I hear it all too often: "My husband doesn't help with chores. When I ask him to do something, it goes in one ear and out the other." Bringing out the best in your man begins by understanding the principle of Comfort vs Discomfort and using the tool of Approach and Retreat.
Living creatures prefer to be comfortable and will work hard to avoid situations where they feel uncomfortable. Translation: Men need to feel successful. When they please you, they are motivated. When they don't please you, they stop trying. A lazy man may be an unconfident man. The following advice will be counter-intuitive for most women but if you will try it, you will be pleasantly surprised.
1. Do not ask him to do anything. Chances are, he's heard you nagging him for quite some time now and tunes you out the moment he sees you coming. Even if nagging worked initially to get your man moving, it will backfire in the end. To turn this dynamic around, your husband needs to associate you with comfort, not discomfort. Smile sweetly, give him a kiss, and leave.
2. Surprise him with sweetness using approach and retreat: Bring him a glass of iced tea and leave. Bring him some chips or a sandwich, then leave. We've all heard the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and food is a surprisingly easy tool to use to create a pleasant expectation. The idea is to cause your man to look forward to your arrival without any defensiveness while you are there. Approach and retreat creates confidence. A confident man is more attentive than an unconfident one.
3. Notice what he does already and praise him for it: Remember that men are protectors and providers by nature. Your husband does things all the time that may not score points with you but are evidence of his efforts to take care of you. When you begin sharing about your day and he starts telling you what to do to "fix" things, he is trying to provide help. When he won't stop and ask for directions, he is trying to take the leadership role to take care of you. Rather than criticizing these behaviors, you must praise them. I will teach you how to fine tune his help later, but for now, whatever he naturally offers - take it and praise it. Say something nice like, "You take such good care of me." Men thrive on appreciation. Once he can be successful in making you happy, he will begin seeking more ways to do so all by himself.
4. Whatever he does, he can do no wrong: When he does do something, don't critique how he does it. Don't give directions on how to do it or point out mistakes he may have made. Men are surprisingly sensitive and vulnerable to feeling criticized. An unconfident man is an unmotivated man so it's important to build his confidence. When he is doing something for you, it is his time to shine. Don't steal his thunder by taking the lead unless you want to be the man of the house and do everything yourself. No matter how he does it simply say, "Thank you, I love it."
5. Don't be overly independent: When he offers to help you, LET HIM! When he offers to fill the gas tank for you, allow it to happen. When he offers to make dinner, don't tell him you've already started it. Slow down when approaching a doorway so he can open the door for you. If by chance he doesn't open it, don't touch it! Wait for him to do it. He will. When your man is being the man, it's important for you to be the woman. This isn't about women being inferior or less-than, quite the contrary. It's about purposely stepping back so there is room for your man to lead and take initiative.
In time, you will find your man looking for ways to please you. Out of the blue, he will offer you things and surprise you all by himself! In getting specific about the help you want, there are ways to fine tune his help by knowing the right way to ask for it.