Shortcuts: “My Husband Won’t Let Me Hire a House Cleaner”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

My husband and I have been married for eight years, together eleven, and we have a toddler. He works full time in law enforcement, and I am a stay-at-home mom working part-time as a lawyer. If it’s of any consequence here, though it’s not to me, I make almost as much as he does by working ten hours a week.

I want to hire someone to clean our house. It is well within our budget. Currently, I do all of our cleaning while at the same time multi-tasking in the care of our toddler and my legal work. It’s stressful, and I can make enough to pay for three to four hours of house cleaning with one hour of my legal work. My husband does not help me clean, and he is quite messy. I told him I want to have someone clean our house and that I was getting estimates. He kind of flipped out, giving me a hard “NO,” as he “doesn’t want anyone in our house.”

My husband’s dislike of having anyone in the house is a paranoia everyone in his family shares. They grew up in the woods and had few family friends, mostly associating with family, largely distrusting of “outsiders.” They are great people, they just have some quirks in this area. I am well-versed in doing background checks and am not worried about hiring someone creepy.

I don’t want to go behind my husband’s back and secretly hire someone. However, I feel like expecting me to do all the cleaning, and also telling me he won’t help, and that I cannot seek help, is simply not fair. I just want to reduce my stress, and maximize my time and attention to our son. — Needing Help

Tell him that since you are run down and burned-out on juggling child care, part-time work, and full-time domestic chores that he won’t lift a finger to help with (fuck that noise, by the way) and you don’t share his paranoia with having a cleaning person in your house, you will get a house of your own for you and your toddler that you’ll have the freedom to pay someone to clean. If he doesn’t like that option, he can either pick up a mop and start helping you out, or he can get over himself and let you outsource some of the cleaning, which is a small price to pay to preserve your sanity and energy.

My best friend hooked me up with a guy who kept seeing me on her profile and asking about me. She gave him my number, we started talking, and we met and had sex twice; however, the guy keeps telling me he doesn’t do relationships and doesn’t date. And when he and my best friend and I are all together, he keeps asking my friend about some other chick. Since that started, I’ve started drifting away. Recently, we went to a party and were playing Truth or Dare; I was asked to blowjob a guy who’s his pal and I did it. Now he’s now super mad at me. What does it mean? — Ready for the Truth

It means he wants you to be only his sexual object and not his friends’ sexual object. It does not mean he cares about you, wants a relationship with you, respects you, or even likes you. If you have any interest in being more than someone’s notch on a bedpost, I’d MOA and aim higher next time.

I’ve been with my fiancé for three years, and his friend is getting married next week. I told my boyfriend that I can’t go to the wedding because I can’t afford to buy a new outfit, and he insists on going without me. I feel he shouldn’t go without me. He has a problem if I want to go out with my girlfriends, and so I don’t, choosing instead to stay home with him (we do not live together), and so I feel he should do the same. Am I wrong for not wanting him to go without me? — Staying Home

Yes, both of you sound a little crazy-pants. You seriously want him to skip his friend’s wedding because you’ve decided not to buy a new outfit for it? And he seriously doesn’t want you to ever hang out with your girlfriends? This is deeply troubling and unhealthy. Go to the wedding. Wearing an old outfit or a casual outfit is better than skipping the festivities and demanding your boyfriend skip them, too. And stop blowing off your friends to stay home with your boyfriend or you won’t have friends much longer. I would suggest pre-marital counseling in order to work out a more appropriate response to social obligations and invites that allows you both to continue enjoying relationships/friendships and to continue maintaining support networks outside what you have with your fiancé.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. Man oh man these are good ones. I see a nice controlling theme going on here.

    LW1: It’s as simple as Wendy says. Tell him to start to help, or he has no say in the matter, and then hire somebody.

    LW2: BJ because of a truth or dare… cool story. You guys sound very mature, and you handled this situation perfectly. I mean what guy doesn’t want to see the girl he’s hooking up with give a blow job to his friend because of a dare. I’m sure he just can’t wait to kiss you again. I mean I’m probably focusing on this too much, because this guy is a major douche anyways, and clearly was just using you for sex.

    LW3: You guys have a fucked up relationship, and getting married doesn’t seem like the right thing. You guys can’t let each other be happy by hanging out with your friends alone, and that is very said, and I’m sure leads to a whole lot of other controlling behavior. I guess enjoy your short marriage, or your long stint in couples jail.

