August 19, 2008

The Husband And The Toilet Seat - Part I

Leaving the toilet seat up has got to be one of the most joked about qualities of a man when speaking of the things that irritate women most in relationships. It's true, if we had urinals in the home we wouldn't be having this conversation, but we don't, and so we must learn to live fully in the boundaries that confine us.

And the point of what I am saying today has very little to do with which way is the "right" way and which is "wrong." Today is about paying attention to the little things so you can show your wife that you think your relationship with her is a big thing.

I'm not sure when I made the transition myself. It was actually in my youth well before I got married. I always heard my mom get onto my dad for leaving the seat up, especially when we would be visiting a friend's house. I remember hearing all the jokes about leaving the seat up, and I just made up my mind that I wanted to be different; I didn't want my future wife to be able to complain about this issue with her friends. So I made a point to start putting the seat down.

I'm not saying a toilet seat is going to make or break your marriage. I have no hesitation in stating that there are many great husbands who don't put the seat down. But I think it is essential we answer the question, "Why do I continue to do something I know she hates?" She may have gotten used to it over the years, but it doesn't mean that she likes it.

I don't believe it's out of laziness that we don't usually do it, I think it's simply because we haven't made a habit of it. Seriously, if you're leaning over to flush with your left hand, it's absolutely no work at all to use your right hand to knock the lid down. All it takes is a few times forcing yourself yourself to remember for it becomes second nature. (Suggestion: If you have a private bathroom at home that guests don't use, put a post-it note on the tank. Your wife will most definitely appreciate the effort.)

I guess all I'm saying with this (and I feel like I've jumbled my thoughts a bit), is that paying attention to the small things helps your wife know that you care about the things she cares about; that you want your desires to be her desires. And if we can do that with such a simple task, why wouldn't we put the seat down?

Tomorrow we're going to discuss another aspect of the Husband and The Toilet Seat that I rarely hear mentioned, but I think needs to be talked about more — especially in regard to training our sons in, um, bathroom "etiquette."

Related Reading: Stop Doing What You Know She Hates


  1. The one aspect that needs to be clarified is whether you are referring to the seat or the lid. To some there is no difference, but other people are very adamant.

    In this context, the seat is the 'ring' whereas the lid is the lid.

    When I still "lived at home" - that is, with mom and dad in my youth - I had an enviable set-up wherein my 3 older brothers had already moved out, so the second floor of our home (and its bathroom) were mine, exclusively. And even before my brothers moved out, Mom never used the 2nd floor bathroom (their master bedroom was/is on first floor), so it was never an issue.

    Soon after marriage, my much-better-half made a request that I 'at least put the seat down'. So I assumed it would be logical that if I had to always raise/lower something, so should she! Since then, I've always lowered the lid after use, making it an equal-effort on both of our parts.

  2. Nice one, Charlie! I'm all for fairness, too.

    I'm not yet married, but I remember hearing that complaint as a child (I think I heard it a lot more on sitcoms/other TV shows than from my parents), so I got in the habit of putting the seat down, too. Since I've moved out, every bathroom I've had has been small, with the sink right next to the toilet. So I then got in the habit of putting the lid down as well, because I was always afraid I'd knock something (deodorant, toothpaste, whatever) off the sink's counter and into the toilet. It's just not worth the risk to have to fish your cellphone out of the toilet. (Eww!)

  3. As a woman, the following has always made sense to me: If the LID of the toilet is always left down, then both men and women will have to do the exact same amount of work before and after they use it.

    On a side-note, I have several female friends who leave the LID up, which I'll just never understand. We all live in small Chicago apartments and there is nothing more unsightly (to me, anyway) than walking by the bathroom and seeing the mouth of the toilet just wide open and waiting for someone to use it. Ew. These friends rationalize that it's "easier" to leave it up. Seriously? That's the epitome of laziness to me.

    My husband occasionally leaves the LID up as well, but never the seat. Thank goodness. He's been better about the lid ever since our dog licked him on the face and I reminded him that the dog has access to the toilet when the lid is up...

  4. I have a unique situation (or maybe it's not). I'm the only guy in the house - I have two daughters and my wife and me. That's not the part of the situation that's unique. The part that's unique is that for the past 3 months, whenever I lift the seat, my hand finds urine (not mine) under the seat. Yuck. None of my girls is fessing up to the problem, but I know it's one of them.

    So I've told them all that while I'm happy to put the lid/seat down when I'm done, I won't be doing so until I can be assured that I won't have a hand full of --- when I lift the lid beforehand.

    I'm more than happy to put the seat down, and have done so for years, but I think there's some reciprocity that's needed - your thoughts?

  5. Yeah, it's such a simple easy thing to do. I wasn't a seat-putter-downer prior to getting married. In fact I don't recall it ever being brought up as a kid in my parent's house... but then again the guys outnumbered the girls 7-2... but as soon as we set up house after the honeymoon I made sure to make the effort.

    We are raising our boys to be seat-putter-downers for sure.

