by Joanna on May 16, 2012

Can you train your spouse?

I have a co-worker that hates this phrase.  Like, you train a dog, not your loved one. I get what he’s saying. Perhaps this isn’t the most PC way of saying that you encourage your partner to change some habits. But for the sake of this post, when I say training that’s what I mean.

But I do think there is a little bit of training that comes with living with someone. Mike’s learned to put the toilet seat down and to wash dishes thoroughly. This behavior modification goes both ways–it’s not just the woman training the man.

For example: Mike’s trained me to put the butter away when I’m done using it. He’s trained me to wash my lunch container at work instead of waiting until I get home. He’s taught me to lock the door behind me when I get home.

I think this kind of training is good for a relationship.  It shows that you listen and you respect your partner and their seemingly small, inconsequential preferences. You hear them when they share their gripes and work to make sure you avoid things that may drive them crazy. Is it killing Mike to put the toilet seat down? Have I lost a bit of myself because I wash my lunch container at work? No. Not at all. But the payoff is great because in doing these things we’ve removed some irritation from each other’s lives.

Granted, I think you have to pick your battles. You can’t find everything about your partner seriously irritating. And if you find that to be the case, maybe there’s something bigger going on?

Tell me:

What do you think about “training” your spouse?

What habits are you trying to train your S/O on?

What have you been trained to do?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Angi May 20, 2012 at 11:02 am

I don’t think its something you should set out to do, training that is. I’ve changed my own habits to show my husband how I care for him. I don’t request that he change certain aspects of his routine, but hope that by showing him that I’m doing things to make his life easier/happier he’ll return my thoughts. Of the same token, I don’t expect him to, and don’t get upset if he doesn’t. If I want something particular I need to speak up and say it. This is an interesting topic though.


2 Joanna May 21, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I totally agree with you. I probably should have made it clear that the “training” I’m referring to isn’t deliberate on the part of the beneficiary. It’s not like we ever said or thought “lesson 1, put the toilet seat down.” The habits that we’ve changed are acts of love and respect and not a product of each other getting treats or being scolded by the other person when we didn’t do the behavior. Over time our behaviors just changed.

Of course, I did ask Mike to put the toilet seat down and Mike asked me to put the butter away. Luckily, we both ended up just doing the things on a more regular basis as simple acts of love. So maybe there was a little of “uh, you forgot to put the butter away” or “toilet seat!” So I think you’re right. If you want something in particular, you have to say something or the other person won’t know that the behavior drives you crazy.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Angi!


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