When it comes to doing the household chores, paying compliments, taking care of money matters and dealing with in-laws, we’re pretty sure men are rarely on the same page as us. And it’s probably a familiar scenario to find resentment building and then an argument breaking out over something as daft as his smelly socks lying around. But with a bit of teamwork (and insider knowledge from our experts), harmony can reign in your household…
Does this look like something that would happen in your house?
Doing the chores
Feel like your man often starts something and then doesn’t finish it? You’re not alone. “Most of the time when a man’s doing a job he thinks he’s being helpful for even attempting it,” says Penny Mansfield, director of www.thecoupleconnection.net. For example, he might put the washing on and feel pleased he’s done that, but he won’t think about hanging it out to dry once the cycle’s finished.
In these situations, when the job’s only half done from a woman’s point of view, it
can be really tempting to criticise him. But don’t says Penny. “Instead, thank your partner first, so you’re avoiding a harsh start-off,” she says. “Then add something like, ‘Next time it would be really helpful if you hung the washing up, too’.”
Christine Northam, relationship counsellor with Relate (www.relate.org.uk), says, “Try explaining to your partner that if you got more help from him this would mean more time for both of you to spend together.”
Penny adds: “And remember that all men like a plan, so if you want some chores doing at the weekend, make sure you talk about factoring it in before going out to enjoy yourselves.”
As a mum you probably feel like you do more than your fair share of the childcare, so it’s
not unreasonable to expect the odd night off for a bit of time to yourself, right?
“The problem with arranging social time is that often you both think that the other has the better deal, which is down to mismatched expectations,” says Penny. “Dad thinks he’s more entitled to time off in the evening as he’s been hard at work all day, whereas mum often expects help as she’s had an equally busy day looking after the baby and keeping the house in order.”
The answer? Let him know in advance how important this away time is for you. Explain to him that it will help you be a better mother, and maybe even plan a night out for him, or for you both together at the same time.
“On the night, if your partner knows he’s going to be late, ask him to let you know so you’re not waiting for him,” says Penny. Once you get into the swing of it, he’ll feel like he’s doing something good and you’ll get a break.
Dealing with the bills
Men who leave unopened post and paperwork lying all over the house sometimes feel like that’s OK – it’s addressed to him so he thinks it’s up to him to open it and file it away. But when you see the envelopes piling up it can add to your stress.
“It’s important to tell him how it makes you feel,” says Christine. If it stresses you out to see post lying all over the coffee table as soon as you get through the door with the baby, let him know.
You could also try telling your other half that if he doesn’t open his post promptly, he could be missing important information like a parking fine that’s doubled in cost because it’s been left so long. But won’t he just think you’re nagging? “If you find a story in the paper demonstrating your worries, show him, as it helps men to have a specific example,” adds Penny.
Coping with the mother-in-law
Even if you get on like a house on fire with your mother-in-law there will be times when you’ll be divided on issues. But if your partner’s taking his mum’s advice over yours more often than you’d like, don’t attack her. This can leave your partner feeling like he has divided loyalties, which can make things more difficult.
“You want him to empathise with you instead of feeling accused of doing something wrong, so instead, tell him that whenever he rings his mum rather than talking to you about something you feel unvalued,” says Penny.
You need to ask yourself whether it’s the advice his mum is giving or the fact it’s her giving it that bothers you the most. “Sometimes you’ll have to try and accept that a mother-in-law’s is a point of view worth listening to,” adds Penny. And let’s face it, you don’t want to lose her babysitting services either!