Women see what needs to be done

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Yep, that's us gals, all right. Our men simply want to Photoshop pictures online or watch the game, but there we are, worrying about silly little things like paying bills or keeping the cars insured. How petty! I think that's why the women I know end up taking so much on themselves -- the responsibility for household finances plus taking care of kids and home. We've created monsters, and then we wonder why we're so tired.

It just took The Other Half calling me a nag a few times before I started taking on more and more responsibility for the business of married life. When I attempted to farm things out, Mr. Half made me pay for my foolishness.

For instance, we paid $300 for two movers to drive six pieces of furniture seven blocks after we bought our house.

"Did you call anyone else?" I asked.

"That seemed reasonable," he said.

In frustration with his spending, I once asked him to pay our bills so he could grasp our financial responsibilities. He tried to knock out the debt on a major credit card in one fell swoop. We had no groceries, and the checks started bouncing.

I took the bill paying back.

My sage friend Marilyn offered a solution. "Do what you're good at," she said. "That's how we divide the duties in my house."

Mr. Half is good at a lot of things, but designing homemade CD covers and alphabetizing DVDs doesn't really keep the Hall household rolling, you know? Women see what needs to be done. We see the dishwasher full of clean dishes and the sink full of dirty ones and know what needs to happen. We see the pets' longing stares toward their empty food dishes and immediately know what to do. We notice there's enough hair on the bathroom floor to make a wig and realize a Swiffer is in order.

Men ... not so much. And ladies, don't try to hint around, either. "Wow, that trash is getting full" isn't going to cut it. To men, that's just a strange non sequitur you belted out.

So that leads us back to the old saw about women nagging. The honey-do list. The job jar.

My favorite advice columnist, Carolyn Hax, had a different take on those kinds of lists. A woman wrote in that her boyfriend wouldn't help take care of the dog despite repeated verbal requests, but she hated to write anything down because it seemed too much like her mother's nagging notes to her father.

Carolyn, wise, wise woman that she is, suggested that perhaps the boyfriend is a written communicator instead of a verbal communicator, so it would be weird for the girlfriend NOT to write things down.

I took that advice and starting writing things down for The Other Half. "Please stop by and pick up the heartworm pills." "Please rake the leaves out of the front flower bed." "Please clean the lime out of the shower head." Etc.

I felt bad about the notes, too, but the stuff inevitably gets done.

So don't call me a nag. Call me a written communicator.

Heidi Hall is a former managing editor of the Southeast Missourian who now lives in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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