Sometimes, you have to treat your husband like one of the kids and apply some behavior modification.
Why does it seem like a daunting and never-ending task to get your husband and kids to listen to you? How many times a day do you feel like you're not only raising your own kids, but raising your husband—the big kid—too? Is it difficult for him to make basic decisions or do you always have to ask him to clean or do other things? It would come as common sense to most moms that if you drop something, you should pick it up and put it where it belongs. Why is this so difficult for husbands to realize? Is it on purpose or is their common sense meter simply missing?
As a wife and mother of two, I can understand the frustration and aggravation married women feel when something goes wrong that could have easily been avoided if their husband had just used some common sense. "What in the world was he thinking? Oh yeah, he wasn't." The million-dollar question is, "How do I get my husband to listen to me?" The second million-dollar question is, "How do I get my husband and my kids to listen to me?" Often, children are learning this behavior from their fathers. Wouldn't it be nice if men thought to themselves, "I care about how you feel when the house is dirty"? I know I would love that.
The best advice I can offer you is to treat your husband the way you treat your kids when you want them to do something. Here are recommendations on how to get started. Be mindful that behavior modification doesn't occur overnight and that you'll need to tweak it to your husband. Good luck, ladies.
1. Let him know what you expect. For example, tell him, "I'm looking forward to you helping me with the dishes today. It makes me feel so good when you help me. I really like that about you," even if he hasn't washed the dishes in years. Flatter him and pretty soon, you'll start seeing things change. Some people complain that seducing your spouse when expressing your needs is manipulative—it's not! You do way more for no seduction in return! Remember that.
2. Focus on one behavior to modify. Don't jump ahead of yourself. Patience is everything. Remember, you're modifying behavior like you would with a child. As you focus on one problem and tell your spouse what it is, make sure to use reinforcement techniques. Some examples are verbal praise and punishment-oriented techniques, like, "I'm looking forward to you helping me with the dishes today, but if you don't get around to it, then I guess we won't have any clean plates for tomorrow's dinner. Where would you like to go out to eat? I know of an expensive new restaurant I've been wanting to dine at." This will probably get him to think of the pros and cons of helping you.
3. Offer incentives for compliance. Ask him for his advice on what incentives he would be interested in. Remember to stick to one problem for now. Don't set yourself up to fail.
4. Follow through on the consequences, and don't give in. If he doesn't help you with the dishes, then the dishes will just have to be dirty until he helps. This could go on for a day, a few days, even weeks. Don't budge; set precedents. Remember, if you give in then he will know how far he can push you next time. I promise you there will be a next time, unfortunately. If you give in and do the dishes it will be very difficult for you to modify his behavior.
5. Provide positive reinforcement. Give him playful reminders and prompts. Encourage him to think of everything as a rewarding and joyous experience. Don't nag him! Behavior modification is not about nagging. It's about clear expectations, friendly prompts and reminders, rewards and consequences.