Carolyn Hax: The wife resents her husband’s easy, lucrative job


Carolyn Hax is gone. The following is from 18 and 20 April 2008.

Dear Carolyn, My wife and I have been married for four years. We share a mortgage, but have no children or other significant debt. My wife works much harder than me. Her company pays her $100,000 a year, but she’s always exhausted. I have a publishing business that pays me $150,000 annually. I’ve been building my business since before we got married and now enjoy the passive income it brings us.

My wife is annoyed that she has to work so hard and that she sees me kicking back. I would like to travel alone once in a while or take a boys’ trip, but I get nothing but guilt from her, which in turn makes me angry and resentful. It feels like there’s a constant cycle of resentment because of it.

She stays in the job because there may be potential for promotion, and because she likes the challenge and responsibility. She also makes great contacts, and she likes to work hard. I’ve always told her that if she doesn’t like her job, I support whatever she chooses to do, regardless of her income.

I feel like I carry my weight financially (and so does she). Shouldn’t I enjoy the fruits of my labor without guilt, and shouldn’t she give me the freedom to enjoy it once in a while? She has vacation days she can use if she wants. I would need a new job to make more money, which we don’t need right now. She suggests that I am lazy and not driven. I disagree; I built my business with hard work and drive. Doesn’t my income count heavily against that argument?

JL: I guess, but I’d like to make a completely different argument: that being “driven” is seriously overrated.

I’m glad someone is. We all enjoy – indeed take for granted – countless fruits of other people’s optional 80-hour work weeks.

I simply reject the implication that it is necessary, or even desirable, for everyone to be driven. People who pull optional 80-hour weeks enjoy – indeed take for granted – the fruits of others’ refusal to spend so much time at work.

This group includes not only our poets, volunteers and people who make sure they have nothing more urgent to do than walk at a toddler’s pace.

There are also people who think 40 hours is more than enough.

You have a pretty sweet life. Whether you earned it or picked it up off the pavement is, I think, immaterial. You are happy with what you have.

If your wife envies your satisfaction, she will have to do something to find more – with your cooperation, of course. Her insistence that you are diminishing your contentment by taking on stress like hers, of all things, is absurd. A wonderfully selfish solution.

Granted, you don’t mention any ways you use your spare quality of life to improve hers: housework, cooking, social planning, to name a few examples. If you don’t do this, then do this. “I support anything she would choose to do” is not a promise kept only in a few possible futures; there is something to do well with daily.

If you’re already spoiling her, and a caring, happy, well-paid, supportive spouse isn’t enough to make her happy, it’s time you both start asking what is.

Dear Carolyn, My son-in-law is a very bright, articulate young man. But he gestures with his hands when he talks. This may be an accepted style in Italy, but I was always taught that using the hands to help make a point was a demonstration of lazy thinking, and that if an effort was made to choose the right words, the point would be conveyed more effectively. How can I suggest to him that he keep his hands still when he talks without offending him?

— Mother-in-law in a dilemma

Mother-in-law in a dilemma: To me, the definition of lazy thinking is to take something you were taught as a child and then, without questioning its basis, value, accuracy, meaning, or relevance, use it as a weapon against the smart young man your child loves. chose to take home.

Please, in the name of sanity, give him a break. From your own description, it’s clear that even if your fear is justified – an “if” of major proportions – this is nothing more than him appearing less bright than he is in the eyes of people who share your dim view of the South -European norms. and/or demonstrative expression. That’s a pretty narrow band of harm, hardly worth the ill will you’ll generate by trying to control a grown man’s behavior—and, not to mention, by championing such a judgmental, nitpicky, xenophobic, and prejudiced cause.

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