Q: My husband works hard, and I appreciate that, but he doesn’t help out at home. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted, and the situation feels unfair (to me and to the children). How can I get him to understand the importance of helping me and of spending time with the children?
A: We’ve discovered that emotional word pictures can be powerful tools for getting your message across. An emotional word picture involves using either an object or a story to express your feelings. This simultaneously activates a person’s emotions and intellect—it’s a fancy name for an analogy or parable. The key to crafting a potent word picture is identifying things your husband is interested in.
It sounds like you want to communicate several things to him: 1) the importance of helping you with housework, 2) the importance of spending time with the children, 3) that you feel the situation is “unfair,” and 4) that you feel “exhausted.”
For the sake of illustration, let’s assume that the most pressing issue is the need for him to understand the importance of helping around the house. And again, for illustration, let’s say he’s interested in fighter planes.
You could say something like this: “Managing the housework makes me feel like I’m a fighter pilot whose jet has been riddled with bullets and can barely fly. But to win the war, we really need my jet flying at full strength. When you help me with the children and the housework, I feel like you’re a dedicated ground crew, working overtime to bring me back to full strength and getting me ready to soar into battle again. It makes me feel like we’re a team and that you value me enough to help me recover from battle. I need my excellent ground crew because I can’t fight without you.”
Of course, your illustration may be different depending on your husband’s interests. It may seem far-fetched, but we’ve seen it work time and again—emotional word pictures can help get your message across!
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