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Advice & More February 2017

Ask Miss Nora

Love Thy Neighbor

Evidently, my neighbor knows the magic word that causes this selfish husband of mine to turn into Mr. Helpful. When I confronted him about it he couldn’t even muster up enough consideration to come up with a decent excuse. He dismissively said that he didn’t think I ever needed help.

Dear Miss Nora: I’m so angry at my husband that I can’t even look at him. I’ve been mad at him before but this time I feel as though I will never forgive him. What’s worse is that he’s not even aware or cares that I’m so hurt and angry at his behavior!

A couple of days ago, while I was casually chatting with our neighbor, she asked if I would thank my husband for his help with her kitchen sink and running a few errands for her.

I’m certain that the look on my face caused her concern and I’m embarrassed to admit that without even clarifying what she was talking about, I abruptly made an excuse to leave and went into my house and cried.

I don’t know when he performed these tasks and I really don’t care but after 30 years of marriage, three children, looking after his ailing mother on my own before she passed away, catering to his every whim, and keeping a clean and tidy house without an ounce of help from him (if I dared to ask him to help, he sulked or outright refused) I now see that it’s all been for nothing. 

Evidently, my neighbor knows the magic word that causes this selfish husband of mine to turn into Mr. Helpful. When I confronted him about it he couldn’t even muster up enough consideration to come up with a decent excuse. He dismissively said that he didn’t think I ever needed help.

Am I being too harsh? The neighbor is on her own and a lovely lady who probably had no idea what a lazy, good-for-nothing he really is or how offensive this is for me. — Furious in Denver

 

Dear Furious: Every once in a while, I’m asked for advice where I am forced to remove all expletives and exclamations from my response, lest I am more offensive than the predicament!

This is one such occasion… My initial response is that, surely this wasn’t your first experience with your thoughtless and uncooperative husband’s disloyalty. There’s no way in hell’s half acre that this is a rare case of disappointment.

So, ask yourself, what’s prompted this to be what I can only hope is the last straw? Is it that your competitor is a single lady, so close to home, simply a female in need of a man’s assistance?

I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that it’s all the above.

You mention how you’ve been struggling on your own for years. Why? In this you cannot blame your husband for allowing you to shoulder all the responsibilities and tasks if you’re going to cave in at the first sign of his reluctance or outright refusal. Your neighbor didn’t have the magic word, just different expectations. What’s the old saying – we teach people how to treat us! And being confronted with stark proof that your husband does indeed know how to be helpful must have been humiliating – but all is not lost … yet.

So, let’s get to the core of all this and put you on the right track.

Stop mending, fixing, tending, fussing, fetching, bothering or caring! Leave your husband to stew in his own juices for as long as it takes for him to realize how inconsiderate he is. Don’t do his laundry, cook meals, go shopping or pay him any attention until he’s prepared to make amends … real amends.

Should he come out of this with any kind of contrition, then divide the chores and responsibilities evenly between you and insist that he maintain his half.

However, worst case scenario, if your tolerance of his selfishness has gone on so long that he never comes to his senses, then you have two choices – carry on as usual (compliantly) or leave. The problem was never him. The problem is that you taught Mr. Thoughtless how to get by with nary an effort.

 

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