I love my husband to pieces. In fact, we’ve been together for so long it’s like we are the same person. He’s a great husband, a loving father and an outright good person. But I get tired hearing my own voice trying to get him to do something.
So I gotta ask – just so I know if I’m the only one on the planet with this issue.
Is anyone out there exhausted that your hubby never takes the initiative to help with the kids?
Or around the house despite the multiple conversations you have had in telling him what to do?
He’ll see the garbage can overflowing, and smell the funk all throughout the house and never lift a finger to empty it. Carefully balance his dirty dish a top of the leaning pile in the overflowing sink of other dirty dishes, or dress the kids in house clothes when you asked him to get the kids ready for school. Even after going over it a million times, outlining it in clear simple detail. Adhering to his own sense of saving time and effort while highlighting the benefits of doing what you say. He either does nothing at all or totally messes it up.
Seriously, what gives? What the heck is he thinking? I for one, am pretty tired of nagging, rolling my eyes, and getting annoyed that once again I’ve gotta say the same thing over again.
So I went out on an audiobook hunt to find out what I can do to avoid this whole mess. And I learned some really interesting stuff.
Number 1: Every husband wants to please his wife.
That means that although it might seem that we somehow married a man who has no desire to please us the truth is that your man, yes the very same one who doesn’t help around the house unless guilt-tripped, never listens to your advice, or acknowledges your awesome ideas, actually wants to get it right and make you happy with the job he did.
Number 2: His failure to listen is probably your fault
Yikes, didn’t see that one coming did you. I know I didn’t. But the idea is, that our hubby’s oblivion to our needs is likely because we haven’t expressed your desires to him in a way that he will actually listen and do it. And I know your thinking, that you tell him all the time what you want. Like when you told him that you never go out anymore.
But if you aren’t telling him in a way that he can truly hear you, then it doesn’t matter what you said, it’s falling on deaf ears.
So what can we do to voice our desires where we actually get heard and he does what we want?
Time Your Conversations
I used to be sitting on my computer or surfing on my phone with my husband doing the same and I would just start talking about something. I was a good time for me since we were just chilling shooting the breeze and I assumed it was a good time for him too. Hmm, not so much. He definitely wasn’t listening to me. But mistimed conversations made when the other person is angry or flustered from a previous conversation, or when available time is short will always fall on deaf ears.
Listen Before You Ask
But, everyone listens with a specific frame of reference. Basically, it is their perspective, on what they are being presented to them, and they gauge their response and attitude based on their perspective of the situation.
So, if your hubs feel that it’s your job to mow the lawn based on the previous division of chores agreement, then asking him to do it might feel unfair – to him. Even though in your mind, it is just a task that needs to be completed for the household – mutually beneficial to all who live there.
Right or wrong, that’s how he sees the world and his perspective is his reality. If you’d like to get your hubs to listen to you, then you might want to try listening to him first. It shows him that’s it’s not just about what you want, but also that you are factoring his needs and trying to understand his perspective as well.
You can do this by doing the following steps:
i. Talk to him from his perspective (whether you agree with it or not) – for example saying: “I know that mowing the lawn was a task I agreed to do”
ii. Let him know that his feelings are completely understandable (which they are given his perspective) – “and it’s completely understandable that it’s exhausting and maybe even a little unfair for me to ask you to do it after you’ve been watching the kids all day, making dinner, buying groceries and mowing my mother’s yard”
iii. Show that you understand his feelings – “It’s a lot to ask, and I know you are so very tired.”
iv. Let him know how much it would mean for him to do the request especially given his feelings. – “but it would mean so much to me if you could mow the lawn and allow me to rest and recover from this stomach virus.”
This method quells any attitude, defense or argument that your spouse might have been gearing up to retort with and let him know you trying to feel things from his shoes as well.
Earn The Right To Be Heard
I know when I’ve been on a tyraid for the last week/month/decade telling my hubby all he needs to do to be better, nicer, etc. for me to be happier in the relationship, then he tunes me out when he thinks I’m ready to give him yet another ‘improvement’.
This audiobook taught me that if all I do is nag and criticise then no one will listen to anything I have to say and may immediately start building a wall to block me out when you open your mouth.
I know that you are probably the never-ending bleeding heart, who gets the job done regardless of how sick, tired, depressed or busy you are, and your hubs should just get over and do what needs to be done. But in reality, your hubs might need more motivation. And if that’s what he needs to be happy and helpful to you, is it too much to ask to lay on the kindness?
