The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a male company employee in my 40s. I currently live separately from my family because of my job.
My wife, who is a full-time homemaker, lives in our house with our two primary school-age sons. When I come home on weekends, I have to deal with my wife’s inability to clean our house.
When I open the front door, there’s so much trash scattered around that it’s hard for me to find a place to walk.
In the kitchen, there are piles of dirty tableware and kitchenware that need to be washed. Vegetable waste and other things that should be in the garbage can are strewn on the floor.
In a word, our house is buried in garbage.
I once asked her to keep our house cleaner. However, she didn’t listen, saying instead, “If you notice it, why don’t you clean it up?” In the end, I started cleaning our house and doing the dishes myself.
When I stopped doing it because I thought helping her too much wasn’t good, she did the dishes but cried all the while. I asked her why she was crying, and she said angrily, “Because you don’t help me.”
She also leaves the house while heating a kettle with no water in it or heating miso soup. I’m worried that this is very dangerous. I told her she may be sick, but she didn’t take me seriously.
E, Ibaraki Prefecture
Dear Mr. E:
You said she keeps your house messy and heats a kettle with no water in it. Does this only happen when you’re at home? She can manage to do the dishes even though she cries, so she apparently can do household chores. She also prepares meals every day, doesn’t she?
I think she’s acting this way because, either consciously or unconsciously, she feels you don’t care about her. It’s possible she’s doing this to attract your attention. And it worked, didn’t it?
If this is true, it’s no use to try to persuade her to improve her behavior. The best solution is for you to discontinue your life away from home. Can you ask your employer to transfer you back or let you work from your home?
Your concern that she’s sick is certainly justified. If she won’t listen to your opinion, I suggest you two — not just her — go for counseling together. I think she’ll more willingly accept your opinion then.
From now on, make efforts to listen to your wife carefully and go out with your family for fun on holidays. If you communicate with your wife more often, I believe her behavior will start to change.
Masahiro Yamada, professor