Saturday rolled around, and Ashley needed some help. All week, she had balanced work, the kids, and a long list of to-do’s. Her husband, Ryan, had a busy week, too. But, she was hoping he’d lend a hand with their weekend activities. Frustrated, she found Ryan sitting in his man cave watching sports. How could he just sit there for hours when she needed his help?
What to Say:
Ashley: Hey Mr. Caveman, I need to talk with you. We’ve got a lot of stuff happening that needs your attention. I’m trying to finish the paperwork for the kid’s summer camp sign-ups, clean the house, and run some errands. Plus, you promised to pay the bills.
Ryan: Hmm…I’m actually busy here right now.
Ashley: I know watching the game may be important to you. But, can you hit the pause button for a second?
Ryan: Make it quick, because I’ve been looking forward to this game all week.
Ashley: I feel overwhelmed and stuck with the kids. I know your time alone is important. But, you’ve been in here for a while, and I feel like you’re in escape mode.
Ryan: What’s wrong with relaxing, my dear? The pressure at my job has been crazy.
Ashley: I understand what you mean. But, if you’ll take a moment to agree which tasks you’ll finish by the end of this weekend, then I’ll keep an eye on the kids until the game ends.
Why This Works:
Ashley negates the problem of Ryan in his man cave by being assertive without getting antagonistic. She acknowledges the down time that Ryan wants. But, both spouses are able to explain what each other needs and agree on a mutually-acceptable plan going forward.
What Doesn’t Work:
Most couples have different levels of energy and different priorities. Accusing one another of being in the wrong without understanding their perspective can backfire. Don’t assume that your spouse is too lazy or too uptight. Mutual solutions are found when both parties openly express their needs.