Ask Miss Nora
Dear Miss Nora:
I'm nothing more than an unpaid servant to my husband. We are both retired and in good health. We have a lot in common but for some reason my husband has decided that I am still the only one who knows how to sort laundry, cook meals and clean the entire house! When I ask for his help he begrudgingly carries out whatever task I've asked him to perform and then sulks for the rest of the day.
I admit, I'm not the tidiest of people. I'm not fanatical and I am quite happy to let a few things slip. But I draw the line at being the only one to do anything!
How can I get my husband to share in the chores without having to put up with his moodiness for the rest of the day? — In Domestic Despair in Virginia
I think this is the single most common complaint I'm asked to mediate – and my reply is just as common. Stop! Stop doing anything for your lazy mate and let him take care of himself. Do your own laundry, cooking, dishes, bedmaking ... etc., etc.
You say you're not fanatical about domesticity, so allow his half of everything to become disordered and messy and go about your business as though all is right with your world.
However, I'm a firm believer that we teach people how to treat us so somewhere along the way you’ve allowed there to be an unfair apportioning of household tasks. Perhaps your husband worked longer hours, further away … whatever – but that was then and this is now.
It’s a brand new day and your life as a servant is over. It’s up to you to make that known!
Dear Miss Nora:
I don’t love my husband, I tolerate him. I used to love him but now, everything he does gets on my nerves. We moved to a much smaller house when we retired and I think it was a huge mistake. I want to wake up in the morning and slowly go about my day but my husband wants to race about, getting out and about and filling our days with activities he says we were too busy to enjoy when we worked and raised our family.
This is all well and good but I want to relax more, read more, enjoy peace and quiet now that all five of our children are off our hands and independent. No amount of pleading for this seems to make any difference.
I'm at my wits end. What can I do to make my husband leave me alone? — I want to be a quiet retiree in Florida
Dear Ms. Quiet:
Something tells me that my response is going to fall on deaf ears …. but never one to shy away from a challenge, I’ll have a go anyway. My guess is that if you keep this up, your husband could well be leaving you alone soon enough – but is that what you really want?
There is a very simple solution to your dilemma by setting two days a week aside for quiet solitude and relaxed, albeit solo amusements or pastimes, two days a week aside for outdoor activities and livelier fun, and share the remaining three days with common interests.
However, saying that, what isn’t simple is the fact that after enough years together to have raised a modest brood of children, sharing multiple households and weathering the inevitable storms that come with long-standing relationships, you feel that you have nothing left to contribute but abstinence. The question shouldn’t be how you can get your husband to leave you alone, it’s why he bothers anymore!
Can you not see the absurdity of your request?
I truly tire of people who feel that it’s their partner’s responsibility to pay deference to their needs without a shred of personal liability. As in any joint venture, marriage is a give and take, share and be shared partnership.
Be careful what you ask for. Enough of your refusal to stand by your man (at least where fun and frivolity and free time is concerned) and you could find that someone else is willing to relieve you of the burden!