Bribery, Coercion, and other Forms of Motivation
“So how do you get Jeremy to do all those projects around the house?”
“You are so lucky! How do you convince your husband to renovate your home?”
“I can’t get my boyfriend to lift a finger around the house…how do you get Jer to do what you want?”
I get asked these questions or some form of them all the time…so I figured it was high time to share my tricks on how I convince Jer to tackle DIY projects and still want to kanoodle me at night. Please note that Jeremy is one of those rare birds that likes the idea of renovating a home (he doesn’t always like the amount of work that he personally has to invest to get a renovated house…but he likes the idea.) He is also a big fan of things being neat and tidy…so renovating a room usually means it improves our ‘neat’ factor. If your man doesn’t care what his living conditions are like…these tips may not work. This is just a roundup of some of my little methods to get him to say yes to my crazy
- Show Him Pictures
No, not sexy photos of me in compromising poses…although I’m sure he wouldn’t mind those either…I show Jeremy photos of finished projects that are similar to what I want to tackle. Most inspiration pictures are available online via Pinterest or magazines or blogs. Sure, if I wanted a project done, I could take the time to explain things…talk out each detail of the finish and the design and the sources for all the needed materials…I could verbalize (complete with demonstrative hand motions) how high I want the curtains and how the mirror will balance the light on the other side of the room…or how creative a stenciled floor would be if I made my own stencil from fabric…but that’s a whole lotta words. And in guy language, a whole lotta words usually equals a whole lotta work. I’ve found that since most guys are visual, I can cut straight to the point and show him the ‘end result’ (or some inspiration that is similar in feel/style/look). This is enough motivation usually to get him to be on board with tackling a task.
- Keep The Hatch Closed
When we bought our first house, I walked in and talked about the 1.3 million changes that I wanted to make. Tear down this wall, move the laundry room, rip out this floor, completely overhaul the kitchen, paint everything. Without realizing it, I was completely overwhelming my new-to-home-ownership-fiancee. When I was talking ‘change this and change that’, he heard ‘ca-ching! ca-ching!’ and ‘there goes your naps, guy time, mountain biking, fantasy football, money and all that time you spent scratching something!”. Yes, within two minutes, I had not only alienated my future husband but I had put a horrible taste in his mouth about renovations. That’s when I learned that I needed to keep my big fat mouth shut. I needed to put myself in his shoes…allowing for balance and downtime. I realized that his brain didn’t work like mine. That it wasn’t exciting and thrilling to hear the to-do list. From then on, I kept my focus on a couple tasks at a time and my
pie ice cream hole closed.
- Don’t Rush A Good Thing
I know it’s easy to want something done. like yesterday. I know that sometimes you just want a project started already. Believe me. I’ve lived with my toothpaste colored walls for two years now. I lived without a kitchen for six weeks when we were renovating it. And my favorite mantra during that time was “Don’t rush a good thing.”…as in don’t rush the renovation and don’t rush your partner in crime (he’s my ultimate good thing! I should get points for that one, honey!). Nagging only makes things worse…not only does it UNmotivate but it separates you from your beloved. Jeremy has a tendency to think about things for a long time while in the middle of a project. I tend to rush through something. Sure, I get it done in a jiffy…but it’s not always right or perfect. Jeremy takes forever but it is usually right the first time. Both have their pros and cons. So I’ve found that when dealing with a project that involves the hubster, letting him work at his own speed is the best bet at keeping the divorce papers off our table and getting the project done with a smile on both our faces…hence willingness to tackle more in the future.
- Give Him Choices
My boytoy is like most men out there…he likes his down time. But he is also a fan of helping around the house. He understands that our partnership in owning a home means that he has chores too. So instead of asking him to load the dishwasher, or clean the bathroom, or tidy up his closet, I only ask for DIY related chores. This doesn’t make it easy by any means…sure, I would love a husband who vaccumed every Saturday or helped me launder all the towels and bedding….but I’d much rather have painted cabinets or painted trim. So instead of bogging down his free-to-work-around-the-house time with ’maintenance chores’, I keep his weekly list to three or four DIY projects. Usually that list includes the following….a quick project (one that can be accomplished in less than 15 minutes – like hanging curtain rods)….a long project (something that is an hour or more)….an outdoor project (he likes yard maintenance stuff so this gives him a change of scenery)…and a fun project (this would be demo-ing something or building something or something with instant gratification). If he doesn’t get them all done in a week…no biggie…but giving him the choice means that he has the power to decide…and if the only thing he does is move a heavy table into another room…well, it’s one less thing on the never-ending list.
