Dear Readers: Every year I step away from my column to work on other projects. I hope you enjoy these "Best Of" columns. Today's topic is: Homeworking. I'll be back with fresh columns next week.
Dear Amy: My wife wants to change careers and open a bakery. I know she will be successful, because she is successful in everything she has ever done. My issue is that she expects me to work there, as well.
She told me I could, "Clean pans, bus tables and take out the trash."
I have a home-based business and vowed years ago that I would never again work in restaurants unless (my) financial need dictated it.
The only time I even hinted at the fact that I didn't want to work there, she called me lazy and unsupportive (I typically work about 15 or 20 hours a week).
How can I tell her that I don't want to be involved in the day-to-day operation of her new business, and at the same time convey that I support her fully?
Amy says: While getting relatives to work in the family business is a time-tested recipe for success, compelling a spouse to take out your trash is a less-than-savory ingredient in a marriage.
Would you accuse your wife of being lazy or unsupportive if she didn't want to sweep your office floor or tote your mass mailing to the post office for you?
I suggest you tell your wife that while you won't be working at her business, you'd be happy to help her strategize and develop a business plan that doesn't involve you being her (trash) bag man.
However, seeing as you keep a less than part-time work schedule, you absolutely must pick up any slack — and trash — at home. (May 2011)
Dear Amy: My husband desperately wants to be a famous published author.
I edited his book numerous times before it got "published" online, and now he is writing stories online that he hopes to compile into a novel.
He expects me to edit all of these stories.
Being his editor before was awful. Although he fixed what I suggested and I helped him make the writing tighter, he didn't learn from it and made the same mistakes over and over again.
I pulled back from editing because of my demanding full-time job. I am still expected to read everything he writes, and I struggle.
First, I am confronted by all those mistakes. Second, I am confronted by his needy questions: "Did you like this?" "What did you think about that event?" "Was it good?"
He has participated in writing groups but left them. He took a writing class, but had conflicts with the instructor — an award-winning author.
He yearns for my approval. He craves adoring accolades. And he is driving me nuts.
Amy says: Some spouses can write and edit together, but for many couples, these two roles don't mix well.
It is important for spouses to know that their partners are on their side. But it is also important for your husband to realize that demanding your praise makes you hostile toward his creative projects.
You can say, "I am your biggest fan. But I don't love every single thing you write. I can't edit you because it leads to conflict. Also, I just don't want to."
Your husband should hire an editor/assistant. Ideally, paying someone would compel him to take edits and suggestions. Unfortunately, he wants to cut corners without improving his work; he also wants the fame along with the accolades from you.
In short, he sounds like every needy, unpublished and eager writer I know.
Your adoring accolades will mean nothing if you are not also honest. If he can't handle your honesty, you should decline these bids for praise. (September 2011)
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