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Housework Hurdles for Spouses

I Can Live with That

If you and your spouse feel differently about your home, it's important to break the problem into manageable pieces. To start, list the 10 most important items that help make your house into your home. Examples might be making the bed in the morning, keeping laundry off the floor, putting your feet on the coffee table, or having a snack while watching TV. By listing the things that are most important to each of you, a problem that seemed huge and difficult to tackle is now more manageable.

Go through the list again and do the following three exercises:

  1. Mark items on the list that you can easily do by yourself. For instance, if your spouse doesn't care about making the bed neatly, you might decide that it wouldn't be so terrible if you just made it yourself in the morning.

  2. Now write down ways you could compromise on some of the items. Maybe the person who likes to eat throughout the house needs to promise to get the dishes back to the kitchen immediately after eating. Or maybe the person who likes to put feet up on the coffee table will first take off his or her shoes.

  3. On the items remaining, for those you cannot reasonably do yourself and those you feel that you cannot compromise on, write down the specific behavior you would like from your spouse. For instance, if your spouse leaves sections of the newspaper all over the house, it would be reasonable to request that he or she pile them in a central place right after reading them.

Now, instead of general frustration, you have a list of your specific needs. Your spouse will be more apt to meet those needs, both because you now have specific requests (which are always easier to follow) and because you have earmarked several items that you are going to do yourself instead of complaining about them!



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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage © 2001 by Hilary Rich and Helaina Laks Kravitz, M.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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