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I make the money

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  May 26, 2009 10:40 AM

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As my former women's studies professors might say, let's talk about the gender division of labor ..

Q: I have been with my partner for 15 years now. We are heterosexual, both in our 50s and my issue is that he is no longer an equal partner in pretty much any facet of our relationship. We owned a business together, which failed recently. I have a thriving consulting practice. He has a work-from-home gig but he’s doing nothing to promote it. He isn't seeking work and he has almost no income. I have been our main support for our entire relationship but now that he is home all the time, I find I resent that he isn't either looking for work or helping around the house. My practice involves 60+ hours per week, also working from home, and I am somehow still responsible for all household chores, grocery shopping, etc. I am paying for everything (have ALWAYS paid for everything), doing all household chores, and I'm getting tired of it. I have known him for most of my life and he is great, but this lack of support is getting to me. I have tried gently to ask for more help but he resents the implication. I know of several other couples in our acquaintance where the woman is the breadwinner and they all seem to have worked out some sharing of duties. Is anyone else in this boat and can you give me some advice? I want to stay with him forever so I am hoping for guidance, not just a blanket "dump him" response.

-- Unequal Partner, Newburyport

A: UP, it seems to me that you don’t mind being the primary breadwinner – you’re just irritated about your partner’s lack of motivation. It sounds like you’d feel better about him if he tried in some area of his life -- at work or at home.

I have to wonder if his apathy is tied to depression. This economy makes people feel hopeless, out of control of their own destines. It’s hard enough coping with the failure of a business. I bet he’s pretty miserable.

You may want to tell him you’re concerned about him. You may also want to tell him that depression is just about the only legitimate excuse for his behavior. Many unemployed folks have stopped looking for jobs, just because things are so bad out there. But I guarantee those people aren't stomping their feet about doing the dishes.

He may resent the implication, but you resent his behavior. I know you don’t want to ask tough questions, but I think it’s time. My guess is that he doesn’t know how bad you’re feeling about all this. And perhaps he's too proud to admit that you're bringing home the bacon and asking, politely, that he fry said bacon and then clean the pan.

I think he’d rather do chores and step up the job search than lose you. As long as you’re empathetic, you have every right to talk openly about how you’re feeling.

Readers? UP doesn’t want to be told to dump this guy. Give her some thoughtful, grown-up advice – she’s a grown-up, after all. Share here. Submit a letter to the right.

-- Meredith

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103 comments so far...
  1. I agree with Meredith - your partner may very well be depressed. He also may need to rethink his gender role stereotypes, if as you say, he's had this attitude for a long time. This sounds like a call for a good therapist, good medication (remember that it takes time to find the right medication and the right dosage) - and/or meditation, and possibly couples counseling if it's gotten to the point where you're just going around and around about the same thing. If it's a true partnership, both of you should be invested in the partnership; helping around the house shouldn't be seen as "helping you" but "helping us". It may take time and hard work - likely for both of you - but it sounds like you're committed to the relationship. I hope he is. Good luck to you both!

    Posted by exiledmainer May 26, 09 11:37 AM
  1. UP, what IS he doing all day? Playing video games? I am not working (by choice, so I'm not job hunting either), and I do almost all of the home-related chores, with my partner contributing some, mainly on the weekends. I agree with Meredith; depression is about the only excuse for his not doing the same. Even then, if the depression is mild, getting up and doing something productive can help a LOT. I'm surprised that you have put up with this at all, but since you want to work it out, I 'd suggest keeping a daily activity diary. Ask him to do so as well, but even if he won't, you can show him how you're spending your time, and ask about how he's spending his.

    Posted by Jasper May 26, 09 11:40 AM
  1. Talk to him about what needs to be done around the house on a daily and weekly basis. Draw up a chore list on a calendar and divide up who is doing what (laundry, dishes, trash taken out, yard work, groceries, bill paying, financial planning, etc). If he's unwilling to do his fair share, given his current employment status, then you have your answer.
    Are you willing to have this man hang onto your mammary glands for the rest of your life? You state that he is no longer an equal partner in pretty much any facet of your relationship and that you have known him for most of your life and he is great, but this lack of support is getting to you. How recent has his lack of support been a problem? Can you think of other times in your relationship when he was not pulling his share of the load financially and otherwise but you made excuses for him?
    What is great about him? Right now he's acting like a child and you've taken the role as his mother-protector. Or is it that he's just familiar and you can't stand the thought of flying solo? Well guess what, you already are!

    Posted by exvermonter May 26, 09 11:49 AM
  1. I think it's totally true that he might be depressed. However, I also do agree with you that you shouldn't be doing EVERYTHING. This is going to require a sit-down where you lay everything out, and where you separate the lack of work from the lack of chores. I never think that one partner should do all the household work ANYWAY, regardless of whether one or both partners are working.

    Be careful to use "I" phrases instead of "you" phrases. The biggest thing to keep in mind when confronting him is to give him the benefit of the doubt and to make sure that you aren't making any assumptions about why he's being such a tool. So, more like, "I'm always exhausted from working and then taking care of things around the house," not, "You're so lazy, you never do anything helpful!" or "You're so ridiculously selfish!"

    Posted by sabend May 26, 09 12:08 PM
  1. I think his behavior is too long-held to just be depression. He might just be lazy. I have an extended family member who does exactly the same thing. I have no idea what he does all day, but he's totally content to sit around and do nothing while his wife works her ass off, makes elaborate feasts, tends to the dog, etc etc.

    Tell him to get off his butt!

    Be advised that if you did seek to split up, you'd probably have to give him spousal support (since you've been supporting him thus far). So, try to get him doing stuff to help out. But good luck with that.

    Posted by seenittoolong May 26, 09 12:08 PM
  1. Rico is back from the long weekend feeling refreshed but not motivated to answer this writers complaint...Rico suggests meredith post a different one please.

    In general Rico is tired of the whining of some of the writers to Meredith. This one is together for 15 years and has now just figured out her "heterosexual partner" is a lazy bum in search of nothing? Please, Rico is tired of the whiners, tired of the people looking for validation from readers and meredith to justify their feelings. You know what the issue is then fix it. Ask Meredith and Rico about something that truly needs help, not justification.

    A person is who he/she is, he was lazy 15 years ago and still is. Rico knows of a couple that has been together less time and he feels the same. Either you can deal with it, which you have for 15 years or you can't. You should have thought about it 15 years ago, not now that the economy fell apart. You made your bed now sleep in it...does he at least make the bed???

    The couple Rico knows of isn't even engaged and probably should move on before they make any more stupid mistakes. People, and Rico uses that word lightly, please look in a mirror and honestly look at your situation before you write in. If Rico knew you personally he'd tell you to your face that you are an IDIOT.

    Rico would like to share something better for today. You all know Rico loves biking, so in that theme he wants you to all know a great reason to start biking to work if you don't already. Apparently the MBTA employs trolley drivers with terrible driving records, some criminally terrible. Sounds like a safer way to travel if you go by bike or walk.

    Rico has nothing for this person today, please go away with your nonsense.

    Thank you and love always,

    Rico

    PS...now begins the haters of Rico...Rico can't wait to see what you say.

    Kick Gas!

    Posted by Rico May 26, 09 12:11 PM
  1. So do you mind being the breadwinner, or do you not mind? It sounds to me as if you do mind -- you had to put that you ALWAYS pay for everything in capital letters. So what? There are a lot of families in which one spouse makes a lot more money. So first off, I think you really, really need to get over that. It *does* *not* *matter* that he has not made as much as you and that you pay for things. You are a a couple, not a business, and I find it really distasteful that after 15 years, you seem to be on the "this is my money and I pay" train.

    If that attitude really exists, then I bet anything he knows it, he feels it, and more than likely, he hates it. Who would want to be constantly reminded by his or her spouse that "hey, I make the money here!" And there is no rule that he needs to be ambitious the way you are; you say he has a business, so he is actually working. He just is not as busy and does not promote it as much as you. But this is *his* business and not yours, so you do not get to pick how he chooses to run that business, and you do not get to pick to remake his personality into a career-driven, ambitious one.

    So learn to drop the attitude. And then you can talk about division of household labor. If one person works out of the home more than the other, then it is fair for that person to carry the majority of the burden of household chores. But again, I am not surprised about his response in this situation -- with the breadwinner ego here. You need to adjust jow you react, and then you two need to talk.

