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BellaOnline's Marriage Editor

The Lazy Spouse

There is an old Japanese proverb that goes, “Marriage is like a two-wheeled cart. When both wheels roll at the same pace, the cart travels smoothly.” Everyone knows that when only one wheel moves, the cart goes in circles, never reaching its destination. Marriage, indeed, is like a rolling cart that takes two partners to pull the load.

Get to the root of the problem
Laziness may be just a very bad habit, but usually there are reasons why people slip into lazy mode. Consider the following:

1. Could his/her laziness be due to some undiagnosed medical or psychological problems? Depression and diabetes are only two of many conditions that cause lethargy and fatigue.
2. Is there work overload? Some people do not know how to begin projects when there is sensory overload. Break down chores into small steps for him.
3. Does he suffer from a fear of failure? People who do often think, “Better not to try than to fail.”
4. Is he used to your doing too much? Do you have perfectionist standards that he feels he will never meet? Are you too critical of his results? It’s easier to get out of your way than to find that he can’t satisfy you.
5. Does he lack purposeful or meaningful work? Being engaged in something of value is a sure-fire way to banish laziness.
6. Does he lack control over his own life and home life? Autonomy and a sense of power are intrinsic motivators. Sometimes, avoidance is a response to being forced to do what one does not want to do.
7. Is his to-do list never-ending? Lazy people often stop before they complete things so they never experience the feel-good feeling of accomplishment. That feel-good feeling is the real reward for doing a job.

External motivators for the lazy spouse
Discovering the reasons for laziness is just the first step. Here are other ideas to implement in order to motivate your lazy spouse:

1. Help him break down a large project into small steps and put them on a calendar. Men tend to be visual creatures that need to see the task before them.
2. Don’t overload his to-do list. If you make it endless, he’ll lose steam.
3. Work on one issue at a time. He may be lazy in many areas, but a complete makeover just isn’t going to happen overnight. Focus on the most important matter he needs to address.
4. Remember that positive encouragement works better than negative threats. Stress and criticism make people shut down.
5. Provide rewards and incentives. Everyone, even grown men, like praise and thanks as well as some unexpected fun rewards.
6. Use social pressure. Plan a fun event as a deadline for him to complete certain household maintenance jobs or maintain his health regimen.
7. Allow him to do things in his own way. Being in control lets people activate their free will. There was an old childhood taunt, “I’ll do it because I want to and not because you tell me to.” If you’re always the one to call the shots, he may begin use avoidance or procrastination as his subconscious way of rebelling.

A lazy spouse can cause relationship dysfunction, but with just a little bit of understanding, you can find ways to help motivate and kick-start him into action. And it has been my experience that “a husband in motion tends to stay in motion.”

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Content copyright © 2013 by Lori Phillips. All rights reserved.
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