It took me too many years to figure out that if I wanted to get my husband to fulfill the activities on his side of the domestic ledger in a timely manner, I had to learn to speak his language.
For too long, I honed techniques that missed the mark. These included hysteria ("This mess is driving me past the point of sanity"), guilt ("I've done five hours of housework today, do you think you could devote 15 minutes?"), threats ("If you don’t straighten up your stuff by tonight, I’m putting it all out on the curb") and tears ("What have I done to deserve this?").
I finally figured out that motivating my husband to turn his attention to the hundreds of mind-numbing domestic activities that make our house a home requires telling him how incredibly hot he makes me feel whenever he does a load of darks or takes out the recycling. I am not the first woman to impress upon a man that watching him vacuum is the best foreplay going — and tackling those hard to reach places at the back of the sofa certainly earns bonus points.
Yes, men are simple creatures.
But so are women. And too few men realize this. Hollywood may make us out to be complex, hormonally-hijacked beings but it really doesn’t take a lot to please us either. In my case, the one simple thing that my husband can do to light my fire is: Plan.
Most days, I start thinking about what to make for dinner at breakfast time. I'll often turn to my husband as he is diving into his bowl of cereal and ask, "What do you feel like eating tonight?" He'll remind me that it is 7 am, he is still trying to get through the headlines in the newspaper, and he is nowhere near ready to turn his attention to dinner.
But if he doesn't think ahead, I feel I have to. I feel anxious and distracted when I don't feel in control on the domestic front. And I'm not alone. Many women complain that even when they are not actively engaged in housework, their minds are racing worrying about how it will all get done. Not surprisingly then, studies have found that although women do significantly more hours of housework than men, they over-estimate the number of hours they actually devote to it.
Real or perceived inequities in the division of domestic labor makes many women resentful. And resentment is a libido killer for women (men don't seem to have this problem). While housework may seem like such a ridiculous thing to get in a knot about, it is unfortunately a deal breaker in too many cases.
So guys, asking one simple question as you are pouring yourself a second cup of java at breakfast will vastly improve the chance that your partner will see your inner Adonis: "Honey, I'm thinking about picking up stuff to make fettucine alfredo on the way home from work today. Does this sound like an ok dinner plan?"
Is it hot in here?
Sue Nador is a relationship strategist. She helps hash out expectations in the messy world of love in a pragmatic, humorous and straight-talking way on her blog. Sue lives with her husband, two sons and goldendoodle in Toronto.
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