Do you write your partner lists, spelling out how to chop veg or do the dishes? If so, you could be heading for trouble
Your other half is loading the laundry into the washing machine and about to make dinner.
a) Leave him to it and thank him afterwards.
b) Hover over him, giving instructions while huffing and tutting.
If the answer is b) — join the club.
Many of us are guilty of assuming our partner won’t do as good a job as us when it comes to household tasks such as cooking or cleaning and even child rearing.
Some say it’s because society has — up until fairly recently — deemed these jobs to be ‘women’s work’ and so we feel we know best.
But if you feel the need to micro-manage everything your partner does, be warned. Your relationship could be heading for trouble.
Sex and relationship therapist Lorraine McGinlay says her sessions are filled with such couples. And they both see the situation differently.
The woman is overwhelmed, trying to manage her job, the children, running the house
and having to tell her husband what to do.
The man sees it as nagging. And this can lead to problems.
Lorraine says: ‘In becoming the Alpha Female in the house — giving orders, making lists, telling your partner nothing he does is good enough — you become the “mother” in the relationship and your partner becomes the “child”.
‘This can have a negative impact on your sex life. If you’re constantly being nagged and told you’re not good enough as a man, this can put you off even trying to initiate sex or intimacy.’
Lorraine says this can become a vicious circle. Your partner no longer sees the funny, flirty woman you used to be, but a demanding boss and he, in turn, becomes the passive employee.
But what if he just doesn’t do things ‘your way’?
Lorraine says that by constantly belittling or making your partner feel he’s not doing a good enough job, you can end up making more work for yourself.
She says: ‘If you don’t like the way he washes up or wipes the surfaces, you can either do it again yourself or you can step back and think: at least he did the job.’
She stresses that couples need to consider not just what they want each other to do, but how they approach it.
She says: ‘Ask yourself, Would
I ask my colleague to do something in the way I am asking my partner? Couples need to speak to each other adult to adult, and not adult to child in order for things to work.’
So why do we feel the need to infantilise our fellas? Lorraine says stress plays a big part.
She explains: ‘This might be a legacy from the 1950s when many women stayed at home and ran the house.
‘Some women still feel obligated to do everything — but now juggle this with working, childcare and so much more. It can also be down to your upbringing — if you saw your mother do everything in the house, you might feel you have to do the same, but resent it.’
Lorraine says couples should work out what their ‘love language’ is.
She says: ‘It might be that you do the shopping and that’s your love language. Your partner might put the bins out and that’s his love language. Focus on the positives. Don’t moan.’
How to break the cycle
• Speak as you would to a colleague — not a naughty child.
• Be adults, not a parent and child — don’t become the ‘mother’ or boss in the relationship.
• Remember he might see things differently — what you consider delegating he may see as nagging.
• Work out your ‘love language’ — maybe you do the shopping, but he mows the lawn? Each is an ‘act of service’ showing each other you care.
• Be grateful — he may not hang the washing out your way, but if he does it, politely say thank you.
‘He never does it as well as me’
My husband Ackeeme, 27, is a wonderful cook and I’m so grateful to him. But with everything else, I micro-manage him.
When he cooks, he never clears up as he goes along. I stand there telling him what he should be doing and where. It means instead of waiting for a delicious meal, I’m often barking orders.
We have two children and if I ever pop out, I’ll leave a list of instructions on where the bottles are, how warm they have to be and nap times. Ackeeme is a great father, but I can’t help myself making lists.
I think most women micro-manage men and it’s hard to change.
If I’m honest, even if he does everything perfectly, I always find something to moan about.
From Natalie Allen, 33, of Kettering, Northants