Whenever he doe something good – or at least something that looks like he is moving in the right direction – then give a little encouragement and give credit when credit is due. Praise your hubs when he gets it right or does even a minute baby step towards taking initiative – like vacuuming the house without asking even if it’s the worse timing ever – like when getting the kids dressed for school. Now is not a time to show scores or defend your spotless record compare to his.
Even though you don’t get one and he shouldn’t need a parade for being a good parent, spouse or human being, everyone likes to feel appreciated for their efforts. Praises for small efforts lead to a desire for more praise which brings bigger efforts – like actually doing what you asked.
Speak the truth
When you haven’t been getting what you want for some time you might think that voicing your grievances is expressing your needs. You might tell him that ‘you never spend time together anymore’ or ‘You’re always so busy with the kids you can’t even get our feet done’ and think that’s expressing your needs, but it doesn’t signal to your hubby that you want to spend time with him, or need time to practise self-care or even, what he should do or how he can help. You just sound like a straight up complainer. And complaining is just an outward expression of an inward frustration that likely cannot be resolved, it’s not a call to action.
So watch your words. Think about what’s really bothering you. Is it that you miss him? Do you love the good old days when you were intimate, carefree and happy? Are you burning the candle at both ends and need a break to recoup? What is the fueling complaint or what you really need to be done? Then express that desire clearly. Don’t leave it to chance and expect him to figure it out. Don’t think that if it were you then you would have. Be vulnerable and ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. Tell him you miss him, don’t be scared that he might not miss you. He is your husband, and being raw and real about your desires is the only way you will actually get it.
Give Respect: No Parenting Your Husband
Your husband signed up to be your partner. He doesn’t want to be parented.
He’s a smart competent man who was functioning (at least at a basic he thought was acceptable) before you ever came on the scene. So all your huffing and puffing, nagging, ‘helping’ and ‘convincing’ is likely to fall on deaf ears and he’ll start the tune you out – leading to your frustration or become fully dependent on your guidance to complete a task – and you’ll become his mommy.I know you are trying to help him avoid mistakes, save him time, or make sure he’s got all he needs to be successful, but your job is not to be his hero, he can make mistakes, or handle the consequences of his decisions.
Children are told what to do, partners are consulted. So ask him to do a task, trust his judgment and let him complete it. When you are tempted to show him ‘the right way’ aka, your way of doing something, curb the thought and do as Laura Doyle suggests, let him do what he thinks is best. Trust him and his judgment again. Or ask him how he would handle the situation that needs resolving. This allows him to be a part of the process and help derive the solution. People are much more likely to oblige if they feel it’s not an order. Give him that respect that he yearns for as your partner, and he, in turn, start listening to you.
If Precision Matters, Make It Easy Or Not At All
You need your husband to wash the dishes. Does it matter if he washes them by hand, or washes them in the dishwasher? If it does, then make the process very easy for your hubby. Empty the dishwasher, take out the clothes for the kids for school, label the order of the medication, text him the specific name, size, and type of milk you want. If there is no real way to make it easy so it can be done right – aka your way, then consider if this is a task that really should be delegated. There are some things that are pet peeves of mine, like my hubs washing my silk blouses and throwing them in the dryer with all the other work laundry. Since I can’t be bothered to separate them from the rest of the work laundry, I choose to wash the work laundry myself that way I can make sure no stowaways end up in the wash ruining my blouses.
Accept that it’s an Ask
We can’t control our husband’s actions. We can’t force them to do what we say, we can’t make sure they do it our way. Sometimes you have to accept that we are asking for our spouse to help, even if we say it as a demand. He has the right to say no, and you have to be ok with that possibility. Getting mad, being passive aggressive, guilt-tripping or doing the silent treatment doesn’t make your spouse do what you want. And if you win this battle, it’s possible you’ll the war with future requests.
At the end, of the day. Your husband will never be you. He’ll never act like you, wash the dishes when or like you would and no matter how much teaching, he will still never be you. It might not feel like a bonus when you are annoyed and frustrated with your honey, but knowing that it’s not for your lack of persistence, encouragement or persuasion why he does what he does can be pretty comforting. So you do the best you can and let the chips fall wherever they do.
Getting someone to listen to you and actually execute your ask can be difficult, and in the end, we are hoping that folks will follow through because we have no control over another person. But you have the tips that can