DEAR ABBY: I dearly love my husband. We've been married 33 years. We have raised three productive citizens, have five beautiful grandchildren and live in the heartland of America.
Like most couples, we've had our ups and downs. My problem is my husband is a slob. He always has been, but it's getting worse.
He works. I stayed home and raised our kids and made the house a home. He brings home the bacon, does the yard work, takes out the trash and fixes things (on his own terms). I pay the bills, clean the house, cook dinner, and do anything else that needs doing (schedule doctor's appointments, etc.).
He thinks that because he doesn't beat me, we have a good marriage. I have a serious issue with his messiness. I am just about ready to chuck him to the door.
I've tried talking to him about it, but we always end up arguing. He says I treat him like a child (well ... truth be told, he's acting like one). I have explained to him why I need him to pick up after himself, but he takes it as a personal affront and storms off. I'm at my wits' end. What can I do to fix this? -- TIDY SPOUSE IN OHIO
DEAR TIDY: To be honest, I'm not sure that at this point you can "fix this." You and your husband have had an unwritten contract for 33 years, in which his job was to bring home the bacon, do yard work, take out the trash and fix things when he gets around to it. Yours was to perform the duties of a traditional housewife by doing all the things you described.
Your husband's sloppiness may be the legacy of a mother who never taught him to keep his room clean, and your own failure to put your foot down during the first years of your marriage. Of course, you could always stop picking up after him. But if you do, I'm afraid the mess will reach proportions you -- not he -- will be unable to tolerate.