- Prep It For Them
One of the biggest motivators and biggest helps in a project is to do all the prep work and clean up yourself. Jeremy doesn’t get a whole lot of time at home each night. And I would much rather him be playing with the boys than doing my to-do list…so in order to help him accomplish his goals (ahem…our goals ), I do most of the prep and clean up. For example, I wanted the dining room painted. So for three days straight, I spent the entire nap-time (my only time I don’t have a baby on my boob or helping a toddler onto the toilet or cooking or cleaning) in the dining room. I taped the windows, the floors, laid paper, hung plastic, bought primer, paint and got all the necessary tools out. That meant that Jer could spray the room for thirty minutes when he got home. It meant that I ignored my blog, ignored the phone and facebook and served quicky meals at dinner time and stayed up later to make up for the time spent in the dining room…but to me…it was more than a fair trade. He just spent an hour in the car and all day at work…so he’s not in the mood either…but in the end, we have a newly painted dining room that we are both really happy with. It’s like those renovations on HGTV….all the tedious stuff is eliminated…leaving the instant gratification stuff for your viewing pleasure.
No literally. Do. It. Yourself. I know this is a tough pill to swallow but I’ve found that 99% of home improvement projects CAN be done by yours truly…or you truly Sure, it’s hard. Sure you don’t know how. Sure you want to have a darling handy man who will do it all while flashing well formed triceps…but there are TONS of capable women out there that already have done everything you have on that to-do list. Yeah, it’s probably gonna suck cockroaches…but just think…you don’t have to wait on someone else and you’ll probably learn a lot along the way and you totally get bragging rights when you kick butt at finishing it up. (oh and just so everyone knows, sometimes when I decide that I am willing to tackle something myself, a certain fine man with a finely shaped rear end is usually a gentleman and helps me along the way!).
- Barter & Bribery
When all else fails I have been known to hit below the belt. Yes. I admit it. I am not above bribery or bartering. Sometimes it is as something as easy as asking nicely after his favorite meal. Sometimes its a gentle reminder of “I am so excited about the dining room paint job…it’s gonna be AMAZING!” (said with a huge smile and while holding a snickers bar). And sometimes it is doing a little dance with nothing but his button up shirt on. TMI? I hope so. It’s all about delivery girls. And if nookie-with-your-husband isn’t your thing, then maybe you could barter! He wants to sleep in on Saturdays…you want the living room to have curtains…tell him you won’t ask for anything else this month if he hangs those dang brackets. Of course, you have to stick to it…but you can secretly plan next months barter session while basking in the cool shade of your newly hung ikat curtains.
- Know Your Alternatives & Your Man
My dad is one of the smartest men I know. He’s incredibly hardworking. He’s kind. He’s can figure out how to use any tool. He taught me to build a computer in 8th grade and he’s willing to help out anyone that needs it. However, my mother has figured out in the past 40+ years of knowing him that DIY is just not his thing. Sure, he tackled his bathroom tile job. Sure, last summer he decided to grow container tomatos. Sure, he has the tools and the smarts to figure it all out. BUT IT’S JUST NOT HIS THING! And as much as my DIY-loving mother would love it to be his thing, she realized that she can accept him for what he is…or she can marry her daughters off to DIY-lovin’ guys who will come help…or she can save her pennies for hiring folks to do things that she can’t do herself. It’s not a shameful thing to hire out…we’ve done it…it’s sometimes just what a marriage needs I recommend finding out what your friends husbands like to do and maybe bartering with them if they have a special skill (you’ll make two weeks worth of frozen dinners for electrical work), or utilizing Angies List or Craigslist or local handymen or ask a family member if they could watch the kids for you while you tackle that laundry room. It’s not always about the journey…sometimes its just about getting the dang kitchen painted.
In the end, I’d like to stress one really important thing…it’s just a house. I’ve never seen an obituary where it listed the person’s home updates. The most important thing is that you show your mate the love and respect that you promised them. We all fail at that from time to time…(some of us…ahem…me…fail at it all the time) but even in the name of gettin’-it-done, it’s really vital to remember that they are your friend and partner…and that even if they never lift a DIY-finger, that they have other skills (maybe they make you smile everyday or make a mean latte or always drive you to the airport). In the end, a healthy relationship with your spouse is worth much more than a perfectly decorated home. And if you are able to convince your loved one to rearrange the furniture…just remember that a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way. With that, I’m off to shower my own man with compliments and a back scratch….afterall, mama wants her nursery painted before the baby turns one