Making it my business: husband wrangling and wedding obligations

A glimpse into how yours truly makes a point AND tips on making a painful wedding experience less, um, painful. And for the boys, mentionings of making out.

Here we go, here we go now!

Dear Valerie,

My husband has this annoying habit where puts his dirty dishes on the counter, rather than walking two more steps to put them in the sink. He is understanding when I let him know it bothers me, but he doesn’t change. Is it better to keep nagging so that he understands every time he doesn’t do it, or is it better to save my breath? It’s mostly annoying because I’m asking for such a small thing – so what’s the problem? But, then I feel bad for nagging because it is so small. What do I do?

The Semi-Wrathful Wife

Let me start with saying that you’re not wrong to be annoyed. Yes, it’s a small flaw, but you’re not asking him to solve world hunger here. But, I can also tell you that nagging you isn’t going to work. I know that from extensive experience.

I have a similar problem, only a bit worse, because *someone’s* dishes don’t even make it to the sink. I tried ignoring it, but that left me seething with anger and resentment. I also tried kindly reminding someone. And then I tried lots and lots of yelling. None of it worked. None. of. it.

So then I started stacking the dirty dishes on his pillow.

That seems to be working.

lessonlearned.jpgIt was a dramatic gesture, yes, but I think doing something totally absurd made him realize how much his sloppiness was bothering me.

If this approach wouldn’t work for you, break it down into a simple cause and effect statement that appeals to a different set of priorities. Try this:

“If you take two more seconds to clean up, we won’t spend three hours arguing about this. Instead, we could spend those three hours making out.”

Dear Valerie,

I’m going to get invited to a wedding that I don’t want to attend, but I know that the bride would really like me to be there. Is just not wanting to go reason enough to decline? I promise that I would send a gift.

Reluctant Reveler

Unfortunately, I would say that the only way you can get out of this is if you’re required to travel more than a total of four hours to get to the wedding (that’s two hours there, two hours back). If not, you might just have to take one for the team. However, there are a few things you can do to make the whole process easier for everyone:

1. Find out what kind of reception it is. If it’s buffet, you can always go to the ceremony, stop by the reception long enough for the bridge to see you, and then cut out early. If it’s a sit-down dinner, tell the bride that you will be there for the ceremony, but a prior commitment is going to keep you from attending the reception – this way she won’t fork over $100 for food that you and your guest won’t eat.

wedding-card.jpg2. Opt for an easy gift. A gift card or check tucked inside a sweet card is the way to go here. It requires no printing off of lists or scouring for UPC numbers. More importantly, it will let the bride and groom fill in those gaps from their registry when they get back from their honeymoon.

3. Don’t buy anything new to wear for the wedding. If you’re like most people over the age of 20, you most likely have a wedding “uniform.” (Mine looks like this.) Keep it simple and classy.

4. Make sure you sign the guest book. Chances are, you will only speak to the bride for about 15 seconds while you’re at the wedding, if at all. Signing the guest book let’s her know you were there for her – just not specifically how *long* you were there for her.

5. Try to enjoy yourself even though you might have preferred to stay at home that Saturday watching reruns of The Biggest Loser on Bravo. Most brides invite guests that they truly want there for one of the biggest days of their lives. Consider it an honor and make sure you tell her she looks beautiful.

(Got a question? Send it to for some profoundly wise advice.)

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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