It’s not uncommon for one spouse to feel like they’re carrying the lion’s share of the load in the marriage. Whether real or perceived, it can create a strain in the marriage.
In our last post we talked about some important considerations when laziness presents itself. But what are some practical steps you can take to bring about a solution? Here are five things you can do:
1. Ask yourself: Is my spouse a goal-setter or a problem solver?
In his insightful book, Stop Setting Goals, Bobb Biehl describes how only 50% of all people are goal-setters. Goal-setters love a challenge to strive for. When a goal is set, they do all they can to accomplish it.
The other 50% of people are problem solvers. Goal setting exhausts and frustrates the problem solver. But show them a problem that needs to be addressed and solved, and they are energized to try to figure it out!
How your spouse is wired will help you determine the best way to approach your spouse. For example, if they’re a goal-setter, you might say, “Let’s set a goal for us to get these three projects done together. When do you realistically think we can get these accomplished by?”
If they are a problem solver your approach will be different. You might say, “Honey I have a problem that I need you to help me solve. There are simply too many chores that need to be done each week for me to do on my own, and I need you to help me come up with a solution for how we can tackle these projects together.”
2. Focus on their strengths
Focusing on your spouse’s strengths can be a great catalyst toward your spouse’s action. What is your spouse gifted in? What do they do really well? What are they interested in? Do your best to tailor specific projects or chores toward those strengths.
3. Invite them to join you
Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.” Ask your spouse to join you in some of the things that you need done. Be specific about the project(s) and how long you will need them. Stick to the timeline and project(s) that you request. When they willingly help you it can be be tempting to take advantage of their willingness. Resist the temptation! You will build trust and future engagement by keeping your word.
4. Let them choose
Make a list of things that need to get done. When you sit down to talk with your spouse show them the list of the things that need to be addressed. Ask them which ones they would like to take on. In this manner you are empowering them and allowing them to take responsibility for projects or chores that resonate with them.
5. Give positive reinforcement
When there is laziness involved, we often allow our frustrations to build so much that no matter what our spouse does, it isn’t going to be enough. We are convinced that it isn’t done well enough or they stopped short of doing other projects we want done. It can be easy to criticize and squelch any further work because of our attitude.
Instead, look for what they have accomplished and show appreciation for it. Let them know how much it means to you to have their partnership in getting things done. Remember the old adage that, “If anyone can do something 80% as good as you, it’s good enough.” The same is true at home.
As you begin to apply the principles from part 1 and 2 of these posts, you will see your stress level go down, your connection go up, and you will both be taking steps to build your marriage.