Dear Carolyn: I do much more housework than my husband — maybe 70/30. When I complain, he says he doesn't mind grimy bathtubs or piled-up paper, and since I do mind, then I should do the cleaning.
He says it's unfair for me to unilaterally set house standards and then force him to live up to them: The solution could just as easily be for me to do less, not for him to do more.
I'm not asking for a daily baseboard scrubbing, just a weekly vacuum, bathroom cleaning and laundry.
— Well, It's Messy TO ME
Well, It’s Messy TO ME: Hire a cleaning service for the weekly vacuum and bathroom cleaning, and split the remaining jobs
50-50, or as close to it as you can get. Do this even if you have to cut other expenses to afford it.
To prevent his ditching of his 50, make sure it affects things he needs or cares about. Food, clean clothes, etc. If he skips laundry and gladly re-wears underwear, then escalate from housekeeper to attorney.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t address his attitude or logic: It is suspiciously convenient for him and bad for you, yes, which no cleaning service can fix. However, it’s also a losing proposition to decide your version of cleanliness is the right one and your spouse’s is wrong — even if 99 percent of the world agrees with you. What matters is that you both decide on shared standards, then both decide how to satisfy the spouse with higher standards without straining the marriage. It’s a negotiation no matter what, and the sooner resolved, the better.
Re: Vacuuming: That should be done weekly?? I just live my life not looking down.
Anonymous: Right, until the cobwebs start and you can’t look up anymore. That’s vacuuming day.
Hi, Carolyn: My husband's stepfather wants to control us based on what he thinks is best for my boys. My husband finally had a falling-out with him, but we both have heavy hearts about my mother-in-law. She is definitely being controlled and is not able to see how toxic he is. We don't want to sever the relationship with her, but she can't understand why things aren't back to normal and can't seem to separate from him, either.
My boys love their grandfather, but we have had way too many issues with him to want him back into our life. Boundaries don't work. Do we have to sever our relationship with my mother-in-law, too??
Controlled: That’s up to her. Your choice is between two package deals: 1. Sever the tie with him and accept that you lose her as a consequence; or maintain the tie with her and accept that you get him as a consequence.
She can stand up to him or see you separately, and you can urge her to do so, but that happens only on her initiative. If you haven’t told her you want her in your lives and will make that as easy for her as you can, then of course do so, but that’s really the limit of your reach.
Finally, you say “boundaries don’t work,” but he can’t control you without your consent. It’s difficult, yes, but it takes only two words to hold a boundary: “no” and “goodbye.”