    1. Donna Karoli Silveria says:

      I have the most controlling husband and as years go by it gets worse 32 years of marriage and I am so tired

      1. Donna Karoli Silveria says:

        Oh sorry . He won’t allow a cleaner . He trusts no one .
        He says it’s his say because he makes the money

  2. RedRoverRedRover says:

    LW1: Tell him to find a solution then. Say “I can’t do all of these things at once anymore. I need to stop doing one of these things: working, taking care of our child, or cleaning. Which one?”. Maybe that will make him see the light. And tell him that if he doesn’t pick one, you will, because you’re done doing all of them.

    LW3: He won’t let you go out with your friends, and you want to marry him? WHY??? That’s disturbing. That’s a pretty high level of control. It sounds to me that you’re trying to take some control back by refusing to go to the wedding, and it isn’t working. The real way to take control back is to tell him what you’re going to do, without needing his permission. “I’m going out with my friends this Friday night”. If he blows up at you, then that’s a problem. HIS problem. You don’t change your own totally normal behaviour to suit his weird control issues. In general, as part of a couple, you should be able to be yourself and do normal activities that other people do. If you can’t do that, then the relationship isn’t working. Try counselling, if he’ll go. I have a feeling he won’t though.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      I don’t think LW1 should let him pick because he’ll choose that she quit working and then she will be trapped.

      1. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I doubt if he will, if she makes that much. They’d lose almost half their income. She should have their budget ready, and if he picks that, go “ok, now let’s cut the budget down 50%. What do you want to get rid of?”. Hahaha.

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Or even better, she should suggest that HE stop working and she bump up to full time. Then they’d have more money, and he’d have plenty of time to do the childcare and housecleaning. 🙂

      3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I like the suggestion that he quit working and she work full time. Perfect!

  3. LOL I’ve never heard “blowjob” used as a verb before. Kids these days.

  4. What RedRoverRedRover said. Tell him he has to pick one. Either he helps, you hire someone or ….what? What’s the other option if the first two aren’t acceptable to him? Put that right on him.

    As a side note, I’d strongly suggest you try to push through the “don’t want other people in my house” craziness. My father had that same mindset, and I can’t tell you the trouble it caused for my mother and I over the years. If he couldn’t fix something in the house, it went unrepaired, because he refused to let anyone come fix it. He was very handy and did a lot himself (and always did housework, BTW), but as he got older and couldn’t do some things anymore, it became a real problem.

    Oh, and as another side note, an able-bodied man who won’t help his wife clean the house they both live in is a lazy asshole that I wouldn’t be married to for very long.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      Totally agree with the lazy asshole part. Taking care of a toddler plus doing all the domestic work is already at least a full-time job. Plus she’s working part-time on top of that. He needs to put in some hours at home to even it up a bit. Either doing housework, or taking care of the kid so she can get some work/housework done in peace.

    2. My husband is a bit the same (his mum is stressy and somewhat paranoid so he learned from her) but at least he does the housework. I can’t believe that guy is just unilaterally deciding LW has to do it all herself.

  5. LW1: is your husband’s family currently being portrayed on the show American Horror Story: Roanoke, by chance?

  6. LisforLeslie says:

    LW#1 – Hire someone. If he’s that paranoid, you could stay at home while this person cleans the house. Not ideal, but it’s nonsensical that you are arguing over this and his only alternative is that you just do as he says because he’s got issues.

    LW#2 – I just hope you’re using condoms and other forms of birth control, especially condoms because damn. And as much as I hate double standards and archaic nonsense, I’m going to say this anyway: If you are that casual about your sexual activity do not be surprised if you find that guys are not treating you well, expecting no strings sex or sex without commitment because that’s the message you’re sending out. That you’re up for it and open to it. If you want something more, then you have to change your behavior.

    LW#3 – What the ever living… you can’t buy a new outfit so you’re simply not going and you expect your boyfriend to not go because of that lame ass reason? That tit for tat shit is not the sign of a healthy relationship. Weddings aren’t fashion shows for the guests. Wear a dress or outfit you already have. Go out with your friends. Grow up.

    1. “If you are that casual about your sexual activity do not be surprised if you find that guys are not treating you well, expecting no strings sex or sex without commitment because that’s the message you’re sending out. That you’re up for it and open to it. If you want something more, then you have to change your behavior.” I am so glad you said this. Empowerment is great, but there are still consequences of your actions. You still have to be aware of the message you’re sending. If NSA casual sex is what you want, then go for it. But if not, the message must change. People take their cues from you.

  7. Northern Star says:

    Geez, LW #2. Why are you mad that the guy you casually screwed twice asks about another girl, when you will apparently service any random stranger who asks? Have a little respect for yourself. Stop hanging around with losers.

