A few months ago I found my husband loading some dishes into the dishwasher. At first I was elated—after all, it meant there would be less work for me. As I watched him, though, I grew concerned because he wasn’t loading the dishwasher the correct way…you know, the way I load it. I started giving him some pointers regarding where certain dishes fit best. Later that night I felt convicted regarding my behavior. My sweet husband was helping out with a task that I usually complete. Instead of being grateful and thanking him, I was anxious regarding the details of how it was being completed. What did this communicate to him concerning how I value his efforts? Did this make him feel inadequate or discourage him from helping in the future?
Have you ever experienced a situation like this? Does your husband ever help with a chore that is your responsibility and instead of simply being appreciative, you hover over or follow behind to fix or improve his work? (It doesn’t have to relate to housework, it could be caring for the kids, yard work, car care, etc.) After my conviction regarding the dishwasher incident, I’ve become more aware of my responses to my husband’s help and am being intentional about appreciating his efforts and viewing the results as satisfactory.
Though I do love lists, I don’t think this mentality can be attained through a list of “5 easy steps” or something similar. It takes an awareness of your attitude and actions, plus sincere efforts to respect and value your husband’s contributions. I think one key is this: How important is the change you would make to his work? If it’s important (such as a safety issue or preventing an item from being damaged), then say something. First express your gratitude for his help and then respectfully explain the change. If the change is a mere preference or something trivial, then simply be appreciative of his work and let the contribution stand as is.
This idea of pondering the importance of the changes I’d like to make to my husband’s contributions has truly helped me honor his efforts. If my husband makes the bed and the comforter is crooked, I leave it. (A couple of weeks ago I even put off changing the sheets by a day because, when I went to change them, I found he had already made the bed! I wanted to leave it intact to esteem his work.) On another day, he folded some towels I’d just pulled from the dryer. Though he put the towels away in slightly different locations than I would have put them, I gladly searched through the closets that week looking for the towels I needed. It was a great reminder that he had put forth effort to make my life easier. What a blessing to have a husband who contributes around the house!
Does your husband ever help with chores that you typically complete? How do you respond to his efforts? Have you found ways to look beyond occasional imperfect execution and focus instead on the heart behind the effort?