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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Teaching Men to Fetch

There's no good reason to make a mountain out of someone else's molehill.
- (c) 2011 by Tom King (shade tree philosopher and committed subterranean animal rights activist) 

Women are always complaining that men never do things for them.  They never help out in the kitchen, cook a meal, vacuum the house, etc., etc., ad nauseum. Well, the problem is ladies, if your hubbie doesn't help with the domestic chores, it's likely your own fault.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not here to cast blame, but to enlighten and to promote domestic bliss such as I often enjoy. Here's the secret to getting your man to do household chores. No man will mind that I share these secrets. Sharing this information will only improve their lot in the long run by empowering their wives and teaching them the right exercise of the Golden Rule in male/female inter-species relationships.

Ten Rules for Getting Hubby to Help Out Around the House: 

  • Men are a separate species from women, albeit a closely related, almost symbiotic one if properly trained. This must be recognized from the outset if you ever hope to communicate your needs to them. They are NOT women. You have to tell them what you want. They aren't any good at guessing what you need. They don't understand women and are not motivated by the incentives that motivate women. A woman will slave all day for that single moment when all is complete and clean and the candle is burning on the mantle and all is momentarily orderly. It is at this point that a woman sighs, kicks back and is ready for a quiet chat to close the day. That is her reward. It is at this point that the man picks up the TV remote and flips on the World Series. That is his reward. Men respond to different types of rewards.You may not like it ladies, but there it is. 
  • Men are goal-directed. We do not nest. We build bird-houses. Choose tasks that involve tools and a completion point. We get little satisfaction from doing laundry because it needs to be done all over again the next day - UNLESS doing the laundry involves operating heavy machinery that "only he knows how to operate". Don't give him dusting to do. Use him for hanging pictures, painting walls, baking bread or applying a new coat of varnish to your kitchen table.
  • Appeal to his love of tools and mechanical implements. Tell him that "only he knows how to use the vacuum cleaner". Get yourself a carpet shampooer and tell him you don't understand all the attachments and things. He'll move back the furniture, scrub the carpet, shampoo the upholstery and caution you not to walk on it until it's dry.   
  • Get him man tools to work with. Want help in the kitchen? Buy massive Kitchen-aid mixers and high quality cooking implements and put him in charge of baking. Buy a grill and send him out with charcoal and steaks.  Buy him a whetstone and steel and tell him you need your knives sharpened and you'll have to wear gloves to reach into your knife drawer safely. Get him a set of Ginsu knives and a thick butcher block and put him in charge of chopping up salads. Men like to do jobs that are their special jobs and that demonstrate their prowess with knives and blenders and stuff.  
  • When he runs into a snag, don't tell him to make-do, even though you've been making do for years. Tell him, "Maybe there's some sort of tool or machine that would do a better job of it." Let him figure out how to do it "properly" and praise him for his cleverness. So what if he runs off to Home Depot for an hour looking for a tool or fastener or something. It will make him happy and you get the job done. Men are easy. Even when we know you're manipulating us with praise, we wag our tails and pant. 
  • Do not belittle his efforts while he's helping you or point out that you could do it better. He's going to think, "Well, if you can do it so much better than me......" and you've lost him.  
  • Follow up earlier praise by bragging on his efforts to others - preferably within his earshot. It reinforces the original behavior. Say, "Bob hung that picture for me. I just couldn't figure out how to get it up there like that. Now, it's just like I wanted it."  Toss him a smile while you are at it and he's putty in your hands.  
  • NEVER mention that you had been trying to get him to hang the picture for weeks. If you want support yourself, you must give support to him. (Don't worry, this isn't one-sided. I've got rules for men, too.)  
  • Make your praise genuine. Praise by telling what his help meant to you, how it helped you or how nice a job he did. Don't give empty praise like "You're such a good husband." He knows he has flaws and that just rubs it in. A simple, "Thanks for fixing that chip in the table. That looks so much better." works a hundred times better than "Well, you finally got that done, I see," followed by the eyebrow of total disdain. 
  • Don't nag. If all else fails try and do it yourself. Let him notice you're doing it by yourself and make sure he sees you're struggling. If he says, I'll do that, don't say, "Well I couldn't get you to do it, so I decided to do it myself." It's far more effective to say, "I thought you were busy and I didn't want to bother you." My wife does that all the time and I know why she's doing that and I jump right up any way. It's her very sweet way of saying she needs me to do, whatever it was, now. Somehow I don't mind that. The nagging just makes me want to go hide. One other thing you can do in lieu of nagging is ask your hubbie if he "needs something" to hang that picture or whatever it is. Offer to go to the store and get it. He'll likely tell you, "No, I'll do it." If you can, gratefully step aside and let the big oaf do it and still manage to avoid any accusatory comments, you'll get much better service. 
It always seems odd to me that a competent woman who can train a dog, a horse or a child so often does such a dismal job of training her man. We're, after all, such simple creatures.  We're really pretty easy to break to harness.

Tom King, Late of East Texas

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