DEAR ABBY: Three weeks ago, after five years of marriage, my husband and I separated. During our five years together we accomplished many of our dreams. We purchased a home, opened the business he wanted and took our dream vacation. We're not from wealthy families, so we sacrificed to make our dreams come true and put off having children, which we both wanted very much.
I believed that marriage should be a 50/50 proposition, and so did my husband before we got married. Once we were married, it turned out that he thought household chores were the woman's responsibility. For the entire five years of our marriage, we struggled over this issue and argued over the smallest things.
For example, he'd get upset if I didn't pick up his plate after he ate, and I would get upset if he didn't pick it up himself. It bothered him so much he finally confessed there were times when he would eat out before coming home in order to avoid a confrontation.
In our last attempt at compromise, I told him I'd agree to do everything for him if he would support me and let me quit work. (I have a full-time job that is quite demanding.) I told him we could go back in time and live the way people used to live in the 1950s. His response was, "We're in the '90s and women are supposed to work. Look around and see. That's the way it is. Accept it."
So I'm asking you, Abby. Is that how a marriage in the '90s is? Am I wrong to believe that marriage should be 50/50? -- CONFUSED IN LAREDO
DEAR CONFUSED: No marriage is ever strictly 50/50. It is a series of compromises on the part of both parties, so that neither bears the entire burden of household responsibilities, financial obligations and emotional support.
Ideally a couple create their own balance and bolster each other in areas where the other is weak.
Your husband's demand that you bear the entire responsibility for the household chores plus hold a full-time job is chauvinistic. Show him this column and tell him he's the one who needs to look around and see how it is in the '90s.