I worked my butt off the other day, rearranging the entire living room all by myself.  I dragged our 100″+ couch into it’s new spot.  I moved our beloved Bo to a prime window spot with a great view of the TV.  I turned the rug to align with the angle of the couch.

When my husband got home, he didn’t say anything.  So much for a good surprise.

So, I asked, “What do you think? It feels more open right?!”

He said, “I think it looks fine.”  He might have even thrown in a “we’ll see how it works.”

I was screaming inside my head.

He might as well have said, “I don’t know, I don’t care, and why’d you even do it anyway?”

Untitled design-39

Ugh.  Why does he have to process his opinion for so long?!  Days, people.  It was days later when he mentioned liking Bo’s new spot.  I suspected he liked the switch since he has parked his butt in that chair every evening…seriously, no Bo for me anymore after 6pm.

But, why doesn’t he say it?  Why can’t he tell me right away whether or not he likes it?  You do or you don’t right?

It makes me feel like he doesn’t appreciate the work.  That he doesn’t trust the thought I put into the new layout.  That he’d rather have it some other way, but I would never know because he doesn’t say anything.

The reality is HE DOESN’T KNOW.  He wasn’t there, so he doesn’t know that I moved the couch into the perfect spot only to realize I needed to move it back to roll out the rug and then move it again.  He doesn’t know I moved it all around with our 4-year old playing in the middle of the room.  He doesn’t know that I have thought about, dreamt and planned this switcheroo in my head for months.

I perfected the new layout, which would open up the view out the windows, finally make a proper space for the keyboard, and stop everyone from squeezing around the couch in the 1ft opening that was never supposed to be a walkway.

He never said how he might like the living room re-arranged, because I never told him I was thinking of doing it.

WHAT HE WAS REALLY SAYING (by not saying anything at all) is that he wasn’t expecting a change.  And when you aren’t expecting a change, you can’t readily evaluate it or accept it.  You need time to process.

So, it’s all my fault.  No, really.

When I decorate, I plan in my head for a while before implementing, which prepares me for the change.  When I actually make the change, I am already comfortable with it.

But the people around me are thrust into change.  They haven’t been prepared.  So when I eagerly ask, “what do you think?”, they’re not ready to answer yet.  They are still adjusting.

I should prepare them better.  Talk about it, share pictures, and tell them when I plan to do it. I should build it up, get their opinions and buy-in, and maybe even their help (what an idea!).

Duh!  You have to prepare people for change.  It helps when they know it is coming.  I know this all too well from my corporate days in a company that went through almost constant restructuring and downsizing.  Although the leaders in the organization know well in advance, the most accepted changes by an organization as a whole (both people being let go and those staying behind) are well-communicated and the people are prepared for the change.

It’s kind of the same in our homes.  Imagine you’re the CEO of your home (that has a nice ring to it) concocting all these plans to make changes in this room and that, without telling anybody else.  Then, one day you spring it on them.

Your husband walks into a dark room and bangs his shin on a chair that didn’t used to be there.  Suddenly, and somewhat understandably, he’s not comfortable with the change.  He’d rather just put it back the way it was.

How to Get Him to Care or At Least Take Notice

The next time your planning a big change, instead of surprising him (and everyone else in the house) and hoping he will love it as much as you, consider letting him in on the big secret.

Give him an opportunity to…

  • Process the change before it happens
  • Voice an opinion or share another idea
  • Be a part of the change, not to have the change done to them

In return, he…

  • Will be more open to the change
  • Know it is coming
  • Accept and respond to the change faster once it happens

Because we all want him to immediately blurt out, “It looks amazing. Why didn’t we do this sooner?” Followed immediately by, “you’re so good at this honey!”

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27 Responses to The Real Reason He Doesn’t Seem to Care

  1. elsa says:

    I like the idea of this post a lot… but not all men “don’t care”! And it isn’t always a “he” who is shocked by the change! My husband and I both take a lot of pride in making our house suit our style and we both catch each other off guard with these changes. I am being overly sensitive but this totally rubbed me wrong…

    • Jackie says:

      Elsa, I understand your point, which is way the title says, “he doesn’t SEEM to care”. My husband is very involved in iur home too, but I have noticed when I spring changes on him, I don’t always get the reaction I want. And, yes, it goes both way and is important for everyone to be prepared for changes.

    • Kelly says:

      I understand your point because I feel the same way. But for a slightly different reason. I’m sure a lot of men (and people in general) are like this, but not everyone. I’m not going to pretend my boyfriend is perfect in all areas, but he’s pretty detail oriented with this kind of stuff and quick to notice a difference without my pointing it out and arrives at judgments about this quickly. Not saying he is better, just different.

