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So, armed with an arsenal of expert tips, I embarked on a four-week experiment to see if I could somehow morph into a Husband Whisperer and, with practice, patience and perseverance, mold my spouse's mind ever so gently.
"I know you're tired, but I want to show you what works for me," I said, as cheerful as an infomercial.
"I just spray a little of this cleaning fluid on the spill, wipe and voilà! Not only did he continue to use the product I suggested, he now regularly cleans under pots, like a little boy exploring the dark rooty underworld beneath a rock. Another key to being a good Husband Whisperer, I found, is getting your spouse to empathize with your situation.
I know it sounds like old-school advice, but every marriage expert said the same thing: No one likes being bossed around, especially by their spouses, so there's no point in throwing down orders like a drill sergeant.
All it does is evoke memories of their mothers nagging them to clean their rooms.
Then came the Baby Whisperer, then the Dog Whisperer.
Seeing all these whisperers tapping into their extrasensory ability to bond with less communicative creatures, I began to wonder if I could do something similar with my husband.
My husband told me point-blank in our early days that if I told him what to do, he'd do the opposite simply out of spite. With this in mind, therapists concur that we need to approach our husbands not like children, but with the calm, respectful manner we would friends. One evening I heard myself sputtering to my husband, "The garbage?!
", like a frustrated teenager begging for the car keys. It's starting to stink." I could have left out the last part, I suppose, but I did get a response, although it wasn't the one I wanted: "I'll do it when I get back from the gym." Later, when the garbage remained unchanged (and still smelly), I upped my game and took the advice of Toni Coleman, LCSW, a relationship coach from Mc Lean, Virginia, who'd told me, "Your husband will respond better if you place a persuasive hand on his arm or back.
Now, whenever I want him to take out the trash, I summon my kinder, gentler self. Normally, I would have to put away jars, boxes and whatever else he'd left behind on the kitchen counter after a snack.