The “he’d betters”

(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.

6 thoughts on “The “he’d betters”

  1. Ouch! Guilty as charged. (Actually, in my own mind I call this my “What-have-you-done-for-me-lately” attitude. Same disease, different name.) I find I can work myself up into quite a tizzy without my husband even doing (or not-doing) anything! All the “he’d betters” really are insidious relationship killers. Thanks for the reminder!

    (Wonder if he has his own set of “she’d betters”? Scary thought. I can dish it out but I can’t take it!)

  2. Oh, Carol, thank you for commenting! I was having serious anxiety that I was the only one. Maybe we’re the only two, but at least I have a buddy. I need a support group, however small!

    I caught myself coming down with this disease earlier this afternoon. The problem with writing all this out? Pete reads it, so now he knows! And he could tell I was momentarily “ill!”

    But, truly, it was also a good thing, because then we laughed about it.

    (In case you’re wondering, the disease struck because I asked him if he knew why I was excited that May was coming. He paused and I immediately thought, “He’d better remember that my article’s coming out!” So I said, helpfully, “What comes out in May?” He said, hopefully, “Flowers?”)

  3. Yep. You got me on this one too.

    Don’t you hate it when you’re just trying to send your Sister a link to a local blogger in her new neighborhood, you read it and God convicts YOU on your marriage ?

    It tells me something though. He must be using you in a wonderful way because I think I might have been a bit of a toughie in this department lately and not listening as well as I used too.

    But this sure got MY attention.


  4. Hi Mandy-

    Glad to know that you are ok.

    Right after I left that comment, the front page of AOL was reporting a dangerous, heavy snow fall in your exact city. I was concerned for you, said a prayer and later came back to check that you were ok but didn’t have the time ,then to leave a comment.

    As far as my sister…she doesn’t live there (full time) at least *yet.* She bought a home there, though ( S. Co.) loves it and is planning to.

    She was there emailing all these terrific pics and is interested in writing, so l was talking to her about starting a blog.

    That’s when I just happened to run into your comment on another blog that mentioned you had moved from S. Ca. (where we are from) and lived in Co… I emailed her a link to your blog.

    I think it’s funny how these things happen, sometimes.

    Best to you.

  5. The he’d/she’d better itis is more universal than just marital relationships. We feel it in our work when someone doesn’t complete a project the way we would do it or on the schedule we think it should be done. Our needs and personal standards dominate our minds and we judge others by how we would do a task.

    It applies to our friends. How often have you called or thought of someone as a “flake” for being non-responsive, or not trusted or counted on a friend to follow-through because their way of completing the task is different from yours.

    I have learned that understanding how others approach a task, and where it fits into their priorities and pressures is really important, before you try to prove your point (and since Mandy and I are sisters, I have done just as much point proving as she has, if not more). It is also important to have a discussion about priorities, so that you can be in agreement on importance a lot of the “better-itis” is a result of lack of agreement on importance and priorities.

    The common bond is we are people. The way to understanding is talk to each other when you are feeling any type of “itis” about another.

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