Is this a familiar scene? Just about everyone, at some point in a relationship, can relate to this situation. But what’s really wrong here?
They met, were crazy about each other but then bought a condo together and moved in. According to The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, this is a big rule-breaker. He’s getting all the benefits of having a wife without having committed to her. A man needs to be given the opportunity to work hard to prove himself to the woman he loves during the dating period. If she doesn’t let him do that, he won’t appreciate her as much and will be happy to shack up and take her for granted. It’s human nature. And the bottom line is, men need a challenge to win the heart of the woman of their dreams. When a man goes fishing, does he want someone to just throw some fish in the boat to save him the time and effort? Of course not! He wants the thrill of the hunt and the prize of a big fish, even if he has to wait all day for it.
By taking your time and not moving in with him before he’s asked you to marry him, you’re not over-investing in a relationship too soon. Once you're married, you’re dealing with a totally different situation. You’ll know you’ve chosen to marry a good guy, who has proven his worth time and again.
Here are the five things to take away from this clip from The Break-Up.
You can’t tell a man what to do.
Have you ever tried instructing a man on what to do? Does it work? It might once or twice or for a little while, but does nagging him ever really change him? Frustration and resentment will build on both sides over time. Eventually, you have to get to a point where you understand it’s just not working. So why not let it be you who makes the decision to do it differently?
He’s not a misbehaving woman, he’s a man.
Brooke (Jennifer Anniston) decided it was time to do the dishes because she doesn’t like to leave them overnight. Men don’t necessarily think this way. Gary (Vince Vaughn) doesn’t see the dishes as a priority at that moment in time but does say that he will help her do them tomorrow. Brooke goes on to insist that now is the time, when he's wanting to relax in front of the tv. (She is also going to remind him of his mother by nagging him to do so, which is a killer for intimacy.) When she succeeds in making him feel guilty enough and he eventually gets up to do it, albeit begrudgingly, she’s not happy with that either because he should WANT to help her. She’s not only telling him what to do but also the manner in which he should do it! Hello mum… This is very controlling behaviour and it doesn't achieve her desired outcome. It does cause plenty of arguments though.
If you want the dishes done, why not do them yourself without fuss?
If he wants to help you he will. Why impose what you want on him? If he doesn’t want to do the dishes, leave him be. Something magical starts to happen when you let go of trying to force him to do the things you want him to do and you simply go ahead and do it yourself, without complaint AND with an attitude of service. It’s important to stress here though that this is most certainly marriage territory. Marriage is the moment you vow to “serve” each other until death do you part. Gary hasn’t made this vow - they are only living together. He’s getting all the benefits without the work or the commitment.The fact of the matter is, if your boyfriend was lazy from the moment he moved in with you, he may just be a slob and it’s up to you to decide if this is who you want to be with. If you’re married to a guy who was always lazy, it’s going to be tough to turn it around but the next two points are an excellent place to start. If he helped a lot when you were first married, it may be your nagging that’s dousing his fire?
Your attitude of service IN MARRIAGE brings out the best in your man and before you know it, he starts wanting to do things for you that make you happy too.
When you work to make your house a home, including cooking and cleaning if he isn’t doing it; when you do things for your husband and family because you want to take care of them, you are leading by example. Doing this from the heart sets into motion an incredible transformation in the home. Soon, he is wanting to help you too, just not necessarily with the dishes. He may want to get your car fixed for you, or replace the light globe that’s been blown for a week, or unblock the drain that’s been clogged for a while.
BUT - and it's a significant but- these two are not married. If I were advising Brooke, I’d be suggesting she move out into her own place and live her own life. It may end the relationship or it may make him realise how much he loves her and ask her to marry him. Why would you take an attitude of service with someone who hasn’t earned it or vowed to do the same? Again, the point is, Gary’s got a great woman in Brooke, who’s behaving like a wife, without having to work for it!
There is one more crucial element to a happy, cooperative relationship…Show genuine gratitude.
When he carries the grocery shopping in from the car, thank him. Tell him how much this helped you and that you appreciated it. Pretty soon, he’s going to want to do more to please you. This is true always, in any situation…
There is a big difference in simply living with a man and being married. Marriage is more than just a piece of paper. There is work and commitment involved. For women, living together and marriage doesn’t necessarily feel that different but for a man, it’s a world of difference. When a man decides to ask a woman to marry him, he does not do that lightly and it brings out qualities in him that you rarely see when you simply move in together. This is not about being old-fashioned. It’s about valuing yourself, as the incredible woman that you are and not investing in a man until he’s proven to you that he's a good guy and asks you to marry him.
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