“Hey, hon? Could you take the garbage to the curb for me please?”
5 minutes later…
“Uh…hon? We’re you going to take the garbage out?”
“Yeah! In a bit.”
10 minutes later (spent completely stewing and giving a look every time you walk past my husband in the living room watching the big game)…
Muttering to self as I take the garbage out myself.
Does this sound familiar?
Do you have these types of conversations in your home?
We used to have these all the time. Still do occasionally if I’m being honest. But, we’ve learned a lot through everything we’ve gone through and this is one of them. These little things like taking out the garbage and emptying the dishwasher and putting the laundry away and making a necessary phone call…when they don’t happen when, where, and how we think that they should we get upset. We think that our spouse’s lack of response or slower pace in getting something accomplished actually translates to: “I don’t love you. You don’t matter.”
While for some of us, depending on our love language, our spouse’s lack of motivation in performing tasks that are important to us could over time speak to whether or not we feel loved…ultimately, more often than not, that is absolutely NOT what our spouse’s are trying to do.They just think and operate differently than we do.
These timing issues come down to a few key things: expectations, communication, and time tables and there are a few things that we can do to make sure these situations happen less often in our homes and have more positive outcomes when they do.
1) Adjust/relax our expectations. Does the garbage really need to be taken out right this minute? Will it be the end of the world if your spouse takes it out in an hour? Or God forbid, the next morning? As long as it gets done, isn’t that what matters? Your spouse isn’t wrong for not caring as much about getting the task taken care of in the same time frame as you. They’re just different. And maybe the way they do it is just as good, or better, than the way that you do. Crazy, I know!
2) Change the way we communicate. There are a number of things wrong with the above conversation, and the manner in which I expressed myself, when it came to household tasks with my husband. If I’m asking him to do something that needs to get done right now I need to add that disclaimer to my request:
“Honey, could you take the garbage out for me right now?”
We need to be prepared at this point to revert back to #1 and remember that our spouse might still not see it the same way as we do.
“Um…I’m watching the game. Can I get to it at halftime?”
This is huge. If your spouse is offering up a compromise on their own, fantastic. Otherwise if they seem resistant to helping you could offer up the compromise:
“Well, could you get to it at halftime then?”
In addition to changing up the wording that we use and being more specific in our requests we also need to change the tone in which we ask.
“When you get a chance, I could really use your help with…” sounds so much better than “Why don’t you ever help me with…?”
3) Allow your spouse the freedom to live within their own timetable. This is
hard for some of us, but once you’ve asked, stop asking. Get a response, figure out the compromise and then, here’s the key: Let. It. Go. If they said they’d get to it, give them the opportunity to do so. We need to allow our spouse’s the freedom to do things the way that they see fit. If we ask for help with something, or there is a task that is their responsibility, we can’t be chomping at the bit to get it done well before it actually needs to get done. We need to understand and recognize how our spouse’s operate and then let them get those tasks done in the time frame that works for them. If the garbage doesn’t actually get picked up until tomorrow around noon then let’s be honest: it doesn’t technically need to be to the curb until tomorrow at 11:59. We also need to be respectful of the timing in which we ask for things. You’ll get a much better response from your spouse if you ask at the beginning or the end of the game for them to do something rather than right in the middle of it when they’re really into it. Don’t make requests that are time sensitive when your spouse is right in the middle of being tired/cranky, busy, stressed, enjoying time relaxing or involved in a loved hobby.
So, what are you going to do the next time you want your spouse to help with something? Ask at the right time, in the right way, and give them space to get it done the way they get it done.
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