Hard to explain the question in the title, but anywho.

My husband has this tendency to do something and do it almost completely, but stop one step short, or just take a shortcut. A few examples:

  • Toilet paper roll runs out in the bathroom so he gets a new one, but instead of taking the old cardboard tube off the dispenser, he just rests the new roll on top. So then I have to go in and replace the roll properly.
  • Gets something from the pantry and pushes the door closed but doesn't click it all the way. Cat goes in and has a buffet.
  • Tea runs out, so he gets a new box from the pantry, adds the new box to the shelf, but leaves the previous empty box on the shelf.

Honestly, it's little stuff, each individual one doesn't burden me that much, but combined I find myself spending a lot of time every evening tidying things up after him.

When I see the open pantry door, I always ask him to please close it in the future (but I close it), I even taught our dog to close the door because of how old this got. Generally I try to ask him to finish up what he half-finished immediately, but it hasn't had any effect (and also sometimes I don't see him doing it) so far.

I believe he was babied by his mom his entire life (his mom is great to be fair), and he doesn't fully understand the amount of housework that is involved in a regular day.

How can I convey to him that if he just finishes the task, it would free up some of my time too? How can I bring this up without accusing him of anything and him getting defensive?

  • 1
    You say that you tell him right away to "please finish this", but: 1. do you always do it although you just told him (so to speak, just mention to him that it should be done, but do it yourself) and 2. have you already had a discussion about his behaviour, and if so, what did he answer?
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 16:22
  • @OldPadawan, I do it myself probably half the time. Mostly because it's too late (he isn't in the bathroom anymore, but I am, etc), so I tell him to do it in the future. I'm not sure how to discuss this with him because he tends to get pretty defensive and sometimes just says he'll do it "tomorrow".
    – Catsunami
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 17:24
  • I have to say I'm rather amused that you managed to teach the dog how to close a cabinet but can't teach your husband. Any chance you could use similar techniques?
    – DaveG
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 1:00
  • 5
    @DaveG my dog is easily motivated by tiny cubes of cheese. Husband... not so much as it turns out. Plus he just opens the fridge and takes the cheese he wants. Sigh.
    – Catsunami
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 3:50

1 Answer 1


My partner does the tea box and toilet paper tricks but also spread the newspaper sections over half of the apartment and (my "favourite" one) leave their key in the lock after they arrived at home so I can't open it from outside when I arrive later.

I tried quite a few things leading to this defensive behavior that you know too well too. Direct communication seemed not to lead to the desired results so I started taking actions. This is so far what works best for us:

Make it bother him more than you
The common point of all these little things is: it just isn't where/like it should be. So put it somewhere else where it shouldn't be either so that it bothers him now. The point is to make him get that everything has its place and there is one place for everything.

Empty toilet roll
I put it on my partner's desk. Sometimes there were three or four of them up there! It took its time but I didn't need this trick again for probably a year now. If your husband doesn't have a desk, put it in his bag for example.
I actually use the desk trick for anything lying at the wrong place. On bad days the desk will be covered with clothes, newspapers and empty toilet paper rolls. At the end of the day, the desk is clean and everything is at the right place.

Empty tea box
Bring it to the pantry where the full ones usually stand. After some time, there will be so many of them, he will only get empty boxes and no tea.

Newspapers all over the place
If not to the good old desk then straight to the paper bin. Easily visible to make it (and the message) easier to find.

Locked door
As an example of failed direct communication, I got accused of "doing it too" and "not being better". So I taped a sheet of paper on the door. We write down the date on which one locks the other one out. Current score: 6 to 0 for me. Didn't get any accusation since I introduced it and the lock out rate went down from one every other week to once every other month.

(Please no too hasty) Conclusion
So, I'm not saying this will necessarily be the right thing for you to do but my partner apparently prefers to see their own mess rather to have it told to them, even if it is calmly and friendly. So I'm ready to go somewhat out of my way for our relationship (and my sanity)!


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