Monday, December 26, 2016

The art of the noodge...

HALLIE EPHRON: 'Tis the season for all of us to feel stressed out. The other morning my husband started to leave for work and turned back. Rubbed his jaw. "You know, I'm so busy I think I forgot to shave."

We're all SO BUSY THAT... 

When he got home from work that night he "forgot" to hang up his coat and left it hanging on the doorknob to the closet. Not a big deal, I know. BUT IF WE ALL LEFT OUR COATS... the nagging voice in my head went off when I saw it still there the next morning.  My martyr self considered hanging it up for him. My nasty self considered flinging it into his favorite chair where he reads his morning paper.

My craftier side prevailed, and I sidled up to him in the kitchen when he was making coffee, rubbed his back and cooed, "Darling, when you’re living alone, I give you permission to leave your coat wherever you like…" He laughed: the preferred response. And eventually hung up the damned coat.

When we had our babies I learned to say, "Darling, would you like to change this diaper or should I?" And "Did you mean to leave yesterday's newspapers on the floor, dear?"

Have you developed the art of the noodge? Please, share your secrets. Because at this time of year we all need a little help.

LUCY BURDETTE: While he was making coffee Hallie? I happen to know he's not a morning person, so you had the edge going in LOL.

My best tip is giving the person in question a choice: "Sweetheart, would you rather empty the cat's litter box or finish the dishes?" And sometimes he even chooses the litter box!

Or here's another one...instead of saying something like "Put the damn xxx away" we now say "How would you like to put the damn xxx away?" Sometimes it helps because at least the other person knows we're TRYING.

HALLIE: That choice thing used to work with my kids ("Would you like to take your bath now or in ten minutes?") Not so much with my husband.

RHYS BOWEN: When John first retired he decided to take over the grocery shopping. He'd drive from store to store, getting the "bargains" of the day. He'd come home, spread everything on the kitchen table and say "Guess how much." I'd do a quick guess and think "$55". But I'd say "Seventy five dollars."

"Wrong!" he'd say with delight. "Only fifty-five."

And I'd say "You are such an amazing shopper!"

And he's done the grocery shopping ever since.
But it doesn't work with hanging up his clothes, alas.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I never noodge. Not ever. Not me, nohow.


Let's just say someone leaves their dish on the table.  I say: Your dish is still on the table, sweetheart.

Let's just say someone puts their dish in the sink. I THINK: Hey, buddy, there are only two of us in this house, and if YOU don't put your dish in the dishwasher, who do you think is gonna do it?  But I don't say that.  I SAY: I'll put your dish in the dishwasher, okay?

Here's the key:
The next time, if that person puts his dish in the dishwater, I say: Wow, thank you, honey! SO great of you to put your dish in in the dishwasher. I LOVE when you do that!

(The key here is that it has to be sincere. Not sarcastic.)

This truly works. Positive reinforcement.

Once a person emptied the dishwasher, unbidden.
I went crazy with delight. "wow wow wow, this is SO great! Thank you!"
Now a person does that all the time . And I am honestly thrilled. It's the best thing. So he is happy and I am happy.

Still, I have not succeeded at convincing someone not to cut in line in the exit lane on the highway. I have tried saying "so happy you didn't cut in! Thank you!" when he doesn't, but so far, that's a work in progress.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Flattery will get you everywhere in my house.  Well, almost. I haven't figured out how to make that extend to cooking, even after twenty-something years. Sigh. But Hank is so right. Positive reinforcement is positively magical. And one of my little resolutions is to say "thank you" more often.

HALLIE: Flattery, positive reinforcement, the sweet question you know the answer to...

What are your tips for getting what you want without pissing off the people you love?


  1. Well, neither one of us has ever managed to figure out this whole art of noodging thing . . . .
    If I ask my sweetheart for something, it usually gets done and he never complains about pushing the vacuum around on occasion or having to stop whatever he’s doing to open a jar or a can. And he’s always around to cut up the onions.
    Most of the time he washes the dishes, even if the kitchen looks like it barely survived World War III.
    So I’m good with putting his plate in the dishwasher if he leaves it in the sink; he’s probably the one who will be taking it out of the dishwasher and putting it away. And he’s a really nice guy to have around, so I guess we’re good with missing out on the noodging . . . .

  2. Laughter really is key, Hallie, as is tolerance. I am just so grateful not to be with my ex-husband that I forgive a lot from the current model, who I've been with for fourteen years now. He does all the kitty litter, and all the dishes by hand. If I pluck a dish from the drainer and it's not quite clean, I just slide it into the dishwasher and we're both happy. But he's taught me how to tease, which is one way of noodging around to the truth with laughter.

  3. Joan, he sounds perfectly lovely. And Edith too! I think we are all lucky that way and need to remember it:)

  4. I stuck with the one I started out with, and what I've learned is to pick my battles and not sweat the small stuff. (And always, always speak in cliches.)

