He Does Things for Others, Why Not Me?

September 19, 2016

in Uncategorized

I’ve heard plenty of women complain they’re the last person on their husband’s list for doing things. He’s fast to help others with what they want but ignores the growing “honey do” list at home. He’s working his butt off for others, so it’s not about being lazy. Why won’t he do things for his wife when everyone else gets his help?

He Does Things for Others, Why Not Me?

There are a few primary reasons for this:

He’s A Pleaser

Some people have a need to please others. I don’t mean a healthy desire to be helpful, I mean a need that pushes them beyond reasonable bounds. One of the bounds that gets pushed is making time for those closest to him. Just as he will sacrifice his own time and needs for the sake of others, he will sacrifice the time and needs of his family for others.

One of the things that makes it difficult is he was this way when you fell in love with him, and it’s likely part of what attracted you to him. So asking him to change is asking him to stop being something you once found attractive. Fixing this requires him dealing with why he needs to be needed, and this isn’t something you can help him do. Finding a healthy balance is likely going to require him getting some professional help.

He Gets Appreciation from Others

During our travel this last year, we spent some time with a family where the wife expressed to us that she felt her husband was there for everyone else, but not her. He was the go-to person for anything needed at church, and many church members and neighbours reached out for his help. He was able to do almost anything and was quick to help with car repairs, fix up jobs, or lending a skilled hand or strong arm. 

However, we saw him do plenty for his wife and family too. There was a huge list of things to be done at their place, and it seems his wife could only see what hadn’t been done. It’s as if the compleated jobs didn’t matter because there were still things not done. And frankly, he will never be done because jobs keep getting added and some things have to be redone every few years.

Our best guess is this fellow never hears a real “thank you” from his wife. She may say the words on occasion, but I doubt he feels she appreciates his efforts. In contrast, when he helps others he is praised both privately and publically. I’m not suggesting it’s okay to work for acclaim, but human nature is to do those things that are praised and avoid doing things for someone who seemingly can’t be pleased.

If this is the reason your hubby isn’t doing as much as you want, the solution is all about you. You either need to learn to show real appreciation or you need to set more reasonable standards for what he should be getting done. (And probably some of both are required.)

He’s Being Passive/Aggressive

He’s upset about something in your relationship and not giving you what you want or need is his way of protesting. He may have expressed the issue for a while and then given up because he saw no change or he may never have openly complained or asked for a change. Either way, his inaction is about something unrelated and his unwillingness to fight it out about that thing. 

If you know the real issue, you might be able to resolve things by talking through the issue. Or, if what he wants is reasonable just do it. If you don’t know what he wants you can ask but that’s not likely to work. This is another situation where professional help may be needed.

None or All of the Above

Of course, there are other reasons a man helps others but doesn’t help at home, and some men do this for a combination of reasons. But the three given here are very common and the place to start looking if your hubby is this way.

~ Paul – I’m XY and my wife has learned how to make me feel appreciated.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Alicia September 19, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Great article! The one I might add is that maybe other people actually ask him to do a given thing, rather than simply expecting that it be done. I know I’ve been guilty of this, as have other married female friends of mine. Seems like a lot of women think that he should just look around and automatically know what she wants done, when that’s not the case, because of course he’s not a mind reader. Well ok, one more, which I know I’ve been guilty of. Many times if the guy doesn’t do it exactly the way she would have, or she thinks it should be done, she’ll go back and just re-do everything he did. I did that to my husband at the beginning of our marriage, and naturally his response was to stop doing things if his work was just going to be re-done anyway. I couldn’t blame him. In both cases, I’ve had to learn to nicely ask if I need/want something done, and when it is done, to simply appreciate it, rather than criticize how, or go back and re-do it more to my liking. This has worked out much better for us now.


Paul Byerly September 21, 2016 at 11:34 am

@Alicia – Excellent additions! Not asking, or hinting, are a problem.
The redoing is one I hear from men. That, or they get grief for not “doing it right”.
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libl September 19, 2016 at 3:59 pm

As a good little Christian wife who must submit and forgive, extend grace and patience, I find those qualities get exploited. He has something to prove, a reputation to uphold with the neighbor, or brother in law, or the alpha male down the road, or the cute woman, or the wealthy couple. Me? I’m just the one he boards and keeps in exchange for maid service, child care, and sex. I thought I signed a marriage license, not indentured servitude.


Bobthemusicguy September 19, 2016 at 4:31 pm

@libl. I’m sorry for you if your husband is one who really behaves the way you portray him. I know there are men who are like that, but I hope some of it may be misperceptions and miscommunication going both ways. I know nothing about you and your husband, your age, how long you’ve been married, if he is a Christian, etc.

