Once again, I’m going to be tackling some advice that Dr. Laura has given (taken from transcripts on her website), and look at it from a different, less awful perspective.
If you would like some similar not-awful advice, ask me! I am all-knowing. Except when I’m not. But mostly-knowing.
The question: Dr. Laura, my husband is a good man but there is one issue that I am having trouble with. He loves to work outside; we have 32 acres of woods and yard. When he comes inside all sweaty and dirty, he will not take off his dirt filled shoes, nor his very stinky clothes. He proceeds to sit in his recliner and leaves the carpet full of debris from his dirty shoes. I am constantly vacuuming and spraying Febreze on his chair. I have asked him, ever so kindly, to please at least take off his shoes, but I have gotten nowhere. He is very picky about how our yard looks and the exterior of our home, but when it comes to the interior – that’s another story. What can I say to him that would help him realize that the dirty shoes and clothes are making a lot of extra work, not to mention the soiled and stinky recliner. Thank you.
Dr. Laura’s advice: Most of the time, I don’t give advice on what to say, I give advice on what to do because doing is infinitely more powerful. Now you wonder why a grown man, intelligent, reasonable, decent, wonderful guy, terrific husband works 32 acres of backyard and then walks in with dirt about. And I always think, “Now what could the message be?” You see, because I think behavior is a message. I think he’s probably walking in there, all dirty, because he wants you to notice him and how much work he’s doing, and acknowledge it and give him “huzzahs” for it. Men like that! They like to be thanked for all their efforts. Now you’re saying “he” likes working outside. So maybe you’re thinking, “well, because ‘he’ likes it…” that he’s not really doing something for you. Well, it’s our property and this is one of the ways men take care of their women. They take care of the property. He sees “inside the house” as yours.
So my recommendation: I like the Febreze thing, but he comes in all dirty and sweaty. I think this is the time for you to say, “Honey, let’s take a shower together and then we’ll cuddle together on your recliner.” I have a feeling you will have the cleanest husband west of the Pecos…if I only knew where the Pecos was. I’m Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Thank you for visiting our YouTube channel. See you next time.
Oh, Dr. Laura. You are so close to being right! I mean, you aren’t. But for the first few sentences of your response, I thought, “This is a really good point.”
Because doing is more powerful than saying, and what you do does send a message. But the message that he is sending is not, “I am awesome because I have a penis, and I wish somebody would recognize me.” What he is saying is, “I don’t give a shit about the things that you have to do. I am important, and you are not.”
The only way through this is communication. If you’ve asked him ever-so-kindly, he may not understand that you are serious about it. Do not ask him. Be forthright and clear about the action, and why it upsets you. If he refuses to budge, offer a compromise – that he can then be responsible for the mess that he tracks in, if it is important for him to keep his dirty clothes on and collapse into a chair upon returning home. If that doesn’t work, is it a possibility to let him sit in his own filth? Can he have a separate “collapse after work” chair that you can just leave alone? Maybe something on the porch so that it won’t bother you?
If none of this is acceptable to you, you have to decide if it is a big enough deal for you to draw the line or to make an ultimatum. On one hand, the action itself is silly – it’s just shoes and clothes. On the other, the fact that he completely disregards and disrespects the work that you do to keep your house going is not silly. If he cannot take you seriously when you explain to him that it is important to you, there are bigger problems afoot (get it? AFOOT!).
My guess, though, is that he will respond well to communication, since you think he’s a great guy and this is the one aspect of your relationship that needs some tweaking.
The fact that Dr. Laura thinks you should sex him up to get him to do what you want is infuriating. He is acting like a child. Giving him some sort of sexy reward so that he will treat you like a human being is setting a terrible precedence (wife’s not putting out? Why don’t you just go spread mud all over the wall? That’ll get her in the mood), and makes you responsible for fixing the situation. The situation that he is perpetuating.
Besides this, sex is not currency. Sex is an integral part of a healthy relationship, and to use it to reward or punish can spiral into a terrible pattern of resentment and frustration where neither partner is getting their needs met. Keep sex out of your arguments, as much as you can (obviously, moods are going to fluctuate depending on the situation at hand, and so it can’t be completely separate).
It sounds like you have a good relationship with your husband outside of this issue. Talk to him. Explain what it is that is upsetting you, and why. If he is respectful and good to you in other aspects of your relationship, he will probably change his behavior once he realizes how important it is to you.