Man wants wife’s help around home

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -

I am 57 years old. My wife and I have been mar­ried for 20 years, and we don’t have kids. My wife al­ways had nieces and neph­ews to oc­cupy her time and now spends time with their chil­dren. I was self-em­ployed and re­cently got a lu­cra­tive hourly po­si­tion that takes a lot of my time, even more with forced over­time and travel back and forth.

I have al­ways been swamped with projects, both manda­tory house main­te­nance and up­dat­ing and for­ward-look­ing projects on my prop­er­ties and a hobby car. Lately, I have been re­flect­ing on my life and where I’m at. I can­not find a sin­gle in­stance of a project in which my wife did any­thing to ben­e­fit the house. I can un­der­stand not help­ing on my other prop­er­ties, but the house where we both live? Yes, she takes care of the laun­dry, cooks din­ner and mows the lawn, al­beit with a push mower that takes her five times as long as the rid­ing mower would.

I have done re­mod­el­ing and left the de­bris ly­ing out just to see how long she would step over it be­fore sweep­ing up. In one case, it lay there for a cou­ple of months. It was her lit­tle niece who fi­nally no­ticed it and im­me­di­ately grabbed a broom.

Do I bring this part­ner along with me into re­tire­ment to en­joy the fruits of my la­bor? Yes, I’ve snapped at her be­fore. I’ve told her that a sand­wich at noon, at least, would be nice.

You’ve snapped, but have you tried speak­ing? It’s pos­si­ble that your wife has no idea how pro­foundly this is both­er­ing you; she may even think you like do­ing home im­prove­ment projects. The only way to know is to talk about it. I get the im­pres­sion that you see your home as an ex­ten­sion of your re­la­tion­ship.

Ex­plain that to her, and tell her how when she ne­glects projects and doesn’t pitch in, it feels as if she just doesn’t care. Give her the chance to step up and show that she cares.

Keep in mind that you can de­velop a pe­cu­liar type of far­sight­ed­ness after liv­ing with some­one for a long time. You have 20/20 vi­sion when see­ing that per­son’s flaws but blind­ness when it comes to your own. So have some more com­pas­sion, and rec­og­nize the things your wife does do for the house. Step away from the tally board while you try re­ally work­ing this out.

Here is an ad­di­tional re­sponse to “Sick­ened,” the man who be­came dis­tant with his wife after find­ing out about re­la­tion­ships she had be­fore they met: The great­est dis­ser­vice in your unlov­ing at­ti­tude to your wife may have been to your son. You wasted a lot of years in which you could have been his great­est role model for his mar­riage. In­stead, he learned from you how to be dis­tant and un­faith­ful to one’s mar­riage vows. How very sad. It may not be too late. That’s up to you.

I was so fo­cused on how he had ne­glected his mar­riage that I didn’t think to ad­dress the way this surely im­pacted his son. I agree with your sug­ges­tion and en­cour­age “Sick­ened” to make this right. Thank you.

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