Lucky Lady

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My husband loves fixing things. Whether its putting a grab bar in the
shower or cleaning the gutters he is always puttering around fixing
things. He is also a little cheap, so hates it when I suggest hiring
anyone to do anything for the house, even mowing the lawn. The
garden is my domain and I get to decide if I need help. But if it
requires any tool beyond clippers and a hose, he gets to weigh in. H
just had a very minor heart attack. I know this is a great wake up call
for us both about what we eat and how we exercise. But it also made
me realize how completely dependant I have become upon him for
even the smallest thing. If the lights went out, I don’t think I’ve even
had to find the fuse box in this house. How can I get him to educate
me without making him feel any weaker and less of man than he is
feeling now?

Lucky Lady

Dear Lucky Lady:

Rather than making him feel useless, I hope my idea empowers him.
He’s going to have to spend some of his time recuperating by sitting
more and doing less. What could be more useful than having him
convert some of the knowledge in his head into a House Handbook for
you? You can frame it as a gift, as a knowledge transfer, or as a to do
list for him when he is more active. But have him go room by room
through the house, either mentally and writing it in a file on the
computer, or by walking around talking to you while you take notes
(that he can later review and edit). In each room, and outside, have
him identify regular chores: e.g., clean sink trap, change filter, replace
ant traps, order supplies, check levels, etc. Tell him that for anything
he identifies that needs to be done to also specify how often and any
tips and tricks that make the task more likely to be successful. Those
can be anything from time of day to time of year. Imagine you were
writing the same regarding, say, care of a rose bush. Get him to share
his knowledge with that level of specificity.

Take what he does and convert it into a three ring binder, with each
room on its own page. Then take the same info and cross reference it
with a calendar, so that next January 1 you would be able to fully
complete an annual care cycle for your domain. Set some times to
review this with your husband regularly. Do this in each room at least
once, not just sitting in the kitchen nodding as he speaks. At least
once a year, update the binder. Keep a list of folks to call (e.g.
plumber, electrician) and numbers you might need in a crisis (e.g city
public works, your insurance agent). Also add in copies of warrantees,
service contracts, and dates that you purchased everything from your
frig to your hot water heater. Think like a Boy Scout and Be Prepared.