Why you DON’T have to give him a list of to-do’s…

“What you say about other people says way more about you than the people you talk about.” Unknown

When I was in the process of ending my first marriage, my husband would have done anything to keep me from leaving. This was despite the fact that we had many conversations about what was missing in the marriage for me, and no lasting change had ever taken place previously.

If I could have created a list of to-do’s for him of every single thing he needed to do to keep me in the marriage, it might have looked something like this:

__Hug me at least twice a day (for at least 10 seconds each time)
__Kiss me slowly at least once a day
__Tell me I’m beautiful three times each week
__Text me at least once during the day letting me know you’re thinking of me
__Plan a date night for us every other week (make it something new and different each time)

You get the idea.

He would have dutifully checked those boxes – at least for a little while until he felt like our marriage was out of the “danger zone.”

But I didn’t want to have to make that list of to-do’s. I resented having to tell him what to do. I wanted him to know what to do or take the initiative to figure it out.

Now I have a different understanding…

While no one wants to tell their husbands exactly what to do, they’re also not mind readers. Without giving them some direction, we’re essentially setting them up to fail, and for us to never fully have our needs met.

As I noted above, we don’t have to be prescriptive but we do have to point them in a direction and nudge them forward.

We don’t have to find the counselor or coach and make the appointments for him. But we do have to let him know that if he’s not working through his stuff that is negatively impacting the marriage, that’s a deal-breaker.

We don’t have to identify the exact right book, purchase the book for him, and then nag him about if he’s reading it or what he’s getting from it, but we can point him to some teachers that we trust will help.

We don’t have to tell him we need a 10-second hug twice each day. But we do have to let him know that physical affection is important to us, and that hugging is a simple, free, and easy way to connect during our busy days (as is sending a text saying “I love you” or “I’m thinking about you and hope you’re having a great day.”)

Oftentimes, people think in extremes. For instance, I either have to make a list and tell him exactly what to do and how to do it, or I’m not going to tell him anything, because he should either know what to do, or have the drive to figure it out.

Health never resides in the extremes. Health always resides in the middle.

So tell him what you need, of course…but stop short of enabling him and forcing him to do what you want.

Instead, point him in a direction and let him take it from there.

His action or inaction will demonstrate to you what’s important to him and what is not…

How uncomfortable he’s willing to get in order to keep his marriage and what he’s not willing to do…

What he’s willing to change and what he’s not…

That will help you to show up as the woman who has articulated what she needs and will give him the autonomy to choose for himself what works and what doesn’t.

Either way, it will bring you closer to clarity – without making him a prescriptive list of to-do’s that feels like behaviors rather than a new way of being in relationship with one another.

If you’re struggling to figure out if your marriage can evolve to a new place or not, then let’s explore if there’s a fit for you and me to work together. You can set-up your complimentary Truth & Clarity session with a member of my team here.

Why you DON'T have to give him a list of to-do's…