Soon after the wedding, the process begins. That adorable, "perfect" person starts to irritate you. Behavior you could never have imagined appears. You discover your spouse doesn't know how to fold towels "over and under" and doesn't seem interested in learning. Your mate knows how to open drawers but not how to close them. Even the way they load the dishwasher is irritating.
But you're certain that with a little instruction, the person you married will change. Several months later, your spouse still isn't responding to your improvement program. So you begin a new approach: manipulation. You find out what he likes and use it to get what you want. You manipulate by sex, flattery, flowers, even new cars. By the end of your first year, your frustration level has sky-rocketed and you resort to arguments, tears, temper tantrums, and threats.
Karolyn and I struggled with these irritations. I know manipulation doesn't work, because I tried it. We can't demand change; we request change.
Step 1: Choose your setting. By setting I mean time, place, and your mate's feelings. The ideal time is after a meal. No one responds well when hungry! The place should be private, never public. Pointing out something in front of others is negative, even if you couch it in humor. And always consider your mate's feelings. Is he or she emotionally ready to receive a suggestion tonight? Sometimes the answer is no. She's been overloaded with requests, and simply can't take another one.
How do you determine if your spouse is emotionally ready? Ask. "Would this be a good night to make a request of you?" If the answer is no, I can almost guarantee he'll be back in less than an hour saying, "About that request. What did you have in mind?" Curiosity can be irresistible!1