How To Overcome Male Pattern Blindness

man leaves socks on floor

Learn how to get your guy to open his eyes to the little things he does that drive you nuts.

I'm convinced it's linked to the Y chromosome: the inability to notice small things around the house that need doing. You know what I'm talking about. The pile of stuff on the stairs that needs to go up. The magazines left in the bathroom. The sink left without being rinsed. The sock on the floor. The ring of dust around the lamp. The towel that should be hung up (or the towel that is hung up without being folded in any way). Each one of these things by itself is small and not important. But when you spend a day racing around the house, picking up each one of these, they're suddenly very annoying. Especially when you're already bearing the brunt of parenting responsibilities.

I believe most of this is not intentional—men just don't see these things or think they matter. Yes, the kitchen sink might be full of dirt, but he just washed the dishes, so isn't that good enough? He doesn't notice the pile of papers sitting on the stairs because they always magically get taken upstairs without him doing anything. Why sweat the small stuff when he does all the big stuff so well?

But the small stuff matters too. Here are some tips to open his eyes.

Ask. Years ago, my husband pointed out that he's not a mind reader. If you don't tell him what you need, he won't know. Yes, you might think he ought to notice the things around the house that bother you, but you can't expect him to pick out the things that get under your skin unless you communicate.

Set some standards. Maybe you're OK with the coat left over the back of a chair, but it drives you wild to see a handful of change left on the hall table. Let everyone in the house know about some hard and fast rules that have to be adhered to no matter what. That way there's no ambiguity and you're not chasing after him asking him to do every last little thing.

Compromise. You hate the magazines left all over the bathroom. He likes to have them in there. Come up with something you can both live with. Maybe he has to remove all of them when company is coming. Maybe you can agree to leave them in the bottom vanity drawer. Look for a solution that is halfway between your two positions.

Notice. Notice the things he does think to do and thank him. I know—no one is thanking you for all the little things you do. But if you if you reward him, he's more likely to do it again. And to do more things like it.

Accept something less than perfection. I believe that sometimes we—as women, moms and wives—set standards that are too high for ourselves and thus too high for everyone else in the house. The house does not have to be immaculate. Everything can't always be done perfectly. And that's OK. Accept that and give yourself, and your husband, a little wiggle room.