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How to Get Your Husband to Do Something

Most of us go about this the wrong way, especially early in our marriages. Let's say you want your husband to take the trash out before the pickup time, wash the dishes after you cook a meal, or spend more time teaching your kids baseball skills. Here's what works best with most husbands.

1. Ask, Don't Tell

When you tell your husband what to do, you sound more like a mother than a wife. Hang onto that wife relationship. Telling him what to do comes across as a lack of respect for him, his autonomy, and his good judgment about house odors, fairness, and children. In other words, it's like washing the foundation out from under his love for you. He's biologically inclined to show love only to someone with respect for who he is.

2. Don't Lose Your Perspective If the Answer's No

Don't nag. Ask once. Maybe ask a second time if you think he's simply forgotten you asked. After this, start solving your problem instead of his. It's not as if sulking, separation, or divorce will get you more of what you want. Unless you're being punished for refusing to do something he's asked for, it's quite likely he disagrees on priorities, what's fair, or what he's capable of.

But treat your requests as important, too. Find another way to get what you need. Take the trash out and, if this feels unfair, leave something else undone. Or buy another outdoor trash can so it's less important to be ready for pickup day.

Get your fairness fix: switch to paper plates when it's your turn to cook. Leave the dishes for him to clean when it's his turn to cook. Task the kids with washing dishes. Or ask everyone to take his or her own dishes and utensils to the dishwasher.

Enroll your kids in baseball camp and watch to see what your husband actually enjoys doing with them. If it's weeding, leave the weeds for them. If it's reading, ask the kids to select a book to read with Dad when you take them to the library. If it's kayaking and you're terrified of the water, spend some time investigating the best life jackets and kayaks for kids so you can enjoy your lakeside quiet time.

When you're okay with "no," most husbands are okay with more requests. And when your husband acts on a request he's selected, he's likely to feel respected and loving, not put-upon.


And when he actually does the thing you want, remember to sincerely THANK him for doing it! Appreciation is an incentive for him to do more.

Great advice, Rosemary!

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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