Have you ever experienced this?... You come home after a long day at work, hoping to finally relax. When you walk through the door, you are met with a sink full of dishes or a messy room and that is the last straw. Why is he so messy? You're too tired for this! Why should you have to clean up after him?
You might start yelling because you are so frustrated. This leads to him either ignoring you or getting frustrated with you. Why are you nagging him? It's no big deal!
Research shows that when a man comes home from work, his stress level drops significantly. When a woman comes home from work, she brings the stress home with her. This is because when a woman is at work, she is on her male side all day long. You can't show negative feelings like discontent, frustration, disappointment, or feelings of inadequacy at work. Once a woman gets home, she experiences an increase in her cortisol, the appropriately titled "stress hormone". This leads to her being hypercritical of her surroundings. This is overwhelming, stressful, and difficult to process. When you suppress your emotions all day it's only a matter of time before BANG! ...you explode! As the woman points out everything that's wrong, the man feels attacked and frustrated and most likely not open to changing the behavior that upset her.
So, how can you get him to change his negative behavior?
Step 1: Don't Try To Change Him From A Place Of Discontent
If you approach him with negativity and anger he will only resist. Recognize that you are stressed, angry, and coming at him with that energy will only make things worse. To calm down, take a step back and search for happiness outside of your environment. Look inside.
Step 2: Take Time To do The Things That Make You Happy
If it doesn't make you happy to clean up after him, don't do it! Go somewhere or do something that does makes you happy. Your body needs an increase of estrogen and progesterone. You can get that by engaging in both social bonding and you time. You can also get a boost by giving. That leads us to Step 3...
Step 3: Understand What He Needs
Where does happiness come from? Giving! It makes the person you are giving to feel good and it makes you feel good. He doesn't want you to clean up after him and resent him. Like you, he wants you to understand what he needs. So, what does he need? He needs to feel appreciated, accepted, and trusted. He might not be the tidiest person in the world but he does have traits that you love and appreciate. Focus on those characteristics, show him love, and give him what he needs.
Step 4: Ask Him For Help
Ask him for help and show him appreciation after a job well done. When a man feels appreciated, his testosterone goes up and he feels good. When he feels underappreciated, he feels inadequate and he crashes, becoming passive and deflated.
Let's sum it up... You notice a behavior, like being messy, that is driving you crazy... detach from trying to change him, do something that makes you happy, give him the acceptance and trust that he needs, ask for his help, and show him appreciation. Following these steps will help him to change the negative behavior through positive reinforcement. It will also help you avoid a conflict and it will ultimately bring you closer together.
Having said that, it is important that you don't let your feelings go unheard. After you take a step back, you might notice that the thing that you were upset about wasn't really that big of a deal. Whether the issue is big or small, you can release some of the stress of the day by talking to your partner. One helpful technique would be to talk for a few minutes about any negative things that you encountered during your day, followed with some positive things in your life. Even if your partner doesn't say anything, just having him there to talk things through can really help. You will receive an increase in oxytocin, making you feel better, and your partner will see that talking to him helped you, making him feel good about himself. That's pure pair bonding in the most powerful way.
Check out this video for more information from John Gray, the author of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus":
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