Or they put themselves in the backseat, like in Emma’s comic, “You Should’ve Asked.” They say, Just ask me and I’ll do it. You do all the remembering and organizing; then confront me and say what you want. Again. The emotional labor is not gone. It’s just getting transformed.
Shouldn’t have to ask. If you see a mess of dishes in the sink, take the initiative to move them to the dishwasher. If the garbage is starting to overflow, take it outside and replace the liner. I shouldn’t have to tell you to do it.
Don’t leave it there for someone else. Taking action applies to grownups and teenagers alike. You are just as responsible as anyone else. Don’t leave it for your wife, girlfriend, or mom to do. She’s got enough going on. But when she is in a grumpy mood later, I can assure you one of the reasons is because she is tired of cleaning the nasty crap out of the sink for the millionth time while everyone else is watching television and relaxing after a long day.
Example. You have a household pet. Everyone is responsible for the care of the pet. One day this pet leaves a mess on the carpet — be it vomit or pooh. Shortly after, you walk in and find the mess. Instead of cleaning it up, before it dries out and stains, making it harder to clean up later, you cover it with a paper towel and leave it for someone else in the house to deal with. Why? You’ve put a paper towel on it, to indicate something is there, but you’ve decided you are too inconsiderate or too important to clean it up.
Sure, I’m speaking from experience. In the past, I’ve walked in on a sinkful of disgusting dishes no one else will touch and dried out messes (aka presents) from household pets other household members have blindly walked by all day long. It is gross. They only seem to notice the dishes or mess when I mention them. Then, I’m suddenly a nag and having to “instruct” people, who know better, to deal with the issues discussed above.
It’s like in the movie “The Break-Up,” I think it is. Jennifer Anniston comes in after a long day of work. At the same time, her boyfriend “Gary” flops onto the couch and starts to game. They have guests coming in an hour. Instead of helping cook and clean, Gary disappears into the bathroom to clean up. Ok, fine. However, after the dinner party, Jennifer’s character starts to clean up and asks Gary to assist. He brushes off the urgency of cleaning up, suggesting it wait until the next day. Jennifer knows it won’t get done unless she does it. But, rightly so, she is frustrated because she would like to get it out of the way and to have him help her.
Begrudgingly, like a petulant child, Gary acquiesces to Jennifer’s request. “Fine, I’ll help with the dishes,” he grumbles. The problem is, Gary has missed the point entirely. Jennifer wants to get the mess cleaned up so she too can relax. So it won’t be something she will have to deal with tomorrow. It isn’t a mess she should have to clean up by herself while Gary games on the couch. She explains, “I want you to want to do the dishes.” Gary misses the message. Sometimes we want you to take the initiative and consider that we also worked all day, we cooked and cleaned before the dinner party. Now, it would be nice if Gary helped clean up so that Jennifer can relax without acting like an a**hole about it. It would make her feel valued and loved if he did these sorts of things without being asked. This argument ultimately erupts into the couple calling things quits.