Giovanni has the following issue: “When I got home from work the other day, my wife had posted on the fridge a honey do list. She didn’t say anything about it, and neither did I. How should I respond? Sincerely, Giovanni.”
Answer (From Podcast Episode 006):
I would personally say, “what the hell is this?” And I’d laugh. But that’s only because I know my wife well, and we both know she is trying to pull a fast one. Depending on how long you’ve been married—I’m guessing not that long?—you’ll already know by now if you can make this into a joke.
If not, not. I’d take a different tact.
For example, I might ignore the honey do list until she mentions it, then we’d discuss. But either way, the root issue is that your wife would like you to do some specific chores, so you’ll need to address that. Some of the wisest married men I know do honey do lists with a genuine smile. They get a sense of joy from serving their wives. Others would refuse on the grounds that they ain’t doing a honey do list, they’re not even going to start turning themselves into a slave, and letting their wife become the task master. Essentially, you need to know yourself first, and also know your wife.
I would say since she put the honey do list on the fridge, she’s testing you to see if you’ll do it. I wouldn’t say doing a couple items on the list would hurt you, and you could do a couple items without drawing any attention to it. Don’t bother crossing off the item, just maybe do it and let it ride. She will be paying attention, count on that. If you do it, she’ll appreciate it. But by not crossing off the list, you give no authority to the list. The list can be toilet paper, as far as you’re concerned. Once you start checking off the list, you’re agreeing to be a slave.
My way would either be to laugh about the list, throw it away, but do the chores anyway, or I might do the items on the list whenever I get around to it. This way, I’m not willingly becoming a slave to her list.
Bottom line is all she really should want is your helpful hand around the house. She has noticed things that need done. She may just be recording them and hoping.
But if I felt my wife was getting some secret joy out of putting me to work, I wouldn’t lift a finger. There’s a line here that I won’t cross. I’ll gladly help you out, I might say, but nobody’s checking off a list. That’s me personally.
But like I said, I would work on my wife’s list to make her happy as long as she wasn’t treating me like her servant.
For you, Giovanni, I’d say know yourself, establish your line, but get to work on handling some of those items. Wouldn’t you agree they need done anyway?
On a side note, working off lists is a very productive way to get things done. And that includes checking off items as the work is completed. So I’m a huge fan of family lists, the kind we all sit down together and generate. Then we work on them together. Something like that I actually encourage.
Hope my answer helps. There are several ways to handle this question, just depends on your relationship dynamic.