s blog like this one, where any youthful folly would be graciously checked by an experienced mature Christian.

  19. To the men who commented…
    Have you referred your wives to this blog? Speaking from experience I had to learn how to shed my old bossy, ungrateful ways. This blog is one of the tools I’ve found to be very helpful in doing that!

  20. Hi Dana, this is Trey’s wife, and yes, he referred me to this blog. For the past few years, at his request, I have been reading every post, but I read a week behind, to give time for comments to be posted. I can get as much benefit out of the comments as the original post sometimes. I’m typically a very quiet person and have never commented before, but I’ve been quietly gleaning nuggets of wisdom over the years to help me become a “transformed wife”. It’s been a slow process, and I’m still very much a work in progress with lots of work to do!

  21. I wish I would have met my mother-in-law before I got involved with my wife because the nagging definitely runs in the family,thank God she’s able to go back to work again so I can get a couple of hours of peace.

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