    Posted by j-len May 26, 09 12:11 PM
  1. Getting off his butt and being a little more proactive about things (the job hunt, his at home work, housework, yardwork) would actually help his depression if that's the case, and I have to admit it crossed my mind immediately when reading this, but that might be me projecting.....

    Anyhow, I imagine that he would WANT to be an equal part of the relationship. Discussing this matter with him will no doubt leave him feeling emasculated and angry. My advice is to seek out a third party to help out. Possibly just a short-term committment with a relationship therapist to get you two back on track wtih one another. That probably sounds like simple advice, but I do think that's best.

    No matter what you do, tread lightly, and best of luck.

    Posted by Hixter May 26, 09 12:21 PM
  1. If he's out of work and playing around, enjoying being unemployed, he's not depressed; he's using you. Everyone gets depressed now and then, but when you have a major clinical depression, as Meredith suggests, it's pretty darn noticable -- and I would suggest that the letter writer would have mentioned THAT as her love quandry, not the division of running the household. I'd say he's taking a nice long easy ride. Gender has nothing to do with it; accountability is the issue. Right?

    Posted by sally May 26, 09 12:21 PM
  1. This does sound like depression. He cannot empathize with your situation and possilby sees himself in a desperate situation - no job, midlife, dependent.

    He doesn't seem to sense the urgency surrounding this situation and if you do not do something somewhat drastic (like leaving him) he just may let you continue to enable his behavior, his mood and lack of motivation. He needs to believe that this is a problem that affects both of you; right now he is just feeling somewhat helpless and knows that you are his safety net and that is not a good thing. Some people don't get it and are indifferent when it comes to pulling their own weight: if we all behaved like that, nothing would ever get accomplished.

    Self preservation doesn't just happen - he needs to develop a sense of self-worth and self-motivation. He needs to bring measurable value to your relationship otherwise the weight of satisfying both needs for everything will break you. He should realize that this is serious.


    Posted by marj May 26, 09 12:27 PM
  1. Oh for heaven's sakes, stop with the "gently" asking! We woman do this all the time. And the other thing we do, is we ask for something to be done, and if it isn't, WE DO IT. Cut that out right now.
    You can say things like, "I have client meetings until 7:30 tonight. Can you wash the dishes before then so we can have a nice dinner together?" or whatever works in your world. AND THEN, if the dishes aren't done, don’t wash the dishes at the end of the day, and don't bother with dinner. Eat something from the freezer, standing up, if need be.
    And I mean, YOU eat something from the freezer. And if he says, "Hey, what about me?" You can say, “Since you didn’t do the dishes, I took that to mean you weren’t interested in having dinner together, so I’m taking care of myself tonight.” That’s all, no big blow ups, no ranting and crying and feeling sorry for yourself.
    He’s not doing anything because he doesn’t have to. Your letter makes it sound like you do everything. Well if I was your guy I’d think that was great. Why mess up what already works?
    Change you, change him. That’s how it works. You can’t change him, but you can change you. And by changing you, perhaps that will change him.

    Posted by Carolyn May 26, 09 12:27 PM
  1. I know this will upset all the touchy-feely, psycho-babble commentors, but I, for one, am sick of everything being passed off as “depression”. Someone won’t stop playing video games, don’t be so harsh on them, they’re just depressed. Someone would rather sit home and watch tv all day instead of getting a job, lay off man, they’re battling depression. Someone needs to go to a highway weigh station to find a scale that can register their weight, don’t be cruel, they’re just depressed and thyroidially challenged. Enough is enough.

    This country needs a strict parent.

    With regards to this mess. Unequal partner, why are you even writing for advice? You know what to do. You tried to do it, but he “resented the implication”? What? You fell for that? Come on, now. Have an adult conversation with your hetero partner (relevance?) about workload. Spell out what you are doing, what you can comfortably handle, and set expectations for him. If he does not like it, then you simply tell him that it’s gone on long enough and you cannot continue to live like this. Tell him that you look forward to revisiting the discussion in 30 days. If he hasn’t improved by then, then you either continue to pretend you are the taxpaying public and he’s a welfare recipient, or you take action to remove him from his current role in your life. He can still be a great friend while receiving his mail at another address and paying his own way.

    p.s. Your quote: “I have known him for most of my life and he is great” is not true. Clearly there is a lot about him that is not so great and you are hoping against hope that he will change. He is taking advantage of you. Period.

    - Hoss

    Posted by Hoss May 26, 09 12:29 PM
  1. Meredith is right on the mark today.
    Rico, you're entitled to your opinion as is everyone but you do not need to be rude to the writer. If you dont' have advice don't write anything. I'm sure the writer has zero interest in your GAS!!!

    Posted by bgcomreader May 26, 09 12:31 PM
  1. a) Marriage vows say 'for richer, for poorer' and 'for better or worse' for a reason. If you didn't understand what that meant when you married him (when you were in your mid-30s, which isn't the Wonder Years), then start by blaming yourself.

    b) Why you're talking to us rather than *the person you're married to* is beyond me. If you haven't yet dragged him into couples therapy or mastered how to broach difficult subjects with him in the last 15 years, see the last five words of Point A, above.

    Posted by Joey May 26, 09 12:31 PM
  1. FYI RE: separation and spousal support issue: A "common law marriage" is one in which the parties may hold themselves out as a husband and wife, and under certain circumstances, be deemed married without a marriage license or ceremony.

    Massachusetts does not allow the creation of a “common law” marriage, a relationship in which a couple lives together but have not participated in a lawful ceremony. Unlike some other states, in Massachusetts a couple cannot acquire marital rights and responsibilities by living together for a particular period of time. You do not need legal action to end such a relationship, if it was created in Massachusetts.

    However, Massachusetts does recognize as valid, common law marriages created in other states if the legal requirements of those states have been met. As a result, legal action is needed to dissolve legal “common law” marriages performed in other states and foreign countries in compliance with their licensing and ceremonial regulations. The courts are available for determining the rights of parties now living in Massachusetts.

    Posted by exvermonter May 26, 09 12:32 PM
  1. UP: Is your partner emotionally supportive? The reason I ask is that it seems like pretty much all of the facets of the relationship that you cited are logistical in nature: running a business, doing chores, etc. Those are of course very important, but there are also other factors, i.e. the emotional side. I assume that is what you are referring to when you say he is great? You have every right to be frustrated with his lack of cooperation on the logistical side, but also don't discount if he is making emotional contributions to the relationship.

    I think Meredith's advice is spot-on: he likely is depressed and feeling inadequate about his current inability to be a breadwinner. Let him know gently but firmly that you are there for him, but you also need him to help you out in the logistical areas of the relationship. You may not see immediate changes, but be patient if you can. The two of you may want to seek counseling together if you've not already tried.

    Posted by Terminater5 May 26, 09 12:52 PM
  1. WOW, this guy has it made and its all about to crumble on him.... poor sap, i hope he reads the globe during his down time.

    Posted by jimbojones May 26, 09 12:53 PM
  1. I couldn't agree with Hoss more. "Depression" has become a catch-all gag-reflex for any and all unacceptable behavior lazy people care to exhibit. The only way I've ever known to blast someone out of a comfort zone is to make it clear that inaction has consequences. I simply do not understand the plethora of letters I read in here that always say the same thing: "We've been together a long time and he/she is wonderfu, but . . . " If you truly want the relationship to work, you need to get out of the mommy zone and show your partner very clearly how his behavior is making you feel and what is going to happen if some sort of balance is not struck.

    Posted by prairiemike May 26, 09 01:02 PM
  1. Exvermonter #15-
    Now if you start citing the case of Ex Parte Milligan, I might become so aroused that birds suddenly appear.

    Posted by valentino May 26, 09 01:05 PM
  1. You want "some thoughtful, grown-up advice" without saying the obvious "dump him"? I guess I will have to sit this one out!

    Posted by Alvin May 26, 09 01:07 PM
  1. Rico's #2 comment for today:

    Rico thinks the writer is a loser, she has little or no self esteem. She is more interested in having a warm body to sleep with than a partner in life. She has decided on this lazy guy for whatever reasons but she settled, end of discussion. She has known him for most of their lives, they are both in their 50's, she has always been a breadwinner. Now she wants sympathy? Please...Someone else said the saime thing as Rico thinks...Depression is not the reason for every lazy, unmotivated loser out here. The person writing is as much to blame for allowing the behavior as the person behaving in such a way. Anyone ever heard the word enabler? That is what this whiny writer is all about.

