Can Men Multitask?

Can Men Multitask?

Cathi and Dan offer advice on multitasking for couples.

For the best advice on sex, love, dating and relationships we ask two experts with personal experience. Cathi Hanauer is the author, most recently, of Sweet Ruin, a novel about love, marriage, and adultery. Daniel Jones is the editor of both the "Modern Love" column for The New York Times, and Modern Love, an anthology derived from the column. They've been married for 15 years, and together they provide a his and hers take on relationship questions. This round: men and multitasking.

Question: My husband and I both juggle full-time jobs with caring for our toddler, but lately I’ve been frustrated by his inability to multitask. In the morning, I often do laundry and prepare our meals—but by the time I’m ready for work, he’s still in his pajamas! How can I get him to pick up the pace? –Laura, 36

Her Take: One thing I’ve learned is that Dan will do anything to avoid getting me angry. The catch? Sometimes, I have to ask. Of course, we shouldn’t have to. He should see you rushing around and offer to help. But he can’t read your mind, and he probably thinks, "Oh good, she’s doing it—I don’t have to." So you need to tell him what you need. Next time you’re both calm, mention the problem. Don’t accuse. Don’t call him a lazy bastard in pajamas. Throw him a bone: "I love the way you play with the baby, but I need more help getting things done before we leave." Also, praise him for what he does do (trash? toilet stop-ups?), and know that things get much easier for working mothers as the kids grow up. I promise.

His Take: I handle the frantic morning shift better when my wife is away—I feel like the boss. When she's home, I feel like her employee. Most men chafe at being treated like employees by their wives, and most women expect the house to be run according to their rules. It doesn’t work. Better to divide the chores, picking those things you each naturally prefer. Arrange it so that one of you runs the mornings and the other the evenings. Make a chart if you have to. Allow him to have pride of ownership of his responsibilities. And if it sounds like you're back in kindergarten, you are. Put a gold star on his forehead (yes, that’s a euphemism for something else).


Expert advice

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