One of the most frustrating challenges in a marriage happens when one spouse is doing the majority of the work and the other spouse seems content to be "lazy." I often hear things like, "I just don't know what to do! I feel like I'm carrying everything by myself and he/she doesn't seem to care."

That's certainly a lonely and frustrating situation, and if you're currently facing the unique challenges of a lazy or disconnected husband or wife, here are a few ways you may be able to help the situation...

1. Communicate* your frustrations but DON'T NAG

It's natural to want to talk with sarcasm, nagging and criticism when your husband or wife doesn't seem to be "getting it," but those negative approaches rarely have any positive impact. Instead, look for ways to communicate your needs and frustrations with more care and less criticism. Most people respond better to positive affirmation than negativity.

*Communication will help you determine the root cause of the laziness. If your spouse is truly just being lazy, then address the behavior and encourage him/her to snap out of it, but oftentimes, "laziness" is actually a symptom of a deeper issue likeDepression or perhaps a medical condition. In these cases, your spouse may need in-depth care, support or even professional treatment.

2. Find SOMETHING to praise

Rewarded behavior is usually repeated behavior. Find something your spouse is doing well and point it out often. Encourage that behavior. Your encouragement could help your spouse create some more productive habits.

3. Offer to do the work together

If your spouse's laziness happens most around the house, instead of just assigning him/her chores, find projects you can do together which will also give you a chance to communicate. If your spouse is lazy when it comes to exercise or physical health, instead of just dropping hints they he/she should get off the couch, plan physical activities that you can do together. The shared experience could create some healthier habits for you both.

4. Maintain high standards

When your spouse is perpetually lazy, there's a temptation to give in and lower your own standards by thinking, "If he/she doesn't care, why should I?" You might do everything on this list and your spouse might choose to remain lazy. You can't control your spouse's decisions, but you remain in complete control of your own, so choose to maintain a healthy and hardworking standard in the home and in all aspects of YOUR life. You'll feel better, and your positive example may eventually inspire healthier behaviors in your spouse.

If YOU are the one being lazy in your marriage, stop it! Your spouse needs your full support and partnership. Get started right now. Don't waste another day.

This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.

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