September 26, 2008

"Is There Anything I Can Do To Help?"

Often times as a husband I am just not very observant when it comes to helping my wife when she needs it. I'll see her running around the house frantically trying to get ready on time, and I am just at a loss as to what I can do to help. Other times she'll be in the kitchen cooking and I'll be watching T.V. or sitting at the computer and think, "I wonder if she's upset that I'm not helping right now?"

I have found one question to greatly help these times of confusion: "Is there anything I can do to help?" It's a simple question, but we, as men, often only think to ask it when things have gone too far and she's already upset (and then the question makes the problem worse).

Most of the time my wife will answer, "Yeah, could you help make the sandwiches?" or "Would you mind vacuuming the living room?" Other times, though, she'll say, "Um, no I think I'm fine right now, thanks."

Asking this question will put you both at ease. You'll feel better because you won't feel guilty about doing nothing when you know that she probably wants your help. She'll feel better because she knows that you care, even if there's nothing she needs you from you at that moment.

Again, we often ask this question when it's too late. We'll notice how irritated she is with us, and we'll say, "What do you want me to do?" and her response is something along the lines of, "I shouldn't have to tell you!" If you ask this question at the beginning, she'll appreciate you heart. Ask too late (and with the wrong tone), she'll probably be offended.

And wives, be kind to us. We tend to be a little slow in this area of recognizing what needs to be done. This makes me think of a wife who told me how her husband came home while she was feeding their newborn and while their two-year-old was climbing all over her. She was desperate for some help, but her husband was temporarily oblivious to the situation, he was in a different "box" (more to come on that idea). She said, "I'm amazed at how he could see me struggling and not think to do anything about it." Thankfully this wife had a good understanding of the differences between men and women, so it wasn't a point of tension, but a chance to laugh at the differences between the sexes.

So remember, ask if there's anything you can do to help. Let her know that you're aware that she's working and you're willing to. Whether she needs the help or not, you'll both feel better.

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  1. You hit the nail on the head. I have started using that statement a lot. Usually I secretly hope that she will say no, but I feel guilty if she does.

    The next step up is to do something without asking her. When you just do a few things a day without any prompting, but in plain sight, she will really appreciate it.

  2. I think this is one reason I will never get married. I hate this constant tension between men and women, and I hate feeling like I don't live up to a woman's standards of living at home and in life. Its judgemental, and my life to live as I see fit, without annoyances of judgements or disturbing the way another person chooses to live that is a lot different than mine.

    Just my 2 cents..

    single and loving it in Canada..

  3. As a guy who has been with his wife for 7 years now, I don't like having to ask if I can help. Just as my wife doesn't always know when I need something (like a beer), how am I to know when she needs something (like help doing the dishes). You can't get mad when you don't ask.

  4. 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.

    "What a lame sterotypical, what are you like 5 years old? Grow up be a [...] man and stop being such a [...], stop listening to all this married role playing [...] ...if you want to help your wife help your wife, if not dont stop being such a loser. My wife doesn't judge me or expect me to do anything but love her...I'm so tired of this everybody loves raymond type of married [...] where women boss men around and men have no opinions or freedom, not me not my wife...and you men like it your such children that still need mommy."

  5. To the guy above me saying his wife doesn't care what he does. I must say to him i feel sorry for him that he isnt getting any sex because life is like everybody loves ramond, or king of queens. Pick your show man. Woman withhold sex and thats fact. u will do things around the house to keep her in good mood.

  6. To the author: thanks for posting this. My husband has started asking this question recently, and it helps a lot. Not only do I often really need the help, but it changes the atmosphere in the house so much when I know he SEES me. It's a very good way of showing that he loves me.

    A five-year-old sees mom dashing around working and takes it for granted - it's just what moms do. Grown men can tell when a woman is tired or lonely, and they do something about it.

