Dear Annie: “Bill” and I have been married for seven years, but since our first child was born, I’ve felt like a horrible nag. I have to remind him frequently to pick up after himself and finish what he started. He leaves all the cabinet doors open and throws his clothes and other belongings all over the living room.
I know these complaints seem like little things, but it’s been a struggle for me to take care of the new baby and the house, and he compounds my problems. He doesn’t seem to be putting any effort into keeping up our home – or marriage.
I’ve told Bill how important these little things are to me, but he can’t see what the big deal is. I have tried many approaches to helping him get organized. I’ve reminded him with humor, with gentleness, with repetition and finally nagging until it gets done. He offers excuses and apologizes, but makes no effort to change.
I fear what will happen when I go back to work soon. It is putting a strain on our relationship, and arguing is exhausting. What can I do so that I am not living in a constant state of annoyance? – Frustrated Wife
Dear Wife: New mothers often become exhausted and depressed. Try to separate yourself from the mess. If Bill tosses clothes or other things on the floor, kick them into an out-of-the-way corner and say nothing. He knows he’s a slob, and he’s rebelling. When you go back to work, see if you can set aside some money to pay for occasional cleaning assistance. If Bill doesn’t like the expense, tell him sweetly that it is obviously his choice, since he isn’t capable of pitching in.