Do Not Display Competence

Remember our Crappy Couch?

Well, I got a couch cover for my birthday! Yay!

The couch cover sat there leaning up against the crappy couch for a day. Then another day. Then two weeks went by.


In the lifetime of our couch, we’ve removed the covers (to wash them) twice. It took both of us and all our patience and strength to do it.

I knew I needed Crappy Husband’s help. This was a two-person job.

But time kept on flying by and there never seemed to be a moment when we were both available.

So one day, I took off one of the seat covers and opened the new cover box and found this:


Seriously. WTF?

But since the old cushion cover was already off I might as well put the new one on. I’m certainly not going to put the old one back on.


And after a mighty struggle using every one of my limbs and my teeth at one point (for the zipper) I did it!

Crappy Husband walked in then:


And I realized I had made a huge, huge mistake.

I had displayed competence.


I did it all by myself. Without him. This means that I am able to do it all by myself. Without him.

Which means he will probably never, ever help me change the damn cushion covers again for the rest of our lives.

We’ve joked about this “displaying competence” phenomenon for years and it goes both ways.

Just recently Crappy Husband said, “Oh no, I’ve displayed competence!” after he gave Crappy Dog a bath all by himself. Now that he has asserted himself as dog washing pro, why would he need me to help? Right? Right.

Crappy Marriage Advice: Do NOT display competence on joint projects or you’ll be on your own next time.



Marriage: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures (THE BOOK) comes out December 30th, 2014! This story isn’t in it. The stories in it are better! While the deadline for pre-ordering and getting a signed bookplate by Christmas/Hanukkah is over, you CAN still pre-order and get a signed bookplate. It just won’t arrive before the holidays. It will arrive when it feels like it. (Actually, I don’t know when they’ll be shipping them, probably not until January? I’ll try to find out. Those of you who have already pre-ordered, thank you so much!)


#1. Preorder today through December 29, 2014 from the following OR from where ever you can find the book for sale!! These are only suggestions. (logos will take you right to the book)

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bam     Indigo

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#2. Then fill out this form.

Offer valid for US & Canada addresses (excl. Quebec). (I still love you, Quebec and the rest of the world, not my rules, sorry.) Limited quantities. 

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67 Responses to Do Not Display Competence

  1. Carrie says:

    We do this same exact thing and joke about it too! It’s like you’re in my head, woman!

  2. Sara says:

    I stupidly took all the trash bins to the curb a few months ago and it was formerly my hubby’s job. Damn it! LOL, it’s true!

  3. Candace says:

    Heh, I love this! Best crappy advice ever!

  4. Jenn says:

    It’s funny cuz it’s true.
    I am just too darn competent.

  5. Tina says:

    Changing sofa cushions is the absolute worst thing ever, it really is a multiple person job. We avoid doing it for as long as possible but woot for getting a nice clean couch! Did you fix the broken leg too?

  6. Jennifer says:

    Or, as we joke at our house, the opposite of this: do a crappy enough job the first time, and you’ll never be asked to do it again. See? It’s a corollary. 🙂

  7. Jill says:

    I always get slammed with this, always impatient and do stuff myslef without help, so then he is less likely to help next time. It’s so true!

  8. Kali says:

    Here, here. Yesterday, I displayed competence in washing and vacuuming the car after my hus put it off for a month and now I see that is all part of his evil plan. Damn it!

  9. Kelly says:

    Due to an argument at my house over how to fold a fitted sheet…guess who fold ALL of the sheets now? Not me!!!

    • Jill says:

      Wait, you actually know how to fold a fitted sheet. Damn girl, you’re good!

    • Delora says:

      My partner doesn’t like how I fold shirts, so he gets to fold them himself. The only laundry I fold belongs to the 4yo (who doesn’t care what his shirts look like).

  10. Jen H says:

    It does absolutely go both ways. But I distinctly remember my grandmother telling me, “Don’t ever let him know that you know how to run that lawnmower! You have enough jobs to do all by yourself INSIDE the house.”

    • Angela says:

      Oh I love this that your grandmother gave you this advice, it’s been true for generations!

