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The brother is schizophrenic and my husband says I should have compassion for him, but I just feel that I don’t want to be doing all this cleaning.
June 23, 2019
12:30 am
Massimo Giles
Awaiting Moderation

April 27, 2012
11:34 am

I too have a schizophrenic brother and when i married 43 yrs ago I didnt know what was wrong with him or even had a diagnosis as to that effect .He would move in with us ,cook himself meals and not clean up any thing what so ever ,when i asked him to clean up one day he wrote big cardboard signs saying" MR. CLEAN"was here and here all taped on the kitchen walls and left everything dirty on the counters. He took money out of my savings jar that I had sitting out for bus fares etc. and never repaid ,he charged long distance phone calls to my phone number of about $200.00 dollars. He is 3 yrs older than myself and when I spoke to our mother about being on the hook for $200 I couldnt afford she said"there is nothing you can do about it"!I estranged myself from him gradually as I felt I had no choice. It was hard to do and put me in a difficult situation with the rest of my immediate family. I've only become the family scapegoat /blacksheep in the family and along with my husband and our children for all these years .The sicker he was the more I got blamed for what was wrong with "me".I still have little contact with him and its always been unpleasant .I still wonder how many of his behaviors are really his illness speaking or just his desire to act out.?

April 22, 2012
3:48 pm

Ann, many of my friends who live with housemates have the same problem: one or more housemates stop doing their chores, and one of the other housemates (almost always a woman) has to take up their slack. It doesn't take schizophrenia to make someone into a bad housemate.

The main question is: Why is it YOUR responsibility to take up his slack? Your husband is able-bodied. There's no reason he can't add more work to his roster, or do indoor chores instead of outdoor chores--especially if he's already inside doing child care much of the time. You didn't mention what the second brother does around the house, but he could be filling in for his brother, too. If the third brother is slacking and the other two brothers think it's just fine for him to slack, THEY can enable him to slack. You might find that if you leave the third brother's undone chores for the other two brothers to do, they'll become a lot more proactive about getting the third brother off his butt.

Tangentially, one method that works well for a household I know is a schedule of cycling responsibility. There's a big chart in the kitchen with names and dates on it. For one week, housemate A is responsible for washing the dishes, B is responsible for mopping the kitchen floor, C cleans the bathroom, and D tidies the living room. The next week, A mops the kitchen floor, B cleans the bathroom, C tidies the living room, and D washes the dishes--and so on through the month. No one is stuck with a chore long enough to get burnt out on it, everyone appreciates everyone else's workload, and the workload itself varies from week to week. It keeps all the housemates on their toes. They're all much happier than they were back when all of them had set tasks, which they all slacked on... and their house is infinitely cleaner. If you and your other housemates can get your slacking brother-in-law back to doing housework, you might want to see whether a system like this helps.

March 26, 2012
8:28 am

I was in the same situation. my wife's brother always comes over and we feed him. However, he never cleans up after himself because his mother babies him. it's hard because i don't want to say anything to upset my wife..but the kid has to start being considerate when he is at other peoples houses?
chad @ Industrial laundry equipment

February 2, 2010
10:18 pm

Dear Dr Joshua

I am a mother of a six month old who lives with her, my husband and his two brothers in a big house. My husband is a very hands on father and does a lot for the child. He has also started cooking and maintains the exterior of the house. However, his one brother does nothing around the house and since there are so many of us, I find I am doing a lot of cleaning all the time. The brother is schizophrenic and my husband says I should have compassion for him, but I just feel that I don’t want to be doing all this cleaning. I already work full time and want to spend time with my child when I get home. The brother manages to have a part time job, socialise, go to gym and study part time too so I don’t see why he can’t do a small bit of housework. He did do housework when he first moved in but now he just does nothing at all. Please advise.

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