I’ve seen people saying “I’m not going to thank my husband for helping around the house.”

“Yes!!!” is my initial reaction. I mean, cleaning the kitchen isn’t only my responsibility. No one thanks me for emptying the dishwasher or wiping down counters. These are things that simply need to be done, and we all live here. If my husband also recognizes things that need to be done and he takes care of them, good for him—but I don’t owe him anything.

So I intentionally stopped saying thank you when he did little things around the house. Sure, they had been responsibilities that I primarily took care of, but why does that mean that he can’t just do them? All he’s doing is his part in taking care of the house.

But, wait a minute . . . 

Just because no one thanks me doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be thanked. Heck, I complain on the regular that all I want is a little bit of recognition for all that I do around here. I wonder if it’s too much to ask that my family simply recognizes that they have food on the table or clean (and sometimes even folded) clothes to wear.

So, why is it, again, that I shouldn’t be thanking my husband for helping out?

Yes, it’s true that this is our household, and we should be sharing responsibilities. While some responsibilities primarily fall to one of us, we swap on occasion. I truly do appreciate when he helps me out by taking care of the responsibilities that usually fall to me.

So, why is it, again, that I shouldn’t be thanking my husband for helping out?

Communication is key in making any relationship work. You don’t have to be married long to know that speaking up is important in making sure everyone’s needs are met. We should communicate our love through both our actions and our words.

So, why is it, again, that I shouldn’t be thanking my husband for helping out?

Honestly, when I think about it, it was out of stubbornness.

Stubbornness tells me that I don’t owe him a thank you. He’s not always thanking me for what I do. So what if he tells me “thank you” every now and then? I do more around here than anyone else, anyway. I will not do more for him than what he does for me.

Stubbornness sure sounds a lot like selfishness-in-disguise, doesn’t it?

Sure, I don’t owe him a thank you, but does that mean that I can’t say it to him, anyway?

That selfishness made me forget that my husband is telling me thank you for all that I do by taking some of that weight off of my shoulders. He’s showing me that he sees what I do.

He recognizes when I do some of the things around that house that are primarily his responsibilities.

And really, I do appreciate what he does . . . shouldn’t I be telling him that?

So last night, I finally decided to let go of this notion I clung to so tightly. I broke my silence, and I told my husband “thank you” for cleaning the kitchen. It felt like weight lifted for both of us.

He was happy to hear that the little things he did are not going unnoticed.

And quite honestly, it was a relief for me to let go of my stubbornness. Hard as that can be to do sometimes (OK, all the times), it’s worth it.

Marriage is all about being selfless, so I’ve decided that I will no longer let selfishness-masquerading-as-stubbornness take control of my thank yous.

Listen, I still love the sentiment. We’re a team, and we should be helping each other out. We will continue to do that. No matter which household chores end up belonging to each of us, we will still do what needs to be done.

And yet, I want to change the tone. If I’m generous with my thank yous, maybe my husband and the rest of my family will follow suit. Wouldn’t that be better than no thank you at all?

We shouldn’t have to tell each other thank you for every little thing, and I’m sure we won’t. But why shouldn’t we communicate when we appreciate what the other is doing? We don’t have to say thank you, but isn’t that a great reason to choose to do it, anyway?

Going forward, I will tell my husband thank you when he helps around the house. Not because I owe him anything, but because I appreciate what he does. And “thank you” is the appropriate response when we appreciate what others do. I will no longer allow stubbornness to win.

And because, really, why shouldn’t I be thanking my husband for helping out?

You may also like:

To My Husband—I Don’t Say It Enough: Thank You For Being Our Everything

Dear Husband, It’s Not Easy For Me to Admit, But I Need More Help

Marry the Man Who Does the Little Things

Stephanie Freybler

My name is Stephanie, and I'm a stay at home mom of five kids, ages 2-12. I blog at RacingElephants.com, and my mission is to help moms celebrate imprefection and get rid of mom guilt.