    As for bgcomreader, you are a moron. If you don't like what Rico has to say then move past his writing.

    Sometimes rudeness is necessary, Rico likes to be congenial to most everyone, however there are times when some people need a good dose of reality. This writer deserves none of anyones sympathy, she has put up with a behavior trait for 15+ years and suddenly she has a revelation about her heterosexual partner? Give us all a break. Get a clue!!!

    Meredith, Please give us something worth commenting on, this one is a loser in every sense of the word.

    Love always, and kick gas...gears not gas, bikes not bombs!!! Hug a tree...and a loved one.

    Thank you and have a nice afternoon,

    Rico

    Posted by Rico May 26, 09 01:09 PM
  1. Unequal,
    It may be depression or a midlife crisis since your business just failed. You may want to explore that with him. I have the same question Jasper #2 does.
    Exactly what is he doing all day? Surfing the web? Is he watching the Price is Right and Red Sox re-runs? I have a consulting business in addition to my regular gig and work from home several days per week. The TV is NEVER on during the day for any reason (Golden rule #1). I get up and dressed and 'report' to work at the same time as if I had to punch the clock. Yeah, I'm a tough boss. ("Structure" is Golden Rule #2). If I have time between phone calls and other tasks, I am loading the wash machine, dishwasher, cleaning bathrooms, making beds, etc. ("multi-tasking" is Golden Rule #3)
    On the expenses and the chores, don't hint around or become emotional, be direct and business-like. I typed out a household cleaning and chore list for our house when I noticed that things weren't getting done. Be aware that the level of cleanliness for most men is a totally different standard than it is for women.
    We also have a spreadsheet with all of our household expenses. We sit down weekly and go over the documents. Who is going to pay which bill, who will do which chores.
    On the financial front be honest about your household expenses. You can only work so many hours per week. If he can't promote his home-based business he needs to go back to an office-based 9-5 gig where he has accountability. Some people don't have the discipline to work from home and that's OK. They need to work in a more traditional office setting.
    Good luck!

    Posted by Bambinosmom May 26, 09 01:10 PM
  1. Hoss has it...stop coddling people, stop walking on eggshells, stop placating the pathetic, lazy and stupid...

    This economic slump is bad, terribly affecting people already struggling. But the good side is that people are now standing up to take care of themselves, planting vegetable gardens, cutting down on luxury items/services, and no longer looking for handouts they don't deserve.

    UP - he doesn't deserve your handouts unless he was a disabled vet!

    Posted by indiglodoe May 26, 09 01:11 PM
  1. depression, maybe, but it sounds like the question you should ask yourself is, has he always been lazy or is this a recent reaction to the business failing? i also wonder, if you have been together most of your lives, has the topic of marriage come up? are you not married because he has been too lazy to put in the energy to make a commitment to you, as he seems to be avoiding making a commitment to a career? if he's always settled for the easy way out, not been ambitious, never helped around the house, etc., then that's not going to change and you have to decide if you want to live with that for the rest of your life, give him an ultimatum to change it, or just cut your losses and find someone who's wiling to put some work into life & your relationship. also you have to take responsibility for having let it get to this point - if you never said anything about his lack of pitching in, why would anything change? and then after it goes on for years and years, when you bring it up it's like, why are you freaking out on me all of a sudden? whether you stay with him or not you've got to learn to communicate better, and tell your partner when something bothers you instead of letting it fester until it gets to the point that it breaks you up. if this is all recent since the business failed, it is likely just depression and/or hurt pride, and you need to help build his self-esteem back up, remind him of the things you love about him & the things he is good at and help him move forward. either way PLEASE communincate your feelings in a positive way without attacking him.

    Posted by carly May 26, 09 01:12 PM
  1. exactly!! he has no reason to do anything because he sits around all day, and the chores get done and the bills get paid, so why would he want to get a job? people treat you as good or bad as you allow. if you let him get away with it, he will.

    "He’s not doing anything because he doesn’t have to. Your letter makes it sound like you do everything. Well if I was your guy I’d think that was great. Why mess up what already works?
    Change you, change him. That’s how it works. You can’t change him, but you can change you. And by changing you, perhaps that will change him. "

    Posted by carly May 26, 09 01:16 PM
  1. Un=P

    DON”T Dump this guy!!! He’s a keeper. I see the promise in him. I think Mere might be giving the lad too much of a go pass, however. It doesn’t seem like he’s ever been brimming with get up and go. Let’s focus first on what’s not being said by the LW: Are we to understand that they are not married? Kids? Kids with other people? Kids living with them…supported by them? Maybe he does the drop-off and the pick-up from day care. I don’t think the business failure ignited his stagnation. It’s been an issue for a long time. It could be depression, but even a pill won’t solve his issues. He needs to see a professional and talk about joy and the happiness found in the daily participation of a partnership. He clearly has had issues with his mother and his need for nurturing is abundant. The LW is playing the part of Mom. Perhaps it’s less important just how much bread he brings home than he has a place to go (job) and come home from (miserable sentence, but you get the drift). He needs a gig outside the home…with a regular schedule. He needs to have a schedule at home as well: makes the bed, cooks and cleans 2-3 nights a week, does the laundry, shops for food etc. I expect the Un=P will acknowledge and cherish these steps and maybe buy something with lace at Vicky’s Place…It should go a long way toward feeling valued again. Lastly; if I were her, I’d check his cell phone, email, facebook etc to see what’s taking up all this free time. Then I’d dump him.

    Posted by valentino May 26, 09 01:28 PM
  1. Bambinosmom, calm down, stop trying to turn it into a forum to try to show how wonderful you think you are, and then re-read the letter. It clearly states that both of these people are grown ups in their 50's. I tend to think that your first grade class approach to things won't work for many others aside from you and your beaten down husband. "Raise your hand to be called on and I will turn over the remote control to you only after I've validated that you have completed your chores"

    Posted by Bob Dwyer May 26, 09 01:33 PM
  1. Dear Unequal,

    MY HUSBAND TOLD ME ONE THAT THE SUBTLE APPROACH
    THAT HE NEED THE 2X4 ACCROSS THE FACE APPROACH
    I SAID NO PROBLEM
    ALSO THE FOLOWING APPROACH WORKS WELL WITH TEENAGERS

    DO NOT DO HIS LAUNDRY-
    MAKE A MEAL ONLY FOR YOURSELF
    DO NOT BUY MOUNTAINS OF GROCERIES FOR HIM TO MUCH ON.
    STOP REACHING IN YOUR POCKET AND HANDING OVER GREENBACKS
    SAY QUID PRO QUO FREQUENTLY
    WHEN THE COMPLAINTS START ABOUT NO FOOD, NO MEALS, NO CLEAN LAUNDRY , SAY "BUMMER" VERY SYMPATHETICALLY AND WALK AWAY

    ALSO PEOPLE CANT' WALK ALL OVER YOU UNLESS YOU LET THEM,

    AND YES, IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE


    CHANGE THE CABLE PACKAGE

    Posted by quinzeegirl May 26, 09 01:36 PM
  1. What does "I have tried gently to ask for more help but he resents the implication" really mean? I'm betting it sounds a lot like nagging, and right now I bet the guy is pissed off because his business just failed and there's not much else going on.

    How about you provide some positive incentives? Some starting points:
    "Coming home to dinner on the table really turns me on"
    "Clean house = more bedroom action"

    Or, you could just start thanking him when he does something nice/good. Accentuate the successes and you'll start seeing more of them.

    Men don't get subtlety, and nagging just makes things worse.

    Posted by A May 26, 09 01:36 PM
  1. I agree with quinzeegirl as I have (had) someone living with me in a relationship that was doing nothing so I stopped doing everything and I do mean everything. He started doing his own laundry (which in all his adult years he never did), I canceled all the pay for cable channels, stopped cooking, stopped cleaning - and yes it was hard to see the house become a mess, stopped letting his stuff get put all over the house and piled it up in his designated room and closed the door, stopped doing it all).
    Funny that after a few weeks, he started doing nearly everything I stopped doing.
    Try it.

    Posted by MC May 26, 09 01:45 PM
  1. Rico says "Rico has nothing for this person today, please go away with your nonsense.

