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home : columns : dear harriette January 25, 2020

10/25/2019 7:39:00 AM
Husband isn't pulling weight in busy family

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have two young children and a husband who works all the time. He wants to be supportive, but it's a hollow idea. When he gets home from work, he is so tired he may spend a few minutes with the kids, but that's about it. I work part-time while the kids are in day care, then I'm at home with them for the rest of the day. We can't afford full-time day care. I don't know what to do. I feel totally stressed out and unsupported. -- Mama Needs Help

DEAR MAMA NEEDS HELP: Pick a day and time when your husband has energy to focus. Tell him you need to talk. Lay out your life for him so that he can see what you are dealing with, and be specific about the support that you need from him. For example, if you want him to be with the children for an hour after he gets home from work so that you can decompress, request that. If you want him to handle bedtime, meaning baths, reading a story and tucking them in -- every night, several nights a week whatever it is -- make the request.

Make it clear to your husband that you are feeling overwhelmed and need his support in order to manage. Acknowledge that his day is long and can be stressful, but don't back off. The best way to get his help is to give him specific tasks.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in a small apartment building that has thin walls. One of my neighbors cooks fish all the time, and whenever she does, the smell stinks up the hallways and even seeps into my apartment. I want to gag when this happens. I know she has the right to cook whatever she wants, but the reeking, stinking smell of fried fish is turning my stomach. I want to recommend that she invest in a vent to suck out the air. Is that rude? Should I speak to management? I can't just act like it isn't happening. Sometimes my clothes end up smelling like her fried porgies. I can't take it anymore. -- Fried Fish

DEAR FRIED FISH: Start with your landlord. File a complaint about the smell, and ask the management company to install ventilation to suck out the air. Explain how the smell is seeping into your apartment and you need help to come up with a solution to contain the aroma.

If the landlord does nothing, go to your neighbor and make the recommendation about the vent. This obviously is tricky. The way that people cook is particular to their cultures and tastes. You need to be careful not to insult your neighbor as you point out how the smell is filling the halls and getting into your apartment. Again, a ventilation system, possibly a vent over the stove, should be able to reduce the smell considerably.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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