      I guess my rambling point is to say…I would venture a lot of people fall not this camp, but some of the verbiage in the post made it seem like it was talking about all men or only men, which I’m not sure is accurate.

      • Jackie says:

        Kelly, I am just sharing my experience with my husband (who I completely know does not represent all men) and what I learned from it, in hopes to help the percentage of people that have the same experience. I am not stereotyping men. I am giving advice on something to try, if your hubby or partner happens to be similar to mine. And the moral of the story about preparing people around you for change is universal and extends way beyond decorating.

  2. This is great, Jackie! I don’t ever think about what my husband is going to say, because his answer is always the same, “That’s interesting.” And then a few days later, he loves it. Always. So, unless I know that I’m going to need his help with something, I don’t ever give him time to buy in.

    Maybe I should! But, letting his buy in gives him the chance to say no before we get to the part where he realizes that I knew what I was doing. :)

    • Jackie says:

      Lindsay, I can totally see that. Buy in is important, but sometimes it is tricky if they can’t see your vision. My hubby and I have an agreement that he won’t say no to things he can’t picture (he’ll trust me), but he can say no to anything that he doesn’t like or won’t work. I have really honed my convincing skills :)

  3. jessvii says:

    After photos please?? :)

  4. Amber says:

    This is very eye-opening for me, as I usually am “him.” My partner will rearrange furniture and he’ll ask me do you notice anything different and then it’s instant-trying to figure out what’s new. And sometimes I just say ‘Wow, it looks really good babe.’
    Thank you for this post, because even though he doesn’t have to fight a little one to rearrange furniture, he does probably have to clean and continuously move pieces for awhile.

    • Jackie says:

      Amber, Thanks for sharing. It doesn’t matter what side you are on in this situation, it can be so helpful to consider the other person’s point of view. So interesting that sometimes you just give a default answer…I might have to watch my hubby for that :) I think that’s what it means when he says, “It’s nice.” That’s his I’m-still-processing answer.

  5. ananda says:

    hi jackie! i found your blog through our remodelahilic contributor group. i LOVE your blog! =)
    i think a part of this is that ‘men are from mars, women are from venus’! so i never ask hubby ‘what do ya think?’, i just ask ‘ isn’t this awesome?’ ‘omg don’t you love this thing i just made! ?’, and the answer is always ‘YES!!!’ =)

  6. Erin says:

    Something I had to drag my husband into, but that has helped immensely, is creating a “whole house bucket list” for our house.

    We used to argue about whether it was time to replace appliances or re-do the driveway. Get new living room furniture or a new TV. It always seemed like “his” stuff was pitted against “my” stuff. It was ridiculous to fight about it in an otherwise strong marriage!

    So, I forced him to sit down one night and we listed out every little last thing we both wanted to do to the house. No judging, no arguing, just plop it all down on paper. Then we assigned an order to the items. We alternated between “his” stuff and “my” stuff. We didn’t assign a timeline to the items, just an order. We would knock each item off the list as we had the funds to do so.

    Now there are no more arguments. Last summer we redid our garage floor and the driveway. That was “his” stuff, but I didn’t complain, because that what’s was next on the list. And I could see that next up was landscaping and appliances, which were things I wanted.

    My husband is an analytical type. Advance notice and transparency are all it takes to get him on board with most things. I have to give him a couple months’ warning if I am going to repaint a room or do a project that will have some element of inconvenience to it. Then remind him once a week until I’m ready to do the project. By then he’s had time to get used to the idea, and things go smoother.

    Do I like having to lay things out a couple months in advance? No! When I see something I want to do, I want to do it that night. But, I don’t have to argue or listen to whining if I bide my time. That’s worth a lot to me.

    As usual, your advice is spot-on, Jackie!

    • Jackie says:

      Erin, I love that. It is so important to be on the same page about home projects. My hubby and I do something similar with budgeting for the big stuff. It’s the little free switcheroos where I tend to do it without involving him and I want to get better about that.

  7. Celia says:

    I learned early on that my husband does not like change, even if it’s something small, like rearranging dishes on our baker’s rack. So when I wanted to rearrange our bedroom I drew a picture of what I wanted and showed it to him, explained why I wanted to move stuff, then tossed out a “want to help me rearrange tonight?”, fully expecting him to hate the idea. But he said yes! Apparently talking it over and pointing out the logic of my idea won him over and he helped without any complaint. So I definitely agree with your post and now I try to include him if it’s a big change (and I need his help to move large furniture). The small stuff though…I’m hoping he just gets used to it :-)

    • Jackie says:

      Celia, Thanks for sharing your story. My number one tip for decorating as a couple is to make the conversation visual. I love hearing how this story of sharing a picture helped you agree and move forward.

