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Dear Margo

Dear Margo column

Q. I’m not sure whether this is a problem, but it sure is annoying the heck out of me. I am newly married (less than a year). My husband and I did not live together before we tied the knot, so it’s come as something of a shock to learn he is in no way neat. In fact, he is a slob who thinks nothing of tracking in dirt, sand, gravel, or whatever. He seems totally unaware of the mess he makes. I suppose there were hints before we shared a dwelling, but I guess they didn’t register. Now that “our house” is my house, I am noticing, probably because I am always cleaning up after him. He responds to neither hints nor direct requests. Do you have any advice for me?

A. Grit happens. Because your guy does not respond to hints or requests, you may find it easier and less stressful to take matters into your own hands (along with a broom and a vacuum), which would make it a non-issue. If there are things he does for you, and I hope there are, in your mind make them a trade-off. I pass on to you something I learned from my mother. It is easier, in terms of aggravation, to just pick up his socks, sweep up the dirt, wash the dishes in the sink, etc. When the irritation goes away, you will be minus one problem. I think the fact that your spouse spaces out about what he tracks in is small potatoes. I suspect the equality brigade will come after me, but truly, I think it’s easier to train a dog than a man.

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Q. We have an 8-year-old grandchild. He’s a good child; however, he is picky with foods. Like many children, he loves all the foods that aren’t the best nutritionally. My concern is that when our grandchild visits us, come mealtime my husband becomes angry to the point of not speaking to the child and making faces at him when he doesn’t eat foods he’s never had before. In addition, he rarely finishes what’s on his plate, usually eating less than half of the meal. I have limited his snacks so that when it comes to mealtime he is hungry. I’m trying to help my grandchild, but I am at a loss to understand my husband’s way of handling the situation.

He says discipline is needed, but I find this type of “discipline” not only harsh, but mean. As a result, our grandchild becomes anxious and worried when it’s mealtime. I have told our grandchild that the rule is to at least try one new food each time he visits. A little history: The child’s mother has some emotional issues that unfortunately interfere with her ability to be on top of her game in parenting. As a result, this child often has to fend for himself, which includes getting himself up and ready each morning for school and most often leaving the house without any breakfast. In the meantime, how do I cope with my husband’s behavior toward this child?

A. There’s a lot going on here. For one thing, I am wondering who is the child. Making faces at a kid thinking it is instruction is juvenile. Tell the old boy to cut it out, and also to bag his anger. He is making things worse. I like your rule of “try something new.” If he doesn’t eat it or doesn’t finish, say nothing. Hungry kids will eat. As for the situation at home, show your grandson, when he’s with you, how to fix cereal and milk with fruit or grab a health bar. If you stay on the case, time and teaching will ease the problem.

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