Dear Husband – a haiku
I’m not your mother You can pick up your own socks
Treat me like your wife!
You are a grown man Cleaning after you is old
It wears me out so!
I love you very much But this has got to stop now
Before I go mad!
I love my husband. This is why I haven’t set him out on the curb, for a Monday morning pick up by the trash truck. I don’t, however, love his stinky socks or his greasy work clothes which he likes to leave where ever he sheds them after a long day at work. I can’t stand the shrine to soda he creates with his stack of empty cans while he’s watching TV. And the pile of papers, receipts, gum wrappers and who knows what else that he deposits on the table after he empties out his pockets tends to send me into orbit around the newly discovered planet, Beatusenseless in the system Youungratefuljerk.
I can understand that he’s tired and the last thing he wants to do is clean up after himself. But, I don’t like the implied message that his scattered piles of chaos sends; “I’m going to take advantage of you because I know this annoys you and you’ll pick up after me long before I’ll ever get around to it and I won’t even say ‘thank you’.”
The usual approach of silently fuming and imaging throwing bricks at his head hasn’t been working. Neither has the endless nagging which leads to arguments and sleeping on the sofa. So, I recently decided to switch tactics and things seem to be working out better and no one has been forced out of the passion nest recently. How have I managed to stumble upon a path to a happier marriage? I learned to retrain some of my husband’s annoying bad habits.
Here is my guide to “How To Train Your Husband.”
1. Piles of clothes
A weekly egg hunt for dirty, smelly clothes is not my idea of a good time. I warned him and he didn’t believe me. “If it’s NOT in the hamper, it’s not getting washed.” When wash day came around and everything that was in the hampers was washed, dried, folded and put away, I sat back and waited. The morning after wash day, my beloved came to me with a bewildered look on his face and asked me where all of his work clothes were if I had just done the laundry. I asked him if he had made sure everything had made it into the hampers. Next week, amazingly, all of his work clothes were present and accounted for in their respected “stinky hamper.”
Lesson learned: Show him, don’t tell him.
In the beginning, my studmonkey refused to transport his dishes from where ever he was eating to the kitchen for the cleaning and sanitizing process. I would find plates with caked on food under the sofa, under the bed, in the truck, or where ever he had finished with them. Besides having to replace sets of lost dishes every six months, the extra time it took to separate the cemented food from the dishes was cutting into my relaxing time. (I have a 5 year old special needs son, so there isn’t a whole lot of relaxing time as it is).
After explaining to him that the benefits of his placing his used dishes in the sink and running hot water over them would result in more cuddle time, he now happily places his dishes in the sink, runs hot water over them until there is no longer food stuck to them and retreats to the sofa to wait for me to clean up after a meal and join him for happy cuddling and to thank him for lessening the burden on me. (He’s offered to help with the dishes, but I’m a bit of a clean freak when it comes to the dishes and turned him down.)
Lesson learned: Reward him for good behavior.
Being a mechanic, manly-buff-butt tends to come home a little dirty. His first stop once he gets home is usually the shower. However, after he’s squeaky clean, the bathroom isn’t and needs to be cleaned for the second time in a day. I’ve threatened to hose him off in the yard before he enters the house, but for some reason, he won’t take me up on my offer.
After literally taking him by his now de-greased hand and showing him the mess he’s left behind and pointing out that our son takes a bath in the yucky tub after him, he has now started to rinse off the shower and the sink.
Lesson learned: Your actions will affect others.
4. Dusting & Vacuuming
We live in a farming community where the busy bee farmers are constantly kicking up dirt and dust with their tractors. This results in the need to dust and vacuum more often. I usually accomplish this task while the husband is at work. However, on his day off, he likes to spend it enjoying nature with our little family. He knows that I don’t like to come home to a dirty house after an exhausting day of play. He used to sit on his butt, waiting for me to finish the dusting and vacuuming. Now, he joins in and we get it done quickly so we can get out the door faster and on to the business of play time.
Lesson learned: Chores get done faster if everyone helps.
5. The Trash
I don’t mind taking out the trash, but sometimes, it’s just too heavy or bulky for me to manage. Especially so when my son, tagging along as my shadow, tends to suddenly pick that moment to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time and I end up on the floor on my butt with the trash spread all over creation. I used to nag my handsome hunk to take the trash out when he got home at night to no avail.
After I twisted my wrist from a little episode with my little helper, Mr. Wonderful has now permanently taken over this chore. All it took was for him to empathize and understand that there are some chores that are difficult for me yet are easy for him to do.
Lesson learned: Understanding and empathizing.
6. Lost items
My husband, like so many others out there, seems to be incapable of finding any of his belongings; keys, wallet, cell phone, etc. He used to throw little hissy fits and continuously ask me where they were like I had a direct line to the item through some unknown psychic link. I finally got so tired of repeating, “I don’t know, it’s your crap, where did you leave it?” I decided I wasn’t going to respond any more.
After several episodes, I started to notice two things. The first was, his little tirades began to decrease until they finally stopped. Secondly, he was all growed up and was able to locate his misplaced items on his own and without asking me a million times if I’d seen them. When he would cheerfully announce that he’d found them, I’d give him an enthusiastic, “YAY! And a kiss.”
Lesson learned: Do not reinforce bad behavior with any kind of response.
My hardworking cowboy and our relationship aren’t perfect, heck, no husband or marriage ever is. But I have found that through a little patience, humor, and understanding, things can always be worked out and improved. It just takes a little time, commitment and the willingness to use subtle mind control. And it’s a lot easier than using a cattle prod; his screams were starting to irritate the neighbors.