    • Mel says:

      I can’t start a lawn mower, when the grass gets so long I can’t stand it anymore (like now), I ask my husband to start it for me, and he usually says ‘why don’t you just ask me to do it?’ And I say ‘I’ve been asking for two weeks’ ‘no you haven’t, I haven’t heard you ask once. I’ll do it when I get back from taking the kid wherever’ and then he doesn’t do it. Think I’ll go get the mower out and put it in front of the door so he trips over it on his way in

  11. Angela says:

    LOL, it’s so accurate and we joke about this too and it defineatly goes both ways for us!

  12. Rachel says:

    Is it an ikea couch? Those slip covers have nearly killed me in the struggle of changing( falling down etc.) but new covers go on easier than washed ones, thus explaining your new found strength.

    • amber says:

      It is indeed!

      • Danielle says:

        tip for next time, now that you have no choice but to do it yourself, put the covers on while they’re still damp. The fabric stretches better that way. I had that damn couch and now have no couch and I’d choose that over and over again to keep from having to put those covers on again. I’ll sit on the floor thank you!

        • nbaxter says:

          We have a sale last of line, leather couch , best buy ever and no cover and wipes clean(nearly) and especially good for baby trow up , toilet training disaters spills etc…
          mind you the sofa bed is fabric only 1 year old and thru the wars even with throw…LEATHER

  13. Karen says:

    Best marriage advice ever! Whatever you do, don’t let your husband know that you can shovel the driveway. Ask me how I know this.

  14. Mhays says:

    My teen loves this cartoon over at the Oatmeal (some NSFW language)

    Now, whenever he tries to pull this on me, I say “No Oatmeal Dishwasher technique allowed!”

  15. Mike says:

    I’m fairly certain you are not supposed to be sharing these top secret marriage tricks. My ruse has been uncovered.

  16. Han says:

    LOL, yes! Don’t ever display competence!

  17. Brit says:

    Love this! I was a nanny prior to becoming a mom. When our daughter recently had a blowout diaper my husband said he WOULD change it but I’ve had so much more practice as a professional nanny. His argument was “Babe, you don’t throw PeeWee players into the NFL!” He is refusing to display competence for sure! 😉

    • Mel says:

      Neither of us would admit that we smelled a dirty nappy, in hopes that the other would smell it ‘first’ and have to change it. Guess who always gave in?

      • Lisa says:

        We had the opposite rule… Whoever finds it gets to pass the diaper duty over to the other person. We were jumping off the couch at the first sign or whiff just to avoid having to change it, lol!

  18. Linnea says:

    I read the words in the first picture as “NEW LOVER” and thought ummm… interesting marriage advice… HA!

  19. CSmith says:

    Ha, how true! It goes for the kids too, I recently overheard one daughter tell another that she had organized our bookcases very neatly, the older sister advised, ” better mess em’ up or Mom will make you do it all the time”.

  20. Kathryn Hellewell says:

    I pretended for years that I didn’t know how to put the car seat in. One day it was needs must and I was busted!

    • Lisa says:

      You should have installed it right, accomplished your errand, then adjusted the install to be totally wrong when home and asked hi. To check it 😉

  21. Mum Mum says:

    My husband will always try to do something for 30 seconds and then say ‘I tried but it’s stuck/broken’ and then disappear while I ‘fix’ it. When he finally reemerges from computer land he ALWAYS looks surprised and asks me how I did it.
    Umm… I spent the five minutes that the job needed to do it properly…

  22. Viking momma says:

    My husband can fold intricate origami animals from memory, sometimes while doing other tasks (such as driving). Yet he cannot figure out how to fold a bath towel. I don’t buy it, but I’m still stuck folding all the towels.

    • Sam says:

      haha I just wish my bf would STOP folding the towels. That way at least I wouldn’t have to unfold them before I fold them “correctly.” lol

  23. jacqui says:

    In our house we have a term for an equal and opposite occurrence that happens regularly…I call it feigned incompetence. My husband will perform a menial task so terribly that I never ask him to do it again. Find something in the pantry…can’t do it…feigned incompetence…style the girl’s hair…terrible…feigned incompetence…pack lunches…worst lunches ever! He is a delightful, intelligent and competent man until asked to do something he’d rather not!

