Dear Annie: A passive-aggressive ‘fix’ to an unequal marriage

Miss Manners answers a question about whether to wish a happy anniversary to an unhappy couple

Have you tried this approach?

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Dear Annie: I empathize with the many women who seem unable to persuade their husbands to participate in shared responsibilities. I faced the same issue even though my job came with considerably more responsibility as well as a higher salary. No amount of discussion with my husband changed the situation. Although I loved my husband dearly, I found myself feeling more resentful toward him over time.

After 15 years, I hit on a solution. I thought long and hard to identify which activities I could give up that would impact only my husband. I continued doing laundry for myself and the children but stopped washing my husband’s clothes. I started using the kid’s bathroom, which I continued to clean, but I stopped cleaning the master bath that my husband continued to use. I continued to do the shopping but no longer bought his beer and favorite snacks.

The immediate result for me was that I stopped feeling so resentful. It didn’t take long for my husband to notice the change. He never mentioned it to me but started doing these things himself. He eventually started doing more.

After 42 years of marriage, we share our responsibilities more or less evenly. He might have reacted very differently all those years ago, but the bottom line is that my growing resentment also could have destroyed the relationship. I’m thankful that I had the courage to stop enabling the man who I love so dearly. -- Getting Him to Help

Dear Getting Him to Help: I am printing this letter in hopes that it inspires others to either stop enabling people they love from engaging in unhealthy behavior, or that it helps people who are taking advantage of people in their life doing everything for them. Although it might have been a little passive-aggressive at first, your actions did work. Maybe next time if there is something that bothers you, start with telling him what you are going to do and why you are going to do it, and then act on it only if you must.

Annie  Lane

Stories by Annie Lane

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to


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