Since You Asked…

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Dear Caroline,

Whenever I ask my husband to do something around the house, he gets annoyed and tells me I’m nagging him. That’s nonsense. I always use the word “please.” I’m getting tired of his resentment. We get along fine most of the time, but this issue is really starting to bother me. What should I do?

…Mrs. D.

Dear Mrs. D.,

I suspect this problem boils down to communication, not chores. Let’s look at four things:

1) How’s your timing? For example, if you’re married to a sports fan, don’t expect him to stop watching a game because you think a certain chore needs to be done right that minute. If your husband runs a business, mentioning a household chore first thing in the morning while he’s setting his mind for work won’t be well received. You get the idea.

2) How specific are your requests? “Will you please sweep the patio?” is more actionable than “Will you please help me clean up this place?”

3) Are you graciously accepting his best efforts? Your husband may not cook breakfast, fold laundry or do any number of things around the house the way you would. If he thinks he’ll be in for criticism, he won’t want to make an attempt.

4) Have you checked the tone of your voice recently? If not, turn on your voice recorder, and make an imaginary request when nobody’s around. Do you sound impatient, sarcastic, disrespectful or irritable? If so, change your communication style immediately, if not sooner. Never underestimate the importance of voice tones. Over the long run, they alone can make or break a relationship.

Here’s to the fair distribution of labor,


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