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Wife is tired of 'lopsided' marriage deals

DEAR CAROLYN: I am a woman, well into my 50s, with a career, and married to the same man over 25 years. We are now empty-nesters and both working from home. We usually fix our own breakfast and lunch. Sometimes I fix his; he never fixes me anything. I usually fix dinner for him, which is always something different than what I would eat. (Why are Triscuits, cheese and a glass of wine not "dinner"?) I find it time-consuming and thankless. This weekend, he criticized my cooking to other people, then he complained his dinner wasn't ready and stormed out to a drive-through. I was literally pulling a meal out of the oven for him, not me, when he left. I think it's time for me to stop cooking for him. Do I just stop? After 25 years? This is not the only lopsided deal I signed up for.


ANONYMOUS: Which 50s are you in?

Yes, you stop. And, yes, Triscuits, cheese and wine are dinner.

If by "just" stop you mean quit without comment, then I'd advise against that; your husband's recent foray into public shaming and tantrums notwithstanding, you two are in a marriage and owe each other mature status reports and chances to respond. If the point is to be punitive then you have bigger problems than dinner.

Don't speak up to ask or justify, but only to say what you're planning and why, so he knows how you feel and what to expect.

If this triggers more outburst cheeseburgers, then replay his stance for him calmly when he's back: "You seem to want me to keep making a dinner I don't want to cook or eat anymore. Yes, no? Please explain."

Everyone's entitled to ask for unreasonable things (it's just asking, after all), but we don't have to let anyone get away with using implication or coded language or euphemism or emotional outbursts to spin them. We're entitled to have things spelled out for us before we respond to them. So hold out for his true reasoning.

And while we're here: He is also entitled to make his case that your "deal" isn't lopsided, if that's what he believes, and that dinner isn't just about food.

To be clear, this is all just about the communication part; as for the chore itself, you quit or keep doing it as you see fit. But either of those choices will sit better with both of you if you invest in the hard work of mutual understanding.

Please apply this same process to all lopsided "deals" that need right-siding, and soon. If he's cooperative, then a one-time empty-nester overhaul can hold you another 25 years. If not, then dinner might be the first course-correction of many.

HI, CAROLYN: I'm going weekly to my longtime therapist and not feeling like I'm getting anything from the sessions anymore. How do I bring this up and "break up," or take a break from my therapist?

Breaking Up

BREAKING UP: You say thank you! For the long time you did get something from your sessions. Then say you feel ready to stop.

If you don't want to take the scaffolding of your appointments away all at once, then you can also cut back to every other week or once a month, then reassess.

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