What If He's Really Just a Jerk?

Dear Karen,

It seems like it doesn’t matter what I try – my husband just won’t help around the house.  He’s so self absorbed I dont think anything is going to work.  Can you help? – A frustrated reader

Dear Frustrated,

I want to delve a little more into the idea of getting help from your husband with family and household needs even when it seems impossible.

 My philosophy, which I feel very strongly about, is that if you’ve married a man, and then had children with him, you owe it to yourself, to your husband, and to your kid(s) to work on either getting back to what worked in your relationship, or, if both of you were clueless and you wouldn’t want to go back, then to create a future that works. 

 First put your efforts on that as an intended outcome; believe me, if it’s not possible (“hopeless case”, as has been suggested), you will realize it as you progress on your path to creating what you do want in your marriage.

 Things may have gotten challenging, but there just isn’t an immediate fix.  

 That’s because there wasn’t an immediate cause. 

 Our relationships usually start off in a fabulous place, don’t they?  Do you remember when you referred to the man you married as your “best friend” and a man you “felt loved and supported by”.   In the majority of marriages, that’s what people felt in the beginning (why would they marry if they didn’t feel good, right?). 

 But – and this is relatively inevitable – there will come a time when both of you will start to let your “stuff” run the show.  You know the “stuff” I’m talking about:  the controlling stuff, or the not-trusting stuff, or the not-taking-care-of-yourself-and-how-you-look stuff, or the criticizing stuff. 

 There are lots of goodies that can be on that list – and on the part of both partners. 

 The trick becomes learning how to navigate this stage, and how to continue to grow a relationship so that both people are becoming more of their best (loving) selves, rather than more of their worst (fearful) selves.

 And really…who gets taught how to be loving when they feel scared, or frustrated, or angry?  Who knows how to grow a relationship with compassion, with excellent communication skills, with the ability to trust (in spite of what seems to be happening) in this way?  Who has had this modeled for them while they were growing up? 

 A disturbingly small group of people, from what I see!

 In order to shift the tide, and the habitual (and un-helpful) way of relating with each other, which can take hold soon after marriage and be on autopilot in an alarmingly short period of time, patterns have to be interrupted. 

 In my experience, the best, quickest, most effective way to do that is to see the best in the other person.  To practice the fine art of managing your perceptions, so that you can manage how you feel, which then allows you to manage how you behave.  This, above most other skills in relationship, will shift things and get them moving toward more of what you want.

 Imagine approaching your man from that place, and asking for what you need, or giving needed feedback about something that’s not working.  Can’t you imagine how much better it would go – for both of you? 

 From that connected place, you can then apply the “I feel (fill in the blank), and I need (fill in the blank) communication technique I encourage women use when they’re trying to get something they’re not getting (or they’re not getting something the way that they need it to be).  I go into more of that in the book I wrote called “The Surefire Guide to Getting What You Need From Men”, which is downloadable as an ebook from my website: www.theheartmatters.com/resources.htm.

 If you do happen to be married to an a$%hole, what will you have lost by trying out being this way with him first?  I don’t think much, really…maybe some time. 

But in that time, you will have gained the ability to manage who you’re being, which you are then teaching to your child(ren), as well as being able to bring it to your next relationship (if that’s how things end up going).

 I say you’ve got nothing to lose, and so much to gain. 

 Who knows?  Underneath that a$%hole may be the man of your dreams after all!