Tell Me About It: Couple should talk rather than assume

Published February 13

Q: My wife has been a freelance consultant whose work has dried up. I have a good-paying job and I figured with her work having dried up, sheíd take care of the house, bills, paperwork, etc., with her time. Instead, I donít know what she does, but things are not put away, and if she spent as much time taking care of our house ó for which I just paid for a hefty remodel, by the way ó as she does defending herself and how busy she is, then there would be no problem. (She is busy with her hobby, when she does it, or seeing friends during the day.)

She cooks, and on weekends I do the wash. But itís becoming an issue for me and she knows it, but nothing changes. I feel used.


A: Iíd be angry too. Seething. A household involves a lot of work and I could not trust a partner who was comfortable leaving most of that work to me.

But thatís not all I find irksome. I also donít like it when someone "figures" Iíll assume this or that responsibility without checking with me first.

And I donít like it when the person then gets angry at me for not doing it.

So. Did your wife "know this" because you discussed divisions of labor upfront? Or did she find it out only after you (1) just assumed sheíd parlay underemployment into more housework, and (2) got annoyed when she didnít?

It could be your marriage is suffering from an imbalance in its ratio of assumptions to communication. It could, too, be suffering from something so simple as a poor delegation of responsibilities; why divorce a problem that outsourcing could solve, except perhaps to self-vindicate.

So: Swap out the topic of conversation from what you expect to what you feel, and ask her to suggest what household contribution she thinks is fair; switch up the chores so you each get more/less of what youíre good/bad at; reframe her presence in your life as companionship first and gauge whether it helps.