The problem: My husband likes to “help” unload the dishwasher, but he puts everything in the wrong place. I can never find cooking utensils, wine glasses, bowls, etc., because he doesn’t put them back where they’re supposed to be.
Low road: I hate people who try to help! Seriously, I understand the temptation to complain to him about how annoying this is, because it is annoying if you need a certain pan and it’s not with the pans but, oddly, with the salad bowls. Who thinks like that?
Still, I’d advise you to resist calling him on it. First, he’ll just feel bad, and when someone’s trying to help in good faith, the last thing you should do is make him or her feel unappreciated. Second, it’s too easy for him to avoid helping with anything in the future, because he’ll be afraid to screw up. “Make the bed? Unload the groceries? Change a diaper? Not me!”
High road: Thank him for his help. Tell him how great it is to have a partner who doesn’t have to be asked to jump in. Then tell him that, if it’s not too much trouble, you do like to find all the pots together (see, they’re here) just for efficiency. And if he still doesn’t put them in the “right” place, count your blessings. He emptied the dishwasher and put everything behind cabinet doors. It will take you two minutes to rearrange to your standards. Consider yourself a dynamo tag-team couple.
Gail Rosenblum is a features columnist. Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org.