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Dear Gabby,

Since the beginning of Covid, my husband is around the house all the time. It’s driving me crazy! HEEEEEELP!!! I’m going to kill him. Any suggestions?

Signed,
Ready to pop

Dear Pop,

I feel you, sistah!

Covid is like war: after being in the same foxhole for months on end, you either feel that you’re bonded together for life or that you have to put out your partner’s eye with a bayonet. At this very moment, my husband is in the next room, eating his ridiculously loud cereal and every bite sounds like the jaws of life ripping through a VW. Later, he’ll walk through the space I’m in and he’ll start talking to me. What is that all about? Like I’m just sitting here with nothing to do but wait for the latest update on Biden’s cabinet, the Southern District of New York or the Great British Baking Show! When he walks up the stairs it’s like King Kong decided he needed to get more steps in….but I digress.

If your apartment/house/condo doesn’t have as many wings as say, Versailles, you’ve got a problem. But, not an impossible one. First and foremost, you must isolate for some of the day. If you cannot isolate, I highly suggest noise cancelling headphones. They are expensive, but less expensive than a single marital therapy session, so you do the math. Once you get separate spaces established, that should take some of the pressure off. Even if you don’t have the space for any separation at all, a chair facing the wall is better than watching hair grow out of his ear every day.

Next, you need to set up guidelines. I once heard Bryan Cranston say that he and his wife have an agreement that if either one wants to go to marital therapy, they go, no questions asked. What a beautiful, beautiful thing! I suggest taking a page from Bryan’s playbook  – maybe not the meth-making one –  in this case.  If one person needs space for any reason, the other must abide. I mean, my husband can’t help that he married a person with misophonia (can’t stand mouth sounds: remember the cereal?) and must be on time, but he did, and now sometimes I have to leave the room when he chews on chicken bones or drive separately to an event. Digressing again….Sit down with the hubster and be honest. “Honey, after I say good morning, I need quiet time until 2pm….And again at 2:15.” Or, “Darling, let’s have a regular check-in later in the day, after I get my work done, maybe at midnight,” Or, “sweetie, if you come with me on one more errand, I’m going to have to drain our bank accounts and head to the Cayman Islands.” If this isn’t enough to quell your ire, I highly suggest working out first thing in the morning until you don’t have the energy to lift a thing. Not even a bayonet.

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Dear Gabby,

Is it bad to buy my wine in Skokie so no one knows how much I go through?

Signed,
The other side of McCormick

Dear McCormick,

Puh-lease! You’re talking to someone who used to only buy one kind of ice cream so that no one else in the house could see how much I’d eaten. If you have a quart of chocolate chip cookie dough and a quart of rocky road, everyone knows that the rocky road was there one night and gone the next day. If it’s all chocolate chip cookie dough, and it just keeps reappearing in similar states of gone-ness, no one is the wiser. I even go to two different McDonalds in a day to get my 2 Diet Cokes! Dempster and Howard. Shame runs deep. Having said that, desperate times call for desperate measures and honey, we are all a little desperate right now! I think we all know when we are crossing the line, and I don’t mean the line on McCormick Boulevard, I mean the line of inner dialogue that says, “this is going from something that is good for me to something that is very bad for me.” If your Sauvignon Spidey Sense starts tingling and you think you might have a problem, time for some very compassionate professional help. If not, then when the Skokie people get to know you too well, try Wilmette.

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Dear Gabby,

How can I get my husband, teenager and college-age kids to pick up after themselves and help around the house? Admittedly, I have a lower threshold for messiness.

Signed,
“I feel like the maid (and cook)”

Dear Maid (and cook),

You are in the middle of a classic conflict, a perennial problem experienced by people the world over who are not Marie Condo, married to other Marie Condos. But take heart! And take a deep breath, because this may require a tad of patience and a dollop of creativity. As we all know, asking will get you nowhere except into an escalating exchange of “I will!”s and “It’s my room! I can keep it how I want!” So, the conniving among us must start conniving. For instance, signs work well. I used to put them all over the house, as in “Johnny, please don’t put anything on me. It hurts. Love, the armchair” or “Hi Tom! Please unload me. I’m so full. Thanks! The dishwasher.”

If signs don’t work, take action. One of my children was an “I will!” champion. After so much nagging, I couldn’t take it anymore. So, when he promised to wash the pot he used to make popcorn and didn’t, I put it on his pillow while he was out. That worked. He also had a habit of taking the dogs out and neglecting to throw the bag of poop away, stashing it on the front porch, assuming someone else would grab it and toss it on their next walk. So, I also put that on his pillow. I’m not gonna lie, he wasn’t very happy. But guess what? No more piles of poop on the porch. There also may be some room for compromise. If you are far more fastidious than the people you live with, you may have to figure out what will drive you crazy the most and what you can live with. Then, you have to communicate clearly and calmly, preferably not after you’ve been cleaning the bathroom grout with a toothbrush. If all else fails, sit the family down and trot out the truth: World equality begins at home.

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No question is too serious, too silly or too snarly for Gabby – she’s waiting to hear from you. Send her a note at news@evanstonroundtable.com with “Dear Gabby” in the subject line.

 

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