First off if you want your spouse to do anything, you have got to ASK him to do it. This rule applies to anyone and everyone. If you want something done but don't ever say anything about it you cannot possibly expect it to get done. It doesn't matter what the circumstances are. It could be something to do with what you would like your husband to do while you're getting intimate, it could be wanting the lawn to finally get mowed, or the garbage to be taken out, it could even be something as simple as wanting your husband to trim his nose hairs... Its just not going to happen if you never say anything about it. So if you want something, SAY something.
What's just as important as saying something is what and how you say it...
It's very important that when you make a REQUEST for your spouse to do something that you remember, first that it is a request, and second that your request must be reasonable. You cannot, and in deed should not, try to ever force your spouse to do anything. It's a surefire way to make sure it WONT get done and bad moods will abound. This is particularly true of sensitive requests, like those involved in love making. Trying to persuade your spouse to do something without being totally kind and loving about it can result in bitterness and an avoidance of intimate moments. As for being reasonable, I have discussed in my other rantings that you have to make sure that the things you ask of your spouse are actually achieveable, taking into account your spouse's strengths and weaknesses. This policy applies to any situation. My favorite quote by Albert Einstein applies beautifully to this concept: 'Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.'
Your spouse is actually quite a capable person... and is even more so if you cater your requests to their abilities and ask nicely. If your husband is quite the handyman then you're probably better off asking him to fix the fence than you are asking him to do the laundry. If your husband is a little more domestic than you are, then you might try asking him to make dinner while you bathe the kids. By asking or telling him to do something he isn't good at, or does not know how to do, you can make him feel stupid and inadequate, whether you intend to or not. Now he would probably never tell you that he feels that way, but you can imagine that anyone under those circumstances would be less likely to accomplish the task, do it well, or be willing to do it again.
Side Note: Its important that when asking your spouse to do something around the house that you mention that you are already doing something.
ex. 'Hey honey, Elsa needs a diaper change, but I'm trying to get dinner going... could you change her or would you rather come stir the rice for me?'
This lets them know that you would do it yourself if you weren't already busy. This should help your spouse feel a little less put out by being asked to do something you ordinarily would handle as well as give them a choice. People generally like having options. This can actually help your spouse feel they are needed too. If you have a habit of doing everything yourself and wont let your spouse help it is easy for a man to begin to feel like he isn't necessary. This can greatly impact his self-esteem. Men want to be the king of their castle, to feel as though they are indispensable. That doesn't mean you have to worship him, just let him know that he plays an important role in the family and his services are appreciated...much like women like to feel the same (husbands who are reading this, please take note that we women like to be appreciated too, verbally, and many times a day, just FYI).
What to do if he Doesn't Know How to do Something
If you need your husband to do something that he does not already know how to do, make a simple and concise list of instructions. Don't talk down to him or over explain things. Leave him to figure it out. This should give him the feeling that you think he is intelligent and have confidence in his ability to learn something new. This plays to a man's need to be respected, and treated as valuable and competent. If he comes to you with questions you should answer them without going into great detail, unless he asks for it you'll only bore him and lose his attention. Also, assure him that you have faith in his abilities. When the job is done, whether its done right or not, thank him and praise what was done right without any criticism or comments on what he could do better next time. If something went horribly wrong, chances are he already knows he messed up, and unless he says otherwise he probably already knows how he messed up. So be kind in pointing it out, and in as few words as possible explain how to fix or prevent it. Demonstrate it only if its absolutely necessary, or if you have noticed your husband learns better by watching someone else do it. Then leave it at that. Don't make fun of him, dont berate him, and above all try to stay calm. The way you react to his mistakes will greatly influence his willingness to help you out in the future.
Side Note: If the request you have made requires certain items to complete the task, be sure to put them in a place where he can easily find them, and, if needed, make certain they are clearly labeled so nothing will get mixed up. If you need to, hide chemicals that might be easily confused. The last thing you need when asking your husband to do the laundry while youre away for a few days is to have him accidentally put bleach in the washer instead of laundry soap simply because the bottles look similar and he didn't bother to read the label. Believe me, these sort of mistakes happen all the time. Your husband may be smart but when doing a task he is unfamiliar with men often try to act like they know more than they do, which often leads to things not quite going as planned.
