Does your wife bug you to take out the trash?
Want her to stop?
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.
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).
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.