Ask Amy: Kindhearted husband has nagging problem
Dear Amy: My husband is such a sweetheart. I love him for his kindness and tenderhearted nature. We never fight, except in one area, which is household chores.
I know he hates nagging, so I refrain from asking him too often to do chores around the house (like vacuuming and dish washing).
However, I do need help and I feel resentful when he doesn’t proactively help. I don’t know how to encourage him to do it on his own.
Is there a better way to communicate or help me achieve this? I know this isn’t the biggest problem out there but it sure is a strain on the marriage. — Anxious Wife
Dear Anxious: Your husband’s kindness notwithstanding, it is not really kind or tenderhearted to watch your partner be overburdened by the job of taking care of the household. Furthermore, your fear of bothering him with your nagging means that there is a disconnect. His need not to be bothered by you should not be more important than your need — and right — to express yourself.
You and your husband should have regular household meetings where you discuss all of the basics — your schedules, your grocery shopping list, your expenses, and your social or family obligations.
At your first meeting, you should agree on a basic chore list. Does he hate to vacuum? Perhaps there is a regular chore you don’t enjoy that he can take on as his own, and you can vacuum. The idea is to agree, form a contract of sorts, and then for each party to act like an adult and do their part. And oftentimes, doing something you don’t enjoy without acting like a martyr is a pretty profound statement of kindness and love. When he does something without prompting, notice it — and let him know that you feel loved.
As I have reported before, hiring a bi-weekly cleaner has been a game-changer in my own house. If you can afford to outsource some of your housecleaning, it is worth it.
Dear Amy: I have been in a same-sex relationship for almost three years with “Paula.” I love everything about her. Paula said that I was smothering her, that I was boring, that I am lying to her (but I have no reason to lie), and that I went through her things (and I have no reason to go through her things).
Paula said that she needed space. She thinks my daughter is disrespecting her (when she’s not).
Is it me? Is there someone else? Is it a trust issue?
She gets angry if I don’t call her, but I’m confused because when I call and text all the time she says I’m smothering her. When I don’t call and text all the time she says things like, “You must have someone else.” I’m like, “Huh, what? Like what do you want?”
She makes me cry and hurts my feelings, and she doesn’t seem to care.
What do you think is going on here? — Hurt
Dear Hurt: Let’s review some of the things you love about “Paula.”
Is it the way she puts you down? The baseless accusations? Calling you “boring” and a liar? Criticizing your daughter — and you as a parent?
If your narrative is accurate, I’d say that Paula is an abusive girlfriend who is using your insecurity and the power deficit in your relationship to gaslight and control you. Keeping you consistently off-kilter is paralyzing you, thereby keeping you in place.
That’s what I think is going on. The question now is — what are you going to do about it?
This relationship is unhealthy. Paula is toxic. Staying in this relationship is emotionally damaging, and the longer you stay, the greater damage is done.
I’ll quote a favorite cliche: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
I hope you will tap into your inner toughness — and get going.
Dear Amy: I could not believe your awful fat-shaming response to “Starving and Fat,” who was overweight but had an eating disorder. You said that any doctor would understand that all overweight people have eating disorders. Reading that, I was completely disgusted. — Disgusted
Dear Disgusted: My answer was the opposite of fat shaming. “Starving and Fat” was currently overweight but thought her bulimia had resurfaced.
My supportive response was that any competent doctor or nutritionist could very easily recognize that an overweight person could also be suffering from an eating disorder. The two are not mutually exclusive. I apologize if the wording of my response created confusion.