Have you ever heard yourself saying this? “I want him to WANT to do the dishes.”
I was talking with a friend last week about how I ask my son to do something like clean up his room or feed the dogs, and sometimes it’s just a big hurumph. And it makes me feel badly that he’s annoyed or aggravated that I’ve asked him to do just ONE thing to help me out.
Or when I ask Bear to show me how to use a wall anchor after he’s sat down from a long day. He gets irritated that he then has to get up to show me. I mean yeah, he worked 12 hours. And yeah, he hasn’t really shut his brain off yet today. But then I feel badly that I’ve bothered him and why can’t he just be happy about showing me?!?!
As we were discussing this phenomenon of asking for help and feeling badly that someone isn’t excited to help us, another friend asked, “Well, why does someone have to WANT to help you in order to help you?”
And that got me thinking. What’s my ultimate goal in asking someone for help? Is it to solve a problem I can’t solve alone? Lift a burden? Or is my goal for someone to be HAPPY about helping me?!
Reality check: My family isn’t in the service industry. They aren’t in retail. They’re not being paid to be nice while they help me. (They’re not paid at all.) They’re human beings who aren’t always overjoyed about hanging a TV after work or picking up their towels.
Ever notice the days when your happiness is reliant upon the members of your family being happy? Like if everyone isn’t smiling and saying, “Thank you” for dinner then you can’t enjoy yourself? Hanging your hat on someone else’s happiness is a lovely term known as co-dependence. And every time you want someone to WANT to help you, you’re actually just asking them to make you feel better about asking for help. And that ain’t their job.
It’s like setting a trap and waiting for your loved ones to fall into it. “I’m going to ask you to help me make the bed, and if you aren’t HAPPY when you do it, then my feelings will be hurt…even if the bed gets made.” If you asked for what you meant, you’d ask, “Can you help me make the bed and then make me feel OK about asking you to help me make the bed?”
No would be the answer.
Here’s another trap: someone asks us what we want, well tell them, so they give it to us, and then we’re upset because they only gave it to us because we ASKED for it. “I told him I like roses and then he bought me roses, but he only did it because I told him!!”
Do you want the roses, or do you want him to be Ryan Gosling’s character in The Notebook? Here’s some information you may or may not have heard before: men are simple and they just want you to be happy. They are black and white creatures. They fix stuff. If you tell them roses, they aren’t going to pick you wildflowers after a long walk through the fields and meditation about how much they love you. They’re going to go to Kroger or Publix and buy you roses.
If you want the wildflowers, you should get them yourself. Or point out the wildflower field on the way to Home Depot with him.
In fact, most people are simple. They follow instructions as given. They operate on the information they have. They get irritated when they have to do something they don’t want to do. I mean, do I like doing the laundry?! No. In fact, it’s irritating. But literally no one in my household is focused on the fact that I’m not happy while I’m doing the laundry.
They’re focused on clean underwear.
I’m super guilty of hoping that my family will be happy about my asking them to do things around the house, and plenty of days of the week I have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter how they FEEL about helping me. It matters that the trash goes out. Whether it’s me taking it or someone else who lives here, I get to choose to be happy.
And so do you.