What’s Wrong With My Husband?

Hi, Karen,

 I hope you can help me with this, because I’m at my wits’ end.  If I have to trip over the over-full trash one more time, I’ll scream!  What is wrong with my husband that he doesn’t do this one frickin’ simple job, when it needs to be done?  Why do I have to point it out to him every single damned week??? – Peeved in NH

Dear Peeved,

You sound quite frustrated with your hubby…let’s see what we can do here to help you (and your wits’ end).


Whatever your personal opinion about whether or not there are differences between men and women, there are scientifically-proven differences in our brains, and the way we process things.

Men: can only put their attention on one thing, and only that thing, until it’s either completed, solved, or killed.

This is a generalization, and of course there are exceptions to everything.  You may know of a man who can simultaneously juggle many unrelated things (unrelated being the key here) exceptionally well.  That’s an unusual man.

Women: can have 10 things going at the same time, and we’ll be aware of what stage of need each of those items is in, efficiently handle whatever’s next, while also having an in-depth phone conversation with a friend in need.  It’s how we’re wired. Again, I know there are women out there who blow a gasket if more than one thing needs their attention.  That’s an unusual woman.

Your man’s focus “issues” may not work for you around the trash piling up right in front of his eyes, but think about those times when YOU are the focus of his attention (whether he’s listening to you talk about your day’s frustrations, or he’s making love to you, or he’s planning your next vacation together).  Pretty cool when you’re the beneficiary of that intense focus, huh?


The other thing you’ve got going on here is that, even though you may feel completely righteous about the fact that trash is his “job” and you “shouldn’t have to ask”, it’s important to acknowledge that asking men – and being appreciative and respectful of them while asking – is a critically important aspect of experiencing satisfaction in your relationship.

Not only do you need to ask, but…and here’s the biggie…you will be WAY more effective if he understands what it means to you.

Now, don’t get all riled up here – you may think that it’s OBVIOUS to anyone who has ½ a brain that emptying the trash means that the house is cleaner, it smells better, it looks better, there’s now room to add the new trash…all reasonable things, which anyone who is remotely paying attention should be aware of, right?

But what if he doesn’t “get” that?  What if it’s just not on his radar?


What will put it on his radar and make it important to him is to know why it’s important to you – because he wants to make you happy.

Important point here: how you feel is a big motivator to your man.

So, how about trying something like this (obviously, don’t do this verbatim…find your own authentic words, etc.):

You:  Honey, I really love it when you take the trash out.  I love our beautiful home, and our gorgeous kitchen…I love to cook and have our home be a welcoming place for our family and our friends.  When the trash piles up, the kitchen feels like a place I want to avoid.  I lose my motivation to do anything in there, and it makes me really unhappy.

Him: Oh, it’s my pleasure to take the trash out for you, honey!  I want you to be happy, and besides, I love it when you cook.  The house smells so good!

You: You’re so good to me, sweetheart.  Thank you!

Now, you may be thinking to yourself “Why should I go through all of that crap just to get him to do his job?”

I have a simple question in response to that…

Do you want to be a) righteous/angry/resentful, or b) would you like to have harmony and happiness in your relationship?

If you picked B, which I hope you did, then all you have to do is keep in mind that you married a M-A-N, and you’d be smart to work with who he is.