I believe it all comes down to good intentions gone awry – or maybe I just like to give them the benefit of the doubt. They meant to hit the laundry basket, the dishwasher, and the front hall with a vacuum, but generations of training have convinced these he-men that this is really not their job, so while they make a pathetic effort to “do their part,” they come up short almost every time...or worse, go too far. An informal survey of women and the frustrating habits of their partners revealed that there were quite a few who were totally annoyed by their husband’s tendency to clean too much. There seems to be no middle ground with these fellows – or perhaps we can file this in the “they just can’t win" category.
Either way, we have to un-train decades of learned behaviour (from their predecessors, but more importantly, from their mothers) to have them turn things around and do things the way we do (i.e., as nature intended). Most men work well with incentives, or rewards. Consider the following points system when implementing your own training program.
Clearing tables/dishes in dishwasherFrom all accounts, the number one winner in the “imperfect traits” sweepstakes. Why is it that they can get that cup or plate all the way into the kitchen, just to stop short of placing the dirty item right into the dishwasher? Do they truly believe in the dishwasher fairy? Is it beneath them?
• 2 points for each item placed in the dishwasher
• 10 points for unloading the whole thing
Page 1 of 2Taking more than a passing interest in his partner’s day
As a “don’t ask, don’t tell” sort of breed, most men rarely ask about their wives’ days, as they assume anything really interesting would have already been relayed to them via phone or e-mail. While they’re probably right, it doesn’t hurt to at least feign interest in that school council meeting, her new hairdo, or how many times the baby pooped in a 60-minute period. You know, the way we pretend to be interested in watching sports before we marry you.
• 3 points for each “But enough about me and my trivial concerns…how was your day?” they manage to sputter out.
Emitting of gaseous sounds, smells and vibrationsIt is never okay to pass wind in front of anyone else, once you have passed the age of two. Why is this so hard to understand? If it should happen, the appropriate response is embarrassment, not a) pride, b) chuckling, or c) holding the sheets over your partner's head.
• 5 points for making it through the week without doing it.
• 100 point deduction for doing it once. We’re serious.
Denial over domestic responsibilities“Who’s taking this laundry upstairs? Who left the cupboards open? Who left the lights on?” YOU! You moron. And now you’re complaining that you don’t have any clean socks in your drawer, the kitchen is a mess, and the lightbulbs have burned out. Wash it, close it, change it.
• 3 points for each completed task
Understanding that young minds are like sponges, not SpongeBobIf you watch the History Channel with your young son, he will quickly be enamoured with “guys who stick swords in other guys’ necks,” or “the one where they land on the boat and kill all the other people.” If you watch Speed Television with him, he will utter things like “I love the smell of gasoline in the morning.” It’s bad enough they already think the farting is funny – lay off the “guy TV” once in a while.
• 5 points for every chick flick you sit through with her, and don’t make rude noises throughout
I’m not going to draw a points chart – we all know what a “reward” really looks like for our partners. Training for perfection is a bit like the top button on those size 4 pants in my closet...it holds together for one glorifying minute before releasing all that is truly ugly, and real, underneath. Good luck.
Need a break from the kids? Read Canadian Living's 10 ideas for 90-minute dates.
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Kathy Buckworth’s new book Journey to the Darkside: Supermom Goes Home is in bookstores. Click here to read an excerpt from her book, “20 funny secrets from a stay-at-home mom.”