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My Wife Has A Bee In Her Bonnet And I Don’t Know What It Is!

How do I get in touch with her inner “girlfriend”?

Dear Neighbor Lady,

My wife is grumpy and I can’t seem to reach her.  I don’t know how we have grown apart like this, but it seems to have happened slowly over the past few years we’ve been married.  I’ve tried the romantic route of flowers and chocolate sent to her work “just because.” But the effects of my efforts are very short-lived. What do I do to reconnect with my missus and bring back the happier days of when we were boyfriend and girlfriend?

Missing my gal

Dear Missing,

Your question shows love for your lady and a willingness to work for your mutual happiness. The latter is good news, indeed.

So, what has happened since your wedding day? I imagine one new thing is your shared living quarters, perhaps kids. And then there’s the very quiet new member of the relationship: maintenance of the apartment/house/condo. Ask yourself, who takes care of that?

Is it possible that most of the domestic duties have fallen to her, somehow? Who cleans the bathroom? Who not only vacuums, but sees that it needs to be done? If the answer is “the cleaning lady,” then who cleans old stuff out of the fridge? Who does the grocery shopping? Who washes the dishes that don’t fit in the dishwasher? Who puts them away from the drying rack? Do you divide these chores—and the several others like them—evenly (if you share them at all)? It’s time to find out.

Invite your wife out on a Friday night to a café for dinner. Choose one that has sandwiches or soup or something hearty in addition to sweets. Make sure there are big tables where you would be welcome to set up camp for a long time. Diesel Cafe in Davis Square or its sister café in Union Square, called Bloc 11, would be good. Bring with you blank index cards and pencils.

After you eat, say very simply, “True love of mine, I feel we are at odds at home. I know the expression, If you want peace, you have to work for justice, and I think it may apply in our home. I want to find out if our housework responsibilities can be divided up better.”

Ask her write on a note card every chore that needs to be done, and you do the same. Then compare your piles and eliminate any duplicates. Now, light-heartedly begin dividing the cards between you and have fun with it! (“I’ll trade you my 'get Christmas cards together' for your 'clean barf out of the car seat.'")

This open, responsible approach is likely the most loving thing you could do for her—it is more than a gesture; it is a commitment to your life together. Remember, a man who can do the dishes, wipe down the counter and wring out the sponge is a very sexy man indeed. As you assume more work around the house, you can rest assured, your wife will be more likely to cover you with rosy kisses than lay you out in lavender.

Rock June 01, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Neighbor Lady, very insightful as always. I think all long-married folks can benefit from a mindful, thoughtful let's-work-for-justice session. Cheers! Of course, a little youthful fun also helps. Skinny-dipping, anyone?
Ana June 02, 2011 at 01:04 AM
I just heard that a friend was and his wife were struggling. It was really surprising to me, but it made me realize that rough patches can happen to anyone. They are still working on things with the help of some boosters (vacation without the kids) and some regular routines (therapy and regular heart to hearts).

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