Dear Carolyn: I never realized how radically different my husband and I viewed housework until the past year stuck us in the house 24/7. My worldview is, two people sharing a living space should pitch in equally. His worldview, it turns out, is, “I’ll clean things when the dirt bothers me; you clean things when the dirt bothers you,” and — lucky him — the dirt never bothers him.

He'd be happy to clean the bathroom only after a month's worth of grime had accumulated, but since I'm bothered after a week, I'm … always the one cleaning the bathroom.

We've fought endlessly about this. He thinks I'm “unfairly holding him to my arbitrary standards.” I think he's using his dirt-tolerance as an excuse to let me pick up all the slack.

And frankly, what bothers me most is that he’d rather let me be unhappy and stressed than spend 20 minutes a day doing the dishes or running a vacuum. This feels like a big issue. Is it a big issue, or are emotions just high because they’re high for everyone right now?

— Unhappy and Stressed

Unhappy and Stressed: Well, emotions are high, but this is a huge, often marriage-ending issue.

That’s because doing all the housework is flat-out miserable when there is an able-bodied person just sitting there watching you do it. Not bothered at all that you’re doing everything.

This is usually the marriage-ending part. How can someone who loves you be okay with leaving things around for you to clean up, knowing it demoralizes you? No hired housekeeper can fix that one.

That's something you're going to need to say out loud.

Plus, he’s arguing in bad faith. He’d never say to you, “Go do all the housework for me” — right? (If he would, then picture me backspacing all of this to type, see ya!) But he’s holding to an argument that effectively means you do all the housework for him. His position is intellectually dishonest. It’s bad faith.

So please spell this out for him — even chart it if that’s what he needs. “If I always clean when dirt bothers me, and you clean when dirt bothers you, and I’m bothered weekly while you’re bothered monthly, then you’re never bothered. Ever.” — because there will only ever be a week’s worth of dirt anywhere. “And therefore you will never clean.”

Then present to him the version that would be (more) fair: Left to your own devices, you'd clean weekly. Left to his devices, he'd clean every four weeks.

Therefore, he needs to clean the bathrooms once a month minimum. Otherwise he's taking advantage of you.

From there, you can clean bathrooms once a month as well, and learn to live with a roughly two-week cleaning cycle in which you alternate, or you throw in extra spot cleanings to satisfy your preferences.

Either way: If he won’t play, if there’s no spousal “aha” moment plus apology, then that’s the problem, not the different standards.

By the way, many in this bind find some relief by allocating chores based on wants/needs. If there's something he doesn't mind, does well, or requires for his own needs (laundry, for example), then that's his job in your household.

Not perfect, but it’s a start. Better than piles of self-serving BS.