A Little Help Here, Please?

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Robin:

Like you, I work from home.  In my previous life I worked in my field for corporations in offices, but last year I started a consulting business and now can do it all from home.  That’s the good news!  Here’s the bad news: my husband has always been not the best at helping around the house, but since I started my new business things have become much much worse.

He never picks up his clothes, puts his dishes in the dishwasher or does anything remotely “domestic.”  We’ve argued and argued about it and from his point of view, I am “home all day” and therefore in a better position to do these chores.

How do I get this knucklehead to help out?  This is the biggest stressor in our relationship as we are still in love and romantic, our one child is in college and financially things are sound.  Things should be perfect but I am sick of feeling like the maid. Help!

Maria

Dear Maria:

I’m giving you the virtual side-eye: did you pick that name in a racist way?  I hope not, because I’m really not in the mood for hate mail this morning.

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Readers, Maria gave me a little more detail on the phone that I think you should know:

1. Her work day usually adds up to around 6 hours, while her husband Sergio works at least 8 or 9 hours each day.

2. She earns about 20% less than Hector now but when she worked outside the home she earned about 15% more than he does.  She quit her last job spontaneously to start this business and did not discuss it with Manuel first.

3. Jose is not as optimistic about their financial situation as Maria is, as they are still at least $300,000 away from their retirement goal.

4. Miguel hates his job.

Oh boy, here we go.  I have a feeling I’m going to get some serious shit for this…

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Maria, I am going to advise you to stand down and suck it up.  My advice would not have been the same a year ago when you were working full-time outside the home, but let’s look at things from Rodrigo’s perspective for a moment:

1. He works much longer hours than you, especially when you count his commute time of 30 minutes each way, and he does not have the luxury of being the boss as you do.

2. He earns more money than you as a result of his efforts and has never complained about your sudden career change that resulted in a large income drop for your household.  In fact, he has been very supportive of your new gig.  Pedro is a hell of a guy!

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3. One of the reasons Jesus works so hard is because you both want to retire in 8 years.  This has been your plan for quite some time and the drop in your income has really tweaked your savings schedule.

In reality, unless a wealthy family member conveniently dies in a (not so) tragic accident and leaves you all their money, the retirement will be delayed by at least 2 or 3 years.

Psst…by the way…

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4. Luis hates his job, while you love yours.  What this tells you is that the long hours he is putting in are absolutely necessary, because if he could get away with it he’d be home a lot more (probably mowing the lawn).

His boss is a complete dick and his co-workers are infantile and excessively competitive. He would look for another job but he’s been at the company long enough to be earning a very good salary, fabulous benefits and he has a 90-day paid sabbatical coming up next year.

Maria, Pedro is making sacrifices for you, and you need to do the same.  Seriously.

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Yes, I too work at home.  Guess what?  Mr. Patience and Understanding works grueling hours as the Most Awesomest Lawyer Ever on the Planet and as such, doesn’t have the flexible schedule I do.  Do I work hard?  Yes.  But I can admit (and so should you) that I have ample time to handle all the housework as part of my daily schedule.

I have coined a term for myself that will not likely sit well with some people: I am the House Bitch.  So long as I am working from home and earning less money than Mr. PU, I am happy to take on the laundry, the dishes, the daily cleaning, shopping and the cooking, in addition to everything that goes into making a house a home so he has a pleasant space to greet him at the end of the day.  Look at the pots I made for him!

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(Lest ye forget that it’s all about me)

Why do I take all this on?  Because there is no way I could follow this dream if it were not for his hard work.  The same can be said of your husband.

You made a major life decision without discussing it with Domingo first and that decision has radically impacted the retirement plan you have both been working towards for years.  While it’s true you told me you expect your business to grow a great deal in the next year and your income to double, today that just isn’t the reality.

Luis may be acting out in a passive-aggressive manner to protest your job change, so instead of complaining about how little he helps around the house, I suggest you start a conversation to discuss his feelings about your new business and how it is impacting him.  You may find that although he has been very supportive he is actually quite stressed out and worried, yet he doesn’t share that with you for fear of being unsupportive of your dream.

Maria, you have a happy marriage and an ideal working situation.  Your husband is doing his best to keep your finances on track.  My advice is to make up the housework shortfall and to do so happily and without complaint.  In other words, shut your pie hole.  You should be handing this man a cocktail and giving him a blowie every time he comes home from work.

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I’m sorry if my advice sounds harsh but I speak from experience.  Sometimes work is not divided equally in a home between the spouses, and that’s OK.  Right now your husband is doing more of the earning, so you should be comfortable with taking on more of the housework.

When I hit the big time (I’m thinking next week or 2018) my plan is to hire people to do all this domestic crap so Mr. Patience and Understanding and I can enjoy more quality snuggle time together.

I’m assuming you know some people in this field…can you send me some numbers?

 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. echinachea

    Have to agree with Advice Goddess, but also suggest resolving via “outside help” route. For a reasonable bi-weekly fee, Maria can get a lot of the yukkiest part of the housework done by a professional, thereby elminating this chronic irritant from both wife and husband’s lives. Also, it can be so darned hard to get the men to do the housework the way you want it done! Sorry; that was undoubtedly sexist:). And your pots look gorgeous, advice-lady!

  2. Kathy Caselton Busse

    Hey, Robin, loved your advice; will only add that thinking about what can be accomplished in two hours/day (difference in work hrs) can become a positive challenge, and kick the nag mentality that tracks each “offense” when both hubbie and wife are tired.

    Love the pots you put together, but they will have to be watered every day.

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