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Who Started the Honey-do List, and Why Do I Have One???

August 21, 2013

For generations, married men have found themselves spending their Saturdays working through their list of, “Honey, do this for me” or “Honey, do that”, which is more commonly known as the ‘Honey-do’ list or the list of Honey-do’s. In the heat of the summer, I was working on item #176 of my Honey-do list (aka – wrestling apart the trampoline and hauling it to the trash), when I asked myself, “Where did this list come from? How is it that I’m wrestling a trampoline and battling heat stroke to get this thing checked off my list?” Much like trying to understand the origins of humankind and space before that, men have been grappling with these questions for as long as history itself.


The Honey-do list is a very complex document with a myriad of unspoken, unwritten rules that govern it. It’s important to know and abide by these uniform rules despite the absence of their codification. To begin, each husband must understand and properly rank the priority of the items on the list, and the ranking is dynamic, so you must know when priority changes occur. Your wife is not required to notify you of priority changes, however, it is your responsibility to adjust the list in real-time to account for these changes or ‘adjustments’ (her word not mine). If a husband fails to accurately adjust the Honey-do list in a timely manner, then know that at some level you were not listening, paying attention or unable to recall a conversation that alluded to changes in the list weeks or months ago. Also keep in mind that you will be reminded by your wife that you were notified of the change and did, in fact, hear and acknowledge the change. (I use the word ‘wife’ loosely here because during this discussion your wife is no longer your wife and becomes your roommate you are not getting along with very well.)


Do not mix the lists! I realize you have your list and she has her Honey-do list, but for the love of God do NOT merge the lists into some sort of master list where YOU have ranked the order of priority! It’s important to understand that in your wife’s mind, you do not have a list. It is non-existent. She has no concern for the items on your list. Something like fixing a broken sprinkler line because the quarter-inch pipe is gushing hundreds of gallons of water per minute near the foundation of your home three times a week and not only risks damage to your home but is costing you a small fortune in water each month. No. That can be done on your own time after her list is complete. Your best bet is to somehow convince your wife the broken pipe issue should go on the Honey-do list, and then you can accomplish this task in daylight. Otherwise, you will be doing this repair in the dark while holding a flashlight in your teeth. If you decide not to fix the pipe or somehow can’t get it on her Honey-do list, then you will undergo questioning in a couple of weeks as to why the side-yard grass is dying, her hydrangeas don’t look right and why this wasn’t addressed sooner. Remember that her list is primarily about aesthetics, and your list is about function. If it doesn’t make things looks better or help deal with something she feels is a concern, then it goes on your list. So, sell your pressing issue accordingly if you want it to move onto her list.


Enforcement of the Honey-do list is brutal. Guys have not only a limited ability to talk, but also a limited ability to listen. I believe most guys would rather be water boarded at GITMO than have their wife keep bringing up the same topic over and over and over… I know some guys believe they can ignore an item on the Honey-do list, or the whole thing all together. This will not happen. You will be subjected to increasing pain and misery until you relent. It begins with soft, gentle reminders accompanied with a, “please, Honey.” The ‘please’ is soon dropped, and the next thing you know it is a full-on, unrelenting NAG. It’s misery worse than endless water boarding. You will hear her ask, talk about, discuss, remind, revisit, readdress, ask again, bring it up again, remind  you again, talk about how nice life would be if only this one, small thing was done… etc. until you go insane. You know what I mean. It’s that female OCD, Rainman thing where they obsess and talk about something CONSTANTLY until it’s fixed or goes away. Do yourself a favor, and just work through the list.


Now, it’s not as though I’m handed a written list of items. No, it doesn’t work that way. I’m given a steady stream of verbal requests. The frequency of certain requests points me to the order of priority, but I write them down so I can keep track. This is why it is technically ‘ME’ creating ‘my list’ of things to do around the house and not my wife (because no wife wants to be known as the wife that hands her husband a list of things to get done). Then, my wife will occasionally see my list and begin to ask me about it, or turn to me and say, “Honey, will you please add ______ to your list.”


So, how did all of this start? The answer came to me when talking to my nephew who recently got engaged. He said, “…Yeah, these days not only do we talk about the wedding all the time, but the other day she gives me this list of things I need to get done before the big day.” Yes! A wedding list! That’s when it starts. The wedding! It’s brilliant! Like a frog boiling in water, you don’t even know it’s happening. You are given a list of things to do (verbal, of course), and you think it’s just this one time. You know, for the wedding. Then there is a post wedding list, a thank-you note list, a move-in list, a clean-up list, a clean-out list, a let’s organize the kitchen list… etc. And then you stop one day and wonder how long this has been going on?? For me, it’s been almost 20 years.



From → My posts...

  1. Jenni permalink

    Ha, ha, ha!!! I have the answer for you Johnny-just do like my husband who gets my request taken care of just as soon as I ask-list stays short and more easy to manage!!!

    • Shhhhhh…. We don’t need any ideas around here on how other guys do their list. Especially if it is better than me.

  2. Fellow dad of the weekend list permalink

    In the risk of turning my wife into a roomate…brilliant.

  3. Suzanne permalink

    Johnny, I really enjoyed and it reminded me that my honey does not have enough to do….add to the list….haha

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