Toilet Seat

Dear Both Ends: This may sound silly, but how do I get my husband to put the toilet seat down?  And do I dare ask more?  How can I get him to place his dirty clothes in the hamper and not just thrown near the hamper?  This behavior, or lack of it, just drives me crazy.  I am not his maid.  Please help.

Ann; age 35, married, 1 son 7 years-old, school bus driver

Dr. Gomes:
I could write a lot about this, such as the symbolic meaning of common complaint (power, assertiveness, and influence), but I am sure that you just want this issue to end.  So, to change this behavior you have to apply a reward to the behavior you would like to promote and a consequence for the behavior you would like to stop.  The key is that you have to apply the hot stove technique; the consequence must be consistent, it must not be personal, it must be impactful, and it must be immediate.  Literally, think of the consequences of touching a hot stove.  You only have to touch a hot stove once to learn. 

Suggestion: For fun, read 1-2-3 Magic by Dr. Thomas Phelan ( or Assertive Discipline by Lee Canter. You will have that man of yours trained to be an adult in no time.

Larry Star: You know, Ann, not that I am pointing any fingers, but I assume you’ve been together a while.  Why did it take you this long to get pissed off about it (pardon the pun)?  No matter.  Desperate times require desperate measures.  Here’s what you do.  Take the toilet seat off the toilet.  When he has to use it and it isn’t there, tell him you have to go through that same exact thing every day when he leaves the seat up—now it’s his turn.  He’ll learn.  Same thing goes for his laundry.  Let it pile up.  When he has to wear your underwear to go to work, he’ll figure it out.  Don’t ask me how I know this.  I just do.
Suggestion: Listen to No Doubt’s, “You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks.”

From Both Ends: Dr. Gomes thinks Larry’s suggestion, although clever and funny, will lead to what will inevitably be a “pissing contest.”  A power conflict would more than likely emerge and void any positive goal.  Larry feels that using a child’s psychological tool will emasculate Ann’s husband and make him find new ways to annoy her.  However, we both agree that behavior modification is needed to teach her old dog new tricks.

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