  7. I don't agree with the comment that marriage is either like Raymond or King of Queens mainly because the men in those shows are made to look like idiots and good husbands are anything but. I do agree that men should be more aware of the needs of their wife, but my wife gets annoyed when I have to ask if she needs any help. She would rather me just jump in a help do something. She figures that I'm smart enough to figure out what's going on and what needs to be done and she's told me numerous times that "I'm not going to tell you what to do...I'm not your mother."

    1. These are my thoughts exactly, Tyler.

      I really don't like it when my husband sees me busy and asks if there is anything he can do to help. He knows what it takes to keep the house running as well as I do, and I shouldn't have to tell him anything. He should take initiative every once in a while.

      And I disagree that there's some inherent difference between the sexes that would prevent him from noticing when I need help. I do think it has a lot to do with how you're raised, though, and sometimes the sexes are raised differently (for whatever horrible reason).

  8. If my husband were to ask what he could do to help, it would be very much appreciated, and I am sure that nine times out of ten there would be nothing I would want him to do, but I would feel so good just knowing he would help if the occasion was needed. Women hate to ask men to do things for them...even the 'guy things' that need done.

  9. him asking me if i needed any help with anything...even just once a day would probably help the nagging wife problem. I wouldn't be interrupting you to ask you to do things if yyou got up and asked me on your own time!

  10. Well, I got to say that communication is always key. Is not that we women boss men around, is that we usually DO a lot around the house. We need help, being super woman was left behind in the 90s. I come from work and I am tired and I will have to clean, wash, cook and get everybody ready for next day. That is why we are a team: while I am cleaning the house my husband will expend time with the kids or cook. What happens is that sometimes men are not that aware of what needs to be done and sometimes we get tired of asking please do this and please do that. There is where this question comes in handy. My husband could be helping me by cooking, but I could need more urgent help keeping my 1 year old from painting in the walls while I am doing laundry. The thing is: men dont have to ask this because they are useless, they ask it because it helps communicate better. The same to us: Women have to ask this too!!! Communication is the base of good relationships.

  11. So many men think it's OK for their wife to work her ass off and he should just sit in front of the TV, or computer, or play in the garage, and it's ok. It's not. A relationship should be two-way. BOTH people need to give, so both can 'get'. That doesn't mean you're a p*ssy, or "whipped", it means you're a mature confident man that doesn't treat his wife like a maid or servant.
    Oddly enough, 5 seconds before I clicked 'Stumble' to get to this article, I asked my wife "Is there anything I can help you with?". She had just ran past me with laundry, so now I'm going to help make our dinner. Cheers. I'm going to eat it, why not help prepare it??? Some guys are such knuckle-dragging neanderthals I'm embarrassed to be categorized with them.

  12. Great article. I'm a wife and I love it when my husband asks if he can help - which he very often does. Most of the time it's a no, or a request to play with our son. It makes me feel appreciated when he realises he needs to help out to make my life easier.

  13. My marriage has been a very difficult process, but I believe it is that way by design. For 33 years we have fought through many a crisis, and I dare say the fight will be until death. I cannot believe nor abide the thought that what we have lived with most of our lives will end when one or both of us pass from this life.

    I wrote a poem for my wife

    Two as One
    John V. Billings
    September 2007

    How long the process does it take
    To render two as one?

    One Purpose
    Where two ox be yoked
    How long ‘til both together work
    To make each row plowed true and straight

    One Mind
    Where two will cogitate
    But each know how the other think
    And work in tandem to complete
    The work that must be done

    One Heart
    Where two as one do know
    The joy or pain of each
    E’n though the distance twixt be great

    How long
    Though both be one by self
    And different as the night from day
    Be only half until by Father’s love are joined
    Become one whole, in Purpose, Mind and Heart
    And rendered perfect and complete

  14. This is so true. I'm very blessed to have learned early that my husband can not read my mind. He'll help me in any way he can, as long as I ask for help and tell him exactly what it is that I want him to do.

    I think women also need to understand than men are not intuitively able to see what it is that we want them to do in order to provide us with assistance.

  15. Now how do I leave this article lying around haphazardly for my husband to read without seeming pushy? :)