A stinky triptease

Joey GarciaMy boyfriend starts stripping off his clothes the minute he comes home from work. He leaves a line of stinky, dirty clothes on the floor and furniture on his way from the front door to the fridge to get a beer before going upstairs to shower. I am totally grossed out by this. I have talked to him numerous times, but he says it’s an old habit left over from living alone and that he forgets. I am tired of picking up after him and doing his laundry. His behavior feels totally disrespectful and, after a year, it’s clear he is not going to change. My frustration about this is starting to affect other parts of our relationship. We’ve talked about getting married, but now I’m uncertain. I can’t imagine having children with this slob. What should I do?

Be an appreciative audience by clapping and cheering nightly as he performs his striptease. I mean, this is the man you love, right? Well, lighten up and have fun at your own private show. Then, and this is vitally important, leave the clothing untouched wherever he has dropped it. In the meantime, do the laundry that has been placed in the hamper or laundry room. When he needs clean clothing, he will either purchase more or place his clothing in the to-be-washed pile or wear something stinky.

Of course, attempting this solution could temporarily perfume your home à la landfill. If that makes you uncomfortable, take care of yourself. Do this by accepting that it’s your job to remove and launder those piles because it’s you who wants it done. After all, you’ve tried to change him. But you can’t inspire someone to behave differently when they don’t see a problem with the way they are. Nor can you have a peaceful, happy relationship if you continue to insist that a problem exists when he doesn’t see a problem.

Here is another option: Since your boyfriend claims amnesia, try posting a sign on the door into the house, reminding him to ditch his clothes in the laundry room. If you’re worried about guests seeing the sign, decide if weekday sanity is more important than occasional embarrassment or explanations. Another possibility: If your laundry room is accessed through the garage, ask him to enter the house that way, rather than through the front door. Maybe walking through the laundry room will jog his memory.

I saw a paycheck stub on my girlfriend’s kitchen counter and realized that she has been lying to me about how much money she makes. It pisses me off because she always pretends to be so poor. I always felt badly for her and paid for everything. Should I insist we go fifty-fifty from now on?

Not until you shoulder 50 percent of the responsibility for this problem. You probably used a penchant for rescuing others and a discomfort with poverty to restrain yourself from requesting details about her finances. Don’t presume that she has been lying or that you are a sucker until you have all the facts. She might be struggling with bills created by irresponsible choices in the past. Or maybe she’s helping a sibling through school. It is possible that, although she generates a fine salary, bills leave little money for playtime. I suggest you admit that you saw her paycheck stub unexpectedly and were surprised at her income. Explain that you have been worried. If your discussion reveals that she can budget for dates, split the bill as appropriate.

Meditation of the week
AskJoey reader Paris Tompkins writes: “Acting through human authority and influence (i.e. forgiving, supporting, serving, nourishing, understanding and helping), is more effective when we operate with unconditional love despite the other person falling short of divine standards.” When you fall short of divine standards, do you forgive yourself unconditionally?

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