Men, you are not imagining the annoyance and disdain that spreads over your wife's beautiful visage like a wet Swiffer over hardwood when you take it easy in your favorite armchair. Today I will explain for you why seeing you sit down and play video games, play on your phone, or stare into space is so enraging for the woman you married, even though she used to bring you sandwiches while you played Xbox back when she still gave you BJ's.
1. If you're sitting down, who's taking care of the household?
A huge complaint I get in couples counseling is "My husband just sits around and does nothing" (and the counterpoint, "My wife hates when I relax and needs to control every second of my time"). This is because men and women have opposing ideas about household management. They can be summed up in this sentence: Women think household management is infinite. Men don't.
I just turned to my husband and asked, "What could you be doing right now?" And he said, "I don't know, what could I be doing right now?" (Note: this is a good response and one which indicates that he heard the edge of potential hysteria in my voice.) But the point is, here is what I think of: do the laundry, clean ANYTHING, supervise the kids, organize ANYTHING, write a grocery list, start on the lunches for tomorrow, clip the hedges, make the kids a snack.... and that's just what I could type in real time as the thoughts went through my head. When you sit down, the potential for you helping with those things decreases dramatically, at least without your wife feeling like a nag or a bother.
2. Sitting down and lazing around is so... passive.
Women hate passive. It has to do with our evolutionary imperative to be with someone who can hunt and fish or whatever. It's certainly not sexy. So, even if your wife was in the mood to have sex because she just had that dream about the high school quarterback in her old high school or what have you, seeing you sitting down doing nothing is going to snuff out that flicker of sexual energy like a Dyson snuffs out dirt. Conclusion: in addition to sitting being bad for your health, it's also bad for your sex life.
3. If you're sitting, it's likely you're not open to hanging out.
You're on your phone checking the scores (that's a phrase people use, right? I've never done it in my life), and you may think you'd be totally open to a conversation. But when your wife sees you engaged in another activity, she feels shut out. This is actually really common in couples counseling; the husband says, "But if you wanted to talk so badly, why didn't you just come over?" And the wife says, "I was staring at you but you never looked up from your phone." And in the cases where the wife does directly communicate, often the husband will say, "One second," which may mean one second, but turns his wife off entirely, making her feel rejected (as rejected as men feel when rejected for sex), and she leaves the room and seethes.
4. You're not in shape, and when you lay or sit around for extended periods, you can no longer keep up the farce that you're trying to be.
If your wife just got back from her yoga class (where, ironically, mindfulness and living in the present are emphasized; oh, well), and you're on the couch, unless you just sat down after a run, she is thinking: "Well, at least he's not also eating Doritos. Oh for God's sake, there's the bag next to him. Does he wonder why his BMI is higher than our credit rating?" Again, sex drive, meet toilet.
5. You aren't joining her in her life activities.
This is perhaps the most important one. If your wife, who is assuredly more anxiety-prone than you if this dynamic applies, is always up and moving, and you're usually stationary, you aren't joining her, and she feels alone and lonely. Think about getting up and doing whatever she's doing as empathy, but expressed physically. You may think she's overly Type A, but here is a little known phenonemon (just kidding, I told it to you in 7 Reasons Your Wife is So Stressed Out All The Time): if you act like she's correct, and there are things to be done, and there is a need to hurry and do things, then your wife will experience a linear decline in her own sense of urgency about these matters. All it takes is your empathy, manifested as standing near her and asking what you could do to help, or offering to join in whatever activity she is doing.
This article is not meant to suggest that women shouldn't learn to be more laid back and accepting, but rather to delineate why exactly they may be acting so seemingly insane about you just sitting there. Forward to your partner and see if this can start a conversation! And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist That Says "How Can I Help?" Is A Sexy Phrase.
This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Pre-order her book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family.
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