Apr 25

Do You Mind?: How to Make Your Spouse Do What You Want.

I hate taking out the trash. Haaaaaaaaaaate. Like, I will let it pile up until it is a work of art to make it stay in the trash can. I remember 'The Simpson's' episode many years back. The rule of the house was whoever placed the piece of trash that finally falls off the pile created on top of the trash can must take it out. I live by that rule.


I say all that because the trash is a responsibility I graciously handed over to Trey. Heh. Several years ago, my graciousness was given in the way of 'boy, that trash sure needs to be taken out.' Or maybe 'that is really starting to stink.' But, like many men, not trying to stereotype but it's just true, he never noticed. He, too, just piled on the trash. I would get so angry and eventually lash out with a speech that was something along the lines of how I do everything around the house and his one task was taking out the trash. True story. Looking back, it was so dramatic it's comical. I played martyr about the freaking trash.

Sometimes I would get so fed up I would take the trash out in a very dramatic fashion. I would fight with the trash can trying to get the trash bag out. Inevitably the trash would leak on the way to the door. I would slam the door on the way out and in. I would then grab some soapy water and a rag and scrub the floor on my hands in knees in a very Cinderella like fashion grumbling the whole time while Trey sat in blissful ignorance to the drama occurring around him. 

So, what was wrong with this picture? Who was at fault here?

Truly, it was me. To be quite honest, I was trying to manipulate Trey into doing what I wanted through coercion, excessive drama, anger, passive aggressiveness.

How often do we do this as spouses, partners, parents? There is a task that we want performed. We complain, we hint, we yell, we punish. But do we ever actually ask.......?

Over at our other podcast, The Family Podcast Network, we talk about the best way for our children to do/act the way we desire them to is to do it ourselves. Lead by example. So how does this cross over into our marriage? Does it mean we have to take out the trash. Well, not exactly. But what I can tell you doesn't work!

So, whatever happen to just asking?  'Babe, the trash is disgusting and all I have done is work on this house. All I am asking is for you to do one thing!!!!!!!!' Nope, that's not going to do it. That is still manipulation through passive aggression. You spouse could very well interpret this as a 'I think you are extraordinarily lazy and I am going to have to treat you like your mamma did!' Ok, maybe that's a little dramatic, but you get the idea.

So what is the key on how to make your spouse do what you want? Kindness. 

Yep, there it is. Maybe with a sprinkle of patience as well. Now when Trey comes home, I simply ask 'babe, would you be willing to take out the trash, please?' And guess what? HE DOES! I just got my spouse to do what I want! Bam!

Now, one thing I have to remember with Trey is that I cannot overload him with requests, nor can I always expect him to remember. Example: 'Can you please get the trash, put in a new trash bag, change the baby's diaper and get me a new roll of paper towels?' Now, more than likely, he will remember the trash, but it stops there. It's not because Trey is being a jerk, or ignoring me. It is simply because he just doesn't remember. You have to know your spouse. I'm a multitasker. I can remember/do many things at once. But it is unfair of me to expect everyone else to be exactly like me and even more unfair to get upset when they are not. In fact, it's selfish.


So, what have we learned?

Number One: ASK! Don't manipulate, control, be passive aggressive or angry. This is a partnership, not a parent/child relationship.

Number Two: Know your spouse. Do they hate taking out the trash? Maybe that's a task you can preform but possibly ask them to change a poop diaper or scrub the toilet, you get the idea. Also, know what your spouses limits are and don't exceed them. I don't mean this in a 'well, my spouse is a lazy butt so now I have to do everything?!' This is more of a Trey situation. Possibly ask just one task at a time.

Number Three: Don't be bossy! Again, this is not a parent/child relationship. There is nothing wrong with favors or the splitting of whatever chores that need to be performed. But when it becomes demanded is when we are drifting over into turdville.

Number Four: It's a learning process. Changing our mindset from "Do it!' to 'Would you mind?' might take some time on both your parts. Be patient with each other.

Number Five: It has got to be reciprocal. It cannot be a demand a function be done whilst you sit on the couch eating bon bons and watching soap operas. It is a symbiotic relationship. That is what marriage is.

So, practice these five steps and you can start bragging to all your friends on how to make your spouse do what you want!

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