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ASK KIMCHI - How to Deal With a Messy Husband

Practical Advice for Asian American Women


On this episode of Asian Women of Power, Kimchi Chow introduces a new season called "Ask Kimchi," where she will provide advice and solutions with kindness based on questions from Asian American women. Kimchi discusses the difference between nagging and reminding, emphasizing that nagging is a way of trying to control or manipulate while reminding is a way of ensuring something gets done. She encourages reflection on why one may be nagging their partner and suggests reminding in a helpful and considerate way instead. Kimchi also shares practical tips for dealing with a messy husband, such as immediately loading dirty dishes into the dishwasher, putting away used towels and clothes, and wiping the bathroom sink clean. She advises patience and compromise and highlights the importance of making cleaning activities fun. Throughout the episode, Kimchi provides examples and offers a platform for private discussions. Listeners are encouraged to subscribe to the Asian Women of Power YouTube channel for more advice.

Hi, I’m Kimchi Chow.

This is a new season using a new format, called ASK Kimchi.

A.S.K. stands for Advices and Solutions with Kindness, suggested by my friend and client Olivia Vo.

Thank you, Olivia, for your creative idea.

For each episode of ASK Kimchi, I will answer the most Frequent Asked Questions from Asian American women about relationships, careers, and happiness.

I will do my best to give you practical & concrete advice on what to do based on the limited info that I received from these questions.

But please remember that my advice might not work for everyone. 

If you want to discuss your issue privately, please book a call with me at AsianWomenOfPower.com.

Here is the email I received this week.

 Dear Kimchi,

My husband makes such a mess sometimes in the kitchen and bathroom and it's hard for me to tell him how I feel about it, or what to do without sounding like a nag. So I end up feeling annoyed and resentful that I “have to” clean up after him. What should I do?

- from Messy in Miami

Dear Messy in Miami,

I know how you feel about this situation, most women feel the same way if they are the ones who always clean up after their kids and husband.

I want you to think of these questions first:

a. How long have you experienced this situation?

  • Has this issue been around for more than a year? If so, continue to listen to what I will share next to take care of it as soon as possible.
  • If this issue just recently happened, then find out what’s going on with your spouse. What’s new with him? Did he get a new job? Was he in a rush to get out of the house on that day? 
  • The more insight you get, the more you will understand why he did what he did.  

b. What’s your definition of messy, or how would you describe “a mess”?

  • Are there dirty pots, pans & dishes piling up on the kitchen counter, and sink, or just a few bread crumbs from the toaster and a few cups & plates from breakfast?
  • Or were there dirty towels & clothes all over the bathroom floor, or the sink counter was splashed with water?

I know it sounds a bit much to define the word “messy”, but your standard is not the same as your spouse’s standard, so “messy” to you might not be “messy” to him.

Here are 5 steps that I would do to deal with a messy husband:

Talk to your husband about how you feel.

  • be honest about how his messiness is affecting you.
  • be specific about what bothers you.
  • When you express your feeling, use the “I” statement, and not the “You” statement.
  • Because the “You” statement will make it sound like you are blaming/criticizing him, which will make him feel even more defensive.
  • Example of the “I statement”: "I feel annoyed when I see dirty dishes on the kitchen counter in the morning."
  • And this is the “You statement”: “You made me feel annoyed when you leave dirty dishes on the kitchen counter.”

Do you see the difference?

Set some ground rules for cleanliness.

Remember your standard of cleanliness is not the same as your spouse’s standard. After you've talked to your spouse about your feelings, you can start to set some ground rules for cleanliness.

This could include things like:

 Load dirty dishes to the dishwasher immediately after using them.

 Put away used towels and dirty clothes in the laundry basket. 

 Wipe the bathroom sink counter clean after each use.

Be patient & be willing to compromise.

It's unlikely that your husband will suddenly become as clean as you are. Be willing to compromise on some things, such as how often the bathroom gets cleaned or how often the dishes get done.

Have patience and offer to help him if he needs it.

Remind, Don't nag.

Most people think “nagging” and “reminding” are the same.  They are not.  There is a subtle difference between these two words.

Nagging is a form of repeated complaining or criticizing. It is often done in a way that is annoying or irritating.

 For example, a person might nag their partner about taking out the trash, or about doing the dishes.

 Reminding is simply the act of bringing something to someone's attention. It is usually done in a way that is helpful and considerate.

 For example, a person might remind their partner that they have an appointment in an hour, or that they need to pick up milk on their way home from work.

Here are some examples of how nagging and reminding can be used in different situations.

Can you tell which of the following phrases are nagging and which ones are reminding?

  • "I've asked you to take out the trash three times already! When are you going to do it?" – nagging or reminding.
  • "The trash can is full. Can you take it out before you go to bed?" – nagging or reminding.
  • "You never do the dishes! I'm always the one who has to do them." – nagging or reminding.
  • "The dishwasher is empty. Can you put the dishes away after you use them?" – nagging or reminding.

As you can see, nagging is often seen as a way of trying to control or manipulate the other person.

Reminding, on the other hand, is simply a way of making sure that something gets done.

If you find yourself nagging your partner or spouse, it's important to take a step back and ask yourself why you're doing it.

  • Are you trying to control them?
  • Are you trying to make them feel guilty?
  • Or are you simply trying to make sure that something gets done?

If you just want something to get done, then there's no need to nag. You can simply remind your partner in a way that is helpful and considerate, and you will be more likely to get the result you want.

And the last step in dealing with a messy husband is to Make cleaning activity fun.

Cleaning doesn't have to be a chore. If both of you are working full-time, then schedule the cleaning activity on the weekend.

And instead of having the kitchen counter or the bathroom floor spotless every day, it’s ok to have most dishes in the sink, and dirty towels in the dirty basket.

Then on the weekend, both of you can work on tidying up the bathroom or the kitchen, or the whole house.  Try to make this cleaning activity fun by listening to upbeat music, or you can make a game out of it and divide up which tasks will be done by whom, and who can finish their task faster.

I hope you enjoy these 5 tips on how to deal with a messy spouse.

If you enjoy listening to this episode, please subscribe to the Asian Women of Power Youtube channel, and share it with friends.

Thank you and I will talk to you soon on our next ASK Kimchi episode.

About Kimchi Chow

Kimchi Chow, Founder & CEO of Asian Women of Power, and Host of Asian Women of Power podcast. Born and raised in Vietnam, Kimchi is the first generation of immigrants in America. With a diverse background, from high tech to service industry to investing to personal growth, Kimchi knew what it took to be successful, happy and fulfilled in life. Now, Kimchi is working as a coach to support her clients, the Asian American women, about Life, Relationships and Culture, to help her clients create the life that they love. Kimchi started a movement called “Live Life Loud” and a podcast called “Asian Women of Power” in May 2018. Today, this podcast has widely spread to over 22 countries around the world. Kimchi’s mission is to empower Asian American women to speak their truth, to stand up for their rights and to show up for what they believe in. To learn more about her programs, her podcast and her movement, please join her on her Facebook group, or connect with her through LinkedIn. Kimchi currently lives in San Jose, California with her husband. 

Connect with Kimchi Chow at:
Website: www.AsianWomenOfPower.com
Podcast: www.AsianWomenOfPower.com/podcast
Facebook Group: www.JoinAsianWomenOfPower.com
Personal Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kimchi.Chow
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimchichow

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