Dear Allen:

First of all you are to be applauded for recognizing that work doesn’t stop when you both get home at night. There are many responsibilities that have, in the past, fallen on the wife’s shoulders. It is time for men to take equal responsibility for the care of the home and family when both partners are working.

Your plight, however, suggests that your wife may not be comfortable giving up her traditional role. While on the one hand she is asking for help, on the other she seems to gravitate towards doing it herself. Many women complain about all of their responsibilities, yet are reticent to relinquish them. Cautiously explore whether this may be the case with your wife.

It also appears that expectations need to be worked out between the two of you. Remind her of your willingness to do your part, and let her know that your feelings are hurt when she goes over the work you do. If necessary, offer to have her show you how she would like certain tasks done. You might also consider suggesting that she choose a chore for you which she cares less about.

Finally, Allen, remember to take heart and keep these issues in perspective. Above all, the scriptures advise us to "keep the peace with each other….Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other." (I Thessalonians 5: 15)

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David Hawkins, Pd.D., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. He
 is the author of over 18 books, including  Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage,  Saying It So He'll Listen, and  When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest book, When the Man in Your Life Can’t Commit, will be released in February, 2006. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.