    PS...now begins the haters of Rico...Rico can't wait to see what you say."
    ~~~~~~~~~
    Linda LOVES Rico! Rico is absolutely right, and is definitely spot on with his comments about whiners in Meredith's column! How can grown adults not be able to deal with something like this on their own? Is it just to get their letter in an advice column?

    UP says they're both in their mid-50s and have been together for 15 years. And he's been this way the entire time they've been together. Guess what? He's NOT going to change! He's used to you doing everything and paying for everything - please tell us, UP, *WHY* he should change? He's got it made! You have allowed such an unequal partnership to happen and continue to allow it to happen.

    So your choices? You need to quit with the "gently asking" baloney - just say "I don't have time to do them - I would appreciate it if you would please take over doing the dishes/laundry/walking the dog/mowing the lawn/whatever?"

    And if he doesn't, then it's time to stop doing them yourself - EXCEPT for yourself. Make dinner for yourself - do your own dishes, do your own laundry. Because quite frankly, he's using you.

    And if he complains about the fact that you're just doing things for yourself and not for him, you have your proof that he won't change. Figure out a way to move out or make him move out. Guess what? It's TOTALLY OK to live by yourself! You don't HAVE to have a man in your life - especially not a leech like this one seems to be.

    Posted by Linda May 26, 09 01:47 PM
  1. Do what I did. (My X-Husband) was just like your Partner. I tried everything....and suggested everything.......for years & years.....NOTHING WORKED. AND IN THE END, THE SON-OF-A-BITCH LEFT ME FOR ANOTHER WOMAN (she was able to spend more money on him, also, by him doing nothing all the time he got bored & had the time to cheat. GOOD LUCK - A LEOPARD NEVER CHANGES HIS SPOTS.....how true it was in my case...... If I had my chance again - I would've dumped him; but hey GOOD LUCK TO YOU - YOU'LL BE AT PEACE IF YOU JUST ACCEPT YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER FOR WHAT HE/SHE IS - A TAKER & SLOB & SLOTH & DO NOTHING.....

    Posted by Been around May 26, 09 01:48 PM
  1. Carolyn (post 11) & Quinzeegirl (post 27) - lol'd. Never would have thought of the whole just make dinner for yourself ( just yourself) idea. When he runs out of food, laundry & dishes then you can sit down and have a chat about what brought you to this point.

    If it is depression, he needs to start doing something about it. Like scheduling a doctor's appointment tomorrow. Sitting around only makes you more depressed. Also, you need to address why you let him get away with this for the last 15 years. Have to agree with the other posters who said that if your gentle reminders are actually nagging you need to stop that. If you two can sit down together over a beer (a glass of wine or whatever) and actually talk with each other. Let him know how his actions (or lack thereof) are making you angry. Together come up with a more fair division of work that needs to be done around the house. If all else fails refer to Carolyn's & Quinzeeqirl's posts.

    Good luck!

    Posted by sundiego May 26, 09 01:57 PM
  1. Welcome to the club... This is what many men (not inclduing myself, thank God)have been dealing w/ for 100 years.

    Posted by lambski May 26, 09 02:02 PM
  1. Your gentle suggestions won't get the toilet cleaned any time soon, UP, so you need to come right out and say "I need some help here." You don't need to make him a To Do list, you need to ask him what jobs he's willing to take on and then leave him to do them. When he asks “What do you want me to do?”, give him two or three things that need doing and ask him to choose. Don't say “Nothing, I'll do it myself" and don't say "Look around, can't you see what needs to be done?" Trust me, that's how I've derailed my husband's initiative every time. Also, once he's done it, don't redo it 'cause it's not done to your specifications. If you really want to keep him and you really want a change in your dynamic, be clear about your needs, state them without defensiveness or argument, and prepare to be surprised at the outcome: Either he'll pitch in like an adult or he'll give you reason to bid him farewell.

    Posted by KatesNonna May 26, 09 02:06 PM
  1. I'd give him 3 months to pick a major area to address and FIX or he gets the gate.
    Pick one batlle that is most important to you. RESULTS not talk is key to staying with you.
    Therapy and meds if depressed is fine and may well help him. Eval for ADHD, etc. may be needed also. I am all for getting help.
    AND you ALSO need results.
    Also, Find out if he smokes dope with your money. It is a big unmotivator. Labor day or else if you ask me.
    PS The guy isnt "great". Great is a person who helps you and you help him. This guy is not even "good."

    Posted by Cisco kid May 26, 09 02:09 PM
  1. Hoss has it right. Enough is enough. Stop with the kid gloves, soft approach. Sit him down and tell him his choices:

    1) Accept being moved down in the batting order and one or two games off per week.

    2) Rehab stint in Pawtucket to work on his timing, "conditioning" (wink..wink...), and stroke.

    3) Loss of his job as the DH. If he wants to continue to bat 3rd, there's a 30+ softball league in Quincy he can go join.

    Posted by Hadie Nuff May 26, 09 02:10 PM
  1. hey #7 "you two need to talk"
    1. who will take the first step to TALK ?
    he already has an ego and an attitude.
    2. who will adjust here ?
    you cannot remake his personality.
    3. I can debate the problem in different ways, are you talking/walking towards solution ?
    4. even 50 yrs of marriages have been broken, history of 15 yrs/past is irrelevant as people may not change but people do grow with life. you do whatever you feel is best for you now.
    5.if everyday you resent being with him, resent breeds hate. hate breeds SUFFERING (not an engagement ring or a wedding ring).can you stop being a doormat and can you make a choice , is there any choice at all ?
    5. at the end your choice is your choice,all of us are adults here can and will accept that.

    Posted by Proud to be a Lesbian May 26, 09 02:10 PM
  1. in order to avoid being called sissy/PMSing/stupid, I can't even slap my friend.but saying " life is full of CHOICES, you choose to be who you are."

    Posted by Lesbiano May 26, 09 02:11 PM
  1. Dear Unequal

    He is using you and your partner is unfortunately a very selfish man. He will drain you of your cash and never be able to fill up your love tank. It seems you are settling and havent really been happy for the past 15 years. Is this really the man you want to spend the rest of your life with? Why? What has he done for you lately? What are his positives?

    You dont want advice on how to leave him, but you want to see if he can change. He has gotten used to the cushy lifestyle you have provided for him so make changes in your behavior. Dont let him have access to any of your money. Tell him you want to sell some of his possessions on eBay. Never give him any type of allowance whatsoever. Remind him that he's a grown man. Talk up your friends husbands. If he gets cranky, show him where the door is. Where is your girl power? Stand up for yourself!

    Posted by trueluv4eva May 26, 09 02:12 PM
  1. hey UPer/DOWNer,
    being a lesbian, not sure what goes in your world out there.
    I am not a fan of Oprah but she says
    "Life is meant to be abundant in ALL areas not just...Decide what you want.believe you can have it future,believe you deserve it, believe it's possible for you.Have faith.
    right now, Iam dancing to the tunes of "just dance" with my fav ellen degen!

    Posted by Lesbian May 26, 09 02:13 PM
  1. Get over it. if anyone of you had enough of the men,go find a real man,
    If not, well I’m sure I can hook you up with lesb...)
    I became a lesbian because of women, because women are beautiful, strong, and compassionate.

    Posted by Lesbian May 26, 09 02:13 PM
  1. My beloved has been job hunting for the past 3 months, leaving me the lone bread winner. I think it is hard for some women, myself included, to ask for help. I am in my mid-late 40's and I felt guilty the first time I gave my husband a grocery list to do our weekly shopping. Wrong or right, I felt inadequate that I needed the help and I felt like I was emasculating him. I know, I know, it's 2009 and I need to get with it...but the feelings were real. I felt bad asking him to do laundry, or clean up. But you know what? It got easier over time...for both of us. Life goes on, and people who love each other can adapt and change to make things work.

    If he really loves you, how can he possibly hear you sincerely say "I need your help" without responding in a caring manner?

    Posted by yikes May 26, 09 02:15 PM
  1. You don't say that him not working is causing you any financial stress, so I'm going to assume that from a financial standpoint that you don't actually need his income. That being the case, he SHOULD be picking up the lion's share of the household duties if he isn't going to be working. Some men don't get subtle hints or gentle prodding and don't really want you to do that. My husband is a busy guy and has always said "just tell me what you want me to do" because he doesn't want to think about it or have to figure out what I'm trying to tell him. So I've learned to just say "I need you to do X,Y and Z" and it seems to get the job done!

