Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I recently started a new higher-paying job that I love. I work one 48-hour shift and then pick up extra hours to save money. I love my job and fiance, “John,” but I’m becoming overwhelmed. I am completely in charge of all the finances for the home we share. If John were in charge, we would never save any money. I’ve been working 60-plus-hour weeks and do most of the cleaning. I also did all of the holiday shopping and planning. Lately, I’ve asked John to help with a few small things. I asked him more than two months ago to order a new card for an account and gave him a deadline. It never came. He always has flimsy excuses for not doing things. He works a 9-to-5 job five days a week. He does no cleaning on the days he works and likes to “relax” when he is off. He acts like I should be able to do everything because I have more free days, even though I work many more hours. I’ve pointed out to him that I have more responsibilities, but he brushes it off. How can I deal with this? Am I asking too much? How can I get him to do things in a timely manner without sounding like a tyrant? I’m beginning to feel more like his mother than his partner.
In Over Her Head
DEAR IN: Unfortunately, I can’t help you to find a better way to needle your partner to step up.
I suggest that you take a long and dispassionate look at your own life. Ask yourself: If nothing changes, is this what I want? You portray your partner as an irresponsible man-child. Either he is actually as you portray him, or he isn’t — but you see him that way.
Your fiance is not your employee, whereby you assign him a task and give him a deadline to complete it. If he wanted to be more cooperative and helpful, he would be.
You two should have a family meeting to discuss household tasks. Perhaps if he chooses tasks (vs. you assigning them), he’ll be more compliant. But what you describe is someone who doesn’t really want to be the sort of grown-up you want to be.
Don’t get married until you feel confident in the balance of your relationship.
DEAR AMY: I have been married to my wife for 15 years. I have an 18-year-old stepdaughter whom I have helped to raise. I am not sure whether I love my wife. She always has been insecure, which has caused her to control every part of our lives. It was a problem even before we married. I have tried to leave, but I feel so bad for her (and especially for my daughter), I just can’t seem to do it. My wife has upset so many people that her family won’t talk to her. We have lost close friends because of her controlling ways. Our daughter is now old enough that Mom tries to control her, too. We just can’t take any more. Our daughter would probably come with me if her mother and I split up. If I left for a while, would that shock her enough to change? And since she is capable of changing for a few weeks, does that mean she can permanently change?
DEAR CONFUSED: I don’t have a crystal ball. However, the best predictor for future behavior is past behavior. You may shock your wife into compliance by leaving, but given the fact that you say she has always behaved this way, she is not likely to permanently change without committed determination and professional help.
I hope you will enter into counseling with her. Even if you two don’t stay together, it can help you to break up peacefully.
DEAR AMY: Your response to “Exhausted” with her gamer husband who didn’t like to do housework was great. I loved the idea of “gamifying” these chores. I have another suggestion: Get a housekeeper. It’s cheaper than marriage counseling and divorce. I went through the same thing with my husband. We both worked full-time jobs. I would scramble doing it all and he would play video games or watch football. I grew very resentful. Then we hired someone to help. Now he doesn’t have a wife who nags him all weekend and I get to spend time doing things besides cleaning.
Lisa in Arizona
DEAR LISA: I highly recommend professional cleaners for busy families who can afford it.