(Disclaimer: Yes, this post plays on stereotypes and I know not all men fit this profile. In fact, I know some obsessively compulsive neat freak mens and women who this post will describe quite well. In fact, our own Quadfather says he vacuums about 4 times per week, but my guess is he is not the norm. )
It’s a typical scene. Nagging wife gets annoyed at husband who:
- Leaves a GIANT mess after making dinner.
- Doesn’t put his tools away after doing repairs.
- Doesn’t put away packing materials after putting something new together (it’s not always a husband…sometimes it’s a son)
- Empties a closet after looking for something, but doesn’t put everything back when he finds it.
At our house, we have a basket where we keep some stuff we need for when we go out the door. Gloves and mittens in the winter. Dog leashes, etc. Recently, my husband was looking for something and he tossed everything out of the basket to find it. Of course, he didn’t put anything back.
I asked him why he always does that and he told me something like, “I don’t like to redo things that are already done.”
I didn’t quite get it at the time, but I observed his behaviour for a while and it finally came to me. He’s about getting what he wants and the extra stuff is well extra.
- If you want dinner, you cook it. Cleaning up has nothing to do with eating your dinner.
- If you want something out of a drawer, a closest or a basket, you get it. Putting stuff back has nothing to do with getting what you want.
- If you are fixing something, you get it fixed. Putting the tools away doesn’t make the item fixed work any better.
Of course, we women know that life isn’t just about living in the now. The mess and the dirty dishes, make it a little harder to put together a meal the next time. We want to be prepared for when it happens, a man will just deal with it (and only as much as he needs to) when he comes to it. And when we want to find something in that drawer the next time or need a tool, we want to know exactly where it is. For some reason, that male creature doesn’t care about it so much.
So now, after 13 years, I *get* it…but am still stuck on how to reprogram this behaviour. Ideas?