Janice constantly pointed out to her husband, Mike, how his methods of paying the bills, mowing the grass, and even folding the bath towels were all wrong. Nothing he did pleased her. Finally, to no one's surprise but Janice's, the day came when he said, "Fine. You handle everything." And he walked out the door.
We women are great "fixers," since we've been trained that way from childhood. But our men don't want us to fix them. (They need a wife, not another mother.) They -- like us -- want encouragement and acceptance. Someone just thought, But it's difficult to stand by and watch him do it wrong. Hmm. Is it really wrong or merely different? Isn't it more important to protect our mate's self-esteem than to complain that a particular chore isn't being done the way we think it should be?
Let's talk about something that's especially troublesome -- folding towels. Every woman seems to have a specific way she likes (insists upon) having the bath towels folded. If her husband doesn't do it right, she may just insist upon doing it herself. And most men are only too glad to let her.
If you choose that route, make sure you don't grumble later about never getting any help. You must be patient and loving -- and willing to accept less than your standard of perfection. Think about it. Does it really matter if the towels are folded with the edges tucked in as opposed to a once-over fold? Isn't the important thing to have them folded? You may be saying, "But it's just as easy to fold them twice as to fold them once. So why can't he just do it right?" I've got news for you -- he thinks it is right.
My newly married friend Kathy recently told me about the disagreement she and her husband had about doing the laundry. Both of them had lived on their own for several years before they got married, so they both had well-developed methods for washing clothes.
But a problem arose since Timothy had no experience with the special laundering instructions many women's clothes have. Kathy found things were wrinkled that wouldn't have been if she had washed them. Once he ran her nylons and bras through the dryer when they should have been hung up to dry. Even though he was nice enough to help with the laundry, he didn't meet Kathy's expectations for how it should have been done.
Kathy realized, as I've tried to explain, that her relationship with her husband was much more important than the state of her clothes. It wasn't going to kill her if a few things were wrinkled or even if a pair of nylons got ruined, for that matter! She thought she had adjusted her attitude sufficiently, until one Saturday morning.
That day Kathy was doing laundry, and Timothy, being in the basement at the time, started the water running into the washer to give her a head start. But by the time she got downstairs and sorted out the next load, the whole washer was full of water. She was upset at the idea of shoving her clothes down into the water, and she made him come back down and do it himself. That brought to a head Kathy's frustrations, so she decided to talk about the whole laundry situation.
Timothy was bewildered that his wife was angry about something so inconsequential when he was trying to help. After a few minutes of mutual complaints, they finally decided they should take turns doing the laundry. But since he didn't know how her various things needed to be washed, she would sort them and give him special instructions before he started. But once either of them got started, the other should stay out of it and avoid trying to help since they recognized they had different methods that were equally valid but not especially compatible. Problem solved.
Personally, I think it's rather pathetic when a wife puts her need to control -- to have it done the "right" way -- ahead of her husband's self-esteem. Of course, if he's trying to please, he'll eventually catch on to how she wants those dumb towels folded and how to launder the undies. But in the meantime, what would happen if we all lightened up?
Adapted from Men Read Newspapers, Not Minds -- and other things I wish I'd known when I first married by Sandra P. Aldrich. (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Used by permission.) Author or co-author of 17 books, Sandra is an international speaker who handles serious issues with insight and humor. For information about her speaking availability or to order this book, contact her at BoldWords@aol.com.