Dear Rachel,

I do everything around the house. It feels unfair. No matter how many times I ask my husband to help out, he doesn’t, and then I am left to do it. For example, after Shabbat I asked him to take out the trash. Half an hour later, I gently reminded him. No use. It was still there in the morning, so I took it on my way out. Help!

Need More Help

Dear Need More Help,

The best way to get more help is to stop being so helpful. You took out the trash in the end. That showed your husband that if he doesn’t rise to the occasion, you will. It confirmed what he picked up in the first place—that there is no space for him in this equation. There is your desire, the trash going out. And the way you want it done, within a specific time frame.

Chassidic teachings explain that the masculine mode represents the mashpia, the “giver.” A man is intrinsically motivated when he feels the opportunity to give and be received. On the flip side, men remain inactive until they feel responsible for the job. When a man feels the sole weight of the responsibility, the “hero gene” kicks in. Nagging and gently reminding lets him know that you are carrying the energy or the weight and they don’t need to. Reminders translate as: You are in charge, and they need to follow orders.

You may be feeling frustrated reading this, stewing over “but I did allow him the opportunity to give.” But think about it, when a man is given a command, there are two options: comply or don’t. There is no room for him to be a giver.

To empower your husband to enter giver mode, I recommend expressing a pure desire. A pure desire doesn’t include the “how” of things; it focuses on the inner delight behind the desire, for example, that spacious feeling you have when there is no trash around. (In the 10 sefirot, “crown” or keter, the deepest part of our soul is connected with “pleasure,” taanug. A pure desire puts us in touch with our crown consciousness, which is feminine and queen-like. We say in Eishet Chayil, a woman is the crown of her husband. Through being in her crown, a woman creates her husband's will, in a beautiful, organic, non-manipulative way.)

A pure desire has no expectations or emotional upset attached. As I express a pure desire, I allow myself to feel the joy of that desire. I am already experiencing the reality I am describing.

What also makes it pure is that there is no “me” in it. I am open to the endless possibilities of how G‑d can make my desire happen. I am open to receiving and not concerned about what form it comes in.

The reason I want to leave the “how” up to my husband is because a man is empowered to make things happen when his logic and way of thinking is trusted. If we tell our husband how to do things, there is just an order to be followed or not.

Letting go of the “how” is scary. But learning to do so is unbelievably rewarding.

When a woman lets go of control over how things will look or happen, she is stepping into a receiving mode. When a giver feels that there is someone to give to, he is encouraged. When a man feels that the way he gives may be rejected or corrected, it doesn’t feel safe to give. Letting go of the “how” means you are ready to receive, unattached to how it looks.

Experiment with letting go of the expectations of how and when it needs to happen. Ponder what that control is costing you.

When you let go of the “how,” he may let the garbage pile up on the porch or outside for the neighbors to smell for a few days. But then he will take it out. And you can praise him for it and feel the delight of having things done for you. When he feels your genuine appreciation and lack of control, he will feel excited to have such a surefire way to delight you. He will see it as not another thing he isn’t doing right or is being told how to do, but an opportunity to make you happy.

You can apply this principle to other areas of your life; it’s a harmless example to try as a friendly experiment and see what happens.

Now, you may be thinking that it is annoying that you need to do so much inner work to create an environment where your husband wants to take out the garbage. I get that. You may be feeling, it is so basic, he should just do it! But the facts are wishing the issue away and a mentality of he “should just do it” hasn’t worked. There are a lot of areas in life that we wish things came easier. We have a choice of how to view these areas.

We can view these challenges as an invitation to connect deeper with G‑d and our spouse. Instead of being annoyed, we can take it as an invitation to deepen our relationship with ourselves and others. We can find G‑d in the challenges of life and realize that this is for my benefit, for my personal growth. It is my opportunity to allow my inner dignity to shine and light up my home.

I’ll share with you a funny story. We were out of dish soap—a necessary ingredient to keep the home running smoothly. My husband had always been the one to refill it since we got married. I noticed it was getting low and wanted to express a desire for more. But I realized that it wasn’t a pure desire; it was me not trusting him. If I were to remind him, then it would become a team exercise; I was involving myself. That’s not what I wanted; I wanted it to remain solely on his paper, something he takes responsibility for in every aspect.

Every time I did dishes and saw it getting lower, I reminded myself that my husband had always taken care of me. I didn’t ration it and make it last to the last drop. I just enjoyed trusting. Finally, on empty, on the way home from yoga, I stopped in the store to get soap, knowing I had dishes waiting. I stared at the dish soap aisle with my options before me. Then I said, “I trust my husband; he takes great care of me.” If I want to be the one who buys it I can do that. But I’d rather have dirty dishes and a husband who buys the dish soap when he sees fit.

I came home and almost cried, and then I did a happy dance to my husband’s surprise and amusement. A new bottle of sparkling soap was on the counter.