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Posted on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Husband ignores 'his turn' to do household chores

By Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My husband and I agreed when we married to alternate weekends on doing household-cleaning chores. This has worked OK for the past year.

However, now he never does the chores when it's his weekend. The past couple of times I've just gone ahead and done them myself. I've said, hey, look how I've cleaned the bathroom or kitchen for you. I've also said, you know it's your weekend to do the cleaning because I've done it the past few times for you.

It doesn't seem to make an impression. Any advice for what I should do without nagging? To be fair, I don't think he sees the dirt.

-- Not a Neat Freak

Wait a minute. This isn't about seeing dirt, this is about knowing you cleaned last weekend -- hardly a matter of perception.

He has ditched the deal and you have a right to say what the -- ? And don't take "It doesn't seem to make an impression" for an answer. You need an answer. To this: "Why have you reneged on our deal?"

If it's a matter of coming up with a new deal that's different from -- but just as fair as -- the old one, then, fine. He might be more amenable to working with you every weekend on a list of chores that you split down the middle.

Since people are both highly motivated by pleasure and highly diversified in what they find pleasing, take his preferences into account, too. Play music, make plans for when you finish, and even let him choose five chores off a list of 10.

If this doesn't work, though, don't stand there with a mop in your hand and declare you've done his job for him. Grab your mop and say, "Here -- unless you'd like to hire a cleaner out of your pocket money, because I'm not your maid." He's treating you like one, so call it what it is.

--0-- --0-- --0--

Hi, Carolyn:

Two weeks ago I bought my first house. Yippeee! Cut to last night, when I wake up to hear a man screaming at a woman. I also eventually hear the sound of flesh hitting flesh. Though I didn't see anything, my assumption is that my neighbor abuses his wife. Based on the toys in the yard, I think there are also kids in the house.

Carolyn, I didn't do anything. Didn't call 911, or do anything except stay in bed and listen. That's not acceptable. I can forgive myself for freezing in the moment the first time, but, really, what should I do next time?

-- The Wife-Beater's Neighbor

You can deal with both the self-forgiveness and the what-do-I-do-next time issues right now. Call the non-emergency number for your local police, explain that you need to talk to someone about a domestic incident from last night. Then describe to the officer what you heard, with as much detail as you can swear to. (Who hit whom? That's one you don't know.)

If the police are familiar with this household, then you'll help them recognize that the problem continues, and if it's a first report, it'll help in case it turns out to be the first of a pattern. Finally, ask the officer what to do if this happens again.

Email Carolyn at tellme(at), follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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