Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Catch More Bees with Honey

This was sent to Aunt Babz via email...

Hi Aunt B
I have been married to my husband for 15 years and it has been both a good satisfying relationship and a struggle. Both I and my husband, met in a support group and have been in recovery for 15 years. We both had previous relationships that didn't work out but never when both parties were sober.This is my problem- I became disabled 9 years ago as a result of a work injury ( I broke my back in the health care industry) since that time I have had 3 spinal surgeries and am in severe pain all the time. We recently moved to a new "dream home" which both of us agreed upon. The trouble is that I do most of the household chores, I ask my husband to help me and he gets extremely angry or he doesn't do what I ask. I can ask him 20 times to do something and he won't do it. I get fed up and get angry and then he will begrudgingly help me. I can ask him to vacuum (which I cannot do) and he wont do it for weeks if ever. I feel extremely depressed over this situation because when we moved into this new home (which is very large) he agreed that we would both contribute to housework. So far he hasn't done much of anything to maintain the cleanliness of the house, I do everything. I wouldn't be so bad if I was healthy, but I am in extreme pain and it is a huge effort for me to keep the house very clean which is the way I like to live. To make it worse, he goes out all over the neighborhood helping people with chores and work and then wont help me when asked. He spends a lot of his time out helping others and will literally Run when someones else asks him to do something. To his credit, he has been very good to me monetarily and is there for me with support of the house, he has retired now so it's not like he's working full time and then he's coming home and I'm asking him to do housework in his off hours. When he was working I was able to hire a lady part-time to help me around the house. Now that he's retired he gets livid if I say I want to get someone to help me. He gets irate if I say that I cannot do all the work alone. And I have to add that we are financially (not poor) we have money. When I say I'm going to get someone to help me he gives me dirty looks and wont talk to me. Thanks for listening Aunt B


Dear Jaynie,

I too live with excruciating pain, so I know what you are dealing with. Some days are better than others. Quite often, the simplest tasks can seem insurmountable, not to mention, just the thought of having to do something, you know will be painful, causes stress.

It's unfortunate but I have noted that more often than not, people with physical pain are not given too much compassion. I do not understand this premise but it is real. They seem to have more sympathy and understanding if, for example, they can see the reason for the pain, i.e., a cast and so on.

How do I know this? Well, I for one, in my healthier days, had no sympathy for whiners, as I so fondly referred to them. I had no sympathy for what I did not understand and quite often, people are guilty of this. If they've not walked in your moccasin, they don't have empathy. If they can't see, with their own eyes, your pain or the reason for your pain, they don't seem to comprehend. It's a sad, sad commentary on life, as we know it but it exists. I do believe God allowed me to go through, what I have to gain perspective and lots of Empathy.

It's quite possible, your husband does not comprehend, just how intense your pain is, not to mention, how distasteful it is, for you to live, in dirt. He obviously, does not realize that a simple job, such as vacuuming causes you pain and I'd be willing to bet, that you are able to vacuum but pay for it dearly. He has seen that you will do it and figures that you'll eventually fold your cards, get fed up and just do it.

In addition to not taking you and your pain, as seriously, as he should, I think you have a lack of respect, factoring into this. You may question me saying this but let me point out a couple things. When he runs to help others, it is because he wants to keep, attain, maintain respect, for the individual that he's helping. A lot of that is posturing. He wants these people to look up to him, think he's a good guy, keep or gain their respect. I'm sure, he only does these things, out of the goodness of his heart and he wants them to have a high opinion of him. I mean, really, who goes out of their way to do odd jobs, for nothing, unless their is an actual motive. Even the best of intentions, have a motive. I think his MO is to let things go, at the house but keep up this persona on the outside.

It's the same as a guy/person, who speaks to you, in a nasty tone, says harsh things, cusses you but he wouldn't dare behave that way, to a friend or neighbor. If he respected your relationship, he would treat you, as a would a friend. What happens, in many situations, is they become lackadaisical, familiarity breeds contempt and they lose sight of that respect factor. So, what can you do about it?

First you bring to his attention, the respect factor, he no longer has. Ask him if he feels he can treat you any kind of way? Demand his respect and tell him, if he wants yours to continue and he wants to be the head of the household, he must behave like the head and pull his weight. Being a nice guy starts at home. As it is, he's obviously not held your respect, or you'd not have written.

The other suggestion I have is two fold;
  1. Hire someone to vacuum, only vacuum, once a week.
  2. Call his bluff and tell him, you want to move to a smaller home, one that you can manage.
Your approach, to a man, such as your husband must not be as a nag. He stopped hearing you, long ago and your attempt to make him do things has failed, right?
You get more bees with honey, than vinegar. Change your style possibly, when you ask him for help. Try not to sound so demanding, don't nag because he's just being rebellious. Sorry, but my perspective or experience is that men are just boys, in big clothing. If they think, you're telling them what to do, they will do the exact opposite. If they think you are trying to run the show, they'll throw a wrench in the works. Find a different way, to ask your husband for assistance.

Don't hound him, stop nagging and possibly let your standards down just a tad. I know you like things neat and tidy, many of us do. I know that I was a nut sometimes but I did have to learn that a little dirt, never killed anyone. I am not telling you to live as pigs in a stye, you shouldn't have to. But if you are on his butt from dawn to dusk about all this cleaning stuff, that isn't important to him, you are just annoying him and he won't budge. Nope, he's gonna show you who's in charge, what's what and what's not.

My Advice; Put on your prettiest lipstick, nicest lingerie, lure him into your boudoir, sex him up, tell him you are sorry for nagging him, ask him to help you, when he can and pay for someone to come in and just vacuum.

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