    And I don't agree with the depression theory - it could be that he actually is ok with the business failing ( you mention it somewhat nonchalantly and say that your business is still thriving and he DOES still have an at home gig) and views this as a time to just take a break - that's fine, but it can't go on forever and it doesn't mean he doesn't have to pull his weight.

    Posted by bumbly-bee May 26, 09 02:21 PM
  1. Women have been sitting back and living off of men for centuries. Why is it wrong for a man to live off a woman once in awhile?

    Posted by Stop Whining. May 26, 09 02:21 PM
  1. Maybe if you opened up your relationship and brought other sexual partners in, you'd both be happier and less "stressed" out?

    Posted by Rico Suave May 26, 09 02:34 PM
  1. Gotta agree with the hard cases here. Stop being gentle. You might see some change when he sees you mean business. Then again, you might not.

    Sorry, I don't buy the depression thing if he has always been like this. Situational or circumstantial depression is just that - situational/circumstantial. If he's been like this through good and bad for years, then this is his lazy side coming out, and by being gentle and non-confrontational, you are feeding into it.

    Does it suck that this makes you the bad guy? Sure it does. But sometimes there just needs to be one. Tell him in no uncertain terms that you expect some immediate changes here, that you did not sign on to this relationship for this. He is a grown adult, not a teenage slacker and you cannot put up with it anymore. He can 'resent the implication' all he likes, but there is no implication - there are facts. "I resent the implication..." is an attempt to make you feel like the bad guy and scare you into backing off. Ignore it, and tell him if he insists on being a slacking child, then that's the way you'll treat him.

    Then follow through with it.

    As for the poster who gave us the marriage vow shpeil - first, there was no mention of a marriage. But even if there were, I respectfully but vehemently disagree - no one signs up for a marriage (or any relationship) with the expectation of it being a forced labor camp. The marriage vows work both ways here - usually "honor" is stuck in there. How is *he* honoring *her* by dumping every financial and domestic responsibility on her? Where would HIS marriage vows be? Again - if there were even a marriage to talk about.

    Sometimes people are just being lazy. It's not a dirty word, it's not a hate remark. No need to get the ACLU involved. Don't try and tell me there are no lazy people in the world. Just tell him either his ways will have to change, or his living arrangements.

    -Ceej

    Posted by Ceej May 26, 09 02:34 PM
  1. I used to feel like Mr Edna would never do anything, like I was literally running circles around him to keep to the house clean, get dinner ready, etc. I finally realized that instead of resenting him for his laziness, I needed to find a way to work together. Here's what worked for us: first, I asked him to take responsibility for dinner two nights a week. He said that seemed fair, but it didn't work until we specified which nights (ie Tuesdays and Fridays). I don't worry about planning dinner or grocery shopping for those nights and it's a huge relief.

    I also realized that I am like to have a cleaner house than he does - I clean more often because I notice things more. But he notices things that I don't, like the back of the toilet, and he's taken responsibility to keep those areas clean. And I have to admit that even though I'm doing the same amount of cleaning, the house looks a lot better.

    Every relationship is different, and I can only hope that what worked for me will give you some ideas for what can work for you. I think that after 15 years you can have routines that you don't realize, and he's probably not helping because he's never had to think about it before.

    If nothing else works, have you thought about hiring a maid? Seems like a better solution than kicking 15 years to the curb.

    Posted by Edna May 26, 09 02:34 PM
  1. Hey "U.P.": I'll pay you a consulting fee to convince my wife to let me have the same sweet deal as your "Kept Man", I'd love to hang out in my pajamas and goof-off all day. You sound like an easy "mark", PT Barnum was right!!!

    Posted by Cynical666 May 26, 09 02:38 PM
  1. You've gotten some great advice already. My husband and I were in a similar situation when we first got married, he was laid off two weeks before our wedding. Not wanting to emascualte him further, I tiptoed around the subject of what the hell he did all day while totally unemployed for six months while I worked all day and still did everything around the house (he was sleeping until 11, taking himself out to lunch, napping, then staying up until 3 AM with on-line porn - and yeah, he has depression). I look back now and wonder what on earth I was thinking.

    Anyway, I think it's time to have a frank conversation and stop the gentleness.Assuming you can rule out depression, come up with a list of household responsibilities and divvy up the list together. If he doesn't hold up his end of the bargain, do nothing for him (no shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry) and he should get the picture.

    Good luck.

    Posted by Jen May 26, 09 02:39 PM
  1. I agree with (post 11) & Quinzeegirl (post 27) but would also cancel the Internet with the Cable.
    Tell him explictily what will make you happy. And if you don't see changes or only see half hearted changes, then you'll know that he isn't really interested in your happiness ~~ that he is just here for himself.
    My "Lainy" sense tells me that this lack of drive was partially responsible for the failure of your joint business. It also tells me that you created the business because he didn't have the get up and go to go and get a job unless you created one for him.
    Can you tell us why you want to be with him forever? I think I get more "household help" from my 15 year old son.

    Posted by Lain the Blunt May 26, 09 02:41 PM
  1. It sounds like you may be failing him from an intimacy standpoint. When you get home tonight after your 12 hour day, you need to stop thinking about yourself and take care of his needs. Once you do that, you need to clean up and cook dinner.

    Posted by thetruthteller May 26, 09 02:42 PM
  1. Post one comment on the letter each day. Refrain from posting comments and follow ups about your own prior comments. It smacks of desperation, low self-esteem, and craving attention for something that is lacking in other aspects of your day to day life. Thanks!

    Posted by MG May 26, 09 02:46 PM
  1. One thing that's missing from these comments is, "What does he want?" Does he want his work-from-home gig? Does he want to stay at home just do house work? Does he want a more typical job? Does he want to start an entirely new business? Does he just want to watch TV and eat cheeze-puffs all day?

    The letter is all about the writer's needs, which is fair. We all see things from our own perspective. But, I think it's best if she find out what he really wants so he can be self motivated.

    If in the end, the only thing he wants is to be a lazy bum, then the letter writer is in a bad spot. At that point, you'll probably need professional help.

    Posted by two sheds May 26, 09 02:53 PM
  1. my advice for you is to get a second job.

    Posted by Anonymous May 26, 09 02:56 PM
  1. Rico-
    Surprised? Where are the haters? Out for a peddle? Riding the T? Coffee shop? Back wax? Do you know you are straight...out of the movie "Jane Austen Book Club"? Rico greases the chain, pumps the tires and Rico is music and he writes the songs". Jane Austen quote of the day: "I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle."

    Love Always,
    Anonymico

    Posted by Anonymico May 26, 09 03:00 PM
  1. I think Rico had it right...NO MORE WHINERS PLEASE!!!

    This one is a whiner and deserves no sympathy or help from us.

    Letters from real people with real troubles like how to talk about intimacy issues or what to do about jealousy or other relationship types of issues are what this is for. This one is not a relationship issue, this is an issue of an angry woman now after 15 years finally realized she is with the wrong guy. Boo hoo, you are over 50 years old but you act like a 4 year old not getting the ice cream you wanted. You probably cheat on him with other guys too or girls? That is what you need to write about. Tell us, is he on facebook and myspace and having his "friends" over during the day to play spin the bottle?

    This one was lame

    Posted by stay at home dad May 26, 09 03:04 PM
  1. The moment I wake up
    Before I put on my makeup
    I say a little pray for you
    While combing my hair now,
    And wondering what dress to wear now,
    I say a little prayer for you

    Forever, and ever, you'll stay in my heart
    and I will love you
    Forever, and ever, we never will part
    Oh, how I love you
    Together, forever, that's how it must be
    To live without you
    Would only meen heartbreak for me.

    I run for the bus, dear,
    While riding I think of us, dear,
    I say a little prayer for you.
    At work I just take time
    And all through my coffee break-time,
    I say a little prayer for you.

    Posted by Godmother May 26, 09 03:13 PM
  1. Time out. It's as simple as this:

    He's doing this because:

    a) he CAN. You tried asking for help with chores and he resented the implication you were making and told you that if you work harder, you can get more done.

    b) he's familiar with the percentages and demographics. You are in your 50's. If you end it with him, you will end up in the HUUUUUUUUGE pool of women that age that cannot even find dates. He, on the other hand, will be able to move somewhere close by where another woman just like you will support his lifestyle. In fact, he won't even have to pack and move. It will most likely be done for him while he sits back, sips a Miller High Life and eats a plate of deviled eggs.