  6. Two thoughts:

    First - why do you think the toilet seat even HAS a lid?

    Second - if a guys is just figuring this issue out after marriage, then he must have all been the only child in his family growing up. He will have many more things to learn about living in close quarters with women.

  7. Dear Mr.Barry, I assure you that as your daughters grow you will end up with even yuckier stuff on the underside of the seat. I have 8 kids,(7 daughters) and there is no telling what is under there. That is why I never let my boy touch it until I clean it. I keep a container of wipes so that every time I use the facilities, I always give it an extra wipe. I use Huggies baby wipes because if the kids get into them they wont make them sick. The facilities still get a good scrubbing at least twice a week .I tell my children to help me to clean like Martha Stewart is coming for a visit. (:0 ,oh no!!)
    Mr Barry surely your not frightened off by a little FAMILY urine. You changed their diapers didn't you . Silly boy , tell your wife that you deserve some warm tollhouse cookies. For all that they have put you through.

  8. Mr. Barry ,this is why I have my own bathroom , it is the only thing in this life that I must have. You should have your own too. Seriously. My father had his own ,and we were never allowed to use. Not even if we could see the flash from the nukes, no excuse was good enough ,and we lived through it.

  9. You know they have these seats now that automatically go down by some kind of spring... we have one of those in my family's house... lol

  10. I grew up in a house full of boys. We never put the seat down. However, when my wife and I got married, it was like turning on a light switch. I always put it down. The way I look at it is this: There are some things in this world that are worth the fight. This is not one of them. If me doing this little thing will avoid a fight, and in some small way make my wife happy with me, it is worth it. I agree with the article, it's all about the little things.

  11. Such a funny topic-- but back on the main idea, it's the little things in a marriage, I think, that show that you're actually paying attention. Most people get the big things.

  12. When I was coming up we always had pets in the house. I learned early on the put the LID down. Not only does it look nicer with the lid and seat down but it keeps the pets from drinking toilet water and/or falling in.

    I lived with a girl in college who would get so mad at me for putting the lid down because it was extra effort for her. I thought this was totally unfair. She expected me to go through extra effort so she could have it easy. So I quit putting the lid and seat down. SPLASH.

    Putting the lid down looks nicer and keeps both parties performing equal amounts of effort. The lid is there for a reason (not a back support). I don't understand why more couples don't use this compromise. Lid down = No More Arguments!

  13. I'm still at the point where putting the toilet seat is still not a habit. I am making a concerted effort to do it, but I still walk back into the bathroom to find the seat up. We always joked about having to work that out, but it's a lot harder to remember than I thought.

    So much effort to put it up and then back down again. To bad we can't compromise with me putting it up and her putting it down. Share the load.

  14. @Charlie: "Soon after marriage, my much-better-half made a request that I 'at least put the seat down'. So I assumed it would be logical that if I had to always raise/lower something, so should she!"

    I'm sorry, but this is the kind of logic that inevitably builds resentment about the other half not keeping up with their share of the work. The point is for you to be selfless and do it out of courtesy, not just because you expect (possibly unnecesssary) work in return.

  15. I have to disagree. Being a pet owner, a father, and primarily someone who wasn't born in a barn, the reasons to close the toilet are blatantly obvious to me. That having been said, there seems to be a large portion of the female population that seems to think that having the toilet seat down is sufficient, even with the lid up.

  16. In our home, we have made a practice of lowering both the seat AND the lid. ALL of us (2 girls, 2 boys - so far that use the potty). It means we all are doing our part as far as the issue goes!

  17. I'm sorry, but this is the kind of logic that inevitably builds resentment about the other half not keeping up with their share of the work. The point is for you to be selfless and do it out of courtesy, not just because you expect (possibly unnecesssary) work in return.

    Pat... perhaps you're right. But then, after 18 years of marriage, I have long since come to the conclusion that I my much-better-half has a much harder workload to perform as a SAHM than I do, in spite of my efforts.

    On the other hand, Becca (above) seems to agree with my position, so I'll chalk it up to each his own.

  18. I have been well trained by the women in my life and I have been peeing sitting down for many years. But I agree, little things can make a world of difference in a relationship.

  19. The following comment was made by an anonymous reader. Though I don't censor disagreements with what I have written, I am not okay with vulgar language used on this site. I have edited his comment by removing the profanity.

    "Are you serious, this is the most ridiculous site...are you really writing an article about leaving the toilet seat up. Get a hold of yourself people. How [...] hard is it to put the seat down when your done, or better yet close the lid too you savages. This site is so lame and stereotypical of the [...] nonsense of married life in America, thank god i dont go through this lame [...] with my wife...try writing about something meaningful instead of [...] youve seen on sitcoms for the last 30 years you loser!"

  20. aargh! I used to get so frustrated when my boyfriend would CONSTANTLY leave the toilet seat up. I finally found this motion sensor called seat alert that beeps when the man walks away from the toilet. IT REALLY WORKED, NO KIDDING. It took about 4 times for him to be reminded. I found it here:

    It really saved us from a lot of dumb spats.