Is your husband strangely inert? Does he laze about, unwilling to lend a hand with the chores or the kids? Has he stopped taking you on dates or romantic getaways? Has he become tuber-like, putting down roots in the sofa, only periodically rolling across the floor when bodily needs take him to the bathroom and food pantry?
Bad news: your husband may be a couch potato.
But here’s the good news. No matter if he has only just begun to transform into a little spud, or if he’s achieved potato apotheosis as a full-fledged Yukon Gold, his condition is curable.
Now, let’s look at how you can turn your tater into a real man.
Avoid the Frying Pan
The first step in transforming your husband back into a normal, functioning human being lies in a realization—you’re not going to do it through criticism and anger.
You’re mad. That’s absolutely valid. You’re hurt, tired, and maybe even a little lonely. After all, potatoes aren’t known for being very engaging. They’re starchy, tuberous crops that spend all day hanging out a few inches beneath the topsoil. And they hang out with carrots.
Nobody likes carrots.
So before you boil, mash, or stew this particular potato, remember—it’s your husband. He does love you. He just has a maladjusted view of the world.
It’s time to set him straight. But first, you have to do a little investigating.
Determine What Type of Potato You’re Dealing With
Potatoes come in many varieties—there are russet potatoes, reds, whites, yellows, and more. In your case, you may have one of the following varieties, as categorized by psychologist and marriage expert, Dr. Joshua Coleman in his book, “The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to do More Parenting and Housework”.
First, there’s the Perfectionist Husband. This is a demanding potato that has high standards for you, your kids, and your household. Maybe he has a job that gives him a lot of power, or perhaps he just has an older worldview that clearly defines a wife’s “role” in his home. He expects you to do all the chores, because that’s just the way things are done.
Next, we have the Boy Husband. This potato was left out in the sun a little too long by over-indulgent parents, and spoiled. Now he thinks that he’s above chores—or just doesn’t consider them at all.
There’s the Worried Husband. This is a rare potato that refrains from helping out with household chores because he feels he won’t be up to the job. This is similar to the Boy Husband, but without the massive entitlement. He has very low self-esteem, and may feel like a failure.
Worst of all, there’s the Angry Husband. This potato inexplicably bred with a thorny vine and is covered in spikes. With this sort of husband, you’ll be bullied into doing all the housework through intimidation and fear—this one’s no joke.
Once you figure out what kind of spud you’re dealing with, you can develop certain tricks to lure him out of the ground and into your loving arms.
Steps to De-Spudification
When it comes to the way modern households work, times have rapidly changed. Women are just as likely to work full-time as men are, and more and more, they’re even the primary breadwinner of the home. The old model involving the male worker and the female caretaker simply doesn’t hold up any longer.
Unfortunately, some men act as if the past is the present, and this mindset creates potatoes.
According to Dr. Coleman’s book, working mothers tend to put in twice as many hours into housework as their partners, and 60 percent of these women that make the same or more than their husbands have to take time off to look after their sick children, because their partners will not do it.
Something has to change.
As unfair as it is, if your husband can’t see the need to change on his own, it’s up to you to show him the light. The privilege and comfort men have traditionally experienced in the home keeps them blinded to the consequences of their couch potato ways.
So to remedy this, Dr. Coleman has three tips for motivating your husband to begin doing his fair share. As you try each of these, keep in mind the type of potato your husband is, and tailor your strategy accordingly.
Coleman's first recommendation is to simply be willing to negotiate. Since all relationships are built on open communication, be honest about what you want, and how important it is that your husband help. Equally important, be willing to listen to his side, as well. Perhaps his job does fatigue him to the point of pain, and he has a valid reason to be less active. Make sure that you both understand one another, and try to lovingly reach an agreement about what needs to be done, and how.
Know how to negotiate with your particular type of potato. For instance, if your husband constantly tracks dirt into the house and refuses to take out the trash, mention how bad that might be for your health rather than just becoming upset at him. It’s quite likely he’ll stop.
Dr. Coleman’s second tip is to approach your couch potato husband with affection rather than critique. “Studies show,” Dr. Coleman says, that men do much more housework and child rearing when they feel liked and loved. Don’t back him into a corner.”
This doesn’t mean you need to coddle him. But it does mean being positive rather than negative, and cultivating an atmosphere of safety and love. That kind of household tends to motivate even the worst Mr. Potato Head.
Coleman’s third suggestion is to be strongly assertive. Don’t let your husband take advantage of you. Most importantly of all, clearly set your boundaries. If you need to, go on strike—don’t take out the trash, do the dishes, or sweep the floors. Let him see just how much you do. It may just shock the humanity back into him.
Take care, though, not to fall into the mindset that your way is always better—this can push any partner to laziness when they feel that they can no longer meet your standards.
From Spud to Stud
Most men aren’t too difficult to convert—they love their wives dearly, and truly do want to help once they realize the many benefits of doing so.
In the end, most people only change when remaining the same becomes too painful—just apply a little pressure in the ways that Dr. Coleman suggests, and you’ll soon turn your spud into a stud.