My husband buys an average of nine magazines per month, subscribes to three daily newspapers, and owns about five million books. He has a strong emotional attachment to everything he has read or plans to read. This means that recycling is only an option when no one can find the dog and we suspect she is pinned beneath a pile of New Yorker magazines.
While all this paper makes my husband an uber-interesting person, the amount of it in my life drives me past the point of sanity. Miss a couple weeks of recycling and our house becomes not only a disaster zone, but also a serious fire hazard. No one is allowed to smoke in our house -- ever.
For years I tried every strategy to keep my husband on a reasonable recycling routine.
Hysteria: "This visual noise is making me crazy. I will end up in an insane asylym and it will be 100 per cent your fault."
Guilt: "I spent like five hours today planning dinner, shopping for dinner, making dinner, and cleaning up after yesterday's dinner. Do you think you could spend like 20 minutes recycling?"
More guilt: "Do I ask for much? No. Unlike other wives, I hardly ever ask for anything. Is this really too much to ask?"
Threats: "You have till Sunday at 5 pm. After that who knows what a crazy woman with a lighter will do."
Tears: "I don't know what I've done to deserve this, but maybe I was Joan Crawford in a previous life."
Then I started to read men's magazines (probably the only type of magazine my husband doesn't buy). While women are reading articles about how to lose 15 pounds, make our butts look smaller, and find the perfect shoes, men are reading about sex: how to get more sex, how to have better sex, how to have more sustained sex.
Suddenly, the solution became crystal clear.
If I wanted my husband to address the paper issue, I had to speak his language.
About five months ago on a Saturday afternoon, he finally decided to sort through the avalanche of papers littering our main floor. Normally, I would say something bitchy like, "Well, it's about time and don't forget to get the papers out of the basement too." This time, I tried a different tactic.
"Oh. My. God. Did you just do what I think you just did? Holy moly, did you just take those papers to places I only imagined in my dreams? Are you really putting them in the recycling bin? You know how hot you look right now, right? Your big muscular arms wrapped around that very big pile of papers? No, don't say anything. Just let me watch you walk over to that big old recycling bin. No, no, that's too fast. Can you take it slower, just for a sec? Let me catch my breath here. Oh, oh...okay, continue -- yes, YES, YES that's the spot. Oh, my, you've already gone so deep... how much deeper can you possibly go? Oh lord, I think that recycling bin is like about to explode now. Deeper. More paper. Is it hot in here?"
Is my husband's recycling routine perfect now? I won't lie, it is not. But he has gone from a D- to a solid B in a relatively short time.
Men are such simple creatures. Why did it take me so long to figure this out?