07 Aug
2-for-1 Advice from a Black Belt Certified Husband Trainer

Dear Mouthy Housewives

I’m a mom of 4 young kids going to school full time and working full time. My hubby’s side of the story is he’s a dad of 4 young kids who works full time and travels a lot. Here is my dilemma: It is pretty much my job to take care of the house and the kids. Lord knows he won’t notice when they are running out of socks, or that the baby needs diapers at daycare. Of course, he helps out on the weekends and such (when I ask him specifically what I need done). But my biggest pet peeve is that if I step out of the room and say ‘keep an eye on the baby’ he will immediately chime back with ‘Why, what are you doing?

Is it too much of me to want him to WANT to help out with his kids?

Sincerely,
Patty Peeved

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Dear Mrs. Peeved,

First, buy more socks. You are more than just the average busy mom and sock shortages in between laundry days isn’t something you have time to worry over. Buy 5 dozen.

Second, 99% of men have to be told specifically what to clean around the house. The other one percent? Has a genetic anomaly.

Third, yes, it may be too much for you to want him to WANT to help out with the kids. Who cares what he wants. Err, I mean lower your standards. Decide you want him to help with his kids without being a whiny jerk. Also, try asking instead of commanding. “Would you keep an eye on the baby?” is simply better marriage manners.

Last, conduct a gratitude experiment on your husband. Yes, it’s somewhat galling to have to show appreciation for the same things you’re just expected to do, but someone has to be the marriage shaman. Thank him for watching the baby/kids, specifically telling him how it helped you. Remember: men need specifics. For example, “Thanks for watching the kids. That break felt so good I may even be interested in sex!”

After a few weeks of this, it’s possible your husband may even WANT to watch his kids. If not, he may just be a jerk.

Heather, TMH

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Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I’ve been married for almost ten months, and while I love my husband and would marry him again in a heartbeat, living with him is not what I expected. I’m a moderately neat person – he leaves a week’s worth of dirty clothes scattered on the floor, dishes so crusted over you could chisel commandments on them, and he wouldn’t even think about doing the litter box until the cats started peeing on him instead.

How can I get him to understand that I don’t want to spend all my spare time and weekends cleaning up after the both of us while he attaches himself to his computer? I’m concerned that when we buy a house or spawn, I won’t be able to keep up with the housework on top of my job, and I’ll be labeled a frothing pile of wifely fail.

Sincerely,
Patty Proactive

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Dear Mrs. Proactive,

So married life isn’t what you expected, huh? Welcome to marital reality, where tooth brushing is foreplay and dirty socks taunt you from the living room floor!

Before deciding to spawn with your husband, see the question above. That is your future self, writing in from another time dimension.

Take action now.

Be specific and try the gratitude thing. Modify for your current childless lifestyle.

Heather, TMH

4 Responses to “2-for-1 Advice from a Black Belt Certified Husband Trainer”

08.07.09#1

Comment by Kay.

Lowering standards seems to be the only realistic option.
Let’s face it – they’re not going to WANT to change a crappy diaper or litter box any more than we do. We just do it because… well, it needs to be done. And if WE don’t do it, it makes us look like bad wives/housekeepers.
In some cases, though… outright bribery or a temper tantrum worthy of a 2 year old might just do the trick :)

08.07.09#2

Comment by christy.

I can’t believe there are still men out there that are such pigs. I mean, my husband isn’t perfect, but he certainly cleans up without being asked (sometimes) and we share child-rearing responsibilities willingly (always). Sheesh. Hope those two husbands respond well to positive reinforcement!

Those letter writers should check out an old modern love column in the New York Times called something about Shamu…basically talks about a woman who used animal training techniques on her husband. And it worked!

08.10.09#4

Comment by Aludra.

I “trained” my husband to be neater a little differently. I let the house get to the disaster-point. I mean bad, bad. Like bad. You don’t want to know. He actually started noticing how dirty the house was! He didn’t do anything about it, but he commiserated with me when I said “Man our house is a sty, but I’m too tired to clean, let’s just go to bed” Then the next day, *I* cleaned it up. While he was there and on his computer. I made him move his monitor so I could clean up around it, and he got the hint, and started helping out. After the house was clean he liked it so much better that way that I haven’t had to ask him to clean in over a year. We both pitch in every weekend, and voila.

PS If you want to try this trick it helps to be long-term pet sitting for a friend, and have a tiny house, so the place gets that much grosser that much faster.

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