How to Help Your Marriage: Don't Be a Jerk

Love & Sex 7

Don't be a jerk in your marriage! Every time I go away, my husband decides it's the perfect time to do major home improvement projects, which makes so much sense since he's alone with four children.

I know I should be grateful because it's awesome to have someone who is so ambitious, but the problem is that the projects never actually get done. The ceiling in the girls' room is still unpainted. Our shower was unusable for a week. And what exactly are the kids doing while he's putting in our closet? Honestly, it becomes more of a hassle than a help.

But since my goal for 2013 is to work on my marriage, I've been trying to change my attitude. And maybe, just maybe, it's working.

While I was in New York City throwing a party, my husband decided to redo our kids' bathroom, and like times before, when I returned, it was still incomplete. No light, no sink, and no working shower.

And like times before, I moaned and groaned, and gave him a pretty hard time about starting something and not finishing it. He apologized and told me that he wanted to surprise me and "Hey, see the cool new hooks on the wall and the nice paint!" to which I looked, then sighed as I always do. 

Basically, I was a complete jerk

After thinking about how I had spoken to him, I realized a few important things:

1. His intention was not to annoy me, but surprise me and make me happy. He was trying to do something awesome.

2. The bathroom wasn't really in use in the first place, except for the sink, and considering we have two other bathrooms, it was a minor inconvenience for the kids to move for a couple of days until he finished.

3. I would probably have never done the bathroom myself, so it was either have him do it and get it half done for now, or me never do it all.

Then I felt really bad for being a jerk.

Now look, there are a few things he could have done as well, like get some help to finish the project, or find a sitter so he could get more done. As incredible as the intention of this is, I think it's important to be realistic and understand the time involved.

But still, I decided that the good outweighed the inconvenient in this case, and told him so with a card. Nothing fancy, just a word of thanks to acknowledge his effort. 

Apparently even though the sink and the light weren't working in the bathroom, the mirror was. Glad I stopped to take a look.

What stuff does your partner do that usually annoys you but really might actually be awesome?

Image via katerha/Flickr



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nonmember avatar blh

I don't see how you were being a jerk.he knows he never completes stuff and he knows it annoys you so hes really not doing it as a surprise for you, and if he doesn't get that he's kinda dumb.

Sandy Macnamara

Great reminder to look for the good. Thanks for that!

Shandi80 Shandi80

Another thing is to remember to ask yourself: Would you rather have an over-ambitious husband with a bad sense of timing, but who genuinely wants to improve your living environment or a dead beat who could live in filth and not bat an eye, but does manage to muster up the energy to ask you to bring him another beer...? Which is worse? Both partners must give and take in a successful relationship, and that includes being appreciative for effort given, even if it wasn't to your standards.

tuffy... tuffymama

Good point, Shandi.^

And I agree with looking at things differently. You cannot change a person. You can change your perspective and you can change your reaction, and with kindness, you can sometimes condition your partner to consider you AS you consider him.

DH and I are both alphas, so we butt heads and step on toes sometimes. The only thing he does that really bothers me is when he fails to communicate effectively and apparently expects me to read his mind. I think that's pretty common. When he completes a project without my input, it may not be done EXACTLY as I would like, but it is done and I'm satisfied. We work well together, so we do most big projects as a team. That helps us avoid disappointment and unmet expectations.

Vicky Mason

Shandi and Tuffymama have it right and it is something I have been trying to work on for the last two years.  I'm getting more patience (like when he doesn't start projects until hours after he says he will) and I don't believe him when he says he will get up early to start something. Instead I now anticipate the lunch time start time and know it will now take up the whole day.  BUT he is doing something, it saves us money, he tries to involve the kids in parts of it to teach them things and he is able to do these projects.  He is healthy enough and has the know how. For all that I am very thankful.

Tanst... Tanstaafl2

Glad to see you did a "mea culpa" here.  A man needs three things from his mate in a relationship - desire, appreciation, and respect.  If all you can say is, "You didn't get it right!", he's going to eventually stop even trying (hint - this is also the cause behind many of the husbands who don't do much with the kids, or who ignore their wives in bed.  They've been chased off by criticism).  Instead, you acknowledged his effort and showed that you appreciate his effort - kudos.

By the way, next time you need to apologize to your husband, forget the card - any guy would prefer apology sex instead ;-)

CPN322 CPN322

I agree with the author and all of the comments. I'm trying to tell mine more often that I appreciate him. His mother did not teach him how to clean and he used to be one of those men who leaves everything open. He still doesn't clean up to my o.c.d. standards(I am anal, good practice for kids), but I finally realized that the fact that he tries so hard solely to make me feel good is what is really important. Now I'm trying to work on the tone I use with him(and in general). I think I, unforuntately, take my stress from work out on him unintentionally not with what I say but how I say it. Great reminder article.

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