Dear Abby: In lockdown, wife nitpicks about my cooking, my washing and everything else

There’s a new dynamic after 35 years together, and it’s frustrating the man of the house.

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DEAR ABBY: Since the coronavirus lockdown began, my wife and I have been cooped up together all day, every day. Though we have lived together for 35 years, she’s now discovering that I “don’t cook vegetables correctly.” (It goes without saying that I’m no longer allowed to prepare the entrees.)

I don’t sort the trash the way she thinks it should be, so I can’t take out the garbage without her first inspecting it. Not only do I not wash the dishes properly, I don’t even wash my face right. Thus far the only thing I seem to be able to do is go to the restroom without her supervision, but I lock the door now just in case she decides to kibitz.

I realize that during this tense time, people feel a loss of control over their own lives and try to compensate however they can. I’m able to hang on to my patience almost all the time, but occasionally I want to either scream at her or look for an apartment of my own. Do you have any advice for either or both of us? — KEEPING CALM IN THE WEST

DEAR KEEPING CALM: You are far from the only spouse who is experiencing this. Your comment about your wife’s hypervigilance and fault-finding being her way of coping with her anxieties is perceptive. If you haven’t talked with her (calmly) about how her behavior is affecting you, please do it before you explode.

Being cooped up together all day, every day, isn’t healthy for either of you. You both should be getting out separately for at least 30 minutes of walking (60 could be even better) and sunlight every day. The exercise and change of scenery would not only be healthy, but may lower both of your stress levels. However, if that isn’t sufficient, the two of you should discuss what’s going on with her physician.

DEAR ABBY: I am instinctively tight-fisted with money. It’s also necessary because my brother and I have been in business for ourselves for only a few years, and we are just now starting to turn a decent profit. My girlfriend earns a good living as a nurse. She is pretty thrifty, but not when it comes to food.

My question is, how much of the bill should I be expected to foot for an expensive dinner I didn’t want to go out to, or an overpriced breakfast burrito from some snobby food truck? If I don’t look enthusiastic about the prospect of going to one of these places, she says not to worry because she’ll pay for it, which makes me feel insecure. Any tips on how to handle this? — PROUD GUY IN WASHINGTON

DEAR PROUD GUY: Yes. You appear to be an old-fashioned guy who is dating a contemporary woman. Accept her generosity and quit tying your masculinity to how she chooses to spend her own hard-earned money. That said, if you are thinking of marrying her, it would be in both your interests to have premarital counseling to ensure that disagreements about money don’t cause serious problems in your marriage.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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