  8. Monkeysmommy says:

    Lw2- GROW UP. Who the fuck gives blow jobs as a random dare??? Ugh. No wonder the first guy wanted to meet you, he probably heard you are the pass-around girl. Have some self respect.

    Lw3- borrow an outfit and go, or stay home while he goes. You sound crazy, though.

  9. Clementine says:

    LW #1 – You need help, and you’re not going to get it from your husband. (But God bless, who is going to come in and steal or otherwise cause trouble for a cop and a lawyer? What does your husband do when you have to hire a handyman or have work done on the house?) Ease him into the idea. Hire a cleaner and clean alongside him/her a few times until your husband is desensitized to the idea of help and sees that your cleaner isn’t a nefarious ne’er-do-well. Let him see how much more peaceful your home and mood are when your environment is nicer. Perhaps then, you can shift the bulk of the work to your cleaner. Good luck.

  10. dinoceros says:

    LW2: A person can be jealous even if they don’t want to commit to you. Women need to stop assuming that every single action or feeling by a guy means they are in love.

    LW3: If he doesn’t like you going out with your friends, then he is way too controlling. However, regarding the matter at hand, I think it’s doubtful you don’t have anything to wear to the wedding. If that’s the case, then he’s not obligated to miss his friend’s wedding because you don’t want to go. Also, it’s rude to decide not to go to a wedding a week prior, after you probably have already RSVP’d yes.

  11. LW2: “to blowjob him”. That’s a new way to put it. I am pretty sure it is “to give him a blowjob”. Also WTF kind of fucked up slutty, twisted truth or dare is this. Based on the way you speak you sound very young. You shouldn’t be sleeping with or “blowjobbing” anyone. Grow up and get some damn counseling.

    LW3: You won’t go because you cannot afford a new outfit? You sound like the highest maintenance pain in the ass ever. Insecure as well. Put a damn dress on and go. However, if you aren’t allowed to see your friends this sounds like a shit relationship anyway….then again perhaps you nut bags were made for each other since you are both so controlling. You need some counseling too. You sound too young to be getting married if an outfit is stopping you from attending an event….or too insecure….or batty…just don’t.

  12. SpaceySteph says:

    LW3 says fiance and then boyfriend. Which is it? Are you really engaged or are you just using that word to add legitimacy to your relationship in our eyes?

    Regardless, “I don’t want to buy a new outfit” is not a good reason to skip a wedding. Who doesn’t have an old cocktail dress or 3 or 7 in their closet? Wear one of those. And if you really have nothing suitable to wear that you already own, maybe ask one of your friends (if you have any left since you never hang out with them) or go to goodwill or check out thredup for something inexpensive that will work.

    But I bet this really has nothing to do with clothes. I suspect you either a) don’t want to go for some other reason or b) want to use this as some kind of power play to make him stay home with you. Honestly, if you have to play these kinds of games then your relationship is not working and you need to MOA. Its crazy and scary and weird to isolate you from your friends. And even if he’s not doing it in an abuser/isolating way, you can’t possibly be happy imagining a 50 year marriage where you have no friends ever and only your spouse for company.

    And for LW1, I would try one more time with either he helps or you hire someone. But honestly, at some point I might just hire someone and not tell him about it in advance. He’s gone ~8 hours a day– you could have someone come and clean while he’s gone and you’re home. Then when he gets home and notices the house is extra fresh, be like “that’s all thanks to our new cleaning lady, isn’t it wonderful?!”

  13. LW 1: When my husband and I got our cleaning lady, my two points were as follows:
    1.) Women’s work is daily where men’s work is weekly/project. It isn’t an equitable division of labor and not ok
    2.) I asked him what a happy wife was worth to him and let him answer that.
    3.) we agreed to get a person who was a referral who we could trust better. So we got my mom’s lady who was a referral from a friend. And they had nicer homes than we did.

    My note, you are a LAWYER seriously, how hard is it to argue him into a corner?

    1. “Argue him into a corner” ? Love it. If I had the aptitude I’d love to study law just for this ability!

  14. Stilgar666 says:

    LW #1: The real question is why don’t you work full time and double the income (10 hours=1/2, 40 hours=2)? More money is always nice, and he can be a househusband and cleanup his own messes. Why does he get to make unilateral decisions? Stop entertaining his paranoid behavior, it will only get worse.

    LW #2: How do I get invited to these get-togethers? Are we talking high school or college parties? I am over 21, and can buy booze and weed. I make a good carrot cake.

