I’m a Failure At Housework

Question: Hello Luise: I really hate my inability to do housework well and I never enjoy doing it. I know where my aversion comes from. My mother was always frowning as she worked and looked like it was a horrible experience. (I learned later that she had a damaged heart from having diphtheria as a child and it really was awful for her). However, knowing where my problem comes from hasn’t gotten me past it. Housework feels demeaning to me and I get so depressed I can hardly move. It takes a massive effort on my part to do a totally inferior job of it. It’s not just cleaning because cooking, doing the laundry, and gardening all defeat me, as well. When I’m at someone’s home for a meal, I never ask if I can help in the kitchen. I’m afraid I won’t know how to do it well enough. I’m not lazy. I work successfully away from home and enjoy working. This has been causing me very deep, personal pain for decades. I’m a misfit. Do you have any suggestions regarding how I can learn to live with it? Angelina

Answer: Dear Angelina: This is one of those situations where people are often stereotyped. All men can change the oil in the car and fix the mower, and all women are born to happily enjoy domestic chores and do them well. Right? Wrong. Yet, woe be unto the guy who thinks an air filter is only used if the car window is open or the gal who tries to roast a frozen turkey. It also follows that some of us are trainable and some are not.

You have a definite trauma behind your dislike of the domestic scene, possibly resulting in a phobia, yet there are many others who are simply not interested or naturally endowed with these skills or aptitudes. Since you describe this as a long-standing issue, I am guessing that you grew up where there was a very strong ethic in favor of female domesticity. If so, some of the guilt and despair you describe are often part of that package. In your situation, if at all possible, I would take some of my earnings and hire someone to clean my house on a regular basis. At that point, I would congratulate myself on how great it looked because I paid for it to be done. In addition, see if you can find a counselor who can help you work through the sense of failure that is plaguing you. Probably some knots need to be untied for you to let go of this and see how wonderful you are. Blessings, Luise

3 Responses to I’m a Failure At Housework

  1. Jennifer Anttila August 15, 2006 at 4:05 pm #

    I too have major issues regarding housework. My mother put such a stong emphasis on housework, it was considered a condition for her love. She would kick me out of the house if I didn’t rince my cereal bowl, or keep my room clean. Even now as an adult she comes to my home and is disgusted by the littlest sign of filth. I use to be a clean person, but I have now completely given up. I refuse to clean unless it is absolutly nessassary. I am overwhelmed with guilt and feel bad about myself, yet I cannot bring myself to do housework. It’s like a phobia for me now.

  2. Luise August 17, 2006 at 11:28 am #

    Dear Jennifer: Get some help! A good counselor can help you to get your mother out of your head and out of your house. You have good insight regarding where this came from. Why continue it if you are miserable and hate the mass? You deserve to be as comfortable and content as the next person. Blessings, Luise

  3. C. July 19, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    some of the people who have put comments on this site about housework and the fact they feel a failure because they can’t do the tasks as they feel they should be able too. I am sure they do their best in their own lives and everyone has different circumstances. it depends on how much time you have to give to housework etc. And the lady who said doesn’t help when she visits people’s homes just because she feels she doesn’t do it right, most people are grateful for any help clearing away or helping with the washing up i have found. I like my home to be as clean and tidy as possible but i do not intend to be a domestic goddess, housework is not just the domain of women either. I do hope the people who have a problem with housework find a happy medium as sometimes worrying about this type of thing can make you ill and very anxious and that is not good. C.

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