Make a List
If there are multiple things you would like your spouse to accomplish in a certain time period you may want to give them a list and time frame. People are usually easily distracted, my husband certainly is no exception. I once asked him to help me clean the house and asked him to start by going through the mail on the table...and that's what he did...for 2 hours. He looked at every single piece of mail, stopping to read every credit card advertisement just so he could scoff at the ridiculous interest rates they were offering. So for a long time I stopped asking him to help me because he really was not much help at all. Now that we have a child and a roommate, and the cleaning requirements are sometimes more than I can handle on my own, I have to enlist his help. To keep him from feeling like the cleaning will never end, and to help prevent him from losing focus, I give him a list of the things I need him to do, and a time by which I would like it to be done. I do still have to occasionally remind him of the list, but the more I do this with him the less I have to 'supervise'.
Another example of how lists can be used presented itself while I was home for Christmas this last year. My mom gets in project mode on occasion and goes a little over board on her list of things she wants to get done, and the holidays are no exception. In fact the lists seem to get longer around Christmas time. She wanted us to repaint the front room, family room, and my youngest sister's room, clean all the ceiling fans, tidy up the house, get the kitchen cleaned and the dishes done, as well as have my siblings clean their rooms...all in one day. I mentioned to my mom that her list was a little ambitious to accomplish in one day and that I would appreciate it if she ranked each item on a scale of importance, from 1-3. At first almost everything was a 1 or 2. I had to again remind her that we were not likely to get to everything on the list that day, and that some of those ones needed to be changed to twos, and some of the twos needed to become threes, and maybe even throw in a four. This way, we knew which tasks she for sure wanted to get done and what tasks she would be ok with if they didn't get done. We then let everyone choose which task they preferred and got to work.
This greatly improved the morale of my siblings and myself, in addition to helping my mom be a little less stressed that we might not get everything done. When everyone knows what is expected, and the person making the requests knows what they expect, its easier to avoid unnecessary arguments or foul moods. Also, be wiling to let others have a say in what gets done and, perhaps, in what order. When you work together rather than ruling as a dictator, your family is more likely to be cooperative, not to mention that they may actually have some good ideas on how to tackle the chores more effectively. Which brings me to my next point...
Being flexible is of the utmost importance when dealing with other people, especially your spouse. Always remember that the people you're trying to work with grew up differently than you did and probably have a different way of doing things. If you ask your husband to load the dishwasher don't get mad at him that he isn't doing it the way you think it ought to be done, just thank him for doing it and leave him alone. You can do it the way you think it should be done when its your turn to do dishes. Just because his way is different doesn't mean it is necessarily wrong, its just different. And that's ok!! Heck, you might try watching what he does, you may learn something.
If he is, in fact, doing it wrong, let him. Unless, of course, someone or something might be damaged in the process. Then after the load is done you can mention to him that the dishes didn't get completely clean and kindly suggest that maybe if he puts them in a little different the next time then they might come out cleaner. You don't have to tell him how to do it, just suggest that maybe it should be done differently and leave him to figure it out. When you teach someone something you forever take away their opportunity to discover it for themselves, and sometimes figuring it out on their own is the best way for a man to learn, it can certainly the most satisfying. Men also feel more accomplished and proud of themselves when they learn something on their own. If you micromanage and correct them at every turn, much like children, your spouse will become easily frustrated and resistant to learning. Let him learn on his own and he may even become passionate about it and have fun showing off his new skill.
