Buried deep in the fine print of every wedding vow is a clause that legally enables the creation of what is commonly known as the “Honey-Do” list. For those not familiar with it (read: all unmarried men), the “Honey-Do” list is a compilation of tasks, chores, repairs, and improvements that wives would like their husbands to accomplish.
It usually germinates from a single, innocuous request placed upon the husband early in the marriage, which, in his desire to please his new bride, he nobly accepts as his duty. The problem is that once started, the “Honey-Do” list cannot be killed, and from that initial tiny mustard seed of a request will sprout a monster as thorny and unstoppable as an over-fertilized Bouganvilla bush.
In my early married years I did my best to try and accomplish the items that were on the list, however, I soon found that for every item I was able to scratch off as complete, two more were instantly added. My feverish attempts to make any headway against this list eventually became all consuming, until one night my little daughter asked me a question which made me realize that I would need to take a completely different approach in order to conquer it:
“Daddy, what are those white things poking through your fingers?”
“Those are daddy’s bones, sweetheart.”
The dilemma was a tricky one though, for just as you can never complete the “Honey-Do” list, neither can you ignore it (to do so will alternately whip your wife into an uncontrolled fury or send her crashing to the floor in a fit of tears depending on what day of the week it is).
The solution, I have to admit, came about quite by accident during a period of time where – although I was trying – I was unable to finish anything on the list for several weeks. What I discovered is that once the list grew to a certain point, Catherine stopped adding things to it. Whether this was out of compassion for my weary soul or contempt at my incompetence I have no idea, but the fact remained that it did not grow beyond a certain size. And this is where my genius kicked in.
You see, the trick to dealing with the “Honey-Do” list is not to actually get things done, but to pretend that you’re getting things done. Let me show you what I mean.
Every Saturday morning when Catherine asks me what I’m going to be doing that day, I grab the “Honey-Do” list off the fridge, give it a very serious look, and say “I think I’m gonna try and knock some of these out.” What happens next depends on what she does.
If she stays around the house, I’ll make tracks outside and hang out somewhere for awhile, usually with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. After a few hours, I’ll spritz myself down with water to make it look like I’m sweating, cross off the first 5 or 6 things on the list, and then proudly show it to Catherine so she can see that I scribbled through some of the tasks. She’ll give me a big smile because she thinks I actually did something, at which point I’ll go upstairs and pretend I’m taking a shower while I rewrite the list in the bathroom and put the things that I had crossed off back on at the bottom of the new list. To her, it appears that I’m making headway, but since the list never actually gets any smaller she won’t add anything more to it.
And bada-boom, bada-bing, just like that I post it back on the fridge and I’m off the hook for another week.
Sometimes - as a cool variation - I’ll head off in the car on Saturday morning to get some “supplies” that I need to “complete” something on the list. After fishing down at the lake for a few hours (it’s actually better if you don’t catch anything because then you don’t have to try and come up with an explanation for where you got the fish; that can be tricky) I’ll come home, tell her that I drove around to several stores but couldn’t find what I needed, and then go upstairs and take a nap (I’ve gone to great pains over the years to make sure Catherine knows that operating a motor vehicle really wears me out).
It’s even easier if Catherine goes out on Saturday morning instead of sticking around the house. If she does that, I just park it on the couch and watch TV for a few hours. When she comes home, I hold up the list, tell her I just got out of the shower, give her my best “I’m exhausted” look, and then try not to smile as she tells me to just lie down and take it easy for the rest of the day.
No matter how it plays out, she’s happy, and that makes me happy, so even if it may sound like I’m being a little devious, to me, the end absolutely justifies the means. When all is said and done, a happy wife makes for a happy home. And if a happy wife feels the need to head off to the kitchen to cook up a great big dinner for her hardworking man, well, that ain’t all bad either.