My Husband Complains About My Cleaning

Husband complaining to wife

Shirley writes:

My husband is driving me crazy. He complains about the way I clean up. It’s never good enough. He says he has to clean up after I clean. I tell him if he’s not happy, why doesn’t he just do it himself? But he refuses and says I need to learn to clean better. I’m becoming extremely angry and frustrated feeling anything I do is never good enough. What should I do?

Dr. Chalmer answers:

Update: I wrote a book about this very topic! Here’s the link:

Shirley, thanks for your question–the first for my new blog!

Your husband’s opinion of how you clean is just that: his opinion. You don’t have to agree with him, and you don’t have to fight with him either.

If your problem were simply that he did some more cleaning after you were finished, you could decide it’s a charming, if somewhat quirky, habit of his, and not worry about it. But it’s not his cleaning that’s getting to you, or even his different preference about how clean things should be. It’s his frequent criticizing you. If he were to say to you that he likes it cleaner, you could agree or disagree. You could even decide to be generous, as I hope he would too, and find a way to accommodate each other. But he claims to know that you “need to learn to clean better.” I’m not surprised you’re angry and frustrated.

What you need to do with your husband is what nearly every couple has to do at one time or another: you need to get to the right argument. What you object to is his being critical and condescending to you. That’s what you need to address with him. Something like, “We can try to figure out how to manage our different cleaning habits. But I need you to hear what it sounds like to me when you tell me that I need to learn to clean better. I need to be spoken to with respect, even when you’re irritated by something.”

You need to get hold of yourself to have a conversation like that, and there’s no guarantee your husband will be able to do the same. But if you can get to the right argument, you’ll be less angry and less frustrated. That doesn’t solve your problem, but at least you’ll be on the way to addressing it. Good luck!

5 thoughts on “My Husband Complains About My Cleaning”

  1. I think it is an age thing. And a marriage status issue. When people are younger they tend to be more open, or, if not open, women might let men push them into situations that are not always comfortable. By the time we get mature, we have stronger voices. Also there is not matrimony here. Despite what people say, there can be a higher level of trust and intimacy with the piece of paper. If Lois is still bringing it into the conversation after you have stopped, then she sounds pretty immature, or looking for a fight. Maybe use her anger to spice up your relationship, tell her that you just don’t want to hear it anymore.

  2. I don’t like how my husband folds shirts and pants. I do it the opposite way and He makes me feel like I’m wrong.

    1. I’ve noticed that this is one of the biggest topics that people have searched for that brings them to this blog! I can see there are a lot of people who experience this issue.

      Judy and I plan to address it again on our “Couples Therapy in Seven Words” podcast. And I’ll be addressing it in my newsletter soon, too. So if you’re not already signed up for my newsletter, please do so! Just go to my homepage, brucechalmer.com, and sign up. When you do, you’ll receive a link to download my book “Seven Words to Jump-Start Your Love Life” for free.

      And I’d love to hear your particular story, so we can talk about it (anonymously, of course) on the podcast and in the newsletter. So please send it along. You can comment on this post, or email me. I’d love to hear from you!

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