An illustration of this concept in action can be taken from when I wanted to teach John how to make french fries. He bought me a fryer for a gift, as well as a mandolin so I could make him his favorite type of shoe-string french fries. I HATE making fries, especially when I am trying to cook two or three other things at the same time. Now some people might call this manipulation, though you could say the same of anything anyone does to try to get a certain outcome so I say shove it, but I stopped paying as much attention to the fries. They often came out over cooked or under done. After being displeased with the fries a few times, and a number of 'I don't see why you keep making crappy fries, they're so easy!', I told him that if he thought it was so easy then maybe he should take a crack at it. So he did. I didn't try to teach him how to do it, I just left him to experiment with it on his own. He asked me a few questions, which I answered as simply as possible and left it at that. Now, he refuses to let me do it, insisting that he is the best fry cook in the world, and I must admit, the fries are pretty tasty.
What to do if he Doesn't do it
Another aspect of being flexible is understanding that sometimes what we ask our spouse to do may not get done, or it may not get done when we would like it to, and in some cases we may even have to do some of it ourselves. John is a very busy man, he has to be up by a little after 5am so he can be ready and on time for Physical Training (PT) at 6 am. Then he has language training for his new job from 9am till 4pm. Then he has an English class from 4:30 to 5:30pm. On an average day he doesn't get home till around 6pm, at which time he eats dinner, goes to the gym, then comes home and has to write a paper for his English class. If I ask him to do something it has to be on the weekend because John just simply does not have the time to do it during the week, unless its something that only takes a few minutes. Any task taking more than 10 minutes has to wait till the weekend. That's not always easy to accept, but I just keep reminding myself that right now he is very busy, and its not that he doesn't want to do these things its just that he simply doesn't have the time.
If your spouse DOES have the time to do what you have asked you still have to accept that it may not get done the first time around. So try to be patient and keep asking nicely. The nicer you are about it every time you ask the more likely your husband will be to finally comply with your request when you get a little cranky about it. You may be able to avoid this entirely if when you make your request you say 'Honey, I would like you to do this... when do you think you will have time to get that done?'. Then leave him to it. Its ok for you to remind him once, maybe twice, but anything more than that will be considered nagging and will likely result in it not getting done, or him being cranky about doing it. If it doesn't get done by the time he sets for himself then you can tell him what he said he would do and that you need him to stop what he currently is doing and go take care of it. If he says he cant do that, then ask him again when he thinks he will have time to do it, and remind him that you expect it to be done by then.
As always, a good way to ensure that your spouse does as you ask when you ask them to do it is to make sure you are an example of that, so when your spouse asks something of you, be prompt about doing it, and try to do it as well as you can. This way if your spouse fails to do something after you have asked him to a few times, you can kindly remind them that 'Honey, I really try to make sure I do what you ask of me when you ask it... I really need this to get done, could you please take care of it today?'
Another way you may have to handle the situation, particularly if its something time sensitive that your spouse HAS to be involved in, is to ask them what it is that you can do to help them get it done. My husband waited 2 years to re-register our Honda. Its been the source of many an argument and fueled quite a lot of bitterness between us. When I finally got a ticket for driving the Honda on expired plates John was then in a situation where he had to get it done and had limited time to do it. I had been refusing to help him out because its his car, his failure to register, his this, his that... so I didn't think I should have to do anything about it. But then I came to the realization that we were married and that it was our car. Yes, there were many things he should have done, and he had had plenty of time to do it, but with the present time crunch and how busy John was, he genuinely did not have the time to do all of it himself. So I asked him what I could do to help. He listed a few things and I was prompt about getting them done. The car is now registered, with John's help, and is no longer an issue or source of frustration in our marriage. And to think we could have saved ourselves 2 years of anger and annoyance if one of us had just been a little more flexible!
In conclusion, there really isn't anything you can do to MAKE your spouse do something. In fact, trying to make them do something will often backfire and damage your ability to get anything done in the future. So treat him like a person, an individual, and understand that he has things he needs to get done too. Be considerate in the way you ask him to do something, and try to be patient. Be an example of how you would like him to respond when you ask him to do something, since you cannot expect your spouse to do something you refuse to do yourself. Its a difficult business learning to live with another person, but remember, at one point you were madly in love with this man, and you can learn to love him like that again! I promise you it can be done! Treating your spouse with respect when asking them do something is just one of the many ways you can begin to reignite that tenderness you once had for one another (or keep it going). So good luck! And learn to have fun with it!