From my own experience, I found that my wife and I had a much better and stronger marriage than either of us thought. But we had been talking past each other since neither of us were communicating our love in ways that really reached each other. Once we started reviewing our marriage together, we realized that there was a lot more there than we knew. We had both just been shutting down emotionally due to years of assault on our marriage from external pressures.

I did find that I wasn’t feeling appreciated for what I did for my wife and sons. Working two jobs to the point of exhaustion, trying to fend off my rather toxic family, and trying to be a good husband and father, while maintaining the house, and I felt unappreciated simply because I was sexually refused. Once we started dealing with things, I realized I wasn’t filling her love tank either. There was repentance and forgiveness both ways, and things are better now than ever in our 36 years of marriage.

I hope and pray that you and your husband can find a way to bridge this gulf between you. A wife should never be made to feel that she is an unpaid domestic servant, nor should a husband be made to feel that he is an unpaid repairman. It’s all about mutual submission (Eph. 5 and Phil. 2), and generous servanthood. All of it with a big dose of grace and forgiveness, remembering how we have been forgiven in Christ.


libl September 20, 2016 at 3:05 am

I appreciate you replying to me and you have given me stuff to chew on. I pray many times that the Lord reveals my part in this and what I can do, but I have been knocking this same door for a decade and a half. I have studied books, read articles, asked questions, sought counsel, tried to have the hard conversations, prayed, prayed, prayed, and really it gets to a point where one has done what they could and the responsibility lies in the other. I cannot change him and while I have grown to be able to better handle things and set boundaries, fact is it still hurts! I feel like I have done what I could do, but as Leslie Vernick says, you have to choose to stay well or leave well. It isn’t “bad enough” to leave, so I am trying to learn to stay well, but it is crazy-making trying to live as one flesh….like puzzle pieces where one piece got wet and warped, or chewed on by the dog, or even a tab bent or ripped off. We don t quite go together.

Just yesterday I was wondering, why is it he is the one watching smutty videos and I am the one in agony over it? Why is he the one selfish in bed, but I am the one struggling and unhappy with our sex life? Why is he sleeping like a baby when his sins keep my pillow wet at night? Why is it when I do good or right I get mocked and teased, but heaven forbid I let him know his sin affects me. Even with boundaries, they affect me. I pray to God he feels conviction and I feel peace. I have my own junk drawer to deal with, but I feel like his keeps getting emptied into mine and I have to sort through his to even get to mine.


Bobthemusicguy September 20, 2016 at 3:35 am

One thought that may help. We have been working through a book by Gary Thomas titled “Sacred Marriage.” The premise of the book is: What if God doesn’t want to use your marriage so mush to make you happy as to make you holy? This fits with James 1:2-4 says about counting our testing as joy because of what it produces in us. Not that the situation gives us joy, but the results of what God can do in us brings us joy.

For a Christian, our first and overriding passion in life should be (isn’t always) to be made more like Jesus, to have Christ formed in us. In other words, preparing us for eternal life in heaven. And if that is the case, anything that will shape us to be more conformed to His image is something that we should welcome, not because it’s pleasant or wonderful in itself. It may actually be something very painful and difficult. But it can work changes in us to make us more Christ-like, and that IS a beautiful thing.

Every Christian has some area in his or her life that is a “cross” to be borne. It could be great physical suffering. Maybe a job that is suffocating. Maybe deep loneliness. It may be the marriage itself. Keep praying for healing of your marriage, for mutual joy and love, for a healthy God-honoring relationship. And in the meantime, ask God to open your eyes to see how He can use the circumstances to shape you more into the image of Christ. If that becomes your great passion in life, to better reflect the glory of our Savior, then you will find joy even in bearing this burden.

And remember that as God changes you, you may become a catalyst to change your husband. 1 Corinthians 7 addresses this. I pray that you will find real peace that passes understanding about your marriage.


Paul Byerly September 21, 2016 at 11:35 am

@libl – Yeah, some men are taught the wrong meaning of headship. The results are sad for everyone, including the man who misses out on what God intended marriage to be.
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Bumble October 5, 2016 at 6:23 am

My wife tells me this all the time that I would do anything someone else asks. The reality is that I can never get all that she asks done. I get up at 4:30 am and leave for work and get home at 6:30 pm. When I get home I play with my 2 year old and help get him ready for bed. While she rocks him to sleep in put away the dishes I washed last night wash the ones from today put away the toys that are scattered around the house, eat leftovers from dinner and prep tomorrow’s dinner. Then she wants me to sit and watch TV with her. Then when we go to bed I am told this long list of things that I have to do. None of them I finish are acknowledged but if it goes a extra or two I am told I never do anything. I know I do more than most, but she is never happy.


Paul Byerly October 5, 2016 at 2:16 pm

@Bumble – Lori jus addressed this on her blog – “How Long is Your Honey-Do List?” http://bit.ly/2dah0yO
Paul Byerly recently posted…What Coffee Taught Me About QualityMy Profile


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