    LW #3: You both are irrational and should be single forever, please don’t breed. He might be abusive.

    1. I just laughed so hard at carrot cake. Thank you for that!

  15. Sheesh, why are these LW’s automatically defaulting authority to these guys?! Instead of discussing this head on, you just take his opinion as the final say and write in that ‘you’re not happy, now what’??

    LW1: Why??
    LW2: wHy??
    LW3: whY??

    Stop doormatting!!!

  16. ele4phant says:

    So, I can sympathesize with LW’s resistence to hiring a housecleaner. I’m a little squirrelly about my personal space, and I don’t want to judge someone too harshly for not feeling comfortable with the idea of a stranger regularly coming into their home.

    However, there’s a lot of middle ground he could compromise on and meet his wife in the middle. Off the top of my head he could:

    Most obviously, pitch in and do more around the house himself
    Allow a house cleaner in when his wife is home and can observe
    Set-up a nanny cams throughout the house
    Conduct the background check himself (he’s a cop right? He should be able to do that)
    Find another way to offset the amount of housework that needs to be done by paying for something else, like meal delivery. Nobody comes in the house, but that takes the burden (I assume) his wife of having to clean, grocery shop, AND prepare meals, so she could focus on just cleaning and not feel burned out.

    I’m sure, if he was open to it, he could think of other ways he could make both of them happy.

  17. anonymousse says:

    Wow, my experiences with truth or dare are shockingly less naughty. Jesus!

  18. bittergaymark says:

    LW1) Eh, lie about it. Hire a maid. That’s what I would do.

    LW2) He’s just NOT THAT INTO YOU.

    LW3) Wait, what? Why do you need new clothes? No seriously. These aren’t even YOUR friends… how could they possibly know if what you wear is new or not? I am just baffled. You sound messed up… So does he… Oh, wait! Is that what creates your “special” love? That you are both fucked up — albeit differently?

  19. I’m like your husband. Not as bad though. I wouldn’t want to leave even a bonded cleaner or any care giver in my home without me. I know it’s irrational. Anyways it’s cheaper to hire a babysitter to play with your baby while you clean, I did this and maybe I was lucky but I loved the bonding my kids did with the 15 year old girl and also I enjoy cleaning and organizing with few distractions so it was win win. Use the extra money for cooking or grocery delivery. I think you deserve better, communication wise. He should express some appreciation. I think it takes a strong man with a good EQ to have a healthy relationship with a more “successful” woman. Maybe reading the love language book would help you talk to him and reach him (or understand your own needs) if he won’t seek counselling or have honest heartfelt discussions with you.

  20. Needing Help Writer says:

    Thank you Wendy for the feedback on my letter (Letter 1), and to all of you for your thoughts. Here’s where it has come down – I’ve hired someone to come while he is at work. I’ll be here the whole time because I work from home. I have not told him, don’t know if I will (not sure if I should, but honestly just not wanting the fight right now).

    After our initial fight on this he said he would start helping (Yay!). Only not so yay. He will “help” half-heartedly (i.e. I still do most of it) after I nag the shit out of him about once a month. No bueno.

    In response to someone above, we had our roles reversed…I worked full-time and he stayed home with our son. However, our son really missed me, and I really missed him…and I hated my job, and the house was still a mess. I still cleaned the house, did the cooking, shopping etc. My husband said he would but it didn’t happen. So we made a huge life change and switched things up. Professionally and personally, I am very happy with the switch. In fact it’s left me feeling pretty empowered….

    He’s a good guy and I know he’s tired because he works hard at a stressful job. But, hey, so do I, and I don’t ask a lot of him. I can’t wait to see how nice the house looks this week after our new cleaning lady comes! 🙂

    1. “He’s a good guy but I’m afraid to tell him I hired a house cleaner.” Nope.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Eh. I say… Pick your battles.

    2. This isn’t about how tired he is, since he also didn’t clean or cook when he was the stay at home parent and apparently not doing paid work at all, while you do all of that as the stay at home part-time paid worker. Why is he more tired than you were, when you were working full-time, trying to snag some time with your child, and also doing most of the housework that he was supposed to be doing?

      He may not be lazy, but he sure as hell is clinging to antiquated, as in a couple generations ago gender division of labor. Simply put, he won’t cook or clean, because he views that as women’s work and an affront to his manhood. That’s an attitude from the WW II greatest generation. I’m Baby Boom and many of us left that shit behind as just another unjust viewpoint from a generation which accepted de jure segregation, just about total discrimination against gays, a wide range of engineering and professional schools which did not admit women, and many professions which did not admit women.