  24. erica says:

    ha! we do this too, but in our house we call it ‘job for life’ as in, wow you did in awesome job cleaning the filters! [That’s your] Job for life!’

  25. Frances says:

    The answer is smooth leather couches with no cloth or suede. They are kid, cat, dog, husband-proof. You just wipe them off. Condition once a year.

  26. Betsy says:

    On the bright side, you TOTALLY got all your exercise for the day.

  27. Lisa says:

    I saw a YouTube trick with plastic and a vacuum cleaner to shrink the cushions down that I’ve been meaning to try next time I need to do this.

  28. rita says:

    Wait, wasn’t the cover YOUR birthday present? You should have insisted that installation come with it. For life 🙂

  29. My husband came up behind me and was reading over my shoulder. We reached the end and I said, “That reminds me – could you put the doona cover on?”

    Because in our house, I might be the one who notices when the baby vomit on our bed has reached a certain quantity, and I’m definitely the one who deals with stripping the bed and putting everything in the wash, then putting the new sheet and pillow covers on – but the doona is his. Always has been, always will be. Mostly because I had cocktails combined with “marital tasks challenge” for my hen’s night and got genuinely tangled inside a double doona cover and a little freaked out by the whole thing.

    Um. . . what were we talking about?

    Felicity Banks

  30. Robonanny says:

    It doesn’t work like that here. I was a single mum doing everything on my own when we met… So he knows I can manage without him (and even admits I’m the better driver). This scares him, so there are a number of jobs he does just to make sure I _want_ him to stick around.

  31. Kelly says:

    This is how I ended up as the sole cat-box cleaner at our house. Competence.

  32. Jen says:

    This is why I don’t take the garbage out. Ever.

  33. Jessica says:

    I guess I’ve been showing too much competence for the past ten years. I have to start showing incompetence…

  34. I pre-ordered your book this week…. this is me smiling 🙂

    As for showing competence. .. my husband is now the official tun cleaner. He does such a better job than I do. He claims it’s because I scare him… hey… whatever works! (I’m not really that scary 😉 )

  35. shelley says:

    fyi, if you should ever perhaps (kids) need to wash said covers, air dry them and put them back on just barely damp, they are much more stretchy then, than if you let them dry fully

  36. mb says:

    My mom always joked about this! When they got married, my dad was always the one to make scrambled eggs. I have no idea why, but that was his thing. One time, my dad was sick and wanted to eat eggs, so my mom made him some. My dad was shocked and said “I had no idea you knew how to make scrambled eggs!” (because, obviously, scrambled eggs is pretty much rocket science)

    He rarely ever made them again.

  37. Erinn says:

    May I add that this also applies to pre schoolers.

    I laughed when you posted this blog because it is SO true. Then, today, my daughter was getting into the car. She always asks me to get the middle buckle part out from under her butt before she sits down. Today she was so excited to open some crap I picked up from her at the Dollar Spot at Target, that she did it by herself. “Oh, you displayed competence, I thought…”

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  39. Margaret says:

    When it comes to building sauder furniture, I assert my competence and only ask for help if I need another pair of arms for some reason. Joint projects like that only end up in hurt feelings and incorrectly-assembled furniture 😛

  40. cecile says:

    Ah ah, we had it the other way around… We met when I was 33, always lived alone, and I was very proud I could assemble any Ikea stuff all by myself. Way less when we moved in the house we bought together, in a foreign country ( we are French and live in Netherlands), which meant lollige of new furniture from Ikea…. I was wondering how to make him forget my Ikea competence while, pregnant, I was putting together an armchair. When I was done I realized i forgotbthr liner and had to do it all over again, which never ever happened to me and left mr crying for half hour.
    Guess who’s the ikea master since then ? Not me 🙂

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  42. Jen says:

    That was marriage advice from my grandmommy, re: the lawnmower: Never let them see you know how to work that thing, or it’s all over.