Confessions of a Terrible Husband has MOVED!!!

This is the new URL for Confessions of a Terrible Husband:  

http://www.aterriblehusband.com/

For those of you who were kind enough to follow this blog here just head over to The New Website

There, you’ll find options to subscribe by e-mail or RSS feed already.

I’ll add more options, too.

Come join the conversation.

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How to help more…

Does your wife bug you to take out the trash?

Want her to stop?

Try this:

Take out the trash.*

*This could be the end of the post. But since I get paid by the word ($0 per word currently) I’ll throw in a few bonus words for free! Just pay separate shipping and handling.

But what happens when your wife doesn’t bug you to “take out the trash,” but rather just to “help more.”

What does that mean?

And what should you do?

For years I wasted so much time and energy trying to figure out how I could get my wife to stop bugging me to “help more.”

“What do you want me to do,” I’d ask.

“Just help me more. I could use a little more help,” she’d reply.

That drove me nuts.

I don’t do well with generalities. I prefer specifics.

“I don’t know what you want me to do. Just tell me to do something and I’ll do it,” I’d respond (thinking I was being helpful).

Apparently, in those moments she doesn’t need me to do something specific.

She’s usually just tired and frustrated.

She just needs me to do something. Anything.

So when I respond by asking her to clarify and specify the exact form of help she wants, it doesn’t doesn’t do her any good.

If anything it makes it worse.

Now she has to think of something specific to ask me to do.

After years of going back and forth with this frustrating little dance, I decided to try something different.

Now, whenever she asks me to “help” or “help more,” I just take over the exact chore she’s in the middle of when she asks.

If she’s emptying the dishwasher I get up (I’m usually sitting on the couch in these moments), give her a kiss, and empty the dishwasher.

If she’s trying to get the kids to bed, I get up, give her a kiss, and take over.

That works!

I got the specificity I needed (I just gave it to myself. I do “what she’s doing.”)

And she got the help she needed (causing her stress level to drop instantaneously because she got to stop doing the exact thing that tipped her to frustration).

Win. Win.

I still haven’t figured out if it’s the same chore that gets her so frustrated.

But I’m at the beginning of my journey to becoming a better husband, so I have plenty of time to see if I can figure that out.

I hope to do so and take that over to avoid the frustration in the beginning.

Until then, I’ll continue to look for clues, getting up, and taking over whatever it is she’s doing when she asks for “more help.”

Wives, am I missing something? What causes you to get to that point? What can I try different?

Relatedly, if you could magically get your husband to take over just one chore, what would it be?

Husbands, what does “help” look like in your house?

Thank you for helping me stay accountable.

How to apologize…

In case you’re wondering, on a scale of 1 to 10, the moment you realize you’re a terrible husband is somewhere around “watching a puppy get hit by a car.”

My natural instinct was to apologize.

But how do you apologize for so many years of being a moron?

I had no idea.  Plus, I wasn’t ready to say it out loud.

For once I was thinking clearly.  I decided not to apologize.

Instead, I decided to just start being a better husband.

Simple enough, right?

So I did.

I didn’t say a word.

I just started doing more.

Less than two days later she thanked me.

That felt awesome.  It was working.  I was being a better husband!

Then she asked me a question I wasn’t ready to hear: “What happened?”

“What are you talking about,” I asked.

“You’ve been so wonderful this weekend,” she replied.  Yes, those were her exact words.

That felt pretty good.  And bad.  If she notices enough of a difference in less than two days to ask “what happened,” she must have been pretty frustrated for a while….

I had a decision to make.  How do I respond?  The truth was “Yes, something happened.  I realized I was a moron and I’m really, really sorry.”  But it was too soon.  I wasn’t ready.

I paused.  And then I decided against saying anything.

“Nope, nothing happened,” I casually responded.

Then I changed the subject.

She knew I was sorry.

I didn’t need to say it.

Because I showed her.

When’s the last time you said you were sorry?    Did it do anything?  (HINT: If you’ve apologized for the same thing more than once, that’s an indication that the apology was short lived at best.)

What could you do today to show her you’re sorry?

Getting up…

Every Friday since I realized I was a pretty crappy husband I’ve reflected about how fun and rewarding weekends are and what I need to do to be sure that I will continue to be a better and better husband.

But weekends are also really tough, particularly with two young kids.  There’s play time, nap time, clean-up time, fun time, meal times, bed time, bath time, I can’t sleep time, diaper time, Mommy time, Daddy time, and a whole lot of other time.  And don’t forget errands!

Juggling all of these things is really tough.  Making sure I’m carrying my weight and being a good husband to my wife with all of these things going on is also really tough.

But it’s also really simple.  

For me, it’s as simple as “getting up.”  

If I see something on the floor, I get up and pick it up.

If she’s emptying the dishwasher, I get up and help.

If the kids want to play, I get up and play, dance, sing or scream with them.**

That stuff is really simple.  But it’s tough.

It’s tough because I’m often tired and I desperately want to rest and accomplish a few “me things” over the weekend, too.

