The Washington Post is now the exclusive source for my columns online. I’ve arranged for a limited-time subscription discount, available here, to help readers with the transition. Thank you for your loyalty and support.
Dear Carolyn: I love my fiance and until recently thought we had a wonderful partnership. We've lived together for eight years and he makes more money and works longer hours, so I do almost all the housework. He's not only kind and thoughtful but always seemed appreciative of the work I do around the house.
Recently I was hospitalized for two weeks. When I came home I found he had never once walked our dog — just let the poor thing out into our tiny yard, and he didn't clean up. The house was an absolute wreck, he didn't cook or clean anything, left pizza boxes stacked on the counter, and dirty laundry piled on the laundry room floor. I was still recovering and that was kind of a nightmare to come home to.
I asked him why he didn't do anything, and he said he's no good at that stuff and knew I'd want to do it "the right way" when I got back.
We moved in together right out of college so he's never taken care of a place by himself. I asked him if he wanted to learn, but he said he doesn't see a real problem with the shape the house was in. Would you consider this a big enough issue to delay our summer wedding?
— Still in Shock
Still in Shock: Uhhh, yes?
Yes, I would consider it a big enough issue that you’re looking at 100 percent housework for the rest of your life with this man and, worse, his utter comfort with your exerting yourself on your mutual behalf while he does nothing, believing . . . can you hear my print voice rising as I type? . . . it’s a favor to YOU that he does! Right out of your sickbed!
And the poor dog, suffering such neglect. Is it one of those dogs that likes the poop scooped in a certain way that your fiance just isn’t good at?
I was actually leaning sympathetic to the guy at the start, expecting him to have been under duress with you in the hospital and with maybe too much going on at work — and certainly that will stress a partner out significantly. It’s hard to do housework when you’re wearing a groove between your office and a loved one’s hospital room. But “he’s no good at that stuff and knew I’d want to do it ‘the right way’ when I got back”??? A person actually said that!? To a loved one who’s been sick?!
And who on earth thinks there’s a right way to pick up dog poop?!
Choose one: the Maya Angelou quote — “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time” — or a straight-up “Oh Hell No.”
I hope you mend soon. So you can walk away unassisted.
Re: Shock: This may be kind of obvious, but if you want kids, prepare yourself to take on parent/teacher conferences, boo-boos, homework, extracurriculars, getting them to and from school/day care, sick days and doctor visits, double to triple the laundry, cooking, clutter and dishes, because he will not suddenly start helping just because he's fathered a human. You are standing at the edge of the abyss.
Anonymous: Quadruple the laundry, or more.
That last line, though. Thank you.