      Is your husband really in the same class as 90+ troglodytes? Not to stir up crap in your marriage, but isn’t it time to suggest to him that we left the 1950s way in the rear-view mirror.

      1. Exactly. You didn’t solve your problem. You put it off until, I don’t know, he comes home sick one day, or your kid lets it slip, or he just realizes someone else is cleaning the house. Then shit blows up and YOU’RE the bad guy now. Because omg you lied to him. I didn’t comment previously, but I’d recommend re-reading the advice here and actually addressing this with your husband. His attitude is not ok.

      2. Seriously? Seriously! says:

        I truly hate cleaning and it has nothing to do with gender roles. My husband hates that I suck -at helping him clean, and that has nothing to do with gender roles. Luckily we don’t have the paranoia and have someone come every other week, and I make a conserted effort to do the little things that otherwise drive him bonkers (e.eg. I now always put my dishes in the sink, put my cereal boxes away, etc. ) that I don’t care about at all. But it isnt because I don’t respect him. (And when I get stressed/super busy st work, and am tired, I can revert and otherwise be way messier).

    3. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      This sounds like a recipe for disaster. I agree with Kate: a “good guy” helps with housework (without needing to be nagged) and supports his wife when she expresses need for help (either by him or a professional she can outsource some work to). If he’s so paranoid about having a stranger in your home, so you plan to never ever have a babysitter? Honestly, it sounds like he could use some therapy to deal with his paranoia.

      1. dinoceros says:

        I agree. A paranoid law enforcement officer is not really someone I’d feel comfortable living with.

    4. ele4phant says:

      Second everyone else here. This is not a sustainable solution. He’s going to find out one way or the other, and what’s that going to look like?

      1. dinoceros says:

        Yeah. It makes me anxious just reading about the LW hiding it from him. If he finds out, he’s going to be double-pissed. Introducing secrets into a marriage, no matter how right you might be, is bad news. Sure, you can avoid conflict *now*, but you’re just delaying it until he finds out you’ve been hiding a house cleaner from him.

    5. I have some sympathy for your husband because, as a couple of other people have said, I also feel weird about people coming into my home–I have literal nightmares about it that consist of nothing more than realizing someone’s come in, not a thief or a rapist, just anyone, landlord whatever. And the one time I hired a team of housecleaners, they threw away some stuff that was definitely not garbage (it was in a paper bag under the sink, so I could see how they could think that, but still).

      The rest of my family isn’t like that, but I was horrified to find out that my elderly widowed grandfather didn’t have a regular cleaning person (which he could well afford) because his kids didn’t feel comfortable with the concept! They grew up poor/working class and didn’t think it was “right” for “people like us” somehow. Instead members of the family would come over occasionally and clean up… very occasionally… my grandfather didn’t like having his guests clean and was always urging them to sit down, chat, and drink a cup of tea. No one even approached him about a housecleaner because they were sure he would hate the idea. I went behind their backs and asked him, he responded enthusiastically, and I convinced my mom to arrange it all. He was so much happier.

      Anyway, I wondered if there was some element of that thinking to your husband’s reaction too–not just disliking strangers in the house, but finding housecleaners bourgeois or pretentious. I bet he’ll get used to the idea but PLEASE be honest with him! It doesn’t matter what the topic is, if my husband went behind my back on anything we’d already discussed, I would find that betrayal way more serious than whatever it was he did. I might do it ONCE–have the cleaner come over ONCE–and then explain, like someone else said.

  21. Needing Help Writer says:

    Thanks for the thoughts guys! I do not attribute his attitude towards cleaning to antiquated gender role stuff . He has an entirely different set of standards from me when it comes to food and cleaning. He’d be happy to eat frozen pizza every night and clean the house every 3 months (if that). His whole family is like that. It’s just who he is. And that’s fine if you’re single, but if you are married with a child…there has to be some compromise and there just isn’t any.

    I’m definitely not “afraid” to tell him anything, I just don’t want to deal with the fight right now because I am so overloaded. I appreciate the push to tell him though, and I will tell him soon. I agree on the therapy thing, I’m working on getting him to go. I think there are few people therapy can’t benefit (I know I love my counselor). Thanks again all.

  22. I’m in a similar predicament but with the twist that my husband has heart problems so we cant even get into a discussion about the issue….I’m extremely frustrated with no solution on sight.

  23. HeartsMum says:

    LW1: A man who carries a gun for work everyday comes home to a stranger unexpectedly alone in the house with his small child and wife. What could possibly go wrong?

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