Question: I've been married a year, and my husband and I are very happy together overall, but I struggle with the balance between discussing an issue and criticizing. For instance, I feel like the majority of the household duties are left to me, even though we both work full-time. I'll mention here and there that I need his help or would like him to pitch in, and my requests go ignored until I get upset/overwhelmed. He'll feel bad, go on a cleaning/cooking spree for a few days, and then gradually leave the duties to me again.

What is the balance?

Answer: You "mention" you need "help"? No no no.

Discussion vs. criticism is not the question I'm going to answer. He wears clothes, so he does laundry. He eats food, so he buys, cooks, and/or cleans it up. He uses the rugs, tables, bathrooms, and bed, so he vacuums, wipes, scrubs, and makes. He uses household items, so he puts them away. What is there to talk about? Nothing.

So talk about that. "Here I am worried about sounding critical, but you know what? This is about human value, and mine equals yours, so I'm through doing most of the housekeeping just because you won't."

Next, you split the responsibilities based on what each of you hates least.

Write down every chore, including who handles it, and then each of you works independently.

Please, don't mince around, asking for "help." There's just escalating misery down that road.

Chat with Carolyn Hax

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