Saturday rolled around, and Ashley needed some help. All week, she had balanced work, the kids, and a long To-Do list. Her husband, Ryan, had a busy week, too. But, she was hoping he’d lend a hand with their weekend activities. Frustrated, she found Ryan sitting in his man cave watching sports. How could he just sit there for hours when she was so overwhelmed?
What to Say:
Ashley: Hey Ryan, can we talk for a couple of minutes? We’ve got a lot of stuff happening that needs your attention. I’m trying to finish the paperwork for the kid’s summer camp sign-ups, clean the house, and run some errands. Plus as I recall, you promised to pay the bills.
Ryan: Hmm…I’m actually busy here right now.
Ashley: I know watching the game may be important to you. But, can you hit the pause button for a second?
Ryan: Make it quick, because I’ve been looking forward to this game all week.
Ashley: I feel overwhelmed and stuck with the kids. I know your time alone is important. But, you’ve been in here for a while, and I feel like you’re in escape mode. How can you be so uninvolved with life at home?
Ryan: What’s wrong with relaxing, my dear? The pressure at my job has been crazy.
Ashley: I understand what you mean. But, if you’ll take a moment to agree which tasks you’ll finish by the end of this weekend, then I’ll keep an eye on the kids until the game ends.
Why This Works:
Ashley tackles the problem of Ryan living in his man cave by being assertive without getting antagonistic. She acknowledges the down time that Ryan wants. But, both spouses are able to explain what each other needs and agree on a solid plan going forward.
What Doesn’t Work:
Boiling inside while your partner is uninvolved and oblivious to the problem. Most couples have different levels of energy and different priorities. Accusing one another of being in the wrong without understanding their perspective can backfire. Don’t assume that your spouse is too lazy or too uptight. Great solutions are found when both sides talk openly about their needs.