  5. This started me thinking about what Jonathan does to get me to do what he wants me to do. I can't think of anything. Does that mean there isn't anything, or that I just don't realize it? Or! That I never do anything wrong :-)?

  6. I'm not good with noodging gently. I've found a more direct approach works. I post a list of the week's chores with the heading: 'These are the chores I need help with this week.' I don't tell the guys when or how to do them--they cross them off as chores get done and I thank them profusely and sincerely.

  7. It's a work in progress, even after 38 years together (our 35th anniversary is coming up in March).

    My friend Karen's mother was the queen of the non-noodge. She wanted a hole dug in the backyard, but after repeated requests there was still no hole. She she made a big production out of choosing a big tablespoon out of the drawer, and then marching outside, kneeling down, and starting to spoon dirt into a pile. Karen's dad's curiosity was aroused, so he finally went out to ask her what on earth she was doing. KM: I'm digging that hole. KD: That's no way to dig a hole. Get up; I'll get the shovel.

    The required hole appeared within a couple of hours.

  8. My family is not the "noodging" kind. Nope, no siree. Direct and to the point.

    "Please put your dishes in the dishwasher."

    "Please hang up your coat."

    "Please put your shoes away."

    No suggestions, no choices. Because all off often teens choose NOT to do the thing I'm talking about.

    The key is to say "please," at least the first time. The fourth time it's "hang up your d@$% coat!"

  9. According to the hubby, I noodge, and I'm also direct. I think as I've gotten older, I've gained more clarity about what's important to me, which leads me to be more direct. Luckily, we have the same approach to most things and the same threshold for organization, cleanliness, etc. I can't imagine being married to someone really messy or disorganized. That would make me insane!

  10. Being the one who is retired and having the luxury of reading all day or bingeing on Where The Heart is, I don't noodge. Not much. BUT, someone tell me WTF if she can get the glass as far as the sink WTF she can't open the dishwasher? Huh? Huh? Huh?

    So I've been know to ask if she is finished with the glass, plate, whatever.

    It never works.

    And I got a new cashmere sweater for Christmas so I'm pretty well off.

    Happy Boxing Day everyone.

  11. Wow, this is an education! We use the praise method in our house. Seems to work, mostly. When it doesn't well, what the heck. As Hallie says, pick your battles!

  12. Flora, I think the list of chores would work well in our house, too. I'm going to try that.

    I'm so thankful to have a new beautiful dishwasher (doing third load now from yesterday's kitchen carnage--oh, I mean festivities, oops... It took my hubby three major plumbing jobs and carpentry to get the thing in, but he did, and before Christmas.

    You can bet I'm telling him multiples times a day what a great job he did!

    1. This is the reason we use none of the inherited good china. Gold rims can't go in the dishwasher. Or can they? Have a delicate cycle. Anyone?

  13. I tend to go to sarcasm with my noodging, and often with a story twist. Such as, when husband doesn't at least empty the cereal from his bowl and rinse it out before putting it in sink (took a while to get to sink stage), I say something like, "You know, I was reading an article the other day about a couple who had differences of opinions about how to handle dirty dishes, and, well, the argument was resolved when the woman took the knife still smeared with peanut butter and stabbed her husband." I know, I've read way too many mystery/crime novels to go with my sarcastic bend, so it's kind of your Reds' fault that my husband sleeps with one eye open. Hahaha! Actually, we did have a conversation when he first came in for Christmas holidays (reminder that my husband lives in Kansas most of the time for his job now) about handling dirty dishes so that his time here during the holidays would go smoother for both of us and I wouldn't have to keep nagging.

    Oh, and here's an interesting bit. Last Friday night, I fixed a meatloaf, which I thought was exceptionally tasty, and husband wasn't saying anything, but eating it quite steadily. I asked him if he liked it, and he said that it was good. The next night, Christmas Eve, he fixed a chicken dish, and son and I complimented husband on it, but he kept asking if we didn't think it was really good. Son got the irony of it.

  14. Karen, the shovel story is great. Very Tom Sawyer-esque.

    And I do think the praise method works. But again, as I said, it has to be sincere.
    And please and thank you. Makes such a difference.

  15. Kathy, I'm sympathetic... the whole reason I'm such a good cook is that my husband is such a great (vocal!) appreciator of good food.

  16. I used to thank my husband for stuff he did all the time. He'd get grumpy about it. "Why are you thanking me? It's what I'm supposed to do." And I'd explain, sweetly and lovingly, that I was thanking him because I saw and appreciated his efforts. If I just assumed he was "supposed" to do something, but never acknowledged his effort, he'd start to feel invisible and unappreciated. The same went for me and the things I did around the house. After about the first year we were thanking each other for all sorts of stuff, often with appreciative hugs and kisses. Not long after that, friends started remarking on what a happy couple we always seemed to be. It worked really well for us.