Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Boyfriend has agreed to help paint walls, so let it go
Decorating: I really want to paint the walls of our apartment. My boyfriend isn't nearly as interested as I am. In my opinion, it's our place, we should both take part in home-improvement projects. In his opinion, this project was my idea, so I should be the one to pick up supplies and check with the leasing office. For what it's worth, he has agreed to help with the actual painting once I do all the preliminaries. Who's right?
Carolyn: He is. The fact that he has agreed to help you paint is more than a sufficient effort from someone who would be just fine with leaving things the way they are.
And in the spirit of projecting way more than I have any business projecting, you might want to consider how often you get on his back about other stuff. Meeting each other halfway doesn't mean putting masking tape right down the middle and designating your half and his half.
If you really want time with friends, tell husband
Friends are Becoming One-More-Thing: I'm in the midst of an e-mail exchange with three friends, trying to find a time when we can get together — without children or spouses. For a number of reasons (three kids, a usually wonderful husband who pretends to be helpless, a full-time job, both of us travel) it's hard for me to get away to hang out with my friends, who have a lot of the same responsibilities I do but, well, seem to have an easier time escaping.
I'm getting resentful, because it's one more thing I have to fit in — or, on a really grumpy day, one more set of people I'm letting down. I tell them to go without me, but they insist on working around me, which makes me the roadblock.
Carolyn: If you're just struggling to schedule it when you would rather go to bed early, then please don't mistake your friends' eagerness to see you for pressure. They're choosing to be flexible, so take their generosity and flexibility at face value and hold out for a time that really does suit you.
If the real reason you're not going, however, is that your perfectly capable but not-interested-in-stepping-up spouse is going to pout so much that getting out wouldn't be worth it, then you need to tap into some of your frustration and outrage to start asking for what you need.
I'm not suggesting real yelling, just soul-yelling: "I haven't had any time for myself lately, and I need some time with my friends. Surely you can understand this, and cover for me. Thanks." And then go.
Minneapolis: To One-More-Thing: Don't kid yourself. A "pretends to be helpless" husband is not a wonderful husband. What is wonderful about forcing you into the role of the "responsible one," especially when you have three kids and both work full time?
Carolyn: They're always better asked before the commitments pile up, but those "What is so wonderful about . . ." questions are nevertheless valid and important anytime. Either they remind you that you had good reasons for making the choices you did, or they tell you it's time to start making new choices. Thanks.