The following is a February 15th excerpt from "Annie's Mailbox", a syndicated advice column:
Dear Annie: My husband and I work comparable hours, but I earn less than half of what he does and have little discretionary income. I come home to my "second shift," which includes cooking, cleaning and picking up after this man, who leaves his dirty clothes, snack packaging and other things strewn about the house. Meanwhile, he runs off to play golf. After dinner, he falls asleep in front of the TV. He doesn't even mow the lawn or do routine household maintenance. He hires out for those things.
...Other than this, he's a good man, intelligent, fun, and he makes me laugh. I'm not ready to throw us away for this problem. But I admit there are days when the idea of living alone is very appealing. He reads you faithfully and respects your opinion. Please help.
— Lake-Effect Wife
This one is from February 10th's Dear Abby; the writer is speaking of her slow-driving husband:
...This is considered too slow for many drivers, who become impatient and aggressive having to be behind us in the fast lane. They flash their headlights and tailgate us, trying to get him to move over into the right lane so they can pass, but Jon refuses to yield. If they start to pass us on the right, he will speed up and race them so they can’t get ahead of him. He says he’s “teaching them a lesson.”
- On a collision course
I love advice columns. I don't know why. Maybe it's the voyeurism, maybe it's due to the morsels of useful advice, or perhaps because I gain a window into other relationships and can assess my own performance.
At any rate, complaining about a mate is a frequent topic within these columns. I assume contributors hope the columnist will support their point of view, or put into print words they can't (or shouldn't) say to their partner in person.
The problem with writing a female advice columnist about your boorish thick-skulled husband is: boorish thick-skulled husbands tend to ignore sensible well-spoken women. They are threatened by them and dismiss their opinion. I have yet to meet a boorish man who heeded logical advice from a woman, conceding: "Wow, how enlightening, that makes perfect sense to me." And, believe me, I've met plenty of boors.
Even 'Lake-Effect Wife' who sought advice from Annie's Mailbox specifically because her husband follows the column, has little hope of his behavior being corrected after reading the morning paper.
The reaction is more likely to be: "Get real. I'm not about to be told how to live my life by an advice columnist."
It is for this reason that one of the more effective ways of garnering support for your point of view in a relationship is to appeal to your mate's same-sex friend. Nothing is more powerful to a guy than having his best buddy tell him he's being a turd.
- Mr. Lake-Effect Wife needs to hear from his man-friends: "Dude, you do realize you're being an arse, right? Regardless of whether you think you're right, can't you see she's unhappy? Get up, and mow the lawn!"
- Mr. Collision Course should be sent the same message: "You do realize you're scaring the woman who has sworn to spend the rest of her life with you? I mean, she's sitting next to you in the car in a state of despair because your display of machismo is more important than your marriage. Dude, pull into the center lane!"
I love Dear Abby, and Annie's Mailbox. But, these guys really need a 'Dear Walter', and 'Tommy's Tool Shed."