  8. Diana says:

    Great post, Jackie. I think this applies to a lot of things in life where I brew about them in my head for a long time and then when I pull the trigger, it’s a shock to people(husband, kids, what have you) because it’s brand new to them. And your living spAce is definitely a place where that can cause problems as it effects the feel of the home and subsequently the whole family. Great advice.

    And I want to see “after ” pics, too! Messy and all!:)

  9. Lisa says:

    I’ve definitely sprung big changes on my hubby only to find that he was lukewarm on my idea. Sometimes I don’t want his input because it will change my vision, but I realize that I’m not the only one living in our home. At one time I didn’t think he cared what our house looks like, but he actually does want to give some input on the things that matter to him. I think it’s hard to give up creative control when decorating is your passion.

    • Jackie says:

      Lisa, It is definitely a balancing act, because you don’t want to feel like you are watering down a great idea. But the greatest ideas will be the ones you both love. Maybe you could come to an agreement on the types of things he wants input in. Like my hubby could careless what fabric I pick for pillows on the sofa, but if I am painting the walls he wants input. I have also learned to be prepared with an answer to “why?” I am prepared when I share an idea to explain why I think it would look good or work better for us or why I recommend a certain color. In many cases, I find my hubby wants assurance I have thought it through…so sharing the why isn’t as much about convincing him, as it is about demonstrating I have thought the change through.

  10. Susan W. says:

    This cracked me up! And hits close to home. My husband is incredibly resistant to change of any kind, so I always ask his opinion even though I already know what he’s going to say (“What’s wrong with it the way it is?”) or (“I never ask you which brand of sparkplugs to put in the car, do I?”) It’s so much like giving young kids a 5 and 3 minute warning (“We’re going to leave in 5 minutes…”) to help ease the transition. If he likes it, I’ll never hear a word. If he doesn’t like it, he’ll rearrange it back the way it was while I’m not watching. Ah, communication.

    • Jackie says:

      Susan, Love the analogy of giving kids a 5-minute warning. We are just trying to avoid a different type of tantrum :)

    • Jackie says:

      Back again…I get his point, but spark plugs are different. They don’t affect how you look and feel in a car…they just make it work. That is a better comparison to replacing a lightbulb.

      You might do well to start out the conversation about your ideas with a little smoothing over :) For example, “I know you want more space to work on blah, blah, blah, and I thought if we put a larger table in the middle of the room instead of a desk up against the wall…” It’s like telling him what’s in it for him.

  11. Great post, Jackie! I appreciate how you brought your corporate background into it, too. I also use tactics I learned through work regarding change management.

    My husband and I just bought our first house and I’ve learned a lot of your points the hard way. When he deploys and we don’t have contact I sorta have free reign but I try to keep his preferences and tastes in mind as much as possible. He’s very practical and I’m more aesthetic so I try to incorporate function in as much as possible.

  12. Gwen says:

    I had to giggle!! And as we are doing this laundry room project that’s been in my head and he even HELPED me pick out the copper wire and screws so he was on the “in” I sweetly said, Oh honey. These aren’t done. Remember? Blank stare. The screws? Nothing. Copper wire? Remember? Blank faced he said, Could you bring me up to speed on this again.
    For its been on MY mind for weeks, consumed my visual mind, I’ve debated if its a dumb idea, went back and forth in my mind if this was just too dumb–and truthfully he’s had huge huge projects and deadlines….and so do you see? Even discussing–nightly–my plan–and chatting excitedly over copper wire and screws in the hardware store–it’s not the same thing!!!!
    And so I have to laugh that it kinda happens –but we are detail oriented. I’d notice changes on your mantel…some people just kinda need a nudge to notice? Remember the plan?!!

  13. Tiffany says:

    I LOVE this post! What a beautiful piece of insight to take into our lives. I think this is a really awesome little set of instructions you have laid out for a lot of situations we find ourselves in. I know sometimes I even do this to myself, ha…Make a quick change and then wonder why I am feeling weird about it all. I didn’t give myself enough time to process it! Genius!

    • Jackie says:

      Tiffany, Thank you. What a greta insight you added…it is so true that we can sometimes shock ourselves if we make changes too fast.

  14. Anne-Marie says:

    The things I tend to obsess about, and want my family’s validation for, are things they don’t tend to notice in the first place. Thanks for the insights in your post – if things are that important to me, and I want validation for the changes, maybe I should give them at least a heads up that I am thinking about a change. Maybe they can at least feign excitement which I can then translate into validation…

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