Saturday, I asked my husband to drill holes in my flower pots because they needed to drain more effectively.
He left yesterday (four days later) for a three day business trip without doing it.
I had asked him again the day before he left.
This is ironic, because one of the questions I received on Monday had to do with, “How do I get my husband to do things around the house? What if I ask and ask and ask and it never gets done?”
I found it hilarious that he hadn’t done it because of the timing of the question. He’s been pretty awesome about things I ask him to do for years, but I think God allowed him to forget because wanted me to remember a little more of what it was like when he didn’t, or perhaps to see something about myself and him.
Truth is, I had a hard time getting frustrated about it, even though my plants may drown.
I’m still not frustrated, even though I’m probably going to have someone else fix the pots.
What God revealed to me is simply this: We’ve both changed. My husband usually does things I ask him to do, and I am more patient and compassionate towards him.
Because of learning to speak his language of respect.
Yes, I said that.
I know some women are afraid of doing The Respect Dare because they think it makes them a doormat. Like they are giving away power or something. Not true. It’s not a book about respecting yourself, but rather a book about how to communicate respect to your husband. It’s interesting how satan brings the doormat lie, though. And before I get into the answer here, please know this approach probably won’t work with an abusive and controlling husband. That takes stronger intervention because his lack of help is merely a symptom of a deeper issue. If you are abused, please check into the resources discussed here.
For the rest of us, in an attempt to answer the question from Monday I’m providing a short list of things I’ve learned about this over the last decade. Understand that he probably won’t become the man God wants him to be if you are in his way, nagging, complaining, criticizing, condemning OR RESCUING him. Men rise up to higher callings and standards of behavior when they feel respected by their wives. You might think this isn’t fair, but God wired us to be more relational than them – read THIS if you want to know more about that.
Anyway, here’s the list. It’s not going to be 100% – it’s just based on what I’ve learned over the years and read about. Feel free to add to it in the comments!
How to Get Help from My Husband:
- Ask. But ask once, and then let him do it how he wants to and when he wants to. If you nag or fuss at him while he’s doing it, he will think you don’t have confidence in him, get frustrated with you, and figure, “Why should I try?” Don’t get your knickers in a knot because you have to ask, either. He’s not your girlfriend or child, he’s a man. Don’t mother him. Men invite other men into helping situations, they don’t just jump in and start doing things because that communicates disrespect and a lack of confidence in the other person.
- Choose your timing well. Don’t ask him to do something when he’s watching the game, reading the paper, just walking in after work, or in the middle of something else.
- Touch him when you ask. Really. Put your hand on his arm or shoulder, ask him if you can have his attention for a moment, or if he wants you to come back in a few minutes.
- Let him know what you need done and WHY. If he understands what you want and when you want it and why you want it then, he’ll be more likely to take action. Basic human relations skills.
- Be specific. Let him know when you need it done, and exactly what you want done. Then leave him alone to do it his way. He’s an adult. Don’t be so prideful that you think your way is the only way to do anything.
- Don’t ask him questions about whether or not he knows how to do it. He will perceive this as a lack of confidence in him and as disrespectful.
- If he doesn’t get it done when you need it to be done, choose carefully how you will respond. Sometimes it’s okay to let reality teach instead of you having to be perceived as perfect. If you are having dinner guests and his tools are all over the kitchen counter and you’ve done the above, go ahead and put your appetizers out amongst the drill and the screw drivers. It might also be okay when the guests are pulling into the driveway to gently say, “I see your tools are still out on the counter. Our guests are here. Can you take care of them right now, please? I will answer the door and talk with them while you do that.”
- Ask him what his plan is. A respectful, “I know you have a plan for taking care of XYZ. Can you let me know what it is so I can stop thinking about it needing to be done?” Then leave him alone to complete it.
- Ask him again if he forgets. If a day goes by, and it isn’t finished, ask him again, as if it were the first time. People forget. Husbands are human. How would you like to be treated when you forget?
- If his inaction affects one of your kids, don’t make excuses for him. “Jimmy, I don’t know why Daddy didn’t fix your bike for the camping trip. I understand that you feel sad. You need to talk to Daddy about how you feel, not me, sweetheart. I am happy to go with you if you need my help or talk with you about what to say if you want advice.” Stop trying to manipulate your husband’s relationships with your kids and others – let him deal with them himself. Now, having said that, there may be times when your husband is overwhelmed, stressed, sick, etc., and you can coach your kids on right thinking when they need to extend some grace, but don’t enable laziness or lack of responsibility by covering for him or making excuses.
- If you’ve asked 2-3 times gently and he still forgets, find out how he’d like it handled. This was super helpful for me. “Honey, I don’t want to be a nag or mother you and I know you have a plan for taking care of XYZ. I’ve asked you two times to do it, and it still hasn’t happened. How would you like me to deal with this if it’s not done by tomorrow?” and then, “In general, how would you like me to handle things like this in the future?” My husband told me to schedule time for him to do it in the evening or on the weekend, and often he wanted me to do it with him, to be with him while he did it. He also told me that if he didn’t get to it, that I should hire someone else to take care of it. I did that a few times and just left the bill on his desk.
- BE HONEST. “Honey, I don’t feel up to being intimate with you right now. I feel unimportant and invisible to you – I keep gently asking you to do things, but you don’t do them, and when you blow me off that way, it hurts my feelings and I don’t feel close to you. I don’t feel like sharing this part of me with you when you hurt me like that.” Okay, so don’t manipulate here, but if it’s about something important you’ve asked him for, it’s likely you feel this way. Christ didn’t lie to people about how He felt. Good example. I’m not saying to withhold, either – I’m saying to be honest about how you feel. Know there is a difference. This gives your husband the opportunity to 1) learn how his behavior (or lack of action) affects you, and 2) apologize for hurting you, making both of you feel better.
- THANK HIM when he does something you’ve asked him to do!! Put your hand on his shoulder or arm, swat him on the hinny, or give him a hug and a kiss and tell him how much you appreciate him doing XYZ. Don’t you want to be appreciated when you do something for someone? Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
But is this biblical? I believe so and here’s why: We are called to be our husband’s helper (Genesis 2-3 account) and this can look a hundred different ways – it’s not helpful to allow repetitive sinful behavior – short term it might feel like “help” but long term, it can create an environment where it is easier for others to sin. We are called to bring him good and not harm all the days of his life (Proverbs 31:12). Is it good to foster laziness in another? Is it good to enable irresponsibility? Think about it.
Yes, I know this is a fine line – but if you are not willing to become a woman of strength and dignity, know that you are likely to become a doormat in your relationships.
And notice that there’s no anger or hostility in any of the above. It’s grown up behavior. Respectful. Loving.
1 Corinthians 13:
1If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
It is good for our husbands (and for us) to grow. Be careful not to be so prideful that you think you need to grow your husband, however, it is good for us to not impede the growth that God is working. He’s an adult. Help him rise to a fine reputation by treating him with respect and respecting yourself. In doing so, I believe, we are respecting God’s design.
So thankful you are on this journey with me! Am really interested in what you think about this post… hope you will share your thoughts (in a respectful way) today!
Love to you,
What about you? Have you been taught this? Do you “mother” or “enable” your husband? What have YOU found helpful?