    Posted by 50s and being supported too May 26, 09 03:16 PM
  1. ttt (post 51) the days of a woman bringing home the bacon, frying it up in a pan and never forgetting you're you're a man are ovah! Move on and get a life.

    Posted by Anonymous May 26, 09 03:22 PM
  1. I agree 100% with posts 11 and 27
    I did this with my husband when he slacked on doing chores. We make the same salary, but for some reason I was the one doing all the cleaning and cooking. I asked him gently, he didn't listen. No more.
    I did my laundry. I made my dinner. I washed my dishes. I picked up my things.
    When he realized that he needed to do his share because no one would do it for him, things went back to normal. Now we take turns doing dishes, cooking and cleaning. 50/50, just like a marriage should be

    And drop the whole "my money" thing. You're married, Its' "your money". Just be happy you can pay the bills.

    Posted by Noel May 26, 09 03:25 PM
  1. The real issue is not him at all, but you. The solution lies in you after all. He won't really change unless he's forced to, and if you force him, he may leave and find another who will accept him for who he is. No one changes unless THEY want to change, not a loved one wanting him to change.

    So, it comes down to this - will you accept him as he is, or not? Once you can reflect on this very tough question, and answer it to yourself honestly, you'll know what to do... aAnd then you'll do it with a clear head. Good luck. You'll find your way.

    Posted by jackindigo May 26, 09 03:40 PM
  1. It sounds like you have been shouldering the majority of financial and household responsibilities for quite some time. It is very likely that your husband doesn't even think about helping out around the house since you have been doing it for so long.
    One thing I have learned in marriage is that my husband definitely cannot read my mind, so if I am feeling that I am doing more in our home, the only way to change that is to speak up. It's not always easy, and you think he should already notice and appreciate all the work you do. Plus you probably want to avoid sounding like a nag/mom/teacher.
    My suggestion is to make a list of all the "chores" that need to be done, and be sure to note which ones you prefer to handle. Ask him to pick chores that will be his sole responsibility, and agree on a time frame that you will each stick to to get everything done. I bet he will be very surprised when he sees on paper all the things that need to be done (and that you have been doing all by yourself!)
    Best of luck!


    .

    Posted by anonymous May 26, 09 03:40 PM
  1. What kind of man does this? Sure, we can all go through periods of unemployment or have health issues, but if he's in his 50s and you are pretty much supporting him - well, put up a few mirrors around the house, because this guy needs to take a good look at himself.

    Posted by Bony Melon May 26, 09 03:45 PM
  1. Rico hates cheaters...but not for the letter of the day.

    Posted by material girl May 26, 09 03:59 PM
  1. Meredith is right here. UP is enabling her partner by not pushing him to contribute to their life together. He sounds to me to be unmotivated and could be facing a depression.

    She wants to stay with him, so she should encourage him to get his act together. If he gets upset with that, it's okay. Being in a long term loving relationship sometimes means saying hard truths to your loved ones that are not always welcome or easy to hear. But it may make him feel some solace to know she's still loving him and worried about his well being, and his lack of contribution to their lives together.

    A man's job is often a huge part of his identity and sense of pride.

    Posted by Scott May 26, 09 04:12 PM
  1. Who makes the most money is not the issue. Teamwork is. But so many women everywhere are responsible for all housework (and yard work and pool work, etc.), whether they work outside of the home or not. Add kids to this and it is never-ending. I think it is funny how often women complain about doing everything themselves. Not worth the nagging. It is easier and more efficient to just tackle it alone. Especially if you have set a 15 year standard.

    Posted by citykitty617 May 26, 09 04:12 PM
  1. I don't imagine the OP will ever get around to my comment, what with the long list of preceding voices, but I'd like to counsel sensitive communication.

    None of us really know what's going on with your husband, but perhaps if you could approach the subject in a sit-down where you 1) explain that you love him, etc, and want to make things better, and 2) how you feel like he isn't stepping up and taking on an appropriate share of household work (keeping in mind that you're currently the only income-earner). I know, it sounds suspiciously like coddling, but I don't believe it really is.

    Could you take the approach many people here suggest?

    You could. Do I think it will get you want you want? I don't. Framed as an attack on him he may feel attacked, it seems to me you want to foster open communication where you can get to the point that you can safely tell him to do what he needs to do without causing more problems or an emotional roadblock.

    Having a disinterested but fair third person involved might or might not be appropriate if things are already too bad for the two of you to be able to sit down and hash this out yourselves while remaining respectful (it happens).

    Hopefully he'll wise-up.

    Posted by T+M May 26, 09 04:17 PM
  1. It sounds like UP has changed the rules of the relationship without telling her partner. UP was happy for a long time with being the breadwinner, just lately she is not. I think UP should explore her role in all of this as well before being too hard on her partner.

    Posted by Gisele May 26, 09 04:27 PM
  1. I love how open and honest communication is merely a "suggested tactic" on these boards..... "Have you tried NOT playing... suggestive dialogue games and dropping ridiculous, intelligence-insulting hints??? I've found that actually saying what you want, or what is wrong, works wonders!....."

    REEEEAAAALLLLYYY??? What a novel theory! Maybe not initiating the conversation in the very tone you utilized in your letter would be a good start. I have little doubt that you approach him on these subjects as if THERE IS something for him to be ashamed of........ It's amazing how little people are able to conceive of how their tone and inflection can set the standards for communication.

    What women need to realize is that, while we understand that sensitive issues of this nature need to be approached with kid gloves when it's you, it is actually the exact OPPOSITE (go figure) for the way men wish to deal... We don't want you to treat the situation as if we've just been molested by the orthodontist. You want him to feel self conscious about whatever the issue is?? Treat it with the same dire, over-the-top reaction you would expect him to provide for your tragedies... men LOVE that!!

    Bottom line: DON'T CODDLE! Tell him what you want/need without all of the implications of how he needs to overcome his FAILURE. It's as simple as being direct without being condescending.

    Posted by DJMcG May 26, 09 04:31 PM
  1. Hey #12 watch out!
    Problems come to a man/woman/lesbian/gay... not to rocks.we have problems because of who we are, we have problems because we are in this body, we have problems because we are in this world.it may come because we do not know, we fail to see and sense... ! Handle the problems or the the problems will handle you.

    Posted by lesbian May 26, 09 04:52 PM
  1. “We know for a fact that people are likely to be under-insured and only go to the doctor when there's a PROBLEM. We weren't / aren't doing full justice just focusing on cancer.”

    Posted by lesbian May 26, 09 04:53 PM
  1. "my advice for you is to get a second job. "
    ... or a second man!

    Posted by carly May 26, 09 05:42 PM
  1. "my advice for you is to get a second job. "
    ... or a second man!

    Posted by carly May 26, 09 05:48 PM
  1. I have been the breadwinner in my relationship for the past 7 years or so. I'm fine with that - I married who he is, not what I hoped he might be. However, when he lost his job around 6 months ago, he immediately started to do more of the household chores because I was working so much overtime. We had an open an honest talk - a blunt one, too, since sometimes a clue-by-four is needed - about how if I was working 60 hours a week, I really needed him to take the slack in areas like grocery shopping and cleaning. I helped out on the weekends as much as I could. We made sure to tell each other often that we appreciated what the other was doing to keep going. What he was doing was no less important to the happness of our house than what I was doing. (I also got very lucky - he can cook like a champion and enjoys it.)

    My advice? Blunt, honest talk. Don't yell, don't be snide - just be truthful and as clearly as possible.

    Posted by Kate May 26, 09 06:26 PM
  1. don't ask him for 'help.' that implies it's your stuff to do around the house and that he's doing you a favor. take care of yourself and not him and maybe he'll wake up. or sit down and have a grown up discussion using the 'i' statements -- 'i think this is what needs doing around the house? what do you think? ok let's divide this list in half.' no more pussyfooting around!

    Posted by enjoli May 26, 09 07:16 PM
  1. I can't believe Meredith ran a letter by someone who's *not* at 20-something who gets in trouble after getting drunk in a bar! How refreshing - a letter by a mature person who doesn't mention alcohol.

