My partner doesn't trust me to do most tasks, so she does them herself and then resents me for it...what can we do about this?

There could be several reasons for this.


  1. Your partner could have something like OCD that creates incredibly exacting standards that only she can meet.
  2. You haven’t proven to be trustworthy. You may do the job around the house below what are “reasonable standards,” so rather than (continue to) fight with you, she simply takes it over.

Talking to her about it can help you to find out.

If it is the first case, you can ask her if you can do the “first round” of cleaning, and allow her to “finish up” what she feels isn’t exactly as she would like it. Tell her it isn’t a waste of your time, you want to carry your own weight.

In the second case, you have to ask yourself honestly if you are being “passive aggressive” and doing things poorly, too late, and not at all. 

The “I can never please you!” lament is often the accuse for a person who only gives what they feel like giving, and then resents their partner when it is not appreciated. They are also indignant when their partner expects more from them. “Doing it all herself” is often the final straw. 

This pattern is a killer, especially when, after all the push and pull, and she gives up and does it all herself, the passive aggressive partner rubs it in by complaining about her resentment.

If it is passive aggression, you can test it out yourself by taking on one job, just one, and performing it to her standards 100% of the time. Not 80%. Not 95%. And to her standards, I’ll say again, not yours. Your reputation as a major Dude or Dudette is riding on it.

After 6 weeks of flawless performance, take on another task and repeat.

If you can complete two tasks flawlessly over 12 weeks, it is time to sit down with your partner with a list of household tasks, and discuss how they should be divided between you.

A passive aggressive person will resent even that suggestion of having to do something flawlessly. They don’t think they should have to. They think she should leave them alone, except for wanting great sex, but otherwise let them do what they want.

What they want is not a more equitable division of labor, but to complain about how  impossible their girlfriend is to please and to have her do these tasks without resentment.

If you sincerely want to do home tasks but get distracted, consider getting tested for Attention Deficit Disorder. But you will see this pattern of inattention and distraction in all areas of your life, however. Not just in your relationship.

Talk to her. And then listen. It is the way you will get some sense of what is wrong. And then act.

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Dr. Kathy McMahon


Dr. Kathy McMahon (Dr. K) is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist. She is also the founder and president of Couples Therapy Inc. Dr. K feels passionate about couples therapy and sex therapy and holds a deep respect towards those who invest in making their relationship better. She is currently conducting online and in person private couples retreats.

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