I hate doing the dishes, but I love you

By Kathy Radina , M. Ed. | September 30, 2009

… And other things you might get your spouse to say

kathy radina“For the next three weeks, can you let the dishes pile up in the sink until Sunday when I will do all of them?” Henry said.

“That will be hard, and I will do it,” Sheila replied.

What in the world is going on you ask? An experiment.

I have written before about how to talk about disagreements, and now that you have practiced saying “I” instead of “you” it’s time to move to the next step, solving the problem.
In my opinion there are two types of interpersonal conflicts, the problems that can be solved easily, and the problems that never seem to get fixed – they just repeat year after year like a bad virus.

One way to determine if an issue can be solved is to try an experiment created by couples therapist Dr. Harvile Hendrix, and here’s how it works.

The person who is requesting a change, will make the request
1. Time limited, and
2. Very specific.

“For the next two weeks will you greet me with a smile and a hug every day when I come home from work?”

Please notice that this request is only for two weeks. The goal is to see how the change affects both participants, the person making the request and the one responding to the request. It’s not forever. Even so, the person receiving the request can respond in one of three ways.

1. “That’s easy and I will do it.”
2. “That’s hard, and I will do it.” I won’t say I will try, because I can always answer with number three.
3. “I can’t agree to do that at this time.” And more explanation can be given.

I’m often amazed at the results of an experiment. For instance in the first example, Sheila may find it liberating not to have to worry about the dishes daily and Henry may realize that he too hates the smell and sight of dirty dishes. He never had the chance to discover this because Sheila cleaned them before they got so bad. What “The Experiment” does is fine-tune the conflict. It allows us to be more mindful of what the problem actually is and how we are relating to it.

Also, it is important not to make corrections during the specified time period, such as,

“Hey, you forgot to kiss me!” or

“It’s Sunday, and the dishes are still in the sink.”

No, it is an experiment, and it needs to run its course. At the end of the time frame, get together and discuss how it went. (Using the dialogue model I have discussed before.)
You may find that another experiment is called for, such as,

“For the next two weeks can you put your dishes in the dishwasher every time you use them?”

Or perhaps the conflict has been resolved with only one experiment.

Oh man, if there is a behavior in your life that you would like to see changed, I encourage you to try this exercise. I think George Levinger helped make my point when he said:
“What counts in making a happy relationship is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.”

Kathy Radina, M.Ed. is a counselor in Carefree.
She can be reached at 480-488-6096 or visit www.kathyradina.com

American Cancer Society Canine Bark for Life Oct. 25
at Anthem Pets Dog Park

September 30, 2009

Pre-register by Oct. 4

ANTHEM – The American Cancer Society Canine Bark for Life is mini-relay event. It presents an opportunity for people to be empowered through their canine companion partnerships and to contribute to cancer cures through the mission of the American Cancer Society.

Join the ACS Relay teams and participants to celebrate cancer survivorship, to honor people lost to cancer, to fundraise in support of cancer research, education, awareness, patient services, advocacy, and to help eliminate the suffering that cancer causes.

Come support Relay For Life and enjoy a great afternoon with your pet.

Bark For Life: Oct. 25
Noon – 4 p.m.
Anthem Pets Dog Park
46135 N Black Canyon Hwy New River

Registration Fee(s) includes bandana for dogs and t-shirt for owner: $20 dog + owner, $10 for each additional dog (Prior to event).
$30 dog + owner, $10 for each additional dog (Day of event)

Pre-Registration Deadline:

Oct. 4, 2009
Print Registration Form
Door Prizes! Dog
Costume Contest!
Top Fundraising Dog to receive free food for a year!