    Posted by reindeergirl May 26, 09 09:28 PM
  1. If you can't accept your partner for who he is then just leave him and not give the false impression that you are committed to him for better or worse. It sounds like you are only a fair weather spouse and you should be honest with yourself and him about who you really are.

    Posted by Todd May 26, 09 10:08 PM
  1. I'd suggest looking into becoming a cougar and/or a sugarmomma. At least a 20something year old stud would have some energy to cook meals, go grocery shopping and perform some light housecleaning. Picking up the tab for grad school would likely be cheaper than the current arrangement.

    Posted by Y May 26, 09 10:40 PM
  1. My husband and I went through a tough spot that looks something like what you describe here. Early in our relationship, we were both employed and very busy, but I provided most of the emotional support and did most of the housework. My husband was laid off, became depressed, and similarly did not do well with working from home. I meanwhile became exhausted from doing it "all." We did get through things and fundamentally shift our relationship to a whole new dynamic. He is now back at work, a great dad, and does tons of the housework. But he had to go through personal therapy (as did I) to figure out why the dynamic was the way it was....he had not realized the layoff had made him depressed. Here is what I suggest: Clearly communicate that you are unhappy with the way things are. This may confuse im if the current relationship is the same as before and now you want change. But people change and mature ad relationships shift over time. Try couples therapy. And take care of yourself, don't do more than you can do, do something nice for yourself every day, and self-nurture. Last, patience....most relationships go through a major shift every 10-15 years and the regrouping into a new dynamic is hard but possible if both parties are willing.

    Posted by Sunflower May 27, 09 07:36 AM
  1. Regarding your quote: "I am paying for everything (have ALWAYS paid for everything)"

    Why? 15 years and you've been paying for everything?

    Hey, umm....I think you need to end the relationship. NOW! Have him move out.

    Oh, and then let me know. Unlike that lazy deadbeat, I'd be happy to go to the grocery store, prepare some meals, and do some laundry while you work 60+ hours a week and pay for everything for me.

    Thanks.

    Posted by Yura Rube May 27, 09 08:11 AM
  1. # 70 -
    "It's amazing how little people are able to conceive of how their tone and inflection can set the standards for communication." -DJMcG

    I'm almost giddy with the irony here.

    Posted by pillow talker May 27, 09 08:57 AM
  1. Crack that whip
    Give the past the slip
    Step on a crack
    Break your mommas back
    When a problem comes along
    You must whip it
    Before the cream sits out too long
    You must whip it
    When something’s going wrong
    You must whip it

    Now whip it
    Into shape
    Shape it up
    Get straight
    Go forward
    Move ahead
    Try to detect it
    Its not too late
    To whip it
    Whip it good


    Posted by devo May 27, 09 09:09 AM
  1. I'm with Rico on these letters. Seems like every single one these days is just some whiner who is either a) dating/married to a loser and for whatever reason needs confirmation from a bunch of strangers that the person is, in fact, a loser, or b) never learned basic communication skills and prefers to just whine about their situation on an internet forum rather than confront their problems head-on like a well-adjusted adult would. I mean, this woman's problems have been festering for a long time, and she has barely even attempted to address it with her husband, yet has no qualms whatsoever crapping on him to a bunch of random people online. There is something very wrong with your relationship when you feel perfectly comfortable opening up to internet strangers, but can't muster the guts to have a candid discussion with your own husband. Grow up!

    Posted by Rae May 27, 09 09:29 AM
  1. I agree with Rico's second posting. I have been the primary breadwinner in my marriage for close to 20 years. I believe I "settled," as well. I feel I am half to blame for the way the situation is now, because it has always been that way. I love my husband and although I wish things would change, I know they won't.

    Deal with it.

    Posted by florida May 27, 09 09:53 AM
  1. I'm disappointed in how many people are coming down hard on Unequal Partner. Yes, she has been doing the lion's share all along but he was also working and thus contributing to the household. Her frustration is justifiable because he is now contributing nothing and is not making any effort toward becoming a future contributor. To me, the fact that he "resents the implication" means he knows he's being a slacker and is trying to make her out to be the bad guy. I agree with both the soft and hard approaches suggested. First, try to have the gentle conversation as suggested by T+M in #68. If you want to salvage the relationship, you need to approach the problem in a loving manner and look at it as a problem you both have and a solution that needs to come from the both of you. If that doesn't work, gradually start dropping chores, particularly those related to food. Have a sandwich on the way home from work and if he asks what's for dinner, tell him you already ate and leave it at that. When the cupboard gets bare, ask him to suggest a few meals he's willing to cook, make out the shopping list together and go shopping together. My husband and I have a lot of fun shopping together and if he is truly clueless he'll learn something. For what its worth, my cousin is married to a slacker/slob/spender. She actually left him in the hope that he would prove his love by cleaning up his act. He didn't and she went back to him anyway. She has learned to overlook his (vast number of) shortcomings and has come to accept that she will live in near poverty surrounded by junk.

    Posted by Cordelia May 27, 09 10:23 AM
  1. It's a real drag when your life partner has stopped the "partner" piece and you now think about how "life" is going to be with this person if things don't improve.

    Usually one or the other in the relationship is emotionally stronger, or financially stronger, or physically stronger, or is the one who can be counted on more to do what's right or finish up that last bit of yard work after an exhausting day.

    However, when it all falls on you, and your entreaties fall on deaf ears for an extended period of time, it is painful and confusing and very frustrating, especially when the other party isn't interested in doing anything--regardless of whether it is depression or laziness or disinterest.

    Yes, it would be better if some kind of major decision didn't need to be made, and I'd be ticked off too at having to divert more energy to figure out what to do. But nothing changes if nothing changes. Good luck.

    Posted by yupokay May 27, 09 10:47 AM
  1. How about volunteer work? There is always an organization that could use your partner's skills and people who are busy are more likely to be (a) in better spirits and (b) help out more around the house.

    There's something about having nothing to do job-wise that makes it easy to ignore chores that cry out to be done. Depression definitely has something to do with it, clinical or otherwise. He should get out of the house and volunteer to do something for someone - it's good networking and even better therapy.

    Posted by floridagirl25 May 27, 09 11:03 AM
  1. There's a lot of discussion on here about what men are like and women are like and so on. To me this is not a matter of gender and rather a matter of respect and mutual support. You started as a team, regardless of what strengths you brought to the table. There was a spoken, or unspoken, understanding of what you each bring to the relationship. Before, you each brought things to the table and took different things away. Now, one of you is doing all the taking and the other is doing all the giving.

    My advice is to position a sit-down chat about being on the same page and supporting each other. Rather than be accusitory, take a supportive approach and tell him that you understand that you each take a role in this relationship and that although you love what you do and don't care which of you brings home the money, but are becoming resentful because of his apathy. Tell him you know and understand that it's easy to get pulled into a rut and tell him you want to help him. You say you have your own consulting company and work 60 hours a week. Maybe he can help you out with some of your day-to-day tasks. This will give him importance, shorten your time at work, and give you a chance to work together on something.

    Posted by Anonymous May 27, 09 11:08 AM
  1. What if he doesn't want to work and enjoys his life?

    Thank your feminist predecessors. If you are able to support two people on one income, why should he have to work?

    If the genders were reversed in this situation, you'd see your traditional housewife/working man situation. Maybe instead of basing things on a basis of money and work, you can base them on support and love.

    The gender roles have changed, and this is something women should start getting used to. Your predecessors fought so you could work and support yourselves. Now it's time to live the life that feminist predecessors envisioned.

    Posted by Mikey "Insane" Monkeypants May 27, 09 11:32 AM
  1. So does he work or doesn't he? It sounds like YOU BOTH work from home, so why should he do all of the chores and work around the house?

    So what if YOU pay for everything? You should realize that your money is his money too, if you are in this thing for the long haul, so stop being so selfish and stop thinking of a "mine" and "his" thing and think of everything as "yours".

    Why are you so stuck on money? Who cares? Is it really that important?

    Why would he seek work if HE ALREADY HAS A WORK FROM HOME JOB?

    Posted by Mikey "Insane" Monkeypants May 27, 09 11:44 AM
  1. What if he doesn't want to work and enjoys his life?

    Thank your feminist predecessors. If you are able to support two people on one income, why should he have to work?

