(I was going to call it “he’dbetteritis” but I didn’t think it would be readable. I was right, wasn’t I?)
I’d like to call your attention to a dangerous disease that can eat away at affection, respect, appreciation, and by extension, marriage as a whole. Perhaps you’ll think I’m overstating things, but I truly don’t think so (though my tongue is in my cheek to a degree).
Does any of this sound familiar?
He’d better remember to take out the trash.
He’d better call the restaurant for reservations or we won’t get a table for Valentine’s Day.
He’d better rinse and scrape the dishes before he puts them in the dishwasher.
He’d better notice my new haircut.
I’ve noticed that when I am struck with he’dbetteritis (hey, you know what it says now), the symptoms are brutal.
First, as soon as a “he’d better” thought enters my mind, I’m immediately cranky, behaving as if Pete already did not do what I think he’d better do.
Second, I spend my time watching him until I have determined whether or not he’s going to do what he’d better do. That’s oodles of fun for both of us.
Third, if he doesn’t do what he’d better do, he’s in for a heap of trouble. Of course, it does not enter into my mind that there are plenty of things I don’t do that I know I should, and he never once calls me on it. If the “he’d better” was unloading the dishwasher, you can be sure I’ll make a huge racket when I finally decide to do it myself (at which point he’ll walk in and insist he was just about to do it. And I don’t let him because I’m too busy proving my point).
Fourth–and perhaps most insidious of all–if he does do what he’d better do, he doesn’t get the credit. Because it’s something he’s already supposed to do, so what’s the big deal if he does?
There is a cure for he’dbetteritis. It’s called humility. When I manage to get into the groove of thinking of others before myself (a tough groove to find most of the time), I don’t worry so much about what he does or doesn’t do/say/think/remember/notice. Rather than behaving as if he owes me, I find that I am grateful for all that he does, whether it’s something that’s already expected, or something completely unexpected (“Tulips? For me?”).
Gee, I don’t know, who would you rather live with: a cranky person who’s always watching you to see if you’re going to measure up? Or a grateful person who notices and appreciates everything you do?
Yeah, it’s a toughie.