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Cannot cope, need help

Community Member

I've felt like I haven't been coping for years. My partner is physically disabled with chronic fatigue and mental health issues, and I myself have several mental health issues and an aching body.

While it feels like a stupidly small issue, the fact that they're never able to keep up with chores and helping keep a home is difficult. They were never taught how to do much before they left their abusive home, and I did my best to help... But they never tried to learn themselves and it quickly became a stressor for us.

Its years later now and still an issue. We used to have set chores, and I mostly had the more physically demanding ones.. but that hasn't worked. Recently we changed to a daily assigned system, where we'd see what needs to get done and decide, based on our spoons, what we can get done.

In theory it's great. I made magnets for the chores and drew up a whiteboard which is on the fridge. It's really the first idea we've had to cope that my partner has been okay with and helped come up with.

But it's been weeks again since they've been able to keep up. Multiple times I've cleaned the kitchen for them and done the dishes to try and help them get back on track. (This has happened a lot in the past, too. Often before inspections as well, the few days before will be me rushing around to finish everything.)

They didn't get back on track. Then their family dog died which, was understandably difficult. And their visit to their family to see his grave ended badly. I understand they're going through a hard time.

But this happens normally, a lot. And it's been a few weeks now of me trying to do all the chores except the kitchen/dishes and cooking so they only have to focus on the kitchen. I'm exhausted. I want to cry. I'm so sorry and burned out and I don't know what else to do.

They'd told me they could have it done by last weekend. Now it's by this weekend. I beg them to tell me if they can't cope so I can plan my own spoons but they're afraid to disappoint me so they avoid talking to me.

They've also not been on their medication because it was making them feel sick (normal for 1 week when starting) and disturbing their sleep (something else that balances out).

I don't know what to do. I've practically begged for couples counselling. I've broken down sobbing so many times. I just want the space to cope with my own issues and do what I need/want to do during the day.

2 Replies 2

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Dear Greygrey,

You're understandably exhausted and overwhelmed by the situation. Both you and your partner are struggling because of your mental and physical health issues, to the point that you feel overburdened by the chores you're doing. Adding to that, you're partner does not seem to be communicating well with you as they are afraid of disappointing you.

It is clear you care very much for your partner and they for you. I wonder how your partner has taken to your suggestion for couples' counselling? It is a good suggestion and if your partner is willing, you should give it a try.

I understand your partner is reluctant to take medication because it makes them feel sick and disturbs their sleep. It will be an uncomfortable experience for them, but would you be able to convince them that this is just a temporary week-long effect that will balance out over time? Alternatively, could you bring your partner back to their GP for advice.

I am concerned about you as well. Do you feel like you would benefit from individual counselling instead of couples counselling (assuming you are unable to convince your partner to go for the latter)?


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Greygrey,

Chores can be a burden at the best of times, but you are battling physical limitation and a partner not keen/capable of carrying their weight in maintenance of your home.

I like your idea of a roster and sympathise with how such motivation has failed to make any inroads on your ordeal.

My suggestions below are how I find drive to press on:

  1. Avoid tackling everything at once as you will become exhausted - one room per day is enough to cover the whole house in the week. The only exception is washing floors - do the whole lot to avoid tainting a clean area from foot traffic. Avoiding being too regimented on which day to do what can allow you to follow your mood and be most productive.
  2. Prevention is better than cure - I find keeping the house clean with 'micro clean ups' can prevent the monster that confronts us after several days of neglect. Cleaning the shower can be bothersome, but a quick squeegee after each use saves much elbow grease later down the track. The same applies to kitchen with quick rinses in preference to mounting piles of utensils. Keeping windows closed on windy days also helps reduce dust accumulation, as does wearing slippers only indoors.
  3. Decluttering means there will be less to get untidy and it makes cleaning around the home easier and quicker. If possible, keep only things you use - as a rule of thumb, if you don't use something for two years, you probably don't need it.
  4. Work to a pumping soundtrack - housework is its own special dance/workout using many muscles and flexing. It's funny how we can happily expend this energy on the dance floor but...
  5. Give yourself a treat as you relax and survey the fruits of your labour - this is what it's all about in the end: restoring order and making a tranquil haven for you to enjoy.

One thing you might consider is doing chores together with your partner - they sound like they could do with supervised direction, and time goes faster when you have someone to talk to while working. In the kitchen, for instance, one could be cleaning the stove while the other is doing the fridge; one to wash, one to dry; one to sweep, the other to mop - teamwork can be motivational and the participation could help to ease your frustrations (even if the proportions may still be unbalanced) and even help the communication levels.

Another choice might be to have a cleaner once a week or month (as finances allow) to reduce the burden or simply give you a head start on things until you can manage again.