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Ask Amy: Busy hubby wants time for housework

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DEAR AMY: I am working 60 hours a week, and my wife is taking care of our 3- and 5-year-old boys (and the house). We have a house that needs work, ranging from hanging pictures to a kitchen renovation. I feel like nothing gets done at home during the week.

On the weekends, we always seem to have plans that interfere with stuff getting done around the house when I can be home. Today I insisted on doing work around the house, and I got accused of not spending time with our boys.

Living in clutter, losing bills, never having socks and always feeling there is stuff to do really stresses me out. I feel I ignore it all week and then get irritated about it Saturday morning when we should be enjoying our time together.

I handle all bills, help with laundry, vacuum, load/unload dishwashers, and when I’m home I usually cook dinner, so it’s not as if I expect her to be waiting by the door with a Manhattan and my smoking jacket (though it would be nice).

What can I do? -- Frustrated

DEAR FRUSTRATED: I agree that some intensive home time is necessary — and most of us feel better if we start the week with our lives in some sort of order.

If possible, you might do best hiring someone to do some of the light household maintenance and/or cleaning. Having someone come in on a schedule helps the family get it together on a schedule.

In my household, Sunday afternoons are when I get some alone time to catch up on chores and start my workweek. You and your wife might trade off two-hour blocks when you each get a break from the kids to do whatever you need to do, in or out of the home. Your children can help. Toy sorting and sock-matching would be good jobs for these little guys.

I admire the work of de-cluttering guru Peter Walsh. Read his book, “It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life With Less Stuff” (2007, Free Press).

DEAR AMY: I just moved across the country for my fiance. I left my job for him. I am only getting unemployment insurance now but contribute as much as I can. My guy continues to remind me that we are living on “his” money.

We will be married in less than a year, but he can’t seem to think that we are a “we.” I have supported us in the past, but he can’t seem to remember this. Even when I was working he wouldn’t make dinner for us because he claimed my job wasn’t hard because I was sitting at a desk all day.

I love him, but this is a constant trigger for arguments. How can I get him to understand how I’m feeling? -- Sad Fiancee

DEAR SAD: You should not get married until you work this out. Your fiance’s attitude reveals something very important about him. You should assume that even if he achieves perfect insight into your feelings, this won’t matter because of the way he feels. And — even if you feel he’s wrong — are you able to see things from his perspective?

This tension will intensify if you have children. Seek premarital counseling with a professional. Do not gloss over this to leap into marriage.

DEAR AMY: You are enabling a bully with your response to “Sober,” who is worried about hosting her negative mother-in-law for Thanksgiving.

I was in a similar situation. After 25 years, my mother-in-law almost gave me a nervous breakdown. My husband also avoided mom as a way to cope, dumping the responsibility on me. My advice to Sober: Take care of yourself, for no one else will. Let someone else host Thanksgiving this year. Sober should make other plans with her immediate family.

After three years of separation, the first holiday mom was again allowed to attend, she behaved perfectly! Bullies need consequences and boundaries. My life is heaven now. -- Peace in Connecticut

DEAR PEACE: Sober wanted to include her mother-in-law in her Thanksgiving dinner, but I agree with you that her sobriety must come first.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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