Taking it Back to Kindergarten.

Well that’s it, I’ve done it!  I’ve repaired my husband, relieved his fear and helped him to become whole again.  For so long he had been suffering, it must have been horrible to be afraid of the dishwasher.  It can be such a wildly intimidating mechanism… so loud and wet…  It took a lot of patient trial and error so I am hoping to spread the cure for anyone else whose husband may be affected with similar problems.  Dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, even Windex can have a similar reaction – men can be terrified of them all.

I first noticed the phobia of the dishwasher growing when I came to realize I was the only one using the dishwasher.  There were even times when I loaded the washer and my poor husband walked up quivering behind me to put the dish in the empty sink. I knew this was getting serious.

At first I was in a panic, I wanted to react strongly, draw attention to it and snap him out of it.  This men would refer to as “nagging”, in truth it’s the term men use to maintain masculinity in the face of fear.  Pointing it out, demonstrating how to safely operate it, and trying to reason about even allocation of household responsibilities all proved unsuccessful.  In turn, this even made him withdraw further.

After this failure I attempted to ignore the fear hoping he would work it out in his own manly way.  What I found was that there is no manly method for improving something if there is no pressure or motivation.  My silence indicated approval and therefore no need to change.  My husband would still be content keeping his safe distance from the dishwasher had I not realized a third method and the cure to this clean kitchen ailment.

I’ve coined this treatment The Kindergarten Teacher…  The name says it all, we resorted to elementary school interactions and it’s guaranteed to be effective.  There were several ways to maintain light pressure and gentle motivation to coax my fearful husband back to his big boy pants.  The first rule of thumb was to keep the kindergarten teacher in mind, just think sweet and nurturing.  It was important to lay on the compliments thick, boost his confidence back up beginning with anything I could find that he was doing right. “Thank you so much for putting the milk back in the fridge,” “Yay, you brushed your teeth twice today,” “I really appreciate you driving, I don’t know how I would get around without you.”  You get the idea, ANYTHING.  The next phase was to utilize the examples around him, I staged my toddler to help me to load and unload the dishwasher when he would be able to see.  He could see our baby had no fear so he could have no fear.

The final step was to make suggestive statements and allow him to interpret his behavior as his own idea.  In kindergarten tone, “Oh my, I am so tired I think I will leave the dishes for tomorrow.”  This I’ve said in a variety of ways with no effect, it takes frequent repetition and creativity.  With his new found confidence and the fear being alleviated by watching how it can safely be done, one day I went to bed with the sweet hum of the dishwasher and I didn’t start it!

Success at last.  My husband loaded the dishwasher twice in 2 weeks now, which is the best record in the last two years.  I am committed to maintaining the kindergarten teacher method in preparation for a possible relapse.  I also set a goal of getting him to try an unload sometime in the next month, please if you see him, this is all top secret information.


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