Really, Ladies… He Can’t Read Your Mind

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Why does my marriage work – and work so amazingly well?

Communication.

Yeah, I know.  You’ve heard it all before.  “Communicate with your spouse. Talk about your needs, your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your anxieties and little irritations.  Work through them, and you’ll have a great relationship.”

But you’ve tried and he doesn’t listen.  Or maybe he seems to but then he does (or doesn’t do) the same thing the next time.  And you can’t figure out why he doesn’t seem to care because after all, you wouldn’t dream of being so cavalier about things that are important to him.

Let’s take a pretty basic example, and say he forgets to put his socks and underwear in the hamper.  Instead, he just drops them on the floor and there they sit.   So you have to pick the items up yourself and toss them in the laundry.

Socks

Or his concept of “doing the dishes” is to “do the dishes” and nothing else.  The mat under the drainer doesn’t get washed, the stove doesn’t get washed, and the counters don’t get cleaned up.   So after he’s done with the dishes, you have to clean up after him.

Stove

Annoying, huh?

Yes, it can be.  If you allow it to be.  Or you can “communicate”.

Unfortunately, too many women think that communicating involves having your man read your mind.   I know; I’ve been there. “Look at this mess!” you sigh, pointing dramatically and world-wearily to the socks on the floor (or the grease splatters on the stove).  “Mess?” he asks, confused.  “Your socks are on the floor!”  And he looks briefly befuddled, then hurriedly picks up the offending items, tosses them in the laundry and starts to head off.

Man with Laundry 2

And you’re ready to shriek.  And may, in fact, do so if this is the 137th time you’ve complained about the socks.

And he’s confused.  After all, the problem is solved, right?  The socks are in the laundry.  So why are you standing there, annoyed, and acting as though this man who is a complete brainiac at the office is a total doofus at home?

Here’s where you get to communicate.  “Before you leave for work every day, please pick up your socks and put them in the hamper.”

It’s that simple.  No drama, no sighs, no expecting him to read your mind, no picking up after him.  Just a simple statement of what you want done.    If he doesn’t do it, leave them there.  But don’t do it as a punishment, or as a passive-aggressive way of getting even; do it as a consequence.  If he doesn’t pick them up, they won’t go into the laundry. And they won’t get washed.

The next day, repeat “Before you leave for work, please pick up your socks and put them in the hamper”.

Why should I have to do that?  you may ask.  Shouldn’t he just get it?  He’s not a child!

And there’s the rub.  That attitude, the “I have to handle everything, he’s behaving like a child, he should know better” long-suffering dialogue you have with yourself is the problem, not the socks.

Man with Laundry

If you want something, just tell him.  If it doesn’t get done, tell him again.  As long as you do it without drama or impatience, most men will gladly try to remember to do whatever it is to make you happy.

By the way, this goes for sex, too.

If there’s something intimate you want him to do or think you would like, tell him.  Don’t expect him to read your mind.  Just tell him.   (More on this in a future blog.)

To be continued…

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Resentment: Death By 1000 Cuts

Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

— Carrie Fisher

Resentment in a marriage could be called death by 1000 cuts.  Few marriages fall apart because of one major issue… it’s usually the accumulation of many small resentments over time, dozens and hundreds of them, that just add up.

Several years ago, when Husband and I had just started living together, I was describing to an acquaintance how much I appreciated his attentiveness to small household-type details.  For example, he doesn’t leave his dirty socks and underwear lying around, and in fact, one evening when I happened to pick them up before he had a chance to, Husband said, “Hey, I’ll get that”.  My response was, “It’s okay, I’m heading towards the hamper anyway.”

My acquaintance commented: “Yeah, but I’ll bet he saw that look in your eyes that told him you were p*ssed off.”

I was taken aback for a moment, and then realized two things… a) had it been my first husband, that resentment would have been there, and b) she was saying more about her own relationship than she was about mine.  But with Husband, there’s no resentment about the little things that most couples squabble about.

Does that mean he’s perfect? Ha! Absolutely not.

Does that mean I don’t notice the annoying habits he has?  Of course I do. 

I notice that he often leaves me to do the dishes, and like most men doesn’t seem to realize that cleaning the counter and range are part of that job…. and after 4½ years he still doesn’t know where the fire engine red collander goes (which is in a different place than the cheap stainless collander). 

He can’t be trusted to wash my clothes, and when folding laundry will pair one of my black ribbed trouser socks with a plain one.  He snores.  Loudly.  He smokes like a chimney and our garage—which is now called The Clubhouse—reeks as a result.  He forgets to shave sometimes which makes his face really scratchy. 

But I also notice that if I lose my keys (a daily occurrence), he’ll hunt high and low for them, even though it isn’t his fault and even though it’s the 90-hundredth time it’s happened. 

He always helps bring in the groceries without being asked; he will eat anything I put in front of him even if he doesn’t like it or it’s vegan. 

He prefers to be a homebody, but if I want to go out (with friends, to a movie, a restaurant or whatever), he’ll go… and not gripe too much.  

He calls me several times a day (even if he’s in The Clubhouse and I’m just yards away inside) to tell me little things he’s just seen, heard or thought of.  He looks for movies we can watch on television together, and he remembers anniversaries.  He thinks of things my daughter would like.

He doesn’t complain when I forget to shave sometimes (okay, often) and my legs get really scratchy.

He is as excited by our love as I am.

Given all this… why in heaven’s name would I waste time on resentment?

 

 

Soul-Mate Marriages is saddened by the high rate of divorce in the U.S., with even fewer second marriages succeeding.  We recognize the reasons are complicated but believe the trend can be reversed with trust and hard work.

Neither of us is a relationship saint, but our marriage, the 2nd for both of us, has brought more joy, satisfaction, and peace than we could have imagined. 

We hope our insights will be helpful. 

 www.facebook.com/soulmatemarriage