I’ll answer this AS the self-centered person who got help from my spouse recently.
One day, my wife told me something that was so simple, yet profound.
“Spend five minutes on it. Then, you can quit.”
This one act gave me the push I needed to actually accomplish something I was about to give up on. Something so small, it’s laughable.
In the process of moving out of our condo into a new house, we started taking pictures and stuff off of our fridge.
I had put a sticker on the fridge back in 2010 because who puts stickers on a fridge? Apparently 26 year old me. Well, after removing the sticker, it left this awful sticky residue, which I should have expected. But I didn’t because I thought I had pressed it on “lightly.”
Already, my wife was shaking her head, and rightfully so.
Since we were planning to rent out the condo, we obviously had to get rid of the sticky residue on the fridge. So, I made a half-assed attempt to get the residue off. After about 30 seconds, I said, “This isn’t working. It’s taking too much time. I’m going to hire someone to do it.”
My wife looked at me in disbelief.
Now that I look back on it, I can’t blame her. I actually said those words and meant it. I was prepared to pay someone money to remove sticky residue from our fridge.
She told me, “No. Spend five minutes on it. Then, you can quit.”
After grumbling for a minute, I agreed and got to work.
Minute 1: I Googled “remove sticky residue from fridge.”
Google told me to put some oil on it. Any kind of oil.
I applied some coconut oil, then tried rubbing it off again with a towel. It got a little better, but the residue was still there.
Minute 2: I started scratching at it with my fingernail.
There was a big patch where the sticker had been, about 4×4 inches. But the small parts I scratched came off slowly. I started with one corner, then began to work my way around.
It got a little better.
Minute 3 :I applied more coconut oil.
This seemed to loosen the residue some more.
Minute 4: I scratched some more.
Gradually, I worked my way around the entire square of residue.
This whole time, my wife was sitting there on the couch timing me.
She kept saying, “2 minutes left.” Then, “1 minute left. You’re doing great!”
Minute 5: After I had loosened almost all of the residue with oil and scratching, 95% of it had come off.
I wiped away the remaining residue with a towel.
After I had put a good five minutes of effort in, the residue was virtually gone. I stared at the fridge in disbelief.
I was ready to throw in the towel (literally) after 30 seconds. And there was my wife, who saw through my ridiculousness and told me to quit being a bitch and spend at least five minutes doing my best at this simple task.
The funny part about this is she later told me that she treated me like the high school students she teaches.
In fact, she may have used this exact tactic on them.
I guess the point of the story is this:
- Sometimes, I act like an entitled teenager. We all do.
- You can accomplish a lot more than you think in five minutes if you put your mind to it. After that, you’re free to quit. But put in five minutes first. You might just get the job done.
- If your spouse is acting like an entitled teenager, tell them to put in five minutes of real work and be genuinely encouraging. If they are able to put their ego aside, they will appreciate you and love you more for it.
- My wife truly makes me a better person and I am thankful for her.
First published on Quora.
Featured image by Alex Holyoake.