One of the very common sets of complaints that I hear from women is that their husbands don’t do X, Y, or Z around the house. My first question is- “Did you ask?” Sometimes the answer is yes, but frequently it’s no. Frankly, how is someone going to guess what you need, if you don’t actually tell them what you want or need? Let me be very clear. Men are not mind readers. Women are not mind readers either.
I think that this concept is particularly important once you have multiple responsibilities and children. In early days, you can just do things yourself, and it doesn’t matter too much. After you have your first child, you may be okay, but try working full time with that child, or going to school, or doing anything challenging. If you fail to communicate your needs, and make sure that they are taken care of, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll find yourself in a position where you feel like you’re being drawn and quartered, or run to the very ragged edge.
So, what should you do instead? Communicate. Clearly. Often. Repeat what you need, even if it is every day. One helpful tip is be to make a daily checklist if someone isn’t remembering what needs to be done. Sure, it may sound really silly to make a checklist with things like- Make Kids’ lunches. Pack these things in the lunch. Check the mail. Take the garbage out if it’s Tuesday.
Please don’t assume that if someone has done something once or maybe twice, that they’re going to remember all of the steps and keep repeating. Some behaviors take a while to teach, and may take repetition to get right. You may have to repeat your requests multiple times, and you may have to point them back to the checklist. But don’t give up. It’s so worth it to have an equal partner.
And one other tip- if someone does something to help you- the correct thing to say is “thank you”. Not criticize. In our house, we thank the cook for our meal every time. We thank whoever took us out for dinner, if we go out to eat. We practice thankfulness for what we have. Every time.
Try it. Men are not mind readers, but they aren’t trying to piss us off. We need to come together and communicate, and express appreciation.