Soooo many readers didn’t care for my answer to the neatnik bride who didn’t know what to do about her slob of a husband. I said it would probably be less aggravation if she were to stop harping and trying to train him. And I unfortunately told the truth, saying it was probably easier to train a dog. Here’s what people had to say:
I just read your advice to Neatnik, who complained about her oblivious husband, who’s a slob. I am wondering how old YOU are? No respectful feminist would have ever answered: “The solution may be to take matters into your own hands.” Rewarding a husband is so easy, and the results are gratifying. Loosen up, and get real, woman! Men are just adult children:
reward and punishment.
What is building here will erode the love if not discussed and if compromises are not reached. She need not do things for him that he can do for himself. Ask that he remove his shoes at the door for a week and have a pair of slippers there. Thank him. You see where this is going? Dirty socks? If they don’t make it into the hamper, they don’t get washed.
I was surprised at your advice to Neatnik. She is telling you of her frustrations, and you tell her to just clean up after him, “which would make it a non-issue.” What kind of logic is that? Are little boys allowed to track in grit and leave socks around, with the little girls required to pick up after them? If not, then why would we pick up after grown men?
I think we might be able to offer a bit more support to Neatnik. While it’s true that compromise is sometimes the best course, it would seem unfortunate to miss the opportunity early in a marriage to establish shared responsibilities. I’d recommend the couple make a list of all the household tasks, from trips to the dry cleaner to washing the dishes to paying the bills, and then determine which spouse is better suited to which task. The outcome, while not mathematically perfect, will provide both of them with a sense of stewardship for the home they share.
I did, however, have two letters of support:
I agree with your advice. House chores have never been equal. There are things my guy does well; cleaning is not one of them. I am always picking up after him. Many years ago, it bothered me because I thought marriage should be equal. Our marriage is equal. It’s just not divided equally in terms of who cleans what, who contributes how much financially, who does the yard work, etc. If you appreciate the qualities each of you brings, you will begin to appreciate each other more.
You were right on. Pick your battles! Try to incorporate a “no shoes in the house” policy. That will help, and it is less individualized and personal. If he is happy, you will be happy.