Dear Will:

My husband, Mark, is a great guy. He is a stay at home dad with his own business. I love Mark dearly, but he is tearing my house apart! You see, many years ago he took a plumbing class and an electrical class for a job he hated. Well, now he thinks he still has “it” and can fix things around the house. The problem is, he can’t. Will, he can’t! I laugh, but it really isn’t funny coming home to one of Mark’s “projects” that he starts with earnest and then gets side-tracked or worse, overwhelmed.

Recently my beloved husband tried to install a shower head but got the wrong something or other and now we are down to baths. Baths, Will! I even gave him the okay for the project because it seemed simple enough.

How can I tell him he is no Mr. Fix-It without undermining him or hurting his feelings?

Shower-less in Springfield



Hey SIS,

I get to laugh at this because I’m pretty handy, so it cracks me up when the “un-handy” men try to do-it-themselves. I remember once, the wife of a neighbor came to me in a panic because her husband was trying to install a ceiling fan in his hallway. By the time I got to his house he’d finished… kind of. When he pulled the chain for the switch, the fan didn’t work at all, but the light did come on… in his bedroom!

Seriously though, home improvements, even small ones, can be very dangerous if the do-it-yourselfer doesn’t have a clue. Even a tiny leak from a pipe that eventually finds its way down a wall, through a floor, and into an electrical fixture can cause a fire or a bad shock. I’d say you need to have a real heart-to-heart with Tim-The-Tool-Man and maybe try a few of these ideas too.

GET A D-I-Y GUIDEBOOK.. FOR YOU! I’m not saying you should strap on a tool belt, but if you buy a book that shows how to fix things step-by-step, it will help you gauge which jobs Mark can handle (like fixing a drywall hole) and which jobs should be left to the pros (things that involve running wire, running water or more than ten steps). It may also help you see when things have gone off track. Example: “Honey, this book doesn’t show the basement filling up with water…”

GET HELP:  If you know a guy who is actually handy, have him “stop by for a beer” on the days your Mr. Fix-It is up to his old tricks. This one should be a last resort as it could backfire. If your husband sees through the plan, it may leave him feeling humiliated and make him feel that he has to prove himself with an even bigger job in the future, but better that you have to apologize for worrying too much than him apologizing for setting the kitchen on fire.

GET FRANK: Hey, no one is good at everything. I’m probably the polar opposite of your husband: while I’m great with a screwdriver, I’d probably suck at running my own business. So if I were putting my home in danger financially, I’d want my wife to tell me so. Tell you’re hubby that he’s a great dad and a good business man, but you’re worried that he’s going to hurt himself or cause a dangerous condition in your home that could potentially hurt you or the children. He’s a man, so this might sting his pride a little, but husbanding and daddy-ing take precedence over hurt feelings: he’ll get the message, put down the hammer and pick up the yellow pages.

The idea that a man has to be handy is like the idea that a woman has to be a good cook: it’s an out-dated cliché with very long arms and a strong grip, but as more mothers enter the workforce and more dads stay home, clichés like this one are losing ground fast and good riddance. Tell your husband that if you wanted to be married to a plumber, you would be, then tell him drop his tool belt and come take a hot bath with you, if the tub still works! Good luck to both of you!

William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing. Follow him on Twitter @goodenoughguy1.