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Schlubby Hubby

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 1/15/2003

I love my husband dearly, but I swear he must be the laziest man alive. In three years of marriage he has not washed one dish, and the effort I put into getting him to do the smallest household chores exhausts me. It's always easier for me to do it myself than to try to get him off his butt. The lawn went unmowed so long I had to hire a neighborhood kid to take care of it. To be fair, he has a good job and brings home a nice paycheck, but I work, too, and I feel like taking care of the house is my second job--unpaid of course--and I want him to start sharing the shitwork, so to speak. We're both getting really tired of my nagging. Any suggestions?

Want to Stop Whining

Dear WTSW
No kidding. There may be nothing more futile or frustrating in the world than trying to get someone to do something he (or she) just does not want to do. You might as well be trying to work off those holiday-gained pounds by sleeping an extra hour each night.

I'm tempted to tell you to stop doing the work if you resent it so much and see how long it takes for hubby to give in and start cleaning, but that kind of passive/aggressive behavior rarely works. And instead of just being pissed off you'd be dirty and pissed off, so I won't recommend it. Giving yourself an ulcer isn't going to help, either, so you need to resign yourself to the fact that he's not gonna change and deal with the situation as it is, not as you want it to be. But hubby-poo is gonna have to realize that housework has value, and if he's not willing to do it himself, he'll have to start paying for the privilege of having it done for him.

You've already made a start by hiring someone to do the lawn. There's no good reason why your husband has to physically do it himself as long as it gets done. And why not hire someone to clean the house for you once a week, too? There is no reason why you need to be a martyr to your dirty kitchen and bathroom. Drop your laundry at a fluff 'n' fold. Buy a dishwasher. You're still probably going to get stuck with the everyday picking up around the house, because you obviously care more, but that's just an added reason to insist that hubby picks up the tab for the extra services you won't be performing any more.

Our neighbor, who has been my good friend for years, was recently divorced. While he was married, he and his wife spent a lot of time with my wife and I, and now that he's single, he's spending even more time with us. The problem is that he's also coming over a lot when I'm at work and my wife is home alone. The first couple of times it was fine--I figured he was just lonely and wanted someone to talk to--but it's happening more and more often and it's starting to make me very uncomfortable. Am I crazy? My wife always tells me about his visits, and I want to trust them, but it just doesn't feel right to me. I hate being jealous, and I'm perfectly happy to have him spend time with both of us together, but how can I tell him (or should I tell her?) that I'm unhappy with these private visits without sounding like I'm accusing them of something?

Just a Little Worried

Dear JALW:
You're not crazy. Even if it starts out as innocently as the casual exchange of recipes and stock tips, when a man and a woman start spending a lot of time alone together, it's all too easy for some kind of intimacy, emotional or physical, to develop. It isn't that it's inevitable; it's just that hormones and pheromones are bratty little buggers who can't always be counted on to play fair.

You're smart to tread tactfully here, though. Not only could there be absolutely nothing improper going on, but you want to prevent something from happening, not put ideas in their heads. At the same time, it's well within the bounds of acceptable marital communication to tell your wife exactly what you told me--that having your buddy come around when you're not home makes you uneasy and you would prefer that he wait until he can visit with you both. This is not an accusation; it's a simple statement of fact. You could tell him the same thing, but I strongly suggest you tell them separately. It would be less embarrassing for everyone and prevent them from feeling compelled to present a united front to protest their innocence, which could create an awkward you vs. them situation. You also want to avoid any ultimatums, as they have a nasty way of backfiring.

The best outcome to this, of course, would be for each of them to say something like, "Hey, I never knew it bothered you. Of course it won't happen again," and with luck, that's what you'll get. If, however, they decide that their desire to spend time alone together outweighs their desire to accommodate your feelings, you'll be dealing with a much more serious issue.

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