DEAR NATALIE: My husband and I recently got married and living together has been harder than I thought that it would be. He is very type-A and likes everything to be clutter-free. He can’t stand it when I leave my clothes on the floor, and he doesn’t understand how I can leave dishes in the sink. It is really starting to get on my nerves, especially since Covid-19 hit and we’ve both been working from home. I find myself leaving my clothes around on purpose just to annoy him. I don’t want to be like this, but it feels like living with my dad! Help! — NOT A SLOB
DEAR NOT A SLOB: Ah, yes. The move-in. The little things that we find charming about one another before we live together become the things that start to annoy us as time goes by. Compound that with not having space from one another due to a global pandemic and you may start to wonder if divorce is around the corner. But fear not!
Begin by stop being so passive aggressive. Leaving your clothing around to annoy him will only exacerbate your frustration with one another. It’s not only childish, but it is disrespectful. You have to learn how to compromise. By leaving clothes around when you know it bothers him says two things: 1. You don’t actively listen. 2. You don’t care about his feelings. All you need to do is put your clothes in a laundry basket at the end of the day. Dishes in the sink are a whole other source of contention between people. The fact that you are both at home a lot more means that you are likely generating a lot of dishes throughout the week. It can be exhausting to look at a sink full of dirty dishes and just not feel like dealing with them. And that’s OK. Work on a system where you come to an agreement on who does the dishes on which days. When it is your day, just do them. These little things seem so trivial, but they can really create major resentments down the road. Running a home is more than just being in love and eating dinner together. It really comes down to understanding each other’s needs, understanding each other’s perspectives, and both working towards finding a balance where he isn’t nagging you and you stop feeling like you are living with your dad. Good luck!
DEAR NATALIE: Do you think that it is wrong for your boyfriend to be on social media and tell other girls that he broke up with you, but then he says it's just for fun? We haven’t been able to see each other as much as we would like because of Covid-19. But when we are together, I find texts from other women. Do you think he is cheating? What should I do? — INTERNET CHEAT
DEAR INTERNET CHEAT: This is a situation where you must listen to your intuition. The fact that you have emailed me clearly suggests that you may know the answer to this in your gut. Covid-19 has been hard on a lot of people’s relationships, but that doesn’t give him a pass for lying to you. Regardless of whether or not he is meeting with these other women, the boundaries you have set have been crossed by his behavior. You have two choices. You can either try to work through this and find a way forward or you dump him. If this were me, I would really hesitate continuing the relationship because he has already shown you who he is. We need people in our lives who uplift us and support us, especially during the tough times. The fact that he was so ready to engage with other women indicates that he doesn’t respect you or the relationship. No one can make this decision for you, but think hard about settling for anyone who is so callous towards you.
Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Right now, starting an e-introduction with “How are you?” may be too much of a loaded question for people at this moment. Instead: “I’m just sending a little note hoping you are well…” might take the pressure off and allow you to segue into your email in a way that is thoughtful but not triggering.
Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @NatalieBenci and on Instagram @NatalieBenci