Before I realized I was messing up all the little things, I’d sometimes let myself fall into a trap of being selfish and lazy.

It wasn’t a big deal, apparently.  My wife said she understood most of the time, but was often frustrated and tired herself.

So my laziness was at least a “little deal.”

And while “big deals” make a “big difference” in the “big picture,” the “little deals” make a “big difference” between a “good day” and a “bad day.”  (Like the excessive quotes there?  They were on sale, so I got a dozen…)

I realized my biggest downfall was not getting up.  Once I was up I helped quite a bit.  But once my butt hit the couch I was useless.

So I started just getting up.  I’d get up and help.  If I saw my wife doing something in the kitchen, I’d get up and help.

If I smelled something “stinky” as my daughter ran by, I’d get up.

Even if I was tired.

Really tired.

I wouldn’t say anything.  I wouldn’t look to see if my wife was watching or giving me “credit” for helping out.  I just got up.

And guess what?  I didn’t die.

The results were incredible and immediate.

My wife got less frustrated with me.

Which resulted in fewer arguments.

Which resulted in less stress.

And more energy.

And a better day.

A better day-to-day.

And a better marriage.

All because I decided to be a better husband.

By just getting up.

What little thing are you going to work on this weekend?

**If you’re thinking about borrowing my “dance contest” or “scream fest” idea for kids activities, be sure to check with your wife before hand.  While they are a hit with the kids and easy for you because you’re participating and expecting it, your wife might staple your tongue to a burning building without prior written consent… 🙂  #YesILearnedThisTheHardWay #ApparentlyNothingGetsByMe…

What’s love got to do with it?

How many times have you used the phrase “I love you, but” when speaking with your spouse?  I don’t use it too often but every once in a while I catch myself.  I immediately stop.  I’m not exactly sure why people use that phrase.  Perhaps, people use it to let someone they love know that whatever follows does not change the fact that they love them.

But it comes across as taking away from the love.  It comes across as telling your spouse that your love is not unconditional or that your love has levels.

A few examples:

  • I love you, but you really need to start putting your clothes in the hamper.
  • I love you, but you can’t go out with your friends every Friday night.
  • I love you, but I just don’t know why you insist on wearing that stupid shirt.

You really could add any insult or “improvement suggestion” after the “but.”  Feel free to leave some more from your word in the comments.

Do you see how the “I love you” seems out of place.  You’re asking your spouse to change something about them.  “I love you, but” is a terrible way of phrasing it.  To have “but” immediately following “I love you” makes it seem like your love is wavering.

Want my suggestion?  Just drop “I love you” and focus on getting your point across that delivers the message that you love your spouse.  In our examples:

  • I know you’re tired but when you leave your clothes on the floor it makes me feel like you don’t value my time or energy because I then have to go around picking up the clothes.  I really believe that is not what you’re trying to do, but it would mean a lot to me if you helped me out that way.  It would really make me feel loved and respected.
  • Honey, I don’t want you to stop going out with your friends, but what if we invited them here one week or switched one of the days to another day of the week?  I want you to have your time with your friends, but look forward to Friday nights all week and would love to spend a few with you.
  • I know you love that shirt.  I don’t want you to stop wearing it, but you look so handsome in this one, too.  Do you mind wearing this one to my parents’ house today?  It would mean a lot to me and to them, too.

See how many words it might take to get your point across?  But in the three rewrites there was no suggestion that your love was relevant to the issue.  Any of these can be said a thousand different ways.

But what’s love got to do with it?

A rough morning…

Welcome to this site.  This is the first post.  As you can see, the site is pretty rough at this point.  I learned from someone that the most important thing to getting something done is to get it started.  So instead of waiting around for the site to look perfect, I’m just going to start.  I’ll put up an about page at some point soon, but for now I’ll just remark that the purpose of this blog is so you can follow along with me as I work tirelessly to become a better husband.  I’m hoping you folks (if there are any of you out there) can both encourage me and be encouraged to become a better husband to your spouse.

This morning was rough.  I’ve been working hard to be aware of all the stupid things I say and do at home that make life more difficult for my wife.  This morning tried my patience.  The kids got up early.  Both of them.  I was already awake.  My wife was sleeping.  They were loud and clung to me.  And I needed to get ready for work.  But I didn’t want them to wake her up.  She has enough on her plate when they wake up at a normal time and she gets sleep.

A month ago I would have carried them into the room and asked her if she could wake up early so I could get to work.  But since I’ve committed to becoming a better husband I just sucked it up and got ready as they danced, sang, played and made loud noises.  It was early in the morning.  One wanted to be picked up.  Then the other.  They wanted their dad to play with them.  And I wanted to play with them.  But I needed to get ready for work too.  And I didn’t want to wake up my wife.

It was rough.  While I was awake, I hadn’t mentally prepared for them to be up so early (over an hour early).  But I was committed to taking the heavy lifting so my wife could get some rest.  I did.  But it was ugly.