It’s the third time this week you’ve asked him to take out the trash. But the overflowing trash bin still sits in the same place, cluttering up the kitchen.
It’s such a simple thing (that he knows drives you cray-cray), but he won’t follow through. The more you ask, the more excuses he makes. Soon you’re ticked and engaged in marital combat: The Complainer vs The Procrastinator.
How do you deal with a procrastinating husband?
It’s a game I know well. I can predict the outcome. You’ll never win because complaining won’t change him.
Complaining Won’t Change Him
David and Teresa Ferguson in Intimate Encounters* say the Complainer and the Procrastinator is a marital game. And marital games are driven by unmet emotional needs. Rather than share our true feelings, we play emotional games.
How are marital games related to intimacy?
Here’s the deal. Your husband might not be a lazy procrastinator. He might be responding to unhealed hurts in his childhood.
Huh? Childhood? Emotional needs? I just want him to Take. Out. The. Trash. What does childhood have to do with it?
Well. . . everything. His patterns of relating to people were established way before he met you. And yours were established before you met him.
We go into marriage with a big old sack of emotional baggage whether we want to or not. And that baggage can sabotage our marriages.
Early in my marriage, instead of telling my husband what I needed, I’d use unhealthy emotional tactics to get it. I was afraid to ask, so I’d resort to unsavory, relationship-repelling behaviors.
Learn About His Family
Learning about your husband’s family life might be key to his habit of procrastination and can improve your marriage. Educate yourself not only on his childhood but also on yours.
If you learn your husband grew up in a household with excessive complaining or controlling, he may not respond well when you complain or make requests he interprets as controlling.
You may think he doesn’t care about what you want or he’s ignoring you. In reality, he may not be responding to you at all. He may be “responding” or mimicking the behavior of his controlling father or complaining mother. He’s using the only tactic he knows. The tactic he used as a child who had no power.
When you begin to understand the way he was raised and why he responds the way he does, you can make an effort to extend unconditional love. This might even encourage him to lower his defenses. It may encourage him to examine behaviors that were modeled for him in childhood, which may be affecting him now.
People usually engage in marital games because of the hurt from an unmet need in their life. Marital games are never fun, and there’s never a winner. When you have an unmet or unresolved need in your life, playing marital games only creates more negative emotions.
God created us with emotional intimacy needs. He also provides ways to get them met. Your procrastinator might need to feel appreciated. He might be dealing with unhealed anger issues if he grew up in a household with a controlling father or a complaining mother.
You might complain because you’re harboring unhealed hurts of your own over not feeling “special” as a child. Maybe your mother complained and your father procrastinated. Or you might complain because you want your husband’s attention.
7 Ways to Live With Him Without Losing Your Mind
Here are seven ways you can live with a procrastinator without losing your mind:
1. Accept you can’t change him.
2. Decide not to get angry, bitter or nag.
3. When he procrastinates, clarify your request–Honey, will you take care of the trash when you get home today?
4. If he agrees but still doesn’t follow through, gently and lovingly point out it hasn’t been done and give him a timeframe–I can take care of the trash tomorrow if you can’t get to it tonight.
5. If he still doesn’t follow through, then:
- Do it yourself (without bitterness)
- Hire someone, if you can’t do it (without bitterness)
- Let the it remain undone, especially if the consequences will affect him
6. If he’s willing to talk, ask him to tell you how your request makes him feel.
7. Ask God to help you both understand your emotional needs and give you a desire to meet them for one another.
Set aside some time to talk about your emotional intimacy needs. You may discover learning about his childhood and understanding yours does wonders for your marriage.
How might your emotional needs be affecting your marriage?
Need skills to build intimacy?
- Get on the waitlist for my next group coaching session–Change Your Mind; Change Your Marriage.
- Visit my website, like my Facebook page and join my private Facebook group.
- Check out my FREE resources and download How to Be A Wife No Man Will Ever Want to Leave.
- Apply for private coaching with Sheila.
Also known as the Not So Excellent Wife, Sheila Qualls understands how tiring a tough marriage can be.
She went from the brink of divorce to having a thriving marriage by translating timeless truths into practical skills. She’s helped women just like you turn their men into the husbands they want.
She and her husband Kendall live in Minnesota with their five children and their Black Lab, Largo.
In addition to coaching, Sheila is a member of the MOPS Speaker Network. Her work has been featured on the MOPS Blog, The Upper Room, Grown and Flown, Scary Mommy, Beliefnet, Candidly Christian, Crosswalk.com, The Mighty and on various other sites on the Internet.