In response to my recent post, Angry at Your Inconsiderate Husband or Wife?, I received this from "Sam." I could definitely relate. It is harder to Assume Love when we're frazzled.
I am pretty good at doing this early in the day and in the middle of the day, it's at the end of the day when I'm tired after a long day at work that I find I can't ignore what I believe are inconsiderate acts. I try to tidy the house up before I leave for work and when I arrive home, most of the time I arrive home after Mr. Sam, my tidy home is no longer tidy. There will be socks on the floor, a belt on the dining room table and dishes in the kitchen from his dinner prep. So I spend the first half an hour of arriving at home cleaning up the house that I cleaned up in the a.m. and I really don't do well, because I'm tired, assuming love. Rather I assume he is inconsiderate, he knows the puppy will eat his socks yet he leaves them on the floor, he knows the dish washer is empty b/c he saw me emptying it that a.m. but he can't be bothered to rinse and put the dishes away, he knows it drives me up the wall to have a belt on the dining room table yet he leaves it there to spite me. How to I assume love at the end of a long day?
When we Assume Love, we look for what might cause a good, loving person to do the things that drive us nuts when our spouses do them.
Who leaves dishes on the table, instead of putting them in the dishwasher he saw his wife empty before he left for work? Besides a miserable and uncaring man with no couth, that is?
- A loving man who notices nothing before his second cup of coffee soaks in. He would be astounded to learn his wife emptied the dishwasher right in front of him nine hours ago. Accidentally putting dirty dishes in among the clean ones right before dinner is a mistake he has vowed never to repeat.
- A thoughtful man who figures dinner is coming up, and it would be a lot smarter to clean up once instead of twice. Used dishes hold no creep-out factor for them the way they do for a partner subjected to nightly lectures on the proper way to set a table. You have no idea how disappointed he will be when you not only fail to praise his ingenuity but call it thoughtless.
- A caring man with a very different sense of timing than yours. When he gets home from work, not rushing is one of his top virtues, one you might appreciate in the bedroom or when he helps the kids with their homework.
What could possibly drive a loving man who craves your respect to leave his socks on the floor as he enters the house and toss his belt on the dining room table when he gets there?
- It might be a man whose return home is filled with distractions: kids, phone calls, notes to read, chores to do. Loving men, like the rest, tend to be really bad at multitasking.
- It could be a man who adores you but feels he's being taken for granted, especially if the socks and belt are ones he wears only for work. Putting these symbols where you cannot miss them is his way of communicating with you.
- And then there are the loving men who try to break you of your perception of things like dining room tables even as you try to do the same in reverse.
How to change things?
- If it seems possible the mess in your house is the act of a loving spouse and not deliberately inconsiderate acts, start by asking for what you want. Hints do not count as asking. And requests get drowned out by even a wee bit of sarcasm or disgust.
- Check the act for a message, especially if he's just started doing this or your roles have recently been changed by a new job or new responsibilities. If you think it might carry a message, try offering what your spouse is looking for. If you can't tell, ask.
- If neither of these works on your first attempt, offer to find a Third Alternative together, a solution that makes both of you happy. While you might be certain the only good place for a belt is in the bedroom closet, your real goal is not to be grossed out. You could agree on another place near the door or put hooks in the coat closet. You might throw a plastic tablecloth on the table in the morning and move it and everything on it into a convenient basket when you get home. Or you might stop somewhere on your way home to shake off the day, spend the first five minutes after you get home hugging and kissing your guy or dancing with him, and find that you don't mind the mess or the picking up nearly as much as you do when frazzled.