To Do: Make To-Do List for Husband

This is my friend Nancy:

And this is her husband Eric:

Nancy is leaving Eric in a few days to attend a 9-week yoga teacher training in San Diego. How are they dealing with their impending separation? Like any type-A New York couple, they’re making to-do lists. Actually, Nancy is making most of the to-do lists (Eric is not type-A), including the one below, which is a list of things she thinks Eric should do while she’s away. Nancy hopes that Eric will not only stay busy while she’s gone, but will also use the opportunity to improve himself, just like she’ll be improving herself by bending her body into a pretzel for 12 hours a day in a hot tent (did I mention she’s training to be a Bikram yoga teacher?)

Here’s the list Nancy showed me.
It’s titled, Eric’s List during Bikram Training:
–Walk the dog(s) + beach time & other stuff with pooches.
–Do yoga.
–Hang with friend’s new baby.
–Play ping pong with Mickey.
–Continuing ed class, he wants to do math, algebra, trig, calculus and statistic (it’s his fantasy)
–Journal and write essays to send to different mags, papers, journals on adult ed., education, literacy, the prison population, the criminal justice system, minorities, etc.
–Go fishing with Nick.
–Go watch flicks at film forum, ifc, anthology and other alt movie places. he likes that.
–Plan our pacific coast trip from l.a. to san fran when i’m done with training.
–Whatever it is besides a hooker or a mistress he should not stay at WORK LATE.

Did I mention Nancy is one of the busiest people I know? When she’s not sweating in a 105-degree room, she’s baking bread, drawing (those are her illustrations above, and here is her website, where you can see more of her incredible work), upholstering, knitting, organizing the apartment, managing issues for her coop board, planning dinner parties or walking her dog Nina.

Eric does a lot, too, but no one could hope to ever do as much as Nancy. So I’ll be curious to see if Eric ticks off anything on Nancy’s list, or whether he’ll be happy to spend those nine weeks working late.

But the whole thing did get me thinking of the urge to improve our spouses. I’ve often thought how Nivi really should call up his friend Dennis and play tennis like they’re always saying they will. He should read more fiction and surf the Internet less. I just know he’d enjoy taking long walks on the weekend with me, and how can I get him to start participating in local politics (he’s so passionate about the issues!)?

Do men make these mental lists for their wives, too? Or is it one of those gender differences that make evolutionary biologists piss their pants?

Posted in free time

7 Responses to To Do: Make To-Do List for Husband

  1. Erin says:

    Imagining the above scenario with gender roles reversed for the original power couple, John and Abigail Adams. Thinking Abigail may very well have shredded that list and made her own: “write to John from time to time to encourage him and keep him apprised of the daily goings-on”.

  2. Travis Wiebe says:

    “Hang with friend’s new baby.”

    And… I’m done looking at the list. Seriously. If my wife made a list for me like that, I’d smile. And then tell her to stop now and prepare to be disappointed. I’d also remind her that I would never give her homework and want to know what makes her think she should give it to me.

    I’m going with this being a gender difference. But it might just be a crazy person difference. And I don’t think I’m taking this the wrong way.

    • Jen says:

      I tend to agree with you. I’ve made to-do lists for my husband before (and really they are more like household lists) but they’ve never included things like this. They are usually just little chores that he would know he’s responsible for but might forget about for a while, or might forget to do before some kind of deadline. And I’d speak to him about it before putting it down on a list, e.g., to see if it’s something he’s willing to do himself or if we should hire someone to do it for us. This list sounds a little nutty. But I don’t know, if it works for them, to each his own…

    • Alice says:

      Yeah, but she made the list because she was worried he’d be lonely and bored while she was away. So she put things he’d like on it – I don’t think playing ping pong and fishing are homework, exactly!

  3. Dave Tufte says:

    My experience has been that women are much more defensive about the lists that men make, so men give up making them.

    I think men view receiving a list like a gift: not necessarily something you’ll want or use, but generally thoughtful and positively intended. Women seem to view getting a list like receiving a vacuum cleaner as a gift.

  4. Nancy Nutty says:

    I’ll cop to the fact that I may look nutty making a list like this for my husband but in my defense I made the list with my husband, half-jokingly and on a long car trip where we both knew that with me gone and the house a little emptier he would be tempted to stay at work until midnight. The idea of this made us both pretty depressed and this was my ‘nutty’ solution. But, yeah, still type-A and nutty. I don’t give a fart.

  5. Denise says:

    Every relationship has its quirks, and I know Nancy and Eric—and their quirks— well.

    This list is Nancy working out her anxiety over leaving for nine weeks. Some of the points would probably make Eric laugh, because he understands her enough to know that she is not trying to control him.

    (Though I think I would tell my husband to mind his own beeswax if I got a list of suggestions from him.)

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