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Advice From Dr. Stanwix: Summer Bummer

Advice From Dr. Stanwix: Summer Bummer
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Dear Dr. Stanwix,

Another summer is upon us and another season of problems for my wife and myself. My wife is a teacher and she has the summers off. In fact, she has just finished up the semester and is getting ready to enjoy her time off until she has to start back to school in the first week in September. I, on the other hand, have to continue to work my 9 to 5 job with only two weeks off this summer.

I realize that this is simply the nature of our professions and that I shouldn’t get upset. However, my wife just sits around all day and does nothing when she is on vacation. She gets angry with me when I ask her to do extra things. She accuses me of trying to make her work because I’m jealous that she has the summer off. That simply isn’t true. I just feel that if my wife has nothing to do, then she can do the grocery shopping and other chores without me. Unfortunately, she doesn’t see it that way. She barely cleans the house and is content to let things go all day until I get home. Heck, she won’t even prepare an occasional dinner, so I can relax after a hard day’s work.

I am also upset because she doesn’t do anything with her vacation time. She just sits around the house. She has no hobbies, no exercise routine, etc. In fact, the only routine she has is to sit on her burgeoning behind and make it bigger.

I try to tell her how lucky she is to have the time off and that if she isn’t going to do things around the house, she could at least pick up some sort of a hobby. However, she tells me that I’m not her boss and I should just lay off.

Is she right? Should I simply lay off and let her do whatever she wants with her time off? Do I have a right to at least ask her to help out more around the house since she isn’t working in the summer?

Please let me know. I don’t want to spend another summer arguing with my wife about this.


Summer Bummer


Dear Summer Bummer,

It is not easy when our spouses have time off and we don’t. The whole family balance gets thrown off and resentment can rear itself. Your situation is not unique. Many people who are married to teachers feel the same way. You have basically two options:

  1. Switch your career to teaching and take the summer off with your wife. Then you could show her how to better take advantage of her time.
  2. If you need help around the house, make your requests reasonable and be sure you don’t try to micromanage your wife’s summer vacation.

Unless you are interested in switching professions, let’s focus on the second option.

There is no doubt that you are trying to put additional work on your wife because she has nothing to do. Your wife is right that you have no right to do this. Teachers work hard and deserve some time off to relax. However, as with any relationship, each person has his/her responsibilities. If you don’t feel like she is doing enough around the house, you must also ask yourself why you think that is so.

I don’t have all of the facts here, but she may be unwilling to help out around the house because you are trying to dictate what she does with her free time. Perhaps if you didn’t insist or grumble so much, your wife would be willing to do more around the house. Rather than acting the role of taskmaster, why not simply explain this instead of nagging her?

Regarding the fact that she doesn’t take up a hobby, that is simply none of your affair. If your wife is not interested in taking up a hobby, then that is her prerogative. While you could think of a thousand more productive ways to spend your vacation, you are not your wife and should leave those decisions to her.

If your wife is merely being lazy and unreasonably refuses to help out around the house, then perhaps you need to discuss this matter with her seriously. While you aren’t her boss, you are reasonable in expecting her to help out with certain chores if she has so much extra time on her hands. Whether husband or wife, it is important that we work to help, not antagonize, one another. Your wife should be willing to give that help in her time. Give her a little space and see if that changes things.

Keep in mind that in any relationship there is always some give and take. If you have free time, you should want to dedicate some of that time to helping your spouse, and vice versa. This shouldn’t be because anyone places expectations on the other. It should be because you love and want to help that person.

Best of Luck,

Dr. Michael Stanwix



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