- Don’t ask for help. Instead play a game and see how long it will take before your spouse pitches in without you asking.
- Make sarcastic remarks whenever your spouse does anything around the house. For instance, let’s say your spouse puts dirty clothes in the hamper, you might say, “The world must be coming to an end. You just put dirty clothes in the hamper. What’s next? Will cows fly?”
- Criticize your spouse’s technique. No matter what your spouse does–from loading the dishwasher to dusting the television to vacuuming–make sure he/she knows that you would do it differently and that your way is much better.
- Ignore whatever your spouse does. Refuse to notice that the carpet has been vacuumed or the trash can is now empty. Whatever you do, definitely don’t thank your spouse.
- Be exceptionally vague. For instance, if you want your spouse to clean the fish tank by the end of the weekend, say, “Do you think you could do some housework at some point?”
- Give your spouse a deadline that conflicts with his or her life. For instance, if your spouse is watching a big Formula One car race, march into the room and say, “I want that kitchen cleaned up in the next half hour!”
- Talk for an hour about how unfair your life is. Make sure to go on and on for so long that your spouse loses interest and starts daydreaming about what you might cook for dinner. At that precise moment, ask your spouse to please fix the toilet.
- When your spouse asks for clarification, go silent. For instance, lets say your spouse texts, “What kind of vacuum bags does the vacuum cleaner take?” Ignore the text. After all, if your spouse was worth anything, he or she would know this information without checking with you.
- If your spouse requests specific household tasks, assign him different ones. For instance, if your spouse wants to do the laundry, tell him you expect him to clean the kitchen instead.
- Make fun of whatever your spouse does–especially in front of other people. For instance, let’s say you are at a work party. While his or her boss is nearby, say, “My husband/wife couldn’t clean a window correctly even if Siri walked him/her through it step by step.”
- Make sure your house is always clean and orderly. That way your spouse won’t be able to find anything to clean, fix, or straighten up.
Have you used any of the above dysfunctional communication techniques? If so, how have they worked for you? Why do you default to them? Are there other ways to ensure a spouse doesn’t help around the house? Talk about it in the comments.
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.