Annie's Mailbox: Man frustrated with messy wife

Dear Annie: I’ve known my wife for two years.

We’ve been living together for five months and married for one. I love her a ton.

I pull my share of the load around here, including paying half the bills and buying the groceries. I cook, clean and do all of the yard work and home maintenance.

The problem is, my wife is a slob.

I’m not a perfectionist, but I like things tidy and organized.

My wife has no problem making a snack and leaving the mess for me to clean up.

She never makes the bed. She drops things all over the house, and I end up picking up after her constantly. She says I’m “such a sweetheart,” but I’d gladly give up the moniker for a little more help.

This sloppiness is a side of her I didn’t know. She sometimes goes two or three days without a shower, and it is noticeable.

How do I approach her about these things without upsetting her and starting a fight?

— Eating on Me

Dear Eating: We are continually amazed that people can be so blind to the bad habits of a loved one when they have been living with them for months.

You may need to tell your wife that she has a strong aroma that others may notice.

But, you also can encourage her to bathe more often by showering together as part of foreplay, telling her how much you love her clean scent.

You can remind her to pick up or, if you can afford it, hire someone to clean your place.

You can “train” her, but it will take time and loving patience. If she is unwilling to work on this, get professional counseling before throwing in the (clean) towel.

Dear Annie: I am a retired married woman in my 50s and try to go to bed before 11 p.m. every night. For a combination of reasons, I can’t get comfortable falling asleep.

Sometimes I will read awhile, but either the nightstand light bothers me or my arthritis does. So I toss and turn.

My husband is up until the wee hours. If by some miracle I have fallen asleep, he wakes me up fiddling with his iPod.

Then, my cat wakes me by scratching the mattress for an early morning feeding.

So on a good night, I average five hours of sleep. It not only feels lonely lying in bed by myself, but this regimen has got to be taking a toll on my body.

How do I cope?

— Not Counting Sheep or Blessings

Dear Not Counting: It is not unusual for husbands and wives to have different sleep schedules.

Try some relaxation techniques. Don’t read in bed, and turn off the nightstand lights.

Take a hot shower or bath. Make the room as dark as possible, or wear a sleep mask and earplugs. Invest in a fan or white-noise machine.

Keep the bedroom door closed so the cat cannot get in. Explain to your husband that you need him to be sensitive to your sleep problems.

Also, get a complete checkup, and talk to your doctor about medication and a referral to a sleep clinic.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Can’t Help Being Concerned,” whose boyfriend has rape fantasies.

You said this was fairly common and suggested she consider role-playing. However, you left out an absolutely vital piece of advice.

Rape fantasies can too easily become actual rape if she becomes frightened during the role-play and wants to quit.

Usual protestations like “Stop!” could be mistaken as part of the role-play.

To be protected, they must first agree on a safe word (unrelated to the activity) that will end the role-play immediately.

— Safety First

Dear Safety: You are absolutely correct, and we were remiss not to mention the necessity of a safe word. (We suspect yelling out “Annie’s Mailbox!” would get the message across.)

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