If your husband disappears into the bathroom for what seems like an unnaturally long time, leaving you to deal with your kids, your dog, and dinner all alone, it may be time to figure out how to talk to your husband about his hour-long poops. And also maybe make him a doctor appointment, because we all know it doesn't take that long to poop.
I can definitely go down a rabbit hole and get sucked into my smartphone while I'm on the toilet, but I'm also acutely aware of everything else that needs my attention while I'm taking care of business, so prolonging that process is stressful for me. My husband, not so much. And for some reason, my kids think it's super fun to bang on the door while I'm pooping, but tend to leave their dad completely alone. Unfair? Yes, but try as I might, I can't change them. What I can do, however, is talk to my husband about his bathroom habits.
Although one mom's admission that she turns off the wifi when her husband hides from baby duty in the bathroom has gone viral as a way to deter this unwanted behavior, experts advise against this. "My first tip would be for the wife to not turn off wifi (because that will cause a totally new argument!) but to take a second before reacting and think about if there are reasons he may be hiding in the bathroom," relationship expert Tiffany Lee tells Romper.
Lee suggests asking yourself questions about the potential reasons your hubby might be hiding out. "Is work stressful? Are the kids not behaving? Does he just need 20 minutes alone (like we all do)? Try to think about what is the underlying cause of the extra time in the bathroom," Lee says. "In my world, we call this having emotional intelligence. Being able to take a second, put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and think before you react."
After considering the why, having an honest conversation is in order. "The key here is to use 'I' statements, lead with feelings, and be sure to connect the behavior to a potential loss of goodwill and relationship harmony. This way he is not writing it off as nagging or general frustration or exhaustion. You are clearly letting him know that this will not be in his best interest in the long run either," psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman tells Romper.
Unfortunately, this means you shouldn't just call out his endless Instagram scrolling and tell him to knock it off. "If he has always been someone who likes to read and use his phone while on the throne, gently but firmly remind him that he is now sharing space, household responsibilities, and/or parenting tasks and you two will need to work together on a schedule that meets everyone’s needs," Coleman suggests.
Relationship coach Babita Spinelli tells Romper that in addition to using "I" statements, having empathy can help keep this touchy topic from going off the rails. "A wife would speak to her husband with empathy," Spinelli says. "Expressing she understands he may lose track of time, but feels she is losing time to spend with him/time she would love to connect or time she needs his help."
Spinelli also suggests that humor can be utilized as a way to approach this often taboo topic. Additionally, facing the fact that everybody poops might just be the first step in getting comfortable talking about the increasingly long time your hubby is taking on the toilet. In fact, couples who talk openly and honestly about their bowel movements are said to be happier, according to a report HuffPost. But there are ways to make the conversation a little less awkward, experts say.
Lee recommends not having the conversation when either of you is frustrated, having the conversation side-by-side such as when walking together, and not starting the conversation with the word "why." Lee says, "When we start a question with 'why,' people tend to automatically get defensive and tune you out. Instead ask 'what' or 'how' questions." Some examples of how you could start the conversation, per Lee, include: “Hey honey is everything OK? What is making you spend so much time in the bathroom” or “How can we work together so that we both have some alone time and you don’t have to hide in the bathroom?"
Ultimately, no matter what your husband's reason for spending so much time in the bathroom is, you have to talk it out and find solutions that work for you both. Having this conversation may not be easy or comfortable, but it is necessary for your relationship — and your sanity.
Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, internationally known psychotherapist, relationship coach, and founder of Consum-mate
Tiffany Lee, relationship expert
Babita Spinelli, LP, relationship coach