    If the genders were reversed in this situation, you'd see your traditional housewife/working man situation. Maybe instead of basing things on a basis of money and work, you can base them on support and love.

    The gender roles have changed, and this is something women should start getting used to. Your predecessors fought so you could work and support yourselves. Now it's time to live the life that feminist predecessors envisioned.

    Posted by Mikey "Insane" Monkeypants May 27, 09 11:44 AM
  1. Dear Meredith,

    My partner and I of 15 years started a business. She was too controlling and simply didn't understand how to run a proper business, so she ran it into the ground. This really upset me because it was my life dream to open this business. Now I am having a hard time finding a job but I am trying to pitch in with a work-from-home business. I don't make much money, but I am trying.

    My partner has a more steady job, thankfully, and she supports me while I get back on my feet, however she has been very demeaning, belittling, and demanding of me. She has been nagging me every day about money and house work, when we both do eual amouht of work. Yes, she pays for most things, but I picture this is what long term partners should do for each other.

    I can't take the nagging anymore and I am thinking of leaving her. What should I do?

    Annoyed Partner

    Posted by Mikey "Insane" Monkeypants May 27, 09 11:51 AM
  1. I agree with # 75. Dividing chores is the best thing to do.

    Posted by ida May 27, 09 12:13 PM
  1. After paying for everything for 15 years, you really think things are going to change? After 5,500 days, you suddenly wake up, say it's not fair, and run off to the loyal readers of an internet blog for validation?!?!? Sorry, but I have no sympathy for you. There are two sides to this story and methinks the truth is probably closer to your partner's version than yours.

    BTW, if it were me and you tried to stick it in my face that you are the breadwinner and it's "your" money, I'd certainly do some meal prep for you. I'd make you a nice fat turd sandwich and tell you to take a large bite!

    Posted by Dan Blocker May 27, 09 12:17 PM
  1. Wow!! We wonder why our children cannot growup and take care of themselves. It's because of the adults out there that can't either! Seriously, you seem to be doing very well by yourself, now stick with it, with out your sidekick! He is obviously using you, and has been all along! I'm sure it seems (and probably will be) hard for you to leave someone with whom you've been with for 15 years but, that's the only thing that will change your situation with him. "You can't teach an old dog new tricks". It's been said for years, and I whole heartedly agree!
    Good Luck!

    Posted by nicole May 27, 09 01:10 PM
  1. #81 pillow talker:

    Actually, there's absolutely nothing ironic about it, unless the adjudicator happens to be a complete moron, as in your case...

    My tone was precisely the one intended for this forum. A tone of frustration at the idiocy of the masses, with a slight hint of disdain for the typical under-handed dealings of selfish imbeciles? Check! Irony level? Zero!

    So wait, does that now make your post "ironic"?? Or is still just moronic?

    Nice try -- you almost turned your vexation at my comments into a real worthwhile cause there! BLNT!!

    Posted by DJMcG May 27, 09 01:11 PM
  1. I think you need to look down the years and decide if this is how you want to live for the rest of your life. The man has been dependent on you for 15 years. That means it started when he was 40. He's not going to to change. He's not going to start contributing financially, and any work he does around the house will be temporary and done resentfully. Lots of people here have mentioned depression, but nobody's brought up passive aggression. The man is basically giving you the finger every day of his life . If I were you I'd put a keylogger on the computer and a VAR (Voice Activated Recorder) in the bedroom. He's doing something all day. You need to find out what so that you can make decisions about your life based on having ALL the relevant information. I bet you don't know the half of it.

    Posted by Tina May 27, 09 02:17 PM
  1. Clearly, anyone telling this woman to just get rid of her lazy husband is not in a committed long-term relationship. Hopefully there's a good reason that they're still together in their 50's after 15 years of marriage - maybe the "great" part she mentions means that he's emotionally supportive, they have fun together, and they're otherwise compatible. You think REALLY hard before you give that up, for any reason, and it doesn't help to tell her that he won't change and she should leave him.

    I've had problems like this with my boyfriend of nearly 10 years, and it's hard! No matter what the income situation, it sucks to do an unfair share of the grunt work with no thanks while the other person lounges. But like it or not, most requests for him to do his share usually come across as nagging. Things that worked:

    1. Telling him directly (but honestly and not as an attack) that I couldn't be happy with the way things were. The subtle approach never worked. It's not that he doesn't get hints - it might just be that what you consider subtlety or gentleness, he considers passive-aggressive and patronizing. I don't know many people who wouldn't rather be addressed directly (but non-angrily) than through nicey-nice beating around the bush.
    2. Insisting on an approximate division of labor. It's much easier now that it's generally understood that I clean the cat box, he takes out the trash, etc., rather than arguing it out at each instance.
    3. Pick your battles and don't jump on him every time he drops the ball. It does work to let him figure out that if he wants a dry, non-smelly towel he'll have to hang it up, or that neither of us can cook dinner if he hasn't done the dishes like he promised.
    4. Saying thank you - honestly and affectionately (a quick kiss & hug helps). That goes for him too when you do your share. (If you initiate the thank you's, hopefully he'll pick it up.) It's not necessary (it's not like you're doing each other favors by doing chores), but that's why it helps. If you both know that your efforts aren't being taken for granted, you'll both be happier. And if he is depressed (I can't offer an opinion on that one) it might help him to do something productive and be appreciated for it.
    5. My mom likes to quote Mother Teresa's idea of doing "small things with great love". If you look on picking up the slack a little bit sometimes as an act of kindness in the relationship (especially if he really is depressed, or if he just happens to have a busy or bad day), he might start doing the same. I try not to mind doing dishes that aren't "mine" once in awhile, and every now and then he offers to scoop the cat box for me, or cooks dinner when I was supposed to. Along with the "thanks" part, this really keeps the wheels greased sometimes.

    All that said, I'm hoping that your relationship is worth the trouble and maybe some work on your part to initiate the change. If you're still with him after 15 years, he'd better have some good qualities that make you want to stay. Good luck, toots!

    PS - Rico, you need to get over yourself. After reading your comments on a couple of posts, the 3rd person thing is pretentious and self-important, and the "advice" is useless. Perhaps your bravado towards the "haters of Rico" is because you already know that you sound like a tool, yes?

    Posted by Liz May 27, 09 05:35 PM
  1. DJMcG-
    It's called Adderall, it's time released, and you may need a quick dose of Ritalin to get you through the homework and dinner hours. You constantly prove to us all that you are an angry witch who uses big words (thesaurus) to disseminate your drivel. Watch out before someone drops a house on your head. WWW

    Posted by pillow talker May 28, 09 10:24 AM
  1. Actually, I'm not angry at all... you just can't keep up intellectually and it frustrates you. I'm sorry for your issue. Honestly, I feel pity for whatever mental instability causes you to confuse animation with anger. Perhaps you were just raised by a pack of accountants?? Oh, and I haven't picked up a Thesaurus since about '97.

    You know, jealousy is a rather nasty smelling perfume, baby girl... try not to dig yourself too deeply into that hole. Just because my verbal barrage keeps your head spinning, doesn't mean you have to run towards hate! Geez, you're starting to remind me of many jilted ex's that just couldn't give up the deal... (Alicia, is that you? Dana?)

    Oh well, I'm sure you'll track me down at the next letter, when my analysis gets your motor running yet again.....

    Posted by DJMcG May 29, 09 11:40 AM
  1. Thanks to those of you who offered sincere advice. I appreciate it. Those of you who just use this as a platform to trash people...you are not so nice. I posted my letter because I needed some guidance, not a flame-thrower. To clarify, I do not nag, I did not run our business into the ground (the internet did), it hasn't "always been like this" (this is pretty new, since the business folded), and I don't consider myself a whiner. I am committed to this long term relationship and was merely asking for advice on how to get through a rough patch. So, again, thanks to those of you with advice, especially the tough advice, and the hell with those of you who only prowl this blog in hopes of finding someone to trash. Perhaps you should get a life of your own.

    Posted by Unequal Partner May 29, 09 12:55 PM
  1. nice to see Hoss back in the saddle
    get it Hoss from Bonanaza
    I also see Rico makes sense when his panties....
    speaking of making sense Exvermonter does a better job when
    making analogies about flying 40k in the air
    which means she's either a serious pilot, yikes, or a wannabe (i am too) or a groupie, i am not

    Posted by mikeinsalem May 30, 09 01:39 AM
 
ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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