The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a male company employee in my 50s and I’m troubled because my wife, to whom I have been married for more than 30 years, has become lazy over the last several years.
She leaves the door open. When she changes clothes, she leaves the ones she takes off like a cicada leaving its shell after molting. She is usually sloppy when she does household chores. She washes dishes in a slovenly way, so most of the dishes have cracks.
Thinking back on the beginning of our marriage, she didn’t cut the vegetables and meat well, leaving them linked. She once left the gas range on after taking a pot from the stove.
In contrast, I feel uncomfortable when things are not in order. To avoid spoiling our peaceful time, I’m trying my best to endure the current situation.
As far as our conjugal relations are concerned, this is the only problem I have with her.
Is it necessary for me to firmly talk with her about this issue once and for all? Or should I behave just as lazy as she does, giving up on changing her sloppy character?
F, Kanagawa Prefecture
Dear Mr. F:
There would be no surprise if your wife had sent us a letter saying, “My husband is nice, except he is a nitpicker and points out what I do wrong, which annoys me.” Your situation shows that it is not only you, but also your wife, who is enduring the relationship.
Even if you had a discussion with your wife in a levelheaded manner, it is likely that your discussion will only reveal the fact that you are fundamentally different in values, rather than that you have different characteristics. So a discussion will not help solve your problem.
The discussion, at best, may help make your wife promise to be aware of how she uses the gas range. However, her personality will not change and neither will yours.
Look at your relationship from a different angle. You like each other and hope to spend a peaceful time together. You have been feeling this way for more than 30 years. Isn’t this a wonderful thing?
If the husband who complains about his wife leaving her clothes on the floor picks them up and puts them in the laundry basket, that action is seen by others as a sign of how close and happy that couple is. A wife who is sloppy and a husband who cares about the details must have been a match made in heaven.
I hope you will continue helping her with household chores even if you sometimes complain to her or have a quarrel with her. I assume that you will find it enjoyable someday.
Masahiro Yamada, professor